Former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), a member of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe who sponsored a 2003 law protecting federal monuments, called for the defense of a statue of Andrew Jackson and other monuments on Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host John Hayward.
Mansour asked Campbell about the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003, which Campbell sponsored and introduced in the U.S. Senate. President Trump announced his intention to enforce this federal law, which carries a ten-year jail sentence, against the protesters toppling statues.
Campbell said, “It’s really interesting. Sometimes it is said, ‘What goes around comes around,’ and I guess in this case that bill introduced years ago came around. I was disturbed, particularly because I’m a Korean War veteran, and some of the vandals defaced the Korean War Memorial. I had friends die in that war. It’s a very personal thing to me.”
Campbell described his motivation for composing the bill. He said, “I’m an artist in my private life. I paint, make jewelry, and so on. I’ve always been concerned about an artist’s or craftsmen’s right under the First Amendment, so I was thinking of that and reflecting on a lot of other things at the same time.”
“One of my points of thinking when I first introduced that bill was also protecting integrity of the original artist,” shared Campbell. “They have a First Amendment right not to see their works destroyed.”
“Remember, years ago, what was called the Mapplethorpe exhibit,” recalled Campbell, “when an artist named [Robert] Mapplethorpe was doing these disgusting scenes of Jesus Christ in jars of urine and things of that nature, and I was totally against what he was doing, but he had, I guess, the First Amendment right to to do it. The difference in that case was he was using federal money to paint those paintings of Christ. That was wrong.”
“When I introduced that language, nobody thought in terms of the Southern states who were doing things to really to glorify some of their soldiers,” Campbell stated. “I think they have a right to do that [with] soldiers from the South. Robert E. Lee was an outstanding cadet at West Point at one time, and military historians think that he was one of the top two or three generals in the whole Civil War. He was just in the wrong side of that one, but that should not diminish his skill as a soldier.”
Campbell remarked, “I’m really a great advocate of Dr. Martin Luther King’s way of addressing things. We should have social change through a civil discourse, and not simply by ganging up on each other to see who’s got the most people in a fight. I am a Korean War veteran, and I’m a Cheyenne. I’m very proud of that. You probably know that the history of American Indians at the hands of the federal government and mobs — through different kinds of terrible, tragic killings — were just beyond belief.”
Campbell added, “It is said by the Smithsonian, in fact, that before the coming of Columbus there were perhaps 17 million Native Americans in North America. By the year 1900 that had dwindled down to less than 200,000, most of them killed through diseases that they had no conditioning for, but also through different kinds of massacres like the Sand Creek Massacre, Wounded Knee, and others.”
“Yet if you look at the records now, Native Americans have the highest percent of enlistment per capita of any ethnic group in the United States,” Campbell continued. “They’ve learned how to adapt and how to try to get ahead in life, and although things are still not very good for a lot of Native people, through their own efforts they’re making progress.”
Campbell asked, “Who could have known it, when I was writing that bill 17 years ago, that we’d have people that want to destroy government property [and] statues they don’t like by mob rule, rather than through some kind of a civil discourse? Seems to me, if they don’t like them, they should get somebody to introduce a bill to take them down, but not simply get a big group of people and go burn it or set it on fire.”
Campbell recalled the Taliban’s destruction of the 1,500-year-old Buddhas of Bamyan in 2001.
“Years ago, the Taliban were destroying artifacts in Afghanistan that had been there for hundreds and hundreds of years, and there was a huge national and international outrage,” Campell stated. “To me, this is a little bit of the same thing. We should not be destroying old artifacts, whether we agree with them or not.”
Campbell went on, “A lot of this is driven by, in my view, people who are basically anarchists. They want to change our whole national structure, and a little bit of white guilt thrown in there, too. There’s just a better way to do it if people don’t want those statutes to remain, because where does it end? Is there going to be a movement to take the name of Washington off of our United States capital because he was a slave owner?”
“They defaced the Lincoln Memorial, too,” noted Campbell. “My gosh, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped the slaves become free people.”
Statues and monuments serve an educational purpose for understanding history, held Campbell.
“When you think of how we’re raised, and what we believe about Columbus, and now we’re finding out that some of the stuff they told us about Columbus discovering America implies that there was not 20,000 years of people here before Columbus got here,” Campbell remarked. “There are statues to Andrew Jackson. He drove the Trail of Tears — killing thousands of Cherokees and Choctaws and Chickasaws and Seminoles and so on — when they were driven to Oklahoma territory. Kit Carson is considered a hero in some respects too, but he drove Navajos at gunpoint 1,400 miles on foot to serve four years imprisonment in Bosque Redondo simply for being Navajos, and yet there are statues to Kit Carson, too. So, Native people have a very different perspective one who is a hero and who’s not.”
Mansour asked, “One of the statues that they went after last week was that giant statue to Andrew Jackson that’s right in Lafayette Park across from the White House. Yeah, he was the president during the Trail of Tears, when Congress passed the [Indian] Removal Act in 1830. This is part of our history, too. He was also the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. What do we do with that statue?”
“Leave it there but tell the whole story,” said Campbell of monuments and statues. “I don’t think you can rewrite history to only tell your point of view. Seems to me, if we’re really going to learn from history so that we don’t make the same dumb mistakes, [we must] look at the bad things that happened at the same time.”
Campbell went on, “I would like to think that even though the Andrew Jackson statue is there, the whole story about what he did to minority populations like American Indians should be told, and not simply glorified as a famous general and president.”
Campbell warned, “You can’t sanitize history by getting rid of all the symbols of oppression. Look at the the beautiful new African American museum in Washington. Go in there and look, and you’ll find chains and things that remind people of the slave days, and that’s what we should do. We shouldn’t just sanitize it and say it didn’t happen. It did happen.”
Campbell continued, “We need to learn from the past. It’s the same with the Holocaust Museum. They’re not trying to sanitize anything with the Holocaust Museum. If you go through there, it really — in spades — tells you about the terrible things that happened to Jewish people in World War II.”
Campbell concluded, “I think part of the learning process and teaching our kids is not to totally sanitize things by getting rid of the things that we didn’t like from the old days. We need to explain it to our youngsters why the bad things happened.”
“We’re in for a full-fledged insurrection, if we don’t stop it,” warned Campbell.
Mansour concurred, “We need to augment, not to take down. We should have more statutes, not less, essentially.”
Campbell addressed left-wing advocacy to “defund” and “abolish” law enforcement.
“I was a policeman years ago, and a deputy sheriff a long time ago,” recalled Campbell, “so I’m a big supporter of law enforcement, full well knowing there are a few that don’t toe the line [and] don’t conform to the ethics of good police behavior.”
Campbell continued, “I was a police training officer in an academy in Sacramento, California, years ago,when I was with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. At the same time, I was a volunteer counselor in Folsom Penitentiary for Indian convicts, so I saw both sides of that coin. There was no doubt that a lot has to do with police training. A lot has to do with budget, too.”
“You you can’t ask a person to go out and put his life on the line for $25,000 a year,” Campbell added, “and that’s the starting pay in some towns for a policeman. I just think it’s wrong. Who are you going to call if your house is being robbed? You’re going to call a gang member? No, you’re going to call police, and so they want it both ways. They want police response, but they want to harangue police and beat them up and everything else when they get there.”
Campbell lamented, “It’s just crazy to me what’s happening to American law enforcement, but if you look at the flip side of that coin, look at the statistics of gun sales. They’re at an all-time high, now, with people buying home guns. There’s a message in there.”
Hayward asked what Americans should do in response to those advocating for the destruction of monuments and undermining of law enforcement.
Campbell advised, “You’re either in the discussion, or you’re hiding from it. It won’t get better if you just hide from it. They’ve got to get active and voice their opinions at local level, at county level, at state and federal level, too. Elect people that are going to make decisions by the rule of law and not by tantrums or mob scenes.”
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