COLUMN: What if the tests are wrong?

Over the past several days we have witnessed plenty of protests. In the beginning, protests were in response to the death of George Floyd. However, it became clear shortly thereafter protests were being hijacked by virulently anti-American leftists intent on creating havoc and destruction.

Much of that has been directed at statues of revered American figures. Any statues. If there was a monument to a person, no matter why they were being honored, it came under attack because that's what the rage mobs are intent upon doing. According to them, there is nothing in America worth celebrating.

If anybody still honestly thinks the ongoing destruction and violence is about George Floyd and hasn't been commandeered by rage mobs bent on destroying merely for the sake of destruction, please consider some of their targets.

• In Philadelphia, the rage mob defaced the statue of abolitionist Matthias Baldwin. Who was Baldwin? A true American hero.

At the age of 16, Baldwin was forced to seek work in Philadelphia as an indentured apprentice to a skilled jeweler. Understandably, he developed an early aversion to slavery and, later as an industrialist, never wavered even as it cost him business.

He established a school for Black children in Philadelphia and paid the salaries of the school's teachers out of his own pocket. During Philadelphia's Constitutional Convention in 1837, he fought for the right for African Americans to vote and hired African Americans to work in his shops.

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, "his abolitionist sympathies led to a Southern boycott of his engines shortly before the American Civil War." He spent years dedicated to the education of Black children.

Yet, his statue was set upon and the word "colonizer" spray painted on the base of his statue and his face covered in red paint.

• The statue of another abolitionist, Hans Christian Heg, suffered an even worse fate than Baldwin. Heg's statue in Wisconsin was decapitated and the rest of the statue tossed into a lake.

Heg was a Norwegian-born Civil War hero and vocal anti-slavery activist. He was mortally wounded when his 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry unit came under attack from Confederate forces in 1863.

• Revolutionary War hero Tadeusz (aka Thaddeus) Kosciuszko is a hero to many Polish-Americans. Kosciuszko came from Poland to America to fight for independence. He also became a non-apologetic outspoken critic of slavery. He didn't just talk about it, his will left all his assets to the cause of educating and freeing African American slaves.

This hero's statue was attacked in Washington, D.C., in the most vile terms. According to a tweet from Pawel Zuchowski of RMF Radio FM in Poland, the statue was also spat and urinated upon in addition to having graffiti spray painted on it.

Piotr Wilczek, Poland's ambassador to the U.S., tweeted about the vandalism: "I am disgusted and appalled by the acts of vandalism committed against the statue of Thaddeus Kościuszko in D.C., a hero who fought for the independence of both the U.S. and Poland."

• They are even coming after Abraham Lincoln, or more specifically, the emancipation memorial in Washington, D.C.

The statue, which according to reports was entirely funded by freed slaves, has come under attack because of it portraying a Black man kneeling. However, it was not an image of subjugation, rather it was Lincoln freeing the man, inviting him to rise.

Misguided calls for the removal — from people clearly not interested in the meaning or origin of the monument — have come from protesters and politicians alike within Washington D.C.

All that one really needs to know is that renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass was the keynote speaker at the monument's dedication in 1876.

• However, it's not just heroes from long ago, or even those related to American history, whose statues have been attacked as the rage mobs seem to believe anybody memorialized in such a manner must have been a bad person.

In Austin, Texas, the statue of contemporary blues guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died at age 35 in a helicopter crash, was vandalized with "FTP" (which stands for F*** The Police) spray painted on it.

It's not likely the ignorant person had any idea who he was or knew Vaughan was significantly responsible for a full-on reawakening of blues music to a generation of white kids who were then led down a road to discovering the catalog of African American blues artists (and the origins of the blues), helping spur record sales for past and contemporary Black blues artists.

No, it's not likely the rage mobs knew anything about most of these influential, honorable figures whose statues they found so offensive. But that's what mobs do, they capitalize on what may have started as a truly transformative moment and bastardize it for their own purposes.

Make no mistake, these are the acts of anarchists bent on destruction. Nothing good comes of this unless their motives are exposed.

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Ruthenberg is a multiple award-winning columnist and writer for the Enid News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.

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Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Dave? Send an email to daver@enidnews.com.

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