Right now, as statues across America and beyond are being defaced and/or destroyed by Black Lives Matter protestors it is a good time to reflect on who the heroes on our monuments should be and ask ourselves if we even need any of these pieces of brass and concrete at all in the 21st century. Why does seemingly every country on Earth bother with using public space for the secular worship of dead political and military figures? What point do monuments even serve?
Regarding heroes it seems very evident that children have over time moved from having historical heroes to fantasy ones. It is hard to imagine, that in today’s America young people would be drawing Paul Revere on horseback with crayons when every soup can, backpack, and cartoon is overflowing with fictitious superheroes that have magic powers. In fact there is an omnipresent meme statement among Russians (which is very annoying to hear repeated ad nauseum daily as an American) that “America created superheroes because they have no real heroes of their own”.
My stock answer to this unavoidable template statement is that “America had heroes, but they’ve been replaced”. This happened actually not that long ago, at a time before the internet but years after televisions were in every American home. Back then there were real American heroes in TV programs, films and they even had toys. For my father’s generation there were people like Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill and all those gents who died at the Alamo just a bit before it became part of America. The Founding Fathers back then were universally considered true heroes and men of the highest honor to which we should all aspire. Every boy knew and believed that little Georgie Washington accepted corporal punishment for ruining his father’s prized cherry tree, because he could not “tell a lie.” And there was some cool story about Ben Franklin taking a kite out to get hit by lighting “for science!”.
The key point is that even as recently as the youth of the Boomer generation, America had an absolutely solid idea of who its heroes were and despite what Russians believe these were mostly based on real people, with the exception of John Wayne movies and those, whose historical authenticity is up for debate like Molly Pitcher.
Now, America “has no heroes” before Spiderman and Batman because society has become fractured and there are no real Americans living or dead that work for today’s USA as well as Tony Stark. Even as this is being written the major memorials to the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln are under constant guard from vandals. Of all the people in U.S. history, with the exception of those tiny few who still somehow believe “the South shall rise again”, one would think that at least we could all agree on the man who saved the Union as our national hero. Lincoln’s primary intent wasn’t to end slavery but the fact is his presidency did end it. If the South would have won, the United States, either half of it, would have never become a superpower. You would think that Honest Abe would be the guy that we could all rally around. But no, his memorial is under as much threat as Columbus and the Confederates because the feelings of bourgeois Liberals are aching for the Black Americans they would never let in their houses.
On the surface this probably does not seem like such an important issue. How do stationary objects made of metal and/or cement really affect us? In a direct sense they don’t, they are inanimate, however they are a reflection of something that is intangeable this is somehow felt by us every day of our lives – political power. To illustrate this point we need to take a look at the history of a country where the monuments (and street/city names) have changed many times.
In Russia during the Tsars there seemed to be a church every 500 feet, during the Soviet Union they were knocked down and replaced by an omnipresent Lenins and the occasional Marx, who were exported to Eastern Europe after the USSR gained exclusive influence over that territory following the big victory in WWII. As soon as the Soviet Union started collapsing, so did all of the Soviet Union’s monuments in Eastern Europe. Which were quickly replaced with new “Democratic” ones and reflected the “horrors” of “Russian occupation”. If the U.S. ever falls from grace we are likely to see the Russians put up numerous memorials to the victims of the Marshall Plan and the “Yankee Yoke”.
We could go all over the world to find churches that became mosques and vice versa, and many statues falling during regime changes like Saddam Hussein’s famous monument that fell along with Bagdad. Interestingly enough one of the men who ripped it down now regrets this decision. In short, historically shifting monuments is a common phenomenon where political change is happening.
So, monuments in a way are a reflection of political and ideological power, if you can put your hero statues down on a territory, destroy the enemy monuments and not allow yours to be ripped down in return, it is essentially a signal of dominance. Like geopolitical dogs “marking” their territory, powerful ideologies need to put their stamp on things.
This is not to say that the Seattle Lenin Statue makes X number of square yards of Washington State a part of some new Communist entity, but it does mean there is enough ideological support for it to stay standing which certainly means something. If the statue were placed in hardcore Bible Belt territory I am sure Vova Lenin would have gotten atleast vandalized if not completely destroyed. But could one put up a statue of Robert E. Lee in Seattle? No absolutely not, meaning that in Seattle Lenin is stronger than Lee. Which means that the ideology that the Lenin statue reflects is vastly stronger than that of greatest gentleman general of the South.
Since there is virtually no resistance to the Confederates and Columbus falling and that the Founding Fathers are under threat of vandalism this means that the old American ideology is visibly losing and its days seem to be numbered. But the interesting thing is that they have no real replacements for these “outdated” heroes. Even the Ukrainian Nazis have Stevie Bandera to replace Lenin, Zhukov and Pushkin with, even if he actually never had any successes, at least he tried, kind of. And that is the true Maidan spirit – feeling like you are accomplishing something + Russophobia uber alles.
So as statues and monuments fall in America and beyond, even if those who are destroying them do not understand their own actions, we are seeing a war for ideological territory. Every Columbus and Founding Father down is a gain for the organizer generals of the other side. Although, so far no “heroes” have replaced the falling statues that will surely come in time. The main thing is to break the enemy first then deal with occupation. The Liberal talking point that statues have nothing to do with heritage is true. This is not about history, or ancestry or pride it is about projecting ideological power onto your enemies.
And for the Russians reading this, America’s made up heroes in colorful costumes will continue to dominate until the time when a solid majority of the country can agree on who the good guys are. As stated above America has heroes they were just forgotten, now they are officially being erased.