Context Does Matter

Critics of the movie “Lincoln” … continue to hammer home a contentious point about the film’s depiction of slavery.  So-called experts are critical of the notion Lincoln freed the slaves(the film never implies this.)    Frederick Douglass is often cited as proof that slaves never cared for Lincoln or his deeds.  Ignoring context, Douglass is cited as the authoritative critic of Lincoln…. “you (white people) are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children.”

Uncanny

Uncanny

This disingenuous, lazy, line of reasoning…  has created a terrible myth about the creation of the civil rights movement.  Failure to place words in a proper context have terrible implications on historical interpretation.  In the same speech, Frederick Douglass explained to his predominately white audience, his true feelings for Abraham Lincoln:

Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined…. infinite wisdom has seldom sent any man into the world better fitted for his mission than Abraham Lincoln.”  Frederick Douglass  April 14, 1876

The hour and the man of our redemption had met in the person of Abraham Lincoln.”

“The hour and the man of our redemption had met in the person of Abraham Lincoln.”

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Fake News and Propaganda

Only those who approve

President Trump continues to attack unflattering coverage of his floundering administration… as fake news.  His response was to launch the blatantly biased Facebook propaganda channel called Trump News AgencyGone is the Fox News pretense of objectivity- this is the President feeding heavily edited stories to willing minions.  The days of Walter Cronkite and the Huntley-Brinkley report are ancient history.

Thomas Jefferson cautioned George Washington about the importance of a free press…. his words should serve as warning to citizens today…

 

“No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth whether in religion, law or politics. I think it as honorable to the government neither to know nor notice its sycophants or censors, as it would be undignified and criminal to pamper the former and persecute the latter.”

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Movie Review- Black Robe

Black Robe- 1991; Directed by Bruce Beresford

BlackRobe1

Too often great films are overshadowed… by inferior productions with slicker marketing, more funding, and appearances by A-list stars.  Such is the case with Bruce Beresford’s moving tragedy, Black Robe.  Released the same year as the stunningly inferior Kevin Costner vanity piece, Dances with Wolves, Beresford’s haunting epic is now relegated to bargain bins and syllabi of Colonial American history courses.

 

Black Robe tells the tale of a 17th century… French Jesuit and his journey deep into the Niagara frontier to a Huron mission.  Cultures clash as the Priest struggles with his own faith during the difficult process of converting the natives.  Father LaForgue (Lothaire Bluteau) is trusted into the care of Algonquins who must guide him on the dangerous mission.  The ensuing journey tries the beliefs of both the indigenous cultures and the Europeans-  exposing their vulnerabilities with the harshness of pre-colonial North America.

Father LaForgue explains the written word

Father LaForgue explains the written word

The film is meticulously researched …presenting authenticity in everything from weapons, customs, to native dialects.  Whereas,  Dances with Wolves portrays the laundry list of politically correct platitudes and simplistic mythology presented as all-too-convenient fact-  Black Robe is  frank; both brutal and poignant in its interpretation of a wondrous and tragic period of history.  Few films have so accurately captured indigenous culture.  Beresford’s underrated masterpiece stands as a testament to the historical and cultural potential of film.

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Facts in Five

Andrew Carnegie edition…

 

  • Carnegie was a member of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club- a group that many historians blame for the infamous Johnstown Flood.  Members of the club purchased the South Fork dam and allowed it to fall into disrepair. 
  • Carnegie was a millionaire by 1869 and vowed to retire from business–a decision that lasted 3 years…when he started making steel.
  • The Homestead Strike (and subsequent violence ) was handled by Carnegie’s close associate, Henry Clay Frick.  Carnegie was visiting his castle in Scotland during the crisis.
  • Though he publicly denounced the amassing of wealth, Carnegie retired in 1901 as the richest man on earth.
  • Carnegie Mellon University was founded on a $2 million grant from Carnegie
Do as I say, not....

Do as I say, not….

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Weekly History News Roundup

Lee descendants grapple with family legacy… the complex issue of monument removal haunts family

 

Wreckage of USS Indianapolis discoveredship sank by Japanese submarine 72 years ago

 

Will Trump resign the Presidency?.many before him have considered it

 

Fruitcake found in Antarctica “practically edible”… was abandoned over 100 years ago by explorer 

 

Civil War Trust acquires 391 acres of battlefields in Virginia... purchase halts significant threat to 3 battlefields

 

Found

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Defining Misdemeanors

Madison and Hamilton allowed the grounds for impeachment of the President… open to necessary judgments and deliberations in the House of Representatives.  Madison’s original draft suggested only the term “maladministration” of the duties of the office.  Later amended to “misdemeanors” it is clear that the Framers were not only discussing indictable crimes- public men of this order would be above petty larceny and the like-  abuse of the office and the neglect of official duty is what concerned them.

You doubt our words?

Hamilton explained the difference in Federalist #65:

“Those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Impeachment applies to political abuses of the office… not necessarily criminal acts.  Delegates at the ratifying conventions were concerned about the President interfering in the legislative or judicial processes.  Madison responded to the concerns by equating such Constitutional misconduct with criminality:

“Were the President to commit any thing so atrocious… he would be impeached and convicted, as a majority of the states would be affected by his misdemeanor.”

Failing to discharge the duties of his office

The President cannot abuse or misuse the powers of his office… without risking impeachment.  The term “misdemeanor” as applied by the Framers establishes a standard extending far beyond simple criminal acts.  Public men should be held to a greater standard.

 

 

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Hubris pt. 3

“Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.”

― Thomas Jefferson

Kyle Sammin correctly surmises in the current edition of  The Federalist… that historical figures are imperfect- the millennial demands of  removing every monument and memorial to historical figures who do not satisfy their modern sensibilities is both foolish and destructive.  Though many of his comments following the Charlottesville violence were divisive and insensitive, Trump’s fear that removing monuments to Confederate generals may lead to the destruction of memorials to our Founders were not far from reality.  Trump’s implication(inadvertent)  is that there is a slippery slope with historical revisionism–    Click on links

These links are the steady progression of arbitrary historical revision… being driven by a generation of social justice warriors completely lacking any semblance of humility.  So-called activists who are convinced they are not only morally superior to their grandparents, but to all previous generations.  This is hubris at its most blatant and dangerous.  Politicians, like Nancy Pelosi pander to these intellectual pipsqueaks by joining in this fool’s chorus- moral redemption through historic erasure.

 

As previously stated in the pages of this blog… there are more appropriate places for Confederate symbols and monuments than government buildings and public squares.  This is a reasonable debate and it should continue.  The slippery slope of historical revisionism is real and we are well on the way down it.  Sadly, legitimate leadership is required during such a crisis of conscience.  We have Donald Trump…..

Confederates in the attic

 

 

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