Swickard: Looking at our imperfect historical leaders

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   History is the driver of culture. It’s the story of people and how they dealt with adversity. Recently Confederate statues have been under attack which brings the issue of our history.
            Our country is talking not only Civil War but the entire history of our nation. We search for our “Authentic” history, not the propaganda of the winners. But the winners write the history.
            Statues are a measure but they only reflect the feelings of a time but not for all time and all people. In our search for our heroes we are struck by the fact that everyone in the past was imperfect. Some were more imperfect than others but all had blemishes.
            Yet over the years this country has been a beacon to the rest of the world when it comes to liberty. Our country was instrumental in many other countries becoming free of dictators. That is our primary legacy.
            But what of our heroes? We have memorials and currency and a written history about imperfect men. And we now see their blemishes. Example: George Washington perhaps was the only man who could take the Continental Army to victory. Hence, we have our freedom. But he had slaves as did Thomas Jefferson.
            When those slave holders and others who tolerated slavery set forth this nation, they started with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
            But not all humans were equal then. Women and Blacks were not equal. In the war to end slavery President Abraham Lincoln said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
            Over the last century and a half liberty has come to Americans. It wasn’t easy but it was done. Now there are political factions trying to derive power from injustice then and now. The history of our country is under attack.
            Rather than taking down statues and screaming about justice perhaps we need to really understand our history with the blemishes. We cannot find any leaders without blemishes then or now. But we can see that Americans are free and they inspire freedom in other countries.
            Our country has brought liberty directly and indirectly to most of the world. No, there is still slavery and injustice over much of the world but people all over the world know that liberty is possible because we broke away from England in 1776.
            Dennis Prager said several years ago, “Our danger now is that we are not teaching our children what it means to be an American.” I believe it is the core of this problem of American identity also.
            We must resolve that the dead in our wars of freedom must not have died in vain. As Lincoln said: “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Only if we focus on our history will that happen.

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We had this fixed forty years ago

© 2016 Jim Spence - America began to fix its race problem one hundred fifty-seven years ago when more than 500,000 white men died in the American Civil War fighting on the union side. What followed was wonderful. Constitutional amendments were ratified by the states providing for equal protections under the law. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the late 1940’s. In the 1950’s the Supreme Court ruled in Brown versus the Board of Education that segregation disguised as "separate but equal" was not good enough. In the 1960’s, despite the fact that Senate Democrats attempted a filibuster, the Civil Rights Act was passed and signed into law. It was Senate GOP leadership that broke the filibuster. In doing so, Republicans insured that one of Martin Luther King Jr’s chief legislative ambitions became a reality. Um.....that was fifty-two years ago.
The transformation of America's multi-racial culture has moved much faster than the claims of shameless politicians. Inter-marriage between all of the races has continued to increase non-stop for hundreds of years. Watershed films like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, in the 1960's also helped expose how utterly preposterous racial prejudice was. The film did so in profound ways. The last time I watched this extraordinary film, I was reminded that Sidney Poitier’s black father was the last of the four parental holdouts in approving of the inter-racial marriage that was the heart of the story. Whites didn't have the market cornered on stereotypes, even in the 1960's.
With the increase in television viewership, professional sports began to dramatically increase its influence on our multi-racial culture in the 60's. By the early 1960’s all professional sports were integrated. And in 1966, Don Haskins at UTEP (then Texas Western), taught the Kentucky Wildcats and many other southern universities how foolish it was to intentionally not recruit the best players from high school to play on their basketball teams. Haskins won a national championship with the best players, and the nation received another civics lesson just a year after the Civil Rights Act became law.
In the decades that followed Jackie Robinson’s entry into Major League Baseball, tens of thousands of great black athletes became multi-millionaires as America’s free enterprise system rewarded them for being the very best at what they did. The entertainment industry followed the same path. Sidney Poitier was joined by thousands of other black entertainers and movie stars, who like their counterparts in professional sports, became rich beyond their wildest dreams. Motown music became as much a part of American culture as apple pie. Fifty years ago America was far along in getting our racial problems fixed and as recently as forty years ago, we pretty much had the problem solved.
Our wonderful story of national healing was and is still not lost on the rest of the world. People of color from virtually every country on earth tried harder than ever to become U.S. citizens, especially people from Africa. This longing by non-Americans of any race to become Americans persists to this day.
What the hell happened?
Politics happened. While white racists were forced to go underground, which was fantastic, hatred of whites was encouraged and deemed chic in an increasing number of circles. It is like the bloody phase of a revolution. Democrats who filibustered the Civil Rights Act quickly learned that stoking racial division via backlash against non-socialist whites worked well politically. So instead of declaring success in the nation's effort to foment racial harmony in America, stoking racial suspicions and paranoia became the Democrat’s favorite “strategy.” Associating whack jobs who hold the illusion of white supremacy, with anyone's logical support of free market capitalism has been a grand political con job. Long ago those at the very top of the American Democratic Party decided it was best not to speak of Jackie Robinson, Don Haskins, or the fact that America is minting tens of thousands of new black millionaires in the sports and entertainment industry every decade. These powerful TRENDS are swept under the table and out of the discussion. Instead, Democrats continue to sell out to the sham idea that it is best to pretend the problem with race has never received enough attention.
Far away from the fantasies, illusions, and distortions created by Democrat politicians, American culture has been and continues to be way ahead on race. For decades television commercials and print ads have been replete with people of all races enjoying themselves……together. The depiction of inter-racial marriages like the reality of inter-racial marriages in our culture, has been commonplace for two generations. People of all races play on all sorts of teams. Together they compete against other multi-racial teams. The best players are sought by all who care about winning, which is pretty much everyone.
So how is it that these days we have race riots where fringe groups line up to throw projectiles at each other? It is because we will never get rid of all the whack jobs in a nation of 350 million people.
Sadly it is the whack jobs that make the news. Take high profile, mixed-race, and sub-par NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been made famous for smearing law enforcement officers and refusing to show respect for the nation. Kaepernick is a living symbol for whack jobs everywhere. His story is a great one that went very bad. Kaepernick was adopted and given a stable childhood by white parents who cared not what color he was.....or wasn’t. The police Kaepernick has disparaged so broadly, have provided security for him every time he played a football game. There is so much more. Kaepernick was made a multi-millionaire by the free market capitalist system that is the backbone of America. But if you hear Kaepernick talk, you would think that America is the most unfair country on the planet.....instead of the fairest. How do we know America is the fairest country? It is not because anyone says so. It is because millions say so who know tyranny. The same free market that has made America prosper and Kaepernick fabulously wealthy, tells us all of this phony racial strife is a sham. Hundreds of millions of Africans would give up just about anything to get to America. They want to come here because hundreds of millions of them live under the tyranny and oppression off black dictators in their homelands. These black dictators don't exploit them because they are black. They exploit them because this is what politicians tend to do.
Sorry folks, we had this problem solved forty years ago.
What should America do about the skinheads and Nazi fringe groups who try to drum up attention for their vile hatred with lame demonstrations? Common sense says we should ignore these bastards instead of pretending like they have numbers. They don’t have numbers. But it is in Democrats interest to pretend they do have numbers and more important, pretend they are Republicans.
The group that does have alarming numbers these days is the one that will destroy the free market system we all enjoy......if it can. This would be the violent socialists who are nothing more than the other side of the whack job coin.
The scariest thing going on in America in 2017 is we have whack jobs embedded in our education system. Each year the system tries to mass produce more whack jobs, instead of marginalizing them. Accordingly, the greatest threat our country faces comes from the political camp that feels it BENEFITS from dividing us. And so long as Democrats believe it is in their political interests to divide us, they will keep doing it.
With Democrats armed with the news media, the education system, and the entertainment industry, there is not much the GOP can do to stop this. And they seem hapless in the efforts to expose the truth. Sadly, when professional athletes, who have been great beneficiaries of America's free market system, insist on pretending that America is not the place where most of the world wants to be, they create a problem that does not exist. Kaepernick is not the only fool in his field.
The idea that racism is a major problem in America is a home-grown scam. We had this fixed forty years ago.

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