Salvo 10.04.2021

Our New Gods

George Floyd, John Lewis and Breonna Taylor statues placed at Union Square in NYC

The regime has created new idols for us to venerate.

A troika of massive golden statues was unveiled in New York City’s Union Square last week. Busts of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor stare impassively at each other, flanking the scowling image of John Lewis. This installation—which is temporary—is called “SEEINJUSTICE,” and was created by Chris Carnabuci. The statues consist of layers of plywood cut by a CNC machine, and have the uncanny, plicated feel of 3D-printed objects. Their coating in a reflective bronze paint makes them shimmer in the sunlight.

The installation begs some important questions. What do the three subjects have to do with one another? John Lewis was a civil rights activist who was present with Martin Luther King at the famous 1963 Washington protest, and participated in the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march from Selma, during which he was clubbed. Lewis served 17 terms in Congress.

George Floyd died in 2020 while resisting arrest after he passed a counterfeit $20 bill in a convenience store. Between 1997 and 2005 he was convicted of eight crimes, including a home invasion during which he stuck a gun in a pregnant woman’s belly. He was high on fentanyl at the time of his death, and also had meth in his system.

Breonna Taylor—“an essential worker,” according to the sign appended to the statue memorializing her—was killed in her home in Louisville when the police entered to execute a search warrant. Taylor was an associate of drug dealers, for whom she apparently accepted packages and held cash. Her boyfriend fired upon officers effecting entry, and she was killed in the resulting fusillade.

What do John Lewis, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor have in common, biographically? Floyd and Taylor lived unexceptional, nonpolitical lives and died at the hands of the police. Lewis lived in the public eye and died in his bed. The only thing they had in common was that they were all black.

As an art installation called “SEEINJUSTICE,” the three figures in juxtaposition are dissonant. One could imagine a relative of John Lewis objecting to the inclusion of a petty criminal like George Floyd in the display, except the installation was funded by the John Lewis Foundation.

The dissonance is the message. Carnabuci intends for us to question the meaning of monuments and the subjects of statuary in his work. The fact that George Floyd never did anything worthwhile in his life is irrelevant because he accomplished so much in his death, which was conveniently videotaped for wide dissemination and use in the promulgation of the myth of white supremacist domination of the United States, and the idea that the nation feeds on the blood of the black people whom it murders.

The Black Lives Matter narrative insists that the substance of black life is the essential stuff of the national fabric, and that everyone else exists on a lower energetic field. It directly inverts the “1619 Project” account of the United States as a race-based slavocracy without changing the power dynamic it implies. BLM fulfills the warnings of anti-integrationist agitators in the Jim Crow era that civil rights activists didn’t want equality, they just wanted the whip hand.

Placed directly in front of Henry Kirke Brown’s 1856 statue of George Washington, the SEEINJUSTICE triumvirate levels the ideas of personal accomplishment, heroism, or virtue in favor of categorical victimhood. The new regime demands that we all bow before the golden idol of black martyrdom and worship blackness itself as our god.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading from the editors

to the newsletter