Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Francis Marion Memorial Statute

Warning.  This is a rant.  No dick jokes today.

Update:  See below for what happened at the commission meeting.

Here's the thing about dogma, and spotting people ruled by it:  it's easy to detect, it's fun to tweak, and you are NEVER wrong for calling it out.

Sometimes, I get greater pleasure calling out liberals on their own dogma, compared to conservatives, because liberals (typically) get WAY more angry over it (as if it were nonsense that they could EVER commit the same mistakes conservatives make every day).  The South Park guys have often said that liberals always get madder when they're the butt of jokes compared to conservatives, but I think it's not a guarantee.  Because, you know, nuance.

Anyway, along South Carolina Avenue on Capitol Hill DC is a little National Park called "Marion Park."  It's named after Francis Marion, a revolutionary war hero who confounded the British using hit-and-run, guerrilla tactics.  The US Army credits him as one of the reasons the Army Rangers exist today.  His nickname was "The Swamp Fox."  He's particularly venerated in South Carolina, but also in the South, as a revolutionary war hero, and is credited as much by the Smithsonian.  Early in his life, he fought a brutal war against the Cherokee, and learned a lot from their use of terrain, and natural cover.  He took those lessons with him later against the British.

I'm actually happy that people in South Carolina celebrate this guy, because (1) it's not Civil War related, and therefore we can all agree that the US winning over the British was a good thing, (2) it's not NASCAR-related, and (3) it's not some idiot opposing the teaching of evolution as some sort of Obama-plot.  American heroes came from all corners during the revolution.  They did so at great personal risk.

So, some guy in South Carolina visited the park in DC, and saw there was no statue to him, just a sign noting that it was "Marion Park."  He worked up funds to create a "Swamp Fox Memorial," in the park.  It was undertaken, and got various approvals, including a signed Executive Order from the President, as well as other administrative steps.

But wait!  Didn't ANYONE think to ask the residents of Capitol Hill?  I mean, it's a NATIONAL park, but we really ought to go check with some local folks to make sure it's ok with them first.  Sorry, what I mean is:  Barf.

Anyway, they're pissed.  Marion, a person born nearly 300 years ago, did not live his life as we enlightened folks here in the 21st Century would like for him to have lived it.  He owned slaves.  His war against the Cherokee was brutal.  And, he was, by all accounts, good at war.

That's enough for some Capitol Hill residents to ABSOLUTELY LOSE THEIR SHIT.

The opposition to this is insipid, and tries to apply 21st century morals to someone who was born in the 1700s. This is the worst kind of hyper-hysterical political correctness. George Washington owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson not only owned them, he did far . . . more with them. The Marines on Iwo Jima were no angels as they retook that island. Shall we investigate the service records of the men represented on the Marine Corps War Memorial? They were, after all, white men born in the 1920s, and I doubt they spent their spare time working at soup kitchens, snuggling puppies, or marching for equal rights for minorities. All of these individuals undoubtedly held some beliefs, and engaged in some actions that people would describe as “brutal,” and 21st century people would find abhorrent. Yet we justifiably honor them all.

That a NATIONAL park is named after Francis Marion, someone whose bona fides in helping the United States gain its independence cannot seriously be questioned. And yet now, in modern times, people have decided that it is disgraceful to even remember him, or that you're only permitted to remember him negatively.  Absurd.

This is the nanny-state thought that many "intellectuals" engage in.  If we build a statue to someone, then EVERYONE will think that person must be perfect, except for "us," the enlightened few who know better.  Barf.  My favorite memorial is to Thomas Jefferson, and yet people of COURSE discuss his slaveownership, Sally Hemmings, and that he held some racist views (he believed blacks were inferior to whites).  That's just ONE of the founders whom we celebrate.  So shove your "but if we build a statue to someone then nobody will think of him in context" crap.  Believe it or not, some people without a Master's Degree in Political Science can actually think for themselves.

First, to the people carping over the "incursion" onto Capitol Hill — Marion Park is a NATIONAL park, and therefore any resident of this country should be able to have a say over what should or shouldn’t be in the park. Being located on Capitol Hill doesn’t give local residents any special veto. It’s on South Carolina Ave, in a NATIONAL park, and therefore the person pushing for the statute is entirely justified in seeking to place it there. Many aspects of this city carry a NATIONAL identity, and a National Park is surely one of them.  Your supposed "greater" status by living on Capitol Hill doesn't impress anyone outside of the beltway, and only impresses people INSIDE the beltway when it comes to commuting time.  YOU DON'T GET SUPERIOR INPUT OVER A NATIONAL PARK BY VIRTUE OF YOUR PROXIMITY TO IT.

Next, there is a person who smugly suggested that because Hollywood softened the (awful) Mel Gibson biopic, "The Patriot," it must have given more consideration than Congress, the President, or the NPS, realizing how horrible Marion was.  To those types of folks, I say:  It must be SO cool to live in your simple world.  It might surprise you to learn that Hollywood is not about promoting morals so much as it is about promoting MONEY. They’re not all stupid. Obviously, putting out a movie in the 21st century depicting some of Marion’s actions in an 18th century WAR would have been a turn-off to enough folks, and caused enough controversy, that it would NOT MAKE MONEY. Don’t try and glom onto Hollywood as some sort of moral arbiter. They care about the bottom line.

Another person pointed out that freedmen built a nearby church, and that putting a statue of Francis Marion there would be insulting.  Again, hypocrisy and selective outrage. 
Did it occur to anyone that in DC, you have black men and women who guard, work in, and otherwise tend to memorials of people who held slaves?

Of course, many of the MOTH-posting, Eastern Market browsing crowd, will sniff and decide that I must be a Tea Partier because I’m not toeing the politically correct line. I’m sure I’ll get called racist, because that’s the best means for someone to shut down argument, if they lack a counter. But that is because they are directed by dogma, not a devotion to facts. I think I’m in good company: the U.S. District Court Judge who prevented anti-evolution “intelligent design,” advocates from pushing their anti-science was called an “activist liberal judge.” However, he was a Dubya appointee, and was plenty conservative. He just recognized dogma, irrational thought, and misplaced outrage, so he called it out, angering many people with whom he agreed on likely many other topics. So be it here.

The Smithsonian itself has declared Marion a “hero of the revolution.”

(it notes that Marion was “no saint” by modern standards and yet still credits him as a hero — go cancel your Smithsonian membership, all you Outrage Junkies!).

The US Army even credits Francis Marion as leading to the development of the US Army Rangers. But because some local residents want to complain about a NATIONAL park, the NPS should stop all efforts. I’m surprised the name/sign hasn’t been defaced yet.

Here's the thing:  It’s WORTH teaching children that the founders of this country, the people who helped bring it into being, were not perfect. But we honor those who helped found this country, despite their flaws, because this country allows those who are flawed to still flourish. We learn, we grow, and we continue. We don’t try to pretend the past didn’t happen, or that people whose actions wouldn’t pass muster NOW never did anything positive when they were alive.

Some residents of Capitol Hill want to apply modern morals to a man born almost 300 years ago. If the statue is placed, I’d be proud to explain to generations that we honor a man who helped found this country, but was no angel. Nuance is important, no matter the issue.  If you can't see that, it's because your dogma is in the way.

Update:  I went to the commission meeting.  Not a single commissioner objected to the statue, and only one, a representative of the Mayor (gently) pointed out to the statue's advocates that it might seem weird if someone tried to put a statue of Frederick Douglass in Charleston, SC (which, by the way, isn't a fair analogy, unless there was a PARK in Charleston called "Frederick Douglass Park."  Otherwise, not a single person who rose up against the park raised the modern moral canard; they just stuck to a lack of "notice."  One commissioner actually mentioned that there was an aspect of NIMBYism to their objections.


  1. Well said matey:)

    1. Shouldn't you be checking your "other" inbox on FB messages by now?? ;)