Posted on December 13, 2017

Adios, Old Dead White Men

Letter to the Editor, News-Topic, December 9, 2017

Letter to the editor:

In August 1960 President Dwight Eisenhower, five-star general, Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, received a letter from a New York dentist. The dentist wanted to know why the President of the United States had a portrait of Robert E. Lee on the wall of his office. After all, hadn’t Lee devoted “his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government.”

President Eisenhower replied: “We need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.”

“General Robert E. Lee,” the President continued, “was in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation.” Many prominent Americans of Eisenhower’s era and before expressed similar golden opinions of Lee.

Times change. People change. Golden opinions of Lee do not meet the emotional needs or serve the political objectives of growing segments of diverse 21st century America. Of more value is an image of Lee as villain. And so we read such stories in the News-Topic as “Confederate monument pedestals re-purposed for video.” Pedestals in New Orleans where Confederate statues once stood now have “something positive for blacks,” statues of “everyday, under-represented people” (November 26).

This replacement logic extends far beyond the Civil War. In 2002, for example, the New York Times described scholars “in a state of near panic after watching [George] Washington all but disappear from the national consciousness in the space of a single generation.”

“By comparing textbooks used in the 1960’s with those of today, researchers at Mount Vernon have concluded that Washington is now accorded just 10 percent of the space he had then.”

Erasure and vilification of giants of history will accelerate. Disparities in social outcomes among groups persist. This demands explanation. Converting noble figures of the past into pariahs helps. There is also the demographic revolution created by the 1965 Immigration Act’s “chain migration” features. New populations are expanding in America. These cannot identify with American historical figures — old dead white men — however admirable — especially if admirable.

Surrender of cultural heritage (history, literature, art) is among many unquantifiable costs of mass Third World immigration.

Tom Shuford