During a petty and cantankerous press conference Tuesday, Donald Trump stood between two golden elevators and said a series of terrible things, excluding the following: “George Washington was a slave owner. So was Thomas Jefferson. Where does it stop? Are we going to take down their statues, too?”
These were rhetorical questions – designed to trick America-hating liberals like myself to come out of the woodwork – but they were, in my opinion, fair. So to answer your query, Mr. President, here is my response, which represents only my views and opinions and not those of Cook St. Productions, a comedy troupe that’s anywhere from 0 to 75% racist:
YES! Please! Oh my god- can we? I am so serious right now, let’s do it. Let’s take down Every. Single. Motherfucking statue we have in this country.
After everything that’s happened the past few days, I remain convinced that this would be a very healthy exorcise (sic) for Americans. It is time to make a clean break with Jefferson, Adams, Jackson, all of them. Thank you for the flag, thank you for the Constitution- really, you boys did a helluva job. You were also a tad shortsighted, and if I’m being totally candid, made kind of a fucking mess. You should try being a privileged white male in 2017 – oh don’t worry, it’s still the best – but we have information and empathy and…guilt. I have guilt.
So please, someone, hand me a rope, and let’s take these motherfucking statues down.
What’s the downside? Honestly, I’ve thought long and hard about this, and other than culture war and street violence, which I’m sure our President would quickly suppress should we follow this plan of his, why would we stop at Confederate statues?
The consensus, amongst people smarter than me, is “it’s a false equivalence,” and we know how goddamn exciting it is when we educated folk get to throw that term around. It’s true- Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson do not represent the same skeletons that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington do. The former took up arms against their own country and the latter are heroes, first and forefathermost. And yes, Justin, you can be both hero and slave owner. Okay, maybe hero is too strong. But definitely…pretty….pretty important dudes who, did a lot, and should not necessarily be held accountable for the morality of the times.
[If I’m putting words into your mouth, I apologize. But, intellectual to intellectual, if you are unwilling to even broach this question of what white-guy-monuments we do and do not allow in our public spaces, simply based on a ‘false equivalence,’ I think your argument is lazy. You’re right: A does not equal B. But B is very close to A in the alphabet. In fact it is way closer than L, and also what are we talking about anyway these statues are symbols without fixed definitions- sorry.]
All Donald Trump implied, in the vacuum of that moment, was that taking down Confederate monuments is a slippery slope. And on that point, he is accidentally correct. History, despite its warts, cannot be seen with one eye shut.
We will start with the Confederates, sure. Those should have been gone in like ’09. Then, next weekend, we get rid of all monuments depicting slave owners. If you were planning a trip to D.C., you still have 8 days to visit the Jefferson Memorial, where you can explain to your son, one last time, how eloquent and how idealistic some rapists can be when tasked with creating the blueprint for our country. And then he’ll say “Mommy, does this unflinching stare at Jefferson’s complicated legacy retroactively contaminate his words ‘all men are created equal’?” and then you’ll say ’No’ and look away stoically, just hoping that a gull squawks so that you can re-direct his attention to a nearby pond.
I know what I’m suggesting is a little audacious, but so is not reckoning with our total past. What sounds better- correcting history in one cleansing, fell swoop, or just arguing the distinctions between George Washington and Robert E. Lee the next 5 years? I don’t know what either of those guys were like. Best as I can tell, both were generals who led a revolt, and thanks to hindsight, we evaluate their respective causes based on current morality. Washington won, Lee lost, and they both would be assholes today.
The problem is, Mr. President, we cannot just stop at the Emancipation Proclamation. My alt-left comrades and I need to remove every white-man-statue that pre-dates 1920, the year women were finally provided the right to vote. Take down your Lincolns, take down your…McKinleys. This is non-negotiable.
[Speaking of women’s suffrage, how did you whiff that one so bad, America? You’re like Trump tweeting after Charlottesville, just a total botch job. All you had to do was include ‘gender’ in the 14th amendment, but no, another three score of denying half the population their basic rights as citizens seems cool. We’re just a “young” country – we don’t know any better!]
Anyway, that should do it. Every statue of a pre-1920 white man, gone.
“The BBC reports today that the United States has commissioned the removal of all monuments and relics of their pre-democratic era, perhaps finally making good on the original, lofty promises that shaped their Constitution and bred rampant exceptionalism and obesity the past 200 years.”
Look, we can either do this now, in 2017, or skirt responsibility once again, and let your children do it in 2035. Because they certainly will not give a shit about Thomas Jefferson. They are good people. Better than us.