It shouldn’t have to get to this point, but here it goes: We need a written pledge to protect our statues and monuments. That is, a written document for politicians to sign, if they wish, pledging to protect public order and the dignity of our society.
Yes, of course, desecration and destruction are already illegal, but as we know, many elected officials have chosen to turn a blind eye — or, in some cases, have actively supported — vandalism of statues and monuments.
For the most part, these officials have been local officials, such as sitting mayors. And yet lately, higher officials in the Democratic Party have started to express at least some sympathy for the devils — these destroyers of public peace.
For instance, just on Sunday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) failed to make any sort of defense of public order when she was asked about the possible removal or desecration of the presidential carvings on Mt. Rushmore. Duckworth answered to CNN, “We should start off by having a national dialogue … I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there, but remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans.”
Let’s cut to the chase here: For Duckworth to say, “We should have a national dialogue,” and, “We should listen to everybody,” while echoing the protesters’ grievances, is code-language for dialoguing with Antifa and listening to Black Lives Matter — and we know what they want to do.
Indeed, the last few months have shown us that when a politician won’t condemn vandalism, that means that he or she is signaling a green light to the vandals. After all, the hoodlums aren’t stupid: They know when the coast is clear and when they can have some cost-free fun.
Lest anybody misunderstand where her sympathies lie, Duckworth added, “I’m more worried about the 130,000 who have lost their lives recently and the thousands and thousands of more Americans who are sick than I am our historical past.” We might note that Duckworth is reportedly on Joe Biden’s short-list for the vice presidential nomination.
Indeed, speaking of Joe Biden, after months of taking only softball questions in his Delaware basement, Biden was asked, finally, what he thinks about statue destruction. He answered, “I think the idea of bringing down all those Confederate monuments to Confederate soldiers and generals who strongly supported secession and the maintenance of slavery, and going to war to do it, I think those statues belong in museums.”
The former vice president did insist that the government should protect some structures, such as the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial, and yet it’s obvious that many statues and memorials fall into a neither category: They’re not Confederates, but they’re not PC, either. For instance, there’s Christopher Columbus, who is being demolished all over the country. So what’s Biden’s position on the demolition of Columbus, Junipero Serra, U.S. Grant — and all the others who are far from Confederates? Biden has yet to answer such detailed questions.
For his part, Donald Trump has an answer. He wants to defend the statues, even if, of course, he has not always been able to (it’s a big country).
Still, the president has argued, with great vehemence, that Biden would not adequately defend the nation’s heritage. As Trump said of Biden on June 20, “Does anybody honestly think he controls these radical maniacs? He will surrender your country to these mobsters.” He added, “If the Democrats gain power, then the rioters will be in charge and no one will be safe.”
Is that a fair charge against a hypothetical President Biden? We don’t know, of course, because Biden is not in the White House — although polls indicate that he could be. And in the meantime, we certainly do know that other Democrats aren’t trying very hard to protect public order.
In such a situation, we need clarity. We need to find out: Who’s on the side of public order, and who’s on the side of disorder?
So to help bring about that clarity, let’s make it a clear test: Let’s boil down the idea of public order into a binary choice, a simple “yes” or “no.” Indeed, let’s turn it into a pledge to put before politicians, incumbents and challengers alike.
That pledge that could read like this:
I will not support, and will actively condemn, any and all illegal defacement and destruction of public and private property, including statues and monuments. Such violence is never an appropriate form of protest. And I will support law enforcement in its honorable effort to protect such properties, as well as society as a whole. And I will further support the proper prosecution of those who seek to vandalize or destroy.
Some will insist that such a pledge is redundant because it’s already illegal to commit vandalism. And that’s true, it is — it’s just that the laws aren’t being enforced, and some pols, and their parties, seem to be okay with that.
So that’s the value of a pledge: It will help remind office-holders of the laws that they are sworn to uphold, and it will help reveal to the voters whether or not those office-holders are doing their duty.
To be sure, not every politician will sign the pledge; in fact, it’s likely that many won’t. Yet of course, during this current spree of vandalizing violence, to not sign a pledge to uphold order is, in fact, to be making a plain-as-day statement — that one is soft on, or perhaps even supportive of, vandalistic violence.
Moreover, in many cities, mayors and other local pols will be able to safely ignore any such pledge — and even loudly reject it. That is, their Woken voters wouldn’t want them to sign it, and they might well vote them out if they did (although perhaps there’s a silent majority, even in the cities, that disapproves of such defilement).
In any case, not every American lives in Woketown. Indeed, national polls show strong support for keeping most statues intact. And even if voters are sympathetic to removing, say, Confederate statues, it’s likely that they would prefer to see the removal done peacefully and legally, such that the statues can be safely moved in a museum or other repository.
So presumably many politicians, especially at the state and federal level, would be happy to sign such a pledge — and if they don’t, well, the voters might be happy to learn the name of his or her opponent in the next election.
We might add, too, that there’s ample precedent for pledge-taking. For instance, since 1985, Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, has issued its Taxpayer Protection Pledge, in which the signatory commits to not increasing net taxes. The “ATR Pledge” is completely voluntary, of course, and yet it has been an important tool in keeping Republicans — and even some Democrats — away from the tax-increase temptation.
So now today: We need a pledge for law and order. Yes, it’s sad that we need such a pledge, but still, it’s better to fix a problem than to leave it to fester.
Therefore, before election day, every American should have the chance to know which side each politician is on: The side of order? Or the side of disorder?
And that includes you, Joe Biden.