Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

{Originally posted to the author’s blog}

Just five years ago, the world watched in horror as Islamic fanatics went on a rampage through Iraq destroying artifacts. Headlines read “History in Ruins” and “Casualties of War” as the whole world cringed as physical history was obliterated.


Jim Cuno of the J Paul Getty Trust said of the vandalized artifacts: “it roots us in our origins. It understands that we are part of a much larger picture; a picture that is as diverse as the world itself.” Gayle King of CBS News added that “it is hard to watch the glee that goes into destroying something.

The militants felt justified in their vandalism, saying on camera: “these statues are idols to people in previous centuries which were worshiped other than God. God Almighty says ‘And we sent a messenger to you, just to reveal no God but I. Worship Me.’ The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics. His companions did the same when they conquered countries after him.

Members of ISIS destroy statues in Iraq in 2015

Bernard Haykel of Princeton University said “it is a gratuitous and barbaric act frankly, but one that is intended to appeal to an audience looking for some sort of authenticity.” PBS News noted that “the act [of destruction] fits into a broader campaign by the Islamic State to brazenly and publicly destroy cultural relics in the name of religious purity.

And so it seems today with a new religion with a single truth which demands complete purity: #BlackLivesMatter #WhitePrivilege #DontSayAnythingCounterToWokeNarrative.

While there is a rationale and appeal to common decency to remove statues on US soil of people who fought against these United States such as generals of the Confederacy who were famous specifically for such acts, it is preposterous to attack statues of America’s founders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison because they were not perfect. To read the Declaration of Independence or the Federalist Papers is to be a witness to the crafting of not only a new country but an entirely new construction of government: the break from monarchy and authoritarian rule to set a course for a government by the people for the people. The founders’ mission was liberty from tyranny and oppressive government.

Neither those documents nor the people who wrote them were perfect, and no one has ever claimed as much. To make a statue of perfection is indeed to craft an idol, the very objection of ISIS and other religious purists.

America names schools and has busts of leaders because of their positive contribution to the society we live in. We celebrate the achievements of the people who helped create and protect our great nation with their likeness which reminds us of the events that “root us in our origins… that we are part of a much larger picture,” as Cuno said of artifacts in Iraq.

Today’s woke movement answers to a higher authority. Like ISIS, it wraps itself in righteous smugness while it destroys anything viewed as impure, be it statues of the dead or reputations and livelihood of the living. It has no patience for a common past as it launches a crusade “intended to appeal to an audience looking for some sort of authenticity.”

Defenders of the rioters claim there is no common past in America and that “systemic racism” built into the founding of the country manufactured disparate societies. A constitution that advocated for free speech while ignoring enslaved people was never a template for justice. They seek a fresh start, a revolution of sorts, where diversity of people will trump diversity of opinion. Their New America will shatter Old America’s imperfect idols and enforce the Gospel of Wokeness. Liberty for all people will require a new form of tyranny: a Crusade to either destroy or convert non-believers.

Statue of Thomas Jefferson is removed from its base in front of Jefferson High School in Northeast Portland on June 14, 2020. Jamie Goldberg/Staff

UNESCO called the wanton destruction of cultural relics by ISIS in Iraq “a war crime” but it is highly doubtful it will do the same regarding the anarchists destroying statues of America’s founders. More importantly, is whether Americans themselves will let the philosophy of ISIS permeate its streets enabling the caliphate of cancel culture to raise its flag over every government building in the land.

Related First One Through articles:

The End of Together

The Monumental Gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump

BLM: Truth, Relevance and Association

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Paul Gherkin is founder of the website FirstOneThrough, which is dedicated to educating people on Israel, the United States, Judaism and science in an entertaining manner so they speak up and take action. In a connected digital world, each person can be a spokesperson by disseminating news to thousands of people by forwarding articles or videos to people, or using the information to fight on behalf of a cause because In a connected digital world. YOU are FirstOneThrough.