First, it was Confederate monuments. Then, vandals defaced and toppled monuments commemorating America’s heroes, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Then came Mahatma Gandhi, Union General Ulysses S. Grant, black Union soldiers, and freed slave Frederick Douglass. This week, vandals targeted a monument to five firefighters who lost their lives trying to save lives in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. A list of their offensive
tweets (oh, sorry, texts) is surely forthcoming
Police in Washingtonville, N.Y., are asking the public for help in finding the vandals who cut down a flagpole at the monument to the Washingtonville Five, the Times Herald-Record reported. Locals discovered and reported the severed flagpole on Wednesday morning.
“Washingtonville Police Chief Brian Zaccaro said the culprits used a tool to cut through the composite material at about four to five feet from the base, and scrawled a message in marker on the part of the pole that remained standing,” the Times Herald-Record reported. “He didn’t want to disclose the message while the investigation was getting started.”
In other words, the vandals did leave a message, but police are not yet disclosing that message. While most of the vandalism that followed the protests over the horrific police killing of George Floyd involved spray-paint expressing Black Lives Matter-themed messages, some recent bouts of vandalism, including the dislodging of the Frederick Douglass statue, have left little sign of the intent behind the defacements. In this case, only the police know whether or not the vandals left a pro-BLM message.
Police suspect the same vandals also pushed over and damaged the sign for St. Mary’s Parish Center about a half-mile away. Locals found the eagle figure atop the cut-down flagpole on the ground next to the toppled church sign.
The 9/11 memorial includes a semi-circle of black granite monuments with a firefighter’s helmet atop them, each bearing the names of five local victims of the World Trade Center attack. Each of the victims was a member of the New York City Fire Department: firefighters Mark Whitford, Bobby Hamilton, and Gerry Nevins, Batallion Chief Dennis Devlin, and Lt. Glenn Perry.
As the son of a volunteer firefighter, I find this particular vandalism extremely disturbing. Firefighters lay their lives on the line to save others. There is absolutely nothing even remotely “oppressive” or racist or prejudiced about what they do. Those who rushed to help in the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are nothing short of heroes, and even Americans who criticize Founders like George Washington typically have nothing but respect for firefighters.
As in the case of Portland antifa rioters burning down a statue of an elk, this vandalism appears utterly senseless. Yet it may be the natural outgrowing of the anti-American sentiment expressed by some of the most powerful voices on the left.
When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. When Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post, “Call them the 1619 riots,” the project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots and the defamation of American Founding Fathers like George Washington.
In a November 9, 1995 op-ed, the 1619 Project founder condemned Christopher Columbus as “no different” from Adolf Hitler and demonized the “white race” as the true “savages” and “bloodsuckers.” She went on to describe “white America’s dream” as “colored America’s nightmare.” Just this week, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed a similar sentiment when she called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.
Yet the “1619 riots” have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 21 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black. Retired police chief David Dorn was killed by looters breaking into his pawnshop in St. Louis. Chris Beaty was shot while helping two women who were being mugged in Indianapolis. Antonio Mays Jr., a 16-year-old boy, was shot and killed outside the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in Seattle. Secoriea Taylor — an 8-year-old girl — was fatally shot as her mother attempted to park a car near a group of protesters close to the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks had been killed by police.
Vandals are targeting every kind of monument across America, and while many do so in the name of Black Lives Matter, the riots are taking the very black lives they claim to champion. Meanwhile, the movement is targeting America’s heritage for destruction. It is long past time for Americans to reject these horrific riots and the divisive anti-Americanism behind them.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.