I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but Dershowitz is going to end up on Trump’s staff eventually, probably in the stable of lawyers doing Russiagate defense work. Trump can’t have failed to notice that he’s on Fox and CNN regularly defending the president (however well-caveated) and criticizing his enemies. His broadside at Antifa near the end here is both righteous and true, although he cleverly folds it into a sharp critique of Trump himself. I feel obliged to speak out against Antifa, says Dershowitz, because I’m a man of the left and they claim falsely to speak in my name. The president had the same obligation with respect to the alt-right after Charlottesville (a point I’ve made myself) and he whiffed.
Come to think of it, maybe Dersh won’t be working for Trump after all.
His analogy between tearing down Confederate statues and Stalin’s habit of expunging disfavored politicos from Soviet history sits uneasily with me, although I think he’s referring to extreme tactics like rampaging mobs tearing down monuments physically and breaking them up. Stalin wanted to whitewash the collective memory of Russians by excising his political enemies from it. Most critics of Confederate statuary have the opposite impulse — they see the monuments themselves as a whitewash of history. Uprooting public testaments to the slave regime’s “gallantry” is a step towards a crisper understanding of the past. But the line is tricky: One could (and some do) make the same argument about statues of Washington and Jefferson, that a reckoning with their slaveholding can’t begin until history is cleansed of idolatry towards the Founders. I think the fear of SJWs running roughshod over Lee and stampeding towards Mount Vernon and Monticello is overstated, but American higher education being what it is, it’s not groundless. The left tends not to worry overly much about discernment when it’s in idol-smashing mode.
Mike Pence had an interesting suggestion for monument mania:
EARHARDT: You’re in favor of keeping those monuments?
PENCE: I think that — obviously, I think that should always be a local decision and, with regard to the U.S. Capitol, should be state decisions. But I’m someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments. What we ought to do is we ought to remember our history. But we also ought to celebrate the progress that we’ve made since that history.
You know, when I walked back in 2010 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis, arm and arm, and we remembered Bloody Sunday and the extraordinary progress of the civil rights movement, I can’t help but think that, rather than pulling down monuments, as some are wont to do, rather than tearing down monuments that have graced our cities all across this country for years, we ought to have been building more monuments. We ought to be celebrating the men and women who’ve helped our nation move toward a more perfect union and tell the whole story of America.
Not every monument to Washington or Jefferson requires a prominent reminder that they held slaves, but ones that purport to recount their entire life story — like Mount Vernon and Monticello — obviously do. I don’t think that same principle works with CSA statuary since slavery isn’t just “part” of the story; it’s the casus belli in a war the Confederacy was created to wage. It’s like trying to solve the problem with a statue to U.S. General Benedict Arnold by adding a plaque that begins, “Oh, by the way…” Arnold’s treason isn’t part of the story, it’s the main detail in the story. Whether the similar problem with Confederate monuments could be solved by erecting statues to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, or to American slaves generally nearby, I don’t know. Something for the local community to ruminate on.