Lee Statue Meltdown

by James A. Bacon

At one point during the decade-long debate over Confederate statuary, the logic of the Taliban, er, progressives, was that the statues should not be commemorated in highly visible public spaces, but could be relegated to battlefields, cemeteries and museums. If the statues and memorials must be removed, that seems to be a reasonable fallback position, and we’ll see if and where it is honored.

But the statue to Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, where the leftist electorate is infected by a rabid animus towards its enemies, will never be seen again. Not in a battlefield, not in a cemetery, not in a museum. In the Peoples’ Republic the attitude seems to be: we’ve got the power, we’ve got the statues, you can’t have them back, and by the way, f— you, we’re going to destroy them, and you can’t stop us.

The news is out that organizers of the “Swords into Plowshares” project has melted down the Lee statue, which had been torn down in 2021 and the fate of which had long been the subject of litigation. The deed was done at an out-of-state foundry; the metal will be recycled into some form of progressive artwork.

John Reid, chair of The Virginia Council, released the following statement:

The Virginia Council denounces in the strongest possible terms the vile, vengeful, and repugnant act of destroying in a blast furnace the Robert E. Lee statue that stood for decades in Charlottesville.

Rejoicing in the destruction of historic statues and paintings and gleefully comparing it to the “execution” of a “rabid dog” reveals an alarming and juvenile belligerence. Only a weak and sick society allows this to happen, and it ought to be an extraordinarily disturbing sign about the future of this country.

Fair warning, these vengeful and hate-filled people will not stop at statues. They seek to destroy everything they disagree with or don’t understand, and that may include you.

Melting this historic statue helps no one, improves life for no one, and heals absolutely nothing. It is simply an act of vengeance (which should be reprehensible in all moral societies) designed to satisfy the hatred burning in the perpetrators’ hearts. It is an ominous warning to anyone who disagrees with the pre-approved rhetoric.

The Virginia Council calls on civic leaders, political leaders, and leaders in the art community to denounce this reprehensible act that threatens the heritage of Virginia, which may in fact be illegal under the terms of the revised Monuments Act passed by the General Assembly in 2020.

It is a rhetorical tic of the left to call everyone it disagrees with a “hater.” But hatred is the core animating principle of the far left. Destroying a magnificent piece of statuary — not just removing it, but destroying it and denying it to others — can be described only as an act of hatred. As Reid observes, the act makes no one’s life better. Not one child will learn to read. Not one homeless person will be housed. Not one person will be lifted from poverty. The far left has no workable ideas for any of those things. All it can do is revel in grievance, resentment and nihilism.

Update: The only political response to the Lee statue meltdown comes from Philip Hamilton, a candidate for state Senate running against Creigh Deeds in the district that includes Charlottesville. He called for the Attorney General’s office to charge those responsible for melting down the statue with violating state law allowing localities to “remove, contextualize, or cover any monument or memorial” — but not authorizing them to destroy historical works of art. Read his press release here.

James A. Bacon is executive director of The Jefferson Council. The views expressed here are entirely his own.