specious, Jesuitical (or, “All slaveholders were evil, but some were more evil than others.”)

 

 

“In private, most of my left-leaning friends say that Washington should stay. They don’t play down the moral catastrophe of his slave ownership, but they weigh that, as [Princeton historian David] Bell advised three years ago, ‘against his role as a heroic commander in chief, as an immensely popular political leader who resisted the temptation to become anything more than a republican chief executive, and who brought the country together around the new Constitution.’ And they conclude that Washington deserves to stay in the canon of our country’s heroes — deeply flawed, as most heroes are, but still worthy of admiration for the good he did.”

 

— “Where do we draw the line in tearing down statues?” by Megan McArdle, The Washington Post, June 23, 2020

 

 

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“… the traitors hailed as heroes of times gone by aren’t the only ones getting toppled. Ulysses S. Grant — the commanding general of the Union Army — has been torn down; protesters have aimed for Andrew Jackson; Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have been pulled to the ground. The pain and anger born of years of oppression, it seems, extend beyond the most obvious icons of the Confederacy to our Founding Fathers — who espoused freedom and equality even as they held human beings in chains.

“We think a distinction can be drawn between Davis, who earned his fame leading states that seceded so they could keep slavery alive, and Washington, who earned his leading states that banded together to form a nation conceived in liberty, even if that nation still hasn’t lived up to those ideals.”
— “Tearing down these statues will be history, too. Let’s make it one we’re proud of.,” Editorial Board, The Washington Post, June 25, 2020

 

 

 

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“Former vice president Joe Biden drew a distinction Tuesday between monuments to Confederate leaders and statues of slave-owning former presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, saying the former belong in museums while the latter should be protected. …

“ ‘There is a difference between reminders and remembrances of history,’ Biden said. ‘The idea of comparing whether or not George Washington owned slaves or Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and somebody who was in rebellion committing treason … trying to take down the union and keep slavery. I think there’s a distinction.’ ”

 

— “On monuments, Biden draws distinction between those of slave owners and those who fought to preserve slavery,” The Washington Post, June 30, 2020

 

 

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“Our civil religion, back when it had more true believers, sometimes treated departed presidents like saints. But our monuments and honorifics exist primarily to honor deeds, not to issue canonizations — to express gratitude for some specific act, to acknowledge some specific debt, to trace a line back to some worthwhile inheritance.

“Thus when you enter their Washington, D.C., memorials, you’ll see Thomas Jefferson honored as the man who expressed the founding’s highest ideals and Abraham Lincoln as the president who made good on their promise. That the first was a hypocrite slave owner and the second a pragmatist who had to be pushed into liberating the slaves is certainly relevant to our assessment of their characters. But they remain the author of the Declaration of Independence and the savior of the union, and you can’t embrace either legacy, the union or ‘we hold these truths …’ without acknowledging that these gifts came down through them.

“To repudiate an honor or dismantle a memorial, then, makes moral sense only if you intend to repudiate the specific deeds that it memorializes. In the case of Confederate monuments, that’s exactly what we should want to do. Their objective purpose was to valorize a cause that we are grateful met defeat, there is no debt we owe J.E.B. Stuart or Nathan Bedford Forrest that needs to be remembered, and if they are put away we will become more morally consistent, not less, in how we think about that chapter in our past.

“But just as Jefferson’s memorial wasn’t built to celebrate his slaveholding, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs wasn’t named for Wilson to honor him for being a segregationist. It was named for him because he helped create precisely the institutions that the school exists to staff — our domestic administrative state and our global foreign policy apparatus — and because he was the presidential progenitor of the idealistic, interventionist worldview that has animated that foreign policy community ever since.”

 

— “The Ghost of Woodrow Wilson,” by Ross Douthat, The New York Times, June 30, 2020

 

 

 

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Bret Stephens: My basic criterion when it comes to deciding whether a statue should stay or go is whether the person on the pedestal worked for or against a more perfect union, to borrow that beautiful phrase from the preamble to the Constitution. Figures like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee should come down because they worked for disunion, not union. On the other hand, I’m appalled by the defacement of the magnificent Robert Gould Shaw memorial in Boston, which commemorates the bravery of one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army, just as I’m disgusted by the protesters who pulled down the statue of Ulysses Grant in San Francisco. … We need to find a way to balance present-day moral judgments with some appreciation that the past is another country.

“As for [Andrew] Jackson, my view is that, on balance, he worked for a more perfect union. This is in no way to deny the fact that he was a slaveholder or ignore his atrocious role in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. But the modern Democratic Party, with its profoundly egalitarian impulses, would have probably been impossible without Jackson. And the Union might have perished long before Abraham Lincoln came to power if Jackson hadn’t opposed nullification and its champion, John C. Calhoun, as forcefully as he did.

Gail Collins: … all those founding fathers from Virginia who fought for their liberty while owning slaves. They knew slavery was evil — as Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” But Jefferson didn’t do anything about it either. …

“But about Jefferson? We celebrate the Declaration of Independence, but does that mean we celebrate the author? Who wanted a nation that was free for white people but protected the right of slave owners to keep and control their property forever? Great men are never perfect, but how do we decide if their good outweighs the bad?

Bret Stephens: I put a lot of weight in what Abraham Lincoln said of the third president: ‘All honor to Jefferson — to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.’ … Great public men are often horrid private men.”

 

— “Is Statue-Toppling a Monumental Error?” by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, The New York Times, June 30, 2020

 

 

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“Each of the Rushmore presidents furthered the ennobling sentiments of men who tried to fashion a democracy from a revolution. Some may never forgive Washington for his slave ownership. But among the nine presidents who owned slaves, only Washington freed them all in his final will.

“He also kept the United States from becoming a monarchy when the Trumpians of the day wanted to make him king.

“Jefferson was a slaveholding racist who wrote “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. The words outlive, and outshine, the man. …

“Teddy Roosevelt was no friend of the continent’s original inhabitants. But he evolved. His Rough Riders were multiracial warriors. And as the 20th century’s most influential progressive president, he invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him, the first time any president had broken bread with a Black man at the White House. This, at a time when it was difficult for a Black man to get a meal in a restaurant.

“Each of them pushed the revolution closer to an ideal of true equality. And Roosevelt was the first to add universal health care among the truths we hold self-evident.”

 

— “Let’s Finish the American Revolution: Our nation’s founding was a mess of contradictions. We must push America closer to its ideals.” by Timothy Egan, The New York Times, July 3, 2020

 

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    July 4. 2020

the beauty of Walt Whitman’s images

 

 

the beauty of Whitman’s images

 

 

 

This post is in the format of a 24-page essay (downloadable Word document above).

My essay is entitled “The Beauty of Walt Whitman’s Images.”

 

 

from the introduction:

 

I have become well acquainted with Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass through repeated readings — I have committed many lines to memory. From familiarity — and, I suppose one would say, the spiritual comfort Whitman’s poetry gives me — Leaves of Grass has become a sort of Bible for me.

Below is a compilation by me of striking, beautiful, brilliant — so original, and often unique — images that I have culled from Leaves of Grass. I think they prove that Whitman, who is deliberately and studiously non-literary — without affectation and without using common poetic tropes — constantly infuses his poetry with images of startling beauty. That’s the best way I know how to put it.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    June 2020

family separation repost VIII (“Human Rights and the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy”)

 

 

human rights

 

 

The above downloadable Word file contains my compilation of ongoing commentary and statements, from May 2018 to February 2020, in which the Trump administrations’s policy of forced separation of immigrant children from their parents (and vice versa) was subjected to critcism as a human rights abuse.

The document is 56 pages long.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

June 2020

Amy Cooper

 
Responding to a story in The New York Times last week:

 

 

“White Woman Is Fired After Calling Police on Black Man in Central Park: Video of the incident touched off intense discussions about the history of black people being falsely reported to the police.”

by Sarah Maslin Nir

The New York Times

May 26, 2020

 

 

 

I wrote the following comment, which was posted by the Times:

 

This is a very sad outcome. Ms. Cooper should NOT have been fired. Franklin Templeton fired her not because they CARE — it’s a public relations (read, bottom line) issue for them.

I am not a racist; I am the opposite. I think that the story should be told and understood as an example of what blacks undergo when it comes to their “offenses” being reported to the police. Recent examples of black “suspects” being shot and innocent blacks being harassed for being in places where someone decided they should not be horrify me.

Ms. Cooper did not handle the situation well. But this was, as the police noted, basically an argument. (Yes, she did call the police.) I am usually considered polite and un-offensive, yet I have gotten into stupid arguments many times with people in New York … it kind of goes with the territory. Often, it seemed to me that the other person was being overly intrusive or controlling, or taking offense such as when the subway lurched a while ago and I stepped on a woman’s foot, said I am sorry, and she hit me in the back.

Ms. Cooper lost her cool and did not handle the situation well. Mr. Cooper was in the right as far as the leash law is concerned. Ms. Cooper has apologized. That should be sufficient. The punishment does not fit the crime. People in their rush to judgment and to take offense have lost all sense of perspective. She should be enabled to learn from the situation. It appears that she could do so.

Seven people clicked Recommend (Like).

 

 

A reader from San Diego commented: “She lost more than her cool. She accused him of threatening her life. Your response screams entitled white privilege.”

 
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I will leave it there. Anything else I might write here will subject me to angry and probably snide comments and accusations of being a racist.

But I recommend reading my prior post:

 

 

Thoughts Concerning “Repression of Discourse”

 
https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/02/05/thoughts-concerning-repression-of-discourse/

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 31, 2020

family separation repost VII

 

 

Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy – Washington Post 4-10-2019

 

The following is a new addition to my family separation posts (downloadable Word document above):

 

 

Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy

By Salvador Rizzo

The Washington Post

April 10, 2019

 

 

It’s a very important piece of news analysis which encapsulates what was wrong with the Trump administration’s family policy and how deviously it was implemented and defended — as we see here, by Trump himself. Such deviousness and dissembling were characteristic in varying degrees of architects and defenders of the policy such as Stephen Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

more consolatory music

 

 

 

 
Mozart, Ave verum corpus (Hail, true body), K. 618, a motet in D major, composed in 1791.

Posted here as befitting the times; and in loving memory of my father, Alan Wright Smith, a church organist, who had a particular affection for this piece.

 

 
— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

 

 

 

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Ave verum corpus, natum
de Maria Virgine,
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine
cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.

 

 

Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!

family separation repost VI (Family Separation: A Daily Diary)

 

 

Family Separation – A Daily Diary

 

 

In my post “Family Separation: A Daily Diary” (downloadable Word document above), I provide a day to day account — from March 3, 2017 to March 30, 2020 — of how the Trump administration’s family separation policy, which was at first implemented secretly, was implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, became public, caused outrage, was supposedly rescinded, and was still carried on by various administration stratagems; and of the horrors of trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, which is a way of saying: reunite children who were not accounted for or kept track of by the administration with their parents.

The document is 186 pages long.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    July 2020

I hope this music brings peace.

 

 

 

 
Anne Sofie Von Otter

 
“Like an Angel Passing Though My Room”

 

 

 

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The sadness I often feel now — today and many other days — is palpable, physically.
For many reasons. Including the obvious ones, meaning what we are all going through.

 
Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

morning thoughts

 

 

 

The following is the text of an email from me this morning to my friend Clare Bruyère, an emeritus professor of American literature who lives in Paris. I feel that it is not too personal for me to post it.

 

 

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Thank you very much for your comments, Claire.

I have gotten hardly any feedback or compliments on my family separation posts. …

NYC and Manhattan are depressing — not the same city.

I hate “social distancing” — though I am not in a position to say what must be done, and realize it is necessary, but, I feel that — as a few, very few, commentators have pointed out — people need closeness to people just as they do sunlight and oxygen.

Many commentators are extolling, and advising us upon, the glories of things such as virtual gatherings and parties; interacting remotely; working with colleagues and attending concerts and cultural events from home; and abolishing “old fashioned,” retrograde things such as the handshake.

These moribund social engineers and would be “reformers” have no conception of what makes us human, and what is required for maintaining a feeling of wellbeing.

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 14, 2020