In the wake of a new Cancel Culture iconoclasm, with Black Lives Matter and antifa activists toppling statues left and right, Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union (ACU) that runs the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), warned that statues of Jesus would be next. While some leftists laughed at the idea, claiming that Jesus was one of them, others asked Schlapp to point out a few publicly-funded statues of Jesus, for … no reason, just asking.
“Statues of Jesus are next. It won’t end. Pray for the USA,” Schlapp tweeted. By Monday morning, the tweet had picked up nearly 10,000 “retweets” and nearly 30,000 “likes,” with nearly 10,000 “replies.”
Statues of Jesus are next. It won't end. Pray for the USA
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) June 22, 2020
Many mocked the idea. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff scoffed, “That’s ridiculous. Wasn’t Jesus a person of color brutalized by an oppressive colonial regime? Jesus is a symbol of victims of violence, not of authoritarians who erect statues.”
That's ridiculous. Wasn't Jesus a person of color brutalized by an oppressive colonial regime? Jesus is a symbol of victims of violence, not of authoritarians who erect statues. https://t.co/PMTEFnEGLT
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) June 22, 2020
Yet the new Cancel Culture iconoclasts have not limited their ire to symbols of “authoritarians.” While the statue-topplers may have started with Confederates like Robert E. Lee, they quickly moved on to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. On Friday, vandals targeted statues of Ulysses S. Grant (who proved instrumental to defeating the Confederacy and ending slavery in the U.S.), Francis Scott Key (writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner”), St. Junipero Serra (the leader of Spanish missions in California), and Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote).
It gets worse, however. Vandals targeted Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement. They even spray-painted Black Lives Matter slogans on the Robert Gould Shaw 54th Regiment monument, which celebrates the first all-volunteer black regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War.
Schlapp’s prediction that “statues of Jesus are next” seems rather tame, almost like the weatherman warning about afternoon thundershowers in Minneapolis, Minn., right after a thunderstorm in St. Paul.
Yet Schlapp’s warning inspired outrage. “You’re comparing statues of secessionists, slavers, and a genocidal pedophile to Jesus!? What is wrong with you?” Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa asked.
You're comparing statues of secessionists, slavers, and a genocidal pedophile to Jesus!? What is wrong with you?
— Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa🏳️🌈🇵🇷 (@CDRosa) June 22, 2020
Yet the statue-topplers didn’t stop with secessionists and slavers. If they went for Gandhi and the black volunteers in the Civil War, there is no reason to suspect they won’t target statues of Jesus. Junipero Serra wasn’t exactly an evil oppressor, either.
Sure, Jesus may be the savior of the world, and at the very least He altered the course of history by encouraging people to care for the downtrodden and love their neighbors as themselves. Jesus likely wasn’t “white,” but the black Union volunteers weren’t exactly pale of skin, either. But no matter, a statue’s a statue, and “Black Lives Matter!”
Shortly after Schlapp issued his warning, Women’s March organizer Sophie Ellman-Golan tweeted, “Are there government-erected statues of Jesus on public property and if so can you kindly please let us know where.”
Are there government-erected statues of Jesus on public property and if so can you kindly please let us know where
— Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) June 22, 2020
Former Trump supporter David Weissman replied to Ellman-Golan, “I’ll join you.”
I’ll join you.
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) June 22, 2020
A certain focus on the separation of church and state may have motivated Ellman-Golan, but that does not change the fact that she confirmed Matt Schlapp’s warning. Statues of Jesus are next, and some activists may already be searching them out.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.