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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Occupy St. Louis Graffiti Betrays Taggers' Ignorance of History

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 2:50 PM

The Naked Truth, unadorned as intended.
  • The Naked Truth, unadorned as intended.
Taggers hit Compton Hill Reservoir Park last night in an "unofficial" response to the police action that took place there last week, spraying pithy slogans like "class war" and "cops, pigs, murderers" on statues and buildings. It's unofficial because Occupy St. Louis has denounced the graffiti in an apology made to the president of the Compton Hills Water Tower and Park Preservation Society.

Here's the problem with that: Spray painting "Class War" on the statue, The Naked Truth, is akin to painting "Serene Pacifism" on a statue of Dick Cheney.

The German-American Alliance made a gift of the statue to the people of St. Louis in 1914, to honor the memories of Carl Schurz, Emil Preetorius and Carl Daenzer, the three German-American editors of St. Louis' crusading German language newspaper, the Westliche Post. It is these gentlemen's names that are in fact carved into the stone behind the statue.

All three men were political radicals who fled their homeland because of their activities in the 1848 revolutions. All three men were radical emancipationists who fought for the equality of all men. The Westliche Post reflected those beliefs under each man's stewardship; Preetorius gave firebrand writer Joseph Pulitzer -- the man who wrote this famous platform -- his first job as a cub reporter.

Carl Schurz eventually left St. Louis and became the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, among other things. In 1899 he delivered a potent speech entitled "The Policy of Imperialism" to the Anti-Imperialistic Conference in Chicago that included  the following passage:
I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves ... too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: "Our country, right or wrong!" They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country--when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right."
If you didn't know that speech was more than 100 years old, you might suspect it had been written with the Occupy movement in mind. Maybe the responsible party will get a little more education themselves before they take it upon themselves to educate the rest of us.

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