Build on the knowledge of the past instead of tearing it down


COMMENTARY: Apparently, the enlightened views of the Taliban have found support among the political elite in the City Different, and indeed around the country; that view being, if you don’t agree with it, then destroy it.

Brad Cates

Courtesy photo

Brad Cates

Ascendant in leftist and academic thought in the last few years was the theory that free speech only applied to speech that didn’t offend the listener. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled recently that free speech means you can say about anything you want, no matter the sensibilities or political agenda of the listener.

So now the leftist-fascist agenda has turned instead to the suppression of monuments and symbols. Rather than working for better schools and jobs, these elites are fretting about what historic artifacts should be destroyed.

The Babylonians created the first civilizations, introducing writing, agriculture and architecture, and thereby took the first steps on the road to the modern world. Yet ISIS destroys priceless remnants of ancient culture because it does not conform to their “enlightened” view of life.

In the 1937-38 purges, tens of thousands of senior Red Army officers and party leaders were taken away in the night by the NKVD, most never to be heard from again. Inconveniently however, these people had been portrayed in earlier historic photographs as “heroes of the revolution.” Dictator Stalin therefore ordered these people’s images redacted from all official photographic record. The book The Commissar Vanishes exhibits early photos of these officials, including the famous White Sea Canal photo of NKVD Chief Nikolai Yezhov with Comrades Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov. After Yezhov’s purge and execution, the photo no longer includes his image. Erased. Gone. Forgotten.

Recently, San Domenico School, an independent Catholic high school in northern California, removed from the courtyard statues of Baby Jesus and of Mother Mary, so as not to offend any students. Perhaps San Domenico will now edit large sections of the Bible to remove references to slavery?


Although George Orwell was a committed leftist and Winston Churchill an equally committed conservative, it is said that both arrived at the conclusion that “the key question of their century” was “how to preserve the liberty of the individual during an age in which the state was becoming powerfully intrusive into private life.”

They foresaw or experienced the omniscient state and its propaganda, the ever more powerful and monopolistic tech and media companies, far-off wars not paid attention to by the citizenry, and fake news.

Being not sufficient for tyrants that new thought be placed in the library alongside the old, the old must be ripped out to better conform society to the brave new world. No, as George Orwell writes, “Every statue and street and building has to be renamed.” Further, in his book, 1984, the Ministry of Truth was charged with disposing of inconvenient historical facts down the “memory hole.”

The blatant anti-Semitism inherent in National Socialism (Nazi), Communism, fascist radical regimes in Iran and elsewhere, and even our own racial quota systems at universities all minimize the worth of each individual.

President Donald Trump was ridiculed for suggesting that if you destroy a statue of Robert E. Lee, George Washington would be next. And what has transpired since? Calls for the destruction of statues not only of Washington, but Christopher Columbus, justices, scientists, artists and educators. It is a never-ending list; ever-changing to conform to the Ministry of Truth’s evolving political agenda.

The conquistadores were great men, as were the Native leaders Pontiac, Manuelito and Po’pay. It is not necessary to denigrate someone in order to honor another. Each represented greatness and a contribution to the evolution of society, even though those actions sometimes conflict with the politically correct thinking of today. What pope or scholar or saint of the Middle Ages would pass PC muster?

The path to a more inclusive and understanding society is not to toss old statues, pictures and knowledge down the memory hole, but to erect more statues of other heroes, learn from the mistakes of the past and honor greatness achieved, even by flawed individuals.

Brad Cates is an attorney and former New Mexico legislator. Agree with his opinion? Disagree? We welcome your views. Learn about submitting your own commentary here.

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