Gangs of righteous extremists tearing down statues across the Western world is waking an ugly beast. The sight of these historic monuments being torn down either by violent gangs or politicians capitulating to the violent gangs is enough to bring out the authoritarian in anybody, and our natural instinct is to clamp down, and clamp down hard.

Seeing mobs of extremists tear down the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol sparked that feeling in me, and with every other statue that toppled in its wake, that feeling burned more intensely. Every self-entitled, ignorant, and petulant member of the woke mob that jumped up and down in delight on these statues, smugly smiling with a magnitude of glee they have never felt before, pushed the buttons of people who may otherwise have never engaged in political matters. But now they are, and we face an ugly, hyperpartisan, ideological war like we haven’t seen for generations.

Our natural instinct is to crush these dangerous insatiable ideologues, and protect our history, identity, and civilisation. Seeing police officers and the National Guard on the street, quelling violence and arresting rioters, may be cathartic – but the nature of these ideologues being totally and utterly insatiable means such measures are temporary at best, and completely futile at worst.

To truly defend who we are, and what our civilisation stands for, we must do more than take measures that feel momentarily or temporarily relieving. We must ask ourselves what can be done, and what must be done, to counter the ideological poison that has been injected into the veins of our schools, institutions, and popular media. More than just jailing rioters, what can we do to win over and maintain the support of the vast majority of normal people who oppose far-left radicalism, violence, and historical revisionism.

Perhaps first we should take a step back, and avoid falling into the traps being set for us. We must not dismiss all of the protests as ideological, though they largely were and are initiated by extremists who saw an opportunity to create unrest. Behind these protests is real pain, and a sense of real injustice over what happened to George Floyd. Political leaders who have taken it upon themselves to represent black communities continue parroting the lie that American police officers are hunting black people, and that the system is rigged to ensure black people never get ahead.

Being told from an early age that you should always look over your shoulder for a white man who wants to kill you will take its toll. The data might show this isn’t happening, but for many people it is real. So, we must start from a position of compassion and understanding, recognising this real pain and that an aggressive and hostile attitude will not allow us to even think about healing these divides. If anything, an equally aggressive response to outrageous lies told by Black Lives Matter will make it easier for them to point to white leaders and say, “see, they still hate you.”

We may not be able to win over those driven by deep-rooted ideological motives, but we can win over those who are protesting out of fear. We don’t have to fall into the traps they set, and we don’t have to make this easier for the radicals puppeteering this movement. A compassionate response combined with a reasoned, sagacious rebuttal of the myths being peddled will do more to heal divides than responding with arms.

They want an ideological war, because an ideological war presents radicals with an opportunity to win. Without that confrontation, their radicalism is exposed to a wider population of people who find their confrontational, righteous attitude contemptible. When we don’t fall into this trap, we don’t just present an opportunity to de-escalate tensions, but we present exactly the kind of alternative that most people want and expect from their leaders.

At this point, we must ask ourselves, do we want a hyperpartisan war, or do we want to put out the flame of progressive radicalism that has been burning for the last half-century? We’ve reached the point of their long march through the institutions where their bias and extremism can no longer go ignored. Tearing down statues can’t be done quietly, and this is their point of weakness. A hyperpartisan war gives them cover and allows them to present their opponents as vile and inhumane – a task made easier by decades of branding themselves “anti-racists” and “anti-fascists.”

Who said we can’t be both compassionate and strong? This isn’t 2016. Outrage and anger may have once served a purpose, but we find ourselves at a pivotal point in history.

The decisions we make now will dictate the ultimate success, or downfall, of dangerous, righteous ideologues who aim to erase our history and redefine our futures.

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