In perhaps the most backwards move of the entire “tear down the statues” movement, the U.S. Congress’ Naming Commission will soon attempt to demolish the Confederate Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, designed by the first globally renowned Jewish-American artist, Moses Ezekiel. Ezekiel himself is buried at the base of the statue.
Announced this week, the Democrat and Republican-backed Naming Commission has said the entire endeavor of attempting to rewrite American history will cost around $62 million, and involve around 1100 sites, statues, and properties.
Most notably, the Commission targets the grave and Confederate Memorial of Moses Ezekiel – an artist once likened to Michelangelo – calling it “problematic from top to bottom”.
The issue, they claim, is that the memorial lauds the Confederacy as a “noble” cause. But that was scarcely the artist’s intention, nor does that claim appear to be reflected in even the liberal media reports from the time. Ezekiel’s statue originally focused on State’s Rights as well as free trade, being decided upon in 1906, and unveiled to critical acclaim in 1914.
At the time, even the Washington Post described the monument as representing “peace,” and news outlets from around the world published fawning praise for the forward-looking monument.
Indeed Ezekiel himself said at the time that he was modeling the memorial to portray the South rising above its sacrifices and privations.
“The intention is that it is a peace monument,” he said. “Without forgetting the sacrifices and the heroism of the South, and emphasizing the fact that they were fighting for a constitutional right, and not to uphold slavery, I have attempted to have the dominant idea the future and not the past, to show that the intention of the South is to rest the future on her industry and her agriculture, and let the past go, but not be forgotten.”
In his memoirs, Ezekiel wrote: “None of us had ever fought for slavery and, in fact, were opposed to it. It was an evil that we had inherited and that he wanted to get rid of. Our struggle… was simply a constitutional one.”
Even President Obama continued the tradition of sending a wreath to the Confederate Memorial.
But now, a woke coterie of military veterans and politicians are attempting to invert Ezekiel’s idea – not letting the past go, but attempting at the same time to have it forgotten.
In their haste, they will be desecrating the graves of many, including Ezekiel himself, who was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery site in 1921. He is famed for dozens of works, including the memorial, as well as a B’nai Brith statue to religious liberty in Philadelphia, statues of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci, and even long-standing Columbus, Jefferson, Stonewall Jackson, and Edgar Allan Poe statues. All of these will now surely be called into question.