Noted appealing nice man Tom Hanks offered some appealing and nice political advice Saturday night during his speech at the National Archives Foundation Gala. "People are upset about what's going on today. They're furious, they're frustrated, they're worked up,” he said. "If you're concerned about what's going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it's all right there."
Hanks accepted the organization’s Records of Achievement Award, which the Foundation gives to individuals whose work fosters “a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States.” Through roles in films like Philadelphia, Forest Gump, A League of Their Own, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Captain Phillips, Hanks has helped bring much of 20th century American history to the big screen.
Hanks struck an optimistic tone in his remarks, and his message was comforting if perhaps somewhat ill-suited to the uniqueness of our era. On the Confederate monument controversy, he advocated continuing the national discussion, but decried the destruction of monuments, saying that "the destruction is anti-social, period, the end. Be intelligent, and be smart, write about it, bring it up, talk about it.”
HuffPost reports that Hanks previously advocated the removal of Confederate monuments:
"If I’m black and I live in a town and every day I have to walk past a monument to someone who died in a battle in order to keep my grandparents and my great-grandparents illiterate slaves, I got a problem with that statue,” he told The New York Times earlier this month. "I would say if you want to be on the safe side, take them all down. Put them in some other place where people can see them, in a museum somewhere."
Reading history is all well and good, but the idea that history’s cyclical nature renders it predictable is a tempting oversimplification. Some people and times are
unpresidented unprecedented, and methods of resistance evolve to suit. You can’t bring Freedom Riders to a Richard Spencer. You can’t bra burn against pussy grabbing. But then Tom Hanks couldn't be America’s Dad if he weren’t slightly out of step with the zeitgeist.
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