WASHINGTON. It is considered one of the finest works by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It commemorates that day in May of 1863, four months after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect, when free blacks marched down the streets of Boston as members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. So, it’s more than a little ironic that the magnificent monument to their heroic struggle and sacrifice was defaced in mindless race riots Sunday.
The dark bronze relief sits across the street from the Massachusetts State House and depicts Colonel Robert G. Shaw and the brave 1,000 men under his command.
The colonel sits astride his horse, his sword unsheathed. His men bear Enfield rifles on their shoulders, their barrels flashing in the sun. Black Union troops, determination etched on their faces, march through Boston and continue southward – to stamp out treasonous insurrection and end slavery.
Capture by Confederate forces meant enslavement or summary execution.
A drive to rewrite history
But the monument’s defacing is nothing new. Back in 2012, a woman stopped her car near the monument, exited her vehicle and threw yellow paint on the sculpture. When some of that paint landed on tourists standing nearby, infuriating them, the amber-colored assembly apprehended and detained her for Boston authorities.
According to the Associated Press,
“Investigators said the woman… complained the statue did not accurately depict history.”
The tyrannical inclinations of those willing to maim, kill, and deface in the name of historical accuracy is not a new hobby horse for the left.
As George Orwell noted,
“The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
In his book “1984,” Orwell describes the fictional dystopia under Big Brother’s authoritarianism,
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
In other words, rewriting history is the big tell. It speaks to the deep fear within the re-writers’ that their efforts will end in failure. That by erasing what came before, there’ll be no objective measure against which to judge success or deride comical flops. But it’s also a means for erasing historical evils that parallel those we are told are enlightened and modernly “progressive.”
Joe Biden’s slave-state mentality
Like when in 2012, Democratic progressive Vice President Joe Biden, who forgot his party favored secession, slavery, and racist Jim Crow, told African-Americans that Republicans would “put you all back in chains.”
Comments that would raise howls from the men of the fighting 54th Massachusetts volunteers. Or a swift bayonet in “Sleepy” Joe’s backside for remarks that “did not accurately depict history.”
A mindless millennial’s ‘Marica
It seems the left’s goal is to turn the next generation of Americans into ignorant, know-nothing millennials – like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Those who tell us not to confront their comical theories with facts.
Instead, we are told to judge them from an “aspirational” standpoint. That is, they want to be judged on the purity of their motives and goals, not the evil consequences stemming from their insane actions.
Like defacing the Shaw 54th memorial, for instance.
To “die in a good cause”
Among Shaw’s ranks was Sgt. Major Lewis Douglass, son of an escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Before his death at the battle of Fort Wagner, he wrote to his wife,
“Should I fall in the next fight, killed or wounded, I hope to fall with my face to the foe… Remember if I die, I die in a good cause.”
Monuments like Boston’s bronze memorial to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, as Lincoln said, are meant to strum the nation’s “mystic chords of memory… when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Five weeks after the Great Emancipator spoke these words, angry Americans in South Carolina fired on Fort Sumpter, triggering the War Between the States.
One week later, on April 19, 1861, Union troops from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania confronted pro-Confederate rioters in Baltimore while on their march to the nation’s capital. Marylanders, you see, did not like the outcome of the 1860 presidential election. Lincoln, to use a popular phrase, was not their president.
Baltimore rioters – the “resistance” of their day – attacked federal troops with rocks, bricks, and pistols. Four soldiers died, while twelve civilians suffered the same fate. The “Pratt Street Riots” represent the first battle of America’s Civil War.
By destroying their history, today’s rioters are condemned to repeat it.
Top Image: Massachusetts militia encounter pro-Confederate rioters in Baltimore, Maryland. Engraving of F.F. Walker (1861), via Wikipedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5009355