There are different ways to identify an enemy within, but one is quite simple. Anybody who’d cancel George Washington should be considered a fifth-column member fit only for scorn and ostracism.
We’ve seen attacks upon George Washington take many forms, with San Francisco’s 2021 decision to rename a school bearing our first president’s name a prime example. It’s a red flag because it reflects hatred of America’s very foundation, of everything she truly represents.
George Washington is unlike any other American figure. His arch rival, King George III, knew this well. Responding to news that with the Revolutionary War’s conclusion, Washington would relinquish power and return to his farm, the monarch exclaimed, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world."
But Washington did do that — twice. Though the story about him being offered the kingship of America is exaggerated, that sentiment did exist — and Washington rejected the proposal unreservedly. He also not only resigned his military commission after the war, but also resisted entreaties to seek a third term as his second one as president was concluding.
Moreover, his noble conduct during the Newburgh affair in 1783 inspired Major General David Cobb, who served as aide-de-camp to General Washington, to say in 1825 that he believed these “United States are indebted for their republican form of government solely to the firm and determined republicanism of George Washington….”
This “greatest man in the world” was a giant, figuratively and literally. Standing about six feet tall, he exceeded his day’s average height significantly and must’ve been an imposing figure. Yet this paled in comparison to his moral stature. Just consider Washington’s “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour IN COMPANY AND CONVERSATION”; 110 in number, he copied them into the last 10 pages of a book of his personal notes before he was 16 years old.
This reflects how Washington really did try to cultivate virtue in himself (“virtue” being that “set of objectively good moral habits”). It’s an example people certainly need today, too, in our age of moral laxity where “If it feels good, do it” has become a common creed and we’ve lost sight of how virtue in the people is a prerequisite for enjoying liberty.
Speaking of morality, I won’t even address the politically correct charges incessantly leveled against Washington (though an interesting video that does so follows this article). This is for two reasons.
First, our modern compulsion to issue disclaimers about how “our country” or this or that historical figure “wasn’t perfect” is tiresome. Would you feel compelled to precede a tribute to your mother with a little speech about how she “wasn’t perfect,” followed by an enumeration of her supposed sins?
It’s stupid, to be frank. Perfection is not a thing of this world. It’s a thing of Heaven. It also is not a prerequisite for admiration or hero status.
Additionally, such disclaimers are often self-serving. The subtle message sometimes is, “I want to signal that I’m a good person, too good to praise my country or its historical figures without pointing out how it or they paled in comparison to my own enlightened beneficence.”
Second, leftists are notorious for claiming that everything is relative, and they certainly don’t spew venom at the Aztecs for having engaged in wide-scale human sacrifice, or at the 19th-century Papua New Guinea tribes that embraced cannibalism. But when the Founders are at issue, these relativists become quite absolutist in their condemnation of people who existed within an entirely different cultural context. This double standard reflects anti-white and/or anti-Western bigotry.
We also should ask: Who are these leftists — these depraved, child-corrupting, angry, uncharitable, lying, often violent, baby-killing, civilization-destroying, illiberal miscreants — to look down their crooked noses morally on anybody? Here’s some advice: Learn what boys and girls are before preaching to others about rectitude, chief.
Unfortunately, George Orwell certainly wasn’t far off when he stated that the “most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” This obliteration is largely complete in the United States, as evidenced by how many “Americans” will condemn the father of our nation — and how many others feel no desire to defend him.
For those interested, one man who did defend Washington, and the other Founders, is Professor Thomas Sowell. His defense is presented in the video below.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.