Rod Thomson

It’s a story as old as civilizations passing away, history looping without end…

First they came for the Confederate monuments, because they represented those who fought to maintain slavery.

Then they came for Confederate flags, because banning them would alleviate the hurt of slavery they represented.

Then they came for Confederate names on buildings, on schools and on streets. That which causes offense is not acceptable in our society.

Then they came for the history textbooks, which were revised to avoid causing pain to students confronted with the ugly past in their own country. How could the children endure this?

After a time, they had erased all memories of the Confederacy from the public square and the books — sent them down the memory hole — and all was good with race relations. All would now prosper and feel safe from the offense of history.

But…

Some Founders were slaveholders. And this is intolerable to even think about. So they came for those Founders who owned slaves, most prominent of whom were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

They came for the Jefferson and Washington Monuments in the nation’s capital and all statues of Washington and Jefferson, for they caused deep offense. Slaveowners looking down on us!

Then they came for schools named after Jefferson and Washington. Then they came after streets and towns named after Jefferson and Washington. That which causes offense is not acceptable in our society.

Then they came for the history textbooks, which were revised to avoid causing pain to students confronted with the slaveholding realities of the nation’s forefathers. How could the children endure this?

And finally they came after the Capital of the United States, because it was named after a slaveholder. How offensive to every citizen!

After a time, they had erased all memories of every founder who was a slaveholder from the public square and the books — sent down the memory hole — and all was good with race relations. All would now prosper and feel safe from the offense of history.

But…

It was soon remembered that all of the Founders agreed to keep women from being able to vote, to treat them as second-class citizens. This included those who were not slaveholders and those who opposed slavery.

So they came after all of the rest of the Founders not already erased, because they were sexist and diminished women. Hated women. Such sexism can never be celebrated!

Then they came for the monuments to Founders such as John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine and the rest for they caused offense, they made some women feel “less than.” Sexist males looking down on us!

Then they came for schools named after Adams and Hamilton. Then they came after streets and towns named after Adams and Hamilton. That which causes offense is not acceptable in our society.

Then they came for the history textbooks, which were revised to avoid causing pain to students confronted with the ugly, sexist past of all of the Founders of their own country. How could the children endure this?

After awhile, they had erased all memories of every Founder — racist and sexist — from the public square and the books — all sent down the memory hole — and all was good with race and gender relations. All would now prosper and feel safe from the offense of history.

But…

Oh, there was so much more still to erase! The impurities!

They came for Christopher Columbus because he brought plagues to the natives and stole their lands and resources. Erase him!

They came for U.S. presidents before the Civil War because they appeased the South with compromises, allowing slavery to expand into more new states in the Union. Erase them!

They came for the Presidents who did not uphold treaties with Native Americans. Erase them!

They came for the 19th century building titans who constructed the Transcontinental Railroad because they paid the Chinese slave labor wages for their work. Erase them!

They came for every corporate baron enriched during the industrial revolution, some of which had used child labor, all of whom had mistreated workers. Erase them!

They came for U.S. Supreme Court justices who upheld slavery in the Dred Scott ruling. Erase them!

They came for the once-revered Woodrow Wilson because he was an overt racist and acted colonially when he began the U.S. occupation of Haiti. Erase him!

They came for Franklin Roosevelt because he put Japanese-Americans in internment camps in World War II. What an offense to have to be faced with! Erase him!

They came for Harry Truman because he used atomic weapons against Japanese civilians — but not Germany — showing his bigotry. Erase him!

They came for Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush. None withstood the next wave of erasure. “Erase them all!” they cried in their purifying fever.

Like the great Eraser’s of kingdoms past from Assyrians to Soviets, they took down all predecessors, all remnants that might remind people of the offensive, unacceptable, unauthorized national history. They erased them all.

In the end, they stood around, panting heavily from their long labors and paused. And then they came for themselves, because such was the voracious appetite to purify history from offense that none could meet the test of purity.

Not even the Erasers.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.

First They Came for Confederate Monuments…

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