Enough with statues, give back the land

The Millennial generation fascinates me due to their collective failure to reason and act logically. Each generation of course has strengths and weaknesses. The 1960s offered children a world where The Bomb could result in global destruction at any moment while The Pill created a “free love” culture and new opportunities for women. Kids grew up discounting the value of thrift, temperance and self-sacrifice knowing their lives could be incinerated in a mere 13 minutes.

Millennials were raised by parents who in many cases didn’t want to tell their children “No!” Grandparents of Millennials struggled to contain their frustration watching parents praise the creativity of little Brandon or Jessica for scribbling crayon doodles on walls in the family dining room. Parents shunned strict discipline and preferred to encourage free-thinking and unbridled innovation. They sought a more “democratic” world devoid of pressures that derive from domination, self-doubt and regulation.

Parents of Millennials likewise demanded traditionally competitive activities ensure all kids receive trophies and discount individual achievement. As a result, Millennial children have grown into adults who are easily offended and wilt under pressure, while demonstrating sympathy and empathy for historically marginalized members of American society. White Millennial men, for example, expose the irony of their worldview by criticizing White Male Privilege. Along with their Millennial girlfriends with benefits, they claim White men have institutional advantages in America — while ignoring the fact if their hyperbole is accurate, they benefited from such a system as well. Should they give back their acquired wealth? If so, to whom?

It seems their empathetic Millennial nature “woke” them to the existence of life’s lack of fairness, and by simply ridiculing this alleged privilege they will be relieved from their guilt of benefiting from the injustice. Interestingly, they criticize those who did more than just talk about removing barriers by degrading their sacrifice and defaming their character by calling them hacks with White Savior Mentality.

Writing in LA Times, Millennial author, Jaweed Kaleem, reports on the first community in America to challenge America’s recognition of a former national leader due to his apparent flawed and unjust actions. The community of Arcata, CA, has scheduled to remove a statue of President William McKinley that stood in the central plaza since 1906.


Kaleem points out the “quiet, coastal hamlet” of Arcata has earned a reputation over the years as one of the most liberal places in the nation. Arcata was the first U.S. city to ban the sale of genetically modified foods, first to elect a majority Green Party city council, and one of the first to tacitly allow marijuana farming before pot was legal.

Arcata residents will now be the first city in America to take down a monument of a former president for his alleged misdeeds. President McKinley was the 25th President of the United States. He served from March 4, 1897, until his assassination in September 1901, which was six months into his second term. The Millennial generation now accuses him of “directing the slaughter of Native peoples in the U.S. and abroad.”

Kaleem covers the actions of Chris Peters who demands, “Put a rope around [the statue’s] neck and pull it down.” Peters heads the Arcata-based Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous People and refers to President McKinley as a proponent of “settler colonialism” that “savaged, raped and killed.” Peters believes removing the presidential statue would be the “most significant casualty in an emerging movement to remove monuments honoring people who helped lead what Native groups describe as a centuries-long war against their very existence.”

Understanding European Settler Colonialism

Jaweed Kaleem began as a reporter with the Miami Herald in 2007. He attended Emerson College in Boston and grew up in Northern Virginia. Emerson is a private college in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Originally, Emerson was a primarily-female college, but the G.I. Bill led to a more balanced female-to-male population. The school now boasts a total enrollment of about 4,500 students, who fork out an undergraduate tuition and fees in excesss of $37,000 per year. Kaleem is a tremendously privileged young man. Millions of American families do not make $37,000 per year.

Charles Wesley Emerson created the roots of the college by founding the Boston Conservatory of Elocution, Oratory, and Dramatic Art in 1880. Dr. Emerson retired in 1903 — two years after President McKinley was assassinated. Kaleem champions the activists in Arcata, CA, by providing them a political voice, while ignoring the fact Emerson College was build on stolen Native American land.

Kaleem should include a more complex review of American history and our settler colonialism of savaging, raping and killing by consulting the “Dictionary of American-Indian Place and Proper Names in New England.” Written by R. A. Douglas-Lithgow, in 1909, this famous publication is intended for those who reside or come from New England. The author points out Native American names for towns, streets, rivers, parks, and other locations are a daily part life.

Mr. Douglas-Lithgow comments in his introduction that “these words represent almost all that remains of the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, — a brave, noble, and patriotic race who, opposed by the overwhelming and heedless forces of civilization, did everything the bravest and noblest could do to obey the first law of Nature[:] self-preservation.”

Kaleem offers a forum to activists like Chris Peters, who wants to “pull down” a statute representing American expansion, yet forgets he attended college on stolen Native American land. Kaleem also pardons himself for growing up in Northern Virginia. Native American history in this region was robust — until our settler colonialism led to the savaging, raping and killing of the aboriginal inhabitants.

Manifest Destiny

And, what about the liberal town of Arcata, CA? This area became official U.S.A territory due to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). This was the first U.S. armed conflict fought primarily on foreign soil. President James K. Polk believed the U.S. had a “manifest destiny” to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. Due to an expansionist-minded nation, Mexico lost about one-third of its territory, which includes nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Talk about settler colonialism. Kaleem doesn’t talk about this at all.

Millions of Millennials prefer instead to champion the removal of statues. To Native American activists, this seems to be a victory of sorts for them, “They stole our land, but I got this t-shirt.” Kaleem helps relieve Millennials of their guilt for the privilege previous generations provided them by applauding the removal of a presidential statue. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. They led a nation that tolerated the enslavement of Black Africans. Should their statues come down as well?

I’m unsure the goal of writers such as Kaleem. As I noted when I started my polemic, the Millennial generation is long on criticism, but short on reasoned thinking and logic. There is no question the history of American expansion is based on settler colonialism and dark acts of savaging, raping and killing of the aboriginal inhabitants. Our ancestors didn’t invent these brutal acts. In many cases, they fled from similar horrors. The history of the world is dark and savage.

Mr. Kaleem, I realize you are woke to the evils of our ancestors. Rather than pulling down statues, why not return the land to the rightful owners? Of course, this would mean you — and most of us — would need to leave the country. Or do you just gloss over your guilt and assist your generation doing so as well?

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I forwarded my comments to Mr. Kaleem, as I was interested to know his positions about removing the statues. He graciously answered:

Scott, you make a few good, solid points here. You misunderstand, though, my role as a journalist (I am not a part of this movement to take down statues). You also make a lot of assumptions about who I am and my background. It’s easier and will make your writing more accurate if you simply ask questions before reporting.




4 thoughts on “Enough with statues, give back the land

  1. Good morning Jaweed,
    Thank you for responding. Whenever I discuss the reporting of an author, I forward my comments. You’re the first to respond. I would love to ask first but it’s rare someone takes the time. I appreciate that you reached out.

    From the reader’s point of view, I believe we assume you decided to cover the activity because it interests you — you have a world of events from which to select. Although you included comments from a couple people who didn’t want the statue removed, you didn’t raise underlying concerns as I did. You only allocated critics a “sidebar” to your primary coverage. My frustration with most authors today is they seem delighted to provide the “extreme” view, which polarizes our society, while ignoring substance that glues us together. I believe you did this as well. President McKinley, while flawed, is one in a long line of failed human beings who allows us to live freely and comfortably as we do today. This includes you, me, and activists you featured, such as Chris Peters and Ted Hernandez.

    Confederate statues represent “losers” in US history. Followers wanted to disband the union, while championing states’ rights over a federal prohibition against slavery. Although the right of states is an enduring battle in our federalist system, slavery certainly is not. Their statues do not represent America. They never did.

    Removing a statue of a president like McKinley is an extremely complex issue. I hail from Hawai’i. Republican President Benjamin Harrison certainly is not a beloved figure to native Hawaiians. When he authorized US Marines to push Queen Lili’uokalani from her thrown in 1893, she could have directed Hawaiians to fight. They likely would have prevailed — in the short run. A guerrilla opposition would have been formidable against an ill-equipped American force struggling with 3,000+ mile supply lines.

    She choose not to shed blood. To me, the queen was wise. Hawaiians did not have the capability to win a war — against America or the Japanese or the Russians or the British. Had America not absorbed the islands into our protective bubble, another culture would have. The islands were simply too important strategically to an ever-shrinking imperialistic world.

    Here’s the underlying issue. The Hawai’i Kingdom was not pacifist. Neither were most Native American tribes. King Kamehameha I “unified” the Hawaiian islands using force — Hawaiian warriors were fierce combatants — so were Native American warriors. We recognize Kamehameha’s victory each June 11th. He was a Big Fish who dominated smaller fish. The US was simply a Bigger Fish. Our ancestors played by the same rules — might made right. Native Americans also accepted this.

    This fact is ignored by activists who march today. Confederate forces lost to a nation that had superior resources and greater will. Native American tribes were overrun by people who had superior technology and additional uses for the resources on the lands they inhabited.

    Scott Goold is not a “native” American name. My ancestors migrated here. I assume Jaweed Kaleem is not a native American name either. Your ancestors migrated here. Likely both our families fled oppression. They sought a place with room to pioneer a new way of life. Had it not been our ancestors, it would have been someone else who conquered this land.

    We can’t change history. Why then do we continue battles that can only divide us? The ancestors of Mr. Peters and Hernandez lost, just as Hawaiians lost. Were they cheated? Or did they simply lose in a game they freely choose to play? All were happy to share in the spoils that came from their victories. King Kamehameha was no saint. He forced opposing warriors off cliffs to their death.

    You’re an excellent writer. Yet you promoted the “losers,” while ignoring the realities of the history I provided here. If we’re guilty, then the only solution is to return that which was stolen, as many Hawaiians demand. #1 — this isn’t going to happen; #2 — these continued battles will only divide us; and #3 — a divided people cannot survive. We will implode from within. How is this helpful?

    Remember a famous expression seen in the islands, “Aloha means hello and good-bye. No forget go home!”

    Where is your home? Where is mine? I believe we only know America. Do you want to tear it all down?

    Thanks again for responding. Why not share the complete story with your readers? We need to fully consider our actions today.

    Best wishes!

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