The National Park Service staff decided that William Penn is offensive. They were preparing to remove his statue from the very national park dedicated to him, named after his ship that brought him to America, in the city he named — the City of Brotherly Love. The man who established a Commonwealth built on religious tolerance and bearing his name.

But the staff was overruled. The statue is staying. What’s the big deal? 

No big deal? Actually, it’s a huge deal. It’s another cultural flashpoint that exposes what the craziness of woke culture and extreme left-wing politics has brought us.

Leftists, woke-activists and legacy media commentators all chimed in within minutes of this “do-over” by the National Park Service (NPS) — as if they’d been fed talking points. The messages were similar in theme and even words: “The statue is staying. And, besides, all of you bellyachers — you never even knew it was there, you never even visited the park. This is much ado about nothing. So shut up.”

The left is getting angry, friends. Angry about Penn. Angry about Israel. About climate change. About genders. About Claudine Gay. And now, angry that most of America was offended by their coming after William Penn.

You know you’ve touched a nerve by how loudly, how quickly and how repeatedly they fight back. There are touchstones in the progressive church: Higher Education. DEI. LGBTQIA+. Climate Change. Woke culture.

And their mission is to tear down, humiliate, and scrub from history anything to do with the founding of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, the Constitution — and William Penn. After all, he checks all the woke boxes of “sin:” He’s been dead a long time. He was white; and he was a man.

Being woke means that the world is divided into good and evil. There is no nuance, no gray areas. To acknowledge that someone or something could be good but flawed is not a road they want to go down. Because that might mean that America is good, but flawed.

In the hours following the reversal — days after a matter-of-fact press release went out announcing the plan to make “Welcome Park” more “inclusive;” we learned so much about the Democrats and the left. 

First, Governor Shapiro tip-toed up to the edge of taking credit for getting NPS to come to their senses. Later, Senator Bobby “Cautious” Casey tweeted that all’s well: he’s been assured that the statue will remain. Columnists and left-wing activists pounced on “the deplorables” who were upset that Penn’s statue would be removed — that William Penn was being canceled. And the region’s Democratic congressional delegation did what it does so well when controversy arises, and a woke policy may have offended a majority of citizens: they went radio silent. Crickets. 

We now know that the NPS staff has gone woke — or, actually, whatever the next step beyond woke is…crazy? They were ultimately reigned in. But, like in a big business or a community, there’s a culture, and that’s the problem. The Left has created a culture where staff and managers are empowered, encouraged, or expected to criticize, tear down, or hide anything that is viewed as having to do with the pillars of America, its founding, and its leadership in the world.

That’s how we got here. 

Think about how many other groups of staffers like those at NPS are burrowed in at the Department of Education, EPA, or Department of Labor and the limitless web of agencies, all motivated by ideology, ignorance — or fear — tripping over themselves to do the most woke thing, just to curry favor. Then once they create some goofy policy, we have to live by it, adhere to it or not violate it. Plus, think of how many left-wing, woke activists have been drawn into the alphabet soup of government agencies because they feel empowered to dictate to us, impose their “justice” — and to erase American history.

To those who tweeted that statue-defenders never even visited the park, so why do we care? Respectfully, anyone saying that is either trolling or must have been asleep the last five or ten years. The woke mob has come for Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and Lincoln and ridicules our Constitution. This is just the next step.

They tried to remove Jefferson’s statue from the University of Virginia — a school I would not have been accepted to back in the day. But of course I care. Millions of us care. Trying to tear down, remove, hide, and disparage our founding is to not only deny the greatness of America; it is to deny our common history, our culture and the building blocks that got us here. It shows an ignorance of history and an arrogance of selfishness — as if justice was invented in 2020.

As for William Penn, there may not be a more important, and more inoffensive, selfless founder. The man who risked his life to travel here and worked tirelessly to create a safe, stable, and vibrant community — a commonwealth built on religious tolerance and freedom of expression; a man whose wife and family followed in his footsteps for generations to help guide this experiment. Is there any doubt that the woke mob would try to rename Pennsylvania next?!

A group of taxpayer-funded government officials proposed getting rid of the statue of William Penn from a park built in his memory, to welcome people to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and to appreciate our history. Such a decision shocked and angered the overwhelming majority of Americans. So, days later, the politicians in charge do what they sometimes do when they are caught: Stop. Apologize. And tell us to move along: “nothing to see here.”

If we don’t stand up and remove the pillars of woke culture, all too soon there will be truly “nothing to see here” of America’s founders, our founding — or even of America.

Guy Ciarrocchi is a Senior Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation. He writes for Broad+Liberty and RealClear Pennsylvania. Follow Guy @PaSuburbsGuy

12 thoughts on “Guy Ciarrocchi: Then they came for William Penn”

  1. Thanks to the elected officials (cough- all Republicans) who reposted, tweeted, raised awareness of this issue and helped stop this.

    Thanks for Shapiro for doing something to stand up to the woke ignorance by acknowledging this removal was a bad idea.

    Maybe people should take a look at every other park and see how they have done the same. The signs and “updates” are all woke. Rather than simply posting facts, let alone celebrating our history, the parks and monuments have been “reimagined” through the anti American lense.

  2. Looks like 2 of our Republican representatives from Lancaster County, Cutler and Martin, jumped on this.
    Good work, men.
    Read up on the Director of NPS and his mission.
    It may lend clues as to why this was even considered in the first place. #walking purchase.

  3. It is intentional, that’s how a socialist state works,enrage one against another, creating chaos, a nation on distress to sustain power. By blaming what they call, the opposition”

  4. The mention of the “Walking Purchase” is of course a reference to the historical debate as to whether or not Penn’s agent who was to walk the area of land purchased from the local tribe actually ran and maybe had alternates who took over when the waling/running person got tired. You decide if this was cheating. I am guessing this would be the reason the NPS Director wished to cancel the history of the founding of Pennsylvania, preferring it to be a type of creation myth where Pennsylvania dropped, fully formed, from the sky in 1776. It is time “woke” folks realize there are no clean skirts in history. Strong Native Americans tribes routinely pushed weaker tribes from their hunting/fishing grounds. In warfare, tribes often took prisoners who were either used as slaves or adopted into the new tribe’s society. History is a study of the facts of things occurred in the past. It is not a study of intentions, you might want to try to learn the motivations of the humans in history, but only as an adjunct to a study of the facts. Motivations and character is not the driver of the good that occurred in history.


  5. It was dead silence from the GOP when they erased Frank Rizzo and Christopher Columbus.
    Republican commentators grew a backbone for William Penn only because he’s safely liberal.
    Heaven forbid it had been a Jewish statute: Republicans would have been calling for military intervention!

    1. Dear Akm. A few things. (1) it’s really ineffective to bark at one commentator blaming him (her) for a whole party or whole group’s action ok inaction. I am not—nor do I pretend to be—a spokesperson for the Republican Party. My personal feelings on the Columbus statue were well known. (2) Moreover, yes, this is worse in the sense that attacking WmPenn shows that the left feels emboldened to go after anyone. Additionally, yes, in fact that they have a pattern of attacking Columbus, Jefferson, washing, Lincoln and now Penn provides an opportunity to try to win over folks who now may see that the left is in fact trying to tear down America’s history. (3) you may not realize it; but in most cases, the folks attacking Jefferson, Columbus and WmPenn are the same ones celebrating the attack on Israel, or at least yelling about a ceasefire. (Hint—those seeking to protect and defend Jewish folks are your allies in most cases—or at least potential allies.). Free piece of advice to my friends be they conservative, libertarian or populists—leave the anger to the Left; and, work on growing our team, not shrinking it.

    2. You mean a statue for Haym Salomon. The Jew who went broke helping the goyim during the Revolution. No statue for him just a cemetery in Malvern. There is a Star of David on the dollar bill to honor him. See if you can find it. Or the Levy’s. The Jews who restored Monticello. (Did you know that Jefferson spoke Hebrew. He’s the guy who took Sally Hemings to Europe and left his wife at home. What a mensch!) Or the Jews who are UofP hospital donors, the UofP that celebrates Palestinian culture. Look where that got them. Oy ve! Or the Laskos of Chester County Hospital. Thank you. Jews will never learn. Like Tevye said, “Tradition.” Jews and Republicans like bread on Passover. My Jewish girlfriend from Coatesville High School back in my glory days told me, “No respectable Jew would eat bread on Passover.” Lack of carbs may have led to our breakup. The Left have relied on Jews for credibility ever since Marx. I don’t think there would be many Republicans falling ass over tin cups over Jewish statues. The only Jew who has a chance of getting a statue in Philly is Howie Roseman. After this season, I doubt if Lurie would make it through the Northeast.

  6. DOE nuclear waste official, a gender confused satanic worshiper, was charged with felonies…
    His dog bit scores of people…
    He stole classified material as a Senator and Vice President…
    He’s 81 years old..
    Let’s make a list:
    Biden Halts Drill Permits
    “Remain in Mexico” Policy Suspended
    Equity Over Equality
    Keystone Pipeline Blocked
    For the People Act Introduced
    American Rescue Plan Introduced
    CDC Attempts to Keep Schools Closed
    U.S. Rejoins Paris Agreement
    Vaccine Passports
    “Jim Crow” Election Laws (LGB)
    Kamala Harris Named Border Czar
    Collusion with Big Tech (Twittergate – but Meta and all the others did it too)
    Biden Gets Covid-19 (for the first time)
    Eviction Moratorium
    Horrific Afghanistan Withdrawal – (criminal actions and the brass received medals)
    Border Patrol “Whipping” Migrants Hoax
    Rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal
    Military Vaccine Mandate (now they are asking those soldiers to return)
    “Pandemic of the Unvaccinated”
    Parents Deemed Domestic Terrorists
    Hunter Biden Business Dealings
    OSHA Employer Vaccine Mandate
    Infrastructure Bill Passed
    Baby Formula Crisis
    $$$$$$ To Ukraine
    Protests outside SCOTUS Homes
    Title IX Expansion
    9.1% Inflation
    Redefining “Recession”
    Student Loan “Cancellation”
    Inflation Reduction Act Passed
    Hiring 87,000 New IRS Agents
    0% Inflation Claim
    FBI Raids Mar-a-Lago
    “Strong As Hell” Economy
    National Debt Spikes To $31 Trillion
    Biden Flashes Cheat Sheet at G20
    White House Gets Fact Checked
    It goes on and on and on…
    BOTH Trump and Biden are puppets. Let’s find the oligarchs behind all of this.

    1. But he got elected with more votes than obama. all of this was supposed to be done by hillary. thankfully she lost.

  7. When things matter, the mainstream takes to the postmodern, 21st century public square, that is, social media. The mainstream does not burn down cities, loot, assault Jews or Asians. They use a voice that projects common sense. It is not as loud as the Wokies. The mainstream does not need to primal scream or make people late for work. More importantly, people listen to softer tones. The mainstream voice is not a comic voice, “Billy Penn he must go across New Jersey to the shore.” It is a serious voice. Dare I say paternal. Someone in the diverse Park Service, someone who has an office window but did not earn it, thought that it would be OK to get rid of another White guy. No one would notice. No one would care. But Philadelphia is not Richmond. Pennsylvania has a different legacy than Virginia. Just like the Smithsonian Wokies who thought that the habits and behaviors that made everyone successful, habits like being on time, having a father in the home, and planning for the future, were characteristics of Whiteness and hence emanations of privilege, the Park Service Wokies thought that Penn being White and privileged would come down without a fight. Penn’s White and privileged baggage were light and no burden. The mainstream saved him from being dumped into the Delaware, the Schuylkill, or the Tinicum, or barged down to a Wilmington junkyard and sold as salvage. And let us give credit to Shapiro. He stood with the mainstream on a cultural issue. Let us hope this is a trend.

  8. I say punishment for the woke is make them polish the William Penn statue weekly while singing the Pennsylvania State song!

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