Monday, August 14, 2017

Removing Robert E. Lee Statues Denies Educational Opportunities

As the events of Saturday unfolded I wanted to know "why Charlottesville?" I learned about of the underlying fight to remove the Robert E Lee statue. The fight is currently in court according to the New York Times.
So, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of being allied with people I absolutely abhor. Richard Spencer, David Duke and their followers came to Charlottesville with the intent to do violence, Jason Kesslers, the organizer's protestations notwithstanding. He won an injunction in Federal Court "to peaceably assemble and speak ... free of intimidation." They came prepared for violence as did the anti-protester protesters.
I am also an anti-Trump person. Although I do find glimmers of hope in some of his positions, THIS ISN'T ONE OF THEM. I agree with many that he engaged in race-baiting campaign tactics and appeared to be continuing the practice with his tepid response to the violence. So, with that said, I hope you'll read the following. I don't recall discussing any of this personal history with anyone except my wife and immediate family but in light of the position I'm taking, I feel compelled to share it.
Removing Robert E. Lee Statues Denies Educational Opportunities
The left traditionally promotes education and free speech.
Removing Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park denies both.
In order to explain this, I need to tell you a very personal story. It’s the only way I know to establish the premise for my point.
I was born in 1951 in New Orleans and raised in the small city of Houma, Louisiana about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. This is Cajun country and it is therefore predominately Catholic. So, there was no KKK in South Louisiana. I left in 1969 so I can’t speak to what may have happened in the 70’s but I don’t recall hearing about a single Klan Rally there. But don’t think for a moment there was no racism. My extended family was racist to some degree, but not violently so. My mother was a moderating voice. But, I too was racist.
I joined the Navy before I graduated high school and left for boot camp in July of 1969. I never moved back. While stationed at the Naval Air Station near Memphis, TN I attended a mandatory race relations seminar. Like the rest of the nation, there was much racial tension in the NAVY. The facilitator was a pretty redhead 3rd Class Petty Officer named Jan Murphy, from Scranton, PA. A year later she became my wife and remains so today.
I grew up with Jim Crow. I remember black and white water fountains on the courthouse grounds. I remember that while there were three movie theatres in town, the blacks had only one available to them. And the balcony was the only place they could sit. They had a separate entrance to that balcony. We lived in a racist society.
After completing the race relations seminar we were encouraged to do some reflection. I became a self-hating southerner. I was happy that being from South Louisiana, I didn’t have a stereotypical southern accent, thanks to our French-Canadian heritage. I didn’t deny my Southern origins when asked but I didn’t go out of my way to show any pride, because there was none. People generally thought I was from New Jersey and I didn’t disabuse them of the notion unless directly asked. This went on for many years.
We were living in Va. Beach, Va. when I was discharged from the Navy and we lived there for 22 years before moving to Atlanta. While there I was re-introduced to Robert E. Lee, who was a Virginian. I read quite a bit about Lee in an attempt to find some redeeming value to the Southern Cause. It’s hard to make an argument in support of the South’s decision to leave the Union except that, in hindsight, it was necessary to begin the process of reversing our Constitution’s “Original Sin”, slavery. Lee was the consummate Southern Gentleman with a strict code of honor. It made his decision to fight for the South a very difficult one. It was the wrong decision on many levels. But loyalty to one’s State was very strong because the Union initially consisted of sovereign states. That sovereignty has diminished substantially since then, in large part due to the War between the States.
He was also a very religious man. He was a minor slave owner and had progressive views on slavery for the times. He was confident that eventually slavery would dissipate. He believed in an activist God who moved events in His own good time. How he didn’t make the connection between the coming war and slavery, I don’t understand. But, he didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. After his defeat at Gettysburg he began to believe that he was on the wrong side of God’s plan. He lost his best general Stonewall Jackson before Gettysburg on May 10, 1863 and J.E.B. Stuart nine months afterward on May 12, 1864. The loss of these two generals also reinforced this evolving realization. And the war ended with his surrender. He could have prolonged it but I suspect he was following a higher power at that point.
After the war there was an oft cited incident at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond. A well-dressed black man was in attendance for Sunday service. It was communion Sunday. When the priest called for the congregants to come forward to receive, this black man came forward and knelt at the communion rail. The congregation was stunned not knowing what to do. Robert E. Lee too was in attendance and knew what to do. He came forward and knelt at the rail “not too far” from the black congregant. The remaining attendees came forward for communion.
Every time I remember this story, I get a tad emotional. There are those who disparage Lee’s motives with this gesture and they may be right. I never assume that I have perfect knowledge and history is inexact. But from what I know of Lee the man, I believe he did it to help bring people together.
That white supremacists take Lee as their own should not be a surprise. But there are many normal, non-racist, enlightened Southerners and I expect Northerners who respect Lee. Therefore, the left does the country no favor by calling for the removal of Lee’s statue from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, VIRGINIA and elsewhere. As I wrote to a friend yesterday, the symbolism of Robert E. Lee in a renamed Emancipation Park is an opportunity to learn and teach. I’ll support the removal of a General Bedford Forrest statue, who was an active member of the KKK, and any other officer or official of the Confederacy who were not contrite after the war.
The events in Charlottesville on Saturday August 12 are a stain on the country. There can be no doubt that those white supremacists and neo nazis’ came there looking for a fight. That we gave them one is our mistake.
In 1977, neo nazis’ petitioned to march in Skokie, Illinois after being denied a permit in Chicago. They petitioned in Skokie because it was predominately Jewish, including about 5000 Holocaust survivors. That ploy got them noticed, which was the intent. After losing a suit brought by the ACLU, Skokie built a Holocaust Museum to educate the public. Having won, the nazi’ ended up doing their march in Chicago as originally planned.
“As Justice Louis Brandeis once explained, the Framers of our First Amendment knew “that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.””
Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park is an opportunity to “remedy evils counsels” with “good ones”
Sunday morning marked the official opening of the Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. This striking new institution is dedicated t...
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

SO, WHAT TO DO ABOUT KOREA

Hopefully we can all agree on the following facts, I doubt it, but we have to start somewhere.

1.       Kim Jung Un is rational.  He may be weird but he’s rational.  Why?

2.       Kim Jung Un’s primary goal is his own survival and the survival of his regime.
a.       He will therefore not initiate hostilities because the response would be the end of him and his regime.

3.       Negotiation is not an option.  We’ve been down this road 4 or 8 times depending on who you believe and it’s obvious that all have failed based on where we find ourselves today.
a.        Clinton built light-water nuclear plants to replace their fission plants  to help them meet their energy needs and
b.       George Bush didn’t like the idea of continuing to give aid when they determined that North Korea was cheating on its commitments.  So we stopped and Korea continued and perhaps accelerated their nuclear weapons program.
Shortly after January 20, Trump got the Xi’s nose out of joint by taking a call from the President of Taiwan.  I thought this was great.  While I don’t like Trump’s personality, I thought the one positive aspect of it would be in dealing with foreign leaders, ok, with the possible exception of Putin who he can’t seem to bring himself to criticize.  He doesn’t seem to have a problem insulting our allies.  But I digress, no need to go down that rat hole.

For the last 40 years we’ve been diplomatic with a regime that has been anything but diplomatic.  They are rude, insulting, bellicose, liars, cheaters and untrustworthy.  These are Donald’s kind of people, you know, kinda like the New York real estate business and associated thugs.

To recap, North Korea isn’t going to strike first no matter what President Trump says, IMHO.  Let’s see if Donald’s approach works.  If it does, we will all be eating a lot of crow.  If not,  many of us will die.  What’s new? This is what governments have been best at for 4000 years.