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Ray Hanania Columns

A tale of hypocrisy, Christopher Columbus and Colin Powell

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

In this special Column, I look at the hypocrisies that exist in how we treat two significant figures in American history, Christopher Columbus and Colin Powell. More than 33 statues of Columbus have been taken down on all kinds of allegations of violence. And yet, no one is complaining about Powell who lied before Congress in February 2003 fabricating claims that Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, leading to the invasion and the killing of more than 500,000 Iraqis, including more than 200,000 civilians. (The numbers are probably so much higher.) And yet, Powell has a statue in Kansas and his name adorns many children's schools where they teach young people not to lie, or to use lies for selfish gain.

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Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

A tale of hypocrisy, Christopher Columbus and Colin Powell

  • Why are we treating Colin Powell differently than we are treating Christopher Columbus?


By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

I always liked Colin Powell and felt that one day he might make a good president. He seemed calm, smart and principled.
Of course, all of that changed when on February 5, 2003, Powell became the point man for the "Lie of the Century," and the beginning of a massive and violent war against a ruthless dictatorship in Iraq.
In America's international politics, "ruthless" is a relative term. Saddam Hussein was bad, but so are so many other international tyrants and dictators whom the United States embraces for political convenience, and with a blind eye.
As a consequence of Powell's lies before the United Nations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), more than 500,000 Iraqis were killed in the ensuing U.S. invasion.
How many were actually killed is uncertain. If the U.S. will lie about WMDs to justify a war driven by the personal anger of an American President, George W. Bush, and the greed of his Vice President, Dick Cheney, don't you think they might also lie about how many people were killed.
The numbers range from 500,000 including some 210,000 innocent civilians, to more than 4 million Iraqis killed and 3 million of them civilians. More than 10 million Iraqis became displaced refugees, forced from their homes at gunpoint as the U.S. military terrorized the Iraqi landscape in pursuit of a non-existent threat.
Yet, despite the facts and the brutality that Colin Powell ushered in as the front person for the Bush-Cheney war, I have to ask myself this question: Will they erect a statue of Colin Powell, who died this week? And, 30 years from now, when ALL OF THE TRUTH about Iraq comes out, will they apply the same standard that was applied to Christopher Columbus, the front man for European exploration and discovery. Will they tear down Powell's statue?
We all know that government's lie all the time about the devastation and destruction they cause. True facts take years to come out. And many times, the facts disclose that many so-called "truths" are in fact not truths at all, but exaggerations driven by politics.
The Iraq war is one of those lies. I don't blame the people who believed the lies. They were misled by the Bush White House and by Cheney, who profited many years later from the billions that his company Halliburton made providing material support during the war.
But my point isn't about the truth of the Iraq War, or the emotional debate surrounding the illegal removal of some 33 Christopher Columbus statues erected throughout the United States including in street gang war-torn Chicago.
The issue is bigger. If we have a rule for Columbus, shouldn't we have the same rule for everyone else, too?
Or, do we make exceptions based on other factors, like politics, for example, or race? Coddling some tyrants while condemning others?
I can see Mayor Vivian Lightfoot 30 years from now -- Chicago is known for political family dynasties -- erecting a statue in Grant Park for Colin Powell who is celebrated not for being complicit in pulling off one of the world's greatest hoaxes, but for being African American.
It's inevitable.
Who knows, maybe her mother, the current Mayor Lori Lightfoot, might erect a Colin Powell statue in Chicago's Grant Park instead of waiting. Although, I don't know if Powell checks-off all of the boxes on  Mayor Lightfoot's selfish and narrow minority priority checklist.
Most of the people complaining about Columbus have no idea about his real history, only what they have been told by the activist propaganda, which also is no different than government propaganda. But for activists, they don't care whether their lies are ever exposed years down the line because they are really not protesting Columbus because of his past. They are protesting Columbus because they are using it as a means to an end, bullying themselves into positions of authority and relevance.
They want to defund the police, ease punishment on criminals, raise the bar on prosecutable felonies and make it so that one day, stealing is not considered a crime, but the result of years of racial oppression and economic need. Kim Foxx raised the retail theft ceiling to $1,000 (and 10 arrests) but I am sure pretty soon that number could go as high as $10,000
As I explained in a column last week, Columbus was but one explorer representing European colonization in a long series of historical explorations that have resulted in colonization long before Columbus arrived in the Caribbean and discovered the Americas for the Europeans.
They want you to believe that Columbus was a brutal killer driven by race hatred. No, he was just looking for a faster route to the spices of the East and happened to land in the Bahamas. The civilization his discovery brought to the Americas also evolved. And like every civilization from the Aztecs, Mayans, African warlords, Comanche Indians going all the way back to the Neanderthals, it was very brutal.
Horrible acts were committed by all, for example like by the Catholic Church during its bloody inquisition beginning in the 12th Century. Every religion has been brutal, though.
As for the term "indigenous," well it's a fabrication. No one in today's world is really "indigenous." Everyone is an explorer and a conqueror. That doesn't mean that civilizations were not cruel and oppressive. But let's face it, our government and many other governments, seem to have a double standard for tyrants and dictators. Some are enemies, like Saddam Hussein, a former ally who decided to go it alone and who we destroyed. Others are allies who we tolerate because it brings us political and financial profit.
We do business with China, which has mortgaged a significant portion of our nation. China has so much money invested in this country and supplies so much profitable retail products that we are careful not to go too far in expressing our political moral indignation with their brutality.
Conquest isn't really the problem. It's what we do in the process afterwards to the people who are conquered. After a long transition for Africans brought to America from the African salve trade, and "Native Americans" who were subjugated by the European settlers, all have achieved important rights and benefits and have equal status. Maybe not everyone accepts those rights, but the rights of everyone are often compromised in conflict. It's just not one people, as some claim.
So, until Mayor Lightfoot restores the Columbus Statue, something I think is going to happen eventually because of the lawsuit filed in July by the Joint Civic committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA) against the Mayor and the worthless Chicago Park District, I don't think we should be doing much more for Colin Powell's memory.
Maybe we can give him limited thanks for his honorable service prior to surrendering to the dishonorable political pressures of Bush-Cheney, or the privilege and benefits they received from the war.
Frankly, if we apply the current Columbus principle fairly, we should remove Powell's name from the buildings already named in his honor, like that middle school in Matteson.
Actually, there are several monuments and busts of Powell already erected, including one at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I bet if anyone tried to take down that bust of Powell, they would be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law, unlike the criminals who pulled down the Columbus statue in Chicago's Grant Park.
Don't worry. I'm not urging anyone to commit any crimes. I'm just saying that those crimes have already been committed with respect to 33 statues of Christopher Columbus, and nothing has been done.
So, if you want an honest dialogue about history, at least be honest and don't be a hypocrite.
Is that too much to ask?


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