This week, the Florida Senate's Appropriations Committee considers SCR 184, a concurrent resolution requesting that the Library of Congress replace a statue of famed Confederate General Edmund Kirby "Seminole" Smith. SCR 184 contemplates replacing Smith's statue with--drumroll, please--Mary McLeod Bethune.
Who is Mary McLeod Bethune? Only History Ph.D.s likely recognize her, but the text of the resolution mentions that Eleanor Roosevelt thought highly of Bethune, which reveals much. Hillary Clinton, as FLOTUS, reportedly spoke with Eleanor's ghost in the White House on occasion, so the two may have discussed Bethune's esteemed contributions to our civilization as well. Thankfully, Melania Trump brings the succession of liberal First Ladies infatuated with Bethune to a close.
The historical figure selected to replace Smith isn't the crux of the matter, however, as much as uncovering why Smith's statue is under attack in the first place. A West Point graduate, Smith fought honorably in the 1846 Mexican-American War. After the War Between the States, Smith returned to his civilian profession teaching collegiate mathematics. This scholar and gentleman lived by values such as honor and duty; surely there is nothing odious or offensive about Smith--who remains an American veteran. Indeed, a September 2017 Gravis Marketing poll found that 77% of Floridians want the statue to remain in place. And President Trump himself stated in a number of venues that the "beautiful statues and monuments" should be left alone.
A mania spreading across the United States imperils General Smith's statue, one that renders these iconoclasts unable to exercise their faculties of "discrimination" in the literal sense--the ability to recognize and weigh gradations of truth and meaning. Folks blinded by anti-Southern sentiment fail to grasp the positive qualities exemplified by men such as General Smith. The Left claims to transcend what they derisively call "binary thinking," but on the issues of statues and monuments (and now even national anthems), they display a gross level of Manichaeism.
The Left tells us that we can't be strict constructionists of the Constitution since the meaning evolves over time--it's a "living document." Why can't these statues and other relics also take on the same protean power, since Southerners are a living people? A lot has happened since 1865, after all. The Left tells us not to remain overly attached to the past since the clock cannot be turned back or the same river stepped in twice, but somehow the meaning of Confederate relics are forever stable and frozen in their eyes. Yet, in places like Poland and Ukraine today, people wave the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of freedom and resistance to the forces of "political correctness."
President Trump talked about a "silent majority" during his 2016 campaign. Polling shows that supporters of General Smith's statue represent, in actuality, a supermajority, but those folks must not remain silent if the statue is to survive Orwell's Memory Hole in the coming days.