Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan scaled the wall of Independence Hall, threw one ample leg over the rail and then the other as she climbed into the cupola at the top, and all in black, ninja-like, she surveyed the Hall of Presidents at Disney World. Like a plump, blonde spider, she rapidly descended silently, deadly, on a bungee cord until she was dangling face-to-face with the animatronic version of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever.
Her hand fluttered up to the ever-present pearl necklace, a present from the Great Man himself.
Not skipping a beat, she looked around the room with her infrared goggles and didn’t see any security laser beams triggering alarms, and so slowly, gently, and reverently, Noonan touched down on the floor and remained in a cat like stance, spring-loaded and ready to recoil and retract at a moments notice. She took a refreshing sip of Mai Tai from her camel-back.
She clicked the reset button on Reagan, and whirring and creaking, he stirred to life. Larger than life, actually, but the noises he made were remarkably like the ones he made in real life.
“There is a movement now to take down our nation’s statues, at the moment primarily those of Confederate soldiers and generals. The reason is that they fought on behalf of a region that sought to maintain a cruel and immoral system, chattel slavery, which they did.”
Reagan blinked and stiffly saluted. Noonan continued with her thesis:
“The Tear It Down movement is driven by the left and is acceded to by some on the right. This is the sophisticated stance. I do not share it. We should not tear down but build.”
Reagan’s mouth opened and closed but no sound came out. Noonan patted his arm, and continued.
“When a nation tears down its statues, it’s toppling more than brass and marble. It is in a way toppling itself—tearing down all the things, good, bad and inadequate, that made it. Or, rather, everyone. Not all of what made America is good—does anyone even think this?—but why try to hide from that?”
Reagan made a noise that Noonan interpreted as him clearing his throat, getting ready to speak. She quickly interjected,
“And once the tearing down starts, there’s no knowing where it will end. On this the president is right. Once the local statues are purged the Tear-Downers will look to Statuary Hall, and the names of military bases, and then on to the Founders, to the slave-holding Washington and Jefferson. Then, perhaps, to their words and ideas. In what way will that help us?”
Regan’s eyes twinkled in that way that made Noonan feel good all over, electric, and alive. She stood next to him, and his arm came down around her waist. She curled into him. “I won’t let them get you, Dutch,” she murmured into his brown tweed coat.
“Edmund Burke famously said we have a duty to the past, the present and the future. In the minds of the Tear-Downers only the present is important, and only their higher morality.”
Reagan blinked and Noonan heard him say, “ As Carol Tavris & Eliot Aronson said,’Slavery may be gone with the wind, but grudges aren’t. That’s why history is written by the victors, but it is the victims who write the memoirs.’”
Noonan gasped, as his robotic arm swung around and clicked the bungee cord retract button on Noonan’s utility belt that shot her back up through the roof and into the inky dark night sky.
(New Readers: The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan is a sometimes feature (of the past 10 years!) where we parody the much-quoted Reagan hagiographer Peggy Noonan to try to understand the genesis of her Declarations column in the WSJ. We do not know if Noonan ever wore a Ninja costume, but to paraphrase the Great Writer herself, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.” – Bacardi Lifetime Achievement Winner, Peggy Noonan, Wall St. Journal, April 2000.)