By Seth Tamarkin, Contributing Writer
Several days before Halloween, a group calling themselves the “Monument Removal Brigade” played some tricks when they enshrouded Theodore Roosevelt’s statue in the Big Apple with blood red paint.
Their purpose for the vandalism, or “art” as they labeled it, was to showcase their disdain for the statue which depicts a Native American and African American flanking Roosevelt’s horse. However, the only goal they achieved was making liberal activists look misguided once again.
For one thing, vandalism is not art. Calling simple vandalism art already invokes the sort of pretentious art critic that people despise. Where political art stirs people’s thoughts and creates a well-thought-out dialogue, such as the “Fearless Girl” statue that was built last year across from the Wall Street Bull to highlight how there needed to be more women in Wall Street, vandalism is a lazy cop-out with no actual artistic merit.
Furthermore, Roosevelt’s legacy as the first President to actively try and improve race relations makes this all the more puzzling. Why would activists vandalize a President who was well known as progressive in race relations?
The clearest answer is that liberals continue to not have their priorities straight in regards to these recent statue protests. In Trump’s America, new legislation is brought up daily that could disrupt millions of Americans’ lives. In the week since this vandalism took place, for example, Donald Trump released a tax bill that would cripple the middle class in truly unprecedented fashion, millions of Americans still lack basic necessities in Puerto Rico, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to detain terrorists in Guantanamo Bay once again.
In all of those heartbreaking developments, none of the solutions lie in vandalizing century-old monuments.
As a matter of fact, none of the crises affecting Americans today from civil rights issues such as transgender people not being allowed to serve in the military or race issues like police brutality can be solved through vandalizing statues or obsessing over other small issues.
With that said, Roosevelt’s vandalism conveys modern activists’ unwillingness to actually engage in the world of politics and change the world for the better. The more time and energy spent funding and mobilizing groups to take down racist statues, the more time and energy actual racist politicians can fund and mobilize to make sure they get elected and their legislation gets passed.
One example of this is the case of disgraced judge Roy Moore, who previously flirted with the idea of making homosexuality illegal and continues to believe that Muslims should be barred from Congress altogether.
One would think that progressives nationwide would assemble a brigade of grassroots activism to take him on. However, polls show Roy Moore leading his Democrat counterpart. Even more troubling is that premier Alabama news website Al.com predicts the turnout for this race by black voters will be around 20%.
It should be fairly obvious that Roy Moore in our Senate has the potential to inflict more damage on civil rights than a statue of Teddy Roosevelt ever could. Yet, with the way this race is going so far, it seems that activists do not seem the least bit concerned with rounding up a coalition of voters to ensure that an obvious racist does not hold one of the highest offices in the country.
Ultimately, it is a lot easier for activists to feel content voicing disapproval over a perceived racist slab of concrete than to take on the current racist political system itself through voting and running for local office.
But politics isn’t easy. Nothing worthwhile in life is. Only one of those activities will procure worthwhile change, and it isn’t the one that resorts to throwing paint at statues.