Felling cultural landmarks


It’s been a revealing week, where even with the dreadful events in Las Vegas, the protests during our national anthem by NFL players continues as a major news event. Whether you agree with President Trump or not, you have to admit he created a national point of argument with just a few words in a speech about something else.

It is also hard to have anticipated how the NFL owners and many players, would continue to walk into a hard left hook to their public image and still come back for more.

The really interesting part of it is how it reflects on many similar protests over imagery and persons across the country.

Originally, it was pretty much just one character, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco 49ers, kneeling in protest over police actions involving African-Americans. It then spread to other teams and players and the reasons for it have become increasingly more ill-defined but it’s hard to interpret it as something other than what it seems — refusal to give respect to the symbol of something with which you disagree.

That being said, it is important to note that this protest, despite how poorly handled by the NFL and articulated by the players, is just a small part of what we should recognize as a form of collateral attack on the nation’s foundation.

For months there’s been a growing movement to remove statues, monuments and ultimately meaningful reference to various historical figures and events. It started with Civil War monuments, specifically those involving Confederate images. There may be real arguments to be made on that topic, but successes in mobilizing groups for that purpose energized some with the realization that almost every venerated figure has some dark moment in their past or at least one foot of clay, so why stop with the easy targets.

We may have started tearing down statues of Confederate generals and generic rebels but the same alliances have quickly moved on to the nation’s founders and architects and by extension, the ideas and documents they fashioned.

Some of these men had been slave owners or may have had sexist or racist leanings. These are bad things and despite the context of their lives or the time, such people shouldn’t be listened to about how a nation should be run.

Now, some are questioning the legacies and respect due even to union heroes of the Civil War which brought down the Confederacy and slavery. Generals Sheridan, Sherman and Grant were all involved in wars and actions against Native Americans so they appear to be next in the campaign to devalue whatever good they may have done.

It’s a smart strategy. The struggle by the far left to reconfigure American society continuously runs into the thoughts and ideals of venerated figures from the nation’s founding and formation. It’s been difficult to overcome that fact, so the tactic has pivoted from trying to reinterpret what they have said to painting them as creatures that should not have been listened to at all.

That’s the nature of collateral attack. When one can’t get over a wall, one finds a way to dig the foundation up beneath it so that it falls so much easier.

The ugly side of icons on the left unsurprisingly does not get similar treatment, such as when Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood said of her organization’s objective, “gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extirpation of defective stocks — those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”

There are many other examples but the reality is that each segment of society has its aspirational figures, which are always drawn more heroically and gentler than their actual selves.

What we have is not sudden torment over prominent figures or symbols in our history but an effort to knock down cultural landmarks so individuals don’t know what to believe or who to follow.

In such times there’s always an answer presented and it customarily involves totalitarianism.

In the midst of this let us recall the play “A Man For All Seasons” about Sir Thomas More, who replied to a student saying he would knock down the laws of England to chase the devil — “And when the last law was down and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide … the laws all being flat … do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). His weekly political talk show airs on KNZZ 1100 AM/92.7 FM on Saturdays at noon.


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Part I -  Perhaps Wagner would be less impressed if he left his comfortable little world of appearances and feelings, and pay much closer attention to what brought about the demonstrations by some NFL players, instead of doing what far too many do, bury their heads in the sand.
  What would be far more impressive is if those so-called adults (I am quite certain Mr. Wagner considers himself one) instead of squabbling and cackling like hens in a barnyard, get down to the nitty gritty of things.
  This country is supposedly the “land of the free”, yet has more people incarcerated than any other country on this planet.  We need to ask ourselves why that is and begin to address that problem.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to do that?
  This country has a big problem with the violation of human rights that must also be looked into and addressed.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to do that?
  This country has a big problem with social and economic injustice, yet this does not seem to overly concern too many.  Those also need to be addressed.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to do that?
  This country has a big problem with racism and phobias of all types.  Yet those appear to have become acceptable, or even normal in the minds of many, if not actually promoted by some.  That also must be faced and addressed.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to do that?
  We still have a great many anti-Semites in this country.  That is something which should have died long ago but, if it hasn’t and needs a place to die, let it die here.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to make certain that happens?
  Many are using what are known as the “dreamers” as a political ploy.  Those are human beings, many of them knowing more about this country than our so-called “natives” who never took the time or exerted themselves to learn about it.  They need to be shown respect, and their human rights respected, not something which some of our more zealous “patriots” want to afford them.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to make sure that happens?

Part II -    There are many in need of medical care in this country that suffer and die simply because they can’t afford the medical care or medicines they need.  That is a violation of their human rights as well.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to address that issue?
  There are those who cannot attend colleges and universities, again only because they can’t afford it, resulting in wasted minds.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to address and do what needs to be done to correct that?
  There are those who vote themselves “recreation, amusement and play” projects, even when others have to go hungry, have to do without shelter, food, and the other necessities of life.  Are such as Mr. Wagner prepared to do what has to be done to correct that?
  No, Mr. Wagner, it is not enough to leave behind only flags and patriotic songs that others can use.  What needs to be left behind is a country and society which is better off than when we entered it.  Mr. Wagner should give the matter more thought, instead of lauding this President or accepting what can only be described as churlish behavior.

“We may have started tearing down statues of Confederate generals and generic rebels but the same alliances have quickly moved on to the nation’s founders and architects and by extension, the ideas and documents they fashioned.” - Please cite your sources.  This is the exact type of baseless hyperbolic rhetoric that eliminates reasonable discourse and creates a nation where half the population regurgitates baseless “news” heard from one source without ever bothering to fact check.  I would think an attorney would be smarter than that.  Don’t you have friends on the “left” Mr. Wagner?  If anyone is talking about tearing down the ideas of our founding fathers, it is a microscopic minority. Lawyers, of all people, should know that outliers should not be used as evidence.

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