After winning his decades-long battle to end apartheid in his homeland, and becoming South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela did a remarkable thing.
Instead of seeking vengeance against the white minority that had suffocated the black majority for so long, he established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. to create an accurate record of what happened, and why. The goal of the court-like commission was not to prosecute the perpetrators, but to create a history that was laser straight and true. The adage says winners get to write history and that’s what Mandela did, cementing his own place in history.
The United States needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on race to present a history of our country, and its leaders, that is laser straight and true. Bring in historians, academics, social scientists, ethicists, people with facts in their hands.
As Mandela echoed Abraham Lincoln, who did not prosecute leaders of the Confederacy for treason, we should emulate Mandela and face our history. We need the whole truth, presented in the legal and social context of the times, to decide how to treat our national symbols.
This is about statues and more.
It started with Confederate statues, which should be removed, legally, not by mobs.
After the Confederacy, attention switched locally to Frank Rizzo and nationally to Christopher Columbus, and not for the first time. Columbus’ legend had been under attack for well over a decade.
In school, I learned that Columbus sailed the ocean blue. I doubt that is being taught today. I knew the original narrative — he was a brave explorer. Then I read the counter-narrative — he was a slaver, rapist, and murderer. Some roots of that are in Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States,” a deeply warped version of history from a dedicated Marxist.
Is that my jaundiced opinion? No. On page 631, he admits his book is “biased.”
Then I read the counter-counter narrative that says Columbus was framed. The upshot: I no longer know what the hell is the truth about Columbus and I suggested he be put on trial — in a real courtroom today.
I suggested the same for others under attack, to uncover the truth, but I now feel a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the way to go.
The city of Columbus is thinking about changing its name. How about Washington — the city and the state? Do they need to be sanitized?
What is the whole truth about George Washington — cherry tree chopper, boy who could not tell a lie, slaver, father of his country?
History and mythology can exist side by side.
Will the Jefferson Memorial be dynamited? Will Pennsylvania be renamed because William Penn owned slaves?
Left-wing activist Shaun King says images of Jesus represent “white supremacy,” and should be torn down. There is nothing new about the thought that Jesus was dark-skinned, but the call for destruction of art — that’s new.
If you think people got upset over a statue of Columbus being pulled down, watch what happens when the mob starts throwing bricks through stained glass windows.
We can’t have moral vigilantes roaming the countryside with buckets of red paint, bricks, chains and an ignorance of history.
There are three reasons statues, however despicable to you, should not be destroyed.
First, they are Art. They should be preserved and kept for historical records. Tyrants destroy Art, democracies should not.
Second, statues are property, owned by people, institutions or governments. Property should not be confiscated or destroyed without legal proceedings.
That brings us to the third reason: Mob rule can’t be tolerated, not because of some high-falutin notion of justice, but because of another adage — what goes around, comes around. As writer Frank Sonnenberg put it, “Karma is like a boomerang.”
The mob that you love today will be replaced by the mob that hates you tomorrow. Law is the door between civilization and chaos.
The attacks we are experiencing now are not just against American culture — they are against European culture, seeking to implant guilt feelings among those with a lighter skin hue.
That wasn’t Mandela’s goal, and it shouldn’t be ours.
This is a time for racial reckoning.
Let’s do it openly, fairly, and completely.