The image of George Washington’s statue facing the ground after being toppled and vandalized in Portland fills my heart with immense sadness. The imagery set forth a wave of baleful nostalgia of a similar incident 54 years ago. During China’s Cultural Revolution, a prominent statue of Confucius was dismantled by militant university and high school students who referred to themselves as the “Red Guards.” It seems, in many respects, 2020 may be a repeat of 1966.
The destruction of Confucius’s temples and family cemetery in the early days of the Cultural Revolution was meant to send the message to the rest of the country. If someone who had been revered for thousands of years, one of the ultimate symbols of China and her culture, could be humiliated and destroyed in such a way, nothing and no one else would be safe.
History may not repeat itself exactly the same way, but it does rhyme. The destruction we’re witnessing in America today is beginning to resemble 1966 China more every day. Washington’s statue was toppled not simply because of his personal failings for being a slave owner. Washington represents the ultimate symbol of the United States of America in a similar way Confucius was for China.
By pulling down his statue, the mob wants to send a message: they reject all founders of the United States and denounce the founding principles that this nation was built upon. If Washington can be condemned and humiliated in this way and what he stood for can be rejected with no resistance, no one else in this country is safe.