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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sasse and the Creed

Senator Ben Sasse:


We have a glorious heritage in the American Idea, but we have neglected it at our kids’ peril.

This is the right time for each of us – parents and grandparents, neighbors and patriots – to pause and teach our kids again about universal human dignity and about love of neighbor. This is a time for discussion and education and humility, not intimidation and mobs and midnight wrecking balls. ‎

Let’s teach our kids why our First Amendment Society fights with debate, not violence. Let’s teach them that those standing in threatening mobs don’t stand with America. Let’s teach them that white supremacy is a cancer to our union. Let’s teach them to reject identity politics. Let's teach them that all of us are created equal, with infinite dignity and limitless potential. Let’s teach them that what makes us Americans is not our skin, our wealth, or our religion but our shared creed. ‎

That creed, ironically, was put to paper most profoundly by a very fallen slave-holder, who spoke for the long-term future of America in writing that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights…” We eventually went to war to preserve a creedal “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” And that creed eventually perfected our union from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, with the proclamation that “‎the goal of America is freedom.”

It feels like violence is coming. I'm not sure if this moment is like the summer of '67 or not. But it might be. Before that violence strikes again, it’s up to us to reaffirm that exceptional American Creed again today, with our neighbors, and in our kids' hearts.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump Fires Bannon at the End of a Bad Week

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Inequality Was the Cornerstone of the Confederacy

On March 21, 1861, Alexander H. Stephens frankly explained the basis of the  Confederacy, of which he was vice president. 
The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Moral Treason

In Crisis of the House Divided, Harry Jaffa wrote of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates:
Douglas's crucial statement in his reply to Lincoln was his assertion that Lincoln's question implied that the judges were capable of "moral treason." This, of course, is precisely what Lincoln believed. Not only did he believe the judges capable of moral treason, but he believed they had actually committed it. For Lincoln believed that moral treason consisted, above all, in denying tike proposition that "all men are created equal"
or in denying that this was in fact the foundation of the American constitutional system.
Reading his staff-written statement Monday, Trump recited a line saying that all men are created equal. When he was speaking for himself, however, he said the opposite.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Grant at Appomattox

In 1885, a dying U.S. Grant completed his memoirs in a cottage just outside Saratoga Springs, New York.  Grant recalled Appomattox:
What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Trump, Reagan, and the Klan

Letter to the Chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights Concerning the President's Views on the Ku Klux Klan 
April 30, 1984
Dear Morris:
While in China, I have been distressed to learn that some individuals back home have questioned whether my views on the Ku Klux Klan have somehow changed since 1980. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In 1980, I said that I have no tolerance for what the Klan represents, and would have nothing to do with any groups of that type. If anything, my feelings on this subject have only grown stronger. The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood. Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse.
I firmly believe that there is no room for partisanship on this question. Democrats and Republicans alike must be resolute in disassociating ourselves from any group or individual whose political philosophy consists only of racial or religious intolerance, whose arguments are supported only by intimidation or threats of violence.
We must, and will, continue our unified rejection of such elements of hate in our political life, for while there are many issues which divide us, it is fundamental principles such as this which will always draw us together.
Sincerely,
RONALD REAGAN
[The Honorable Morris B. Abram, U.S.. Commission on Civil Rights, 1121 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20425]

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Don't Be a Sucker

In the wake of Charlottesville, it is worth looking at an old movie. Don't Be a Sucker! is a short that the War Department made in 1943 and re-released in 1947.