Years ago while sitting in a café in Argentina, I watched as a group of drunken Americans staggered through the door. It was not hard to tell they were Americans; they were rude and crude and seemed to think they were deserving of special privilege that did not include courtesy to other patrons. While I sat there watching them, this is the conversation heard from the booth behind my head:
Patron One: “Now you know what the term ‘ugly Americans Abroad’ means.”
Patron Two: “What do Americans know anyway? They live in the only country in the world to declare war against itself.”
It was a simple observation of those diners, and I had forgotten the words until recently when Americans went to war with the statues left behind from that war. The thing is I don’t care one way or another about a civil war statue because I only see them for what they are; statues that are very old and commemorate a chapter in our history that was not pretty but history rarely is. However, if you need to beat up a statue to feel self worth, then go for it. But what happens once the statues are broken and lying on the ground as so much rubbish, and the supply of statues runs out? Who then fulfills the wrath of a mob intent on vigilante justice, and we can but hope they don’t start looting civil war gravesites in search of long dead soldiers on both sides.
The real travesty of the statue thing is, I don’t have to travel abroad these days to watch ugly Americans on display. I only have to turn the television on.