The Wrong Way to Protest Confederate Statues

We can not condone vandalism and worse.

durham-confederate-monument-vandalized

Controversy over monuments to Confederate leaders was at a fever pitch before this weekend’s debacle in Charlottesville, so it’s hardly surprising that anger levels are even higher now. Regardless of one’s view on whether we should remove these statues from the public square, we can not condone vandalism and worse.

The protesters who tore down a Confederate monument in North Carolina could face charges for the vandalism if local investigators are able to figure out their identities.

Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews said that he was relieved nobody was hurt when the protesters wrapped a yellow strap around the Confederate Soldiers monument and pulled it off its pedestal.

“Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority” Mr Andrews said in a statement. “As the sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators more will I ignore their criminal conduct.”

Videos captured at the scene are being analysed by investigators, he said, to figure out who was responsible for the actions. The sheriff emphasised that “racism and incivility” wouldn’t be allowed to run rampant in his county.

The statue, which is nearly a century old, is called the “Confederate Soldiers Monument”. The statue was dedicated in 1924.

These monuments have, to say the least, a complicated history. Regardless, they belong to the public, collectively, and it is their right to decide, collectively what to do with them through the appropriate channels. Many cities are in fact removing them from the public square and either putting them in museums or simply disposing of them. My preference would be the former.

I sympathize with the frustrations of citizens, particularly African-Americans, as to what these monuments represent. But destroying historical monuments on one’s own volition because they offend your sensibilities is done by the likes of the Taliban and the Islamic State. It’s a heinous act that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    I think heinous is a bit strong. “Ill advised” might be a bit better.

    Heinous: hatefully or shockingly evil

    Driving into a crowd of people is a heinous act. Tearing down an inanimate object falls far short of that.

    FWIW, I heard an African American on some podcast years ago who said the best thing blacks could do would be to take over the symbols. Basically, the South lost, blacks eventually won so they should confiscate the flag and start wearing it as a sort of war souvenir. It could be expanded to make the statuary the site of civil rights rallies and marches, starting or ending there and giving a little speech about how these losers were defeated and we can defeat today’s losers too.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:I’d say desecrating irreplaceable historical objects is arguably more heinous than killing one person. The Taliban and ISIS have both destroyed priceless historical artifacts, which may ultimately be a more damning legacy than their campaigns of mass murder. While obviously not of the same piece, both because the motivations are more understandable and the monuments are less ancient, this conduct can’t be condoned. By this logic, the KKK would be justified in blowing up the Lincoln Memorial.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    I think we will just have to disagree here. Blowing up 3000 year old temples might start approaching heinous. But there are a lot of Confederate statues in the South. Hell, I don’t think a statue of Lincoln would be worth a human life. We can make another one.

  4. Jay Gischer says:

    @MarkedMan I like the suggestion that you pass on. I would think that the African-American students at Princeton should have lunch in front of any Memorials to him, in a sort of “living well is the best revenge” celebration.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    I still like the suggestion I made over at TAC:

    Birdseed.

    Lots and lots of birdseed.

    Turn the whole thing into a indecipherable hulk with pigeon crap all over it. And if anyone complains, say you’re a Modern Artist and are just (fill in with indecipherable explanation.)

  6. Mu says:

    Maybe it’s my ex-European attitude, but statues made 100 years ago rarely qualify as irreplaceable historical objects. And as statues of confederates mainly represent attempts at historical white wash during the Jim Crow years anyway, have at it. You can have a memorial for war dead without a Lee or Forrest on top.

  7. mattT says:

    It’d be better to remove these monuments via the legal process. And it’s unfortunate that the one in Durham was not to Davis, Taney, or Lee, but appeared to be a memorial dedicated to the rank-and-file Confederate soldiers. But the people of Durham were prevented from removing or relocating the statue respectfully by a state law passed after the Dylan Roof massacre. So this is what you got.

    And frankly, your comparison of mass-produced statuary that was erected during the Jim Crow era as part of a conscious effort to build a “Lost Cause” myth in support of white supremacy, to the ancient world treasures in Afghanistan and Palmyra, is absurd.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @mattT: How old does a statue have to be to gain historical significance? 1924 is outside the memory of almost anyone alive today. And, frankly, as awful a stain as slavery is on the American legacy, it’s got nothing on the horrors practiced by the leaders on antiquity. Can we blow up the Great Pyramids because the pharaohs used slaves to build them?

  9. mattT says:

    I’m not denying the Confederate statues’ historical significance. They carry much – as monuments to the ideology of white supremacy, and examples of a concerted effort to rewrite the history of the Civil War as some kind of noble cause. Replacing them should be, ideally, a considered democratic action with its own significance.

  10. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Desecrating” is a strong word. And the only history the Durham statue, is that it was an instance where;

    a. Jim Crow era whites wanted to stick their thumb in the eye of their black neighbors, or

    b. Civil Right era whites wanted to their thumb in the eye of their black neighbors.

    It is not irreplacable. Further, it is not Michaelangelo’s David. It is a lump of bronze meant to intimidate. It’s purpose is inflammatory.

    And, here’s the kicker, you assert that tearing down a statue is more heinous than killing a living person

    That is shocking. That is the worst thing you’ve ever said, by far.

    What you just said was heinous.

  11. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Wow!

    Your value system is incompatible with mine. A statue is an object. You value a statue over a human life.

    WTF is wrong with you?

  12. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    You revealed something today that will not be forgotten nor forgiven. That was horrifying.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    To answer your question James, no, it is not okay to destroy the pyramids. And it is not okay to destroy this statue without due process. But we need some sense of proportion here. Is saving the pyramids worth a human life? Well, let’s pose the question another way: If there was an earthquake and the ancient Aswan Lake reappeared and a tidal wave was heading towards the pyramids but there was also a little girl in the way, and you, with your superpowers, could only save one (the pyramids or the girl) which would you choose? For me, it would be a no-brainer – the kid. Or an old lady for that matter. The periods were and are magnificent, but they are just things and they will eventually be gone, one way or another.

  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    Do you feel any museums that hire armed guards are evil because they’ve decided they value the objects in the museum over human lives?

  15. James says:

    I’m going to pass on this particular discussion. Neither side is likely to convince the other here.

    An unrelated comment, though.

    Yes, I get it. This is your site, and you get to write what you want. But after the events of the past several days, your first editorial-style post is centered around methods for protesting confederate statues? Really?

  16. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    God damn, you’re tiresome.

  17. mattT says:

    Can we blow up the Great Pyramids because the pharaohs used slaves to build them?

    Well, yes? We could, with enough high explosives. Sure. But it’d be a terrible idea.

    Took me a while to reply because it’s hard to believe that you really don’t see a category difference between the Great Pyramid or the Temple of Bel, and one of dozens of cheap, mass-produced, identical statues, that were erected around the South within living memory to mythologize white supremacy.

  18. Not the IT Dept. says:

    irreplaceable historical objects? Come off it. Were they designed by American artists or mass-produced by moulds so multiple copies could appear in numerous cities? At worst, this is vandalism and fullest extent of the law could be realized by sentencing people to token fines.

    James, most of those statues went up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and had nothing to do with history. We’re doing the South a favor getting rid of them, any way possible. And black people aren’t the only ones offended.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Can we blow up the Great Pyramids because the pharaohs used slaves to build them?

    My understanding is that no, they weren’t slave built. Which is actually irrelevant, they are irreplaceable. This confederate soldier statue, on the other hand, what @MarkedMan: said

    We can make another one.

  20. James Joyner says:

    @James: I’ve posted multiple long editorial pieces on Charlottesville and its aftermath. This one, a Quick Take, simply takes issue with vandals taking the law into their own hands to protest a cause that should be decided by the community writ large.

    @gVOR08: We could surely rebuild the Great Pyramids at this point, just as we could the Lincoln Memorial. There are thousands of replicas of the Mona Lisa and the statue of David. That doesn’t make them replaceable. No, a 1924 local statue isn’t of the same global significance. But it’s only a matter of degree, not kind.

  21. James says:

    @James Joyner: I didn’t really read them that way, but that could be on me.

  22. de stijl says:

    Why would Durham erect a statue to the Confederacy in 1924?

    A 1924 date for the statue places it firmly in the Jim Crow era when whites were asserting and enacting racial dominance.

    It is a tainted statue. It’s purpose is plain. Racial dominance.

    “Desecrate” means to treat a holy object with irreverance. That statue was as holy as my left elbow.

  23. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: You’re simply arguing that, because you don’t like the message, a given public monument isn’t worthy in your eyes of protection. That’s an amazingly slippery slope.

  24. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    No!

    A human life is worth more!

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Basically, the South lost, blacks eventually won so they should confiscate the flag and start wearing it as a sort of war souvenir. I

    That would be excellent.

    Going back to the Nazi march in Skokie in the 70s, I’ve thought the best approach would be to let them march while the townsfolk line the streets and laugh at them. Don’t treat them as a serious scary threat, that’s what they want. Treat them like the joke they are. Would have been much better in Charlottesville. But I’ve accepted that my side is human and will fall short of perfection.

    It would have been better to go through the political process and have the Durham statue removed by the city. And there probably is a museum or Confederate veterans cemetery where it might be more appropriate. That said, it’s down, no real harm has been done, the perpetrators apparently will be prosecuted and hopefully receive token fines, and some people will be concerned that the protesters didn’t use the right fork at dinner.

    It’s been a hundred and fifty years since the Civil War. Maybe getting rid of some of the symbols will eventually help Southerners get over it.

  26. mattT says:

    But it’s only a matter of degree, not kind.

    Proper understanding of the history of race in America is vital to our health as a nation, and the statues’ original purpose and current function is to testify falsely to that history and muddy that understanding. They serve as rallying points for an active movement that traces its lineage back to Jim Crow and state-sanctioned terrorism against minorities, and which today, as then, advocates violence and oppression of certain Americans.

    The ancient monuments, besides being truly irreplaceable – a copy of the Mona Lisa isn’t the Mona Lisa, and a replica of the Great Pyramid built with diesel-powered earthmovers wouldn’t be the Great Pyramid – simply do not play any such active, divisive, nefarious role today.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    If I read de stijl correctly, he’s simply stating that he values this statue much less than you do. I agree with him. There are all kinds of statues that get vandalized every year. Heck, all those hideous giant hulks of rusting metal “sculptures” from the 70’s are also public works. But should we sacrifice someone’s life for them?

    I understand, these sculptures are important to large numbers of white Southerners. And many of those Southerners have grown up to respect and admire the various generals and statesmen they represent. They sincerely admire them, whether based on what really happened or on some “Birth of a Nation” / “Gone With the Wind” fiction. And they sincerely believe that these statues were erected to honor men who were themselves honorable, and not merely to intimidate darkies who were getting notions. So an attack on them represents an attack on something they hold dear.

    But it is not for this reason that the police should protect the statues to the best of their ability and prosecute those who attempt to destroy them. It is because we are a nation of laws and the law must be enforced.

  28. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: I’m not arguing that this particular small-town statue is worth more than a human life; there’s no such trade-off at stake, regardless. Rather, I’m saying it’s possible that some artifacts are indeed more valuable than a random human life. While he’s been downvoted, @Stormy Dragon correctly notes that we post armed guards at museums.

  29. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: Sure. I made the statement that “desecrating irreplaceable historical objects is arguably more heinous than killing one person” in the context of the desecrations committed by the Taliban and ISIS of great historical artifacts. I don’t argue that this statue rises to that level, merely that they’re on the same continuum.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: Oh. Okay. I think the few of us arguing here thought you were including this statue in that comment. My bad.

  31. Monala says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’d say desecrating irreplaceable historical objects is arguably more heinous than killing one person.

    What is the person killed was one of your daughters? Would you be so cavalier abut it?

  32. James Joyner says:

    @Monala: I’m not being cavalier about the loss of human life, merely arguing that there are clearly things that we value more highly and that there are times where cultural artifacts fit that category. (I’m not arguing that this is an instance of that.)

  33. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Revisit your first comment:

    I’d say desecrating irreplacible historical objects is arguably more heinous than killing one person.

    Which object were you referring to? The Durham (1924) statue.

    What adjectives did you use? Irreplacible and Historical

    What verb did you use? Desecrating “to treat a holy object with irreverence”

    You were not referring to a lump of bronze, but a irreplacible, historical object. That which cannot be but appreciated for its inherent worth.

    You were hanging your hat in the Durham statue, which you now acknowledge is not historically worthy.

    And then again, a small town statue, not particularly historical or consecrecrated, was the reason that a young woman lost her life.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: What do copies of the Mona Lisa sell for compared to the original? Does anyone get outraged if we destroy a copy of the Mona Lisa? Is anyone going to get outraged if we throw out one of my wife’s paintings from thirty years ago? The original Mona Lisa has a history, it is a masterwork by da Vinci. Those are rare.

    This statue also has a history. http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/monument/118 describes it as a “Common Soldier Statue”, of which they list 60+ in NC. I found a tweet reproducing an old newspaper clip noting the statue as made cheaply of sheet copper by one W. H. Mullins of Salem, Ohio*. The date and context make it clear it was erected by racists to intimidate blacks in support of Jim Crow. And the KKK/white supremacist/alt-right types wanted it to continue intimidating blacks.
    _________
    * Apparently Mullins’ company made decorative architectural metalwork and evolved into the Mullins Manufacturing Corporation, which made Youngstown Kitchens. This statue would fall under the heading of decorative metalwork, not fine art.

    Thank you, following this Google trail was kind of fun.

  35. Franklin says:

    These are my N points on this post:

    1) I agree that the proper way to get rid of these statues is through some democratic means, as opposed to vandalism.
    2) I am perhaps among the minority who don’t believe that every life is priceless (not even {gasp} human lives).
    3) That said, I would probably protect a baby bird that fell out of its nest before I protected a Confederate statue. Results depend on the creature and historical artifact.

  36. JohnMcC says:

    Speaking historically, which should be right in Dr Joyce’s wheelhouse of course, one should look at any monument as a meaningful communication from those good folks of 1920’s Durham (in this case) to themselves and what they wanted to say to we who descended from them. It’s a visual statement. We should read it just as it was written.

    What these Confederate memorials are saying is that the enemies of Reconstruction won. The Durham ‘Confederate Soldier’ might himself have been defeated. But he is not portrayed like the famous ‘Dying Gaul’. He was erected as a triumphal marker that his cause had outlived him and was now victorious in the hands of his children.

    Thankfully the 21st century attitude towards those who crushed Reconstruction has reversed itself. We look at those Confederate memorials and don’t like them. We should be removing them as fast an orderly democratic procedures for that project can be instituted. We have the same right to take the damn things down that the Jim Crow politicians had to raise them.

    And in a somewhat related note: Those folks who destroyed that statue should be looked on as having practice civil disobedience and should be willing to stand on their actions and stand trial for the violation. If I’d been there I’d accept whatever penalty is handed down as something to be proud of.

  37. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: No, I just went down the rabbit hole of an argument that an artifact is always worth less than a human life. As the next sentence makes clear, I was defending that in context of the Taliban and ISIS destruction, not this statue.

    @gVOR08: I didn’t know that this was a mass-distributed statue when I wrote the post. Regardless, if somebody destroyed, say, a copy of the Declaration of Independence that had been dedicated at the local courthouse in 1924, I’d say that it was a big deal.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: Sounds like the statue was mass-produced as well. Wonder how it was advertised: “Product X: Confederate soldier statue, suitable for Lost Cause enthusiasts and cocking a snook at the local darkies. $250.”

  39. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    “And frankly, as awful a stain as slavery is on American legacy, it’s got nothing on the horrors practiced by the leadership of antiquities.”

    “1924 is outside of the memory of almost anyone alive.”

    Reading those two statements why would anyone think you are unserious and just misunderstood in this matter?

    You diminish the severity of American slavery – in context of our slavery practices, we weren’t *that* evil.

    You blatantly, obtusely ignore that the Jim Crow era was the time that these irreplaceable historical statues were erected, and why they were erected.

  40. Matt Bernius says:

    Ironically, this action has all but guaranteed this statue (or what’s left of it) will be on permanent display for the foreseeable future in a museum. With this action it has become a important historical artifact and one that is worthy of display, both in terms for it’s historical significance prior to it’s destruction and the historic importance of it coming down.

    My expectation is most of the statues that come down will go into museum archives. Few will see public display (only because there are so many of them). To be clear, I don’t consider that necessarily a bad thing. This one, however, will be front and center for years.

    In that respect — or at least the way we as a culture deal with these types of dialogs — it is soewhat different than the example of the destruction of the Buddhas.

  41. Gustopher says:

    On an abstract intellectual level, I agree with Mr. Joyner. It is wrong to destroy public property. Including cheaply constructed monuments to the Jim Crow era.

    But at this exact point in time, it feels like an attempt to equivocate — those nasty leftists are taking things into their own hands, just like the Nazis. I don’t think he meant it that way, but if we didn’t have years of him being a bit tone deaf to context and a bit too bookish, it would be hard to distinguish this from the far right pundits trying to shift the attention from the actual nazis with a gentle wink and nod of agreement with the nazis.

    Remember when Saddam Hussein was toppled? The people tore down his statue. The same thing happened with statues of Stalin and Lenin after the fall of the Soviet Union. They didn’t get the proper permits and go through the proper channels, they just tore down the statues. This has more in common with that, then it does with vandalism or the Taliban.

    The White Supremacy of the South is crumbling. And the statutes are coming down with it.

  42. de stijl says:

    @Franklin:

    n=3

    I wish my algebra professor saw that; I might have dissapointed him less.

  43. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    The Stalin and Hussein statues were neither historical nor irreplacible. They were ephemirable because they were erected in an incorrect context.

    Some statues are more worthy than others.

  44. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Sorry, that was indecipherable. My point was lost entirely in my words.

    It was obvious and spiteful towards Joyner without a cogent point. I apologize.

  45. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Your continuum started with the Durham statue.

    It’s why you posted. It was the impetus.

  46. de stijl says:

    The stimulus for the original post was that the Durham statue being torn down by a vandal.

    Joyner’s very first response was: “These monuments have a complicated history.”

    First sentence, second paragraph.

    This is not about Egyptian pyramids. That is a dodge and a fake. This not a big-look history post.

  47. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not arguing that this this is an instance of that.

    That was your implicit argument! This is the symptom of that. It was your lede.

  48. An Interested Party says:

    Does any other country have a mass of statues dedicated to traitors who tried to overthrow the government of that country–and especially for a cause as odious as holding other human beings as property? I imagine that James’s opinion is influenced by the fact that he is a Southerner…yes, yes, laws are in place to prevent vandalism, blah, blah, blah…but no tears need to be shed over the destruction of statues honoring treason and racism…

  49. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    there’s no trade-off at stake, regardless…

    Recent events contradict you. Heather Heyer was run down and killed because of a Robert E. Lee statue.

  50. DrDaveT says:

    James, would you have objected if African-Americans (and those who appreciate their plight) had torn down these flagrant statements of oppression the day after they were erected?

    If the Town Council erects a flaming cross on the Courthouse grounds, is tearing it down ‘vandalism’?

    Right and wrong do matter.

  51. cjdavis says:

    As it stood, it was a cheap generic figure of a confederate soldier, installed simply to intimidate black residents of the city as Jim Crow laws were installed.

    As the first explicit American monument to racism torn down by people exercising civil disobedience, it is priceless. It’s historic. I’d advocate putting it right back up on its pedestal in its current broken, twisted state. Now it’s actually art, open to interpretation.

    And preserve that nylon strap wrapped around the neck they used to pull it down. Beautiful.

  52. de stijl says:

    @cjdavis:

    Well, not the first, but pretty important nonetheless.

    Is it irreplaceable and historic? Those things apparently matter. There’s no real definition to irreplaceable and historic, but the *feeling* of what those words could mean apparently matters.

    Also, it shan’t be desecrated.

    That would be heinous. More than someone’s death.

    Really, that bad – worse than someone’s death. I know it sounds stupid, but I’m sticking with it. If someone knocks this thing over, it is worse than someone dying.

  53. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @cjdavis: And now it has historic significance, too!

  54. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    If someone knocks this thing over, it is worse than someone dying.

    So I’ve now explained this multiple times in the thread. My OP said that:

    I sympathize with the frustrations of citizens, particularly African-Americans, as to what these monuments represent. But destroying historical monuments on one’s own volition because they offend your sensibilities is done by the likes of the Taliban and the Islamic State. It’s a heinous act that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    The first comment, by @MarkedMan, stated that,

    Driving into a crowd of people is a heinous act. Tearing down an inanimate object falls far short of that.

    And I responded

    I’d say desecrating irreplaceable historical objects is arguably more heinous than killing one person. The Taliban and ISIS have both destroyed priceless historical artifacts, which may ultimately be a more damning legacy than their campaigns of mass murder. While obviously not of the same piece, both because the motivations are more understandable and the monuments are less ancient, this conduct can’t be condoned. By this logic, the KKK would be justified in blowing up the Lincoln Memorial.

    I’m clearly making a generic point in the first sentence. The second sentence returns to my Taliban/ISIS analogy. The third sentence qualifies that “While obviously not of the same piece, both because the motivations are more understandable and the monuments are less ancient, this conduct can’t be condoned.”

    A monument erected in 1924 has historic significance. It’s been in the public square since time immemorial. It’s part of generations of the town’s history. Mobs don’t have the right to desecrate these objects simply because they disagree with the message.

  55. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    James, would you have objected if African-Americans (and those who appreciate their plight) had torn down these flagrant statements of oppression the day after they were erected?

    Yes, although it would be a different argument. At that point, it’s not a historic object. But, no, people don’t get to destroy public property because they disagree with the message.

    When Roy Moore hung the 10 Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court all those years back, I found it offensive. I would have expected an angry citizen who tore it down and destroyed it to be charged with a crime. But, again, that’s a different thing than a statue that’s been in a town square for generations.

  56. JohnMcC says:

    Seems like this topic has timed itself out but I happened to notice on New York Magazine (“Durham Activists Turn Themselves In…” by Lisa Ryan) just now that several hundred people have lined up at the Durham Police Dep’t to turn themselves in for the ‘crime’ of pulling down that statue. Only a few were ‘accepted’ into jail.

    That’s how history moves from one era to another.

  57. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, no, people don’t get to destroy public property because they disagree with the message.

    Not ever? Not for any reason, under any circumstances?

    I’m offering you a chance to back off that position before we start talking about gas chambers and guillotines. If you genuinely believe that The Law and/or Property are more sacred than lives, we can all stop here.

    Also, a suggestion: stop digging. Your original assertions do not stand up to even cursory scrutiny, and the correct action on your part is to apologize for misspeaking and restate what you were trying to say. For example:

    I’m clearly making a generic point in the first sentence (“Desecrating irreplaceable historical objects is more heinous than killing any one person”).

    Your “generic point” is not true. Destroying the last remaining Schplatz Beer bottle top is not more heinous than killing ANY one person. Allowing a concentration camp victim to cermonially burn the number and star they were forced to wear is not heinous at all. What you said is either not what you meant to say, or is clearly false.

    The second sentence returns to my Taliban/ISIS analogy.

    …which is a terrible analogy because it only works if any and all artifacts are of equal value — slashing a Vermeer is the same as slashing one of my kids’ finger-paintings. Unless you’re ready to argue that generic Jim Crow statuary are of comparable historical and cultural significance to UNESCO sites, drop the analogy.

    The third sentence qualifies that [even though my premise is wrong and my analogy doesn’t hold, I stand by the conclusion].

    I paraphrased a bit there, but it’s essentially accurate.

    If you want to argue some other way for the conclusion that this particular act was unjustified, go ahead — you might even convince me. But the argument you started with is, well, a non-starter.

  58. Davebo says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’d say desecrating irreplaceable historical objects is arguably more heinous than killing one person.

    And you’d be horrifically wrong.

  59. Davebo says:

    I’m not arguing that this particular small-town statue is worth more than a human life; there’s no such trade-off at stake, regardless. Rather, I’m saying it’s possible that some artifacts are indeed more valuable than a random human life.

    Toss out the shovel and stop digging James. And for sure don’t try to drag Stormy into the hole with you.