In 1729, British satirist Jonathan Swift wrote what he called “A Modest Proposal.” In it, he proposed that the children of the poor, especially the Irish poor, be sold as food to the wealthy, thereby relieving the problems of poverty in Great Britain. Swift intended this satire as a condemnation of the callous way many in Britain were responding to that country’s problems with poverty.
Now, as often happens with satire, some gullible people took Swift literally and he was savagely attacked.
So a note to my faithful readers, the proposal in this column is intended as satire. So, here goes. In the passion to rid our country of monuments to all sorts of individuals and causes, there is one monument that should not be ignored. That is the Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C. This memorial was erected in 1931, and its inscription reads as follows: “To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic April 15,1912. They gave their lives that women and children might be saved.”
Historical footnote: Nowadays, historians are debunking every commonly held interpretation of historical events, so, for the record, it is indeed true that most of the men of the Titanic freely gave their lives so women and children could be saved. The statistics on those saved tell the full story. Seventy-five percent of the women, 50 percent of the children and 19 percent of the men survived the disaster. The raw numbers of people in the lifeboats versus going down with the ship tell the same story: 703 people survived, of whom 380 were women and children and 323 were men; 1,523 people died, of whom 1,357 were men and 166 were women and children.
So, you may ask, what is wrong with this monument? As any loyal member of the politically correct thought police can tell you, the first problem is that all or almost all of the men who died on the Titanic were white men. Now, it is an established dogma among the PC police that white men are the root of all evil in the world, so it is totally unacceptable to have a monument to a group of white men in our nation’s capital.
Second, those familiar with the tactics of the current generation of campus storm troopers are familiar with the argument of the “chilling effect.” When these storm troopers shout down a speaker they disagree with, they justify what they have done by saying that allowing this person to speak would have a “chilling effect” on the dreams and aspirations of women and racial minorities. The Titanic Memorial clearly has a “chilling effect” on the dreams of young women everywhere. They should be allowed to have the dream that, had they been on the Titanic, they could have helped others into the lifeboats and then gone down with the ship as the band played “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Another historical footnote: There is some dispute among historians as to whether the final song played by the Titanic’s band was, indeed, “Nearer My God to Thee.” Some sources claim that the final song was a French waltz.
Now, Mr. Swift meant his “Modest Proposal” to be a satire and my modest proposal is also a satire. It would be a desecration of the memory of some very brave individuals to take down the Titanic Memorial. But Mr. Swift had a serious purpose, and so do I. We Americans need to know all of our history, both good and bad, and that is why most of the nation’s monuments need to stay right where they are. If we try to erase the past we will be unable to learn from it.
Ernest Evans is a Leavenworth Times columnist.