Quote of the Day: Rewriting History

 

“If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we will find that we have lost the future.” – Sir Winston Spencer Churchill

Kate Smith’s statue gets covered over because of a song she sang 80 years ago. Dowling Street in Houston, named for a Confederate hero, gets renamed Emancipation. A set of paintings of George Washington are painted over because he was a slaveholder. These are just a few instances of history being erased, rewritten, or removed from the public view because standards have changed.

 

The Dick Dowling Statue in Houston’s Hermann Park.

Take the example of Dick Dowling, the man for whom Dowling Street was named. It was renamed because of discrimination against blacks in the South. Dowling fought in the Civil War for the Confederacy. The Confederacy wanted to preserve slavery. Dowling, therefore, should be written out of history.

 

Yet Dowling was a victim of discrimination, too. He was an Irishman and in mid-19th-century America, the Irish were not really viewed as white. In many ways, the treatment accorded the Irish between 1840 and 1860 somewhat paralleled the treatment accorded blacks a century later.

One reason Dowling joined the Confederate Army, organizing a company of artillerymen, was to prove that an Irishman was every bit as good as a white man. Despite that desire, Dowling’s company was shifted off to an isolated and unimportant fort on the Texas coast, because the Confederates did not want these Irishmen around. Thus, Dowling, his 53 men, and six guns were the only forces available to fight off an invading Union force consisting of six ironclads, nearly 20 transports, and several thousand soldiers. That they drove off the invaders was a feat of arms respected even by their opponents.

Yet today Dowling, who fought for a form of racial equality, has had his street renamed. An attempt was made to dynamite the statue of him in Hermann Park a few years back. All because he fought for the racist Confederacy.

What those who have endorsed these actions fail to realize is that by attempting to erase Dowling they have given permission to some future social justice warrior to erase black heroes from history. Take General Benjamin O. Davis. He fought for reasons remarkably parallel to those of Dowling — to prove “colored” men (as blacks were called back then) could fight for their country as valiantly as white men.

He led the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, despite the racism of the 1940s United States. I am pretty sure Davis’s opinions on issues such as transgender rights and same-sex marriage would be politically incorrect today. If we can rename streets named for Dowling due to his unacceptable support of the Confederacy, how long will it be before there are calls to rename streets and schools named for Davis because of his unacceptable views on gender fluidity?

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I honestly believe there are die-hard leftists out there who would refuse a sure-fire cancer treatment if the doctor who came up with it said something bad about minorities when he was in elementary school . . .

    • #1
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    But this is what those in power always do, isn’t it?  It’s what the left has accused Western Civilization of doing to indigenous cultures, and I’m afraid there is a lot of truth to that.  We renamed holidays, we forbade religious ceremonies, we forbade speaking of certain languages.  So this is a pure power play by the SJ crowd.  But they are getting us to agree to our own obliteration in the name of justice.  As they like to tell us:  for the privileged, justice feels like oppression.  It feels like oppression because that is what it is.  Meet the new boss;  same as the old boss. Until we see the SJ movement purely in terms of power politics, we will continue to be erased.

    • #2
  3. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    Stad (View Comment):

    I honestly believe there are die-hard leftists out there who would refuse a sure-fire cancer treatment if the doctor who came up with it said something bad about minorities when he was in elementary school . . .

    Of course, the New Left could just rearrange the situation such that someone else was given credit for the sure-fire cancer treatment. I mean, ain’t it possible Michelle Obama has been working on such a cure for these past few years?

    • #3
  4. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    Having been a pre-teen in the 60’s during the summer riots it was fairly evident even to me that the governmental response was one of kowtowing to a superior force. The fear of blacks coming to the suburbs to rape wives and daughters (for example) still drives Leftist policy making as they continue to yield to ridiculous movements like BLM.

    This kind of appeasement is different than the appeasement of radical feminists (there are more woman voters) or the LGBT bullies (deep influence). In fact  when you assemble the power players of the Left you can see the true character of the Democratic Party: Cowardly, power hungry, and compromised. You might think I’m starting with contempt for the Left and employing confirmation bias here, but that’s only partially true in that I’m fairly sure that the Dems have no moral compass or fortitude, having exchanged the former for doctrine and the later for convenience.

    • #4
  5. Goldwater's Revenge Inactive
    Goldwater's Revenge
    @GoldwatersRevenge

    Someone wiser than me wrote that it is improper and unjust to judge actions of those in the past unless we first consider the times in which they lived. What would George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or others now being debunked think of actions of those in our time if viewed from their perspective. Would Washington have considered same sex marriage a true abomination in his time or would Jefferson cringe at the nudity, profanity and immorality common in our culture today? It is a form of racism by those who wish to destroy the reputations of heroes of the past primarily because they were white. It’s simply a way of getting revenge and it is fueled by the democrats penchant to consider everyone other than white men as victims. Where will it all end?

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    But this is what those in power always do, isn’t it? It’s what the left has accused Western Civilization of doing to indigenous cultures, and I’m afraid there is a lot of truth to that. We renamed holidays, we forbade religious ceremonies, we forbade speaking of certain languages.

    OTOH, a lot of states, cities, geographical features, universities, and until recently, sports mascots – are named after American Indians!  This is what I call them, none of this “Native American” garbage.

    For me, to hell with the truth.  We have “the now”, and our American Indians are confined to “reservations”, where they have so-called “nations”.  However, the Federal government rules them with laws and regulations which keep them poor, unhealthy, unable to integrate into society, and the only avenue they have to make money is through casinos, which does not always spread the wealth throughout the tribe.  I’m hesitant to even drive through a reservation if I’m subject to “tribal justice” should I be accused of breaking one of their laws and my US citizenship means nothing . . .

    • #6
  7. Vectorman Inactive
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    Seawriter: One reason Dowling joined the Confederate Army, organizing a company of artillerymen, was to prove an Irishman was every bit as good as a White man. Despite that desire, Dowling’s company was shifted off to an isolated and unimportant fort on the Texas coast, because the Confederates did not want these Irishmen around them. Thus, Dowling his 53 men and six guns were the only forces available to fight off an invading Union force consisting of six ironclads, nearly 20 transports and several thousand soldiers. That they drove off the invaders was a feat of arms respected even by their opponents.

    In his Inaugural Address in 1869, President Grant said he would approach Reconstruction “calmly, without prejudice, hate or sectional pride.” He showed General Robert E. Lee respect at the surrender at Appomattox. Part of the healing was for all Americans to show the same kind of mutual respect. After over hundred years, why do we question this now?


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    • #7
  8. Ruthenian Inactive
    Ruthenian
    @Ruthenian

    They are going back to their roots. After falling out with Stalin, Yezhov—Stalin’s NKVD henchman—was air brushed from photographs. There were many more of these, as anyone who “quarreled” with Stalin would disappear from public memory; Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in 1984 is based on this Soviet practice. The “damnatio memoriæ” practice goes way back, except it is much easier now to electronically erase a person.

    • #8
  9. RonaldRRidgley Inactive
    RonaldRRidgley
    @RonaldRRidgley

    I find that the oft used phrase by Kevin Williamson comes into good use when evaluation of the past. “As compared to what?”

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Stad (View Comment):

    I honestly believe there are die-hard leftists out there who would refuse a sure-fire cancer treatment if the doctor who came up with it said something bad about minorities when he was in elementary school . . .

    If I had exclusive control of said treatment, I’d not let them use it.

    Let’s be honest: They hate us. I am ready to return that hate 100%. If I were Lex Luthor, I’d not worry about fighting Superman, I’d be chaning the world and leaving the left out of access to my goodies. 

    Now there is a supervillian.

    • #10
  11. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Stad (View Comment):

    I honestly believe there are die-hard leftists out there who would refuse a sure-fire cancer treatment if the doctor who came up with it said something bad about minorities when he was in elementary school . . .

    Think of it as evolution in action. They are all sciencey, so they should go for that.

    • #11
  12. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Stad (View Comment):

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    But this is what those in power always do, isn’t it? It’s what the left has accused Western Civilization of doing to indigenous cultures, and I’m afraid there is a lot of truth to that. We renamed holidays, we forbade religious ceremonies, we forbade speaking of certain languages.

    OTOH, a lot of states, cities, geographical features, universities, and until recently, sports mascots – are named after American Indians! This is what I call them, none of this “Native American” garbage.

    For me, to hell with the truth. We have “the now”, and our American Indians are confined to “reservations”, where they have so-called “nations”. However, the Federal government rules them with laws and regulations which keep them poor, unhealthy, unable to integrate into society, and the only avenue they have to make money is through casinos, which does not always spread the wealth throughout the tribe. I’m hesitant to even drive through a reservation if I’m subject to “tribal justice” should I be accused of breaking one of their laws and my US citizenship means nothing . . .

    Of course.  It was not complete but it was done.  

    Here is a quote from a book I recently read called Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher (Highly recommend):  “Our sins of peace…have been far greater than our sins of war…In peace, we changed the nature of our weapons, that was all; we stopped killing Indians in more or less a fair fight, debauching them, instead, thus slaughtering them by methods which gave them not the slightest chance of retaliation.”

    But the heartbreak of today is that we truly are moving towards a more just society-we recognize that America has some dark threads in its history which cannot be excused, but we have worked hard, spent blood, spent trillions to do better. Therefore they do not negate the other threads;  they do not negate us;  they are the painful journey that we all go through as individuals and nations.  We learn, we strive to do better.  I welcome monuments alongside of the ones we have to acknowledge contributions that were not acknowledged at the time, or to mark tragedies that occurred alongside of the triumphs.  They can live side by side.  But that is not what the left wants.  It is power, pure and simple.  

    • #12
  13. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Stad (View Comment):
    OTOH, a lot of states, cities, geographical features, universities, and until recently, sports mascots – are named after American Indians! This is what I call them, none of this “Native American” garbage.

    The NCAA has gone after schools with sports mascots, forcing many to change them.

    Their headquarters is in Indianapolis.

    • #13
  14. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    RonaldRRidgley (View Comment):

    I find that the oft used phrase by Kevin Williamson comes into good use when evaluation of the past. “As compared to what?”

    I had a boss use that quite often to put things in perspective … it’s useful until people think it’s rhetorical.

    • #14
  15. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Such historical ignorance is quite frightening. The Stalinists, Nazis all of them actually, rewrote history as a matter of basic policy to conform with whatever seemed  convenient at the moment.   These people are scary and shouldn’t be indulged at any level by any of us.   It’s amazing that it has happened so soon after these real world contemporary historical examples.

    • #15
  16. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Such historical ignorance is quite frightening. The Stalinists, Nazis all of them actually, rewrote history as a matter of basic policy to conform with whatever seemed convenient at the moment. These people are scary and shouldn’t be indulged at any level by any of us. It’s amazing that is has happened so soon after these real world contemporary historical examples.

    When politics takes precedent over science.

    • #16
  17. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Here in Minnesota there was a move to chisel the names of people off of buildings on the campus of the U of M, due to their past sins. The relevant authorities considered the proposal and handed out bags of sand and hammers. An advocate for renaming wrote an op-ed for the paper calling the refusal to send the past down the memory hole . . . Orwellian. 

    • #17
  18. Vectorman Inactive
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Here in Minnesota there was a move to chisel the names of people off of buildings on the campus of the U of M, due to their past sins.

    In the end, how many buildings would have names associated with real people? For example, the University of Illinois has the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Krannert Art Museum, along with Purdue University with the Krannert School of Management. These buildings were donated by Herman and Ellnora Krannert, a childless couple. Suppose someone in the future dug up some dirt, thus removing their names from the buildings. Why would anyone donate money to a University building again?

    • #18
  19. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Seawriter: One reason Dowling joined the Confederate Army, organizing a company of artillerymen, was to prove an Irishman was every bit as good as a White man. Despite that desire, Dowling’s company was shifted off to an isolated and unimportant fort on the Texas coast, because the Confederates did not want these Irishmen around them. Thus, Dowling his 53 men and six guns were the only forces available to fight off an invading Union force consisting of six ironclads, nearly 20 transports and several thousand soldiers. That they drove off the invaders was a feat of arms respected even by their opponents.

    In his Inaugural Address in 1869, President Grant said he would approach Reconstruction “calmly, without prejudice, hate or sectional pride.” He showed General Robert E. Lee respect at the surrender at Appomattox. Part of the healing was for all Americans to show the same kind of mutual respect. After over hundred years, why do we question this now?


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have only 5 days left on the May Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    Because we can buy votes by ginning up resentment and hatred.  Just like Hitler!  The new democratic progressive solution is Hitler 2020!

     

    See the source image

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    I honestly believe there are die-hard leftists out there who would refuse a sure-fire cancer treatment if the doctor who came up with it said something bad about minorities when he was in elementary school . . .

    Of course, the New Left could just rearrange the situation such that someone else was given credit for the sure-fire cancer treatment. I mean, ain’t it possible Michelle Obama has been working on such a cure for these past few years?

    You’re right.  Some black professor will claim his research “proves” a cure for cancer was developed by tribes in South-Saharan Africa before the Greeks . . .

    • #20
  21. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    OTOH, a lot of states, cities, geographical features, universities, and until recently, sports mascots – are named after American Indians! This is what I call them, none of this “Native American” garbage.

    The NCAA has gone after schools with sports mascots, forcing many to change them.

    Their headquarters is in Indianapolis.

    I love the hypocracy.

    Yep mascots are changed, unless the school has clout.  Can you say, “Florida State Seminoles”?

    • #21
  22. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Stad (View Comment):
    Yep mascots are changed, unless the school has clout. Can you say, “Florida State Seminoles”?

    They will, no doubt, soon be referred to as the Florida State Semolinas by the politically correct.

    • #22
  23. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    The left would freak out at the analogy, but they’re really just behaving like the Taliban did in 2001, when they blew up the Bamiyan Buddah states in the months just prior to 9/11, and pretty much for the same reason — the desire to destroy any past history that did not conform to their world view.

    Even in Texas, I’m waiting for the same people who renamed Dowling’s street in Houston to find out about and then freak out about Texas having an entire section of mountains and a town and fort within them named after former U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, because of his position after that as president of the Confederacy. I suppose they can just rename the whole area after Benjamin Davis, or anyone else named Davis, just like the Austin Independent School District found someone else with the last name of Lee to rename a campus after, because they didn’t want to have a Robert E. Lee Elementary school any more (and also didn’t want to use the winning name in their online poll and rename the school as Donald J. Trump Elementary).

    • #23
  24. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Such historical ignorance is quite frightening. The Stalinists, Nazis all of them actually, rewrote history as a matter of basic policy to conform with whatever seemed convenient at the moment. These people are scary and shouldn’t be indulged at any level by any of us. It’s amazing that is has happened so soon after these real world contemporary historical examples.

    When politics takes precedent over science.

    Well yes. But  did science produce good functioning societies or did good functioning, curious, societies rooted in something else also produce science?  Politics can live with science and use it for its own ends and science can live with politics, at least in recognizable forms, but once removed from daily lives still run by very complex inherited notions of do’s and  don’ts, right wrong and beliefs that truth exists and matters, science threatens.  

    • #24
  25. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Such historical ignorance is quite frightening. The Stalinists, Nazis all of them actually, rewrote history as a matter of basic policy to conform with whatever seemed convenient at the moment. These people are scary and shouldn’t be indulged at any level by any of us. It’s amazing that is has happened so soon after these real world contemporary historical examples.

    When politics takes precedent over science.

    Well yes. But did science produce good functioning societies or did good functioning, curious, societies rooted in something else also produce science? Politics can live with science and use it for its own ends and science can live with politics, at least in recognizable forms, but once removed from daily lives still run by very complex inherited notions of do’s and don’ts, right wrong and beliefs that truth exists and matters, science threatens.

    I agree, in fact my position is that I’d rather teach “God” in school if it provides a sense of morality, than science which teaches amorality.

    • #25
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Remember, though, liberals are more ‘nuanced’ than conservatives. 

    • #26
  27. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Here in Minnesota there was a move to chisel the names of people off of buildings on the campus of the U of M, due to their past sins. The relevant authorities considered the proposal and handed out bags of sand and hammers. An advocate for renaming wrote an op-ed for the paper calling the refusal to send the past down the memory hole . . . Orwellian.

    Sounds like more of that projection stuff again.

    • #27
  28. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Stad (View Comment):

    I honestly believe there are die-hard leftists out there who would refuse a sure-fire cancer treatment if the doctor who came up with it said something bad about minorities when he was in elementary school . . .

    But remember, they’re leftists, which means they are (by definition) the Good People.  So it would be okay for them to use the cure themselves.  They would just make sure no minorities were “oppressed” by the cure, and maybe their own children would have to be “saved” from it too, as seems to be the case often with anti-vaxxers who are vaccinated themselves but “protect” their children and other people who don’t know what’s good for them.

    • #28
  29. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Were paintings of George Washington actually painted over ? Which paintings ? Who was the artist ? I know some school was talking about taking down murals.

    For me this isn’t just about ignorant, ill intentioned adults in public “education” conditioning kids to be hysterical yahoos so full of unwarranted self esteem they imagine they’d be better people than Washington was had they been born in his time. It’s also about what those people are doing to the kids by erasing  evidence of the history of American art.

    • #29
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