To many people in Wisconsin, the faux-revolutionary insanity we’ve seen unfold in our state capital and dozens of other places across the country didn’t seem to make sense.
We reached something of a turning point in public perception recently, when the people who vandalized our capital, assaulted a state senator, and tore down and defaced the statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg — an abolitionist immigrant who died leading Wisconsin’s sons against the Confederacy — were widely described as “protesters” in the media.
It’s not simply the acts themselves that are so galling; it is the complete lack of concern expressed by the ostensible leaders of the American left. The people who are arguably in the best position to apply effective moral condemnation to vandalism, violence and the destruction of American history — presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden foremost among them — have steadfastly refused to do so.
We have reached the point where there is only one logical conclusion: The Democratic Party establishment believes it is politically expedient to side with the mob. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, considered by some insiders to be a top contender for the Democratic vice presidential nomination this year, recently refused to reject the idea of removing statues of George Washington — in fact, she was explicitly open to the idea, saying, “we should listen to the argument for removing George Washington statues.”
President Trump stands unequivocally and unapologetically opposed to the desecration of monuments and attempts to rewrite American history. He made that abundantly clear during his Independence Day address in front of Mount Rushmore, vowing to protect our heritage and expressing his deeply-held conviction that “the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.”
Even though only a minority of Americans even want Confederate statues and monuments torn down, Mr. Biden and his team believe, perhaps correctly, that the winds are blowing strongest from the far-left, and that Mr. Biden’s best chance of winning the election lies with appeasing the extremists within his own party.
Those of us who haven’t spent time on a college campus lately, or been forced to sit through seminars on “white fragility” may have initially been inclined to accept the lie that the recent civil unrest was a mere outgrowth of outrage over George Floyd’s death. We might have bought the narrative that these were “outside agitators” or even “white supremacists” trying to make the “peaceful protesters” look bad.
Most of us know better now. Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Land O’ Lakes Indian woman — not to mention Wisconsin’s own martyr from the war to free the slaves, Col. Heg — are being literally ripped away from the public square and figuratively stripped out of the public’s memory not because of an accidental overstep, but because the destruction of the America’s self-identity and historical grounding has always been the central aim of the forces which have now taken complete control of the American left.
The only thing that has changed is that Democratic leaders no longer feel comfortable saying “no” to the student radicals who started vandalizing historic statues and monuments years ago. In fact, congressional Democrats weren’t even willing to discuss a GOP crime bill authored by Sen. Tim Scott.
California just voted explicitly to allow racial discrimination against whites and Asians. No one batted an eye. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that there should, in fact, be a “review” of whether we should still have statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. No one spoke up. Minneapolis is in the process of caving to a demand most people thought too ridiculous to take seriously after the city council voted 12-0 to abolish the police. There was no dissent.
Then, it somehow got even worse. The official Democratic Party Twitter account sent out a tweet equating the Fourth of July and Mount Rushmore with “a rally glorifying white supremacy.” They quickly realized they had gone too far and deleted the tweet, but it’s a revealing glimpse into the mindset of the people who would actually wield power in a potential Biden administration.
Young staffers like the one who composed that tweet will hold the reins, not the bumbling septuagenarian who heads the ticket. If Mr. Biden can’t or won’t stand up to the radicals now, it is because he believes he is beholden to them. If he manages to win the presidency, it will only confirm that belief in his mind, leading him to cede immense power to the least responsible elements of his base.
If that happens, the sort of people who recently desecrated Madison will find themselves inside the White House and infiltrating our federal agencies.
• Robert W. Kasten is a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin.
Sign up for Daily Opinion Newsletter