Move the Liberty Bell? Is conservative radio host Dennis Prager serious in his piece in the National Review?
To be precise, that would mean moving it again. Its original placement in Independence Hall was slightly before my time, but I was there when, a few ticks after midnight on Jan. 1, 1976, it was moved to a pavilion across Chestnut Street, 100 yards away.
It was, in the words of the cliché, a dark and stormy night, with a gusty wind and temperatures just high enough to make rain freeze rather than turn to snow.
Not many people were there, and no editor ordered me to be there. I was obeying the call of history.
Asking if the bell belongs in Philadelphia is an attention-getting device for the L.A.-based Prager, whose show is heard from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays on WNTP-AM (990).
OK, he got my attention.
He uses the bell as an opening to discuss some local events that he does not like. Philadelphia, he writes, is straying “from the principles of the country it helped birth.”
Our Founding Fathers (and I hate heaping praise on wealthy, white European men) gave the world what was called a liberal democracy, but is what we have today what they had in mind? Prager thinks not, and I have a couple of issues myself.
Prager’s final point is the one I will address first: the Flyers’ reprehensible reduction of Kate Smith to the trash heap. That’s been aired, or fumigated, in the media, and the majority of Philadelphians I heard and read booed the Flyers.
In a column at the time, I said that if we get rid of her statue because of a couple of racist songs, how can Philadelphia permit a statue of slave-owning William Penn to occupy the top of City Hall, and how can we have several institutions named for the slave-owning Ben Franklin?
My tongue was only halfway in my cheek.
Since Councilwoman Helen Gym and her lapdog Mayor Jim Kenney formed an alliance to get rid of the (“racist”) Frank Rizzo statue in front of the Municipal Services Building, I challenged them to get cracking on the vile Penn and Franklin, who actually owned black people.
From City Hall, crickets. I can’t understand why. Where is the moral indignation bonfire that burned for Rizzo? Why single him out, but give Penn and Franklin a pass? Is it Italophobia?
Instead of adding a portrait of Lorde in the name of diversity, students removed the most famous playwright in history. Will Lorde be quoted 400 years after her death? We’ll have to wait and see.
Prager’s other Penn complaint had to do with a law prof who coauthored a piece praising bourgeois culture that I don’t have space to delve into.
But when praise of middle-class virtue is forbidden, when Shakespeare is shown the door, when the Sixers dispatch a helicopter to fly rapper Meek Mill from his prison release to a game where he gets to bang a basketball court version of — here it is again — the Liberty Bell, we are in a culture shift.
How would the Founding Fathers, so very touchy about taxes, feel about a soda tax and Philadelphians having the highest tax burden in the nation, not to mention a city-approved drug-shooting gallery, as is being proposed?