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Frank: Tearing down statues will not help us learn from our mistakes

Frank: Tearing down statues will not help us learn from our mistakes

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The recent physical and ideological attacks on statues and monuments from our national past are disingenuous distortions of revisionists history. These efforts have endeavored to vilify everyone from Christopher Columbus to President Lincoln and other well known historical figures from our relatively abbreviated past. We have a responsibility to study our past regardless of the uncomfortable nature related to evaluating historical figures and events from the prism of our contemporary value system. To either minimize or exaggerate these events and figures is a form of denial that impedes our ability to recognize history for what it should be-that is a study of what actually happened.

Indeed many of our founding fathers were slave owners, an institution abhorred by all responsible Americans today. Thomas Jefferson fathered multiple children with one of his slaves Sally Hemmings. Does that diminish his achievement to expand the western presence of the nation by the Louisiana Purchase? The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was a renowned womanizer, does that disqualify his accomplishments in the Civil Rights movement?

The inescapable conclusion is that many prominent historical figures were fallible individuals comporting to the social and cultural norms of the time. We can’t pretend it was something other than what the reality was. Is it disconcerting to study the Holocaust and the cruel tradegy it represents? Sure it is. But we study it so during the time we're alive we actively commit to not repeating it. If we don’t have the accurate and unvarnished understanding of our past it is virtually impossible to comprehend any predictability in our current affairs.

In our individual lives we all learn from our mistakes. Without accurately studying both the positive and negative from the past it’s the functional equivalent of each of us waking up in the morning with no recollection of what has previously happened in our lives. In sum we can’t in the name of political correctness get mired in a case of historical denial. Even if we completely eliminate every statue it will not alter the nature and quality of our past.



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