Erasing History

        The vile participants of the march in Charlottesville are justly condemned. Since the ensuing violence, there has been an intense push to rid the country of any positive reference to the Confederacy or those who led and fought for it. The immediate response has been to remove statues honoring Confederate "heroes." Somehow these actions are expected to heal a nation that many feel is racked by racism and an endemic hate. It is unclear that this purifying will have the intended consequence. Rather we are creating a slippery slope which will rid America of any reference to unpleasant facts in our long history. Human beings are flawed. They do bad things; many of which are inexcusable as seen through a modern prism. However, are we really better off cancelling the participants from our history rather than keeping their "sins" accessible in the public square so that we can learn and grow as a country from these failings?
          Besides erasing most of our founding fathers, others must receive a similar hit. Taken to its logical conclusion, Andrew Jackson should be eviscerated from our history because of his attempt to solve the "Indian problem" by moving tribes West on the Trail of Tears, a form of ethnic genocide. Give no thought to his heroics in fighting the British during the War of 1812 or the many positives of his presidency. Rename the towns, cities and colleges named after him. Custer was clearly a bad dude, who got his just desserts at Little Big Horn. But that is not enough. His name also graces towns, parks and monuments. The Custer battlefield should now be the Sitting Bull battlefield. The winners write history.
          FDR was responsible for the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. A dark stain on the national fabric. The good done by the New Deal cannot make up for this. Any reference to FDR must go. Woodrow Wilson was a racist, a cringe worthy flaw. So what if he pushed, unsuccessfully, for American participation in a League of Nations which would try to stop further war after the horrors of WWI. Senator Joseph McCarthy fomented a witch hunt going after Communists in government, "the Red scare." Obliterate him from our history. No cautionary tales worth keeping there. Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace after Watergate. Give him no credit for an opening to China or trying to end the Vietnam war. Bulldoze his presidential library and the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. These are the tactics of ISIS.
          The point is this. We wish that throughout history men and women would always listen to their better angels. However, the way we are wired, this is never going to happen. Human failings are built into the cake. Better to learn from them as part of the American experiment rather than erase them from our consciousness. We are on a path to have our history books filled with blank pages. Never forget that profundity by George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."