Setting the record straight

SETTING SOME THINGS STRAIGHT

1. With the tragedy in Charlottesville there has come along a lot of supposed facts about things that are incorrect. I’d like to shed some light on a few of these.

2. One letter writer to the STrib claimed that Andrew Johnson tried to implement Reconstruction as Lincoln had planned. Actually, Johnson was ineffective and was nearly thrown out of office. He was impeached and missed removal by one vote in the Senate. It was Grant who fostered Reconstruction by, among other things, sending Federal troops to the southern states to guarantee voting privileges to the black population.
Unfortunately, Grant’s successor was another Republican (not in the mold of Lincoln), Rutherford B. Hayes. In 1876, Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden, but made a deal with the Democrats in the Congress such that Hayes got the votes to be President in return for pulling Federal troops out of the south. This allowed segregationists to control the southern states and the era of Jim Crow started, and lasted into the 50’s.

3. With the resurgence of white hate groups (KKK, Nazis, Fascists, etc.) all emboldened by Trumps rhetoric during the campaign and now during his presidency, the Lost Cause narrative is enjoying a rebirth. The narrative holds that the southern states seceded in order to preserve their right and honor in the face of an oppressive federal government. This, of course, is pure baloney.
The simple and absolute fact is that the southern states seceded because the south wanted to preserve the institution of slavery. The casus belli of the Civil War was that desire to keep slavery. It cannot be rationally argued otherwise.
As evidence, consider the following:
• “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.” SOUTH CAROLINA DECLARATION OF CAUSES FOR SECESSION, DECEMBER 24, 1860
• “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.” TEXAS DECLARATION OF CAUSES FOR SECESSION, FEBRUARY 2, 1861
• “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.” MISSISSIPPI DECLARATION OF CAUSES FOR SECESSION
• On March 21, 1861, weeks before the attack on Fort Sumter, Alexander H. Davis, Vice President of the Confederate States of America addressed the public in Savannah, Georgia. His speech is known as the Cornerstone Speech. In it he said:
. . . The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the Negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell. . . . Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. . . . look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgement of the truths upon which our system rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws.
• Finally, consider the language of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America:
Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 prohibited the Confederate government from restricting slavery in any way:
“No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
Article IV, Section 2 also prohibited states from interfering with slavery:
“The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.”
Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 afforded protection for slave owners against fugitive slaves: No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs,. or to whom such service or labor may be due.
Article IV, Section 3, Clause 3 offered to slavery in all future territories conquered or acquired by the Confederacy:
“The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several States; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”

4. The alt right and apologists for the Confederacy argue that the monuments to Confederate military officers should not be removed because the monuments honor the men who fought for their beliefs, that they should be treated as any other monument to military heroism. This, of course, ignores the fact that the men like Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, violated the oath they took when they were commissioned in the United States Army, ignores the fact that they took up arms against their country, and ignores the fact that the cause for which they fought was the protection of the institution of slavery.
That aside, consider that the monuments were not raised to honor the Civil War fighting. Rather, the monuments were erected for the most part following the end of Reconstruction and institution of Jim Crow, and also in reaction to the Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s. To quote a friend of mine, “They were not about honoring anyone, they were about showing blacks who was boss. Same with the use of the confederate flag. It was something largely ignored until it became a symbol of southern resistance to civil rights in the 50s.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center did a study of the erection of the monuments and a timeline thereof. It may be accessed at https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/whoseheritage_splc.pdf.
The following chart drawn from the SPLC study shows the numbers by decade. The conclusion is clear from the coordination of the monuments with the timing of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Era.

Public Monuments to the Confederacy, by decade
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center
https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/whoseheritage_splc.pdf
DECADE # MONUMENTS DEDECATED # SCHOOLS NAMED NOTES
1865-1869 12 1865-1877 Reconstruction
1870-1879 24
1880-1889 34
1890-1899 43 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson (“Separate but Equal”)
1900-1909 157
1910-1919 198 2 1915 Klan resurgency
1920-1929 61 8
1930-1939 47 6
1940-1949 19 4
1950-1959 20 18 1954-1968 Civil Rights Era
1960-1969 34 22
1970-1979 15 1
1980-1989 11 2
1990-1999 25
2000-1009 25 1
2010-present 5

More than half of the monuments are on courthouse grounds
The numbers do NOT include some 2,570 battlefield monuments
From around 1896 to 1954 Jim Crow was basically unchallenged

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Murder by Cop

Justine Damond’s homicide is tragic. Homicide without justification is murder. In this instance, a black cop killed a white woman. I cannot imagine any possible justification for this. The cops were in fear for their life when confronted by a white woman in her nightgown who herself had called 911? Really? It was murder.

Nevertheless, I am sure the police union and its lawyers are mightily working to come up with some plausible story and justification to defend the blue line. The system is rigged in favor of cops. The decision of the Supreme Court in the Garner case may be said to allow cops to kill on a whim. As a practical matter, cops are immune from prosecution. It is possible therefore that another murdering cop will be exonerated.

Consider however, what happens if this cop IS convicted of a crime. The situation is this: Numerous white cops who murder black drivers and kids face no prosecution or are acquitted, but the one black cop who murders a white woman is convicted. This provides further and conclusive evidence to the black and minority communities that a rigged system is doubly rigged against them.

If you were a member of a minority community, what would be your reaction?

Hopefully white people will now begin to realize what “Black Lives Matter” is all about.

Be the victim black or white, young or old, male or female, it is outrageous that cops continue to murder. This has to stop.

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On Controversial Art and its Display

Recently, the Walker Art Center placed a sculpture in the Sculpture Garden inspired by gallows, among them those used to hang Native Americans during the Minnesota Indian Wars. The outcry was predictable.
I have wanted to comment on this issue for some time, but have been reluctant to do so because of the vitriolic posts the issue has generated. I am not wanting to castigate anyone or shame anyone, but merely to generate some thoughtful discussion on art in general and this art in particular. The Walker has agreed to dismantle the sculpture.
Those who know me know that I am pretty much a First Amendment absolutist who supports the free exchange of ideas, believing that the best way to combat bad ideas is with good ideas. Shutting down discourse generally has the opposite effect.
Durant’s “Scaffold” is art; as much as Seranno’s “Piss Christ.” Both works were roundly condemned by those who were offended. The point is, however, that art is challenging at times and will cause us to think and consider. “Scaffold” causes us to consider the consequences of history and our use and misuse of capital punishment, and of our collective pogrom against those who are different than us (whoever ‘us’ is). I will not criticize Durant for his work as it does remind me and challenge me concerning our history. So too do the paintings in the Capitol that the Governor tried to suppress. Frankly, if one is offended by a work of art, the artist has probably succeeded in his task. Think about and consider why the offense, what it means to you, and how you might react to the same.
What I will criticize is its placement in the Sculpture Garden, a place of whimsy and recreation. “Scaffold” is out of place next to a giant cherry and blue rooster. There are appropriate places to display such a work, but the Sculpture Garden is not such a place, and the Walker’s management was wrong to place it there.
So, some might ask, “What about the Confederate Monuments, are they not art?” Probably, but they do not belong in public areas. It is okay to put them in some kind of museum if they are properly contextualized. For example, Robert E. Lee’s statue recently taken down in New Orleans could be in a museum with the following caption? “Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Virginia during the Civil War committed treason against the United States and violated his oath as an officer in the U.S. Army in order to lead an army in rebellion, the purpose of which was to defend and extend the institution of slavery.”

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Who?

Who?

January 21, 2017

I watched most of the inauguration yesterday. Trump’s acceptance speech is certainly one to remember, if only for the difference in tone as compared with prior acceptance speeches. No, “With malice towards none . . . .” No, “Ask what you can do for your country.” Rather, “America First” with a fist bump, shame on the elite in Washington, and the promise that the “forgotten people” will be forgotten no more.

I don’t know if Trump will keep his promise to the folks in fly-over land or not. His initial actions and his choices for Cabinet seem to belie that.

It will be interesting to see how the protests go today. Yesterdays’ were marked by violence. Protests are fine and good, but rioting in the streets is not.

Over the course of the campaign, many came to see Trump supporters as racist reprobates who eagerly await the arrival of their KKK membership card and hood. No doubt many may be. But, I suspect that a good percentage of them are pretty much just like the rest of us: White, brown, black, red, yellow, male, female, educated, not particularly educated, a few LBGT, etc. They are not, I think, the “deplorables” vacuously cited by Hillary. May I describe one?

Last weekend, we went to the Chicago area to celebrate Christmas and Molly’s birthday with Geoff et al. On Sunday, we drove home. On the way, we stopped at a Culver’s in Mauston, WI. Mauston is about 75 miles north of Madison on the interstate, is the seat of Juneau County, and has a population of about 4500.  It is fly over. On Sunday’s after church, it seems that Culvers is the place to be for lunch. It was packed. We sat near several tables populated by friends and obvious family members.

One group got up to leave after finishing the burgers and fried fish. The leader of the particular table was a farmer, dressed in his Sunday best; off the rack suit and tie, plain black shoes, nothing stylistic. His grandson who appeared to be about 13 or 14 also wore a coat and tie, and had his hair slicked down and parted on the side. They obviously had been to church. In all, they were good, solid, working citizens – common folk.

On the way out, the farmer got into a conversation with a friend at another table, and in the course of the conversation recounted how a recent windstorm had damaged his barn; part of the roof and one end wall had been taken down. He told his neighbor that he reported the damage to his insurance agent and was told that his policy would cover the loss only if the damage exceeded 60% of the value of the barn. The agent advised him that the company had changed the terms of the contract sometime in the last couple of years. He had been paying some $1500 per year for several years and told the agent that he could have been putting money towards the repair instead of wasting in on an insurance policy that would not cover his loss.

A couple of things struck me. First, he had a bad agent. Why in the world would the agent not have highlighted the contract change? A good agent would have cemented the relationship with his client by working with him to obtain appropriate coverage. Second, what kind of insurance company sells policies that only cover catastrophic losses? Would anyone buy car insurance that would only pay if the car were totaled?

And third, this: Here was a guy, a family man, a church goer, a hard worker, a citizen who values his neighbors and his community, who lives in mid-America in a small town, etc., who has been screwed by those in whom he has placed his trust. Guess who I think he voted for, and why?

Trump has made promises to him and to folks like him. Time will tell if the Donald holds true to that promise.

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19 April – 10 May 2016 Eastern Europe with David and Jane Kostik

About a year ago, we talked with David and Jane Kostik about a trip through Eastern Europe. We had traveled with them to Italy (and saw my relatives) and France. This was to be another opportunity to travel with them, and for Dave to touch base with relatives is Slovakia. We had several planning sessions, and decided on a final itinerary. Ann and I left MSP on the 19th of April, and met Dave and Jane in Berlin as our tour started. Not counting our transfer in Amsterdam, we did 6 countries and 8 cities in just under 3 weeks.

The trip was one of Sightseeing in the cities and Slovakian countryside, Culture and Art in several museums (we saw 5 Vermeers, several Rembrandts, our favorite painting “Sistine Madonna” by Raphael, one of three oils by daVinci “Lady with an Ermine”), Family and Relational as Dave found relatives in Slovakia, Geographic as we learned about Slovakia and it people and history, and Remembrance of the Holocaust as we visited Holocaust memorials in all the cities, and toured the camps at Terezin, Auschwitz, and Birkenau, Schindler’s factory and the ghetto in Krakow.

In addition to the above, we enjoyed a variety of wonderful local food – sausage, veal schnitzel, kraut, dumplings, cheese, bread – and drink – slivovitz both pear and plum, and a lot of local beer both pilsner and porter.

Most of our travel was by train between the cities, but we did drive from Bratislava to Bardejov to Krakow.

This was a trip to remember.

Lest anyone think we dogged it, our itinerary follows:

Berlin (4 nights)

  • Dinner at Brecht’s, Kaiserschmarren dessert
  • Rick Steves’ walking tour
    • Brandenburg Gate
    • Pariser Platz
    • DZ Bank Bldg
      • Gherey designed lobby
    • Memorial to Murdered Jews
      • German government has admitted it was murder
    • Fuhrer Bunker
    • Unter den Linden
    • Babel Platz and Hedwig Church
      • Burned books
    • Neue Wache memorial
    • Berliner Dom
    • Friedrichstrasse
    • National Museum and Nefertiti bust
      • Bucket list for Annie
    • DDR Museum
    • Marx & Engels statue
    • Alexanderplatz
  • Gemaldegalerie
    • Rembrandts, Raphael, and 2 Vermeers
  • Reichstag Dome
  • Bauhaus Museum
  • Brohan Museum

Dresden (day trip on the way to Prague)

  • Zwinger Museum and Gemaldegalerie
    • Rembrandts, Sistine Madonna, 2 Vermeers
  • Frauenkirche
  • Walk along promenade

Prague (4 nights)

  • Rick Steves’ Walking Tour
    • Wenceslas Square
    • Hotel Europa Velvet Revolution
    • Lucerna Arcade
    • Franciscan Garden
    • Mustek
    • NaPrikope Street
    • Municipal House
    • Powder Tower
    • Celetna Street
    • Old Town Square
      • Hus Statue
      • Astronomical Clock
      • Karlova Street
      • Charles IV Square
      • Charles Bridge
    • Mucha Museum
    • St Vitus Cathedral and the Castle
      • Mass at St. George Basilica
    • Terezin (Theresienstadt) Concentration Camp
      • Memorial to the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich
      • Concentration Camp
      • Fortress (Prison and crematory)
        • Sadist guards
      • Jewish Quarter
        • Old New Synagogue (oldest in Europe)
        • nb: Hitler preserved the Jewish Quarter in Prague as what was to be a museum to an extinguished race
      • Prague City Museum, Mucha’s “Slavic Epic”
      • Museum of Communism (hard to find because the Reds don’t understand marketing and advertising)

Vienna (3 nights)

  • Stephen’s Cathedral
  • Klimt search (FG went to Secession Museum and Belvidere Palace)
  • Kunst Historisches Museum
    • Rembrandts, Caravaggio’s, Raphael, Brueghel, Vermeer (our 5th)
  • Ringstrasse Tram Tour
  • Rick Steves’ Walk
    • Climbed the tower at St. Stephens (FG 347 tightly wound circular steps)
    • Peter’s Church
  • Hofburg Palace
    • Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments
    • Albertina Museum
      • Monet, Kandinsky, Marc Chagall
    • The Prater (amusement park with the giant Ferris wheel (“The Third Man”)

Budapest (1 night)

  • Parliament tour
  • Holocaust memorial – shoes by the river
  • Mathias Church and plaza
  • Istvan Cathedral
  • Evening river cruise

Bratislava (1 night)

  • Walked the old town
  • Met Dave’s cousin Maruska and family
  • Castle

Bardejov, Slovakia (3 nights) (travel from Bratislava to Krakow was by car – 503 miles total)

  • A well preserved UNESCO sight for the old town and its walls and basilica
  • World War I cemetery
  • Egidius Cathedral
  • Scenic drive across Slovakia
  • Point of the visit to Slovakia in general and Bardejov in particular was for Dave to find his relatives. His father’s family and his mother’s family came from the region around Bardejov, and we visited several villages and in particular, Becherov. We met and were treated to wonderful hospitality by several of Dave’s relatives. They were as happy to see and have a visit from David and Jane, as David and Jane were to visit them. Ann and I were blessed to be able to tag along. Many thanks to Peter who translated for us.

Krakow (4 nights)

  • Main square
    • Several meals and music
    • Cloth Hall
    • City Tower
  • Mary’s Basilica
  • Fabryka Emalia Oskara Schindlera (Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory) at 4 Lipowa Street
  • The Ghetto and original wall
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Pharmacy under the Eagle (Apteka Pod Orlem – Tadeusz Pankiewicz)
  • Auschwitz Concentration Camp
  • Birkenau Death Camp
  • Walwel (the fortress and castle)
    • Feast of St. Stanislaus procession
    • Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine”
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Immutable?

I just read the most fascinating article in the November 16, 2015 “America” magazine. It is by William O’Malley, S.J. and is entitled “On Being and Becoming.”

I commend it to your consideration.

Perhaps I liked it so much because it supports what I generally believe about God and God’s presumed or supposed immutability. In his penultimate paragraph, O’Malley writes,

One consistent divine quality this reverie jeopardizes is God’s immutability. He seems not only the God of being but of becoming. When we dare speak of “the greater glory” of God, we imply God can be “improved”: infinity plus one. However those with flexible minds that accept the Confucian Tao and the quantum principle of complementarity yield to a God clearly prone to paradox and into improving. If such a God sets his mind to it, he ought to be able to accommodate both being and becoming.

I hope you find it as interesting and though provoking as did I.

 

FG 11/16/15

 

 

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The Law

If your job troubles your conscience, your only rational and ethical choice in the matter is to quit.
When I was first starting out in my career, I joined the local chapter of the Jaycees. One of the tenents of the organization was (is) that the US is a “Nation of Laws, not of Men.”
This means to me that our activities are governed by a set of rules democratically chosen, and which represent the sense of the broad public. They are changeable only by a process that takes into account many viewpoints. In contrast, the best example of a nation of Men is Nazi Germany where the rules were formulated by a single clique, and were subject to the whim of a particular individual.
Here, we don’t have the luxury – if it is a luxury – to choose which laws to follow. Our duty as citizens is to respect the laws in place, and if we disagree, work to change.
The only rational and ethical choice presented to the Clerk in Kentucky is to issue the licenses in accord with the law as the oath she took mandates her to do, or quit her job.
She is not being persecuted for her religious beliefs. She’s in trouble because she doesn’t want to do her job, or in the alternative, quit.

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