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(The American Conservative) – I spent some time earlier this week strolling through Memento Park in Budapest, a small park that holds the statues of “heroes” of Hungary’s communist era, who were imposed on Hungary by Soviet force. Even though these statues were depictions of direct oppressors of the Hungarian people, they were not melted down, the fate suffered by the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, destroyed this month in a secret ceremony (although ecstatically documented by the New York Times and Washington Post, which published long features afterwards.)
The destruction of art and history met with withering commentary online. The Independent Women’s Forum’s Inez Stepman wrote of the “obvious regime change symbolism” and the “Talibanesque wanton destruction of beauty,” calling the statue-melters “aesthetic terrorists.” Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio noted that “we were told this civilizational arson was a necessary part of ‘racial reconciliation.’ But…there is far less racial reconciliation today than when I was a kid. The people who told you this would promote harmony were lying to you.”
While the Lee statue removal received a great deal of publicity ex post facto, another ongoing effort to erase U.S. history has drawn far less attention. The next monument on the chopping block is not of a Confederate general, nor is it on a courthouse square or city park. It is a memorial monument at Arlington National Cemetery whose creation was spurred by the reconciliation between North and South in the wake of the Civil War. Surrounded by more than 500 veteran and widow graves and erected in 1914, it was designed by internationally renowned Jewish-American sculptor Moses Ezekiel. Moses, himself a former Confederate soldier, was described by his biographer as “adamantly opposed to slavery”; he was so dedicated to reconciliation that he…