There are some misguided conservatives who want Stalin’s role in World War Two to be erased from public commemoration in the United States. But the few such reminders that exist are a lesson that our country cannot be allowed to forget: we made common cause with one of history’s greatest monsters to defeat another. There’s no more getting away from that than there is from the shame of slavery. Prettifying history by cleansing the public space of anything that mixes glory with shame is simply dishonest.

A proper appreciation for our country and for the wider western tradition of which it is a part demands the celebration of valor, without which all else is lost, and a mature reckoning with our faults as well as our success in overcoming them. The foundations set down by men and women whom our radicals now presume to condemn made possible — in America and the West as nowhere else, today or ever before — the freedoms and moral clarity the activist left takes for granted. Christianity, Columbus, the British empire, the Founding Fathers and the descendants of the Confederacy made necessary contributions to this civilization with an unparalleled capacity for moral growth.

The seeds of progressive values are not to be found in Aztec civilization before Columbus, and they are scarcely in evidence outside of the western world and its closest allies (in Israel and East Asia, for example) . To acknowledge this fact is not to justify the crimes of our civilization, only to keep them in correct perspective. But that is what the activist left, in its unhistorical self- righteousness, cannot do: it cannot tell the difference between antifa vandalism and D-Day.