The orgiastic glee with which protesters tore down, then beat up, a century-old monument to a generic Confederate soldier in Durham, N.C., this week was alarming. The mob seemed to have lost control of itself. Who wears out his foot kicking a lump of metal? The urge to destroy could get out of hand very quickly, especially given the mixed signals sent by authorities: Durham police stood by and did nothing. Only the following day, after an outcry, did the sheriff announce he intended to seek charges.
Where does this end?
Some wise conservative thinkers are calling to put the disputes over Civil War relics behind us. My esteemed former colleague Seth Mandel, op-ed editor of the New York Post and a man of deep probity, tweeted “Take down the monuments” on Sunday. My esteemed current colleague and boss Rich Lowry tweeted over the weekend, “If these monuments are going to become rallying points for neo-Nazis, maybe they do have to go.” Then he expanded on the thought in a column.