The Vietnam War – PBS

If you are going to watch it, you should read this first. I will watch it, but for how long I don’t know. Mr. Garlock raises some issues I’m concerned about. We’ll just have to wait and see if Burns and Novick do the War justice, or just another snow job?

Be skeptical of Ken Burns’ documentary: The Vietnam War

by Terry Garlock

Some months ago I and a dozen other local veterans attended a screening at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta – preview of a new documentary on The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The screening was a one hour summation of this 10-part documentary, 18 hours long.

The series will begin showing on PBS Sunday Sep 17, and with Burns’ renowned talent mixing photos, video clips and compelling mood music in documentary form, the series promises to be compelling to watch. That doesn’t mean it tells the truth.

For many years I have been presenting to high school classes a 90 minute session titled The Myths and Truths of the Vietnam War. One of my opening comments is, “The truth about Vietnam is bad enough without twisting it all out of shape with myths, half-truths and outright lies from the anti-war left.” The overall message to students is advising them to learn to think for themselves, be informed by reading one newspaper that leans left, one that leans right, and be skeptical of TV news.

Part of my presentation is showing them four iconic photos from Vietnam, aired publicly around the world countless times to portray America’s evil involvement in Vietnam. I tell the students “the rest of the story” excluded by the news media about each photo, then ask, “Wouldn’t you want the whole story before you decide for yourself what to think?”

One of those photos is the summary execution of a Viet Cong soldier in Saigon, capital city of South Vietnam, during the battles of the Tet Offensive in 1968. Our dishonorable enemy negotiated a cease-fire for that holiday then on that holiday attacked in about 100 places all over the country. Here’s what I tell students about the execution in the photo.

Enemy execution by South Vietnam’s Chief of National Police, 1968

“Before you decide what to think, here’s what the news media never told us. This enemy soldier had just been caught after he murdered a Saigon police officer, the officer’s wife, and the officer’s six children. The man pulling the trigger was Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnam’s Chief of National Police. His actions were supported by South Vietnamese law, and by the Geneva Convention since he was an un-uniformed illegal combatant. Now, you might still be disgusted by the summary execution, but wouldn’t you want all the facts before you decide what to think?”

The other one-sided stories about iconic photos I use are a nine year old girl named Kim Phuc, running down a road after her clothes were burned off by a napalm bomb, a lady kneeling by the body of a student at Kent State University, and a helicopter on top of a building with too many evacuees trying to climb aboard. Each one had only the half of the story told by news media during the war, the half that supported the anti-war narrative.

Our group of vets left the Ken Burns documentary screening . . . disappointed. As one example, all four of the photos I use were shown, with only the anti-war narrative. Will the whole truth be told in the full 18 hours? I have my doubts but we’ll see.

On the drive home with Mike King, Bob Grove and Terry Ernst, Ernst asked the other three of us who had been in Vietnam, “How does it make you feel seeing those photos and videos?” I answered, “I just wish for once they would get it right.”

Will the full documentary show John Kerry’s covert meeting in Paris with the leadership of the Viet Cong while he was still an officer in the US Naval Reserve and a leader in the anti-war movement? Will it show how Watergate crippled the Republicans and swept Democrats into Congress in 1974, and their rapid defunding of South Vietnamese promised support after Americans had been gone from Vietnam two years? Will it show Congress violating America’s pledge to defend South Vietnam if the North Vietnamese ever broke their pledge to never attack the south? Will it portray America’s shame in letting our ally fall, the tens of thousands executed for working with Americans, the hundreds of thousands who perished fleeing in overpacked, rickety boats, the million or so sent to brutal re-education camps? Will it show the North Vietnamese victors bringing an influx from the north to take over South Vietnam’s businesses, the best jobs, farms, all the good housing, or committing the culturally ruthless sin of bulldozing grave monuments of the South Vietnamese?

Will Burns show how the North Vietnamese took the city of Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive, bringing lists of names of political leaders, business owners, doctors, nurses, teachers and other “enemies of the people,” and how they went from street to street, dragging people out of their homes, and that in the aftermath of the Battle of Hue, only when thousands of people were missing and the search began did they find the mass graves where they had been tied together and buried alive?

Will Burns show how America, after finally withdrawing from Vietnam and shamefully standing by while our ally was brutalized, did nothing while next door in Cambodia the Communists murdered two million of their own people as they tried to mimic Mao’s “worker paradise” in China?

Will Burns show how American troops conducted themselves with honor, skill and courage, never lost a major battle, and helped the South Vietnamese people in many ways like building roads and schools, digging wells, teaching improved farming methods and bringing medical care where it had never been seen before? Will he show that American war crimes, exaggerated by the left, were even more rare in Vietnam than in WWII? Will he show how a naïve young Jane Fonda betrayed her country with multiple radio broadcasts from North Vietnam, pleading with American troops to refuse their orders to fight, and calling American pilots and our President war criminals?

Color me doubtful about these and many other questions.

Being in a war doesn’t make anyone an expert on the geopolitical issues, it’s a bit like seeing history through a straw with your limited view. But my perspective has come from many years of reflection and absorbing a multitude of facts and opinions, because I was interested. My belief is that America’s involvement in Vietnam was a noble cause trying to stop the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, while it had spread its miserable oppression in Eastern Europe and was gaining traction in Central America, Africa and other places around the world. This noble cause was, indeed, screwed up to a fare-thee-well by the Pentagon and White House, which multiplied American casualties.

The tone of the screening was altogether different, that our part in the war was a sad mistake. It seemed like Burns and Novick took photos, video clips, artifacts and interviews from involved Americans, South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, Viet Cong, civilians from south and north, reporters and others, threw it all in a blender to puree into a new form of moral equivalence. Good for spreading a thin layer of blame and innocence, not so good for finding the truth.

John M. Del Vecchio, author of The 13th Valley, a book considered by many Vietnam vets to be the literary touchstone of how they served and suffered in the jungles of Vietnam, has this to say about Burns’ documentary.  Pretending to honor those who served while subtly and falsely subverting the reasons and justifications for that service is a con man’s game . . . From a cinematic perspective it will be exceptional. Burns knows how to make great scenes. But through the lens of history it appears to reinforce a highly skewed narrative and to be an attempt to ossify false cultural memory. The lies and fallacies will be by omission, not by overt falsehoods.”

I expect to see American virtue minimized, American missteps emphasized, to fit the left-leaning narrative about the Vietnam War that, to this day, prevents our country from learning the real lessons from that war.

When we came home from Vietnam, we thought the country had lost its mind. Wearing the uniform was for fools too dimwitted to escape service. Burning draft cards, protesting the war in ways that insulted our own troops was cool, as was fleeing to Canada.

America’s current turmoil reminds me of those days, since so many of American traditional values are being turned upside down. Even saying words defending free speech on a university campus feels completely absurd, but here we are.

So Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Vietnam War promises to solidify him as the documentary king, breathes new life into the anti-war message, and fits perfectly into the current practice of revising history to make us feel good.

Perhaps you will prove me wrong. Watch carefully, but I would advise a heavy dose of skepticism. I concur!

—————————————–

Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City, GA. He was a Cobra helicopter gunship pilot in the Vietnam War.

 

The Red Pill

Is there a trickle of light in this tunnel we have been sucked into? Dunno.

Liberals sick of the alt-left and are taking ‘the red pill’

Elizabeth Ames

The mainstream media failed to see the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Now it’s overlooking another grassroots movement that may soon be of equal significance— the growing number of liberals “taking the red pill.”  People of all ages and ethnicities are posting YouTube videos describing “red pill moments”—personal awakenings that have caused them to reject leftist narratives imbibed since childhood from friends, teachers, and the news and entertainment media.

You might say that those who take the red pill have been “triggered.” But instead of seeking out “safe spaces,” they’re doing the opposite, posting monologues throwing off the shackles of political correctness.

Their videos can feature the kind of subversiveness that was once a hallmark of the left—before the movement lost its sense of humor.

Candace Owens, a charismatic young African American, posts commentaries on her YouTube channel whose titles seem expressly designed to make PC heads explode.

A sample: “I Don’t Care About Charlottesville, the KKK, or White Supremacy.” The commentary calls out liberal fear mongering over white supremacists. “I mean there are, what, 6,000 Klansmen left in our nation. You want me to actually process that as a legitimate fear every day when I wake up?”

Not insignificantly, her video got nearly 500,000 views and overwhelmingly enthusiastic comments. (“you rock, girl!” “this woman is awesome.”)

A later episode about Black Lives Matter got nearly 700,000 views and had the distinction of being briefly taken down by YouTube. Unapologetic, Owens responded with a follow-up commentary — “What YouTube and Facebook REALLY Think of Black People.”

She declared, “There was only one version of a black person that these platforms are willing to help propel towards fame and notoriety—and that is an angry black victim.”  Owens calls her channel “Red Pill Black.” It invites viewers: “Sick of the alt-left. Welcome, I prescribe red pills.”

The term “taking the red pill” derives from the movie “The Matrix,” the trippy sci-fi classic. Morpheus, the resistance leader played by Laurence Fishburne offers Neo, the movie’s hero played by Keanu Reeves, a choice: He can take the blue pill and remain in the repressive artificial world known as the Matrix where “you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.” Or he can take the red pill and tumble down the “rabbit hole” where he will come to realize that everything about his life was a lie.

The left’s intensifying war on free speech has produced a surge of red pill videos. Some take Owens’ in-your-face approach. Others are meandering, hipster confessionals delivered with the wordy earnestness of characters in a Duplass brothers movie.

In his YouTube Channel, Dissent Report, a young, one-time “Bernie Sanders supporting progressive Democrat” admits from behind large sunglasses that he’s made “a pretty hard turn to the right.”

He took the red pill after seeing friends “moving …towards an authoritarian sort of Progressivism.”  He explains, “They were just standing up for a divisive brand of politics that would tolerate no dissent whatsoever.”

Not surprisingly, the mainstream media has largely dismissed the red pill phenomenon. Coverage has mainly stressed the connection to men’s rights activists —the Red Pill forum on Reddit and the documentary, “The Red Pill,” are both about men’s rights. This narrow focus, however, misses the larger story.

Those who have been “red pilled” may start out questioning feminism. But that’s often just the beginning.

A red pill blogger who calls himself “Pat Riarchy” (“also known as the patriarchy”) recalls that his journey down the rabbit hole began when a Facebook friend derisively called him a “cis male.” He came to recognize that, “it’s been one narrative pretty much.”  He concluded, “I have my own objective view…I didn’t want a bigger government. I realized I didn’t like the universal healthcare plan…I realized I didn’t really have an issue with guns.” Several books and discussions later, he emerged as a libertarian.

Red pill bloggers are increasingly characterizing PC culture as a first step on a slippery slope towards authoritarian socialism.

One who articulates this best is Dave Rubin, a married gay man and former left liberal whose show, The Rubin Report, has explored the red pill phenomenon.

In his commentary, “The left is no longer liberal”, he explained his own disillusionment with the “regressive left,” whose “backward ideology” of identity politics “puts the collective ahead of the individual. It loves all of its minority groups to behave as a monolith.

“So if you’re a true individual—meaning you don’t subscribe to the ideas that the groupthink has attributed to you based on those immutable characteristics—you must be cast out.”  Rubin calls this mindset “the biggest threat to freedom and Western civilization that exists today.”

One of his recent guests was Cassie Jaye, producer of the The Red Pill” documentary, which chronicled her personal journey away from feminism.

Jaye had intended to make a feminist film about the men’s rights movement. But her perspective began to change upon interviewing activists, who were anything but the angry women-bashers so often portrayed by the mainstream media. Instead they were men—and also women—concerned about issues such as unfair child custody laws, pregnancy fraud, and even domestic violence.  It turned out that men are also victims of domestic abuse perpetrated by women with surprising frequency.

Jaye’s film met with immediate resistance from radical feminists, who trolled her online while she was fundraising for the film. Her documentary has been largely ignored by most of the mainstream media. But it has had widespread impact on the Internet.

Laci Green, one of YouTube’s best known personalities whose left-leaning videos about sex and gender have an immense following, posted “Taking The Red Pill?”

Green’s relatively tame confession of discomfort with feminists who shut down opposing views, as well as the revelation that she was dating an anti-SJW YouTuber, enraged her fans. They waged an online campaign against her and reportedly “doxxed” her — published her personal information on the internet.

Many who proclaim themselves “red pilled” express a yearning for traditional values. “Pat Riarchy” wants to see a return to an era where comedians can “attack everyone,” not just Trump. “PC culture is going down,” he says. “A lot of people want this to stop.” Kirsten Lauryn, a 20-something hipster sitting amidst empty church pews, worries that,  “A lot of our society has drawn away from religion as an important way of instilling values.” She observes, “The pendulum is swinging back to a more traditional lifestyle. I see this with my generation Generation Z.”

The media has very likely ignored red pilling for the same reason it underestimated support for Donald Trump: An entrenched establishment always resists disrupters, especially those who reject its worldview.

That said, red pill bloggers are not necessarily Trump supporters—in many cases, quite the reverse. What they do share, however, is their questioning of mainstream media tropes.

Not all their videos would pass muster with Reagan conservatives or even libertarians. But, taken together, they give hope to those worried about the future of capitalism and free speech in America.

Elizabeth Ames is a communications executive and author. She has collaborated with Steve Forbes on several books including, most recently, Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming The Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity (McGraw-Hill).

A Perfect Storm

I’m speechless. What can be added to such disheartening piece, except to place the responsibility for the creation of  such a generation to where it belongs — to the parents of these maladjusted misfits who will someday be lead our nation. OMG!

The Smartphone Generation vs. Free Speech

Controversial speakers are being shut down on campus because today’s college students are obsessed with psychological safety and have little experience with negotiating conflicts

Jean M. Twenge

A student group set up a ‘safe space’ on the University of Missouri campus, Columbia, Mo., Nov. 8, 2015. PHOTO: JAIME KEDROWSKI/MISSOURIAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

In the past few years, many U.S. college campuses have become embroiled in controversies over free speech. Students have insisted on “safe spaces” to protect themselves from ideas with which they disagree and have demanded the dismissal of faculty members who offend their sensibilities. Campus speakers have been “disinvited” when students object to their point of view. Such events were rare just five years ago but now seem to occur constantly during the school year. Why has this happened? What is so different about today’s students that many of them denounce faculty and administrators who suggest that a basic expectation of university life is for people with differing perspectives to talk to each other?

Meet iGen, the generation of young Americans born after 1995 and the first to spend their entire adolescence with smartphones in their hands. Puzzling as the recent campus controversies might seem, they are rooted in the unique psychology and life experiences of this cohort.

First, iGen’ers grew up in an era of smaller families and protective parenting. They rode in car seats until they were in middle school, bounced on soft-surface playgrounds and rarely walked home from school. For them, unsurprisingly, safety remains a priority, even into early adulthood.

As I found in analyzing several large national surveys of teens from all backgrounds, fewer of them in the 2010s (as compared with the 2000s) say that they like to take risks, and fewer say they get a thrill out of doing something dangerous. That has real benefits. Fewer get into car accidents or physical fights. In the annual Monitoring the Future survey of more than a half million 12th-graders, the number who binge-drank was cut in half between the late 1990s and 2016. In previous eras, teens were willing to live on the edge by doing things they knew weren’t safe—that was the nature of being a teen. Not anymore.

Teenagers using cellphones. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Nor are they just concerned about physical safety. The iGen teens I have interviewed also speak of their need for “emotional safety”—which, they say, can be more difficult to protect. “I believe nobody can guarantee emotional safety,” one 19-year-old told me. “You can always take precautions for someone hurting you physically, but you cannot really help but listen when someone is talking to you.” This is a distinctively iGen idea: that the world is an inherently dangerous place because every social interaction carries the risk of being hurt. You never know what someone is going to say, and there’s no way to protect yourself from it.

The result is a generation whose members are often afraid to talk to one another, especially about anything that might be upsetting or offensive. If everyone must be emotionally safe at all times, a free discussion of ideas is inherently dangerous. Opposing viewpoints can’t just be argued against; they have to be shut down, because merely hearing them can cause harm.

This frame of mind lies behind recent student agitation to keep controversial speakers off campus.

This frame of mind lies behind recent student agitation to keep controversial speakers off campus. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit watchdog group, campus disinvitations have risen steadily, reaching an all-time high of 42 in 2016, up from just six in 2000. In the American Freshman survey of more than 140,000 college students conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute in 2015, 43% agreed that campuses should be able to ban extreme speakers, up from just 20% in 1984.

The reasons for disinvitations frequently refer to the safety of students. When Williams College disinvited a speaker with provocative views on race, the campus newspaper wrote that his presence on campus would have caused students “emotional injury.” When controversial speakers do come, it is now fashionable to create a “safe space” where students can go if they feel upset.

Members of iGen are also taking longer to grow up. As I found in analyzing seven large national surveys of teens, today’s adolescents are less likely to drive, drink, work, date, go out and have sex than were teens just 10 years ago. Today’s 18-year-olds look like 15-year-olds used to. They don’t reach adulthood too early, but they also lack experience with independence and decision-making.

The result is a generation that looks to college administrators to settle disputes, like squabbling siblings appealing to their parents. Unaccustomed to independence, they want an authority figure to step in. At San Diego State University in 2016, students wanted the university president to apologize for fliers posted by an off-campus group. At Yale University in 2015, a faculty member suggested that students use their own judgment about potentially offensive Halloween costumes rather than let the administration dictate the rules. The students demanded that she resign.

Campus as a “home,” evoking the protected cocoon of childhood, is a theme in many of these incidents. During the controversy at Yale, a student yelled, “It is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students…It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! It is about creating a home here!”

Members of iGen have spent more time with screens and less time interacting with each other in person than any previous generation. Because they communicate primarily online, most of the threats they experience come through social media or texts, not in person. For iGen, danger tends to take the form of words, not physical altercations. At the extreme, this has led to the belief that words can be violence—the belief at the core of disinvitations, “trigger warnings” to alert students to potentially offensive material, and campus speech restrictions. In the American Freshman survey, iGen college students were more likely than Gen X students in the 1990s to agree that “colleges should prohibit racist or sexist speech.”

Finally, in a time of growing income inequality, iGen believes that you either make it or you don’t—so you’d better make it. Compared with previous generations, they are more likely to say that they are going to college to get a good job and less likely to say that they hope the experience will broaden their education and point of view.

To faculty and administrators who grew up in previous eras, college is a place for being challenged by new ideas. Members of iGen disagree: They see college as a place to prepare for a career in a safe environment. They don’t necessarily see a connection between participating in big social and political debates and getting a job that pays well.

All of these iGen factors have combined to create a perfect storm at U.S. colleges. It isn’t hard to see why these young people, looking for safety and practicality, now clash so regularly with their elders when controversial ideas arrive on campus.

—Dr. Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood” (Atria).

Appeared in the September 2, 2017, print edition as ‘The Smartphone Generation Vs. Free Speech.’

Madam Clinton – Really?

I always like reading Nolte’s commentary, always nails it with a touch of humor. He certainly nailed this one.

During his Sunday night interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon finally said out loud what many of us already knew: that Hillary Clinton is “not very bright.”

by JOHN NOLTE  11 Sep 2017

This was actually my favorite part of the interview because nothing is healthier for our culture than the truth, most especially a truth no one dares to speak out loud.

For 25 years, Madam Clinton has been in the public eye, and for 25 years we have been told time and again and again and again two whoppers: 1) Hillary is brilliant. 2) When you get to know her, Hillary is a warm, funny, vibrant real person.

We expect Democrats and leftwing activists to tell us this. What else are they going to say? My problem is that it has been the national media, those who pose as objective truth-tellers, who have been spreading and cementing this fable. It is those who wear the uniform of journalists who keep telling us that this bumbling, fumbling, tone deaf, two-time failure is, when you really get to know her, a dazzling personality wrapped around a super-smart brain.

Granted, I do not know Hillary Clinton. I’ve never met her, nor have I even seen her in person. Nevertheless…

COME. ON.

We are talking about 25 years in the public eye here, twenty-five freakin’ years of gaffes, whiffed opportunities, serial-humiliations, absurdly transparent lies, needless scandals, and epic fails.

The Hillary Clinton who clown-shoe’d her way on to the national stage 25 years ago with, “I’m not sitting here like some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette” (even though time has proved that is exactly who she is), is the exact same stunted-woman who, 25 years later, thought it was smart politics to attack half the country as a “basket of deplorables.”

Hillary Clinton’s public career has been one defined only by stepping on rakes.

From Whitewater to Benghazi.

From cattle futures to uranium.

From Travelgate to Emailgate.

From the “missing” Rose Law Firm billing records to 33,000 deleted emails.

From the speaking fees to the secret server.

From rape-denier to looting the White House.

From the Clinton Foundation to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

From “sniper fire” to “vast rightwing conspiracy” to “stayed at home and baked cookies” to “with a cloth” to Gandhi “ran a gas station” to “I ain’t no ways tired” to “dead broke” to, well, this.

This is not partisanship on my part. I’ve seen Bill Clinton’s brilliance. There is no question Chuck Schumer has plenty going on. Barack Obama is not the genius everyone says he is, but Barry’s still plenty smart. Even Nancy Pelosi has shown some true savvy.

Hillary Clinton is just dumb. Plain dumb. Not once during the quarter century that I have suffered under the oppression of her voice, her condescension, her awkward fumbles at being real, have I witnessed her porch lights come on. Not once have I said, There it is!

And all it would take is once.

I know what the rebuttal is: that dumb people don’t almost become president of these here United States. Let me respond to that in three ways…

1) No intellectually honest person will tell you Hillary Clinton would be where she is had she not married Bill. That is not a slam on women, plenty of whom have emerged from their husband’s shadow to distinguish themselves: Katharine Graham, Arianna Huffington, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, etc. Given a change of fate, we can see each one of these women succeeding in some way all on their own.

Hillary? No.

Senator Hillary Clinton? No way. New York has way too much political talent to waste on a stiff, awkward, brittle politician with zero people skills.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? All she did was log miles. Five years later no one, and I mean no one, not even her biggest supporters, can name a single accomplishment.

Democrat Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton?  Don’t make me laugh.

2) If you trust me on nothing else, trust me on this. Having now served time in the worlds of entertainment and media, the dirty little secret of both is that naked ambition, driving persistence; unbridled, unscrupulous, shameless scraping and grasping allows many, many, many, too many marginal people to fail upwards.

Hillary Clinton might be a few clowns short of a circus, but she is pantsuited ambition personified. There is nothing she will not do to get what she wants, no person she will not destroy, no humiliation she will not suffer, no indignity she will not dignify. And going back to ancient Rome, the quality of naked ambition has always made up for so many others, including smarts.

3) The media. Hillary is a left wing Democrat loathed by the media’s numero uno enemies: Republicans and everyday Americans. So of course the Sisterhood of the Andrea Mitchells and all those media metrosexuals who bow to feminist politics have propped her up over the years.

To be clear, I am in no way saying that Hillary is a stupe. There is no question that in the same way Rain Man can count toothpicks, Hillary can booklearn. But native intelligence? Common sense? Being able to grasp a room, a situation, a people, a country? Yeah, no. She’s an idiot.

Without Bill, without the media, I think we all know where Hillary Clinton would be right at this very moment… Forever-tenured Professor Rodham sitting in a cluttered, smelly,  Womyn’s Study office deep within the bowels of some Ivy League university; a bitter feminist still clinging to her one claim to fame, her time with the Watergate committee (before she was fired). In other words, she would be no one and nowhere , and even among like-minded colleagues, she’d be something of a joke…

Just like she is today.

 

Letter to VA Governor

An Open Letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

From Sherwan W. Dillar

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe speaks during a debate at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Ohio. I have taught Political Science at the collegiate level in Cincinnati, been published in The Wall Street Journal and am in my 12th year of research for a forthcoming book on Columbine.  For the past seven years I have made Rockbridge County, Virginia, my home.  The one and only reason I live in Lexington, Virginia is, because it is the final resting place of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. Their lives, character, faith, integrity, honor and testimony shone so brightly a century and a half after their decease, that there is no other place on the Earth I want to be, but where they lived and served.

There is something deeply and morally wrong with anyone, who objects to these two great Virginians—great Americans being honored by the native State, for which they gave their lives, limbs and blood in selfless patriotic service.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower kept Lee’s portrait in his executive office, while president. Churchill extolled him as the greatest American. Ulysses S. Grant threatened to resign from the U.S. Army, if Lee were tried for treason. The statue that marks the grave of “Stonewall” Jackson was paid for not only by the veterans, who served under him, but by financial contributions from former slaves, whom he had taught to read in violation of Virginia law.

When a Lexington local assailed Jackson for breaking the law to “teach those people”, Jackson uncharacteristically lost his temper and shouted, “If you were a Christian you would not say so!”After the war, it was Lee who broke social convention at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, by kneeling beside a former slave, who had mortified the White congregation by kneeling at the altar. Asked afterward by a bigot why a man like himself would kneel beside a former slave, Lee simply chastised him, “The ground is always level at the foot of the cross.”

The anniversary of the deaths of Lee and of Jackson were long commemorated in this Commonwealth by veterans of the North, who were often the honored keynote speakers invited to praise the virtues of their once-foes.  Every monument to a Confederate Virginian is a war memorial to an American veteran.  It has been the mark of manhood and civility and longstanding American tradition to leave politics out of the way we honor our veterans. They fought the battles; we did not. They shed the blood; we did not. They reconciled with their enemies; we did not. End of subject. It is not for children born a hundred and fifty years later to re-adjudicate the past and expose to double jeopardy men their own contemporaries exonerated.

It is the height of arrogance to suppose that you know more about these men and their times than their even contemporaries. The command of God remains, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” It is to God you will assuredly answer for its violation. If you find it impossible to respect your elders, attempt at least to revere your betters.  The destruction of Virginia’s monuments to her war dead is sacrilege and those, who urge and execute it, are nothing more than cemetery vandals. There is no honor in this course of wanton destruction and, morally, you equate yourself with ISIS, which shares your contempt for actual culture, something you both so manifestly lack. It is more than history, more than art. 

No matter. No one will remember you in any 150 years. Nothing you do can make anything like the mark these great Virginians made on history’s ledger. Just being you another day is your own punishment and yet you still face God for what you propose to do as well. Something is deeply, horribly wrong with your soul, Sir. And you know it. So does all Virginia. I have strived to be civil, but you do not make it easy. Smearing reputations, slandering saints and tearing down what better men raised has zero to do with love, unity, tolerance, acceptance, diversity and coexistence. It’s just the usual political spoils game, playing one race/class/group against another to score a win at any cost. The mean, petty loathing of Virginia’s first string heroes outs you as a raging hypocrite just as you were trying to pass for intelligent. What a piece of work.  Just leave the statues, graves, monuments and memorials right where the grown-ups put them, Terry. Just fool around doing nothing, you know, like back at Georgetown. Easy.

That’s all I ask. And about the most anybody expects of you. Aren’t you tired yet of just being the same old failure and lurching from bungled debacle to bungled debacle? Why not shock the world: open a book, educate yourself and do something less horrible than usual. Resign, even, and leave Virginians to govern Virginia. What a concept.

With all due respect,
Sherwin W. Dillar

One Marine's Journey From Private to Colonel

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