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Peter Wood on the Vandalism of Civilization

Trump Tweet Vandalism
Our friend Dr. Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars, recently circulated a statement opposing the destruction of cultural monuments in major cities across America:

The National Association of Scholars stands with those who repudiate the destruction of public monuments through mob violence. Public monuments—whether of figures important to a group, such as Christopher Columbus or Robert E. Lee, or central to the American founding, such as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson—embody the memory of a nation and the values of its people. As Americans, we can and do disagree with one another over which figures deserve this honor. A monument once erected isn’t necessarily destined to stand for all time. But the decision to remove it should follow democratic processes, law, and due consideration of all views. A monument should never be removed through mob violence, nor should it be defaced by individuals acting out their own opposition to what the monument represents. The word for that is vandalism, and there is no place for it in civil society. It undermines genuine civic engagement and demoralizes our country. It stirs hatred and the desire for revenge. Public officials who turn a blind eye to such destruction betray the trust we put in them. Opinion leaders who justify vandalism deserve to be ashamed. At the National Association of Scholars, we especially abhor the role of college and university faculty members or administrators who have applauded and abetted the wreckage of the public square. We call on colleges, universities, and other civic organizations to do their part in restoring the principles of respect for the common good. In this case, silence does abet violence, and topples our national self-respect.

Peter Wood
National Association of Scholars
June 23, 2020

Dr. Wood is one of a small but brave band of academics who have the integrity to criticize the role of college and university faculty members and administrators in encouraging “the wreckage of the public square” as he put it.

Others who have spoken out against or questioned the current wave of Marxist iconoclasm convulsing our country, such as Cornell Law School’s Professor William A. Jacobson, are under fire for acting with similar integrity.

“This is not just about me. It’s about the intellectual freedom and vibrancy of Cornell and other higher education institutions, and the society at large,” Prof. Jacobson wrote. “Open inquiry and debate are core features of a vibrant intellectual community.”

We urge CHQ readers and friends to call upon their colleges and universities, especially publicly funded institutions that exist through the hard work of tax paying citizens, to, as Dr. Wood put it, do their part in restoring the principles of respect for the common good and to oppose the wreckage of the public square.

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