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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Statue of limitations

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, August 21, 2017 03:06 pm

I am not a Nazi or a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

I do not like Nazis or members of the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, I despise Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan and everything they stand for.

Furthermore, all those who have even the slightest bit of sympathy for anything a Nazi or a member of the Ku Klux Klan ever said, did or thought should be locked in a tiny room without bread or water to spend the rest of their short, unworthy lives in abject misery.

God, that was tough. But I'm glad I finally did it. I didn't know I had that much bravery in me to be able to take such a coureageous stand. But it's done now, and I will face the consequences of my declarations heroically and without complaint.

I just wish there were some way I could show my solidarity with those who have so fearlessly and steadfastly heaped righteous contempt on that tiny, impotent band of white nationalists who are contributing so little to the national dialogue. Words are fine, but deeds count for a lot more.

Alas, I can't. This is Fort Wayne, Indiana, after all, not exactly a hotted of Civil War struggles. There are no statues of Robert E. Lee I can topple, deface or persuade the city fathers to spirit away in the middle of the night. As far as I know, Jefferson Davis did not sneak into town some cold December night and father a child or two whose descendants we can unmask and shame out of town. There are no streets bearing Confederate generals' names that we can plow under and plant with Red Dahlias (look it up).

Perhaps I can make do.

What if we get a bulldozer one of these days and level that awful statue of Gen. Anthony Wayne standing in Freimann Square? He was too early for the Civil War, but he was bloodthirsty when it came to the rights of minorities, vowing of Chief Little Turtle's legion at Fallen Timbers, to "bayonet the devils." As Indiana Policy Review Editor Craig Ladwig noted on our editorial page earlier this year, he was nothing more than an Indian-killing white supremacist. He would have made a good Nazi (as in, the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi, I hasten to add).

If you want to know the truth, I'm a little shocked that I'm the first one to seriously suggest de-Wayne-ing our city. I  know a couple of people who undoubtedly think it would be a fine idea, and one of them has regularly written columns for our page. That proposal will be coming very soon, I predict. I'm doubly shocked that the idea didn't come up after the social justice warriors were successful in shaming North Side into ditching its Redskins logo. You're never going to succeed at the "take a mile when they give you an inch" game if you don't go for that next inch.

And while we're at it, we should probably think about getting rid of everything named for the mad general, up to an including the name of the city. Fort Wayne? Really? We might as well take out an ad on Facebook saying we hate Indigenous Americans. We should think of renaming the city Little Turtle, or maybe Tortuga just to show we bear no ill will toward our undocumented immigrant-American brethren and sistren. From the Indigenous to Undocumented, with nobody in between worth even talking about. Thus the circle of life.

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I feel a little sorry for 30-year-old Anthony Ventura of Indianapolis. All he wanted to do was contribute his part in rewriting American history by the same kind of thing so many of his fellow progressives have been getting high praise for. So he went to Garfield Park with his hammer and started chipping off pieces of a 35-foot tall granite tower listing the names of 1,616 Confederate prisoners who died while held at the city's Camp Morton.

Can you believe he is being Sunday on a charge of criminal mischief? By the same city in which some officials are considering moving the monument to an, um, less conspicuous and not-quite-so-public space. Yes, they are ashamed of having it there, even though, some admit, "it is less offensive" than some other memorials to the people on the wrong side of our great national convulsion. After all, it merely honors the men who died, not noting the "cause they fought for."

I guess I'm just being dense. I can understand the arguments for taking down statues of people like Gen. Lee (even if I think they're wrongheaded) because, however good they were as human beings, they were still leading troops onto battle for despicable cause. But to despise in memory the troops who died following those leaders? Especially the ones who died in one of the stinking hell holes we called prisoner of war camps? That seems remarkably mean spirited, even for the pathologically unsympathetic creeps leading this destructive romp through history.

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I see where the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis has been discovered, 72 years after it was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in the waning days of World War II. 

The Indianapolis sank in just 12 minutes, with 300 of her crew going down with the ship. With few lifeboats, many of the remaining 900 faced death by exposure or shark attack until they were spotted three days later by a U.S. Navy patrol plane. By the time they were reached by rescuers, only 317 of the crew of 1,196 aboard were still alive.

I suppose somebody will get the idea to salvage as much as they can of the ship and then build a monument around it to honor all those who died at sea saving the world from evil.

But I urge caution. After all, when it was destroyed, the Indianapolis was on its return from a secret mission to deliver components for the atomic bomb that would be dropped days later on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. And we all know how evil that was. Hitler had already been dispatched — the Nazis were gone! — so this just amounted to another case of evil white people unleashing horror upon another downtrodden minority.

Put that monument up, and soon thereafter, it will come down in the middle of the night, I warn you.

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When I'm in the mood to take these yokels seriously and try to have a rational argument with them, I tend to take the Condoleezza Rice position, which is that "preserving monuments to the darker moments of our past ensures future generations are acquainted with history and charge forward rather than backward, away from the mistakes of their ancestors, rather than into their fading bronze arms."

When I'm not, which is more often the case, I take the Charles Barkley position, which is that the whole thing is too stupid to worry about

"I'm not going to waste my time screaming at a neo-Nazi who is going to hate me no matter what. And I'm not going to waste my time worrying about these statues," Barkley said.

"I've always ignored them," Barkley said of the Confederate statues. "I'm 54 years old. I've never thought about those statues a day in my life. I think if you ask most black people, to be honest, they ain’t thought a day in their life about those stupid statues."

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