Don’t take it from me. Imagine it coming from the bronze lips of Lincoln or Jefferson before they bite the dust. Or from Jesus, Mary or Joseph whose stained-glass images may soon be taking a rock. Here’s what I think they’d say: Some monuments and memorials could come down by public consensus, even plebiscite, not the anarchic whim of a midnight mob.
Take, for instance, Confederate Cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest — early Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard believed responsible for the massacre of 300 black soldiers. An equestrian monument to “The Wizard of the Saddle” rears up on the fringes of Nashville. I feel sorry for the horse. Nashville being The Music City, why not replace The General with a bronze likeness of Charlie Pride, trailblazing African-American country singer? Charlie, still alive, could attend the dedication. By God, I think I’ll suggest that! But, speaking of God, I’m reading that the “cancel culture” may be coming for The Holy Family. Read the following: “I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been…. All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form of white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda. They should all come down.” So – picture the Pieta and the windows of Chartres, broken on the pavement. Those words were written by Shaun King, civil rights activist, co-founder of the Real Justice PAC, writer-in-residence at the Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project with over a million followers on Twitter, which is where he disseminated this specimen of radical historical ignorance. The Catholic Church and all Christian churches have always encouraged local cultures to depict Jesus, Mary and Joseph in culturally relatable images, including portraying them as Black, Asian, Native American and, yes, even White. Consider that Shaun King actually founded an Atlanta church, called the Courageous Church. (I note he shares my son’s birthday and, going on 41, is a mere two years older than him, but not, from the evidence, wiser than him.) So this is where we are in this rampage of historical revisionism. Statues of Spanish Franciscan Junipero Serra, founder of nine 18th Century California missions, canonized a saint in 2015, have been toppled, decapitated or otherwise removed from the canons of purity by the marshals of the cultural revolution. In the early 19th century, nativists from Philadelphia to Boston attacked or burned Catholic churches and convents. As Bob Dylan sang, “it ain’t dark yet, but it’s getting there.” Bob, Thomas, Abe – Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Save us!