America is plagued by an epidemic of extremism. On the right, there are dangerous conspiracy theories that led to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. On the left, there is an excessively “woke” attitude about imperfect historical figures and present-day institutions — emphasizing the negative and “canceling” anyone or anything that doesn’t meet their impossibly high standards.
The “defund the police” movement emerged from this mentality, as a reaction to widely publicized incidents of racial profiling and excessive use of force by police officers. On a more symbolic level, there is an attempt to tear down American heroes and make people feel ashamed of our nation’s heritage, rather than appreciating the United States as one of the most forward-thinking countries in history. The flaws of past leaders are simply too offensive, in liberals’ opinion, for even the greatest figures among them to be celebrated rather than scorned.
Yesterday, the New York City government decided to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson which had stood in the council chamber for more than a hundred years. The push for removal began in the summer of 2020 during the Black Lives Matter protests. Jefferson will be removed from among the historical statues in the chamber because he was a slave owner.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, declined to criticize the decision, saying he understood why Jefferson’s ownership of slaves “profoundly bothers people and why they find it’s something that can’t be ignored.”