Quote of the Day: Veterans Day 2022

J.E. Dyer:

Americans instinctively know that empires bring more wars, not fewer. Over the centuries, Europeans have had ample opportunity to learn the same lesson, and many still understand it. The surge of so-called “populism” in much of the world today, and not just the West, is largely about not being dragooned into empires, in which taxes and mandates on the people, and each generation’s fighting men, are devoted to the agendas of rulers at some level that can’t be held accountable.
 
[. . .]
 
We don’t fight for abstractions that may bring others unknown to us under the rule of emperors. We fight so that fighting will stop, and we will have homes to go home to when it does. We fight so that the vulnerable and beloved among us can live securely in peace. We fight so that empires cannot prey on us, whether attacking us in our cities and farms or denying us tradeways and travel and interaction with our fellow men. We fight so that self-organizing “tribes,” subject to ideological fits, cannot wage guerrilla war among us.

On the PBS News Hour today or yesterday two American think-tank people discussed the Biden administration’s new enthusiasm for promoting a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine war. (The Biden people now sound like Elon Musk, except that when Musk said it people who usually support Biden called Musk a Putin supporter. Perhaps Biden finds that he can be more flexible now that the elections are over.)

One of the think-tank people, agreeing with the Administration, said that an imperfect negotiated settlement in Ukraine is preferable to the risk of nuclear war. The other think tanker said that, on the contrary, the Ukrainians are winning, and since their cause is just we should help them to reclaim all of their land and win a complete victory. The obvious (unasked) question was, Why should we even consider taking such a risk? We may sympathize with Ukraine and supply them with weapons, but risk a major war? A possible perfect outcome isn’t worth additional fighting, death, unpredictability and geopolitical peril if a muddled-through deal that leaves everyone unhappy but puts a quick stop to the fighting is available.

The Biden people and too many members of Congress have been gratuitously bellicose towards Russia. And of course Biden pulled us out of Afghanistan in a way that could only have encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine. Our leaders have forgotten, or never knew, the first principles to which J.E. Dyer alludes.

The End of Debate?

Yarelyn Mena, a 29-year-old graduate of CUNY and Fordham University, served as a lawyer for Johnny Depp in the  Depp–Heard   trial.  A high profile case like this represented a big opportunity for a fairly recent graduate, and she apparently did a very good job in her cross-examination of Heard.  Jonathan Turley says of her cross-examination:  “It was considered the turning point of one of the most famous trials in modern history. It is something that should be a matter of great pride for the CUNY community and, not surprisingly, the website did an article on their graduate…It is an extraordinary story for a woman who came with her family from the Dominican Republic. She proceeded to graduate from CUNY and then received her law degree from Fordham University. That is a quintessential American story of achievement that any institution should relish and highlight. She noted in the interview that “(Law) was the first career that I knew of before I even really understood what it was.””

But many students were outraged, and the article was removed from the website with an apology:

We understand the strong negative emotions this article elicited and apologize for publishing the item. We have removed it from our CUNYverse blog. The article was not meant to convey support for Mr. Depp, implicitly or otherwise, or to call into question any allegations that were made by Amber Heard. Domestic violence is a serious issue in our society and we regret any pain this article may have caused.

Turley:  ”

“The “pain” caused by the article was an account of a graduate doing her job as an advocate. We have gotten to the point that people are incapable of recognizing that everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense and that the lawyers are fulfilling essential roles in protecting the rule of law.  The only thing that matters is that the lawyer represented someone accused of abuse (even though the jury clearly found that Heard lied with malice in the trial). Even lawyers defending a client must now be cancelled to protect others from the pain of dealing with a trial on spousal abuse.”

The reaction of the angry students represents a rejection of the whole concept of adversary proceedings in the legal process.  Apparently, a sufficiently-unpopular plaintiff or defendant must not have representation because we know they’re in the wrong…no need to hear evidence, no need to see what the statute books and the precedents actually say.

The class of people displaying this attitude is by no means restricted just to college students and to cowardly administrators.  Two lawyers at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, who won a major gun-rights case before the Supreme Court, were told that they had to abandon such clients.  According to one of these lawyers:

We were given a stark choice: either withdraw from ongoing representations or withdraw from the firm,” Clement said in a statement. “Anyone who knows us and our views regarding professional responsibility and client loyalty knows there was only one course open to us: We could not abandon ongoing representations just because a client’s position is unpopular in some circles.

Again, one would think that a law firm would be proud to have two of its lawyers win a major Supreme Court case…evidently not.

The attitude that there can only be one view expressed is not limited to law.  The Cancellation of speakers, the suppression of unapproved views by social media…these are all aspects of same basic phenomenon.  It is somewhat similar to the old traditionalist Catholic position that Error has no rights…the number of people claiming that they have the authority to decide what is an “error”, and what is not, is now much larger.

Your thoughts as to causes, and remedies..if any?

 

Shall It Be Sustained?

As a July 4th tradition, I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People.  The title I originally used for these posts was It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.

Narrator:

This is Independence Day,
Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
Whatever happens and whatever falls
Out of a sky grown strange;
This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
The day of the parade,
Slambanging down the street.
Listen to the parade!
There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
The Fire Department and the local Grange,
There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
There are the veterans and the Legion Post
(Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
Good-humored, watching, hot,
Silent a second as the flag goes by,
Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
All of them there and all of them a nation.
And, afterwards,
There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
By somebody the Honorable Who,
The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
Will read the declaration.
That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
That’s our fourth of July.

And a lean farmer on a stony farm
Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
And walked ten miles to town.
Musket in hand.
He didn’t know the sky was falling down
And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
By kings or any such.
A workman in the city dropped his tools.
An ordinary, small-town kind of man
Found himself standing in the April sun,
One of a ragged line
Against the skilled professionals of war,
The matchless infantry who could not fail,
Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
But first, and principally, since he was sore.
They could do things in quite a lot of places.
They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

Benet’s poem ends with these words:

We made it and we make it and it’s ours
We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

But shall it?

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Response to David that wandered off

I think this supports your point, David, but prompted less by reasoning than impulse:  I am not discriminating in my television viewing,  but, frustrated when Trump seems less persuasive than he should be, I turn off his speeches and interviews.   I didn’t really want to vote for him, but to vote any other way was to betray America to a nominee and a party of grifters, liars, and if not actual traitors then a good imitation.  But within the first day he did many sensible and surprising things – and it continued. He was surprising, directed, somewhat idealistic but also practical.  Energy independence – at last someone who understood its value, the importance of energy!  So, his feckless opposition won and here we are – having thrown away an incredibly important position.   (Remember how Pelosi told us when Palin campaigned,  we couldn’t drill our way to independence?  Is it always 2008 or 2012 for those people?)

Talk of his totalitarian streak was absurd; he was bombastic, the force of his will and personality dominate any scene. But his belief that a buy-in from Europe was necessary for true partnership and for NATO to fulfill its mission was that of an honest partner; he thought Israel should be able to decide where its capitol was, he took seriously the North African sentiments – expressed before but not taken seriously – that they had other fears and other fish to fry, they weren’t solely defined by Palestine.  He thought Congress should take responsibility and the states should not be ridden over in a national power grab, he accepted the division of adversaries – the executive needed to stand up to foreign powers and the states should be responsible for keeping law and order, even if he found some mayors and governors frustrating.  This gaudy entrepreneur argued for prudence – lowering the price of the presidential plane, fighting waste and increasing productivity.  He accepted a structure that didn’t make him king.  He was not a tall Fauci and he hadn’t the Doctor’s Napoleon complex.  He understood schools’ influence, money and policies should arise from local entities.  He backed de Vos as she increased choices for parents and justice in controlling campus crime.  He valued the blood of our soldiers in a way that Biden never has.

More perceptive people got out of his speeches the energy and vision I appreciated.  Of course, I’d rather  a leader acted like a statesman than sounded like one and it would have been nice if idiots on the other side didn’t reduce everything to ad hominem. His defended himself  – fiercely, quickly, angrily fired back before all the lies or nasty memes became immersed in the wide subconscious.  Of course, you are right, a more systematic, rational presentation would have been useful; it also might have raised the level of discussion to policy (where I suspect much more than half the nation would have stood with him).  Unfortunately for us, the Churchills and Lincolns of the world don’t come around that often.  And even a well-formed argument isn’t a skill America values as it once did.  (I taught freshman rhetoric for years. Sure, we read Orwell, sure we talked about the fallacies, but I don’t think I knew and certainly didn’t teach the formal structures that help a writer solidify and reason an audience to agreement.)

I insisted on facts and objectivity and always assumed a knowable and falsifiable truth.  The following segues shamelessly to another tempting arena, demonstrating erratic organization.

An interesting take-down of CRT in terms of the Enlightenment/Romanticism is spelled out in the American Enterprise podcast, hosted by Thiessen and Pletka, “WTH is critical race theory? How a philosophy that inspired Marxism, Nazism, and Jim Crow is making its way into our schools, and what we can do”:

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