Remembrance and Forgetting

Yesterday, conservative New York city government workers, their friends, and allies marched over Brooklyn Bridge to protest city vaccine mandates which go into effect on Friday. If city workers are not vaccinated by then, they’ll be put on unpaid suspension.

In the United States, an official culture of commemoration is developing around the black civil rights movement, Hispanics. feminism, LGBT rights. and Native or Indigenous Americans. Current highlights include MLK’s Birthday, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride, and Cinco de Mayo but the culture of civil rights commemoration is actually something that grows on a yearly basis and keeps becoming more inclusive. For example, yesterday was the first notice I’ve seen of the anniversary of an 1871 massacre of Chinese residents in Los Angeles that killed 18 Chinese men. Catholic intellectual Rod Dreher complains to the effect that “every month is Pride Month.” Every month is now Black History Month as well.

The one group that is losing ground in commemoration is white conservatives. Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day can be seen as “conservative holidays” and while Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, DDay, and 9-11 observances include conservatives in the general observances. But most American commemorations now identify white conservatives as an evil “other” oppressing much of the American population and the events and people being commemorated are usually directed against them. Likewise, the campaigns against Confederate statues and Columbus Day have gone far toward eliminating a sense of conservative achievement and honor from national commemorations.

Opposition to white conservatives is now a bedrock of multicultural culture in the U.S. At the same time, there is a wish that conservatives disappear in the present so they can be forgotten.

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