A short follow-up to my column last week about Confederate and other statues and symbols (“Erasing History vs. Just Smudging It — Part II”).
1. My paragraph on the temporary removal of Gone With the Wind from HBO Max’s streaming service eventually fell to the cutting room floor and never saw the light of day. I’m happy to report, though, that GWTW is back on HBO Max with an additional short introduction and longer post-movie panel discussion giving the movie some context, which is what the “let the statues remain” crowd always claim they really want. (I wonder, though, where are all those explanatory plaques? Some statues have been standing for way over 100 years). In any event, we can all be glad that the First Amendment, which was supposedly under attack by the streaming service (disclosure: it wasn’t), is still intact.
2. I read Bret Stephens in the Times regularly though (like with Bill Safire) I disagree with him much more than I agree. His column this past Shabbat, though, was one I agreed with almost fully (a quibble here, a kvetch there), probably because he agreed with me (and not the other way around; my column was published first). But his ending summed up the controversy better than anything I wrote, so I’d like to quote part of it.
“The right’s idea that we must preserve the worst figures to protect the best is idiotic. The left’s idea that we should bring down the best because we know who they were at their worst is no less so. An intelligent society should be able to make intelligent distinctions, starting with the one between those who made our union more perfect and those who made it less.”