by Andy Weddington
Friday, 19 May 2017
We are not makers of history. We are made by history. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During my second or third year of college I heard our Chancellor, Dr. James S. Ferguson, speak to the importance of history.
A student of history, he zeroed in on the criticality of not just knowing but preserving history - for without so doing, he opined, the void akin to suffering amnesia.
Since the attack on our history, preserved in the art form of statuary, in New Orleans began, I've wondered what Dr. Ferguson would have to say.
Without reservation, I suspect Dr. Ferguson would be alarmed and gentlemanly but direct and crystal clear with forewarning criticism to think (a rational act of the prudent).
The news this past week of the statues coming down is disturbing.
I lived in New Orleans for a few years - 9/11 was about in the middle of that time.
The statues once gracing the landscape I know.
Granted an authority on them and American history I am not (and will not attempt to be) but I do well understand and appreciate their significance. That is, controversy aside, they are part of our history.
The good, the bad, and the ugly do not necessarily look as such to all; controversy.
So is it possible for history to be void controversy?
Of course not.
History is what it is.
And preserving history - to record (whatever the form so as to repeat or, perhaps more importantly, not) - is a capability unique to but one species; man.
The dismantling of those statues in New Orleans does not, nor will it ever, erase our history but it damn sure advances a state of national amnesia.
So where does this diagnosis of ignorance and lunacy end?
Which statues next fall?
Are these art forms and any and all others preserving American history but interim objectives to ultimately capture and destroy our Constitution and colors?
We are, since our founding, like any land but a nation of fallible people.
America has excelled.
America has stumbled.
America has failed.
And those moments each have been recorded, in one form or another, to preserve (and teach) our history.
But let's be clear, America is a land like no other. Ever.
Thus, for none of American history must there be sentiments of regret, embarrassment, nor apology.
As Dr. King pointed out, we are made by history we are not the (deliberate [my word]) makers of it.
The colored America I see is through the history lens of the red, white, and blue.
Simple as that.
So, to record that sentiment (of pride, if you will), I merged two recent pieces of art - a watercolor self-portrait (fittingly in black and white) and crop of a flag painting (color, of course).
Take a look ...
Take a closer look ...
And don't bother trying to destroy the image, for everything on the Internet lives forever.
To close ...
Who are we, today, shoed differently, to judge (destroying their and our history) those Americans who trod before us? For of them we are made.
How peculiar the shallow-minded thinking and act of destroying history makes for history that, for the absence (of educating), is more likely to be repeated.
Not history but a mess of history is being made.
In other words ...
History stands as truth. "Undoing" history is a damn convenient lie.
En route to our precious Constitution and embattled colors, shall statues of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. next be toppled?
A genius is not required to realize man really is the stupidest of all living things. The irony is we are endowed with the brilliance to record, to preserve, our stupidity.
And Americans just may be king of the stupid.
The obvious question as ending ...
For that (stupidity), will our species, at its own hand and sooner than later, be history; not forgotten but erased?