Revising History

Found this story over at OpiniPundit.

The Boston Globe reports in a column by Brian McGrory that the Provincetown, Mass. selectmen have voted to remove a painting that has hung in the chambers for years.

Selectwoman Sarah Peake spun her chair around near the end of the Nov. 14 meeting, gazed up at an oversized oil painting depicting the Pilgrims voting on the Mayflower Compact when they first landed in Provincetown, and declared that she wanted it removed.

Mind you, it’s not that she didn’t like the look or the colors or the style. It’s not that she thought it was too big or too small for the Judge Welsh Hearing Room. It’s not that it clashed with anything around it.

No, what Peake didn’t like was that the painting didn’t include any women. That and the fact that the painting’s only Indian — Native American, I’d better call him — wasn’t holding a ballot like everyone else.

The vote was 3 to 1 to remove the painting. The one, lone, voice of reason, Cheryl Andrews, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen said,

‘There’s this lovely oil painting. The thing is huge. It’s been up there since forever. It was painted by Max Bohm, who’s considered quite something in local art circles.

And Sarah Peake turns around and faces it, and it’s government. They’re voting. She says, ‘I’d like to talk about this painting. I find this painting disturbing.’ That’s a quote. She said it’s disturbing to her because there are no women in the painting and the only one not holding a ballot is the Native American Indian. And I thought, ‘Here we go.’

My dear Ms. Peake (and the other two members of the Board of Selectmen who voted to remove the painting),
It is a fact that only men voted at the time depicted in the painting. It is a fact that a Native American Indian would not have any kind of voting privileges with the colonists.

It is now a fact that any American Citizen may vote (with very few exceptions, such as convicted felons). At the time the painting depicts, there were no American citizens. There was no United States of America.

As much as some people would like to rewrite and revise history, this country was founded by a bunch of (now)dead, white, Christian, men. They wrote our constitution to give us the greatest freedoms. Freedoms to eventually write laws to allow women, Native American Indians, Blacks, and others the right to vote. Freedom to worship (or not) as each of us pleases. Sure, mistakes have been made, they will continue to be made for we have the freedom to make mistakes as well. We also have the freedom to recognize and learn from those mistakes and remedy them.

We can’t ignore our history. Our history, the mistakes and all, have made us who we are today. It’s time to recognize your mistake and put that painting back up on the wall.

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