America’s statues have had a worse month than usual, with protesters toppling a few but forward-looking municipalities threatening to remove more. These are statues for the most part, of Confederate generals. Many a sweltering Southern burg has a monument to a local hero of the Civil War, usually displaying him mounted on a horse and holding a sword. The typical plaque underneath goes something like this:
General Bygod (Swamp Pisser) DePants
Commander of the Army of Biloxi, Nicknamed “The Fighting Gnat-Swarm”
Gravely Wounded at the Battle of Butterbean Mound
Survived to Became the First Head Reptile of the Mississippi Klan
But recently, certain Chamber of Commerce and other college types in the South are looking at the statues of DePants and his ilk and thinking, “Who really needs these guys? We could put something more useful there, like a Starbucks or even a shave-ice cart.”
But Trump stands in stalwart opposition to the removal of all Confederate monuments, because they are “heritage.” He’s also pissed at NASCAR for banning the rebel flag at NASCAR events, and for the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians for wanting to change their names. He may be overdoing it a tad on these issues, because when guys who think there’s no better way to spend the day than absorbing a twelve-pack of Natty Light and watching cars go around in a circle for hours at a time begin thinking to themselves, “Imma startin’ to see how sum people might think that there flag is a no-no,” pretty much everybody else already feels that way, too.
The word “Redskins” has not been used by anybody NOT referring to DC’s football team since the script for the last Western before Clint Eastwood started making them was handed out to the cast. “Indians” has been a useless word for years. Unless you were specifically referring to someone who belonged to that baseball team, or owned a casino or a motel, it was always necessary to add a rather clumsy and hauntingly racist adjective to “Indian,” like “Real Indian,” or “Not a real Indian. A Hindu Indian.” We can all give that up with a sigh of relief.
But it’s the statues that Trump is really doubling down on. He’s proposing a “National Garden of Heroes,” a collection of statues of mostly white Republican men. Not all white--he’s proposing that statues of Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman be allowed to stand in the Garden, alongside the likes of Antonin Scalia.
Now, Tubman is currently supposed to be on the twenty-dollar bill, replacing slave-owner and Native American exterminator Andrew Jackson, but Trump’s financial elf, Steve Mnuchin, has managed to keep her off with a series of flimsy excuses, because Trump’s base obviously does not want a black woman on their currency on his watch. But she is a genuine hero, as opposed to Antonin Scalia, whose most heroic on-the-record act was apologizing for his farts in Latin. “Paenitet,” he would smirk, every time he saw Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s nose wrinkling.
Jackie Robinson’s going to be there too, the first black American major league baseball player. But the first black American President?
He’s not worthy.