UPDATE: As of October 15th, the statue has been removed. The statue of the former California Governor was standing Downtown in Horton Plaza until it was removed suddenly on Thursday. There are currently no updates as to when or if the statue will return.
On Sunday, a violent mob of protesters marched through Portland’s South Park to vandalize and topple the statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. That same night, according to The Oregonian, protesters would later unfurl a banner at the Oregon Historical Society reading: “Stop honoring racist colonizer murderers.”
The words inscribed on that banner especially cannot befit a man like Lincoln, who spent the final years of his life championing the African-American cause for freedom and representation, and who the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglas referred to as “empathetically the black man’s president.”
Of course, Lincoln has been cast as a villain for some time now by the more radical leftists, whose views on the United States are embodied by the New York Times‘ 1619 Project, a work that numerous historians have critiqued as a distorted view of American history.
In San Diego, however, the Left has called for a more bizarre villainization of another character. NBC 7 San Diego reported that “local social justice equity leaders gathered Monday in Horton Plaza to urge officials to remove the statue of former San Diego Mayor an California Gov. Pete Wilson, whose decision to support Proposition 187 in 1994 made him a controversial figure.”
In 2014, Wilson reasserted that his “decision to enforce Prop. 187 was an attempt to address the massive tax burden foisted on the state by the federal governments failure to control the border.” Indeed, most of California agreed with Wilson in 1994, as the proposition passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote, while having the support of almost a third of Latino voters and half of African-American voters.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed correctly notes that “Mr. Wilson turned California around from 50th to first in the nation in job creation, eliminated the largest state budget deficit in history and achieved a year-over-year reduction in government spending.”
For all his achievements, the Left nonetheless bashes Wilson for his support of issues that most voters at the time were very much behind. His positions were not controversial to the majority of Californians who supported them then, nor are they controversial now.
Their perpetual demonization of so many past public figures—from Lincoln and Roosevelt to Wilson—is the natural result of the Left’s tendency to judge the disposition of a man by their own extreme, ever-evolving standards. They fail to realize that statues dedicated to so many great leaders are not meant to memorialize the flaws of those men, common to any of their time, but to commemorate their real achievements, whether it be the furtherance of human rights, the advancement of the nation, or their service to a state.