As our community continues to grapple with the aftermath of the destruction of the obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza and the prosecution of those responsible, it is important to remember just what was lost on that day. We lost the obelisk, of course, which pleases some and angers others. But more than that, we lost the opportunity for democratic reconciliation.
The destruction of the obelisk subverted the legal mechanisms that allow each of us as equal community members to advocate for our positions. Those who rejoice in the obelisk’s destruction should recognize that other gatherings of people who wish to force their will upon the rest of us may have different values. Once we open the door to vigilanteism and criminality to achieve our own ends, we should not be surprised when those who disagree with us resort to the same tactics.
To be clear, there are times in a democracy when subverting the political system may be justified. In cases when political power is deeply corrupted or hegemonic and democracy is fundamentally broken, there may be no other option but to resort to violence and criminality.