Congratulations to the Memphis City Council. As Howard Portnoy reported, Memphis’s finest voted this week to dig up the remains of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest – and his wife – from their resting place beneath Forrest’s statue in a Memphis park.
It’s politically incorrect, according to the council, for the Forrests’ bones to repose there any longer.
“It is no longer politically correct to glorify someone who was a slave trader, someone who was a racist on public property,” said City Council member Myron Lowery.
So now our own, all-American Memphis, Tennessee is just like the jihadi animals who’ve been attacking graves around the Middle East, as they slash and burn their way through the post-Arab Spring landscape.
Sure, the jihadis dispense (as far as we know) with the droning speeches and city council votes. And their grave-napping methods are somewhat more rough-and-ready. But the principle is the same. Graves can’t be left undisturbed if a new order sweeps in and decides that the dead are politically offensive.
Trying to wreak vengeance on the past, by desecrating or erasing the memory of the dead, is a self-perpetuating pathology that America has been blessedly free from for hundreds of years. Its arrival on our shores is an unmitigated horror. We do not want to turn into this kind of a people. The thirst for such vengeance can never be satisfied, and it always sets up a counter-reaction that keeps the back-and-forth going for generations and generations.
Just ask the Orthodox Serbs and Muslims of Bosnia, who in 1992 – 1992 – were shouting as they slaughtered each other about 1389. Ask the Greeks and Turks, whose political rivalry goes back just as far. The Greeks and Persians remember slights from so far back, they make the grievances of East Asians about the Japanese occupation in the 1930s look like news from five minutes ago.