1. Civil War progressive smugness is starting to get to me...Netflix is showing “Cold Mountain,” which I only saw in a redacted version on my flight home from Mongolia in 2003. This time, it struck me completely differently. The film adaptation of the novel about the suffering of ordinary Southerners during the Civil War reminded me how arrogant, ignorant and smugly cruel the social justice warriors are who want to topple all monuments to and memories of what half of this country endured, frequently with great courage, during a war that was infinitely more nuanced than “Pro-slavery vs Anti-slavery.”
Near the center of Old Town Alexandria, about 15 minutes from my home, was a statue of an unnamed Confederate soldier that stood at the intersection of two major streets. It was hauled away last summer at the peak of the George Floyd Freakout with nary a defender in the local media. The average soldier for the South, as “Cold Mountain” makes clear, wasn’t a supporter of slavery, didn’t own slaves, and was just following the decisions of state leaders who believed, quite correctly, that their states had every right to leave the U.S. when they felt it was in their best interests. Lincoln’s refusal to let them do so was legally wrong but ethically and pragmatically correct, but that doesn’t mean that the common man siding with states he regarded as his “country” were evil, traitors, or without character. The common Confederate soldiers, along with their families, were victims in many ways, and, as Mrs. Loman says, “Attention should be paid.” A statue commemorating their experiences, exploits and suffering is not only appropriate but valuable.
“Cold Mountain” made my mind flash back to this post, in which a social justice warrior baseball writer, Craig Calcaterra, mocked the opposition to Virginia tearing down Lee’s famous statue in Richmond by writing, “The only sad part of this is that, now that the statue is gone, how will we ever know what happened in the Civil War? I mean, that’s what those things were all about, right? At least according to a lot of people on the right who are so enthralled with monuments to racists and traitors.”
Calcaterra proved in that statement that HE doesn’t know what happened in the Civil War.
2. In case there is any doubt, pro-Trump “whataboutism” is exactly as obnoxious as anti-Trump “whataboutism.” A reader of Ethics Alarms sent me an email reacting to Sunday”s post about the “Fuck Biden” outbreak. She suggested that I was hypocritical, asking “Did you complain about the ‘Fuck Trump’ phenomenon?” and accusing me of a double standard. Nah, I never complained about the endless disrespect and calumny heaped on President Trump—I only wrote about it constantly from November, 2016 to the present! To use one of my Dad’s favorite expressions, the email made me “hit the roof,” so I wrote back in part,
“How about reading my extensive criticism of the treatment of Trump from 2016 on? It takes a lot of gall, and laziness, to default to “whataboutism” when you don’t have the context of the post, have not bothered to follow the blog, nor to take the time to research your question. I even gave you the relevant tag. I don’t think you even read the post! What part of…
‘In Donald Trump’s case, the aura, the armor, the respect and deference that the Presidency must have to work was stripped away, by the “resistance”/Democratic Party/mainstream media alliance that set out to undermine and neutralize his Presidency. The damage to the office done by Carter had been substantially repaired by 16 years of two Presidents who knew how to act Presidential (Reagan and Obama), 12 years of the Bushes, who held on to the office’s strengths for dear life, and one disgrace (Clinton), who was charismatic and canny enough to minimize the damage he inflicted on the Presidency. All of that was wiped away by the campaign of hate and debasement heaped on Trump, reaching such a pitch that the Speaker of the House ostentatiously tore up his State of the Union message on live television.‘
…don’t you understand? If that doesn’t answer your question, you have cognitive problems. So I assume you skimmed the post, or just defaulted to knee-jerk MAGA defensiveness.”
To her credit, she apologized, and admitted that she hadn’t read the post carefully.
3. We could call it “The American Civil Liberties Union,” or something like that...You know what this country needs? A non-partisan, fair, dedicated non-profit advocacy groups that fights for free speech and personal liberty regardless of whose rights are being abused. Glenn Greenwald has delivered a deft smoking gun proving, hardly for te firts time, the ACLU’s hypocrisy, noting that “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) surprised even many of its harshest critics this week when it strongly defended coercive programs and other mandates from the state in the name of fighting COVID. ‘Far from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties,’ its Twitter account announced…What makes the ACLU’s position so remarkable — besides the inherent shock of a civil liberties organization championing state mandates overriding individual choice — is that, very recently, the same group warned of the grave dangers of the very mindset it is now pushing. In 2008, the ACLU published a comprehensive report on pandemics which had one primary purpose: to denounce as dangerous and unnecessary attempts by the state to mandate, coerce, and control in the name of protecting the public from pandemics.”
4. Is sanity on the horizon? Probably not, but faithful reader Curmie sent this encouraging piece by Randall Kennedy from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The key quote:
‘It does no favor to students to spare their feelings if doing so comes at the expense of valuable education. Professor Stone concluded that vocalizing the N-word was “useful” but inessential. In my view, “useful” instruction should be pursued. Lawyers and judges frequently encounter distressing sights and sounds as part of their professional responsibilities. Every year, in hundreds of cases, “nigger” is heard in courts. It figured prominently in one of the most infamous murder trials of the 20th century — the O.J. Simpson case. A lawyer who becomes distracted or depressed upon hearing “nigger” or any other slur is a lawyer with a glaring vulnerability. I would hope that part of what a law school would impart to students are techniques of self-mastery that will enable them to manage their feelings in order to assist optimally the people and institutions that will rely upon them for guidance.”