Hello Iran: When people stop believing government lies they stop believing in the government

Latvian Popular Front Leader Mavricks Vulfsons. Signs read “Freedom” and “1940–Year of Stalinist Occupation Regime”

By John Ruberry

Regular readers of my posts here and at Marathon Pundit know that my wife, Mrs. Marathon Pundit, was born in the Soviet Union–in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. She emigrated to the United States in 1991.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was lied to regularly–just as citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been fed untruths since 1979.

As with other members of her generation, Mrs. MP believed the lies pumped out by the government, and that includes the schools, whoppers such as Soviet citizens enjoyed an advanced standard of living, even though Mrs. Marathon Pundit grew up in a farmhouse with no running water that was heated by birch logs. And Latvia was considered better off than most other Soviet Republics. She believed the falsehood that Latvia, along with Estonia and Lithuania, asked to join the USSR in 1940. The reality is that as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the Baltic States were occupied by the Red Army and promptly annexed; the leaders of Latvia and Estonia were exiled to remote corners of the Soviet Union. The fate of Estonian president Konstantin Päts was particularly sad, as he was tortured in psychiatric hospitals because of his “persistent claiming of being the president of Estonia.”

Mrs. Marathon Pundit’s parents knew better of course. They also knew it was best to keep quiet. They knew repercussions awaited those who talked about the wrong things. The silent survive. And while it was impossible to cover up the deportations to Siberia of the Joseph Stalin era, the extent of it was known only to a few.

There were big lies and little lies. Here’s one of the latter. Before swimming in one of the few public pools in Latvia, Mrs. Marathon Pundit and other bathers were warned that if they chose to urinate in the water, or if there was an accidental leak, the urine would be immediately turn red and the pee menace would be promptly identified and of course punished. Eventually–I don’t know how–she discovered the clear truth on urinating in swimming pools.

Then there were the omissions. My wife didn’t learn until I told her that the Red Army–two weeks after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939–seized eastern Poland. The same goes with the Soviet invasion of Finland later that year.

The “Throne of Lies” in the USSR began to collapse after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Ordinary Soviet citizens eventually learned that the state-controlled media reported on the severity of the catastrophe only after western governments noticed the spike in radioactivity in their lands. “The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month,” Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in 2006, “even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.”

Those being lied to didn’t believe the lies any more.

A few years earlier the end of the junta era of Argentina came after the government had to admit their rosy reports on the Falklands War with Great Britain were wrong. It was the UK that was winning nearly every battle.

Now protests are breaking out across Iran after the mullahs were forced to admit that the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which took place on Wednesday shortly after Iran fired missiles at US troops in Iraq, was caused by a missile fired by the Iranian military, after first denying it. And there was a lie within the lie as the Iranians claimed that the passenger jet veered over a sensitive military area.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” is one the chants heard in Tehran.

The people of Iran–or at least some of them–don’t believe the lies anymore.

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, defected last week. Yes, she did win a bronze in taekwando, that’s not a lie, but her state-created image was a sham. “Whatever they said, I wore,” Alizadeh wrote. “Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Profiles in cowardice: The Democrats’ push to impeach Trump

Andrew Johnson statue on the grounds of the Tennessee state capitol

By John Ruberry

One of the heroes in the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, which was credited to John F. Kennedy but largely written by Ted Sorensen, was Edmund G. Ross, a Radical Republican senator from Kansas who is credited as the deciding vote against the removal from office of President Andrew Johnson, who had been impeached by the House of Representatives.

Ross was appointed to the Senate in 1866, when, Sorensen wrote, “the two branches of government were at each other’s throats.” Such as it is now between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and President Donald J. Trump.

Johnson, like the man he succeeded, Abraham Lincoln, favored a quick readmission of the former Confederate states into the Union. But Johnson had few of the political skills of the Great Emancipator, and compared to the Radical Republicans, Johnson was very weak on the Civil Rights. Johnson was impeached in 1868–an election year–for violating the recently enacted Tenure of Office Act for firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The president deemed that law as unconstitutional, it was repealed a few years later and the courts later proved Johnson correct.

Ross, along with six other Republican senators voted to acquit Johnson. Sorensen, in Profiles in Courage notes Ross’ words, written years after the impeachment trial.

In a large sense, the independence of the executive office as a coordinate branch of the government was on trial…If…the president must step down…a disgraced man and a political outcast…upon insufficient proofs and from partisan considerations…the office of the president would be degraded, cease to be a coordinate branch of the government, and ever after subordinated to the legislative will.

If Johnson had been removed from office America would have seen a weakened office of the presidency. One subject to the whims of an emboldened Congress.

Trump’s crimes in regards to the Ukraine call, if any–and I don’t believe there are any–are subject to interpretation. Say what you will about the only other president to be impeached, Bill Clinton, but he clearly perjured himself when testifying about Monica Lewinsky.

If Trump is impeached by the House, the likelihood of his being convicted by the Senate and removed from office is remote. But a precedent could be set by future Congresses to impeach presidents, well, simply because member of the “loyal opposition” opposes him. Or her, of course.

As Wikipedia writes about the Johnson impeachment:

The impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson had important political implications for the balance of federal legislative–executive power. It maintained the principle that Congress should not remove the President from office simply because its members disagreed with him over policy, style, and administration of the office. It also resulted in diminished presidential influence on public policy and overall governing power, fostering a system of governance which Woodrow Wilson referred to in the 1870s as “Congressional Government”.

But most of the current crop of Democrat members of the House don’t care about history. They simply want to, in the crass words of freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, “Impeach the motherf—er.”

When impeachment comes to a full vote in the House, will any Democrats–and not just those from districts that are overwhelmingly pro-Trump–offer a profile in courage?

It seems right now that most House Democrats have profiles in cowardice–they answer only to the MSNBC–incited mob who fill their campaign coffers. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Fall of Berlin Wall anniversary offers lessons for misguided millennials

Blogger next to Berlin Wall slab at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in 2018

By John Ruberry

Saturday was the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most profound events of the 20th century, the fall of the Berlin Wall. What began as a bureaucratic slip became a people power moment as oppressed East Germans stormed the wall checkpoints and with the help of West Berliners, literally began hacking away on what Winston Churchill called “the wall of shame.”

It was also a wall of failure. The smartest and most gifted people of communist East Germany were more likely to seek freedom and prosperity in the West. The brain drain threatened the stability of East Germany, so after receiving permission from his fellow dictator, the USSR’s Nikita Krushchev, Walter Ulbricht ordered construction of the wall in the summer of 1961.

Just a few days ago Dennis Prager explained on his show that there is a difference between a dictatorship and a totalitarian state. Augosto Pinochet’s Chile was a brutal nation in the 1970s, but if you didn’t like it, you could leave Chile. Not so in the USSR, until its final days, where my wife was born, or in the absurdly-named German Democratic Republic. East Germans who tried to escape to West Berlin would have to conquer not just the wall, but also beds of nails, attack dogs, and barbed wire, as well as avoid sharpshooters in watch towers. The number of people killed attempting to escape in the 28-year existence of the wall is disputed–about 200 is a common estimate.

Of growing up in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, Mrs. Marathon Pundit told me this morning when I was discussing this post, “We were slaves, really.”

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll released last week shows that over one-third of millennials approve of communism, which betrays the failure of our schools and universities that seem much more interested promoting the 56 genders and waving their fingers at guys like me over “white privilege.” Oh, the founders of the communist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were white dudes. As were the earliest communists in power, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. All five of them came from middle class or wealthy backgrounds. They had white privilege.

OK, millennials!

The lessons of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the evils of Nazism obviously should never be forgotten. But what is overlooked by schools and society are the murderous regimes of Stalin (20 million killed, maybe more), Mao Zedong (65 million killed, maybe more). and Cambodia’s Pol Pot (1.5 million killed and perhaps more, roughly 20 percent of that nation’s population).

Another 30th anniversary involving a repressive communist regime passed this summer–the Tianammen Square protests in China that ended in the slaughter of pro-democracy activists. For 24 straight weeks there have been pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong. The more things change…

Ulbricht and his successors’ East Germany didn’t have the high death count, but it excelled in mental torture. Its KGB was the Ministry of State Security, commonly known as the Stasi, whose goal was to “know everything about everyone.” Two movies are essential viewing for millennials–actually for everyone–to learn more about East Germany. Both of them are available on Netflix, Karl Marx City, a documentary, and The Lives of Others, an Academy Award winner for Best International Feature Film. Fittingly, The Lives of Others is set in the year 1984.

Apologists for communism regularly point out that the reason these Marxist regimes failed is that the wrong people were in charge and “real communism” has never been tried. It is they who are wrong. People in power, for the most part, have one thing in common. They want even more power.

There are exceptions of course. King George III asked an American what George Washington would do now that he had defeated the British Empire. When told that the general would return to his farm, the king replied, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Is that lesson being taught in many American schools? I doubt it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Review: Season 5 of Peaky Blinders

By John Ruberry

Earlier this month Season 5 of Peaky Blinders arrived on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of the BBC show, it centers on a Gypsy organized crime gang from Birmingham, England.

The Peaky Blinders are named for the razor blades the actual hoodlums,-they were an 1890s gang–wore in their flat caps.

The television Peaky Blinders, who usually refer to themselves as the Shelby Company, Ltd., are led by Thomas “Tommy” Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a World War I veteran. The first season takes place in 1919, Season 5 begins in the auspicious year of 1929.

Tommy, at the end of Season 4, is elected to Parliament as a member of the Labour Party.

A new season of course brings a new primary villain, this time it’s Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), a minor member of the British nobility who also sits in the House of Commons. If you are American, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of Mosley, but he’s one of the most notorious figures of 20th century Great Britain. He didn’t go as far as Benedict Arnold did during the American Revolution, but had the Nazis defeated Britain in World War II, it’s probable that Mosley would have been prime minister—with Edward VIII restored to the throne. A 2005 poll of British historians determined that Mosley was the Worst Briton of the 20th century. Jack the Ripper took the title for the 19th. Mosley not surprisingly was a virulent anti-Semite.

Sir Oswald pursues Tommy as an ally while Winston Churchill (Neil Maskew) does the same. Maskew is the third actor to portray Churchill in this series. What’s up with that?

The Black Tuesday Wall Street Crash puts pressure on the rest of the Blinders, particularly Michael Gray (Finn Cole), who in the first episode of the season awakens from a stupor in Detroit to learn that the Shelby Company money he invested in America has evaporated. He wants a bigger say in the family business, as does his American wife (Anya Taylor-Joy). The family matriarch, Polly Gray (Helen McCrory), Michael’s mother, continues to struggle to keep the family from tearing itself apart, and their battles now directly effect her lover, Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen). Tommy’s older brother, Arthur, continues to battle his “animal inside me.” While Tommy and Mosley, politically speaking, court each other, the Peaky Blinders face a new foe, the Billy Boys, a Scottish Protestant gang, who joyously sing their fight song, which is based on the melody of “Marching Through Georgia.” The Billy Boys hate Gypsies and Catholics–the Shelbys are both.

Peaky Blinders has always played loose with history. Lighten up, though, it’s fiction!

On the other hand…

As 1929 winds down, Mosely announces the formation of a new political party, the British Union of Fascists. But after leaving Labour, the real Mosley first formed another new party, called, well, the New Party. After that came his fascist party. I bring this up because in his introductory speech as leader of the BUF, Mosley, complaining about Indian competition forcing the closing of British textile mills, sounds a bit like Donald Trump, with a dash of UK Independence Party founder Nigel Farage thrown in. I’m not a fan of historical parallels with the present, particularly when it comes to individuals. And I get it, many people believe in “Orange Man Bad.” But sheesh, can TV scriptwriters give us a break from that for once?

I see Season 5, quality wise, as a step back for Peaky Blinders, but better than the Russian sinkhole two seasons back. But a Season 6 apparently is in the works, and maybe even a seventh. And perhaps we will see a couple of other men portray Churchill. The 1930s offers many plotlines as the world marches again to war. Still, even a below-par Peaky Blinders is worth your time.

Peaky Blinders is rated MA. It contains graphic violence, drug use, and overt sexual activity.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Five Twitter thoughts: Mugabe vs Washington, NFL & Business, NYT vs Trump, Death Benefits and Hyman Roth on a Philly Shooting Under Da Fedora

Less that an hour ago I wrote a post on writers block and now after a few minutes of Twitter I’m brimming with idea but have no time to write a long post so here are a few twitter thoughts under my fedora.


It can not be overstated how lucky we were in our founding fathers.


It’s supply and demand, as long as there is a credible replacement for you at a position as a player you are expendable, particularly if you choose to make a fool out of yourself.


Filed under “least surprising story of the day”


Dead men don’t collect benefits. Maybe all those deaths are factored into the Bernie plan?


Or as John Wayne put it in Cahill US Marshall: “If you don’t like the treatment don’t rob the banks.”


Remember When Europeans Hit the British Empire…

…that peoples once under seem to have more respect for it than the academics who critique it:

of all the dramatic photos showing hundreds of young protesters storming the city’s legislative building this week, one image makes for particularly uncomfortable viewing in Beijing: The British colonial flag draped aloft a podium in the assembly’s chamber.

That’s not all. On a day supposed to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the “motherland,” other protesters were pictured defiantly flying giant Union flags in the Legislative Council.

Why are some protesters — many of them millennials — harking back to a bygone colonial era, two decades after Britain handed the city over to China as a semi-autonomous territory?

“Does it really mean that people seriously want colonial rule again? No — but I don’t think there’s any dispute among protesters that British rule was better than what we’ve got after the handover, especially in recent years,” said Lam Yin Pong, a Hong Kong journalist.

Furthermore this is not a phenom confined to Hong Kong:

“If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we’d do it,” said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. “Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job.”

Mr. Dube acknowledged that the white regime of Ian Smith was awful. But now he worries that his 3-year-old son will die of starvation, and he would rather put up with any indignity than witness that.

An elderly peasant in another village, Makupila Muzamba, said that hunger today is worse than ever before in his seven decades or so, and said: “I want the white man’s government to come back. Even if whites were oppressing us, we could get jobs and things were cheap compared to today.”

His wife, Mugombo Mudenda, remembered that as a younger woman she used to eat meat, drink tea, use sugar and buy soap. But now she cannot even afford corn gruel. “I miss the days of white rule,” she said.

Nearly every peasant I’ve spoken to in Zimbabwe echoed those thoughts.

That’s from that well known bastion of white supremacy the New York Times.

As a rule countries that emulated British common law and their system of rights that came with it have prospered (think India) but for those who have not the Greatest argument for the British Empire has been what has replaced it worldwide.

Under the Fedora Latin and English, Biden & History, NYT vs Alex Stephens, LGBTQ vs Legal Documents, Dick’s Vs Guns

My post on Canon Turner’s 1st Mass got a lot of attention considering it wasn’t instalanched and I wanted to make a point that might have been unclear.  I have been to the Latin mass before just not a high mass of the type that was on display.  Personally I think it would be healthy for both the vernacular and the Latin masses to both be offered in all parishes.  It would be a perfect illustration of Christ as fully human and our brother while also fully Divine as our God.  I think it’s healthy to remember both.


I don’t see why anyone is surprised that Joe Biden got the decade wrong that RFK & MLK were assassinated.  Given the historical ignorance of the young who tend to vote democrat these days and the attempts to re-write history such a mistake makes perfect sense.  Of course, maybe 1968 identifies as a year in the 70’s


Speaking of re-writing history the NYT 1619 project attempt to reframe a false history as true has actually been going on for a long time by the left.  It’s been a full generation since Mary Lefkowitz Not out of Africa and the backlash she got for refusing to teach myth as history the only difference is now their bold enough to admit it and no amount of facts such as the Vice President of the Confederacy’s attack on the founding fathers for opposing Slavery and considering it evil will stop it.  What happened with Lefkowitz was the broken window theory of this type of thing


On a similar subject that’s a pet peeve of mine on twitter this week the subject of Transgenders altering their birth certificates to change their birth sex/name is something I think is very wrong.  A birth certificate is a legal document recording an actual event.  Namely a person was born of a particular sex to a particular set of parents on a particular date at a particular place.  These are all facts and are not subject to the whims or vanity of others.  Now if you wanted to create a document that was a “certification of live birth”  where a city can certify that a person who has a different legal birth name and a different legal birth sex was in fact born at a particular place on a particular year that would be a fair compromise but we have no business changing the written record.


Finally there is word that Dicks Sporting goods which made a big deal about being woke on guns is considering discontinuing guns altogether.  It actually makes perfect sense when you consider the reaction by gun owners to the company’s previous move:

“I’m not furious, not at all. They made a business decision. I get it. They want to step out of their non-political lane and become corporate activists. I can calmly step out of my lane, too. And given every chance I get, I will not use their products,” he said.

If buyers of guns with long memories are still angry and not going to your stores and you have no interest in getting their business back it’s a logical business decision to stop carrying items that might appeal to that customer base, the remaining guns and hunting items in this case,  and move to a set of items that appeal to the customers you still have.

It’s the same principle that MSNBC and the NYT is using when moving away from reality why give facts when your remaining base will only pay for propaganda?

What you have to believe to be Pro-Slavery Abortion

Abortion is the third pillar of the three great American evils that the democratic party has supported. The first was Slavery, the second was Jim Crow and the third is Abortion (Ironically all three target blacks and/or minorities). The day will come when people shake their heads wondering what folks were thinking for abortion in the same way they do on the others.

DaTechGuy We’re Fighting the Bloody Lot 1/20/2011

On this day of the annual Right to life march I hit a nerve with one of my liberal friends on twitter.

I was hitting Wendy Davis on her false narrative and pointed out that her claim to fame is supporting late-term abortion.  Once I tweeted that the entire thread became about abortion where I was fighting a lone pro-life battle (perhaps all my friends are in DC marching).

During the debate a woman scoffed at my dismissal of “choice” saying I would never have to make that “choice” when I answered

That struck a nerve and brought an instant reaction from a regular liberal member of my Magnificent Panel Maxine Baptise:

Maxine’s offense not withstanding I’ve been equating Abortion & Slavery for a long time. So for the sake of those who do not understand the argument let me make it as plain as possible. In order to morally justify slavery it is necessary to do one or more of the following:

1. Deny the Humanity of the slave:

Marshal: They’re mutants! Mutts! They’re diseased! To be wiped off the face of the planet!

Doctor Who The Mutants 1972

If a Slave is not human then you are not enslaving a human being so it doesn’t matter if you own a slave or how you treat one.

1a. Admit the humanity of the slave but maintain it is inferior.

Col Montgomery:  Look around. You really think anybody’s gonna put these boys into real combat? Do you? They’re little children, for God’s sake. They’re little monkey children.

Glory 1989

If you can’t deny the actual humanity of a slave you can instead insist that the slave is a lower form of life, Alexander Stephens (D-GA) famously made that case in the what has been called the cornerstone speech:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.

Hey slavery is OK these people are an inferior race.

2. Emphasize the slave as property not as a person.

Calvin Candie:Seeing as you won’t pay a penny for this pickaninny here, you won’t mind me handling this nigger here any way I see fit? Django:He’s your nigger.

Django unchained 2012

If you can’t manage to deny the humanity of the slave the next step is to emphasize the slave as property. After all the slave is owned by someone else and you have no business telling someone what to do with their own property.

3.  Insist that the alternative is worse:

Captain Kirk: If we win, the Enterprise and its crew leaves here in safety. Further more, all the thralls on the planet must be freed.
Provider Two: Anarchy. They would starve.

Star Trek The Gamesters of Triskelion 1968

Haggis: I hear they’re deserting ten at a time.
Col Shaw:
Oh, you’re misinformed. We haven’t had a single incident.
Kendrick: I figure the nigs never had it so good. Three square a day, a root over their heads.

Glory 1989

If you can’t make the humanity or the property argument then you can make the “they’re better off” under slavery after all how do you expect these people to feed themselves or clothe themselves, in fact you’re doing a public service by providing for those poor innocent soles.  Much better to leave them where they were. And if all else fails and you can’t find a moral justification for slavery you can find one to ignore it…

4.  Maintain it’s none of our business:

Cetshayo:  Do I go to the country of the white man and tell him to change his laws and customs?

Zulu Dawn 1979

I remember (although I can’t for the life of me find the quote) reading of a contemporary Englishman during the time of the civil war not understanding why Americans would bother to fight a war because one side wants to hire their servants by the other while the other chooses to hire them for life.  What business is it if the Barbary Pirates, or the Romans, or the British or the Spanish or the Americans or anyone else choose to hold slaves?  Live and let live you mind your business and I’ll mind mine if we do that we’ll all get along better.  It’s not out business.

5.  Insist It’s settled law

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person. US Constitution Article 1 Section 9 No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

US Constitution Article 4 Section 2 (cancelled by 13 Amendment)

The US constitution specifically allowed slavery and the importation of slaves until 1808. State Constitutions allowed it and it’s been the law of the land since those states were colonies. It’s one thing to forbid slavery in areas where it didn’t exist before but this is settled law and we’ve better off letting it be.

6.  And finally maintain we can’t really do anything about it anyways

Stephen: You can’t destroy Candieland! we’ve been here. There’s always going to be a Candieland!

Django Unchained 2012

Even if you don’t like slavery w hat do you expect us to do?   Raise millions of troops and fight a war costing hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars of property to end it? Even people who had no interest in slavery would fight against us?

Early in the conflict, he used to say, a squad of Union soldiers closed in on a ragged Johnny Reb. Figuring that he did not own slaves, nor had much interest in the constitutional question of secession, they asked him: “What are you fighting for, anyhow?” The Confederate replied: “I’m fighting because you’re down here.”

The Guardian June 5th 2005 Obit for Shelby Foote

Fight a way to end slavery, that’s just crazy religious extremist talk!

*********************************************************************************

If those arguments seems familiar that’s because you have been hearing then for 40+ years on the subject of Abortion.

1.  Abortion doesn’t kill a person

The fetus is biologically human only in the sense that any part of a human body is human: every cell carries the full genetic code. A severed hand is genetically human as well but we don’t call it a person.” Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

1a. The Unborn are humans but not “people”

  2.  My Body my choice

  3.  Do you want more poor children in the world?

4.  Don’t want an abortion?  Don’t have one.


5 & 6  Roe v wade is settled law and it’s a waste of time and resources to fight abortion.

**********************************

I want to close with one more tweet from today…

I suspect this tweet from the Pope will not get a whole lot of play today from the media that has lionized him.

…and a thought from 2009

 slavery was accepted as a fact of life for ten thousand years until a British Christian Named William Wilberforce pushed a government tirelessly. And this was in a society that harbored contempt and ridicule and stigmatization for religious enthusiasm. The elites or “polite society” considered it a transgression to believe and practice

Slavery has existed as long as human history.  I suspect no person alive today can fail to find a slave in their ancestry if they go back far enough.  It took the might of the Royal Navy to end the slave trade in the 1800’s and while slavery still exists in the world, particularly and ironically in Africa the reason why it is a hidden trade rather than an open one was due to the efforts of Christians like Wilberforce who withstood the same barbs that Christians who oppose abortion do today.

Update: Just heard on EWTN Everyone who was for Slavery was free, everyone who is for abortion is alive.

Why Washington Matters: Today: Washington the Emancipator

Baldrick: I still can’t believe you’re leaving me behind.
Blackadder: Oh don’t you worry. When we’re established on our plantation in Barbados I’ll send for you. No more sad little London for you Balders. From now on you will stand out in life as an individual.
Baldrick: Will I?
Blackadder: Indeed. All the other slaves will be black.

Black Adder Amy and Amiability 1987

Ben Franklin:  First things first, John … Independence. America. If we don’t secure that, what difference will the rest make?

1776 1972

The final in my series of post on Why Washington Matters don’t miss Part one (Washington the Revolutionary) Part two (Washington the General) and Part three (Washington the leader/president)

If there is any post title that would cause confusion among readers it’s this one.  George Washington the Emancipator?  For most of his life, Washington owned slaves.  When he married his wife, she brought even more slaves to the marriage and at the time of his death the number of slaves he owned was considerable.

In this modern age where slavery exists only in Africa and parts of Arabia where Blacks and Muslims enslave other blacks (to the silence of the media) and the sex trade (where slavery by other names is an international scourge and also pretty much ignored) this concept doesn’t wash, but in the age of Washington Slavery was not only a norm but had been a norm in the world for the history of…the entire world.

And in addition to full slavery, there were indentured servants bound to masters by contract for years and other systems by which men were held by other men.  From Morocco to the Americas slavery and forced servitude was a norm of convenience and profit wherever you went.

To this world Washington was born and raised, in a culture where slavery was a total norm, yet look at the record as commander in chief:

In his General Orders of 30 December 1775, he gave “leave to the recruiting Officers to entertain … Free Negroes [that] are desirous of inlisting” should Congress approve the new policy. Writing to John Hancock the next day he couched his order in terms of military necessity: “free Negroes who have served in this army are very much dissatisfied at being discarded. As it is to be apprehended that they may seek employ in the Ministerial Army, I have … given license for their being enlisted.”

It would have been remarkably easy for Washington the Virginia planter and slaveholder to let this be.

At the Constitutional convention he spoke very little, how easy would it have been for Washington, slaveholder and southern to push for slavery, to argue against the constitutionally mandated end to the slave trade.  How much of a pull on the delegates would his voice have been if he choose to make the case?

As president although he singed a fugitive slave law he also signed a law  he signed a law affirming the ban on slavery in the Northwest territories. How easy would it have been for a unanimously elected Washington to argue against such affirmation? How many of his friends and fellow slave holders, involved in land speculation would have wanted to bring their “property” to those lands?

Then in the final act in his will.  He freed his slaves.

While it was acknowledged even by Confederate leaders such as Alexander Stephens that the founding fathers considered Slavery wrong:

The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away.

It was he and he ALONE of the slaveholders who would occupy the White House that would free his slaves. After carefully steering the ship of state that was in danger of splitting apart on its maiden voyage he took the act, which has great symbolic meaning at a time when it was least likely to produce an argument against but would shine as his final example at the period when an entire nation would be in mourning for him.

Some in the 21st century might look at this 18th century man’s act as trivial? Why not do this BEFORE death? One might as well condemn Lincoln for not pushing for women’s suffrage. Consider this. Just two years after Washington’s death William Henry Harrison who would later be 9th president was appointed governor of the Indiana Territory. The slaveholding Harrison pushed vigorously for the legalization of slavery there and his allies in congress managed to get article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance/ forbidding slavery suspended for ten years.

Imagine the difference in the close debate if Harrison won, imagine what the country would look like if Harrison’s foes in the debate didn’t have the example of Washington as emancipator to use?

Washington’s act was extraordinary and the proof is that Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Tyler, Polk and Taylor did not copy it. Lincoln among president might have been the great emancipator but Washington was the first emancipator.

In summary for all of these reasons:
Washington the revolutionary
Washington the General
Washington the Leader/President
Washington the Emancipator
I argue President’s day once again be known far and wide as Washington’s birthday.   I further submit and suggest that George Washington is and remains the greatest American who ever lived.

and I don’t think it’s even close.

Why Washington Matters Today: Washington the Leader/President

The 3rd of a four-part series of why George Washington Matters, Monday, Washington the Revolutionary, yesterday Washington the General, today Washington the Leader/President

It has become fashionable for some historians to play down George Washington as president and raise more recent people above him.  Abe Lincoln due to his victory in the Civil War gets high marks, FDR’s win in WW 2 and Reagan’s in the Cold War both make them loom large particularly since both Reagan & FDR are still in living Memory and George Washington is from an age so remote to many his presidency becomes ancient history .  You were dealing with a smaller country, less communication,

But to really appreciate Washington the president and the leader you have to look at three specific things.

First Washington at the end of his military career.

Up to the time of Washington and afterwards as well history abounded with examples of leaders of armies who used those armies to take absolute power.  At the end of the War Washington was the single most popular person in America.  As a man with just about everything the only thing he didn’t have was a crown or a title.

It was in his grasp, all he had to do is reach out to have it and he would be the head of an American constitutional monarchy.

And he declined.

It was a move worthy of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and a shock to the powerbrokers of Europe.

But as much as it impressed the men of Europe it impressed his countrymen more he presided at the constitutional convention having very little confidence in the resulting system but accepted the presidency when elected unanimously.

This was the 2nd phase.  Despite the lack of confidence in the system he governed with discretion and skill  knowing every action that he would take would be the model for the country to follow and acting in a manner that aided rather than retarded a system that he thought would fail measuring carefully words and deeds for the sake of future generations .

The third phase was the end of his term.  It’s one thing to refuse imperial power when you’ve never had authority, but Washington now had two full terms under him.  He could keep power with the veneer of republicanism  he might have justified serving a 3rd term simply to delay the decent into parties and partisan divisions that already existed.

He did not and when he gave his farewell address assigned the credit for all of his success to the people:

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; than, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation, which is yet a stranger to it.

In this Washington didn’t just equal Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who twice gave up power over Rome, he exceeded him by not only giving up power but crediting his success to the people.

It would be 144 years before a president was arrogant enough to consider himself in indispensable.  In closing think of the leaders and the pols of today.  If any of them had the chance for permanent power do you imagine any of them would surrender it?

The nation has seen greatness in the White House, but it has not seen the greatness of a Washington.

Tomorrow Washington the Emancipator