A WARNING TO THE LEFT

Watching videos of a torchlight parade including Nazi salutes and shouted Nazi slogans such as “blood and soil” brings chills to anyone who knows the history of Nazi Germany. . Yes, there can be no moral equivalency to this. All Americans need to do all they can peacefully to reject this hatred.

During the next day, most of those who came to be counter protestors followed this principle by peacefully protesting against the neo-Nazis, KKK, and white nationalists who had gathered at the University of Virginia. And some got the daylights beaten out of them, particularly one in a certain parking garage that I watched being interviewed afterwards.

However, a significant portion of The Antifa was NOT there to peaceably assemble. That cohort came with clubs and other weapons to confront the anti-Semitic crowd which included folks with their own weapons. And, therein lies the great danger of what happened at Charlottesville.

Condoning violence utilized by a faction of Antifa will almost certainly galvanize more support for the political right and will drive away moderates. Trump’s base will feel they have good justification for believing they have been marginalized by those lefties. Folks who are so intolerant of intolerance that they will resort to violence to defeat intolerance should not be attractive to anyone on the left.

You who support such actions in any way must be warned that a major factor bringing fascism to power in the 30s was the actual danger of radical leftists gathering to carry out street fights with the Nazis and their supporters. Most Germans then were not attracted to such a movement. The Nazis promised law and order and that appealed to most or at least gained their willingness to “not get involved”.

If you’re worried about some American style of authoritarianism rising to power, a virtually guaranteed way to make sure that takes place would be to support in any way those who are willing to use any method, including violence, to oppose the neo-Nazis, KKK and white nationalists. ONLY peaceful non-violent protest in intent and in practice can successfully appeal to the better angels of our nature as Americans.

What’s my takeaway here? We should KNOW that from the successes of the Civil Rights movement. Those lessons ought to be applied now as well. As Friedrich Nietzsche put it so well in his Beyond Good and Evil: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster.”

Question for you: To what extent do you agree with this and why or why not?

What Did Pershing Really Do in the Philippines?

President Trump recently told a story about Pershing’s involvement in the Philippines. To understand the story, it is important to know why Brigadier General Pershing was in the Philippines in the first place.

He had to deal with the consequences of perceived broken American promises at the end of the Spanish-American War. Based on what they regarded as American commitments, the Filipinos and Moros (a Muslim ethnic group in the southern Philippine islands) expected the U.S. to grant independence to the Filipinos and preserve the autonomy of the Moros. But, President William McKinley and the U.S. Congress approved an Annexation of the Philippines over the objections of a considerable anti-imperialist movement in the U.S. (see Mark Twain’s classic satirical essay: “To the Person Sitting in Darkness”).

Annexation resulted in a Filipino Insurrection for independence and a Moro Rebellion initially for autonomy. The U.S. Army was sent to put these down. Pershing played a role in accomplishing an end to the Moro Rebellion.

However, his preferred M.O. was the exact opposite of the st ory told by President Trump. He attempted whenever feasible to negotiate. Indeed, his military Governorship of the Moro region from 1909-13 put in place a healthy list of lasting positive reforms including a transition from a military to a civilian government.

During his governorship, it is true that the Army continued its practice of burying each Moro rebel who had been killed in battle in pig skin to encourage the Muslims to put down their weapons. This policy helped stop the rebellion, but the greater credit should go to Brigadier General John J. Pershing who carried out his already stated policies along with a carefully constructed plan to disarm the rebels with a minimum of bloodshed.

The U.S. Army did not shoot unarmed prisoners of war to carry out Pershing’s successful policies and plan.

What is a takeaway to this recorded history? The U.S. willfully participated in the late 19th Century binge of imperialism already being indulged in by the European powers (an example would be the Berlin Conference of 1884-5 regarding dividing up Africa). Not surprisingly, the Person Sitting in Darkness in the Philippines was not going to cooperate. Their efforts to achieve independence for one group and autonomy for the other would not be successful.

I look forward to your comments!

Are We Ready for a Woman President?

Inside an ice sculpture in Joensu, Finnland
Inside an ice sculpture in Joensu, Finnland

I was in Joensuu, Finland as the primary race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was in full swing. Finland is considered the most “American” nation in Europe, and Finns were wondering whether the U.S. was ready to elect a woman President.

No one was asking about a black President, but the civil rights struggles of blacks and women are very interconnected. In 1870, we were forced to choose between them, and women’s rights came in second. Fifty years elapsed between the Fifteenth and Ninteenth Amendments, so women got the right to vote a long time after black men.

We were at a political crossroads eight years ago. The question I asked then was, “If Obama becomes President, will it be another half century before we have a woman President. We’re at another political crossroads. Here’s the background I recorded in Finland.

Oops! Pardon Me

There’s a fair amount of political buzz about the possibility of President Obama pardoning Hillary. We have a long history of presidential pardons that raise intriguing questions. If you’re interested, read my article. I deal with these questions:

  1. Can a President issue a pardon for anticipated indictments?
  2. Can a President issue a pardon for an indictment even though the individual has not yet been convicted?
  3. Can a President issue a pardon for someone lawfully convicted and in prison?
  4. So, what about Hillary?

Let me know what you think. If you have something you’re wondering about in current news, please let me know.

 

Failed States in the Middle East

I recently gave a presentation on Failed States in the Middle East. It included an update on the precarious situation in the “Stans” of Central Asia. We have a personal interest in Kazakhstan since we’ve been there twice and have friends there. Even though these nations are generally off our radar, it’s important to keep an eye on Islamic radicalization wherever it is progressing.
Failed States in the Middle East May 9, 2015

If you prefer to download the recording, here’s the link: Failed States in the Middle East (right click and save as)
The mildly annoying crackling sound is a result of the recording device being in my shirt pocket. Sorry.

The_Muddle_East_cropped

America First: Have We Been There Before?

“America First,” has widespread appeal right now, but it’s not new. The America First movement of the 1930’s has strong similarities. Charles Lindbergh was its prominent spokesman. Besides keeping Jews fleeing the holocaust from entering the U.S., it hindered FDR’s efforts to prepare the nation for the possibility of war. It was the attack on Pearl Harbor that quieted the America First movement then. What do you think about today’s push for” America First”?

What Does Andrew Jackson Tell Us About the Cruz – Kasich Deal?

When I heard about Ted Cruz and John Kasich agreeing to work together to keep Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination, I began looking for historical precedents. The best I can come up with is the presidential election of 1824. There were four candidates and no winner. In the deal to keep Andrew Jackson from the presidency, John Quincy Adams won the office for one term. Jackson called it “a corrupt bargain.” It’s a cautionary tale. What do you think of the Cruz – Kasich deal?

 

Arab Spring Five Years Later

Last night I began a four-part Middle East series for Davenport and Bettendorf Public Libraries sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities. Some people who weren’t able to make it to the presentation asked for the recording. Here it is. Hope you enjoy it. I would really like to have your comments. If you questions about this topic or others, feel free to ask. While you’re here, please sign up on the right so I can keep in touch with you via email.

If you prefer to download the recording, here’s the link: Arab Spring Five Years Later