BY TONY BOUZA
Our—or any—society is driven by values. We repeatedly extoll the virtues of truth tellers and honest dealers. Our airways are clogged with boasts of integrity. Our morality defines us and we emphasize these beliefs in the artifacts of culture. There are not too many statues left of Adolf Hitler in Germany or anywhere. Civilizations collapse because of moral decay.
Secession was a profoundly traitorous act—and done for the cause of preserving the power to own another human’s life and service. Locally, Lake Calhoun reminds us of this folly. Luckily it is correctible and it has been. Anyone who thinks Charles Lindbergh was a great hero hasn’t read Phil Roth’s “The Plot Against America.” Dig it.
Though he has his adherents—and so does Adolph, for that matter (attesting to the infinite gullibility of the human animal)—J. Edgar Hoover was the worst thing ever to happen to American policing. His papers—which would have revealed the sick purpose of his instincts—will never see the light of day. His targets will surface in 2027 as the FBI files on Hoover’s #1 bugbear—the Reverend and revered Martin Luther King, Jr.—are released. They will probably reflect an active libido, and so what?
Every sensible historian has known and evaluated Hoover’s true worth—or lack thereof. Curt Gentry’s biography is the best. The FBI’s current building in D.C. bears Hoover’s name. That is even more shameful than our Lindbergh Terminal.
Now there is a new FBI building in the works, and we are likely to perpetuate the atrocity. His are not the values that should perpetuate our worth.
When the King files are released, some will claim justification for their antipathy—which is really just another expression of racism.
What will not be asked is why—in a sea of Mafia violence and addiction pandemics—did Hoover train his obsessive powers on a Black clergyman fighting for human rights?
It is in wrestling with such questions that a civilization is defined.
What will history’s judgment be of ours?
It all—on the surface—looks pretty harmless. Robert E. Lee was a great general and very likely a really nice guy. “Gone with the Wind” gave us a great view of the idyllic life of plantation darkies. D.W. Griffith was a brilliant director who created the most blatantly racist tract Hollywood ever made, “The Birth of a Nation.”
Every monument—in whatever form: flag, song, book, film or even, yes, buildings—is an expression of our values. They are ways of conveying to our children the things we hold most dear.