Vandalizing Civilization

Peter Wood

  • Statement
  • June 23, 2020

The National Association of Scholars stands with those who repudiate the destruction of public monuments through mob violence. Public monuments—whether of figures important to a group, such as Christopher Columbus or Robert E. Lee, or central to the American founding, such as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson—embody the memory of a nation and the values of its people. As Americans, we can and do disagree with one another over which figures deserve this honor. A monument once erected isn’t necessarily destined to stand for all time. But the decision to remove it should follow democratic processes, law, and due consideration of all views. A monument should never be removed through mob violence, nor should it be defaced by individuals acting out their own opposition to what the monument represents. The word for that is vandalism, and there is no place for it in civil society. It undermines genuine civic engagement and demoralizes our country. It stirs hatred and the desire for revenge. Public officials who turn a blind eye to such destruction betray the trust we put in them. Opinion leaders who justify vandalism deserve to be shamed. At the National Association of Scholars, we especially abhor the role of college and university faculty members or administrators who have applauded and abetted the wreckage of the public square. We call on colleges, universities, and other civic organizations to do their part in restoring the principles of respect for the common good. In this case, silence does abet violence, and topples our national self-respect.

Peter Wood
National Association of Scholars
June 23, 2020

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

  • Share

Most Commented

May 1, 2017


Binghamton University Responds to NAS’s Report

SUNY Binghamton offers critiques and corrections to Outsourced to China. ...

March 23, 2011


Looking for Answers? Ask a Scholar!

NAS is partnering with Intellectual Takeout to answer questions that call for scholarly judgment and can't be answered by Wikipedia. ...

September 5, 2014


Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

"[PTSS] provides an evidence-proof explanation that lifts away moral responsibility from those engaged in self-destructive, anti-social, and criminal behavior."...

Most Read

January 3, 2011


Estimated 40 Percent of Scientists Doubt Manmade Global Warming

S. Fred Singer said in an interview with the NAS that...

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

May 29, 2013


Ask a Scholar: How Did Women's Suffrage Impact the USA?

Prof. Jonathan Bean assesses the impact of the women's suffrage movement on the American polity....