In 2001, the Taliban with their fanatical intolerance of anything not of their own religion, used artillery and dynamite to destroy two 1,700 year standing Buddha statues carved into a sandstone cliff. It made no difference to them that these were the tallest statues of a standing Buddha in the world. Or, that these statues had existed for about the same time as their won religion. Their fundamental beliefs had become so intolerant of anything that was not Islamic that they went out of their way to destroy these two statues in remote Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Mullah Wakil said; "We do admit the relics were the cultural heritage of Afghanistan, but the part that contradicts our Islamic beliefs, we would not like to have them anymore."
Close mindedness is not an affliction of the Taliban alone. That same mentality is showing its face in other parts of the world as well. Just take a look at Ninevah, and how ISIS destroyed artifacts from ancient Babylonian and Assyrian cultures. Wiping out the traces of their own heritage using jackhammers because it wasn't Islamic. Even though Islam would not exist for a thousand or so years after these artifacts were created. The hatred of anything not of their beliefs has cost the peoples of the world a piece of all our heritage as humans.
Sadly, that same rigidity of thought, and intolerance is showing its face here in the United States more and more. As only one example, take a look at the ripple effect from South Carolina's condemnation of the Confederate flag, and removal of it from the state capitol grounds. Within days, with mainstream medias focus, the meaning had continually been emphasized what the designer of the flag meant it to mean. As well as how wrong that mentality was in today's society. However the idea that the symbols meaning has evolved over the last 150 years was either downplayed, or completely ignored. It was now only a symbol of racism and hatred. A symbol that deserved to be removed from American society completely, because some found the meaning of this symbol to be offensive and disturbing.
The Bars and Stars flag was now deemed politically incorrect. Even though it had evolved into a symbol of rebelliousness against the establishment of governmental over regulation, a symbol of pride for rural people from across the nation, not just the south. It has come to the point that wearing a ballcap with a Confederate flag on it can get a student suspended from school for being a distraction from good education.
Then the ripples spread. Soon, anything Confederate was deemed to be racist, and in need of excising from society. Whether it was Confederate gravestones, monument to Confederate generals and politicians, to the name on a school. Even though the graves and monuments of the Confederates had by law long ago been acknowledged to be American military graves and monuments, the politically correct ignored that and claimed since they were Confederate they were nothing more than racist. It had become an intolerant belief that anything Confederate was deemed unworthy of being admirable in anyway.
It is actually rather ironic that it is more acceptable to purchase and display the flag of ISIS than it is to fly the Confederate Battle Flag. The Taliban and ISIS have no tolerance for symbols and relics of history not of their own. They have no compunction about removing and destroying the reminders of a past they find offensive to their tender sensibilities. The "enlightened" peoples of the world were horrified at the destruction of artifacts by both the Taliban and ISIS. Yet many of those same "enlightened" people have not a ripple of regret or distaste when a monument here in the United States is removed or destroyed because it is a Confederate, or some other site is currently deemed politically incorrect. If you destroy symbols of the past, because you have this belief that the symbol is somehow evil. Or that the people who erected it are somehow bad enough to warrant erasure from social memory, than you are no different than ISIS or the Taliban.
A case in point, is the Confederate Monument on Stone Mountain in Georgia. It is the largest bas relief sculpture in the world (rather like the Buddhas of Bamiyan that were blown apart by the Taliban). The head of the NAACP in Atlanta has called for the destruction of the sculpture. Saying; "Those guys need to go. They can be sand-blasted off, or somebody could carefully remove a slab of that and auction it off to the highest bidder. My tax dollars should not be used to commemorate slavery." Demanding to have the carved mountainside sculpture removed because it is racist and offensive is no different than the Taliban or ISIS wanting to destroy historic artifacts because of what they say it represents. The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three Confederate leaders of the Civil War; President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson astride their favorite horses.
If a mountainside sculpture of three men on horseback commemorates slavery, how big of a stretch is it to demanding the faces of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson be removed from Mount Rushmore, since they were actual slave owners? If a person or a group tries to place historical events or monuments into a black and white, right or wrong, bi-chromatic pallet something is wrong. Nothing, not even the Civil War, is simply right or wrong. Therefore, no symbol of the Civil War can be totally good or bad. I find it humorous that many of the people that claim the Confederacy was racist and evil; also happen to love the antebellum architecture of the cities of the South. The fact that the economic wealth of the South, and therefore the old buildings within the cities, were a direct result of slavery. Yet no one has called for the destruction of the antebellum architecture of the South.
At what point does this belief that if something offends you, it should be removed go too far? If you are browsing social media sites and see something that you find offensive, continue on, and do not return to that page. We each have a different set of beliefs, and experiences that colors our individual points of view. When a person, or group decides that what someone else has found to be admirable or worth memorializing about our history is perhaps only in poor taste and they want it banned, then they have begun to go down a path of intolerance that is difficult to step off of. When they then decide it is offensive and distracting for another person to wear a Confederate flag ballcap; but not an ISIS flag, a nazi swaztika, then the symbols are not being treated equally. The reason for the 'offensive' label seems to become more of a political propaganda tool than an actual societal belief. Racism has become the default claim about too many things in society today. I truly hope I live to see the day that Dr. Martin Luther King's "dream" was about. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
When that day comes, society will be able to look back upon the racism of the past, and teach it's young members what a terrible evil it was, and all the many faces racism had. On that day, their will no longer be any preference given to a person because of their race. Only for their character and qualifications, will people be judged. To do otherwise, for any reason, is to promote racism. To try to remove or revise our history claiming it was " racist" blankets all those involved with the same cloth whether guilty of that claim or not. That is true racism. Those that want to destroy the symbols of a past they do not personally feel pride in on the grounds of conflict with their beliefs, or some vague expression of racism, are guilty of racism. In my humble opinion, there are no good racists, and anyone who quickly and repeatedly uses the "race card" to denounce another person or community, is a racist and no better than the Taliban or ISIS. We must be ever vigilant against the forces that could destroy our heritage for their own agenda. Perhaps then we can experience the day that Dr. King dreamed of when he spoke his dream before the Lincoln Memorial that one day; "...the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."
When we stop looking at our past for reasons to divide and hate ourselves, we will finally be able to all share in the "American Dream". However, if we keep moving down the path of political correctness and intolerance of concepts and ideas not our own, than we will end up being no better than the Taliban, and ISIS. Destroyers of the worlds ancient heritage, destroyers of our own heritage, destroyers of the foundations of our culture and civilization.
Catch ya on the road sometime...