Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Speech in Opposition to H.R. 7573 Removing Statues from the Capitol

July 22, 2020
Speech in Opposition to H.R. 7573
Removing Statues from the Capitol
July 22, 2020
Mr. Speaker:
The Confederacy was fundamentally an attack on our Constitution and the founding principles of our nation, and it should never be romanticized or honored.  I have no problems with lawfully removing monuments that specifically honor this rebellion.   
That’s not what this bill does.
Rather, it begins by removing the bust of Chief Justice Roger Taney from the old Supreme Court Chamber.  It is true: he wrote the worst decision in the court’s history, Dred Scott.  But he also presided over and joined one of its better decisions, the Amistad Slave Case.  If we remove memorials to every person who ever made a bad decision in this building – and this was surely the worst – the Capitol would be a very barren place, indeed.  It is only by the bad things in our history that we can truly measure all the good things in our history.
This bill also removes the statues of confederate sympathizers sent to the Capitol by the states.  That’s not our decision.  That’s a tradition that has always been reserved to the individual states and several are already doing so.   We should let them.
There’s one other: John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky.  But Breckinridge is not recognized for his service to the Confederacy but rather for his service as Vice President of the United States.
Granted, we have had some absolutely atrocious vice presidents in our history, but if we are going to start down that road, we’ll be swapping out statues like trading cards at the whim of the moment.
Our nation’s history should be made of sterner stuff.
Perhaps we would all be well advised to practice a little temporal humility and heed the wisdom of Omar Khayyam:  “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”