What is iconoclasm? It is what we see in some of the protests when statues of past heroes are torn down. That is especially true when the statues being attacked are past American heroes who did not fight for the Confederacy such as Ulysses S. Grant and George Washington. Iconoclasm is the attack on 'settled beliefs and institutions' according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Of course that extends to the defacing or pulling down of statues of heroes. Of course Riano is complains about more than what happens to statues in her article on iconoclasm that was posted in the Imaginative Conservative blog (click here for the article). For she talks about the violence of the protests and the 'destruction replacing care,' in the protests' recent condemnation and reframing of our 'culture and history.'
In short she calls the current happenings a revolution of sorts. And with that label continues her quoting of Dávila and her selective application of those quotes. On revolutions, she quotes Dávila as saying the following:
Every revolution exacerbates the evils against which it breaks out.The problem with that quote is that it is an overgeneralization that can be proved wrong with one simple counterexample. And while Riano applies that quote to what she sees is a current revolution, we should ask about the American Revolution if that statement is always true. Would those conservatives who agree with her attacks on the current protest movement then be consistent in condemning the American Revolution? If not, why not?
In fact, Riano's article starts with a quote from Dávila on revolutions:
Those who defend revolutions cite speeches; those who accuse them cite facts.Now if we asked Riano to prove that claim by Dávila, how would she answer. Would she refuse to make a case in supporting the statement? Would she go through history and cite every statement made to defend or attack revolutions and show that Dávila's statement is based on inductive study and observation? And again, how would she apply that statement to the American Revolution.
My favorite quote she drops from Dávila is:
A civilization’s memory resides in the continuity of its institutions. The revolution that interrupts a civilization’s memory, by destroying those institutions, does not relieve society of a bothersome weight that is paralyzing it, but merely forces it to start over.In essence, Dávila is talking about the iconoclasm of the current "revolution." But we should note that iconoclasm shares a characteristic with history revisionism in that its value depends on the faults and problems that belong to the original. If a people's cherished institutions, beliefs, and heroes promoted significant injustice on others, then why is iconoclasm portrayed as something that is destructive and bad? For example, was the dismantling of slavery and Jim Crow destructive? Didn't the actual overthrow of the Soviet Union give an opportunity to the Russian people to choose a better path? Suppose the Nazi's quest for empire succeeded for hundreds of years, would a revolution be looked at as a bad thing?
At this point, some would complain about my comparing America with the old Soviet Union and the Nazis. But how do we think many minorities think about the comparison?
Then Riano goes on to attack another target: the government. For she says that both the tolerance to the current protests and the violence and government's quarantine approach to the pandemic shows a high disregard for regular working folks. Really? Using successful strategies to previous pandemics shows a disregard for working people? Has she paid attention to the effects of the Pandemic around the world and around our nation?
She then returns to iconoclasm and complains about the 'intellectual defense' of the violence in the protests. And yet, when she talks about past atrocities and violence, she says that such belongs to our history and tells us who we are while denouncing all violence that comes with the protests.
She then goes onto a couple of other subjects, but in the end she does this. She takes an authoritarian, traditionalist approach whose biggest complaint is that the wrong team is stealing the show. And she does so solely through a deductive approach taking care to mention what is happening in general without dealing with the specifics. And such is the way of the ideologue who deduces what life should be without having to deal with the facts on the ground as Ted Koppel so concisely expressed to Sean Hannity on Hannity's tv show.