NEWSFLASH: POLITICIANS DISSEMBLE
Re: Richard M. Langworth's letter (under "A Red Herring") in Reader Mail's Misquoting an Ally:
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a neo anything. Funny how a little prefix has become so loaded, isn't it. But that is another question.
I'm sorry that I didn't know the entire story of that Churchill quote. If I had, I would have added the fact that Churchill confirmed giving the interview but denied the quote. But Mr. Churchill was a political man -- arguably the finest specimen of the breed we have ever seen, but still a political man. And political men are not beyond denying that they have said things which they, indeed, did say. Especially when there is a good reason behind the denial. Churchill had such reason. Namely, he didn't want to come off as sourly ungrateful about the U.S. role in the first World War with Hitler showing every sign he was eager for a rematch; one for which Mr. Churchill's country was woefully unprepared, as he'd been urgently telling anyone who would listen. He no doubt figured he'd need American's help in round two and didn't need so sound like he regretted our assistance in the first one.
So I'd say it's even money that Churchill did make the remarks as the man who published them swore, under oath, he did.
Anyway, I got the quote from a book of military history -- J.F.C. Fuller's Decisive Battles of the Western World -- and if Mr. Churchill did not say it, I apologize to him and to Spectator readers none of whom, I'm sure, doubt that the sentiments in that quote were at one time widely shared in Europe can be logically and historically defended to this day.
-- Geoffrey Norman
Re: Geoffrey Norman's Ninety-Two Years and Counting:
As an Englishman, I accept most of Mr. Norman's assertions. I think that in Europe in particular, and less so in Britain, the crucial past and present role of the U.S. is under-acknowledged.
On the other hand the wartime leadership of the U.S. spoiled everything. Roosevelt thought he could ''deal with'' (his words) Stalin, and sacrificed Eastern Europe through his ignorance. He took the side of Stalin against Churchill, who had a far more realistic view of just what Stalin represented -- yet he is still held in adulation, for some reason.
I often think that the over-respectful attitude, and in Obama's case hagiography, stems from the Germanic constituent of 19th and 20th century immigration into the U.S.
Meanwhile let us all unite under a common anti-terrorist and pro-freedom view of the World. There is a lot wrong with Britain, just as there is with the USA. It is fruitless and counter-productive to continually have a negative view of each other, whatever the history.
I myself recognize that my future freedom is intimately bound to the U.S. championship of freedom throughout the World.
Let us all think like that and struggle against terrorism and mock liberalism, the two real enemies of the present.
Re: Jay D. Homnick's The Importance of Justice:
Ginsburg is an embarrassment to our entire justice system. Even with the likes of leaky Leahy on the judiciary committee, I seriously doubt Ginsburg would have been confirmed if she had told the truth during her confirmation hearings: she believes foreign law should influence American legal decisions.
Ginsburg should be impeached and thrown off of the bench. America deserves better.
-- Garry Greenwood
A GIFT YOU GIVE YOURSELF
Re: Doug Bandow's Tax Freedom Day Today:
Y'know, I used to like getting a refund check from the government every year...until, late in the game, I realized I was just getting some of my money back, and a small percentage of it at that.
I'm afraid, this time around, it's just going to get worse before it gets any better.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida
NO LINCOLN REVISIONISM
Re: William Davies' letter (under "A History Lesson") in Reader Mail's Misquoting an Ally:
Since his assassination and subsequent anointed "sainthood," there has been in reaction a small but scrappy "Lincoln was a dirtbag" industry. Whether modern day Southern romanticists angered over the "War of Northern Aggression" or libertarians who resent Lincoln for "rewriting the Constitution and increasing the power of the Federal government", both professional and amateur historians have striven to show the wider American public that Lincoln was not the swell guy he is made out to be.
William Davies' letter seems to come out of the "dirtbag" business milieu if not an industry titan himself. Davies' objections boil down to two: 1.) Lincoln himself was a racist and 2.) He was not nearly as anti-slavery as people believe.
These assertions can only be made by projecting modern attitudes into the past and ignoring the real political complexities of the time.
It is true that by our standards, Lincoln held less than enlightened views of "African-Americans." He didn't believe blacks could compete with whites in the long run. He also believed that it would be to the advantage of blacks and (not incidentally) to the United States to relocate to Haiti or some other protected settlement in Africa or Central America. That most are not knowledgeable of these things is the result of the historical disinterest common among Americans and not some conspiratorial duplicity fostered by descendents of the Federalist Party or the so-call Lincoln cult. In the context of the times, however, Lincoln's views toward blacks were advanced and -- at least as he saw it -- compassionate. These views in no way conflicted with his belief in the equality of all men before God. That men and women of different races could be unequal on earth and yet equal before the throne of heaven is hardly a notion unknown across the centuries of Christian theology. It was Lincoln's insight that because, when enslaved to another, a man could not fulfill his duties under Ten Commandments that he (along with its cruelties) protested the essential injustice of slavery.
It is also true that Lincoln was not a radical abolitionist or, to modern eyes, completely consistent in his political dealings towards slavery. But we have to understand Lincoln in the context of his times. 1.) Lincoln believed he could contain slavery to the Southern states and prevent its spread outside the South; but he also believed that he could not constituently abolish slavery itself. 2.) Lincoln believed his higher duty was to preserve the Union. No Union, no chance to contain slavery, much less abolish it. It is in these circumstances that "legislation in 1861 [that] would have prevented Congress from making slavery illegal" Mr. Davies refers to must be understood.
The Crittenden Compromise was a last ditch effort to prevent war and to bring South Carolina back into the fold. It would have enforced the restoration of the boundary drawn under the Missouri Compromise. It also provided several provisions favorable to Southerners such as a stricter fugitive slave law, federal compensation for owners of runaway slaves. More importantly to the South, territorial entry into the Union would have been on the basis of popular sovereignty. In addition, a congressional proviso in the compromise was to prevent the Constitution from being amended in such as to prohibit slavery in states where it already existed. The Crittenden Compromise enjoyed considerable support including Lincoln's. But in the end, it was Lincoln who rejected it as untenable. Reassured by the provision to restrain the right of slavery in states where it already existed, in the end Lincoln had to insist that the government could "entertain no proposition for a compromise in regard to the extension of slavery."
Lincoln was an idealist. But Lincoln also was a student of the politics of the possible. Most of all, Lincoln was a stalwart of the American principled necessity. It is understandable and natural that many people of his time hated him and thought him less than a saint. But at this remove? It is difficult to see historical figures as they were. Most difficult is to understand a far removed time and people who think and feel differently than we do. It is the rare conservative who doesn't have a spark of sympathy for the vast majority of farm boys and store clerks who served in the Confederate cause (even though they did not own slaves themselves) but because they believed it was their duty to defend their states, homes and families. Much of the time, the North's motives were less than honorable. Nevertheless, the North had to win. The Union had to be saved.
-- Mike Dooley
Re: Roger Scruton's The Long Run: http://spectator.org/archives/2009/04/09/the-long-run
In his article about avoidance of personal responsibility ("The Long Run," April 2009), Roger Scruton makes passing note that John Maynard Keynes was a homosexual but does not tie this aspect of the Englishman's life in with Keynes' promotion of economic irresponsibility. Mr. Scruton should have because the two are, indeed, related.
Keynesian economics is a live-for-today type philosophy. It favors current pleasures over the future. This dove-tails exactly with the childless homosexual view of life, and contrasts sharply with the view of parents who care as much, if not more, for the future as they do of the present for the sake of their children and grandchildren. .
And it is utter nonsense to argue that Keynes' private life should be kept separated from his professional life. When something as emotional as the forbidden sex is fundamental to a man's being as homosexuality was to Keynes, there can be no compartmentalization. Mr. Scruton who studies the culture should appreciate this more than most.
The essence of the Obama economic program is to rob from the future to avoid discomfort today. Call me politically incorrect, but I feel America would be better advised to move towards the Prophet's advice and away from the homosexual's.
-- Peter Skurkiss