There are so many important and fascinating things associated with the Fourth of July, and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is one of them. In his autobiography, “Marching Along,” Sousa wrote that he composed the march on Christmas Day, 1896, on board an ocean liner on his way home from a vacation with his wife. He had just learned of the death of David Blakely, the manager of the Sousa Band and was moved to create his most stirring march—which for Sousa is saying a lot— as a personal tribute. He composed the march in his head, not writing any notes down until he arrived in the U.S. The piece was first performed at Willow Grove Park, a Philadelphia suburb on May 14, 1897, and was an instant hit, as you would expect. An Act of Congress in 1987 made it official National March of the United States of America, so I assume that Gwen Berry hates it too, along with the Star Spangled Banner. (Gwen, arrogant and ignorant social justice warrior that she is, was recently exposed as racist and hypocrite with some old tweets that surfaced. Hilariously, she has defended herself by comparing her plight to that of Justice Kavanaugh, as if 1) she had ever defended Kavanaugh when he was being smeared, 2) there was any verifiable evidence against Kavanaugh as opposed to her smoking gun tweets, and 3) there is no distinction between a 35-year old rumor about a distinguished judge’s conduct as a child and published proof of an obnoxious athlete’s character as an adult. But I digress…)
In show biz, and particularly in the theater and the circus, Sousa’s masterpiece is sometimes called “the Disaster March,” because it was once common for theaters and circuses to have their bands or orchestras play it to alert the audience that there was a dangerous emergency, like a fire. (Yes, it is ethical to play “The Stars and Stripes Forever in a crowded theater). The idea was that the number was a code for staff that allowed them to organize the audience’s orderly exit without causing panic. The march was played, for example, during the Hartford circus fire of July 6, 1944.
One of the strangest and oddly fitting coincidences in U.S. history occurred on July 4th, 1826, when two of the primary architects of American independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died within hours of each other.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Since the very first, the holiday has never been celebrated while under such cultural attack. Don’t let the propaganda of America’s haters diminish one of the most glorious and beneficent days in world history.
1. What do we make of this Gallup poll? In a generally confusing set of results, the one stand-out in the recent Gallup poll regarding public’s perceptions of the state of the pandemic was that 57% of Republicans think its over and only 4% of Democrats do. That’s a huge gap, showing an alarming disparity in world view, perception, attitudes and thought process. I tend to view part of the 4% as confirmation bias: conservatives are far more resentful of the State’s incursions on their personal liberties using the virus as a justification (or an excuse) than the totalitarianism-enabling Left. On the other hand, and there are many other hands here, being certain that the pandemic is over is dumb, since if we have learned on thing about the health care “experts,” they have been wrong as often as right. We have also learned that politics has driven the narrative about the virus as much as the facts have. I thought Democrats trusted science, and the GOP doesn’t. That would suggest that the latter would be more wary of the current green lights.
On yet another hand, Republicans tend to be far less risk averse than modern Democrats, adopting the traditional spirit of the nation that Democrats are in the process of rejecting. Gallup does not give the party- affiliation breakdown of the 40% of those polled who say that the nation will never return to normal. I know lots of Democrats who say now that they plan on wearing masks forever, and no Republican. On the OTHER hand, a non-Democrat could easily conclude that we will never return to pre-Wuhan normalcy because power-wielding Democrats will never allow it.
2. Turn your University of North Carolina diploma face to the wall! I’d love to hear an honest, factual, non-ideological defense of this: During a special meeting, the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees voted 9 to 4 in favor awarding the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university’s Hussman School of Journalism, a tenured professorship, to the leader of The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” Nikole Hannah-Jones. Initially the university withdrew it’s tenure offer, replacing it with a five year contract to teach journalism. But the decision was attacked as racist, by Hannah- Jones as well as other usual suspects, and the school backed down. It has now made it clear that an admitted propagandist who has deliberately misrepresented facts to push a political position and repeatedly lied in the process is a worthy tenured professor in journalism. This should tell us all we need to know about what journalism students will learn at UNC, and the quality of journalist the school will be graduating.
Most headlines I read about this nauseating reversal (though giving her any teaching position was nauseating enough) stated that “conservatives” had objected to Hannah-Jones getting tenure. No, historians objected. Respectable journalists objected. Anyone with any integrity whatsoever objected. For its part, the Times described her as a “Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist,’ as if this political award for a falsified piece of anti-American propaganda automatically settles the question of her qualifications. “Today’s outcome and the actions of the past month are about more than just me,” the serial fraud said in a statement on thanking her supporters. “This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers and students.”
But journalists are not free to distort facts and history if they deserve to be trusted, and journalists, as professionals, must be trustworthy. Black writers, researchers and teachers are free to write whatever they choose, but colleges and universities are not obligated to allow them to spread lies, historical distortions and propaganda in the names of those institutions.
3. Because almost everybody is careless and stupid. Sayeth Admiral Josh Painter (Fred Thompson) in “The Hunt For The Red October,” “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.” I keep teaching my legal ethics classes that if they are going to depend on electronic communications and data storage, they must, MUST, be constantly vigilant and update their security and systems regularly, meaning at least every month. If the don’t, they are asking to be hacked, and they will be responsible for the harm it causes to their clients and others.
I might as well be Rooster Cogburn warning the rat…
…because the lawyers pay no attention to me, most of them anyway. And thus it was that a hacker was able to infiltrate the 1,000-lawyer New York City’s Law Department using one worker’s email password. The agency’s database holds evidence of police misconduct, the identities of young children charged with serious crimes, plaintiffs’ medical records and personal data for thousands of city employees, among other secrets; the breach interrupted city lawyers, disrupted court proceedings and thrust some of the department’s legal affairs into disarray. Yet the hack would have probably been prevented if the Law Department hadn’t to implement a basic safeguard known as multifactor authentication more than two years after the city began requiring it.
This level of incompetence and technological negligence is not unusual for government agencies, corporations and law firms. It is frighteningly close to the norm.
4. [Retracted!] This was about a strange article in which the author expressed repeated dislike of the social media site and dating app Tinder, to the extent of making her aging father stop using it to find dates. Based on the writer’s other works, I assumed this was a political bias, but I can’t find any evidence of that, and Tinder doesn’t seem to have one either. So I’m ditching the item, with apologies to all, including Tinder, the writer, and readers.
Dina Gachman’s piece in the Times marriage section is here. (“Vows”).
Thanks to Joe Fowler for the correction.