Friday, November 19, 2021

Sen. Fulbright on Vietnam

This post of an excerpt by the Abbeville Institute from William Fulbright’s book The Arrogance of Power reminds us that not all Southerners are idiots as the New York Times and Washington Post would have us believe.  The people who got us into Afghanistan and Iraq would have done well to read Fulbright’s book.  Fulbright wrote:

The attitude above all others which I feel sure is no longer valid is the arrogance of power, the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue and major responsibilities with a universal mission. The dilemmas involved are preeminently American dilemmas, not because America has weaknesses that others do not have but because America is powerful as no nation has ever been before and the discrepancy between its power and the power of others appears to be increasing….

We are now engaged in a war to “defend freedom” in South Vietnam. Unlike the Republic of Korea, South Vietnam has an army which [is] without notable success and a weak, dictatorial government which does not command the loyalty of the South Vietnamese people. The official war aims of the United States Government, as I understand them, are to defeat what is regarded as North Vietnamese aggression, to demonstrate the futility of what the communists call “wars of national liberation,” and to create conditions under which the South Vietnamese people will be able freely to determine their own future. I have not the slightest doubt of the sincerity of the President and the Vice President and the Secretaries of State and Defense in propounding these aims. What I do doubt and doubt very much_is the ability of the United States to achieve these aims by the means being used. I do not question the power of our weapons and the efficiency of our logistics; I cannot say these things delight me as the y seem to delight some of our officials, but they are certainly impressive. What I do question is the ability of the United States, or France or any other Western nation, to go into a small, alien, undeveloped Asian nation and create stability where there is chaos, the will to fight where there is defeatism, democracy racy where there is no tradition of it and honest government where corruption is almost a way of life. Our handicap is well expressed in the pungent Chinese proverb: “In shallow waters dragons become the sport of shrimps.”

Early last month demonstrators in Saigon burned American jeeps, tried to assault American soldiers, and marched through the streets shouting “Down with the American imperialists,” while one of the Buddhist leaders made a speech equating the United States with the communists as a threat to South Vietnamese independence. Most Americans are understandably shocked ant angered to encounter such hostility from people who by now would be under the rule of the Viet Cong but for the sacrifice of American lives and money. Why, we may ask, are they so shockingly ungrateful? Surely they must know that their very right to parade and protest and demonstrate depends on the Americans who are defending them.

The answer, I think, is that “fatal impact” of the rich and strong on the poor and weak. Dependent on it though the Vietnamese are, our very strength is a reproach to their weakness, our wealth a mockery of their poverty, our success a reminder of their failures. What they resent is the disruptive effect of our strong culture upon their fragile one, an effect which we can no more avoid than a man can help being bigger than a child. What they fear, I think rightly, is that traditional Vietnamese society cannot survive the American economic and cultural impact….

The cause of our difficulties in southeast Asia is not a deficiency of power but an excess of the wrong kind of power which results in a feeling of impotence when it fails to achieve its desired ends. We are still acting like boy scouts dragging reluctant old ladies across the streets they do not want to cross. We are trying to remake Vietnamese society, a task which certainly cannot be accomplished by force and which probably cannot be accomplished by any means available to outsiders. The objective may b e desirable, but it is not feasible….

If America has a service to perform in the world_and I believe it has_it is in large part the service of its own example. In our excessive involvement in the affairs of other countries, we are not only living off our assets and denying our own people the proper enjoyment of their resources; we are also denying the world the example of a free society enjoying its freedom to the fullest. This is regrettable indeed for a nation that aspires to teach democracy to other nations, because, as Burke said!

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” . . .

There are many respects in which America, if it can bring itself to act with the magnanimity and the empathy appropriate to its size and power, can be an intelligent example to the world. We have the opportunity to set an example of generous understanding in our relations with China, of practical cooperation for peace in our relations with Russia, of reliable and respectful partnership in our relations with Western Europe, of material helpfulness without moral presumption in our relations with the developing nations, of abstention from the temptations of hegemony in our relations with Latin America, and of the all- around advantages of minding one’s own business in our relations with everybody. Most of all, we have the opportunity to serve as an example o f democracy to the world by the way in which we run our own society; America, in the words of John Quincy Adams, should be “the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all” but “the champion and vindicator only of her own.” . …

If we can bring ourselves so to act, we will have overcome the dangers of the arrogance of power. It will involve, no doubt, the loss of certain glories, but that seems a price worth paying for the probable rewards, which are the happiness of America and the peace of the world.

From J. William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power (Random House, 1967).


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Polls Are Wprthless

 John Heilman looked like an out of touch idiot on “Morning Joe” this morning, as did most of his Democratic diehard colleagues sitting around the table.  The polls on the Virginia governor’s race were off, but the polls on the New Jersey governor’s race had no resemblance to reality.  Whether the Democrat Murphy wins or loses, the polls about the election that had him winning easily were wrong. 

Polling companies in America appear to be corrupt, bought by the Democrats who cite the fake polls everyday in the political punditry.  Based on polls, Hillary Clinton prepared a big fireworks display to mark her victory over Donald Trump in the 2018 presidential election.  Polling data seems to be strongly biased in favor of Democratic candidates, and the Democrats seem to cite polling more than Republicans, since the polling favors them. 

Unfortunately it makes the media and election campaigns look corrupt and undermines public faith in elections and democracy.  Joe Scarborough, John Heilman and the other Democrats are leading efforts against free and fair elections that are as damaging as Donald Trump’s.  America is becoming a third-world country, at least in part due to the Democrats plan to bring in as many third-world immigrants as possible to stuff the ballots for the Democrats. 

Youngkin’s victory, however, shows that there is hope for future elections, despite the Democratic pundits’ efforts to control them.  

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Infrastructure Is Reparations

There are two components to the “infrastructure” plan being debated in Congress – a plan to do construction and a plan to distribute money to people. There is bipartisan support for the “hard” infrastructure bill to repair roads and bridges, expand internet access, and do other types of physical work. The “soft” distribution portion is actually a down payment on reparations for slavery. President Biden is committed to paying reparations because his election was totally dependent on the support of the black community, epitomized by his primary victory in South Carolina, which was engineered by black congressman Jim Clyburn, and which made him the Democratic nominee after losing badly in earlier primaries.

Although President Biden has traditionally been a moderate Democrat, his obligations to both the black electorate and the progressive wing of the Democratic party are pushing him strongly to the left. The gigantic portion of his infrastructure plan that is not for physical construction is a sop to the progressives and the blacks. Its goal is a transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, especially to people of color. It addresses inequality and calls for reparations, although the funding is not explicitly called “reparations.”  Biden is paying his debts to those who elected him.

Since it is not called reparations, it will not end the calls for reparations, but it will temporarily appease blacks, who will benefit disproportionately from the soft money for childcare, paid leave, unemployment insurance, and other social safety net provisions.

First, the soft provisions bill must pass. If it does, we will see how much time it buys Biden to deal with the pressure from the people of color on the left. No matter how many trillion dollars it is, it will not be enough.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Lee on Slavery

 


The following is from a Christmas 1856 letter that Robert E. Lee wrote to his wife.  At the time he had never owned more than half a dozen slaves, and they had probably been inherited or given to him by his father-in-law, Mr. Custis. 

“In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral & political evil in any Country.  It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages.  I think it however a greater evil to the white than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in hehalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former.  The blacks are immeasurable better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically.  The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things.  How long their subjection may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.  Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.  This influence though slow, is sure.  The doctrines & miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years, to Convert but a small part of the human race, & even amont Christian nations, what gross errors still exist! While we see the Course of the final abolition of human Slavery is onward & we give it the aid of our prayers & all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands who sees the end; who Chooses to work by slow influences & with whom two thousand years are but a Single day.  Although the Abolitionist must know this, & must See that he has neither the right or power of operating except by moral means & suasion, & if he means well to the slave, he must not Create angry feelings in the Master; that although he may not approve the mode by which it pleases Providence to accomplish its purpose, the result will nevertheless be the same; that the reasons he gives for interference in what he has no Concern, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbors when we disapprove their Conduct; Still I fear he will persevere in his evil Course.  Is it not strange that the descendants of those pilgrim fathers who Crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion, have always proved themselves intolerant of the Spiritual liberty of others?”   

From Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Rise of Muslims after 9/11

 

Watching the analysis of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I was stuck by how many of the talking heads were Muslims.  It looked like 9/11 and Osama bin Laden were the best things that ever happened to American Muslims.  Twenty years ago, you seldom saw women wearing head scarfs; now you see them everywhere. 

It was a rough few years for Muslims immediately after 9/11 as suspicious minds tended to believe that all Muslims were terrorists.  But then the reaction set in.  American media and academia defended and supported Muslims as good, ordinary people.  As a result Muslims and Islamic ideas have become much more important to American politics and thinking.  America has become more Islamic and less Christian. 

Islamists not only won the war in Afghanistan, they won the war for minds in America.  Osama bin Laden did not “win,” but he should be proud of what he accomplished in terms of promoting Islam. 

In 2001, there were no Muslims in the American Congress; today there are three.  More and more Muslims are running for office and assuming more important positions around the country.  The Los Angeles Times reports that Muslims are becoming more politically active, particularly in Michigan which has a large Muslim community.  The PBS NewsHour, under Muslim Amna Nawaz’s leadership, has been particularly active in lobbying for and promoting Muslims and Islam in the US.   

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Another View of Lee

The Abbeville Institute published a letter by L. Q. C. Lamar written on December 5, 1870, to commemorate Robert E. Lee’s death, which offers view of Lee very different from what we hear today.  Lamar wrote:

The day of his death will be the anniversary of the South’s great sorrow. But it was not his darkest day. I was at Appomattox when the flag which had been borne in triumph upon his many battlefields was torn from his loving and reluctant grasp. After the terms of capitulation had been arranged, chance brought him to the spot where my tent was pitched.

 

I had seen him often before. On one occasion, especially, I remember how he appeared in a consultation of leading men, where, amid the greatest perturbations, his mind seemed to repose in majestic poise and serenity. Again, I saw him immediately after one of his grand battles, while the light of victory shone upon his brow.

 

But never shall I forget how completely his wonted composure was overthrown in this last sad interview. Every lineament of his grand face writhed, and the big tears fell from his eyes as he spoke of the anguish of the scene he had just witnessed. And yet his whole presence breathed the hero still. A consciousness of a great calamity to be greatly endured gave to his face the grandeur of victory as well as the mournfulness of death; and when he exclaimed, “It is worse than death!” I could easily see how he would have welcomed the grave for himself and all that he loved, could it have only averted his country’s awful woe. Ah, my countrymen! well may you weep over his grave, for there lies one whose heart broke in the very tension of its love for you and your country….

 

To Lee self-assertion was a thing unknown. His growth into universal favor and honor was the result of a slowly dawning consciousness in the popular mind of his retiring merit and transcendent excellence, of that affinity which silently draws together great men and great places when a nation is convulsed.

  

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Voting

Both the Democrats and the Republicans want to change American voting laws.  The Democrats want to make it easier to vote and make it more difficult to confirm that voters are legally eligible to vote.  The Republicans want to make it easier to confirm that voters are eligible to vote without denying any eligible voter the right to vote. 

I favor the old-fashioned method of having every voter to personally to a voting booth in his precinct.  He should have picture ID which would be inspected by poll workers to make sure that he is someone on their list of registered voters.  The precincts should be small enough that they do not have to handle thousands of voters trying to vote at once, creating unwieldy lines and long waits.  Americans voted like this for hundreds of years and can keep doing so.  Black voters were discriminated against and prevented from voting, but not because they had to vote in person; it was because of other requirements imposed specifically to keep blacks from voting.  Absentee ballots should be difficult, but not impossible to get for people who really need them.  They should be return by election day. 

The Democrats want to change the laws to make it easier for more and more black people to vote, because blacks vote on only one issue – race – which means they almost all vote automatically for Democrats.  In the last election, Democrats assumed that Hispanics would vote like blacks and vote overwhelmingly Democratic, but Hispanics vote because of their views on a number of issues and do not vote as a bloc as blacks do.  Many successful Hispanics are dug into the American free enterprise system and vote relatively conservatively.  However, new immigrants like those currently flooding in from Central America predictably vote Democratic, which is why the Democrats are so eager to get them in and naturalized as quickly as possible.  If they get more power, they will certainly shorten the wait time and reduce the requirements to become American citizens who can vote. 

The states that put Biden over top in the 2020 election changed their laws to make it easer to vote shortly before the election.  Now they complain that the Republicans are changing voting laws while there is much more time to discuss them publicly.  The Republicans are in part trying to undo the changes that the Democrats made in 2020 and go back to the way we have voted for a hundred years.