If we really want to make America great again, we need to elevate what is good and noble about us and defy those who insist on tearing down our past.
On Monday, designated as Columbus Day, the town of Johnston, Rhode Island, unveiled a statue of Christopher Columbus in a local park. A few protesters turned up, but they were drowned out by the hundreds who gathered to celebrate.
The statue of Columbus had been removed from Providence, Rhode Island, in the summer madness of 2020 after being defaced repeatedly by vandals.
The statue was created by Auguste Bartholdi for the 1892 Columbian Exposition in Chicago marking the 400th anniversary of the explorer’s voyage. It later was moved to Providence and remained there until city leaders ultimately surrendered to the mob.
But I’ll give them credit in one sense: They didn’t melt down the statue, as others planned to do.
Former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino went a step further. He bought the statue and donated it to the town of Johnston, population under 30,000.
“It means a lot,” Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. said in September about the statue’s pending arrival in his town.
“You know, we have a high percentage of Italian Americans here in Johnston, but it goes beyond Italian-American history,” Polisena said. “It’s worth history. It’s important, and I don’t think the majority of people want to see the statue melted. So we’re very grateful to Mayor Paolino for donating it to Johnston.”
The Washington Examiner reported that Johnston officials put a fence around the Columbus statue, made of bronze and standing nearly 7 feet tall, and added a 24-hour security system to protect the work from further vandalization.
Good for Johnston. Maybe this will start a trend.
As I wrote in my book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past,” we have every reason to continue celebrating Christopher Columbus. It was his bold expedition into the unknown of the vast Atlantic Ocean that ultimately led to the creation of the United States and countless other countries in the Americas.
Columbus brought Christianity to the Americas too, another reason for the Left’s contempt.
Columbus was flawed—as all men are—but he was a great man, maliciously and falsely maligned first by the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century and now the Left in the 21st. If we all believe that it is right and good that our country exists, then it is right and proper to celebrate the brave explorer who made it possible.
Several years ago, I speculated that Columbus Day may soon come to an end in this country. As the generation raised on Marxist historian Howard Zinn came of age without a foundation of informed patriotism, eliminating Columbus Day seemed to be inevitable.
The modern West is full of navel gazing, self-doubt, narcissism, and ingratitude. In that climate, young fanatics with disordered souls turned on the great figures of our past and marked them for destruction. Our corrupted institutions gladly placated and followed the mob, much as the intellectual elites of the French Revolution followed the Parisian mob to their doom.
The institutional capitulation has been total.
Yet there are countless Americans who never gave up on the old republic that once proudly embraced the symbol of Columbia.
I offer that putting up a Columbus statue—surely slated for destruction, warehousing, or placement in a woke museum to “contextualize” and shame the Italian explorer—in a Rhode Island town is a noble act of defiance.
It’s also a sign that perhaps the revolutionary fever of 2020 is beginning to break, if not in the institutions then among the people.
Ibram X. Kendi, the Rasputin of “anti-racism,” has proven to be the con artist peddler of ideological pseudoreligion that he always was. His gazillion-dollar anti-racism center at Boston University wasted tens of millions of dollars and has been accused of misusing its ample funds.
The New York Times even published an editorial suggesting that maybe Kendi’s ideas aren’t the best and that promoting racism in the name of racism might be a tad problematic.
This ice-cold take, coming at least two years too late, is hardly the bravest move from the Gray Lady, but it does show that Kendi-ism has lost some of its power.
Our cities suffer through drastically increased violence and criminality thanks to the demented “defund the police” movement. Americans are getting fed up in even the bluest places.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been disintegrating too. Not only did the big, national organization prove to be crooked, but local BLM chapters really revealed themselves after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel over the weekend.
If you are promoting the parachutist raiders who tortured, raped, and murdered innocent people in the name of Islam, you’ve done a good job of outing yourself as a villain and enemy of civilization.
And that’s what’s at stake right now. Order and civilization are under siege from without and within.
If you want to show that you stand against villainy and chaos, then put up a statue of Columbus in your city. Talk to a local city council member or organize with those you know in your community and email the mayor asking to put a statue in the town square.
This is how you stand up to our corrupted institutions and show them you aren’t going anywhere.
Historical statues all over the country are sitting around gathering dust. Acquire one or more of them and give them a new public home.
Some artists still do incredible work, so there’s potential for new statues too. Just look at the works of sculptor Edward J. Fraughton and a few others, and think of how we can use statues and works of art—whether of Columbus or depictions of the Old West or any other symbol of our country—to elevate what we value most.
Let’s defy the Regime and erect statues of Columbus and other American heroes in towns and cities all over America.
Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.” This first appeared in the Daily Signal.