It was one of the goofier conceits of the Republican Party to wrap itself up as the Party of Lincoln. That was long ago and far away, and lines can’t stretch that far without breaking. That doesn’t make it necessarily bad, as times change. platforms change. people change and, well, a legacy name doesn’t make it the same party. But not being the same doesn’t make it better or worse, just different.
Not that it mattered in Portland on the eve of Indigenous People’s Day, formerly known as Columbus Day until Columbus was canceled.
Protesters in Portland, Ore., swept through the city on Sunday night, toppling statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and damaging the entrance to the Oregon Historical Society in a demonstration against colonization and the treatment of Native Americans.
Poor Teddy’s been catching his share of crap for a while, though mostly because the eyes of today’s unduly passionate youth inspect every molecule for something to hate and, due to the malleability of their ideology and disregard to facts, find it.
But Lincoln? The tall guy who issued the Emancipation Proclamation? The president who freed the slaves? Lincoln?
Lincoln has long been celebrated as the president who brought an end to slavery in the United States, but the protesters sprayed the base of his statute in Portland with “Dakota 38” — a reference to the largest mass execution in U.S. history, in which 38 Dakota Indians were sent to the gallows in 1862, accused of killing settlers in raids.
You may remember the Dakota 38 from Greg Prickett’s post about what people do when they have their back to the wall. It happened. It was terrible, and yet another huge blight in American history. And like many horrible things that happened in American history, should be known and remembered.
Had the protesters held a candlelight vigil, perhaps people would become more aware of our treatment of how we treated the Santee and Lincoln’s role, both in allowing the hanging of 38 people as well as his refusal to hang the full 303, as condemned by the military commission and demanded by the people of Minnesota.
Ironically, Greg also included an inspirational quote by TR in his post.
Roosevelt has been scrutinized over his opinions about racial hierarchy and his role in the Spanish-American War. He endorsed eugenics proposals. He was quoted as saying it would be better if almost all Native Americans were dead.
To be more specific, the quote attributed to Roosevelt is shocking today.
I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.
His sentiments were unremarkable at the time, and widely shared among Americans, as was his views on eugenics. Remember Buck v. Bell? But Roosevelt, president, trust buster and the hero of San Juan Hill, did more than treat Geronimo poorly and speak ill of indians.
When the outraged began tearing down statues, the rationale was that they were statues of confederates who served to maintain slavery. The argument was that there weren’t really historical statues, which no one wanted to tear down, but later-built statues, tin statues, installed during Jim Crow to force black people to remember that they were once slaves.
Have we taken baby steps from toppling tin confederate Jim Crow statues to Lincoln and Roosevelt? That’s the thing, “we” haven’t. It’s not that “we” might not, as the same people who denied that we would ever slide down the slippery slope of erasing and rewriting all of American history to focus only on the villainy of every person once respected and now reviled for not living up to the woke expectations of the moment. We might, as a not insubstantial number of voices who denied it would, it could, ever happen now put their best efforts into rationalizing why anything less is racist and sexist.
But “we” didn’t get the chance. Rather, a mob of angry people dressed in all black made the decision for us, for all of us.
Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those who criticized Sunday’s destruction. He was joined at a news conference by Tawna D. Sanchez, a Native American state legislator who lives in Portland. She said that those who want to change the city’s statues could do that through city processes.
“We don’t have to do it by tearing things down, because it’s not helping,” she said.
But she’s wrong. It is helping. It’s helping because the statues are now torn down, no paperwork filled out in triplicate. No arguments with people who don’t get it and should be condemned to purgatory, like the
arch-conservative extremely progressive Portland mayor, Ted. And it made a huge splash, even a story in the New York Times, and sent their message to the masses who they are certain support them unless they are deplorable, in which case deserve no say.
But mobs being mobs, and the thrill of force flowing through their youthful veins, they weren’t satisfied by tearing down the statues, and so decided to teach the city another history lesson.
On Sunday night, journalists in Portland reported that crowds had smashed windows and spray-painted graffiti at other locations, including the Oregon Historical Society and several businesses. The Portland police later declared the gathering a riot and dispersed the crowd, making three arrests.
Kerry Tymchuk, the executive director of the historical society, said the items inside the society’s building were left untouched, except for a quilt sewn by a group of Black women over the course of three years in the 1970s. The quilt was removed from the building by protesters and was later found several blocks away. It was “very wet” — probably as a result of the rain — but Mr. Tymchuk said he hoped it could be put on display again.
Did the Historical Society do something so evil as to be worthy of damage, or was it just that the entirety of history is inherently evil as representing all the wrong done as seen through presentist eyes? What woke goal was accomplished by taking the quilt that took a group of black women three years to create? Maybe that was just an “oopsie,” as it’s not as if they know much about history or artifacts beyond their duty to hate them and the horrifying things America did that has subsumed their entire grasp of a nation.
This would never happen, we were told, but of course it would and is. And there is nothing to suggest we’ve come anywhere near the end of the road of reimagining America through mob destruction or coercion.