In the dead of night a tragedy occurred. Starting at 3 in the morning, crews working in the city of New Orleans removed a famous statue of Jefferson Davis the first, and, thankfully, only president of the Confederate States of America. I call it a tragedy not because I especially like Jefferson Davis or sympathize with the Rebellion, but because of the temper tantrum which precipitated this removal and which may signal the removal of many other cultural monuments, perhaps including one to my hero Thomas Jefferson at Columbia University.
Human beings are complicated. It’s probably the thing I like about us the most. Human beings can be, and often are, a mixture of conflicts. We’re all hypocrites in one way or another. Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson Davis (as well as many of the others on the proverbial chopping block) are no different. They can be loved and simultaneously despised. But perhaps its too much to ask a modern political society to think more holistically about historical and cultural matters- matters which often contain a great deal of nuance.
The drive to make these historical figures into “un-persons” (to borrow from Orwell) is only part of a much larger story of the infantilization of America. Whether left or right, Americans are becoming increasingly thin skinned. The Right likes to throw around the phrase “snowflake” when liberals shut down free speech rallies at Berkeley or lectures at Villanova, but burn a flag in front of a conservative and they’ll become just as “triggered”. Even saying the word “rape” is apparently nearly the same as rape itself. We can’t seem to handle things we don’t like anymore. We have become children, wailing for mother. Notable lefty actor and comedian Stephen Fry even took heat for saying as much as Dave Rubin’s show. To the millennial Left (and to a certain extent the Right) refusal to accept the whole slate of liberal positions makes you into an enemy of the people, and any act against you, whether violent or not, is justified.
This isn’t just about freedom of expression and safe spaces, this is about a re-juvenile devolution into profound social gridlock, driven by absurdity and nurtured by political fatigue. If you don’t like something, a statue, a speaker, an idea, then fight it. Throw eggs at the statue, protest the speaker, or come up with a better idea. Trying to erase those things you don’t like from the world is childish. If it’s really that traumatic for you to encounter something you don’t agree with that you literally can’t even, then maybe take a Xanax and get on with your life. Don’t deny me the opportunity to look at that statue of Jefferson Davis and reflect upon my own self and possibly come to greater conclusions about the world because of it. You don’t own my brain, so stop trying to control what goes into it.