My Brother’s Keeper ..

I recently asked my son if I should be “my brother’s keeper.”  He answered that it is an ethical question … the practice of doing the “right thing” … a question of morality.  If something or someone is in distress the correct thing, the moral thing to do, is for an empathetic human being to grant that distress as much relief as one can.  It is a personal decision, an act of compassion given freely … for Christians as well as most religious believers a manifestation of the “Golden Rule.”  (Do unto others as you would have done unto you.)

When the State addresses a distress with its largess, our tax money, it is trying to do the correct  moral thing, but its actions are unethical.  The State is using my tax money and yours in a manner with which we do not necessarily agree, often doing things with which you and I might violently disagree.  When we allow an elected official or bureaucrat to address some distress, often very distant from us, with our tax money, that which should be ethical becomes unethical and that attempt at a moral service becomes  immoral.  The providers are being robbed of their labors without their consent and the receivers a given a largess that they did not deserve.

This venture into understanding what is right or wrong was precipitated  by the horrible flooding tragedy presently afflicting south Texas.  The people of that area knew and have always known that they were in harm’s way of horrible tropical weather.  After the storm impacted the area, there was true ethical behavior there manifested by the hundreds of boats and water vehicles that private individuals brought from great distances to help the stranded populace.  A true neighbor to neighbor, moral miracle.  But as to the affected inhabitants, they should have protected themselves by sighting of their homes properly or by buying insurance to mitigate the damage that they knew or should have known threatened their way of life.  Now they expect us, through the Federal government, to compensate them for their losses.  If the government bails them out, they have absolutely no incentive to change their style of living.  They will just rebuild like before and settle down to wait for the next inundation, the damage from which they know the Federal government will bail them out.  A totally unethical and immoral situation.

When I started this blog, one the earliest essays that I presented, “The Sockdolager,” which I re-present here probably explains this situation better than anything I have ever read.  I hope that “The Sockdolager” affects you as strongly as it did me.

So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.”

 

Attributed to:

Horatio Bunce

 

 

Sockdolager

 

A Tale of Davy Crockett

CROCKETT was then the lion of Washington. I was a great admirer of his character, and, having several friends who were intimate with him, I found no difficulty in making his acquaintance. I was fascinated with him, and he seemed to take a fancy to me.

I was one day in the lobby of the House of Representatives when a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support … rather, as I thought, because it afforded the speakers a fine opportunity for display than from the necessity of convincing anybody, for it seemed to me that everybody favored it. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose. Everybody expected, of course, that he was going to make one of his characteristic speeches in support of the bill. He commenced:

“Mr. Speaker–I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living.

“I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.

“Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount.

“There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them.

“Sir, this is no debt. The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Like many other young men, and old ones, too, for that matter, who had not thought upon the subject, I desired the passage of the bill, and felt outraged at its defeat. I determined that I would persuade my friend Crockett to move a reconsideration the next day.

Previous engagements preventing me from seeing Crockett that night, I went early to his room the next morning and found him engaged in addressing and franking letters, a large pile of which lay upon his table.

I broke in upon him rather abruptly, by asking him what devil had possessed him to make that speech and defeat that bill yesterday. Without turning his head or looking up from his work, he replied:

“You see that I am very busy now; take a seat and cool yourself I will be through in a few minutes, and then I will tell you all about it.” He continued his employment for about ten minutes, and when he had finished he turned to me and said:

“Now, sir, I will answer your question. But thereby hangs a tale, and one of considerable length, to which you will have to listen.” I listened, and this is the tale which I heard:

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SEVERAL YEARS AGO I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. When we got there, I went to work, and I never worked as hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But, in spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way.

The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done. I said everybody felt as I did. That was not quite so; for, though they perhaps sympathized as deeply with the sufferers as I did, there were a few of the members who did not think we had the right to indulge our sympathy or excite our charity at the expense of anybody but ourselves. They opposed the bill, and upon its passage demanded the yeas and nays. There were not enough of them to sustain the call, but many of us wanted our names to appear in favor of what we considered a praiseworthy measure, and we voted with them to sustain it. So the yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.

The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off; I did not know what might turn up, and I thought it was best to let the boys know that I had not forgot them, and that going to Congress had not made me too proud to go to see them.

So I put a couple of shirts and a few twists of tobacco into my saddlebags, and put out. I had been out about a week and had found things going very smoothly, when, riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other; I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly, and was about turning his horse for another furrow when I said to him: “Don’t be in such a hurry, my friend; I want to have a little talk with you, and get better acquainted.”

He replied: “I am very busy, and have but little time to talk, but if it does not take too long, I will listen to what you have to say.”

I began: “Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and … ”

“Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.”

This was a sockdolager, so I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

“Well, Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the Constitution to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.”

“I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.”

“No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown, Is that true?”

“Certainly it is, and I thought that was the last vote which anybody in the world would have found fault with.”

“Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?”

Here was another sockdolager; for, when I began to think about it, I could not remember a thing in the Constitution that authorized it. I found I must take another tack, so I said:

“Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.”

“It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of, it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff; which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he.

“If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000.  If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other.

“No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief

“There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.”

I have given you an imperfect account of what he said. Long before he was through, I was convinced that I had done wrong. He wound up by saying:

“So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.”

I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I did not want to. But I must satisfy’ him, and I said to him:

“Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it full. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said there at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.”

He laughingly replied: “Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.”

“If I don’t, said I, I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say, I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.”

“No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.”

“Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name.”

“My name is Bunce.”

“Not Horatio Bunce?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me; but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend. You must let me shake your hand before I go.”

We shook hands and parted.

It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain; no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

I have told you Mr. Bunce converted me politically. He came nearer converting me religiously than I had ever been before. He did not make a very good Christian of me, as you know; but he has wrought upon my mind a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and upon my feelings a reverence for its purifying and elevating power such as I had never felt before.

I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him — no, that is not the word –I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted — at least, they all knew me.

In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

“Fellow citizens –I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.”

I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation as I have told it to you, and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying: “And now, fellow citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error. It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit of it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.”

He came upon the stand and said: “Fellow citizens –It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.”

He went down, and there went up from the crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and left some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.

“NOW, SIR,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in.

“There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men — men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased — a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving; and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

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Friends and Enemies

In an August 18 column for Townhall.com, titled “Alt-Right’s Despicability Doesn’t Make ‘Antifa’ the Good Guys,” Jonah Goldberg attempts to “square the circle” in the debate over the warring factions in the recent Charlottesville, Virginia, riots.

Because the leftwing media are so anxious to paint conservatives and Republicans with the most obnoxious labels they can think of… e.g., racist, bigoted, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, etc… it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get them to wrap their arms around the violent thugs of Antifa, who appear all but indistinguishable from the Red Guards of Chairman Mao’s 1966 Cultural Revolution.

Leftwing demonstrators never show up at pro-abortion or pro-women’s rights rallies armed with lengths of chain, brass knuckles, baseball bats, and clubs with long spikes driven through them, dressed all in black ninja-like costumes and with red and black kerchiefs covering their faces.  But those appear to be the weapons and the costumes of choice for the leftist Antifa thugs who vandalize college campuses across the country while assaulting conservative speakers and denying them their First Amendment rights.

Goldberg reminds us of the violent clashes that occurred between Nazis and communists in the streets of Germany during the 1930s.  He writes, “The Communist International abandoned its position that socialist and progressive groups that were disloyal to Moscow were “fascist” and instead encouraged communists everywhere to build “popular fronts” against the common enemy of Nazism.

Goldberg points out that the alliances of convenience with liberals, progressives, and other social democrats were a great victory for the communists because they reinforced the myth that communists weren’t so bad after all.  They were only members of the leftist coalition that opposed Hitler and his particular brand of bigotry and fascism.  They were acceptable as allies.

What was not widely understood or acknowledged was that, whenever communists succeeded in gaining power anywhere in the world, the first people they killed, jailed, or exiled were their former allies on the political left, as they did in Eastern Europe, Cuba, and elsewhere.

Goldberg explains that, “If you haven’t figured it out yet, this seemingly ancient history is relevant today because of the depressingly idiotic argument about whether it’s OK to equate “antifa”… anti-fascist left-wing radicals… with the neo-Nazi and white supremacist rabble that recently descended on Charlottesville, Virginia.

Here Goldberg leaves us in limbo.  Is he implying that it is “depressingly idiotic” to condemn Antifa as being just as violent and hateful as the KKK, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis?  Or is he suggesting just the opposite?  How many episodes of violence have we seen in recent years that were the result of aggressive actions by the KKK, neo-Nazis, or white supremacists?  They may hold morally repugnant views on race and/or religion, but incidents of violence are few and far between, if they exist at all.

However, episodes of violence on the part of Antifa radicals are numerous.  So, which is the morally superior position?  Is it better to be non-violent while holding morally repugnant views, or is it okay to regularly engage in violent protests while holding equally repugnant views?

Goldberg seems to imply that, to claim moral relevancy between the violent hate-filled forces of Antifa and the neo-Nazis and white supremacists is “depressingly idiotic.”  But is it?  If it is morally superior to elevate hate-filled radical leftists who show up at peaceful protests dressed all in black and armed to the teeth with log chains, baseball bats, and brass knuckles, looking for a violent confrontation, it makes no difference whether the targeted protest is organized by the KKK, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis, or if it is organized by the Salvation Army or the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Goldberg also appears to disagree with President Trump on the question of the makeup of the opposing sides in Charlottesville.  He writes, “The president wants to claim that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the protest and that the anti-fascist radicals are equally blameworthy.”  The odds are that Trump is absolutely correct, even though he and I may be the only two people who feel that way.

Who were the people who were there to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue?  Yes, a few were Klansmen, some were neo-Nazis, and some were white supremacists.  But it is almost a dead certainty that, within that group of protestors, there were some “very fine people,” members of old southern families who revere the southern culture and who honor the memory of their ancestors who fought and died in the Civil War.  In other words, mainstream Americans who might be our next-door neighbors.

On the other hand, many of those who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Red Guards of Antifa were equally fine people, many of them people who were there for no other reason than to show their silent disagreement with those who opposed the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.  They did not arrive at the demonstration with baseball bats or brass knuckles, intent upon physically assaulting those surrounding the statue, but many of their fellow counter-protesters did.

Sadly, many inside and outside the drive-by media have failed to adequately assess the composition of the opposing sides at the Charlottesville riots.  When Trump declared in his Saturday remarks that there were some “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville, he was stating the absolute truth.  What is sad is that liberals, progressives, and the mainstream media have convinced some very fine people, including Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed in the melee, that every one of those protesting the removal of the Lee statue were either Klansmen, neo-Nazis, or white supremacists.  Ms. Bro paid a high enough price when she lost her daughter.  By having her daughter’s death unnecessarily politicized by leftist misinformation, she has been twice victimized.

Controversy, especially violent controversy, often creates strange bedfellows.  For example, when the radicals of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, announced plans to picket the funeral of a local serviceman at a Lutheran church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, the Lutheran pastor managed to inform a local motorcycle club (biker gang?).  Dressed in their “leathers,” the bikers lined the route of the funeral procession and the bereaved family was spared the indignity of having their son’s funeral turned into a political sideshow.

And what will happen when the Muslim share of the U.S. population reaches ten percent, or more, and radical Islamists begin to make more aggressive demands that we alter our American culture to accommodate their murderous culture?  What will be the reaction of the American people if, on a regular basis, we are forced to endure Islamist atrocities such as the three deadly attacks that occurred in Spain and Finland on Friday, August 18?  How will we react when we learn that a young mother pushing a baby carriage in a mall in Indianapolis is stabbed to death by a radical Islamist?  When atrocities of that nature become the “new reality” in the United States, as they have in most countries of Europe, how will we react?

When our law enforcement agencies stand aside, afraid to act because they fear the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center more than they fear We the People, will we stop to administer a litmus test before we cheer on those who take up our side of the battle?  Will we stop to ask the person next to us, are you a Democrat or a Republican?  Are you pro-life or pro-choice?  Are you in favor of same-sex marriage, or do you support only traditional male-female unions?  Did you love Barack Obama, or did you think he was a complete fool?

As hate-filled as those on the political left might be, I seriously doubt that even they would give a hoot about the politics of the person next to them in the coming battle against radical Islam, a person who is willing to risk his/her life in the battle to defeat the greatest evil the world has ever known.

Goldberg concludes by saying, “The antifa crowd has a very similar agenda with regard to traditional American liberalism.  These goons and thugs oppose free speech, celebrate violence, despise dissent and have little use for anything else in the American political tradition.  But many liberals, particularly in the media, are victims of the same kind of confusion that vexed so much of American liberalism in the 20th century.  Because antifa suddenly has the (alt-)right enemies, they must be the good guys.  They’re not.

“And that’s why this debate is so toxically stupid.  Fine.  Antifa isn’t as bad as the KKK.  Who cares?  Since when is being less bad than the Klan a major moral accomplishment?

“In these tribal times, the impulse to support anyone who shares your enemies is powerful.  But it is a morally stunted reflex.  This is America.  You’re free to denounce totalitarians wherever you find them, even if they might hate the right people.”

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

 

 

 

 

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Another Dishonest Conversation

In the wake of the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and subsequent statements of condemnation by President Trump, we hear impassioned calls for an “honest conversation” about race in America from those on the political left.

We’ve heard such demands before, most significantly in the days and weeks after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012; the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014; and the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 2015.  But did we get honest conversation?  No, we got violence in the streets, neighborhoods burning, and Black Lives Matter.  We also got mindless slogans such as “Hands up!  Don’t shoot!” and “What do we want?  Dead cops!  When do we want ’em?  Now!”  There was very little conversation about race, or who is responsible for bringing us to our current level of social discord.

But what are the chances that we will finally have an “honest conversation” about race?  Absolutely none!  And why is that?  The principal reason is that one of our two major political parties, the Democrat Party, could not exist if we were ever to have an “honest conversation” about race.  So, if liberals and Democrats want an honest conversation about race, let’s have one.  I’ll go first.

It is Democrats who gave us slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries; it is Democrats who fought a bloody civil war to protect the institution of slavery; it is Democrats who opposed ratification of the 13th 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, outlawing slavery and giving the former slaves citizenship and the right to vote; it is Democrats who gave us Black Codes and the Jim Crow laws; and it is Democrats who denied aid to families with dependent children so long as an able-bodied male was living in the household, a policy that has literally destroyed the family unit concept within much of the black community.

The Civil War is often referred to as the War between Democrats and Republicans.  My great-grandfather, Johann Detrich Hollrah was a Republican and a farmer in east-central Missouri.  Along with most other German immigrants in Missouri he was passionately opposed to slavery.  And when armed rebellion broke out and his local militia unit was pressed into Union service, he was elected captain of M Company, 27th Missouri Enrolled Militia.

A great many good men, both Union and Confederate, died in that war.  History tells us that some 620,000 men lost their lives and a great many more were wounded.  And while the vast majority of those killed and wounded were called to fight against their will, we cannot escape the fact that all of that Republican blood was spilled in the cause of abolition, while the confederate blood was shed protecting the institution of slavery.  Would today’s Democrats want these facts to be part of the “honest conversation” they clamor for?  Probably not.

Then, in 1866, after being defeated in the war to end slavery, Democrats created a paramilitary auxiliary called the Ku Klux Klan.  The Klan’s purpose was to keep the freed slaves in line and to intimidate them into voting for Democratic candidates.  Over the next 85 years the KKK waged an unrelenting war of terror against blacks and white Republicans.  Tuskegee Institute archives indicate that, between the years 1882 and 1951, some 3,437 blacks and 1,293 whites, nearly all Republicans, were lynched (murdered) by the KKK.  Is this sad chapter in U.S. history being taught in Black History classes?  Would Democrats want these statistics to be part of an “honest conversation” about race?  Not likely.

Along with the violence and the intimidation of the KKK, Democrats in southern legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws and the Black Codes, dictating where and for whom blacks could work, where they could live, where they could eat and sleep, which restrooms and drinking fountains they could use, and where they could sit in movie theaters and on trains and busses.

Democrats would never want a full discussion of the Black Codes and the Jim Crow laws because black children just might figure out for themselves that those humiliations are not part of ancient history.  Their grandparents who are still alive today could tell them about their personal experiences.  But are black children taught the truth of that era in Black History classes?  No, the Democrat-controlled teachers unions will never allow that to happen.  They might say they want an “honest conversation” about race, but that would represent a bit too much honesty.

The Rev. Wayne Perryman is a friend of mine.  He is a black pastor in the inner city of Seattle where he does wonderful work with black kids, attempting to steer them away from lives of crime and the drug culture.  Wayne was also a lifelong Democratic activist.  But then, some of his kids asked him to explain the difference between Democrats and Republicans.  That question sent Wayne to the public library; it also changed his life forever.

When Wayne discovered the role that the Democrat Party had played in the oppression of black people he decided to take action.  He filed suit in the United States District Court for Western Washington on December 10, 2004, demanding a public apology from the Democratic National Committee for more than two centuries of oppression of black people.  The court heard the case but denied the petition on July 22, 2005.  Wayne appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco which upheld the decision of the lower court.  He subsequently filed the case with the U.S. Supreme Court but the high court refused to grant certiorari.

Although the Democratic National Committee was represented by a team of the most expensive lawyers in Washington, they failed to deny any of the assertions contained in Rev. Perryman’s case.  When asked if he filed the lawsuit to punish the Democratic Party, he replied, “Absolutely not.  Most Democrats are unaware of their party’s racist past.  I am convinced that if the truth were known, most modern-day Democrats would demand an apology to distance themselves from the past.  (Party Chairman) Howard Dean is spending a considerable amount of money to keep the truth from being known.”

He went on to say, “I didn’t file this case to hurt Democrats.  I filed it on behalf of the millions of blacks whose voices were silenced by premature death, deaths that were caused by slavery and the era of Terror during Reconstruction and Jim Crow.  Perhaps a victory in the form of an apology will let these tired souls rest in peace and put an end to finding someone to blame for racism in America.”

In a January 9, 2006 letter to the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, and the top leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Rev. Perryman described the extensive research he conducted in preparing his case against the Democrat Party.

He researched the Congressional Record from 1860 to the present, he studied the writing of renowned history professors (both black and white), and he studied Democratic Party platforms from the early 1800s to 1954.  In addition, he reviewed the research of those who produced the books: Without Sanctuary, 100 Years of Lynchings, and added to his library the History Channel’s series on The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow and Reconstruction: The Second Civil War.

Describing his agonizing reaction to his research, he wrote: “The graphic depictions of whites fighting over the private parts of black men (penises, fingers, ears, etc.) after hanging them and igniting them with kerosene, is forever embedded in my mind.  I can still hear the cries of the victims’ wives and children pleading and begging for the lives of their loved ones while Democratic national and local elected officials joined the crowd and cheered.

He also referred to the lynching of a black woman named Mary Turner.  On May 17, 1918, in Valdosta, Georgia, a black woman named Mary Turner announced that she would see to it that the white men who had lynched her husband would be prosecuted.  Turner was nine months pregnant at the time.  She was dragged from her home, tortured, and hanged.  And while she was still alive, hanging from the rope, they cut open her womb.  Her unborn child spilled out onto the ground where they crushed the baby’s skull with the heel of a boot.  Mary Turner laid blame at the feet of those who lynched her husband and she paid for it with her life and her child’s life.

Black people in America have been twice enslaved: once when they were brought from the African continent in the stinking holds of slave ships, and again in the mid-20th century when Democrats decided that, since they could no longer control the lives of blacks through Jim Crow laws and the Black Codes, they could purchase their allegiance with a multitude of social welfare programs.  The first form of slavery was cruel, inhumane, and violent; the latter form of slavery has been far less violent, but equally cruel and inhumane.

It is true, as liberals and Democrats insist, that black people in America are “victims,” but not in the sense that liberals and Democrats would have us believe.  Black Americans are victims of the high expectations offered, but not fulfilled, by white Democrats.  Pride, dignity, and self-respect are not easily come by and the larger population, primarily white people, are totally willing to assist blacks in gaining those qualities.  But that task cannot be accomplished so long as black people continue to squander their political power and influence in exchange for crumbs from the Democratic table.

Okay, Democrats, I’ve had my say.  I’ve started an “honest conversation” about race.  Now it’s your turn.  The ball’s in your court.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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