On confederate monuments

A few thoughts in the wake of violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, VA

(1) A public monument isn’t a record of history, it’s a statement of something the community is proud of. History is recorded in books and other records that are there for anyone who cares to use them. Preserving history is no defense for public monuments. Replace “erasing our history” with “erasing our culture” or “erasing our values” and you might get a better sense of what’s really being said. Personally, I think the culture and values these monuments convey are no longer appropriate for public places anywhere in this country.

(2) The monuments in question aren’t “beautiful.” I don’t think Mr. Trump has a healthy sense of beauty, judging by how he lives. These monuments were put in place during the Jim Crow years (long after the end of the war) to intimidate blacks and other minorities who were thinking that civil rights might actually happen in their communities. They’re cultural signposts that say, “We may have lost the war, but you can’t make us change our ways.” Since “the ways” in question involve racial discrimination, that’s anything but beautiful: it’s ugly and mean-spirited. More likely, “beautiful” is being used as a code word for “what we believe in but can’t say out loud.”

(3) To those who say, “Slavery, discrimination, racial bias, etc. are over, and have no power,” one has to ask, then why are we still celebrating and honoring–in our public places–individuals who were best known for supporting slavery, discrimination, racial bias, etc? The simple fact that there are currently monuments in places of public honor in our country that represent and celebrate people who supported and fought to preserve racial discrimination makes it incredibly unconvincing that the culture they represent could possibly be gone and no longer has power in our society.

Ten perspectives on a plane crash

Pilot, 45 minutes into 10-hour flight: "I have to confess, I didn't quite realize how complicated this would be..."

Passenger, 3rd row: (checks parachute, secures jump suit, and sips complimentary champagne)

Reporter, 10th row, window seat: “The latest poll says that the people who voted for this pilot still like her.”

Passenger, 15th row, aisle seat: “She isn’t MY pilot. I voted for the other one.”

Passenger, 33rd row, center seat: “We might crash, but at least I won’t die sitting next to a Radical Islamic Terrorist. Or a drug addict.”

Passenger, 33rd row, aisle seat: (signals flight attendant for another scotch and belches loudly)

FAA chairman, in the flight tower: “Gosh, who was responsible for checking her license?”

Russian, at the airport: “They chose their pilot by popular election? Idiots!”

European, at the airport: (shakes heads sadly and rebalances his stock portfolio to eliminate shares in the airline)

Xi Jinping, on the phone with Kim Jong Un: “So how are those missiles coming along?”

Vladimir Putin, in the corporate HQ for a rival airline: (waits patiently for news of the crash)