Harrison loves my country too,But wants it all made over new.He’s Freudian Viennese by night.By day he’s Marxian Muscovite.It isn’t because he’s Russian Jew.He’s Puritan Yankee through and through.He dotes on Saturday pork and beans.But his mind is hardly out of his teens:With him the love of country meansBlowing it all to smithereensAnd having it all made over new.
Robert Frost’s poem, A Case for Jefferson, speaks to us today through the idea that the beliefs and the landmarks of old days must be changed or destroyed in order to make all things new. Tradition and the wisdom of our elders should be things that are highly prized in this uncertain world of ours where direction is needed to carry us into the future. In the Old Testament shortly after the death of Solomon, King Rehoboam was confronted at Shechem about the burdens that were placed on the people of Israel and was asked how he would reform the abuses done by Solomon. He consulted the old men who told him: If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever. (I Kings 12:7). Nonetheless, he did not take their advice but instead sought the counsel of the young people who grew up with him and they advised him to speak harshly to the people and add to their burdens. As a result, the kingdom of Israel was divided forever.
In our age, we are told that anything that is old and from the past must be rejected as something that belongs in the horse and buggy era or even worse. Terms like “reactionary,” “antediluvian,” or “out of step” are the choice words of those who in the words of Thomas Paine want to begin the world all over again.
Statues of men like Lee, Beauregard and Jeff Davis are being hauled down all around the country to be put into “museums.” The funny thing is that such statues in the public eye are meant to be mini-museums of a sort for they were designed as remembrances of a time when our nation was torn apart in conflict. For the progressive, such actions are not enough and that other statues must be pulled down to erase the past or to deride them as relics from a barbaric age. Statues of Columbus, Joan of Arc and Junipero Serra are being vandalized while overseas there is talk of the statue of Admiral Nelson being displaced from its column at Trafalgar Square.
Referring back to Frost’s poem, it seems that we have not rid ourselves of the puritan spirit. Many no longer hold to the faith of those old puritans but instead we are treated to a virulent form of puritanism where the sinners of the past are condemn not to hell, but rather to the past. Yes, the neo-puritan hates the past and wishes to blow it all to smithereens and make the world in his image. However, with the old world’s destruction, the progressive is paving the way for his own destruction where values and beliefs are held in contempt and are changed every day.