Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer warned that much of movement to take down certain monuments was inspired by what he described as a “one-sided” and “sort of destructive” understanding of U.S. history.
According to Krauthammer, that understanding of history is one of oppression, which begs the question in some people’s minds, “What is worth defending?”
Partial transcript as follows:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it is for many people, but I do think that there is a legitimate debate on both sides about honoring the past, particularly the troubled past like that of the civil war. And I do think that the two sides are simply wrong. The one side, the Pelosi saying that we have to uproot all of these, the symbol of the worst thing in America. And then the President on the other side saying that we have to keep all of this.
I think everyone, every monuments has a different history, content and context. If we were rational, this is not exactly a rational moment. We would evaluate them on that context. And it seems to me that is the only way to do it. Some of the statues were sincerely held attributes, some of them by the union to their fallen comrades in the confederacy as a symbol of reconciliation and sort of the better angels.
I will recommend your viewers to go to Arlington National Cemetery, remember the cemetery of the victorious union, go to section 16, it is devoted to a monument to the confederate soldiers, buried there, a raid around this monument. With a very tightening inscription speaking about these men, these confederates in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all, and died.
I mean, that is such a touching magnanimous recognition of the enemy, you would not want to touch that. That is almost sacred, what that is. Now, on the other hand, 100 years later, many Southern states put up statues to the confederacy. As symbols of not the civil war, but of their resistance to civil rights. And two Supreme Court rulings and desegregation. That is a very different category. And that’s where I think it is far more problematic. But that is why I think it is simply a mistake to say categorically, yes, we keep them all, categorically no, we take them all away.
CARLSON: I think that is a fair point. I am bothered by though the drive to erase the past. To tear things down, by the way, without any kind of popular referendum on it. You know, the population gets to weigh in on this. It isn’t democracy after all. But the idea that the past is offensive categorically and we have to just burn it.
KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I agree with you entirely on that. Although, I do think the problem is less statuary than it is pedagogical. Our problem is —
CARLSON: Yes, that is right.
KRAUTHAMMER: — in our children the understanding of our past which is a patho-history. All of our sins, the Indians, African-Americans, slavery, women, it’s the history of oppression which is such a one-sided and sort of destructive understanding of history that to get a generation who comes out of it and thinks, what is left, what is worth defending? That’s where I really worry.
Less about the monuments which are sort of a reflection of that, but that’s where I think we have to start to rebuild a kind of civic culture and an appreciation of the glory of American history, with all of its flaws. And it’s uniqueness. That’s what previous generations were raised on.
KRAUTHAMMER: That’s what the greatest generation was raised on. And now we are raised with a generation that is confused.
CARLSON: Because only stupid people with emotional problems become humanities professors. Somebody needs to subsidize impressive people going into the business, I think.
KRAUTHAMMER: I would round out the English professors and send them to Guantanamo, they can do a lot of teaching down there. That is a joke, Tucker.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor