Saturday, September 30, 2017

Those who cannot remember past historical figures are condemned to condemn them.


“Class, today’s current events topic is the statues being torn down across the country. This has been all over the news.

“Some famous Americans did some very immoral things a long time ago, a century or more in the past, and yet we have statues of them in our public spaces. A few years ago, a movement began to tear down such statues; the people behind this tear-down movement felt that the statues were honoring and condoning, or at least whitewashing, despicable behavior.

“The first statues to be removed were those of the Coal and Oil Barons, like John D. Rockefeller and J. Paul Getty. Almost nobody tried to save these statues from falling, or to prevent renaming the many buildings named after these very immoral people. It is obvious to anyone with at least a 1st grade education that the launching of the fossil fuel age was the single most immoral and unjust act in human history. Honestly, how could anyone have had the gall to support and encourage the global addiction to fossil fuels, and the subsequent environmental and humanitarian devastation these people brought about simply for their own financial benefit!

“The second wave of statue teardowns involved anything having to do with running the old-time aviation industry. This started with statues of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who invented the carbon-binging airplane technology, and went on to include figures like La Guardia, JFK, and Ronald Reagan, who were well known because of their large airports. A few people argued against this wave of takedowns, saying that by the time air flight was invented, burning fossil fuels was already normalized in society, and so they weren’t any worse than average people. But that argument failed against the common-sense facts that at no time did people burn more fuel than when they were flying, and that flying was not done by “normal people” but only by the wealthy few. And so, the flight-industrialist statues came crashing down. Good riddance!

“Next came the removal of statues of anyone who flew in planes a lot, which included a host of wealthy elites of the past two centuries who called themselves frequent flyers. Some people argued that we should preserve statues of frequent flyers who had exhibited redeeming humanitarian qualities, and that historical figures should not be judged only by the worst thing they ever did. For example, violent counter-protests broke out when a statue of someone named ‘Malala’ was brought down right here in Montgomery. Malala was a Nobel Prize winner who had advocated for the rights of women (difficult as it is to believe nowadays, there was a time when man and woman were how people were categorized, and women generally got the short end of the stick). These counter-protesting Malala-apologists argued that speaking out for women justified retaining the statue, despite the tens or hundreds of thousands of miles Malala flew around the world to receive prizes for humanitarian work. Ironically, the debate was never settled, because the statue’s foundation had been so weakened over the years, due to the rising tides caused by global warming, that one day Malala’s statue simply collapsed on its own.

“The final wave of statue removals targeted anyone known not just for air flight, but for any use of the internal combustion engine (the internal combustion engine was the most common of the many historical machines designed to emit carbon into the atmosphere). Statues of Henry Ford, who was intimately associated with the manufacture of automobiles, were quickly toppled. And just last week another statue was removed in our city: someone named Rosa Parks who, as near as anyone can remember, was known solely for riding a bus—a fossil-fuel driven, carbon-belching bus.

“Your assignment, students, is to write one persuasive paragraph about any living person who you think deserves a statue, and why their statue will never be torn down. Remember to write your name and today’s date—September 30, 2117—at the top of the page, and leave it on my desk.

“When your assignment is finished, you may go out for recess.

The school yard is deep in water again, today, so how do we stay safe? ... All together now: ‘I’ll put on my waders and watch out for gators.’”