James Buchanan, the only American president to hail from Pennsylvania, died on June 1, 1868. This Friday will mark the 150th anniversary of his death. “Buchanan essentially died of old age at the age of 77,” said Stephanie Townrow, museum educator with …
Muslim politicians in the Western world come in two general varieties: those rare ones who are candid about their desire to transform the West in accordance with the dictates of their faith, and those, far greater in number, who prefer to disguise that ambition. The first category includes people like Abdirizak Waberi, a Swedish MP turned Islamic school principal who has actually admitted he believes in “banning music and dancing, prohibiting boys and girls from socializing, and allowing men to beat their four wives with sticks when they became disobedient,” and Brussels city councilman Redouane Ahrouch, who openly advocates for sharia government and recently called for a separation of the sexes on that city’s public transport.
In the second category are Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, who while striving to pose as a progressive allows his mask to slip now and then (recently, he told an interviewer that “every Muslim is a bit of a salafist”), and London mayor Sadiq Khan, another faux liberal who has, in fact, ordered police to put less emphasis on monitoring potential terrorists and more emphasis on harassing Islam critics. And let’s not forget Minnesota’s (and the DNC’s) own Keith Ellison, who poses as a standard-issue Democrat but belonged for a decade to the Nation of Islam, speaks at CAIR events, and has ties to several pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic groups.
Also belonging to the latter category is Somali-born Bashe Musse, a Norwegian Labor Party politician who has been a member of the Oslo City Council since 2011. During the last couple of weeks he’s been making headlines because of a Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) report on “dumping.” What’s dumping? Like honor killing and female genital mutilation, it’s a common practice in Europe’s Muslims communities. Instead of sending their kids to regular neighborhood schools, many Muslim parents in Europe send their children off to madrasses – Koran schools – in the countries from which they, the parents, emigrated. The children stay in these schools for years at a time, memorizing the Islamic holy book while their agemates back in Europe learn math, science, and literature.
“Dumping” is eyebrow-raising for more than one reason. Many of these kids’ parents were allowed into Europe in the first place because they professed to be refugees from oppression in their homelands. The fact that they’re shipping their kids off to schools in those same countries gives the lie to those claims. The parents also often maintain that they’re proud to be French, Swedish, or whatever, and that they’re striving to assimilate into their adopted nations. But the whole point of sending these kids to madrasses in the Muslim world is to shield them from what the parents consider the baleful influence of Western civilization.
Last year, NRK produced, as noted, a report on Somali madrasses in which children from Norway have been enrolled. Many viewers considered the revelations eye-popping. In fact it was old news. In a 2004 study, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Norway’s Human Rights Service (HRS) documented, in extraordinary and devastating detail, the grim reality of daily life in these institutions, where the conditions are almost always primitive and where the atmosphere is less that of a First World school than of a Third World prison. NRK’s report, which contained interviews with children living in Norway who had attended the Somali madrasses, confirmed HRS’s findings: at those “schools,” the children had been tied up, whipped, beaten, and subjected to other sorts of brutal treatment that would ordinarily be considered torture.
Which brings us to Bashe Musse, who in addition to being an Oslo city councilman is also the official chief spokesperson for Norway’s Somali community, the largest non-Western immigrant group in the country. After NRK’s report aired last year, he claimed to be shocked by its contents. But on May 29 of this year, NRK reported that in an interview aired on Somali TV, Musse had dismissed the children’s testimony about the madrasses and regretted that such lies, as he called them, had been “sold to the Norwegian people” by the Norwegian media, which he characterized as “one-sided.”
When confronted by NRK with a transcript of his comments to Somali TV, Musse insisted that the person who had translated his words from Somali into Norwegian had fouled up, entirely misrepresenting his views. NRK thereupon engaged the services of another translator, whose product was essentially identical to that of the first translator. It then presented the transcript to various government officials. Frode Jacobsen, head of the Oslo Labor Party, said he was “surprised and shocked” by Musse’s “double communication,” which he described as “very unfortunate.” Norway’s Minister of Integration, Jan Tore Sanner, also expressed concern, but did not call for any action against Musse. The Progress Party’s immigration spokesman, Jon Helgheim, went quite a bit further, scorning Musse as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and urging that the Labour Party discipline him in some way. But as far as I have been able to determine, no one in a position of power has demanded Musse’s resignation or removal from the City Council.
Lying to infidels, of course, has a name in Arabic – taqiyya – and it is one of the chief weapons of Islam in its eternal conflict with non-believers. Among its more celebrated practitioners is “Euro-Islam” proponent, Oxford professor, accused serial rapist, and current jailbird Tariq Ramadan, who is known to routinely say one thing to Western audiences in French or English and another to Muslim audiences n Arabic. Indeed, Caroline Fourest’s book about him is entitled Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan. To employ taqiyya, as Musse appears to have done, is to demonstrate definitively that one is not on the side of the West but that one is a double agent – a partisan, a person whose true loyalty lies, shall we say, elsewhere.
Within a few hours of being caught dead to rights on NRK as a practitioner of doublespeak, Musse made an announcement. Did he resign? Of course not. He declared that NRK had represented him to the Norwegian public as a liar and, what’s more, had painted an unflattering picture of Somalia. Accordingly, he had contacted a lawyer, Arild Humlen, to ascertain what legal rights he had in the matter.
What makes this story important, needless to say, is that Musse is not an outlier. Far from it. Increasingly, all over the West, Muslims hold elected positions, some of them at a very high level. It is considered to be racist, or at the very least to be in terribly bad taste, to question whether they can be loyal at once to their totalizing, all-encompassing religion and to their officially secular country and its (still) mostly non-Muslim inhabitants. Once those poiticians are caught engaging in taqiyya, of course, there is no further reason for doubt on this score.
Cell phone videos taken by Nikolas Cruz before the Parkland shooting show that he was planning the attack in detail and looking forward to people seeing him on the news. The Sun-Sentinel reports:
In three chilling cellphone video clips, at least one of which appears to have been recorded on the day of the Feb. 14 shooting, Cruz, 19, calmly outlines his plans.
“When you see me on the news you’ll know who I am,” he says, chuckling. “You’re all going to die. Pew pew pew pew pew. Ah yeah. Can’t wait.”…
“My name is Nik, and I’m going to be the next school shooter of 2018,” he said. “My goal is at least 20 people.”…
“Today is the day. The day that it all begins. The day of my massacre shall begin,” Cruz says. “All the kids in school will run in fear and hide. From the wrath of my power they will know who I am.”…
Cruz offered only vague hints about his motive.
“I’ve had enough being told what to do and when to do. … Telling me I’m an idiot and a dumbass,” he says. “In real life, you’re all the dumbass. You’re all stupid and brainwashed.”
It seems to me the author of this piece is skipping over one obvious motive which Cruz mentioned repeatedly in these brief videos. First, everyone in school would know who he was. Second, everyone would see him on the news and know who he was. Third, in the last video below he says, “With the power of my AR, you will all know who I am.” He goes on to say, “You will all see. You will all know who my name is.”
Cruz seems pretty confident he’s about to become famous, so maybe we shouldn’t overlook that as part of his motive. As I suggested here, there’s a good argument to be made that school shooters, especially since Columbine, are inspired by the idea of becoming notorious killers. The media repeating their names and showing their faces on television, essentially making them instantly famous, inspires more troubled kids with few real prospects to aim for similar fame.
Watch this clip and notice that when he says “When you see me on the news you’ll know who I am,” is the only time he smiles. I’m contributing in a small way to that process but I think the larger issue is the network news and cable shows. I’m not looking for a any kind of law but maybe ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox should consider not playing clips like this or referring to these shooters by name. If notoriety, even in death is their goal, maybe denying them that will result in fewer school shooters.
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The 2018 MLB Draft is less than a week away, as the event begins on June 4. The Detroit Tigers have essentially been on the clock for months, so here’s hoping they’ve dialed in on a top pick. 1. Detroit Tigers: Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn The Tigers will get a potential ace here, as Casey Mize has the stuff to dominate at the next level.
The president was intent on a public patriotic celebration. It was important, he said, to “give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America.” He marched at the head of a parade past cheering tens of thousands of citizens who lined Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. Later that day the president traveled to the Washington Monument, where he gave a speech that denounced an unnamed ethnic group. He said that it “must absolutely be crushed” before it could further subvert America and its influence abroad. He urged Americans to make it clear that “loyalty to this flag is the first test of tolerance in the United States” and demanded that his political party pass a plank making it clear that anyone who was a real American would agree with his course of action abroad and at home.
Thus Woodrow Wilson kicked off his campaign for reelection in June 1916. “Together, the speech and the plank,” writes Patricia O’Toole in her excellent new biography The Moralist, “proposed to abolish the Constitution’s guarantees of free expression and free assembly. Equally startling was the fact that no one in the mainstream press protested the demagoguery.”
Nearly a year later, after America entered World War I, Wilson went on to establish the Committee on Public Information, whose missions were censorship and propaganda to help persuade Americans that they faced an evil empire in the form of Wilhelmine Germany. Meanwhile, Wilson’s attorney general, Thomas Watt Gregory, locked up suspected spies and subversives. Gregory also oversaw a voluntary American Protective League. To make the world safe for democratic liberation, Wilson was prepared to suspend liberty: “If there should be disloyalty,” he declared, “it will be dealt with a firm hand of stern repression.”
Like not a few past national American leaders, Woodrow Wilson has come under closer inspection for his flaws in the past few years, including at his beloved Princeton University, where the Woodrow Wilson School has wrestled with his legacy on, among other things, race relations. A 10-member committee examined the matter of renaming the school. It decided that his views “clearly contradict with the values we hold today,” but concluded that expunging his name was not a good idea. There is also a Woodrow Wilson High School in the nation’s capital, but for now there does not appear to be a movement to alter its designation.
For many years, it was conservatives who dinged Wilson. Perhaps his most virulent detractor was H.L. Mencken, the sage of Baltimore. He took an almost lascivious pleasure in dismantling Wilson, referring to him as Moses and scorning his oratory for “its ideational hollowness, its ludicrous strutting and bombast, its heavy dependence upon greasy and meaningless words, its frequent descent to mere sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But later conservatives, such as Richard M. Nixon, admired him, and George W. Bush sounded very much like Wilson in his second inaugural address, when he proclaimed, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”
What to make of Wilson’s fascinating and influential presidency and life? O’Toole offers a fair-minded portrait of a vain moralist and political visionary whose certitude could exceed his judgment. She chronicles Wilson’s rise from the presidency of Princeton to becoming governor of New Jersey to president in the quadruple-contested election of 1912. Absent the Bull Moose candidacy of Theodore Roosevelt, which crippled his erstwhile protege William Howard Taft, Wilson would probably never have become president. After he won, however, the rectitudinous Wilson was able to give full vent to his crusading impulses in both domestic and foreign policy.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born on December 28, 1856, and grew up in Augusta, Georgia. His father, Joseph, a Presbyterian minister, carefully instructed his son in grammar and syntax, and Woodrow later referred to his father as his greatest teacher. “From his father,” writes O’Toole, “Tom had learned that great oratory was closely reasoned and deeply felt as well as pleasing to the ear.” At Princeton he studied history and philosophy, ransacking the past for lessons about the present. He also had blank calling cards upon which he inscribed, “Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Senator from Virginia.” At Princeton he scored an early coup in his senior year when he successfully submitted an essay to the International Review, which was edited by Henry Cabot Lodge. The piece called for cabinet government in the United States, a sign of his desire to import elements of the British parliamentary system into American politics.
Wilson had a heroic conception of politics that looked with disdain upon the grubby pols cutting backroom deals. He wanted men of influence to set the terms of debate, much as he believed they did in Great Britain, where Gladstone and Disraeli vied to climb the greasy pole. In 1885, Wilson published a book called Congressional Government in which he expounded upon his belief that the power of the presidency had become emasculated by an overly powerful Congress. In 1899, after America made its first stab at establishing its own empire, Wilson declared that strong presidents were imperative: “When foreign affairs play a prominent part in the politics and policy of a nation,” he wrote, “the Executive must of necessity be its guide…”
Armed with a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, Wilson ended up returning to Princeton, where he became its president by 1902. Now he sought to create his own little empire. He hired 50 young preceptors who, like the tutors of Oxford and Cambridge, were supposed to elevate standards at Princeton, and he embarked upon a grand plan to build quadrangles, akin to those at Oxford and Cambridge, that would sideline the famously snobbish eating clubs such as Tiger Inn and Cap and Gown. He wanted to create a new sense of academic community. The alumni revolted. Wilson, never willing to compromise in any way, lost the battle.
His next crusade was in 1909 over the location of a long-delayed building for Princeton’s graduate school. Andrew West, the dean of graduate studies, thought it should be built near the university golf course. Wilson disagreed. He wanted it located centrally amid the hustle and bustle of the undergraduates. For Wilson, who could not bear to see his precious Princeton sullied by any vision other than his own, the stakes could not have been higher. He embarked upon a ferocious battle. But the affable West, who enjoyed close relations with the wealthy alumni that were going to fund the project, won out.
With his Princeton career at a dead-end, Wilson looked for an exit. In 1910, with the backing of the Democratic machine, he capitalized on his national reputation as a reformer to run for governor of New Jersey. Wilson easily won and was quickly viewed as presidential timber. After only four months as governor, O’Toole reports, Wilson embarked on a 9,000-mile speaking tour to the West Coast and back. His message about what ailed America was as clear as it was direct: “the control of our politics, therefore our life, by great bodies of accumulated and organized wealth.” In 1912 he rode the wave of progressive indignation against the trusts to capture the Democratic nomination. The New Freedom was his credo, as against TR’s New Nationalism. O’Toole perceptively notes that Wilson performed best on a stage. “He had studied elocution as diligently as any actor,” she writes, “and without seeming to raise his voice could make himself heard by a crowd of fifteen thousand even in a hall with poor acoustics. A genius at the harmonics of political speech, he could easily work idealism and self-interest into the same chord, and he had the rare ability to stir emotion even as he appealed to reason.” On the personal level, however, he always had trouble. The journalist William Allen White recalled that when he first met Wilson, “the hand he gave me to shake felt like a ten-cent pickled mackerel in brown paper.”
Wilson approached the presidency, in many ways, as an amplification of his previous duties at Princeton. Once more, he would be the great reformer. But Congress would prove to be his trustees, reining in his grand ambitions. From the outset, Wilson believed that he could pursue a morally correct foreign policy that would set wrong aright. He told a British envoy, “I am going to teach the South American Republics to elect good men.” His great antagonist Henry Cabot Lodge, however, saw from the outset that Wilson was “extraordinarily green” when it came to dealing with foreign nations.
When it came to entry into World War I, Wilson temporized. Eventually, the British naval blockade of Germany prompted Kaiser Wilhelm to authorize unrestricted submarine warfare. O’Toole deftly recounts the complicated diplomatic maneuvering that Wilson engaged in to try and avoid becoming entangled directly in the Great War. Even as Wilson’s ambassador to the Court of St. James, Walter Hines Page, pushed for intervention, Colonel Edward M. House sought to serve as a kind of honest broker between the British and Germans to effect an end to the hostilities. O’Toole is not much impressed by House’s performance, which she depicts as consisting of naïve diplomatic blunders. But House did also create The Inquiry, a group of scholars led by Walter Lippmann, that attempted to prepare the administration for the postwar negotiations and became the basis for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Throughout, Wilson’s pacific aims could not have been more ambitious. Wilson may already have intervened militarily in Veracruz in 1914, in Haiti in 1915, and in the Dominican Republic in 1916, but he always saw himself as a man of peace. In May 1916, he delivered a speech in Washington that sought to reorient American foreign policy and prefigured much of his later diplomacy. He called for a community of nations and for collective security. “Most radical of all,” O’Toole writes, “was his abandonment of isolationism, the first principle of U.S. foreign policy.” In April 1917, after Russian Tsar Nicholas II was toppled from power, one of Wilson’s last remaining objections to entry into World War I was removed. Now he could fight for democracy with democracies.
But as hubris is usually followed by nemesis, so Wilson found himself checked by November 1918, when the Democrats suffered a crushing loss in the midterm congressional elections. After he returned from France and the protracted peace negotiations, Wilson was wholly convinced that it was imperative to create a League of Nations and that the covenant had to be ratified in toto, including Article X which stated that “The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League.”
This Henry Cabot Lodge and other Republicans would not endorse. Lodge did not attack the treaty frontally but wanted to load it down with reservations that he reckoned Wilson would not accept. When the French ambassador assured Wilson that it would not pose a problem for France, Wilson responded that he would “consent to nothing. The Senate must take its medicine.” It was the battle of the quads all over again. Wilson, refractory and pedantic, simply could not even contemplate a compromise. He had banished House in 1919 and became ever more isolated and convinced of his own infallibility. He embarked upon a trip across the country to rouse support for the treaty but ended up wrecking his fragile health. He had succeeded not only in paralyzing his diplomacy but also himself.
Despite his incapacitation and long convalescence, which saw his young second wife, Edith Bolling Galt, essentially run the nation, Wilson flirted with the idea of trying to capture the nomination for an unprecedented third term. He saw himself as indispensable. Freedom and peace depended on another term. Party elders put the kibosh on that. The moment had arrived, as it were, for regime change in the Democratic Party and the doughty governor of Ohio, James M. Cox, got the nod. His running mate was the young Franklin D. Roosevelt, assistant secretary of the Navy. Cox campaigned for the League of Nations, but his Republican counterpart Warren G. Harding vowed that it was time to return to “normalcy.” Harding won.
Wilson took the election news serenely but remained as flinty as ever. When Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer recommended in January 1921 that Wilson commute the great socialist leader Eugene V. Debs’s sentence, whom he prosecuted for delivering an anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio, he refused. “Wilson,” O’Toole writes, “knew that he would be denounced by champions of free speech but did not care.” To the last, Wilson, who died in 1924, remained unbending in his resolve to smite anyone who dared disagree with him. It was Harding who commuted Debs’s sentence in December 1921.
Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest.
This is nice.
I remember insisting on avoiding the government radiation boxes and being felt up in an Omaha airport at 4 o’clock in the morning years ago. Since, well, if I can avoid the radiation boxes without being groped I absolutely do. But but both the radiation and the groping are hard to avoid.
In Omaha, in the wee ours of the morning however, the TSA wanted me to walk through the radiation boxes. I informed them that I was inclined not to do so and would prefer not to subject my internal organs to the blast of radiation the boxes produce. This is without mentioning of course that the device performs essentially a virtual strip search.
The TSA agent I was talking to then bruskly informed me that I would be subject to a pat down at his hands if I was not inclined to follow his suggestion. If I had to be patted down to avoid irradiating my liver and being virtually strip searched so be it I thought.
Let’s just say that if you have never seen a TSA pat down, or been subject to one, it is just as bad as many say. As I stood there with legs spread and arms extended in the air the message was clear to everyone else. Don’t buck at the radiation boxes or you will have a pat down just like this guy. Just keep moving along.
As I stood there with my shoes off, my belt off, with my wallet and luggage in the all too familiar grey plastic boxes, as a man with rubber gloves ran his hands around my waistline I thought about how far down the path Bryer was referring to we had already gone.
As the agent frisked my legs I couldn’t help myself.
I looked down and said, “I am sad that this is what has happened to my country.”
The guy looked up at me and said, “Well sir not everyone wants to be safe.”
You are darn right, Mr. TSA agent. Some of us know that life involves risk. This knowledge used to be what defined a free people.
“Move along or you’ll miss your connecting flight.” He said.
And still, 7 years on, the TSA hasn’t been reined in.
Why can’t there be a special terminal where people can avoid the TSA and fly in dignity with the understanding that there might be the extremely off chance of a terrorist attack.
Oh that’s right, there is. Just fly on a private jet. No TSA there. I wonder why that is? Just multiply your ticket price by 20 and you too can avoid the dope grope. The USA Today explains.
(From The USA Today)
You might be flying private, but you still have to go through security and deal with the TSA.
No, you can forget about security lines, taking off your shoes and emptying your pockets. You won’t find metal detectors or body scanners. O’Leary says that often “there is no TSA or pre-flight checks required. The pilots may check the ID of the lead passenger; otherwise, you will be loaded and on your way within minutes of arrival at the airport. At some private airports, you can actually pull your car up to the aircraft, unload and have valet (service for) your car, so you could be in the air within minutes.”
Ah, very nice. You simply should try it it you have the means. It is just a lovely way to travel. Plus no mixing with the hoi polloi either.
(From The LA Times)
I thought of this exchange last week when the New York Times revealed that the Transportation Security Administration has created a secret watchlist for troublesome passengers. The TSA justified the list by saying that its screeners were assaulted 34 times last year, but did not release any details about the alleged assaults.
Think about this. The TSA WAS ASSAULTED. Um, OK.
Naturally, the TSA’s official definition of troublemaking goes well beyond punching its officers. According to a confidential memo, any behavior that is “offensive and without legal justification” can land a traveler on the list, as can any “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening.” Anyone who has ever “loitered” near a checkpoint could also make the list. So could any woman who pushes a screener’s hands away from her breasts.
What country is this again?
The watchlist would seem less perilous if the TSA were not one of most incompetent agencies on Earth. After a series of undercover tests at multiple airports across the country, the Department of Homeland Security concluded last year that TSA officers and equipment had failed to detect mock threats roughly 80% of the time. (In Minneapolis, an undercover team succeeded in smuggling weapons and mock bombs past airport screeners 95% of the time.) An earlier DHS investigation found the TSA utterly unable to detect weapons, fake explosives and other contraband, regardless of how extensive its pat-downs were.
The TSA is a works program that assaults Americans legally.
The event is a celebrity fundraiser in aid of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and essentially involves famous people walking up and down a red carpet in garish outfits, while journalists praise whatever political statement they are supposed to be making. The Gala’s costume theme takes its lead from the Costume Institute’s annual exhibition.
We’ve asked if anything can save California from it’s general decline. We have not been terrible hopeful, sadly. The state for the past decade has essentially been run as a 1 party state. And it shows. But now it looks like some opposition is percolating up in Southern California. Some very interesting developments are just now hitting the political radar screen.
Republicans could take the top 2 spots in some of California’s congressional “jungle primaries” which would guarantee that Republican members of Congress would go to Washington from those districts.
Now that would be interesting.
Ooooh, Jerry Brown would be maaaaad.
(From The New York Times)
“With so many Democrats running, the party’s fear is that the vote will be splintered, allowing Republicans — who have fewer candidates — to dominate some primaries. The party and allied groups are spending more than $4 million on just three campaigns, intervening in one contest to prop up a favored candidate; attacking a Republican from the right in another; and even reminding people not to waste their votes on “ghost candidates” who have dropped out yet remain on the ballot.”
As another Memorial Day dawns, I’m reminded that around this time last year Ed Morrissey asked the question, Have we forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day? I was doing some reading on the subject over the weekend and found that worries over a failure to properly honor this occasion don’t just stretch back for my entire life. The battle to keep to the intent of Memorial Day is essentially as old as the holiday itself.
Last year, Time Magazine put together a great historical piece on just that subject. The complaints about the fading purpose of the holiday actually began less than a score of years after the close of the Civil War. This was observed early on when the editors of the New York Tribune wrote in 1878, “It would be idle to deny that as individual sorrow for the fallen fades away the day gradually loses its best significance. The holiday aspect remains; how much longer the political character of the observance will linger we dare not guess.”
I suppose that their worries were, at least in some ways, valid. But the complete loss of the Memorial Day message never took place, proven by the fact that we’re still arguing over it 140 years later. Many people still do their best and we delight in telling the stories of folks who hew to the real meaning of the holiday, such as “The Good Cemeterian.” But the fact remains – as observed annually by so many others – that Memorial Day has largely become the opposite anchor to Labor Day. One marks the unofficial beginning of summer, the other the end of it.
This evolution of the holiday should probably give us pause if we’re out there having a barbeque today and partying down without any thought for the two categories of people who it was all supposed to be for. There are the Honored Dead, who fill places like Arlington, and then there are those who are left behind. Keep in mind that Memorial Day – or Decoration Day as it was long also called – was originally put in place as a permanent reminder of the more than 600,000 lives lost in the Civil War, later expanding to cover all the wars that followed.
Those who actually participated in the Civil War understood it best. Shortly after the holiday was made official, Union General John A. Logan wrote, “Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”
The phrase widow and orphan is the key takeaway here. This ties in with some of the observations Ed Morrissey made last year. Following World War 2, most of the country was either directly affected by the losses we sustained in the war or knew someone who was. But the shifting nature of our military leaves us today with only a tiny fraction of families who are connected by blood and tears to those who fight and, to this day, still sometimes die. Memorial Day, as General Logan said, is in place to not only remember the Honored Dead but to comfort those they left behind.
Most Americans can, if so inclined, go out to a cemetery today and stand in awe, seeing the flags marking the “passionless mounds” which cover the fallen. The reverence most feel is of an abstract nature, speaking to a general sense of gratitude and patriotism. But the spouses and children of the Honored Dead experience the day in a far more raw and wrenching fashion. There’s nothing theoretical about their pain and sense of loss. Yet when they see the rest of the nation joining them in placing flowers and flags, observing a moment of silence, we can at least hope that they take some comfort in the communal sense of mourning, assured yet again that their very real and rending sacrifice when they forever gave up their husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, was not in vain.
The list of those who join the ranks of the Honored Dead in America has, thankfully, grown shorter year by year. But still, it grows. New names are added and every one of them leaves their own “soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan” behind. If you need a reason to keep hold of the original meaning of Memorial Day today, that should be more than enough.
A gang with Islamic ties is suspected of raping countless young girls. A journalist decided to cover the court case, but armed men quickly put him in handcuffs. Now, the government has banned the press from reporting on the arrest of the first journalist, essentially conducting a secret trial. No, this didn’t happen in a…
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