|Buddha Statues blown up by fanatics at Baminyan, Afghanistan|
|Confederate statue pulled down by fanatics|
at Durham, NC
Similar events abound in history; for example, the Beeldenstorm in the Netherlands:
|Catholic statues and art destroyed by Calvinist fanatics|
in Antwerp, on 20 Aug 1566
... these fresh followers of this new preaching threw down the graven and defaced the painted images, not only of Our Lady but of all others in the town. They tore the curtains, dashed in pieces the carved work of brass and stone, brake the altars, spoilt the clothes and corporesses, wrested the irons, conveyed away or brake the chalices and vestiments, pulled up the brass of the gravestones, not sparing the glass and seats which were made about the pillars of the church for men to sit in. ... the Blessed Sacrament of the altar ... they trod under their feet and (horrible it is to say!) shed their stinking piss upon it ... these false bretheren burned and rent not only all kind of Church books, but, moreover, destroyed whole libraries of books of all sciences and tongues, yea the Holy Scriptures and the ancient fathers, and tore in pieces the maps and charts of the descriptions of countries.IOW, the Calvinists, taking their cue from Islam, regarded harmless statues as idols and the Catholics who had commissioned and carved them as idol-worshipers. They could no more regard them merely as works of art or historical value than the Taliban could so consider the Buddhas; or the protesters consider statues of Confederates.
-- Nicolas Sander, professor of theology at Louvain
The iconoclasm controversy roiled Byzantium in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Byzantine emperor Leo III officially prohibited their use in 730. Ostensibly, this was because of the Old Testament prohibition on worshiping graven images, albeit extended to ungraven images made of paint or mosaic tiles of colored glass. It was also likely reinforced by the staunch anti-image stance of the newly-triumphant Caliphate next door. It took an ecumenical council (II Nicea in 787) to get people to recognize the difference between a statue and an idol.
|Statue of Serapis destroyed in Alexandria, Egypt, AD 391|
That is, Serapis really was an idol. It was, in the context of the age, not "a statue of Serapis," but Serapis Himself. Devotees actually did worship the statue. The other main difference is that while the destruction of the Serapeum is often portrayed as a rioting mob, it was actually torn down by imperial edict and carried out by troops acting under lawful orders. (Thus, more like the Byzantine iconoclasm or the Dutch Stille Beeldenstorm (Quiet Statue-storm), when officials finally managed to get in front of the rampaging mobs.) In Alexandria, the imperial edict was in response to a riot in which the pagans, using the temple atop the acropolis as a fortress, had sortied into the city and dragged numerous Christians up to the temple and slaughtered them there in ritual sacrifice.
Sidebar: While there is no evidence that the Serapeum contained any books at the time it was demolished, it is quite definite that the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp contained many books of all sciences and tongues.Yet the latter is never presented as an example of anti-intellectual behavior! Go figure.
Speaking of idols, many people today worship money; but TOF has never heard of mobs gathering to burn it.THE MODERN AGES HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED as (among other things) the Age of the Book; in particular, of the printed folio. (See here: second half). It was the age of the printed word, the λογος. And so the Modern Age was an Age of Logic, and for a while dared to call itself the Age of Reason.
With the passing of the Modern Ages, the Book has fallen from pride of place, superseded successively by the Movie, the TV, the Video -- in short, by the Image. For the first time in half a millennium, the primary imaginations of people are visual, not logical. "The new pastimes of the educated amateur," wrote Jacques Barzun in The House of Intellect, "are the arts of nonarticulate expression: music and painting… Everywhere picture and sound crowd out text."
Violence is the ultimate in nonarticulate expression. An easy response to annoyances by people who can no longer expressing themselves well with words. (Other than the obligatory Three Word Chant.) Recently, here in PA, two motorists, jockeying for right of way as Route 100 narrowed from two lanes to one, resolved the difficulty when one of them pulled a gun and shot the other in the head.
The destruction of the art of one's opponents is simply an extreme form of "road rage,"
A loosely-defined group calling itself Antifa (apparently with no sense of irony) justifies such violence on the basis that their opponents are bad people who do not deserve to speak. Only acceptable speech should be allowed: "goodthink," as it was called in a book once. Thus, if someone is speaking (or is believed to be about to speak) words-we-don't-want-to-hear, it is perfectly permissible to rush the platform, block entrance to the venue, set fire to buildings, or beat people with clubs or pipes... all the while accusing the silenced speaker of "aggression."
The exquisite torture of contrary opinions is called "aggression" by people who have not experienced the real thing.
|When microaggressions were macro. A white mob of a couple thousand shouting threats at a couple hundred |
open-housing marchers in Milwaukee in the 1960s.
Of course, this tactic of mobbing opposition speakers is precisely what the actual fascists did in the 1920s and 1930s.
|Squadristi destroying opposition newspaper office|
Robert E. Lee, for example, did not own any slaves, although he employed a "free man of color" (as they phrased it in those days). When he inherited 200 slaves from his father-in-law, he not only freed them in accordance with that will, but helped them relocate and find positions. Regarding secession, he had said while in the Department of Texas that "secession is nothing but treason." Nonetheless, when it seemed that Virginia (which did not secede right away) was to become a theater of war, he could not sit by and see his homeland destroyed, no matter how righteous the destroyer.
Instead of pulling the statue down, why not relabel it? Use it as a caution if you must how an honorable man, skilled in his profession, might be led by love of his home to take sides with others less honorable. The statue of the ordinary Confederate citizen-soldier, pulled down in the photograph above, might be relabeled with the motto: "Rich Man's War; Poor Man's Fight," a frequent comment by the rank and file in that conflict.
General Longstreet has few to no statues to him in the South. This is because after the war he joined the Republican Party and became a civil rights advocate. During protests of election irregularities in 1874, referred to as the Battle of Liberty Place, an armed force of 8,400 White League members advanced on the State House. Longstreet commanded a force of 3,600 Metropolitan Police, city policemen, and African-American militia troops, armed with two Gatling guns and a battery of artillery. He rode to meet the protesters but was pulled from his horse, shot by a spent bullet, and taken prisoner. The White League charged, causing many of Longstreet's men to flee or surrender. There were casualties of 38 killed and 79 wounded. Federal troops were required to restore order. Longstreet's use of black troops during the disturbances increased the denunciations by anti-Reconstructionists. Why not raise a statue to Longstreet.
|Woodrow Wilson, Rapid City SD|
Segregated the federal civil service and the military
Screened Birth of a Nation in the White House
OTOH, one might also protect statues of Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WVa: 1959-2010), who had actually joined the Ku Klux Klan, achieving one of their absurdly-named offices and personally organizing a chapter.
Or a statue of Woodrow Wilson, who segregated the civil service, the postal service, and other federal functions? Should The Democratic Party Be Abolished As A Symbol Of Oppression?
There are statues of Lenin and of Che Guevera* in New York City. Where are the protestors demanding removal of these statues to mass murderers?
(*) Sophists have argued with a straight face that the Che statue is not a statue of Che, but rather a statue of an actor who had portrayed Che.)
|Lenin addresses New York from his balcony|
|Che in Manhattan?|
Or an actor portraying Che?
Well, reason and logic and the written word were fine things, and we may learn to miss them when they are gone. But youth loves the iconic pose and as Nietzsche once noted, the sputtering fuse. The new rules of debate are to answer your opponent by driving over him, or putting a bullet in her brain; or simply punching him in the face.
TOF wonders to what extent domestic and workplace violence is part of this new social movement.
|Progressive Antifa demonstrators dressed like ISIS fighters|