Saturday, June 27, 2020

Should the Supreme Court Research It's Ties to the Confederacy?

While reviewing my LinkedIn feed earlier today, the following letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, shared on a post by one of my primary contacts, caught my eye. She describes herself as being part of the Director's Action Group, Naval History and Heritage Command. I do not know her personally.

In her post and personal letter, she asks the Chief Justice "that he research how many justices owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy."

"I sent the letter to the Chief Justice because I don’t think the current justices know about the court’s connection to the Confederacy. Compiling the information will educate them. The information can also be used as a case study. Former Confederates were biased and folks should examine how this bias impacted Supreme Court decisions."

She further requests that any information be made public so the nation may make further progress on race relations. She also goes into some detail about her own family's history with the confederacy.

Perhaps I'm in the bubble of my own "white privilege," "southern heritage," or I'm just a clueless, deplorable, racist oppressor. But I am prompted to ask, "so what?"

I fail to see how engaging in this inquisition into the history of our Supreme Court "make progress on race relations." If anything, it is more likely to further undermine trust and confidence in our institutions and decisions that were made under different circumstances at different times. It is a
malign strategy of Presentism - to apply today's "standards" to the histories and actions of our forebearers. As my lawyer friends well know, there are plenty of bad Supreme Court decisions - Dred Scott, anyone? - that have long been reversed and corrected. We can all name others, including Korematsu.

I'm glad she finds her own connections to confederates of interest. Kudos to her for doing her own research. Interestingly, she doesn't apologize for it. But she seems to want the court to draw and quarter itself. To what end?

At a minimum, this does not strike me as a good use of the Court's time. I frankly hope he politely tells her to pound sand.

There is plenty of history concerning the Supreme Court, it's justices, and its decisions readily available. She can do her own work.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Mississippi Probably Should Revise Their State Flag

It is obviously not my call, but Mississippi probably should remove the confederate battle flag and replace it with a Magnolia blossom, which I believe is the state's official flower.
Or, they could replace the battle flag with a single star on a blue background, but then again, someone would eventually suggest that they're replacing one confederate symbol with another - the "bonnie blue" - so never mind.
I'm reluctant to erase history to the evil but popular modern-day cause of Presentism, but some symbols, often egregiously used for post-Civil War experiences (KKK lynchings and the like), are clearly painful reminders to many Americans. I think most people respect that, and should.
Like the Holocaust, we should never allow history to be erased so we forget the pain and violence experienced (or, even caused) by our forebearers, which serve as an important reminder - never again. Every nation, every people, have painful historical episodes. It is helpful to be reminded of them so they are not repeated.
And while Mississippi is at it, they should consider replacing one of their two statues in the US Capitol, one Jefferson Davis (don't destroy it, but place it in a museum somewhere, since he also served the US in other ways, including as US Secretary of War during the Franklin Pierce Administration). The state's other statue is James Z. George, who after the Civil War became an influential US Senator who helped shape the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Senator George was not alone among former confederates who did much to help reunite our country after the "Great Unpleasantness." The confederacy's first commanding general, Joseph E. Johnston (not believed to be a relative), served a term in Congress from Virginia and was a pallbearer at Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's funeral (he caught pneumonia from the experience and died a few weeks later).
Why is that important? Johnston commanded the confederate army that opposed Sherman's "March to the Sea," (see: Gone With the Wind) and many of his novel defensive tactics are reportedly still taught at the US Army's War College today. Johnston, who surrendered his army about two weeks after Lee surrendered at Appomatox, did much to help reunify the nation. As did Lee.
The great state of Mississippi has many other great historical icons they should honor. I'll leave it up to them to decide, as the law and respect for the people of the state require.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Rewriting History At Our Children's - and Country's - Expense

We have much to learn from history. Obviously, now more than ever. It is apparently no longer taught or learned in most high schools and especially colleges and universities today. At least that which has not been rewritten specifically, and maliciously, to push modern narratives such as the illegitimate and broadly discredited NY Times 1619 project, despite it's Pulitzer Prize, which used to mean something. I guess it still does for the malign among us.
Stone Mountain, Georgia, honoring Confederate leaders

Have you ever read this: “Robert E. Lee was President U. S. Grant’s guest in the White House and became the president of Washington College, known today as Washington and Lee University,' that 'President Lincoln had offered amnesty to most of the Confederate soldiers and functionaries' and that Horace Greeley, the abolitionist, actually paid part of Jefferson Davis’s bail. With so much to do and so much to rebuild, the best policy was to let bygones be bygones and allow the country to focus its attention on the challenges at hand, challenges that were unlikely to be overcome by pursuing a policy of destruction and vengeance."

Of course, you haven't. It is inconvenient for today's narratives.

History is full of complications and nuances. There were waves of efforts to reunite and reunify the country after a horrible civil war which resulted in the deaths of over 660,000 soldiers. Sadly, some confederate monuments were erected in response to the civil rights movement (a reminder - Lyndon Baines Johnson, as Senate Democratic Majority Leader in 1957, killed Republican President Eisenhower's first Civil Rights legislation. You can look it up).

Imagine, unification - today, we're all about division through tribalism, identity politics, and intersectionality. If only we were as wise as our predecessors. Perhaps after the current "unpleasantness," our better angels will emerge.

Please read this. It is a wonderful history lesson. It is NOT a defense of confederate monuments, but valuable history.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Fellow Pennsylvanians, Do NOT Get Excited About Our "Green Phase"


A father's day story. And a "Green Phase" story - a warning - for my fellow Pennsylvanians.
Our esteemed Governor announced Friday that my county (Delaware), along with the rest of southeast Pennsylvania, was moving to the 'green phase' of his COVID recovery phase, beginning next Friday, June 26th. Yay.
But it may not be what it seems.
Under Gov. Wolf's scheme, nearly all retail outlets are allowed to open at up to 50% capacity, including hair salons and other services, with a whole host of prescriptive mandates (mask-wearing and the like). We are supposed to celebrate this advancement under our occupation.
Tired of waiting for a badly overdue haircut (no photos), I explored my Hair Cutter app to see if the neighboring state of Delaware, which allowed similar limits to the opening of hair salons six weeks ago, would allow me to make a reservation. Fortunately, Gov. John Carney removed his unconstitutional ban on Pennsylvanians visiting Delaware businesses on or about June 5th.
Presto! I found one in Newark, Delaware that was taking reservations! I thought I had one planned for today. But to my surprise, they remain closed, for at least another week.
Why? Because of Delaware Governor John Carney's (Democrat, of course) policies, (eerily similar to General Secretary Kim Jong Wolf's "Green Phase"), the vast majority of hair salons have chosen to remain closed. Why? Because they clearly cannot profitably operate under onerous, prescriptive, and stifling restrictions, not science-based, that make opening not worthwhile.
My fellow Pennsylvanians who think that we're close to "returning to normal" under Gov. Wolf's "plan" are in for a very rude awakening. And there is nothing planned after the "green phase" to return to "real" normal, which equally onerous Lt. Gov. John Fetterman warned us on national television weeks ago were unlikely to happen "if at all." They claim to wait for a successful vaccine. Yeah, sure. The next excuse will be interesting. And predictable.
So, do not get too excited about the "green phase," unless our Democratic-controlled State Supreme Court surprises us all and declares Gov. Wolf's Emergency Declaration, per the state legislatures' recent vote, over. I'm not counting on that, given how partisan and disrespectful of the state Constitution our state's highest court has demonstrated.
Elections matter. And 2.5+ million unemployed Pennsylvania workers, and thousands of shuttered business owners, are paying a steep price for the last one. And so have the rest of us.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Rethink Higher Education - and Corporate HR and PR Departments

One of my favorite "follows" is Steven F. Hayward, a historian, author, brilliant writer, and blogger at Powerlineblog.com, a favorite right-of-center, Minnesota-based site. Until recently, he was a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkley.
I emphasize, until recently - he's been canceled.
My wife and I met Professor Hayward several years ago at an event we attended organized by our friend, John Heubusch, the estimable leader of the Reagan Foundation that is separate but attached to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.
Commentary Magazine, another favorite, has just published a detailed piece by the professor on how he was canceled by UC Berkley. It emphasizes to me how increasingly monochromatic our system of higher education has become. I even wonder, did I send my sons (and a lot of money) to the right schools for their college degrees?
It is time for all of us to rethink if not totally disrupt higher education. The problem is that we have too many administrators, more so than professors, who are more invested in indoctrination than education and critical thinking along with the skills needed to contribute practically and successfully.
For example, too many campus events are too invested in speakers who reinforce certain ideologies and narratives, even political agendas. "Dangerous" speakers - often conservatives - are banned from campuses. Students are "protected" from thoughts and ideas that challenge these narratives, denying them critical thinking skills. IMHO, too many campus cultures have been spiraling in the wrong direction for a long time, and the result is graduates more focused on politically-driven agendas than on real issues that matter in the workplace. When challenged with other ideas, they run screaming to their "safe spaces" for their Play-Doh and Crayons, and into the comforting arms of their malign enablers.
Sadly, too many corporate HR departments focus on coddling such immature, ill-prepared graduates than helping them transition into and contribute to the workplace. Look no further than the massive virtue-signaling oozing out of corporate PR and marketing departments run by feeble-minded managers who seek to placate rather than mentor. Just look at the food companies who are canceling Black American icons on food labels with no regard for many of the personal and often inspirational stories behind them, while stupidly paying homage to our destructive "cancel culture."
My point is this - rethink higher education (and corporate HR departments). Do NOT subscribe to the view that your children must get into expensive, "prestigious" private universities when, ultimately, it's what you DO with your college education, how you're taught to think critically, not where you go. After all, the legendary Jack Welch, the late former CEO of GE when it was a well run, emergent company, was a graduate of the University of Illinois. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates never earned college degrees. Don't let your children or grandchildren be ruined by expensive colleges.
Choose wisely. Invest wisely.
https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/steven-hayward/campus-cancel-culture-berkeley/

Conservatives Are To Blame (In Part) For Tearing Down Statues


I've chosen not to speak out very much about the removal of Confederate statues. Even though, as I've noted previously, I enjoy learning from the history that most statues represent, and attempt to lead us to - even of people I find reprehensible, such as Vladimir Lenin and others. I have long dismissed those who reflexively accuse me of racism, and worse.
Some of my conservative/libertarian friends have expressed support for removing Confederate statues, hoping that they will prove their moderation, sophistication, and a measure of social acceptance, and perhaps end the matter. But as we're seeing play out in real-time, that's not what tearing down and defacing statues is all about. Not even close. And no amount of virtue signalizing will mollify The Mob. Not even Ulysses S. Grant. Not even Junipero Sierra.
I have long opposed removing most (not all) statues because they are teaching moments. If anything we should add monuments alongside to place them in context and help complete the story. I remember all that I learned about Robert E. Lee post-Civil War from visiting Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, more than a decade ago when my oldest son was a summer scholar there before his senior year of high school. We are guilty of spending our spring breaks back then visiting Civil War sites in Virginia. We don't regret that a second.
This piece from The Federalist reinforces my view and is superbly written. Feel free to disagree and call me whatever names you want. From the piece:
"In some sense, the story of the Confederate statues, and Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill, and Gandhi are stories of forgiveness. We protect their memories because we understand that history’s judgment will eventually condemn us for the luxuries we enjoy off the backs of foreign workers in slave-like conditions. We too hope to be understood, forgiven.
"In that spirit, I forgive all of those who failed to answer the call as the statues started falling. But we need you back. As is so often the case, the great compromise failed. There really are only two sides, one that seeks to burn everything down and one that seeks to save the greatest nation the world has ever known. Pick one. Now."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

What Will The Mob Do About Woodrow Wilson?


I'm fascinated by the defacing and destruction of statues and monuments around the world, but especially in the US. The mob seems focused largely (but obviously not exclusively) on those who served for the Confederacy during our "Great Unpleasantness." After all, they are targets of our modern-day "Presentism," that is, applying modern "morals" or "standards" to people and events from decades if not centuries ago. The complications and nuances of history don't seem to matter.
But a few particular monuments seem exempt from the current "unpleasantness," and that baffles me. Especially one particular former Governor of New Jersey, President of Princeton University, and President of the United States.
This particular historical figure re-segregated the military. He infamously chose "Birth of a Nation" as the first motion picture (silent) to feature at the White House. Never seen it? It glamorized the Ku Klux Klan, the militarized wing of the Democratic Party from the end of the Civil War to the Great Depression. Look up the 1924 Democratic Convention, infamously known as the "Klanbake."
Wilson was famously reelected in 1916 under the motto, "He kept us out of war." How did that work out? Like much of the Progressive movement of the day that infected both major political parties, he was a big fan of Eugenics. You should look that up.
Wilson is feted all over Washington, DC, and portraits and other honors can be found around Princeton University and the New Jersey State Capitol in lovely Trenton, NJ. His name adorns a terrific international organization (that I've worked with and is staffed with terrific people) headquartered at the Ronald Reagan International Center, a public building, near 14th and Pennsylvania Avenues in Washington, DC. And President Wilson is buried at the National Cathedral in northwest Washington, at the highest point in the District. A church, by the way, that is home to the local Diocese of the Episcopal Church.
No word from anyone, including the Episcopal Church, on the future of Wilson's "status" atop, or within, certain Washington facilities. I guess we'll have to wait, either to see what the mob decides or whoever gets to decide the manner by which we shall erase our history. Where this ends, nobody knows. I'd be fine if we called the whole thing off.