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Archive for the ‘The Media’ Category

The “NFL Follies.”

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Now we can turn from the “Congressional Follies” to the “NFL Follies.”

“Roger Goodell Ignoring League’s Rules in Letting Players Protest Anthem.”
Grabien News
September 23,2017

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is such a stickler for adhering to the intricacies of the NFL’s league rule book that he infamously waged a years-long, multi million-dollar battle with the New England Patriots trying to prove that balls used in the 2014 AFC championship between the Pats and the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated.

After a federal vacated Goodell’s four-game suspension of Tom Brady, Goodell appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; by 2016, the Pats appeared to lose their will to keep fighting the case and eventually accepted the penalty (Brady’s four game suspension, $1 million fine, and the loss of two draft picks).

Yet the NFL commissioner, notorious for his unusually massive compensation package — rumored to be north of $40 million/year, making his total compensation of $156 million higher than Tom Brady’s — is taking a decidedly less fastidious approach to the rules governing the national anthem at NFL games.

The NFL rule book specifically requires both teams appear on the field for the playing of the anthem, standing, remaining quiet, and holding their helmets in their left hands. Failure to do so can result in fines, suspensions, and the loss of draft picks.

The rules are found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

On Sunday, almost a hundred players took a knee during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Beats, Seattle Seahawks, and Tennessee Titans all opted against even coming out on the field for the anthem.

But rather than warn these players and team they’re violating league rules, Goodell is focusing his anger at President Trump, who said in a speech Friday that the NFL team owners should require their players to stand during the anthem.

“The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud,” Goodell said. “I’m proud of our league.”

On Saturday, Goodell responded directly to Trump, accusing the president of disrespecting the league, which asipires to “create a sense of unity in our country and our culture”:

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

We’ve reached out to the NFL, asking if any of the players or teams that skipped the national anthem will face discipline; we’ll update this report with their comments.

Goodell hasn’t always been so supportive of his players engaging in free speech on the field.

Last year the NFL barred the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmet honoring the five police officers killed in a domestic terror attack.

The NFL also banned the Tennessee Titan’s linebacker, Avery Williamson, from honoring 9/11 victims by wearing cleats that read “9-11/01″ and “Never Forget” on the 15th anniversary of the terror attack.

The NFL fined Robert Griffin III $10,000 for wearing a t-shirt during a press conference that said “Operation Patience.” (The shirt was created by Reebok and players are required to only wear clothing sold by Nike.)

RGIII also ran into trouble with the league for wearing a shirt that said “Know Jesus, Know Peace.”

The NFL has banned players from wearing Beats headphones on the field (doing so violated the league’s deal with Bose).

The Steelers’ William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats, which he did to raise awareness for domestic violence (an issue Goodell claims the league takes seriously).

Goodell’s opposition to speech he dislikes is so determined that he even has a Patriots fan who flipped him off fired from his job.

Snopes.com claims that this rule does not, in fact, exist. The article cites the rule quoted above and reports “No such wording appears in the 2017 version of the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League.”

Yet the NFL’s Game Operations Manual — the 200-plus book the league refers to as its “bible” — is different than its rulebook. It is not available to the public. The rule cited above comes from the league itself, via the Washington Post.

The Post reported Sunday that the NFL confirmed the rule’s existence but emphasized their ability to enforce it selectively:

Under the league rule, the failure to be on the field for the anthem may result in discipline such as a fine, suspension or loss of a draft pick. But a league official said the key phrase is “may” result, adding he won’t speculate on whether the Steelers would be disciplined.

The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual, according to a league source.

After Grabien contacted Snopes.com, bringing the above facts to their attention, the author amended his article, confirming the existence of the above-state rule, and changed their description of this story from “false” to “mixture.”

Had Comey Committed Fraud in Clinton Probe?

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

A real bombshell. This needs careful attention. If true, how can anything Comey tries to pin on Trump be taken seriously?

Western Journalism

New Revelations Show Comey Committed ‘Fraud’ In Clinton Probe
By Jack Davis
September 1, 2017

Revelations that allege former FBI Director James Comey started work on his statement clearing Hillary Clinton of any charges against her long before the FBI’s investigation into her email scandal was complete have led one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers to brand the FBI investigation “a fraud on the American people.”

As reported by Western Journalism, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote FBI Director Chis Wray earlier this week about the revelation that was contained in partially redacted transcripts of interviews with two FBI officials.

In the interviews, the officials said that months before Comey announced in July that Clinton would not be charged, he had started drafting a statement to announce that result.

Grassley and Graham noted in the letter that the claims that Comey was drafting the statement in May would mean that he knew how the investigation would end weeks before major witnesses were interviewed, including Clinton and her top aides.

Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, discussed the impact of this new evidence Thursday night on the Fox News show Hannity.

“The whole investigation, evidently, was a fraud on the American people,” he said. “You’ve got James Comey now with emails going back and forth where he’s drafting three months before they interview 16 key witnesses, including the supposed target of the investigation — exoneration!”

Sekulow noted that in the past, Comey has sought to blame others for possibly besmirching the integrity of the FBI.

“James Comey had the nerve to testify under oath that he had to come forward last July to make his statement because the whole process where Loretta Lynch met with President (Bill) Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix cast doubt on the scope and nature of the investigation and the integrity of the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

Sekulow did not let Lynch off the hook, though.
“James Comey took over the role of the attorney general of the United States where she didn’t bother to recuse herself after she had the meeting, but it should have been the Department of Justice making this decision, not James Comey. And the fact that he got away with that is inexcusable.”

Sekulow said the idea that an investigator would write a concluding statement while the probe was ongoing is mind-boggling.

“Who in the world would draft a document … three months before witness interviews are complete including the subject and target of the investigation?” he said.

Sekulow said that if Comey was drafting the statement weeks before he presented it in July, then his claims to the American people at the time were wrong.

“This goes to the heart of a false statement that was made by James Comey when he went and made that whole statement in front of national TV where he lists off the charges of guilt and then says ‘Nevertheless, no prosecutor would charge it,’” Sekulow said.

Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for former President George W. Bush, said it is possible Comey prepared another memo to explain charging Clinton, but admitted that was not likely.

He said that this new revelation has “shaken my belief in the integrity of the institution” under Comey.

“If this is true, then that investigation, the most high-profile, important thing that the FBI is doing, was a sham,” he said.

Explaining President Trump?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

This may explain a few things going on at The White House. On the other hand, this might explain nothing. And if you believe this, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. But keep an open mind.

Read this little essay a couple of times and read it slowly the last time you read it. And Donald Trump is the smartest President we have had for quite some time.

“Apparently, liberals and never-Trumpers are so isolated in their political circles that they have no concept how things work in the real world of business and corporate America. For example, they completely fail to grasp the concept of the “hatchet man.”

Say you are a business tycoon. You just successfully completed a large-scale acquisition and merger, bringing together multiple smaller companies into one conglomerate. After the merger, you want to put your own people in charge of everything. However, all those smaller companies had their own executives – and, at least for the short term – you need to keep many of them around the keep things running. So, you keep many of those executives around, and let them retain their own senior staff. You even appoint one of them – the head of the largest of the companies you acquired – to be the CEO of the conglomerate, and he pledges to get all the departments working together harmoniously.

After a transition period, some of them are doing fine in the new conglomerate – but others are clearly causing trouble. In fact, the one you appointed CEO is clearly a disaster. The newly merged departments are working against each other.

Furthermore, you have good suspicion he is dealing in insider trading – nothing you can take to a prosecutor, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence building up. Worse, he is not only doing his own dirty dealing, but it appears he may even be leaking intellectual property to your competitors, helping them take market share from you.

Clearly, he has to go – and go now.

Problem is, many of the senior employees in your conglomerate are loyal to him. If you just fire him and put in your own chosen CEO, you know you could get a lot of backlash from disgruntled employees. And in your business, there is such a small profit-margin that you really can’t afford anything at all that threatens performance. So, what do you do?

In comes the hatchet man.

The hatchet man is someone you bring in for sole purpose of slashing the problems and shaking things up over a very short period of time – but doing it in a way that deflects any blame or blowback away from you. As soon as the problems are hacked away, the hatchet man leaves – taking the ire and resentment with him, and leaving you free to bring in your new team for a fresh start.

This happens in the business world all the time. And Donald Trump is a businessman. He knows this. He has lived this. We’ve seen him do it on “The Apprentice.” We’ve read about it in his books. This is not a surprise to anyone. Except for liberals and never-Trumpers.

Enter Scaramucci.

Liberals and never-Trumpers see the past two weeks as proof of a Hitler-clown-circus spectacle, as evidence that Trump is unhinged and our government is in the hands of madmen. Anyone who understands the business world and Donald Trump fully understands that what we just witnessed was a perfectly executed hatchet man maneuver.

When Trump won the election, he essentially performed the political equivalent of an acquisition and merger. He brought together different political factions – establishment Republicans, conservatives, tea party, religious right, moderates, independents, cross-overs – into one winning political coup. For some, it was a hostile takeover – and if they were going to be dragged in against their will, they would sure as hell resist.

This is where Reince Priebus came in.

Priebus, as the then-chairman of the Republican National Committee, was hired as White House Chief of Staff to be a sort of post-merger CEO. It was his job to bring all these political factions together and get them to work harmoniously. But he failed. Worse, there is ample evidence to suggest he not only failed, but worked against Trump and the Trump agenda. Look at the leaks. Look at all the chaos. Look at all the bureaucracy continuing to work at odds with the president. Priebus – and a number of other people around him – had to go.

Back to Scaramucci.

Donald Trump has known for some time that Priebus was a disaster. He was going to give him his six-month trial period – that’s a fairly common thing in the private sector. After that, heads were going to roll. But Trump himself doesn’t want to be the hatchet man. He needs to be able to lead after the bloodbath. So, what does he do? He turns to an old friend he has known for many years – someone with nothing to lose, someone who can step in with a hatchet and hack away, someone who can then just walk away from it all and leave the slate clean. He turned to Scaramucci.

So, what does Scaramucci do? He comes in swinging. He fires a few people to make a quick example. He tells others they can “resign” right now if they want to – but if not, they will be fired. Others see what is going on and just up and quit of their own accord.

That problem CEO, Priebus? Oh, the new “structure” of the organization puts Scaramucci in direct competition with Priebus – and Priebus throws up his hands and says “fine, I’m out of here.” And Scaramucci does it all in a way that is spectacularly visible to draw all the fire from Trump critics.

So how does it all end? It ends with Trump putting in his new CEO – the one he probably wanted from day one, but held back – and the new CEO says “OK, Scaramucci – you are no longer needed here.”

Gen. Kelly now has a clean slate to start fresh – and Scaramucci takes all the heat. Where the left and never-Trumpers see a circus freak-show, realists from the business world see a perfectly executed post-merger hatchet-man job.

The political wonks see Kelly taking command as the first sane thing to happen in this administration. They don’t realize they’ve been played, and played perfectly. And soon we will likely see some other changes that move the Executive Branch further towards what Trump has wanted from day one. And then watch the real swamp-drainer get to work. It sucks to be Hillary Clinton right now…

Oh, and Scaramucci? He gets a sweet deal out of all this – no doubt, he and his friend Donald Trump talked it all out first.

Scaramucci was already facing a nasty divorce that would result in the liquidation of his business to divide assets. A little-known law allows people who are legally required to sell a business as a condition of employment in the Executive Branch (to prevent conflicts of interest) to defer the taxes on their profits from the sale.

Scaramucci was going to have to sell his company anyway due to his pending divorce. Now he and his soon-to-be ex-wife just saved $80 million in taxes. So, don’t think for a moment all this was an unplanned mess that went awry. Scaramucci and Trump knew exactly what they were doing.

All of this was planned – and foreseen. Not just by me, but by others as well.

Scott Adams wrote before Trump was inaugurated that, to his critics, the first year of Trump would be a play in three acts:
Act One – Trump is literally Hitler.

Act Two – Trump is not literally Hitler, but Trump is incompetent.

Act Three – Trump is not incompetent, but we don’t like his policies.

We’ve seen this play out. From election night, up through the first 100 days, the left was out rioting and acting as though Trump taking office was literally the end of Western Civilization.

But after 100 days, when Trump had failed to do evil-dictator things like round up all the brown people and put the gays into camps and force women to stay home and have babies, it became farcical to continue the “Trump is Hitler” narrative.

And so, from that 100 day point up until now, it has been the “Trump is incompetent” game. Look at all the chaos. Look at all the leaking. Look at all the tweets. Now, we begin Act Three. With Priebus out and Kelly in, things will settle down. Pretty soon, all the left will have to say is “we just don’t like Trump’s policies.”…Act Three.

And once that happens, the left is dead. Because, Trump’s policies are policies that most Americans actually agree with. We should put America first. Build back our economy. Create jobs. Strengthen the military. Protect the border. Outside a few densely-populated liberal strongholds like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and – of course – Washington, D.C., Americans in general agree with all of this. So, when all the left has to say is “Trump’s policies are wrong,” the left will literally be telling most of America, “you people are stupid.”

Trump will win 47 states in 2020. The left will be scratching their heads and wondering what the hell happened. And you’ll be able to look back and say, “hey, some of us told you all this back in 201….
The author of this “tale” is unknown. In fact, it might even be Trump.

Kill the Filibuster?

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Kill the Filibuster? Sounds good to me. Below is an interesting piece on the subject.

Washington Examiner
Trump vs the Filibuster
by Byron York
8/26/17

President Trump brings an outsider’s perspective to the long debate over the Senate filibuster. An overwhelming majority of the Senate disagrees with his desire to kill the filibuster, which means he doesn’t have a prayer of winning. But he’s not entirely wrong, either.

Set aside Trump’s sledgehammer tweets directed at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In private conversations, Trump has made a reasonable and sophisticated case against the filibuster. Not only has the filibuster been eliminated for appointments, Trump has noted, it has also been eliminated (through the process of reconciliation) for some of the most important things the Senate does — that is, the budget and related bills it passes each year. So now, after all those changes, what remains of the filibuster is somehow supposed to be sacred and can never be changed again?

Trump’s question not only recognizes the reality of former Majority Leader’s Harry Reid’s nuclear-option destruction of the filibuster for appointments, and McConnell’s extension of that to Supreme Court nominations — it also takes into account the reality of reconciliation, by which, a generation ago, the Senate killed the filibuster for budget-related bills. The rule allows those measures to pass on a simple majority vote.

In other words, the filibuster has been steadily whittled down — by the Senate itself, of course, and not by a headstrong president — so why can’t the Senate do it again?

Trump doesn’t have the slightest chance, of course. In May, when the president called for an end to the filibuster, McConnell said, “There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar. And that will not happen.”

“It would fundamentally change the way the Senate has worked for a very long time,” McConnell added. “We’re not going to do that.”

In return, Trump has railed against McConnell and Senate tradition. On Friday, the president tweeted, “If Senate Republicans don’t get rid of the Filibuster Rule and go to a 51% majority, few bills will be passed. 8 Dems control the Senate!”

Two days earlier, Trump tweeted, “If Republican Senate doesn’t get rid of the Filibuster Rule & go to a simple majority, which the Dems would do, they are just wasting time!”

A month earlier, Trump tweeted, “The very outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing Rs in the Senate. Mitch M, go to 51 votes NOW and WIN. IT’S TIME!”

Earlier, on May 1, as the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare sputtered on Capitol Hill, Trump made a calmer argument to Fox News:

It’s an archaic system. You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through, it’s really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion. There are archaic rules, and maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different. You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you’re really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.

It would be an understatement to say McConnell is not convinced, and he has essentially ended the discussion with his over-my-dead-body pronouncements.

One of the problems in the Trump-McConnell relationship is Trump tends to treat leaders in Congress as if they are his employees, instead of leaders elected on their own and not beholden to the president. Plus, Congress is not only a separate branch of government, it is the first branch of government; a united Congress can remove the president, while it doesn’t work the other way around. Nevertheless, Trump whacks away at some of the lawmakers he will need to pass his agenda.

One point heard often in the debate is that Trump can rail all he wants about the filibuster, but the real problem is that he couldn’t get 50 Republicans to vote with him on Obamacare, and changing the filibuster rules wouldn’t change the result.

That’s probably not entirely accurate.

The House had to craft its bill specifically to accommodate the Senate’s reconciliation requirements — meaning it was shaped by the filibuster. The Senate had to craft its bill with the same considerations. Senate drafters had to leave provisions that might have gotten 50-plus votes out of the bill in order to stay within reconciliation rules.

In short, the House and Senate bills were fundamentally shaped by the filibuster, and the filibuster was very much a part of Obamacare reform’s defeat in the Senate.

Now, stonewalled by McConnell, Trump might look for a compromise that moves him closer to his goal. The president certainly shares the cause with the many Democrats who in the last decade have sought to limit and weaken the filibuster. Senators Dick Durbin, Sherrod Brown, Richard Blumenthal, Kristen Gillibrand, Ben Cardin, Al Franken, Mark Warner, Sheldon Whitehouse — and many others — all have supported changing the Senate’s filibuster rules.

Of course, that was in 2011, when they held the majority in the Senate. But Trump could still try to appeal to them.

Indeed, short of fully eliminating the filibuster, there are things Trump could join with the anti-filibuster Democrats and perhaps some Republicans in attempting: getting rid of the 60-vote standard on motions to proceed, streamlining voting on procedural matters, and other initiatives. Of course, that’s probably not possible, either; these days the filibuster-reforming Democrats seem to oppose everything Trump does. But if they refused to join him in making changes they supported just a few years ago, Trump could at least shine a light on their inconsistency.

And inconsistency — call it hypocrisy if you like — is always a factor when it comes to the filibuster. In late 2008, after Republicans lost everything in the election — House, Senate, White House — the former GOP Senator Fred Thompson offered his old colleagues a short course in the filibuster now that they were in the minority.

“They need to make sure they get this straight,” Thompson said. “Up until now, filibusters have been a bad thing. Now, filibusters are a good thing.”

Thompson spoke with a smile, but he was telling a fundamental truth about the filibuster. In the last 40 years, the Senate has changed hands more than the House. Veteran senators know that while they might be in the majority now, they could be in the minority next year. They know a lot of bad proposals might have become law had the filibuster not existed. So, many of them protect the filibuster whether they’re in charge or not. That’s the consistent, non-hypocritical position.

The president is an outsider who shares none of those concerns. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a point. The Senate has changed its rules, including those on supermajorities, many times over the years. And in the future, it might change them again — in Trump’s direction.
Byron York Opinion Beltway Confidential

Our War Against Memory

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Our War Against Memory
Victor Davis Hanson
8/22/17

The new abolitio memoriae Back to the Future Romans emperors were often a bad lot — but usually confirmed as such only in retrospect. Monsters such as Nero, of the first-century A.D. Julio-Claudian dynasty, or the later psychopaths Commodus and Caracalla, were flattered by toadies when alive — only to be despised the moment they dropped. After unhinged emperors were finally killed off, the sycophantic Senate often proclaimed a damnatio memoriae (a “damnation of memory”). Prior commemoration was wiped away, thereby robbing the posthumous ogre of any legacy and hence any existence for eternity.

Powered by In more practical matters, there followed a concurrent abolitio memoriae (an “erasing of memory”). Specifically, moralists either destroyed or rounded up and put away all statuary and inscriptions concerning the bad, dead emperor. In the case of particularly striking or expensive artistic pieces, they erased the emperor’s name (abolitio nominis) or his face and some physical characteristics from the artwork. Impressive marble torsos were sometimes recut to accommodate a more acceptable (or powerful) successor. (Think of something like the heads only of the generals on Stone Mountain blasted off and replaced by new carved profiles of John Brown and Nat Turner).

A Scary History Without Leon Trotsky’s organizational and tactical genius, Vladimir Lenin might never have consolidated power among squabbling anti-czarist factions. Yet after the triumph of Stalin, “de-Trotskyization” demanded that every word, every photo, and every memory of an ostracized Trotsky was to be obliterated. That nightmarish process fueled allegorical themes in George Orwell’s fictional Animal Farm and 1984. How many times has St. Petersburg changed its name, reflecting each generation’s love or hate or indifference to czarist Russia or neighboring Germany? Is the city always to remain St. Petersburg, or will it once again be anti-German Petrograd as it was after the horrific First World War? Or perhaps it will again be Communist Leningrad during the giddy age of the new man — as dictated by the morality and the politics of each new generation resenting its past? Is a society that damns its past every 50 years one to be emulated?

Abolition of memory is easy when the revisionists enjoy the high moral ground and the damned are evil incarnate. But more often, killing the dead is not an easy a matter of dragon slaying, as with Hitler or Stalin. Confederate General Joe Johnston was not General Stonewall Jackson and after the war General John Mosby was not General Wade Hampton, just as Ludwig Beck was not Joachim Peiper. Stone Throwers and Their Targets What about the morally ambiguous persecution of sinners such as the current effort in California to damn the memory of Father Junipero Serra and erase his eponymous boulevards, to punish his supposedly illiberal treatment of Native Americans in the early missions some 250 years ago? California Bay Area zealots are careful to target Serra but not Leland Stanford, who left a more detailed record of his own 19th-century anti-non-white prejudices, but whose university brand no progressive student of Stanford would dare to erase, because doing so would endanger his own studied trajectory to the good life.

We forget that there are other catalysts than moral outrage that calibrate the targets of abolitio memoriae. Again, in the case of the current abolition of Confederate icons — reenergized by the Black Lives Matter movement and the general repulsion over the vile murders by cowardly racist Dylan Roof — are all Confederate statues equally deserving of damnation? Does the statue of Confederate General James Longstreet deserve defacing? He was a conflicted officer of the Confederacy, a critic of Robert E. Lee’s, later a Unionist friend of Ulysses S. Grant, an enemy of the Lost Causers, and a leader of African-American militias in enforcing reconstruction edicts against white nationalists. Is Longstreet the moral equivalent of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (“get there firstest with the mostest”), who was the psychopathic villain of Fort Pillow, a near illiterate ante-bellum slave-trading millionaire, and the first head of the original Ku Klux Klan? Were the 60–70 percent of the Confederate population in most secessionist states who did not own slaves complicit in the economics of slavery? Did they have good options to leave their ancestral homes when the war started to escape the stain of perpetuating slavery?

Do such questions even matter to the new arbiters of ethics, who recently defiled the so-called peace monument in an Atlanta park — a depiction of a fallen Confederate everyman, his trigger hand stilled by an angel? How did those obsessed with the past know so little of history? Key to General William Tecumseh Sherman’s devastating strategy of marching through Georgia and the Carolinas was his decision to deliberately target the plantations and the homes of the wealthy, along with Confederate public buildings. Apparently Sherman believed that the plantation owners of the South were far more culpable than the poor non-slave-holding majority in most secessionist states. Sherman generally spared the property of non-slave owners, though they collectively suffered nonetheless through the general impoverishment left in Sherman’s wake.

In our race to rectify the past in the present, could Ken Burns in 2017 still make his stellar Civil War documentary, with a folksy and drawly Shelby Foote animating the tragedies of the Confederacy’s gifted soldiers sacrificing their all for a bad cause? Should progressives ask Burns to reissue an updated Civil War version in which Foote and southern “contextualizers” are left on the cutting room floor? How about progressive icon Joan Baez? Should the Sixties folksinger seek forgiveness from us for reviving her career in the early 1970s with the big money-making hit “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”— her version of The Band’s sympathetic ode to the tragedy of a defeated Confederacy, written over a century after the Civil War. (“Back with my wife in Tennessee / When one day she called to me / Said, “Virgil, quick, come see / There goes the Robert E. Lee!”) If a monument is to be wiped away, then surely a popular song must go, too. Are there gradations of moral ambiguity?

Or do Middlebury and Berkeley students or antifa rioters in their infinite wisdom have a monopoly on calibrating virtue and defining it as 100 percent bad or good? Who of the present gets to decide whom of the past we must erase — and where does the cleansing of memory stop? Defacing Mt. Rushmore of its slave owners? Who of the present gets to decide whom of the past we must erase — and where does the cleansing of memory stop? Defacing Mt. Rushmore of its slave owners? Renaming the double-whammy Washington and Lee University?

Are we to erase mention of the heavens for their August 21 eclipse that unfairly bypassed most of the nation’s black population — as the recent issue of Atlantic magazine is now lamenting? Revolutions are not always sober and judicious. We might agree that the public sphere is no place for honorific commemoration of Roger B. Taney, the author of the Dred Scott decision. But statue removal will not be limited to the likes of Roger B. Taneys when empowered activists can cite chapter and verse the racist things once uttered by Abraham Lincoln, whose bust was just disfigured in Chicago — and when the statue-destroyers feel that they gain power daily because they are morally superior. Correct and Incorrect Racists? The logical trajectory of tearing down the statue of a Confederate soldier will soon lead to the renaming of Yale, the erasing of Washington and Jefferson from our currency, and the de-Trotskyization of every mention of Planned Parenthood’s iconic Margaret Singer, the eugenicist whose racist views on abortion anticipated those of current liberal Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Ginsburg said, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”)

At what point will those who went ballistic over President Trump’s clumsy “on the one hand, on the other hand” criticism of both the abhorrent racists who marched in Charlottesville (parading around in the very Nazi garb that their grandparents had fought to vanquish) and the unhinged anarchists who sought to violently stop them demand that Princeton University erase all mention of their beloved Woodrow Wilson, the unapologetic racist? Wilson, as an emblematic and typical early progressive, thought human nature could “progress” by scientific devotion to eugenics, and he believed that blacks were innately inferior. Wilson, also remember, was in a position of power — and, owing to his obdurate racism, he ensured that integration of the U.S. Army would needlessly have to wait three decades.

Do any of the protestors realize that a chief tenet of early progressivism was eugenics, the politically correct, liberal orthodoxy of its time? Just as in Roman times, chipping away the face of Nero or Commodus did not ensure a new emperor’s good behavior, so tearing down a statue of a Confederate soldier is not going to restore vitality to the inner city, whose tragedies are not due to inanimate bronze. When Minnesota Black Lives Matter marchers chanted of police, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” was that a call for violence that was not long after realized by a spate of racist murders of policemen in Dallas? Are such advocates of torching police officers morally equipped to adjudicate which Confederate statue must come down? And did President Obama swiftly condemn the forces that led the shooter to select his victims for execution? After Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 fellow soldiers in cold blood, screaming out “Allah Akbar” as he shot, did “both sides” Obama really have to warn America that “we don’t know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts”? And did it take him six years before he discovered the catalysts when finally calling the murders a terrorist attack? Did Obama have to dismiss the Islamist anti-Semitic terrorist slaughter of targeted Jews in a kosher market in Paris with the callous and flippant quip that the murderers had killed “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris”? Were there demonstrations over that moral equivalence? And was it inevitable that the anti-Semite, homophobe, and provocateur with past blood on his hands for inciting riot and arson, the Reverend Al Sharpton, would advocate yanking public sponsorship of the Jefferson memorial?

He who is with sin now casts the first stone? We are in an age of melodrama, not tragedy, in which we who are living in a leisured and affluent age (in part due to the accumulated learning and moral wisdom gained and handed down by former generations of the poor and less aware) pass judgement on prior ages because they lacked our own enlightened and sophisticated views of humanity — as if we lucky few were born fully ethically developed from the head of Zeus. In my own town, there used to be a small classical fountain dedicated by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. It was long ago torn down. (Who wishes to recall the forces that led to Prohibition?) In its place now sits an honorific statue to the clawed, half-human Aztec deity Coatlicue, the hungry earth-mother goddess. Coatlicue was quite a bloodthirsty creation, to whom thousands of living captives were sacrificed. The goddess was often portrayed wrapped in a cloak of skin and wearing a neckless of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Our town’s new epigraph atop Coatlicue is Viva la Raza — “Long live the Race.” Should there be demonstrations to yank down such a racialist and Franco-ist hurrah? Or are the supposed victims of white privilege themselves exempt from the very chauvinism that they sometimes allege in others?

Is there a progressive rationale that exempts Coatlicue and its racist plaque, whose sloganeering channels the raza/razza mantras of Fascist Spain and Mussolini’s Italy? Are we to have a perpetual war of the statues? The Arc of History More Often Bends Backward There is a need for an abolition of memory in the case of Hitler or Stalin, or here in America perhaps even of a Nathan Bedford Forrest. But when we wipe away history at a whim (why in 2017 and not, say, in 2015 or 2008?), we’d better make sure that our targets are uniquely and melodramatically evil rather than tragically misguided. And before we get out our ropes and sandblasters, we should be certain that we are clearly the moral superiors of those we condemn to oblivion. Before we get out our ropes and sandblasters, we should be certain that we are clearly the moral superiors of those we condemn to oblivion. Be careful, 21st-century man. Far more hypercritical generations to come may find our own present moral certitude — late-term and genetically driven abortion, the rise of artificial intelligence in place of human decision-making, the harvesting and selling of aborted fetal organs, ethnic and tribal chauvinism, euthanasia, racially segregated dorms and “safe spaces” — as immoral as we find the sins of our own predecessors. For the last decade, we were lectured that the arc of history always bends toward our own perceptions of moral justice. More likely, human advancement tends to be circular and should not to be confused with technological progress. Just as often, history is ethically circular. No Roman province produced anyone quite like a modern Hitler; Attila’s body count could not match Stalin’s. In the classical Athens of 420 B.C., a far greater percentage of the population could read than in Ottoman Athens of A.D. 1600. The average undergraduate of 1950 probably left college knowing a lot more than his 2017 counterpart does.

The monopolies of Google, Facebook, and Amazon are far more insidious than that of Standard Oil, even if our masters of the universe seem more hip in their black turtlenecks than John D. Rockefeller did in his starched collars. Moneywise, Bernie Madoff outdid James Fisk and Jay Gould. The strangest paradox in the current epidemic of abolitio memoriae is that our moral censors believe in ethical absolutism and claim enough superior virtue to apply it clumsily across the ages — without a clue that they fall short of their own moral pretensions, and that one day their own icons are as likely be stoned as the icons of others are now apt to be torn down by black-mask-wearing avengers.
A final paradox about killing the dead: Two millennia after Roman autocrats’ destruction of statues, and armed with the creepy 20th-century model of Fascists and Communists destroying the past, we, of a supposedly enlightened democracy, cannot even rewrite history by democratic means — local, state, and federal commission recommendations, referenda, or majority votes of elected representatives. More often, as moral cowards, we either rely on the mob or some sort of executive order enforced only in the dead of night.
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, to appear in October from Basic Books.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450689/erasing-history-censoring-confederate-past-rewriting-memory-mob-vengeance


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