Tag Archives: Civil War

Our nation will survive — and flourish

Make no mistake about it: I am alarmed at the accelerating crisis in Washington, D.C.

Some Republican lawmakers, such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, might believe that “no one outside the D.C. Beltway cares” about Russia and Donald J. Trump’s alleged involvement with the nation’s pre-eminent adversary. I, though, do care about it. So do millions of other Americans, senator; you’re just not listening to us.

Does my alarm extend to my fear for the resilience of this system of government of ours? No. Not for an instant.

I remain an eternal optimist that we’ll get through all of this, no matter what the special counsel’s report reveals to us. Robert Mueller could exonerate the president of any wrongdoing. Or he could lay out a smorgasbord of questions that call into fact-based suspicion about the president’s fitness for the job.

Whatever happens, I feel compelled to remind us all that this country has survived equally serious — and more serious — crises throughout our history. We endured the Civil War; we engaged in two worldwide wars; we also endured a Great Depression; we have watched our political leaders gunned down by assassins; Americans have rioted in the streets to protest warfare; we witnessed a constitutional crisis bring down a president who resigned in disgrace; we have entered an interminable war against international terrorism.

Through it all we survived. The nation pulled itself together. It dusted itself off. It collected its breath. It analyzed what went wrong. The nation mobilized.

Our leaders have sought to unite us against common enemies. We responded.

Here we are. The special counsel is preparing — I hope — to conclude a lengthy investigation. There have been deeply troubling questions about the president’s conduct. One way or another I expect the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to answer those questions. They might not be to everyone’s satisfaction. Indeed, I can guarantee that the findings will split Americans between those who support the president and those (of us) who oppose him.

But we’re going to get through it. We might be bloodied and bruised. It might take some time to heal.

It’s going to happen.

The founders knew what they were doing when they crafted a government that they might have known — even then — would face the level of crisis it is facing today.

The Civil War plaque is coming down! Yes!

Texas Republicans must be smitten with a rash of reason and sanity.

The GOP-influenced State Preservation Board that oversees the Texas Capitol grounds has voted to remove a plaque that declares that the Confederacy did not launch a “rebellion” that started the Civil War and that the bloody conflict’s “underlying cause” was not to “sustain slavery.”

Of course it was to allow states to keep slaves and it most certainly was a “rebellion” ignited by the Confederate States of America.

The plaque was installed by the Children of the Confederate Creed. It had been the subject of a yearlong string of complaints from those who called it historically false.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who chairs the board, called for the plaque’s removal, as did House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. State Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican who was just appointed to the board by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, said, “If I had a sledgehammer in my office, I’d go up there right now and remove it. But I’m told that’s not necessary as it will be removed very soon.”

There you have it. Reason has prevailed.

The plaque needs to come down. Thank goodness it will.

This plaque is a museum piece

The presumptive speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is making his presence felt even before the next Legislature convenes.

Republican Dennis Bonnen has joined the chorus of those who want to remove a plaque in the State Capitol Building that declares that the Civil War was “not a rebellion” and that its “underlying cause (was not) to retain slavery.”

Duh! Of course it was to keep allowing people to enslave fellow human beings. And, yes, it was a rebellion by 13 states comprising the Confederate States of America to separate from the United States of America.

Bonnen has joined Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a fellow Republican, in calling for the removal of the plaque. Indeed, Gov. Greg Abbott — yet another GOP officeholder — has assigned a board in charge with managing state grounds to consider whether to remove the plaque. Abbott’s decision comes after Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled that the board has the authority to remove the plaque if it sees fit to do so.

The plaque contains text under the heading “Children of the Confederacy Creed.” It revises history to suggest that the Civil War, which began when Confederates opened fire on the Union garrison stationed in Charleston, S.C., was not a rebellion. It most certainly was!

As for the slavery issue, the CSA formed to preserve what it called “states’ rights,” which included the “right” for citizens to keep owning slaves, denying fellow human beings any semblance of citizenship.

According to the Texas Tribune, state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, whose office is next to the plaque, wrote Texas Historic Preservation Board, telling the agency that the plaque “is not historically accurate in the slightest, to which any legitimate, peer-reviewed Civil War historian will attest.”

Yep, the plaque needs to come down. As George P. Bush stated in a tweet, “these displays belong in museums, not in our state capitol.”

Yes, we’re in trouble, but it’s not a mortal danger

Count me as one of millions of Americans who is concerned about the state of politics, policy and public discourse in this great country of ours.

Do not count me as one who fears for its survival. We’re going to survive and perhaps even prosper once we get past what is happening at this moment.

The president of the United States appears to be in trouble. Investigators appear to be closing in on some serious misdeeds; they might include criminal charges leveled against Donald Trump and his immediate family.

The president is lashing out, blasting and smashing at his foes. He disparages our intelligence community, our laws enforcers, our duly elected representatives who happen to disagree with the manner in which he governs.

There might be an impeachment on our horizon. Or not.

The United States has endured many more difficult circumstances than what we’re enduring now. We’ve been through two world wars, a Great Depression, the Civil War, political corruption of all stripes and types. We have impeached two presidents already and damn near impeached a third, who then quit the presidency just as the impeachment was about to occur.

I remain an eternal optimist in the beauty of the government our founders created in the late 18th century. It contains some marvelous self-correcting mechanisms. We have elections every couple of years. We get to vote on House membership every other year; we vote on a third of the Senate at that time. We vote for president every four years and we limit a single president to two elected terms.

Congress can block a president’s impulses. The federal court system is empowered to rule on the constitutionality of congressional or presidential actions.

The system works.

Are we in dire peril over what may transpire in the coming year, or perhaps in the coming weeks? I don’t believe we are. I believe instead that the system will hold up. It will rattle and clank at times. Ultimately it will protect all Americans.

I am keeping the faith in the wisdom of those founders. They knew what they were doing.

Beto seeking to channel Honest Abe?

I already have declared my belief that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke shouldn’t run for president of the United States in 2020. My belief is that he doesn’t yet have the seasoning or the experience to take on such a monstrous responsibility.

But then . . .

A thought occurs to me.

Another American politician lost a bitter campaign to the U.S. Senate and two years later he, too, was elected president.

Abraham Lincoln, anyone?

Lincoln ran for the Senate from Illinois, but lost to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. The failed Senate candidate already had served in the U.S. House, but decided to push for higher office.

Having lost that bid, Lincoln licked his wounds — and then decided to go for an even bigger prize in 1860. That year he was elected president, but after he was nominated by the Republican National Convention on the third ballot. It was a struggle to win the party nomination. Lincoln’s presidency would prove to be the ultimate trial by fire, with the nation ripped apart by the Civil War.

OK, let’s hit the fast-forward button for a moment.

Does this sound like a scenario that Beto O’Rourke might follow were he to declare his own presidential candidacy? Democratic party activists and big-money donors say they want him to consider it. They like the young man’s energy and the passion he infuses into his supporters. He damn near beat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in heavily Republican Texas earlier this month and that has Democrats all agog over his future.

The Washington Post reports that O’Rourke’s near-success in Texas has turned the Democratic primary outlook into a chaotic mess.

O’Rourke, who’s finishing his term as a congressman from El Paso, will enter private life and just might consider whether to make the plunge yet again, only reaching for the very top rung on the ladder.

Or . . . he might decide to take on Texas’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, in 2020.

I remain a bit dubious about O’Rourke’s presidential timbre.

However, I am somewhat heartened to realize that there’s precedent for what the young man might decide to do. If he hears the voice calling him to run for the Big Job, he might do well to look back on Honest Abe’s effort two-plus centuries ago. It might give him the strength to plunge ahead.

Megyn Kelly gets the boot she deserves

Now I get it. I am ashamed of my ignorance on the hideous history behind “blackface,” but I have been educated.

I want to stipulate that I’ve never accepted or laughed at blackface performances. I have known all along how insensitive and inciteful — and profoundly offensive — it is. I just didn’t appreciate fully the extent of its offensiveness.

Until now.

Megyn Kelly, the broadcast journalist who became a media superstar over her questioning of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s treatment of women, now has joined the Media Hall of Infamy for her on-air remarks regarding blackface.

Kelly said she saw nothing wrong with people smearing black grease paint on their face to make them “appear black.” The reaction to her remarks was ferocious. NBC canceled her morning talk show. Her future now in broadcast journalism is, shall we say, in serious doubt.

I have learned about how African-Americans have perceived blackface performances by entertainers, how they have demeaned an entire race of people. They portrayed African-Americans as subhuman, as cartoon characters. I now know about how this practice pre-dates the Civil War, a bloody 19th-century conflict fought over the issue of slavery and that euphemistic issue of “states’ rights.”

I once rooted for Megyn Kelly to succeed after she changed networks, moving from Fox to NBC. Her new employers saw a great deal of potential in their new hire. Her weekday morning talk show struggled with ratings. Her future was getting a bit tenuous even without this outburst of anger over her on-air thoughtlessness.

Do I believe Kelly is a hateful racist? No, I don’t. However, she has painted herself (pun intended) as an individual who clearly needed an education on a behavior that long ago has been tossed onto the trash heap.

Her popping off in front of an entire nation about how blackface is no big deal exemplifies a level of ignorance that has no place on a major broadcast network.

Gen. Lee and Gen. Washington equal? Nope

I received a scolding today from someone I respect very much. We’re connected on social media; he read a blog item I published and then reminded me of something I feel the need to challenge — respectfully, of course.

My blog item mentioned that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was a traitor to the United States when he led soldiers into battle against forces fighting to preserve the Union.

My friend then responded by telling me that Gen. George Washington also committed an act of treason by rebelling against England in the 18th century. Gen. Washington led his army against the soldiers fighting for The Crown. Had the colonists lost the American Revolution, he said, they would have been hanged.

This argument comes forward every now and then by those who seek to defend Gen. Lee against those — such as me — who contend that he committed treason by siding with the Confederates in their effort to split the country apart.

I am not going to put words into my friend’s mouth, but surely he doesn’t equate the two acts of rebellion.

Had the revolution failed, we well might be speaking with British accents and paying exorbitant taxes without having any say in how much we should pay.

And if the Confederates had won the Civil War, they would have created a nation that allowed for the continued enslavement of human beings.

There really isn’t a scintilla of moral equivalence, in my eyes at least, between the struggles. The revolution produced a nation built on the concept of freedom and liberty for all; the Declaration of Independence delivers out a long list of grievances that the founders sought to be eliminated. The Civil War erupted because some states wanted the authority to determine whether they could keep human beings in bondage.

I’m not sure what my friend is suggesting. Surely he doesn’t intend to equate one with the other.

I need to stipulate, too, that had the founders failed to create a nation after the revolution, there might have been scant reason for immigrants to travel across the ocean to the Land of Opportunity. My grandparents would have stayed in Greece and Turkey. My parents wouldn’t have met. I wouldn’t have been born.

Many millions of Americans had skin in that revolutionary game.

Therefore, I’m glad the founding fathers rebelled against the king.

Robert E. Lee: ‘great general’ — who also committed treason

Donald J. Trump just cannot bring himself to say what many of his fellow Americans already know.

He praises Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee as a “great general.” He doesn’t include that Lee was a traitor to his nation.

Lee led the Confederate army during the Civil War, which was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America.

Gen. Lee chose to side with his native Virginia, which seceded from the Union and joined the fight to take down the United States of America.

Yet the president keeps heaping praise on Lee’s military prowess. Sure, he was a brilliant military strategist and tactician.

But … he also was a traitor.

Campaigning in Ohio, Trump took up for Lee in front of an audience ancestors well might have fought against Lee’s Confederate troops. But, hey, he was a “great general,” according to the president.”

You’ll recall that Trump was critical of efforts in Charlottesville, Va., to remove a statue of Lee from a public park. He also then, hideously, condemned the violence that erupted this past year, laying blame on “both sides.” He also said there were “fine people, on both sides”; one of those sides comprised white nationalists, Ku Klux Klansmen and neo-Nazis.

So the president circles back to praising Robert E. Lee. A “great general”? Sure. He also betrayed  his country.

Yes, on renaming Virginia highway!

Good job, Alexandria (Va.) City Council.

The council has yanked the name of an American traitor off a highway that runs from Arlington to Richmond.

It thoroughfare was formerly known as the Jefferson Davis Highway. Its new name will be the Richmond Highway.

Jefferson Davis, of course, was the president of the Confederate States of America. The CSA decided in 1861 to declare war against the United States of America. Confederate artillery gunners then opened fire on the Union garrison at Fort Sumpter, S.C.

Thus, the Civil War began. It would end four years later with roughly 600,000 men dying on battlefields throughout the North and South.

Jefferson Davis’s complicity in launching that war is beyond dispute. He was a traitor to the nation. Do we honor such individuals? Should we honor them? Of course not! Indeed, a school in Richmond will be renamed in honor of Barack H. Obama, after carrying the name of Confederate Army Gen. (and another traitor) J.E.B. Stuart.

As The Hill reported: There has been a massive push to rename markers and landmarks named after members of the Confederacy following the Charleston shooting and the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacy rally last year.

Accordingly, the Arlington City Council has just struck down one more tribute to an infamous historical figure.

Stars & Stripes vs. Stars & Bars

NOCONA, Texas — It caught our eye as we zipped past along U.S. 82.

Someone was flying two flags on a staff on the north side of the highway: the Stars and Stripes and the Stars and Bars.

Then came the discussion between my wife and me. How can someone fly those two flags, proclaiming allegiance to two disparate symbols? she asked.

Good question. I don’t have a clear answer, because I don’t believe the answer is readily available.

Indeed, the flag at the top of the flag pole — Old Glory — represents the United States of America. All 50 of them these days. The national flag symbolizes a unity of spirit, a common purpose, a sense of oneness. It is meant to provide a beacon of hope to those who aspire to live in the land that is a beacon of freedom and individual liberty.

As for the second flag on that pole, to me it represents something quite different. The Stars and Bars symbolizes the Confederate States of America. In 1861, those 13 states withdrew from the United States of America. Then Confederate fighting men launched an artillery barrage against the Union garrison in Charleston, S.C., harbor.

The Civil War was on. It killed roughly 600,000 Americans, making it the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history.

The soldiers and sailors who fought under that Confederate flag fought to preserve human enslavement. They sought to topple the United States of America. They fought against the Union. They wanted to create a separate nation, one that allowed states to determine who is entitled to the full fruits of citizenship and who should be kept as slaves.

I get that Texas was one of those states that sent troops to fight against the United States. I do not know what’s in the heart of the family is displaying those two flags just east of Nocona, a community known as a place that produces world-class cowboy boots.

We just were taken aback — perhaps for the first time in our lives — at the sight of two flags flying from the same staff. We just wondered how one can fly two symbols that stand for diametrically opposite principles.