A local religious conservative foundation staged a protest on Aug. 22, demanding the removal of a statue of Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes from his birthplace in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Sinop.
Around the same time, neo-Nazi protesters stirred passions that inflamed political rhetoric from Main Street America to the White House as they resisted action to take down monuments, change street or school names and otherwise disband honors to Confederate traitors who tried to destroy the United States of America.
After Dylann Roof shot and killed nine parishioners in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in 2015, communities reacted by calling for the removal of public commemorations to the Confederacy, taking down flags and removing statues that honored such pro-slavery traitors as Robert E. Lee.
The trend eventually sparked a violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis and other white supremacists chanted “You will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!” as they carried torches and gave Hitler salutes. That day, 32-year-old Heather D. Heyer was killed and 19 other anti-racist protesters were injured by a car that James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio allegedly plowed into a crowd.
In San Antonio, Charlottesville, Lexington, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; and Baltimore competing protests over Confederate monument unfolded as leaders have accelerated plans to remove similar statues dedicated to Confederate soldiers, both famed and anonymous.
Understanding the intense feeling among bigots, workers in New Orleans earlier this year, blacked out company names and covered their faces to avoid being identified by opponents or subjected to retaliation.
After President Donald Trump found himself kicking a hornet’s nest by calling out ‘both sides’ for violence waged by neo-Nazi and KKK protesters who attacked anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, he tried to equate the imperfections of slave-owning former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with the pro-slavery treason of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, despite his acclaimed disdain for losers.
Armed with the Commander-in-Chief’s immoral support, the Pentagon has refused to rename military bases that have come under scrutiny for bearing the names of Confederate generals and officials.
The military bases named after Confederate traitors are are in former Confederate states and they include some of the most well known Army installations: Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas.
“Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history,” said Army Chief of Public Affairs Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost, in 2015. “Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”
The U.S. Army shot down demands to rebrand two Brooklyn streets named for Confederate generals at Fort Hamilton — General Lee Ave. and Stonewall Jackson Drive — in a letter to the New York Congress members who had demanded the change.
“After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive,” Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Diane Randon wrote to Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who received the letter over the weekend. “This is contrary to the nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”
And while that debate rages on in the USA, folks in Turkey complain that they should not be forced to confront the historic rule of their territory by Greeks, even though that ended with the Fourth Crusade, some time around the year 1200.
“We are not against arts and sculptures,” said ?smail Teziç, who is among the agitators in Turkey who want to move the 18 ft. tall statue of Diogenes, which was erected in 2006. “We are against the fact that they are attaching Greek ideology to Sinop under the cover of the statue. We want the Diogenes statue to be taken from the entrance of Sinop and moved to Balatlar [a local Byzantine church]. We will put in effort for this. We will struggle to the end, whether a petition or a permanent press statement here is required.”
Born in Sinope, modern-day Sinop, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea, in 412 or 404 BC, Diogenes is known as one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was also noted for having publicly mocked Alexander the Great.
After being exiled from Sinop for debasement of currency, he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city. Diogenes believed that virtue was better revealed in action and used his simple lifestyle and behavior to criticize what he saw as a corrupt or confused society.
In a highly non-traditional fashion, he had a reputation of sleeping and eating wherever he chose and took to toughening himself against nature. He declared himself a cosmopolitan and a citizen of the world rather than claiming allegiance to just one place.
After being captured by pirates and sold into slavery, Diogenes eventually settled in Corinth, Greece, where he died in 323 BC.
He was not a Christian, but later denizens of Greece were and the religious overtones define the discomfort caused by the crusades, so-called holy wars conducted more than a thousand years ago.
The fight to defend slavery and its grandchild of bigotry and racism in America today, are the motivation for protecting public commemorations to the Confederacy.
Diogenes is labeled mad for acting against convention, but he pointed out that it is the conventions that are crazy.
If Americans are living in a world gone mad, the world’s greatest democracy is facing a monster of its own making.
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