Free Speech & Fallen Statues

As is the case with many issues, Bruce Anderson’s insights on the PC totalitarians out in the streets rendering nutso retroactive historical censorship on this country’s past, are irrefutable. Anderson, editor and publisher of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, is someone I’ve maintained a long-time friendly relationship with and he’s always had my respect and support, even those times I may not share his opinion or agree with his conclusion on a matter. I say that because Bruce is always honest (to a fault) and has integrity. Those are two building-block characteristics that are proving difficult to find in a lot of folks nowadays.

As a historian, I can’t recall any other period of time where this country experienced a trifecta of nearly simultaneous foundation-shaking events: World-Wide Pandemic, Great Economic Depression and Massive Unemployment, and Nation-Wide Social Justice Protests.

You don’t need me to tell you that we are living in history-in-the-making times.

But some of the actions related to these events are not the kind of history we should be proud of making. In fact, some actions are downright disgraceful and reprehensible.

Here’s Anderson’s thoughts on some of these issues, and I agree completely with his analysis.

“VANDALS have pulled down the Golden Gate Park statues of Ulysses Grant and Miguel Cervantes. A howling pack of morons also knocked Junipero Serra off his long-time plinth at SF’s Legion of Honor. Cervantes is the greatest writer in the Spanish language, and Grant? … The war was stalled until Lincoln appointed Grant to get the Union troops moving, which he did. It’s also an historical consensus that if Grant had succeeded Lincoln as president rather than the retro-cracker Johnson, Grant would have crushed the neo-Confederacy terrorizing freed black people in the wake of the Civil War and, as Grant had promised, if he had been in position to follow through with his famous plan of forty acres and a mule to former slaves, The Reconstruction would have been a reconstruction of the great evil of slavery, but… Serra, in the PC catechism, is a huge villain as the father of the California mission system, and now one more victim of the great re-write of American history, as if expunging certain figures will erase their perceived crimes. Yeah, yeah, pulling down statues isn’t erasing them, and statues honoring them, the censors promise us, doesn’t remove them from the history books, but the history books are next, you can bet on that. And then novel, and then… Of course if you think history should be determined by mobs of illiterates you’ve got lots of company.

“SPEAKING of illiterate mobs, right here in Mendocino County, the Nice People, Ukiah branch, are surreptitiously circulating a petition demanding that the Ukiah Daily Journal remove columnist Tommy Wayne Kramer from its pages. This isn’t the first time the book burners have pursued TWK, although the poor old Ukiah paper, owned by a Denver-based hedge fund, is already on the ropes without being beset by purple fascists, and TWK’s invigorating Sunday columns are a lot more popular than the Nice People can imagine, not that they ever step outside their echo chamber or are endowed with much in the way of imagination.”

I’ve known UDJ Editor K.C. Meadows for years, and I don’t believe for a second she would allow anyone to censor what appears in her newspaper. If there’s anyone who thinks conversely, they’ll find out quickly just how wrong they are. I have no concerns on that matter at all. Tom Hine (TWK) is an outstanding, provocative, creative-to-the-hilt writer and I’m proud that my work appears on the same Sunday page as his.

I believe that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who served on the famously history-making Warren Court, described 60 years ago what we’re seeing now with attempted historical revision by imbecile mobs.

Potter nailed it when he warned, “Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

Thankfully, these mobs have not risen to the governing level of a regime yet, and hopefully they never will.

You have to wonder what motivates these mob-censors and the people who support them.

So what does it say about people who would restrict or ban what can be said or not said, or be read or not read, or be seen or not be seen?

First Amendment rights of free speech and expression are the cornerstone of our Republic. They are the beacons of a free and open society as intended by the flawed Founding Fathers who got most things right, and what they didn’t get right — the abomination that was slavery — a future generation did, in blood.

When you think about it silencing an idea is the first step to destroying the voice of the person with the idea.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)

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