Tom Lohr is a navy veteran, world traveler, adventurer, baseball fan and hot dog aficionado. He loves dogs and hates political correctness.
There is a lot of talk, and some action, about pulling down statues of confederate heroes and military men. Whether you agree or not, the movement has picked up a lot of steam and those bronze, granite, and stone icons are falling. The Social Justice Warrior (SJW) crowd is leading the charge to cleanse our streets and parks of our ugly past, but have they gone far enough? You don't clean your apartment just by vacuuming the carpet. There is a lot more cleaning to do if you really want to sanitize your space. The same is true of monuments. If we really want to erase symbols of racism and injustice, SJWs need to dig deeper. Here are some suggestions for them when they run out of southern-inspired historical statues to blame for their unhappiness.
1. Woody Guthrie
The folk singing champion of the working class during the depression days has been canonized as a hero of the common folk. He preferred communism as it seemed a good solution to ensure economic equality, especially for his hard hit “Okies.” Despite his far left leanings, his famous “this machine kills fascists” logo on his guitar was actually a slogan campaign sticker handed out at capitalistic defense plants. Despite this bit of hypocrisy, there was also a darker, racist side to Woody.
Guthrie's father was a Klansman in their native Oklahoma. His old man's disdain for Black people seemed to rub off on Woody, and in an attempt to gain some street cred Woody claimed that he learned to play the harmonica from a local African-American bluesman named George. He eventually owned up to the lie and admitted that a neighbor had taught him. Even after he moved to California and became famous he was still overtly racist, singing live on a Pasadena, CA radio station songs like "Run, N****r, Run" and "N****r Blues." He later claims to have torn all of the songs out of his songbook after he found out that people objected. However, cleaning up your act to save your celebrity bacon doesn't make one less racist. A statue of Woody stands, playing his guitar, in all of his racist glory, in his hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. It most definitely needs to come down, although with Woody's well known sympathy for the communist party, dragging it down may be conflicting for some SJWs.
2. Mark Twain
America's favorite humorist, storyteller, and celebrity from the 19th century embodied everything people of the era loved. He was down to earth, folksy, friendly, and could poke fun at himself and his nation. He cut his teeth playing on the Mississippi River on paddle wheelers and turned those adventures, along with his boyhood memories, into some of our most classic tales. Both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are still widely read today and have stood the literary test of time.
It is Twain's Huckleberry Finn that earns him the title of racist. One of the main characters in the novel is a an escaped slave. It would have served the story well just to call this poor soul "Jim," but Twain had to dub him "N****r Jim" throughout the book, rubbing salt in an already stinging sympathetic wound for a refugee from bondage that just wanted to earn freedom for his family. Then, there is the antagonist "Injun Joe," a half Native American that is the book's main embodiment of evil. Mark Twain's literary transgressions against African and Native Americans is enough to call for the removal of his likeliness overlooking the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri.
3. Woodrow Wilson
It is hard to believe that this progressive president, who helped found the United Nations predecessor the League of Nations, was a racist, but racism knows no political ideology. Wilson, from the south, wrote in a 1902 book on American history, some very disparaging remarks about immigrants; notably from Italy, Hungary, and Poland. And during World War One he was reportedly appalled that France allowed Black people to serve alongside white troops. Additionally, while president, he allowed Jim Crow laws to be passed and the Postmaster General and Secretary of Treasury to segregate their departments
Wilson's racism has the students at Princeton, where he was once president of the university, calling to remove his name from campus buildings. While SJWs will ensure that the fans of a Wilson cleansing on Princeton's campus will prevail, it's important to note that some statues of Woodrow have already been removed. There are still some statues that need the attention of a tractor or tow truck and we can start with the one in Rapid City, South Dakota.
4. Francis Scott Key
Social Justice Warriors have been trying to change our national anthem for years. It is too hawkish they claim. All of that stuff about "bombs bursting in air" and whatnot. They would prefer something far more sunshine and rainbows for a nation that birthed itself on bombs bursting in air and whatnot. The Star Spangled Banner was written by Key as he was being held onboard a British warship as it pummeled Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. It is such a patriotic song that SJWs have run into stiff resistance regarding anything anti-Scott Key, but now there is renewed hope.
Did you know that the Star Spangled Banner actually had three verses? While celebrities singing at sporting events have a hard enough time making it through the first one, Francis put his time in the Baltimore harbor to good use and cranked out a much longer song. The latter verses, especially the one we never hear, contain disparaging remarks about “hirelings and slaves,” which are the supposed racist words of our nation's song. Oh, and Key owned slaves as well, if his music isn't enough of a reason to get you to topple that statue of him in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
5. Robert C. Byrd
West Virginia's long time (he was the longest serving) US senator Robert Byrd was noted as congress' resident expert in parliamentary procedure. This powerful politician was also responsible for billions of tax dollars being poured into the Mountain State for various government-funded projects. He was so revered in the state that on several occasions he ran for office virtually unopposed.
But Byrd had a not-so-secret skeleton in his closet. Supporting the Ku Klux Klan would normally get anyone kicked out of office, but Byrd, for a brief time in his life, was an actual member of the KKK. Byrd later renounced and apologized for his time between the sheets, and apparently that sufficed for the folks of the great state of West Virginia. If that is not enough to topple the statue of Byrd in the West Virginia state capitol, how about the fact that Byrd was an actual confederate officer? He really was—in the movies anyway. He had a cameo as a confederate general in the Civil War flick Gods and Generals.
6. George Washington
Our founding father played a key role in the forging of our nation, but during all of that Revolutionary War hubbub, he also became a prolific killer of Native Americans. In 1779 he ordered a large campaign against Native Americans. His doctrine was to annihilate Iroquois villages and he ordered their “total destruction and devastation.” Apparently cherry trees weren't the only things George was good at chopping down.
Then there is the fact that he was a slave-owner. Washington first owned slaves at age eleven, and by the time he died he claimed 317 humans as his property. With Washington, it is hard to tell which is worse, the atrocities he committed against Native Americans or his slave ownership. In any case, you won't have any trouble finding a statue of him to push over, you can't toss a silver dollar without hitting one.
7. Andrew Jackson
Andy might have earned the nickname "Ol' Hickory" from his troops for his great leadership, but the hero of the Battle of New Orleans has the same problems as George Washington: Native Americans and slaves. Jackson started out owning 9 slaves and by the end of it all he had about 150. Jackson was good at slave-owning.
And then there is his reputation as an "Indian-killer." That whole “Trail of Tears” thing that forcibly relocated 5 tribes and forced them on a death march that killed thousands? That was Jackson. Think about that the next time you handle a twenty. There are lots of statues of Jackson ripe for the taking as well, but the one in Lafayette Park in Washington DC is particularly enticing.
8. Walt Disney
Yep, the creator of the mouse that has entertained millions across the globe is a bona fide racist. Who would have thought that someone that could imagine something as patriotic as a duck in a sailor suit could be a bigot? The charges can be a bit ambiguous, but if one peels pack the veneer of wholesomeness of some of Disney's early hit movies it becomes much clearer. In the film adaptation of The Jungle Book, a brown-skinned boy wants to stay in the jungle “with his own kind,” The Song of the South is chock full of degrading racial stereotypes, and even Mickey himself has performed in blackface.
Disney was also a misogynist and often kept women out of creative employment, but let's keep it simple here and focus on yanking down his likeness for his acts of racism. The statue that greets visitors as they enter Disneyland is a good target, but I recommend that we leave the statue of Mickey next to Walt alone; he had no part in any of Walt's actions.
9. Abraham Lincoln
Say what? The signer of the Emancipation Proclamation's a racist? It's true. But don't take it from us, take it from Honest Abe himself. Back when he was just a lawyer, he defended a slave owner trying to remand one of his people and her four children back into shackles after she had married a free slave.
While a legislator, he voted against anti-abolitionist resolutions. In an 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas he stated “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” Do you still think Abe should be sitting comfortably in that big chair at the Lincoln Memorial?
10. John Wayne
There are few movie actors as iconic as John Wayne, the man that defined western cinema for generations. Nobody rode taller in the saddle, shot straighter, cussed more eloquently, or punched out rustlers better than the Duke. It also seems that when a cowpoke spends a lot of time out on the back forty, he has some time to do some thinkin' and sometimes that thinkin' leads to some pretty questionable ideas.
Wayne showed his true grit during an 1971 Playboy magazine interview when he said, “I believe in white supremacy until Blacks are educated to the point of responsibility.” If there was ever a time for the Dukester to take his own advice of “talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much” it was then. America's favorite cowboy has long been underground, which is where his nine-foot tall statue should be. You can't miss it. It stands outside the airport that bears his name in Orange County, California.
- Little Known Fact: Woody Guthry was a Big Ol' Racist
- Huckleberry Finn
- Injun Joe
- 5 Surprising Facts About Woodrow Wilson and Racism
- Why Princeton Students Want Ivy to Drop Woodrow Wilson Name, Portraits
- Crews Remove Jefferson Davis, Woodrow Wilson Statues From UT Main Mall
- Key Pens "Star Spangled Banner"
- "Star Spangled Banner" Critics Miss the Point
- Robert C. Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92
- Robert C. Byrd
- Robert Byrd IMDb
- Ten Facts About Washington and Slavery
- Andrew Jackson's Enslaved Laborers
- Indian Removal Act
- Walt Disney Was a Racist and a Misogynist Just as Meryl Streep Claims, Admits his Grandniece
- Was Abraham Lincoln an Incorrigible Racist?
- 5 Things You May Not Know About Lincoln, Slavery, and Emancipation
What Do You Think?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 15, 2017:
Thanks, Tom. I wasn't sure - Hey! I like your sense of humor my friend; Funny stuff. Thanks for letting me know you and I had both thought critically about this - I just didn't see you were making a wonderful point. Keep up the brilliant work. I'll keep checking your work out.
Tom Lohr (author) from Magdalena, NM on October 14, 2017:
Tim, the article is meant to be sarcastic and show how crazy it is to remove things that offend people because as the piece illustrates, as well as some of your examples, a case can be made for just about any statue or monument to be taken down because someone will always find something offensive about it. It's the day and age we live in.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 14, 2017:
I truly enjoyed your article. But could you clarify your definition of a SJW? The statues that are a target for removal were those put up during the Jim Crow era as an in-your-face reminder of people as property. You left out the important fact that Black soldiers served in the American Revolution Why? Didn't GW know about that?
Is it more important as to what a man was or what he became, Such as with Abraham Lincoln?
You left out Elvis. Why? Some reports say he said, "The only thing a n** could do for him was shine his shoes?"
Mark Twain told the story of America views and sentiments at the time. I love his stories. I can't see why you would remove one of America's greatest writers from anything. He explored well the attitudes at that Time.
Some of these should go - or perhaps - we should put up statues of people who enforced White servitude. If there is an unwillingness to allow pains to be remedied, than pains should be shared. Anyway, thank you for a well-researched and thought out article.
Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on October 09, 2017:
The sad part is unless we are truly run by a government sympathetic of its people at all levels we will have constant reminders new and old of injustice.