I’m writing in response to the July 1st story “Monuments Vandalized.” The story calls the defacing of graves and monuments in Mount Olivet cemetery “the latest incident of racially-based vandalism in the city.”
Racially-based vandalism? No, the vandalism that preceded was straight up racist, white supremacist vitriol. Even though your publication wouldn’t print the actual words, we all know what “racial slurs and offensive symbols” were likely used.
On the other hand, what occurred at Mount Olivet was vandalism — and for the record, I don’t agree with what was done, but I can understand it. The first incident was racist. The Mount Olivet incident was done in protest and its message advocates for Black people's lives being of equal value in this country.
The first incident advocates for white power and the subjugation or eradication of non-whites. The Mount Olivet incident is simply asking us to value and respect Black lives under the law and in every day life. The acts are the same but the motivation behind the act is radically different.
To equivocate the two by linking both as “racially-based” is not only inaccurate, but also harmful. Call racist graffiti what it is. Call protest vandalism what it is. It seems to me we’ve lost the ability in this country to see complexity and attempt to understand it and hold several ideas in our heads at one time. I also found the final quote in your story interesting, “The people that did this don’t want a history lesson.”
It’s hard to tell what the intent behind this quote is. This quote symbolizes the tricky nature of language. Was he saying the protesters are ignorant of history, or that he feels the protesters know their history and giving them a lesson would therefore be below them and useless? Who knows. Here’s how I interpreted that quote in the context of your story: I think the people that vandalized Mount Olivet gave all of us an important history lesson; it’s just a harsher, more accurate lesson many people simply still don’t want to hear. Words matter.