Officials in San Francisco have voted to spend close to a million dollars to paint over a Depression-era mural. The reasoning and faulty logic sounds familiar to most conservatives: The picture includes slaves and Indians laboring for colonists and George Washington, and celebrates colonialism, slavery, and white supremacy and thus should be erased.
But the counter-arguments are particularly persuasive in this case. This is not Confederate statues that are used as symbols of white supremacy but George Washington, the founder of our country. The “Life of Washington” was painted by Victor Arnautoff 83 years ago, so it is from a famous and respected artist. His work was controversial at the time because his inclusion of slaves and Native Americans was a subtle critique of American history.
It praised George Washington and America’s founding but reminded anybody who looked at it that it was based in part on conquest and slavery. Much like the streets at West Point that were named after Confederates in the name of reconciliation, the San Francisco officials ignore the intent of this critical piece of art. Instead, they have rather simplistic views of history and feel that anything that disagrees with their current wokeness must be purged.
But they end up reminding this writer of the Taliban who destroyed Buddhist statues. Some of these statues were the largest in the world, several thousand years old, and priceless cultural artifacts. But they were un-Islamic and thus destroyed. So many people in the West asked how they could do such horrible things to their history, and without a sense of irony those in San Francisco have answered that question as they vote to remove stunning art and priceless cultural artifact from the past.