It really is amazing: I have already read three references today to George Floyd’s death as a cultural watershed in the U.S. society’s recognition of racial injustice, yet there remains not a single piece of evidence or a logical argument that Floyd’s death had any relationship to his race whatsoever. This was a manufactured narrative that the news media deliberately advanced in flagrant defiance of the facts. I have challenged more indignant progressives than I can count to justify treating Floyd’s death as anything but negligence and brutality by a local cop who should never have been allowed to keep his badge. All they can come up with is that the officer was white, and Floyd was black—in other words, presumed racism based on skin color, which is itself racism, or that the episode had a positive impact, justifying treating it as something it was not. That, of course, is an “ends justifies the means” rationalization.
The ugly episode is a lesson, not in “racial reconciliation,” but in how events can be manipulated for political gain—in this case, involving violent protests and virtual societal extortion— if there is no trustworthy news source to keep the public informed.
Today is also the anniversary of another ethics low in U.S. history. It was on this date in 1861 that President Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus so he could keep a Maryland state legislator locked up on the charge of hindering Union troops.
SCOTUS Chief Justice Taney issued a ruling stating that President Lincoln did not have the authority to suspend habeas corpus, but Lincoln, channeling his inner Andrew Jackson, just defied the Court. Five years later, another Supreme Court case held that only Congress could suspend habeas corpus.
1. The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck misses its biggest target. Good. The giant images of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson carved into Stone Mountain as Confederate nostalgia’s answer to Mount Rushmore have survived the latest effort to tear them down. The Confederate flags at the base of Georgia’s Stone Mountain, placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, will be removed, and new exhibits will offer a more thorough history of the park, including the role the Ku Klux Klan and resistance to desegregation played in its creation. Also good. The thing is a pro-Confederacy monument to be sure, a defiant one, but it also is a piece of history that should be seen, debated and thought about.
Many dedicated historical censors are upset that the mountain art will not be blown up any time soon. arguing that racist anger, not a desire to honor the South’s heroes, inspired the monument’s creation. OK, and so what? It is a vivid historical relic. Fall River’s Joe Aronoski, 82, told the New York Times after touring Stone Mountain, “It’s American history. It shouldn’t be destroyed. What are you going to do? Make-believe the Civil War didn’t happen?”
Well yes, that’s the general idea behind statue-toppling: make believe any events that make some people “uncomfortable” didn’t happen.