I understand why people want to protest and where better does one do it than right here in the nation with the most freedoms.
But when protests turn to burning and tearing down, it has moved into the category of riots and terrorism that cannot and should not be tolerated.
Yet, these protests and riots aren’t new.
Growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the country had plenty of protests, riots and burning things down as they protested the Vietnam War.
There were sit-ins and hunger strikes, protest songs and marches, defacing buildings, plus bombings and fires in neighborhoods.
Though some the current participants think they have broken new ground, history is just repeating itself.
Speaking of history, I am appalled at the lack of history the current protesters have.
Over the weekend more statues were torn down, because they represented slavery and other very ugly parts of our history.
A statue of George Washington, the Father of our Nation, was torn down and they threatened to damage the Jefferson Memorial.
Even a statue of Ulysses Grant was torn down “because he had a slave.”
These are examples of having a little knowledge (or taught selected history) can be very dangerous and damaging.
If they knew their history, they would have known Grant was given his slave, but freed him at the beginning of the Civil War.
Lincoln had his famous Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, setting forth freedom for all who were held as slaves.
Even with Robert E Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865, pockets of resistance remained in the nation, so had to be enforced.
After Lincoln’s assassination, Vice President Johnson became President, yet, he wasn’t inclined to enforce the Proclamation…leading to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.
Grant ran against him and defeated him in the next election.
The significance of that election was that Grant continued Lincoln’s dream of freeing the slaves and enforcing the Proclamation throughout the country, and essentially wiped out the Klan, at that time in history.
Yes, Southern Democrats established the Klan in opposition to freeing the slaves, with some Northerner sympathizers joining in.
Grant (a Republican, like Lincoln) was primarily responsible for essentially destroying the Klan, yet his statue was torn down by current rioters because he was thought to be an affront to Black Live Matter.
His statue should have been decorated, not defaced.
There are some historical dates that should allow us to share in celebration.
For instance, in April of 1865, more than 2,000 federal soldiers fanned out in Galveston, Texas to inform the people of Texas that the Proclamation declared all slaves are free…on April 19
That was the beginning of African-Americans celebrating Juneteeth, first celebrated in 1866 in Texas and then spreading across 47 of 50 states.
It is a day for where all Americans should be able to come together and celebrate their shared heritage.
This is the greatest country to have ever existed in the history of the world.
There is more freedom and opportunity in the United States than has ever existed in the history of the world.
Where else does one have the freedom to worship, to speak, to attain personal goals, to disagree with our leaders, to travel, to innovate or gain any level of education one chooses?
Our historical leaders made it possible, though they were not always perfect.
They wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We still have a long way to go, which proves we aren’t perfect, either, but we should work to find ways to build the nation up, not find ways to tear it down.
There’s not a better alternative out there.
Rick G. Thielen lives in Grove, Oklahoma and enjoys sharing observations and ruminations on life around him.