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If the community doesn’t want the statue, the statue shouldn’t be there

One of the lesser-known bits of trivia about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is that her roots are found in Baltimore, Maryland. (In fact, her father served as the Mayor of Baltimore in the late 40s.) As such, when political controversy boils over in Charm City, Pelosi is occasionally called on to comment. That was the case when a mob of protesters recently tore down the statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore on the 4th of July. It’s a bit of an interesting cross-section of political issues since Pelosi is an Italian-American on both sides of her family. So what did she think about this wanton display of destruction of public property? Hey… the people are going to do what the people are going to do, amirite? (CBS Baltimore)

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in on the toppling of Baltimore’s Christopher Columbus statue on the Fourth of July, saying at a news conference Thursday that, “if the community doesn’t want the statue there, the statue shouldn’t be there.”

The Baltimore native said the statue’s removal doesn’t diminish her pride in her Italian American heritage, adding she doesn’t care much about statues.

“I’m more interested in what people have accomplished,” she said. “I think that it’s up to the communities to decide what statues they want to see.”

When a reporter had the temerity to press Pelosi on the question, asking if it would be better for the City Council to order the removal of the statue rather than having it be torn down by “protesters,” Pelosi at first granted that having the city do it would be better in terms of safety. But she then went on to cavalierly declare, “People will do what they do.”

This casual dismissal of vandalism and destruction of public property came to the attention of the state’s governor.

Pelosi is trying to dance on the head of a pin here. She’s previously gone on record as saying that it’s okay to tear down Confederate statues, but not those of Washington or the other Founders. But at the same time, when she was asked about vandals tearing down the statue of Saint Junipero Serra in her own district, her only response was to say that she’s too busy dealing with the pandemic to worry over such things.

Pelosi is clearly uncomfortable discussing this subject and for good reason. She doesn’t want to anger the party base during an election year and plenty of them are in the mood to riot. But overall, such public acts of destruction don’t poll well at all with most of the country. A plurality of voters is “mildly opposed” to tearing down statues of Confederate generals. But a serious majority oppose doing that with monuments to former presidents, even if they were slave owners.

I wanted to swing back to Pelosi’s comments regarding what happened in Baltimore for a moment, however. It’s fairly easy to say that if “the community” doesn’t like a particular statue standing in their neighborhoods, then “it shouldn’t be there.” Using the word community at least leaves room to imply that the community in question could petition their elected municipal leaders and obtain an order for the monument to be safely removed. Nothing wrong with that.

But when you say “People will do what they do,” all bets are off. Apparently it’s okay to break the law, provided the illegal activity is popular with your base. But now you’ve opened the door to any other mischief people want to get up to. And by “mischief” I mean looting, arson, and attacking the police. The Speaker apparently has lost all sight of the requirement that law and order be maintained on our streets. But hey… it’s an election year, right? So anything goes until the Bad Orange Man is out of office.

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