Recently the specter of "political correctness," which as I have previously stated is strictly political and not particularly correct, reared its ugly head once again. I refer to the removal of the bust/statue that commemorated former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America and Maryland native Roger Brooke Taney from the grounds of the Frederick County courthouse. This was done simply to appease those who wish to cleanse our history of anything that might make them the least bit uncomfortable by today's standards.

To be sure, the majority opinion that Taney wrote in the Dred Scott decision, if written today, would be unanimously declared unconscionable by the current standards, however it was written at a different time with much different social norms. It also must be remembered that this was a majority decision and the chief justice simply wrote the opinion with which at least four other justices agreed.


Having that statue on the grounds of a courthouse, instead of being hidden away in a local cemetery, seems to be the more proper location. It would serve as a reminder that even the best intentions of the finest legal minds of the day sometimes make decisions that could prove to be in error in future generations. Witness the decision that equates unlimited financial contributions to political parties and candidates by wealthy individuals and corporations with freedom of speech.

Taney statue is moved from outside Frederick City Hall

Former U.S. Supreme Court chief justice Roger B. Taney will no longer greet visitors outsides Frederick's City Hall.

I wonder if eliminating every person or symbol with any connection to the practice of slavery might include removing the portrait of George Washington from the dollar bill or Thomas Jefferson from the $2 bill. Each of these Founding Fathers — and they were not alone in the practice — had slaves to till their fields and serve in their mansions. At Mount Vernon, the slave quarters are prominent displays that show the hierarchy present within the slave ranks.

In Baltimore City, there is an ongoing discussion about the removal and relocation of several commemorative statues featuring Confederate themes or people. I'm of the opinion that none of them be moved or removed. They represent the history of the United States. Although that period was unpleasant to say the least, in the end it did bring the country back together.

History is the story of what happened and to whom it happened. We cannot change the past. We can only hope to learn from it and strive to do better in the future. We cannot judge the actions and words of our ancestors through the prism of modern mores. They did what they did in their times and under the laws and customs of their day. It is simply wrong for modern man to attempt to hide from future generations the history and many conversions that this great nation has gone through.

Every generation it seems has had a wave of immigrants who came to our shores, which has been discriminated against at the time of their arrival. At one time, help wanted signs had the notation "no Irish need apply." Italians and Germans each had their hardships assimilating into the general population. Asians arriving on the West Coast had their difficulties as well. Witness the Japanese internment camps of World War II. Today, it's the Middle Eastern Muslims and Latinos who are the people of choice to discriminate against. I wonder who's next on the list?

Unfortunately, the descendants of the original slaves and those who willingly followed them to our shores are still, although much more subtly, being discriminated against. As a nation we need to open our minds to the fact that each person has a nonmonetary value to our society, and we need to embrace those who wish to be a part of it.

Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. Email him at