Last year, when a wave of activists forced their cities to take down statues of leaders of the confederacy, President Trump asked an insightful question that ripped at the seams of liberalism. He asked,"If we take down General Lee's Statue, why don't we take down George Washington's statue? He owned slaves."
Not a single claim of Trump's was false.
In addition to owning slaves, George Washington oversaw one of the most deadliest and cruel genocide campaign against the Iroquois. In the May 31, 1779 letter to Gen. Sullivan, George Washington begins the letter with:
The expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the six nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.
Knowing all this information about George Washington, the best course of action would be to concede Trump's point and also wonder why people are trained to believe that George Washington was a 'good guy' on the right side of history. Liberals, however, with their amazing talent to be able to constantly lose in front of fascism, showed that they do not have any adherence to principle and went on to describe why George Washington was deserving a statue, even if he were equally or if not more destructive than Gen. Lee. Chicago Tribune took time to explain how Washington's slave-owning ways were different than Lee's
It is true that Washington was also a slaveholder, but that is where his resemblance to Lee ends. As Matthew Yglesias pointed out in Vox, we revere Washington today because of his many accomplishments on behalf of the nation that had nothing to do with slavery. He was the military leader in the Revolutionary War, he presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and, perhaps most important, he established the precedent of peacefully leaving office at the end of his term.
Lee, in contrast, had virtually no achievements other than the military defense of slavery, which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. If Washington is remembered despite his connection to slavery, Lee is remembered only because of it. To be sure, Washington’s slaveholding is, and must be, an indelible stain on his reputation. Lee, by contrast, would have no historical reputation at all if he had not committed treason to defend human bondage.
If all these sound like logical stretches, they are. One has to go no further than to read the Declaration of Independence, where the founders talk about their grievances:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
After the French and Indian War, England signed a treaty with France and the First Nations, which banned colonists from expanding westward. England also enforced this border using their military might. The colonists who wanted to acquire more land (at the cost of Genocide), did not appreciate that the King would not let them move westward.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
With even a cursory reading, it is obvious that the biggest legacy for the founding of the United States was slavery and genocide. The founding fathers' legacy is just as bad as Gen. Lee's with an added caveat of wanton genocide. Yet, liberals choose to protect the empire over abandoning these founding myths.At the end of the day, how did they help the fascists? They helped fascists because their position was so on the face and logically inconsistent that the fascists who wanted to celebrate slavery looked reasonable by comparison. If liberals were not so invested in protecting the empire, they would have called Trump on the bluff and said, “Let’s take down George Washington Statues and give it to truly deserving people”
We, as a society, may have been able to collectively talk about what America was founded on and even abandoned centuries-old myths that have been pervasive in our collective minds, festering like viruses. We may have been able to understand the role that America has played in the world. Instead, the conversation was shut-down after a few feeble excuses for a genocidal maniac.
But, let’s be careful to unwash the centuries of brainwashing that has been done on our minds when we invoke the past.
Just maybe, when enough of us are discussing the right things about our future, we can maybe believe that “another world is possible.”