by Christopher Hodapp
Fox5 TV in Washington, D.C. is reporting late Friday night that the bronze statue of Albert Pike in Judiciary Square has just been toppled and burned. Between 80 and 100 people were gathered around the statue shortly after 11PM when it was yanked off its pedestal and knocked to the ground. Once on the ground, the cheering crowd reportedly attempted to set fire to to it.
There really should be no surprise, since Popular Mechanics magazine helpfully published an article online earlier in this week that was a How-To Guide to toppling or otherwise destroying statues anyone finds offensive.
News reports this evening continue to characterize Pike's sculpture as a "Confederate monument," despite the fact that it was never anything of the kind. His statue was not erected by pro-Confederate veterans groups, or by alleged Ku Klux Klan members (it predated the 1920s resurgence of the KKK by many years). The 11-foot tall bronze sculpture by Italian artist Gaetano Trentanove was erected in 1901 and donated to the city by the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction to commemorate their own 100th anniversary. It's location marked the former home of the AASR's headquarters for its first 90 years.
There are (or were) eight inscriptions around the corners of its granite base: Author, Poet, Scholar, Soldier, Philanthropist, Philosopher, Jurist, and Orator. On the front was a Latin phrase, Vixit Laborum Ejus Super Stites Sunt Fructus. ("He has lived. The fruits of his labors live after him.") Despite the fact that detractors objected to it on the grounds that Pike had served for just five months in the Confederate Army before resigning in disgust, making it the only statue of a former Confederate soldier in the District, the sculpture did NOT depict him as a Confederate soldier. There were no references to the Confederacy, and the banner in the hand of the Grecian figure is not a Confederate flag or symbol, but a Scottish Rite one featuring the double-headed eagle. It was purely a Masonic statue.
|Before it fell to the mob|
Pike's statue has been considered 'controversial' since 1989 when famed whacko Lyndon Larouche first raised a stink over it. The most recent attempts by Washington DC's non-voting delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton to have it removed used all of the same (and more) false accusations and outright fabrications that ignored the volumes of truthful information available about the life of Albert Pike and his accomplishments. Despite allegations by conspiracists and activists, there has never been any proof that Pike had written the rituals of the Ku Klux Klan, or had anything to do with the post-Civil War Klan. For more than you'd ever want to know about this, have a look at previous articles:
Oh, what's the use? Mobs can't be reasoned with, and history doesn't matter anymore. So now that Albert's figure has been dashed to the ground, I suppose it can't be 'controversial' anymore. It is perhaps best that the argument about the statue is finally at an end. Freemasonry must not be the cause of division or controversy, among ourselves or the community in which we reside. Pike would agree, were he here today.
The statue was originally bought and paid for by the Scottish Rite, but it was handed over to the National Park Service shortly after it was erected. It will be up to them to decide the fate of what remains cometh the dawn, since it is Federal property on Federal land (you can bet no one will be charged with destroying Federal property). I'm sure Pike himself would have waxed philosophical about the whole affair – he actually didn't want any monuments to himself after he died, hoping his life's works would stand or fall as his epitaph, letting history judge his worth. But it's tough to simply shrug this off as we watch events unfold in real time.