Retaining historical and cultural names, monuments, public words, and statues
- Wayne County
- United States of America
- http://FB: Citizens 4 Constitutional Liberties
the destruction of our historical long-standing public monuments, names and other words on buildings weakens our consciousness of history.
Even more importantly, however, erasing monuments of once-revered figures upsets an unspoken but long-prevailing consensus governing our decisions of whom to commemorate. The consensus renders the commemoration process more meaningful and less political than it otherwise would be.
The standard traditionally applied is as follows: When deciding whom to commemorate — by statues, place names, monuments, holidays, currency, or coins — we select individuals who performed extraordinary feats that, on balance, made the world a better place. We disregard or discount those faults common to the individual’s time and place. We do not erect monuments to people who performed extraordinary feats that were unquestionably evil, even if their characters included some virtuous traits. Thus, George Washington is memorialized in statues and place names, although he held slaves. Adolph Hitler gets none, although he was kind to dogs.
George Washington is one example of the traditional standard in action. Other examples are the decisions to name towns in New York State, Illinois, and Indiana after the Roman consul, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero was a great orator, an outstanding lawyer, a spokesman for balanced government, and the single person most responsible for transmitting the Greek philosophical tradition to Western Europe. It does not disqualify him that he selected a husband for his daughter rather than allowing her to select one for herself. Parental selection of spouses is anathema today, but in Cicero’s society, “everybody did it.”
There are at least two reasons for not permitting contemporaneous vices to disqualify historical figures from favorable commemoration. First, virtually everyone acts in ways consistent with contemporaneous social norms—norms of which later generations may disapprove. Common faults are, by definition, common. If we disqualified all figures because we now reject their society’s practices, we would commemorate few people indeed, and we would deprive ourselves of many sources of inspiration.
Second, because almost everyone conforms in most respects to prevailing social practices, disqualification for such conduct is necessarily arbitrary and driven more by politics than by merit. The fact that a particular vice prevailed in a person’s place and time becomes an excuse for stripping recognition from people whose lives contradict the propaganda of those in power. Today “progressives” vandalize statues of Columbus and Lee, allegedly because of actions motivated by racism. Tomorrow, a “white nationalist” majority might uproot monuments to Martin Luther King citing his adulteries and other indiscretions. Or a religiously-conservative majority may blacklist outstanding women who in private life opted for legal abortions.
But the traditional standard does help minimize political manipulation of history. Perhaps that is precisely why the standard is flouted by those who want to politicize everything.
We, the undersigned call on the Wayne County Board of Education, Goldsboro City Council, or Wayne County Commissioners not to remove any names or words on schools, highways, buildings, as well as, monuments, or statues without the majority approval by a vote of Wayne County citizens.
As elected representatives it is your duty to honor and protect what has been bequeathed into your hands by those who have gone before you. It is a sacred trust from the people and it is not something to be taken lightly to be altered, or to be destroyed because of a few disgruntled people who hope to intimidate and motivate through fear.
If there is any discussion or suggestion that anything be removed, altered, and or deleted it is a matter for the whole of the people via a vote and not up to a handful of individuals.
We petition you to honor your oath, protect our heritage, and if need be, bring a matter before the whole of the people so you may indeed govern as intended, at the consent of the governed.
The Retaining historical and cultural names, monuments, public words, and statues petition to Wayne County was written by Linda Harper and is in the category Constitutional rights at GoPetition.