As the violent statue war rages on, it is becoming increasingly clear that the issue is not about the statues. This is a war on civilization. The criteria for toppling historical figures is ever-broadening. Rioters aim to throw down all that was once revered. Nothing is safe; no one is spared.
First, it was Confederates who fought in the Civil War that must come down since they supported a cause, which included slavery. Then it was the Founders; they recognized and even owned slaves. More recently, it was a Christopher Columbus statue in Boston that was beheaded.
The Pedestal Makers
Now, any monument can be vandalized or toppled. Even figures that support the rioter’s cause might be attacked. Churches, veteran’s monuments or war memorials against tyranny are not spared from becoming objects of scorn. Rioters make no distinctions since all are part of the civilization that must be overthrown.
This is a war waged by those who might be called the pedestal makers. They go about creating new monuments of empty pedestals everywhere. They ask no one for permission, but take it upon themselves to be the judges of what must be toppled. They do not hide their actions and can count on a fawning media to film their destruction and spread their cultural terror. They act with impunity since officials often fail to hold the pedestal makers responsible for their destruction.
Keeping Pedestals Empty
The pedestal makers have no interest in replacing the statues with heroes in their image and likeness. Such undertakings take time and effort. They would never consider themselves as figures to replace the ones they tear down since standing out also takes time and effort. Their mission is to destroy. They prefer to leave the ruins of the empty pedestals as a memorial of who they are.
Indeed, the leaderless mobs have no figures to replace the old ones. Not even their past heroes qualify. To them, the age of heroism, ideals and achievement is over. The pedestal makers are today’s Levelers that want to see all equalized. Anyone that is now remembered for extraordinary accomplishments must necessarily be an exploiter. All must be brought down from the pedestal to the level of the supposedly exploited people.
On their part, members of the ruling liberal establishment also have no new figures to memorialize. They also believe the age of heroism and achievement is over. In these times, it is better not to stand out. It is safer to refuse any offered pedestal. Its leaders compete with one another to see who might placate the pedestal makers more.
The Crisis of the Pedestal Makers
The crisis of the pedestal makers is a moral one. It comes from a culture and society that has lost its sense of purpose. People have no desire to remember those who sacrifice themselves for the common good through awe-inspiring heroism. Everything is turned toward self and the gratification of unbridled passions.
Thus, destroying past achievements is to be expected of a nihilistic society in which there is no established meaning to life beyond what each imagines life to be. The leveling pedestal makers have no enduring ideals from which come great figures. Postmodernity offers no transcendental dimension to things that point to higher metaphysical realities and invite to the good, true and beautiful.
Above all, there is no religious quest for sanctity that drives individuals toward God, by and for Whom they were created. In its place, there is only that condition that Saint Thomas Aquinas calls acedia, which he defines as the weariness for holy and spiritual things and a subsequent sadness, frustration and lack of joy in life.
Beware the Pedestal Makers
The West now lingers in the mediocrity of that acedia. Those things that remind people of past values and achievements are indictments that call them to think beyond themselves. All must be leveled to avoid the consequences of this call. None should shine in heroism or sanctity. Where aspirations to excellence once stood, nothingness is now uplifted.
Beware the pedestal makers for their rage knows no bounds. They will insist upon enshrining the emptiness that can only generate disorder.