The statues are toppling faster than bowling pins on league night.
Demands to change place names are as common as sunburns at the beach.
At the rate we’re going, it won’t be long until the tear-it-down crowd begins looking for new targets.
Fortunately for them, there’s no shortage of candidates, if they just put a bit of their unique brand of thinking to work.
If Washington and Jefferson are fair game, then a host of lesser known individuals, some of them right here in Southwest Florida, are candidates for vilification as well.
Brent Batten (Photo: Luke Franke/Naples Daily News)
From the beginning of recorded history, across continents and cultures, the norm has been for the strong to subjugate the weak. A few rich rulers sat at the top while everyone else merely subsisted as laborers, eking out a meager living and handing over any surplus to their overlords.
Wealth was acquired by taking by force what others had produced.
Somewhere along the way, new thinking began to emerge that posited that people had rights beyond those granted by the king.
Early examples of this school of thought can be seen in ancient Greece and Rome.
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But it didn’t take hold on a broad scale. Why would the powerful let it?
The discovery of the New World and its colonization created a laboratory and a nursery where these ideas could germinate.
The concepts of God-given rights, individual liberty, personal property and government by the people were enshrined in our Constitution thanks to the wisdom, sacrifice and bravery of the Founding Fathers.
They were flawed individuals who lived in times far different than ours. The struggle toward freedom and equal rights for all didn’t end with them. They left much that needed to be done to later generations. They weren’t able to take us to that place in one giant stride.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill that retires the last state flag bearing the Confederate battle emblem. Amid international protests over racial injustice, Mississippi was under pressure to lose a symbol that many see as racist. (July 1)
But what the Founders did represented a quantum leap forward in the arc of human history away from tyranny and toward a just society. We’re still not there, but the march continues.
All of that counts for naught, apparently, among the statue topplers and name droppers.
Once they’re done pulling down statues of Washington and Jefferson and once they’ve finished renaming places like Columbus, here are other potential targets:
Florida: The name given to our peninsula by Spanish explorers because of its abundant flowers. Spanish explorers were also known as Conquistadors, as in conquest, and they wreaked havoc on native populations. They’re not worthy of getting to name a state, so we’ll have to come up with something new.
Collier County: Barron Gift Collier was a white guy who made a fortune in advertising and real estate development. Being white and rich, he already has two strikes against him. The road he built connecting Naples the Miami ended up being harmful to the Florida (or whatever we decide to call it) Everglades. Strike three. Start looking for a new name for the land surrounding Naples.
Naples: Named after the Italian city. Christopher Columbus was Italian. Had he not ventured out by boat, the failings of Washington, Jefferson and others would never have happened. So, no more Naples.
Lee County: Too easy.
Fort Myers: The Lee County seat was originally an actual fort during the Seminole Wars of the mid-1800s. It represents U.S. soldiers fighting against native populations and therefore the name ought to be stripped.
Thomas Edison: The famous winter resident is immortalized in multiple statues, including at his Fort Myers estate. They should come down on the premise that his inventions, like the light bulb and other electric devices, contribute to global warming and thus are killing the planet.
Henry Ford: A neighbor of Edison in Fort Myers (for now) Ford introduced mass production of the automobile. See the above passage on global warming, etc. You can find his statue at the Edison-Ford Estates, for the time being.
If the craze, and rarely has the term been more apt, of tearing down and erasing history based on the whims of the moment persists, Southwest Florida has its share of potential targets.
(Connect with Brent Batten at email@example.com or via Facebook.)
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