Saturday, June 27, 2015
Lowering the Confederate Flag: Politically Correct or Just Correct?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 27, 2015
I have never lived in the “Deep South.” Three years in El Paso, TX and 15 in the DC/Northern Virginia area far from constitutes the South, let alone the Deep South. That said, as a historian, writer, and Jewish American, I understand the complexities surrounding the issue of the Confederate flag.
Yes, complexities. For while the flag represents Southern pride to many people who are neither bigots nor racists, the flag itself is emblematic of a bygone era of just that – bigotry and racism. It is the rebel flag. Rebelling against what? Against the way of life lived by the Union, represented by the Stars and Stripes. A life of freedom for all – black and white – living up to the words of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”
The bygone era is that of slavery and the stings and pangs of enormous pain brought to bear by the representation of that flag adorning the plantation homes of thousands of slave owners. And while no one in these United States has been a slave or slave owner, legally, since 1865 and the finality of the War Between the States, the message of the Confederate flag lives on.
Because more than a message of Southern pride, the Confederate flag is still a message of hate, separation, and superiority to far too many for whom it is a source of arrogance. The flip side is that the flag serves as a source of degradation, shame, and inferiority.
As a Jewish American I understand the feelings of those hurt by the sight of the Confederate flag. It is akin to seeing the Nazi flag, emblazoned with its swastika. Both flags represent pride to some, pain to others. Both also represent the losing sides in grave conflagrations.
The burning question remains – is the lowering of the Confederate flag politically correct or just correct?
In war, just as in elections, to the victors go the spoils. The Union emerged victorious in the War Between the States, and thus the Stars and Stripes soar high above state capital buildings across the fruited plains. Flags of the vanquished should be lowered and relegated to museums for people to see, learn about, and study why it is there. Both South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) have already called for the removal of the Confederate flag from their respective capital domes – a flag raised by Democrat governors in the first place.
One cannot erase history, nor should attempts to do so succeed. One cannot sanitize or whitewash the past, nor should attempts to do so succeed. After all, “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)
The Confederate flag must remain a visible part of American history – in its appropriate context, which now, in 21st Century America, is in museums, textbooks, and battlefield sites. And with regard to battlefield sites, the Pittsburgh Action News reported Gettysburg National Military Park will no longer sell items featuring the Confederate flag by itself. Items paired with the American flag will continue to be available, and educational materials depicting the Confederate flag will also remain on the shelves. Additionally, USA Today reported that the National Park Service will also remove Confederate flag items from its bookstores and gift shops.
The same paper also reported that Apple is removing all games and apps containing the Confederate flag – much to the chagrin of a developer. The developer, Game-Labs, was told if they altered the game, sans Confederate flag, it could return to the shelves. Game-Labs declined noting it would weaken the integrity of the game “Ultimate General: Gettysburg.” It would seem odd for a game or app pertaining to the War Between the States to not depict the flags of both sides of a war. Perhaps Game-Labs will find another tech company to market the product. Business is business and should consumers want the item they will buy it while those finding it objectionable will not.
The Battle of Gettysburg, a very pivotal battle during the War Between the States, was fought in Adams County, PA, July 1-3, 1863. The teaching and study of history is vital, cannot be expunged and to attempt to do so is supremely arrogant.
Should businesses opt to remove items from the shelves containing the Confederate flag, they are within their purview to do so. The public will speak with its wallets. My wife Vicky raised a good point when suggesting one can still purchase Nazi paraphernalia and perhaps that should no longer be permitted. Granted, one would be hard pressed to find swastika-laden items in Target, Wal-Mart, or any other mainstream store, but if one wants to find them, they can find them. It’s an economic concept that has succeeded for years called supply and demand.
After all, Nation of Islam leader and anti-American race hustler Louis Eugene Wolcott, a.k.a. Louis Farrakhan, called for the removal of the American flag. “We need to put the American flag down.” There is little support for that idea, and any American opposed to the American flag can get the hell out of our country. Yet, Farrakhan is free to utter such bilge, and just as free to not shop at any store selling American flags. The difference between the two flags is that one represents a bygone era of a lost war and the other still waving proudly over capital buildings, stadiums, schools (for now), businesses, and even embassies overseas.
The perniciousness of an idea, concept, written or spoken word, however distasteful or offensive, still falls under the protection of First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is incumbent upon the people to ensure that the government of the United States does not overstep its bounds where the people’s right to decide is concerned.
The symbols portrayed by the Confederate flag and the Nazi flag are known to the people. Should someone decide to wear a Confederate flag belt buckle that is his right. He in turn outs himself as someone supporting the tenor and ideology behind those symbols – for better or worse. The Confederate flag no longer represents the current ideology of the states of the former Confederate States of America. There is no longer a Confederate States of America, but it is still an important subject in history books and museums. That is where its flag should reside – for all to learn about the greatness of the South as well as the sins of the South.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator of history living in Westfield, IN.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Courage Award Not Courageous
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 7, 2015
Falling prey to the politically correct crowd does not in any way demonstrate courage, nor is it living up to the credo of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award as presented by ESPN in their annual ESPYS award program.
The award, named for the late, great tennis player, and first black man to win a Grand Slam event, who demonstrated courage for fighting AIDS, a disease he contracted from a tainted blood transfusion. As the stigma pertaining to AIDS and the HIV virus was still overwhelmingly negative across virtually all corners of society in 1988 when Ashe learned he had the disease, he remained silent about his condition until 1992 when a newspaper planned to print a story about his health.
Interestingly, Ashe’s early career mirrored that of Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Both graduated UCLA followed by stints in the military. Ashe served for two years in the United States Army. Sadly, both Ashe and Robinson died far too soon.
Ashe died at age 49 on February 6, 1993 (also Ronald Reagan’s birthday), but not before spending his remaining days being an outspoken advocate promoting AIDS awareness. The award named for Ashe in display of his courage is presented to that person leaving an imprint beyond the field of play.
What ESPN did was make a mockery of the award and worse yet, the memory of Ashe by announcing that the 2015 award would be presented to former Olympic gold medalist and winner of the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games, Bruce Jenner.
Jenner, while going through some ungodly, immoral, body transformation is still alive, while the bona fide recipient of the award should be presented posthumously to Lauren Hill of Greendale, Indiana. Jenner, unhappy with his identity as a man, decided to tinker with the gifts G-d gave him in order to call himself a woman. This is not courageous, but to the PC crowd, this makes Jenner some sort of icon in a world where he represents barely a percentage of the people.
Lauren Hill, who, among other things, was a collegiate basketball player at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. At age 18 Hill was diagnosed with a rare inoperable brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. In spite of the odds weighing heavily against her, Hill continued her basketball regimen of practices with the team in an effort to suit up for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference schedule.
Because of the rapid progression of the cancer, the NCAA permitted not only a date change, but a venue change that would bring Hiram College to Cincinnati two weeks earlier than scheduled instead of Mount St. Joseph’s making the more than 300 mile trip to Hiram. Hiram is located in northeast Ohio and was the one time home of President James A. Garfield.
So eagerly anticipated was Hill’s appearance in the game versus Hiram, that fan support warranted moving the game from Mount St. Joseph’s gym seating 2,000 people to the Cintas Center at Xavier University, also in Cincinnati, with a capacity of 10,250 – all of which would prove necessary. In that November 2 game, Hill scored the first and last baskets of the game in Mount St. Joseph’s 66-55 win over Hiram.
The Cintas Center would once again host Hill on April 13 in a public visitation and memorial service three days following her April 10 passing at age 19 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
In the interim, Hill would play in three more games for the Division III Lions, making three baskets before her health declined to the point she could no longer suit up. In January, Hill served as an assistant coach for a game and in February, Hill was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the university. In March, Hill was named to the all-conference first team “in recognition of her courage and outstanding leadership,” said conference Commissioner Chris Ragsdale. Five days before Hill died, she was presented with the Pat Summit Courage Award, named for the longtime Hall of Fame coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team.
Additionally, Hill helped raise over $1.5 million for pediatric cancer research through a Cincinnati telethon for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and beyond the telethon itself. For more information about the charity, visit www.thecurestartsnow.org. This charity is a member of GuideStar Exchange which rates and evaluates the legitimacy of charities.
It would seem rather obvious that if Lauren Hill was courageous enough to be named to the all-conference team and be given the Pat Summit Courage Award, she sure as hell deserves the Arthur Ashe Courage Award over Bruce Jenner who is roaming around like a hermaphroditic cross dresser. Jenner’s behavior neither needs nor deserves public endorsement.
Jenner can dress as he wishes, call himself any name he chooses, dance with a panda bear if he so desires, but that does not warrant an ESPY for courage over a young woman who not only displayed indomitable spirit and gave hope to thousands of sick and dying children, but literally played through pain and adversity while dying. Lauren Hill brought attention to a disease in a dignified manner while managing to not only put a human face to it, but raise much needed funds to hopefully find a cure. She died at the painfully young age of 19, and was more than courageous and graceful in touching the face of G-d.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Obama Jewish? My Tuchus He Is
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 4, 2015
Recently Barack Obama opined to his former senior advisor David Axelrod, “You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office. For people to say that I am anti-Israel, or even worse, anti-Semitic, it hurts.” (www.jpupdates.com)
Well, Mr. Obama, stop reading because there’s going to be a whole lot of hurt to follow, as if Obama is actually reading this.
On its prima facie, there can easily be a knee-jerk reaction to Obama’s visceral behavior toward Israel, its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and by extension the Jewish people not just in the United States, but universally.
Yet even I understand that just because Obama may not have the warmest relationship with Netanyahu doesn’t make Obama anti-Israel. Is Obama anti-Israel because he disparaged Netanyahu in November 2011 over an open microphone in a conversation with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy? Is Obama anti-Israel because he refused to meet with Netanyahu during his September 2012 UN visit? Is Obama anti-Israel because he made no effort to determine which member of his administration called Netanyahu a “chickenshit” in October 2014? Is Obama anti-Israel because from January through March of this year he repeatedly criticized Netanyahu for coming to the United States and delivering a speech to the body Congress, by invitation from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)? (http://sanfordspeaksout.blogspot.com/2015/03/bibi-brings-down-house-and-senate.html) Is Obama anti-Israel for not meeting with Netanyahu following his Capitol Hill speech? Is Obama anti-Israel for trying to influence and interfere with Israel’s elections in March? Taken individually, probably not – just personal animus toward Netanyahu.
However, Obama’s demands for Israel to return to its pre-1967 War borders certainly was not in the best interest of the tiny Jewish state, roughly the size of New Jersey. Obama’s continual turning of a blind eye to Iran’s proliferation of materials for the construction and ultimate use of nuclear weaponry against Israel is demonstrative of someone who is anti-Israel. In the last year and a half, Iran has increased its nuclear stockpile by 20 percent, according to the New York Times. The Obama State Department says it is “perplexed” by this activity, conducted right under Obama’s nose. Russia is brashly building a nuclear power plant in Iran.
This is the same Iran who will not allow nuclear inspectors within its borders. The same Iran committed just as ever to the destruction of Israel. The same Iran whose government denies the Holocaust. Obama sits idly by fiddling a la Nero as Iran prepares to burn down the world, or at least the Middle East.
Yet, Obama appeared on 60 Minutes where he dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran’s future as a nuclear power as merely “noise.” With a June 30 deadline looming overhead like the Sword of Damocles a bad deal with Iran is worse than no deal regarding its potential nuclear prowess to the detriment of Israel, what Iran calls the Little Satan, and eventually, the United States, what Iran calls the Big Satan. Even France has condemned the deal.
Obama’s actions are demonstrative of one who is anti-Israel, while his words merely pay lip service as he glad-hands and fist bumps his way through campaign stops and fundraisers collecting millions from liberal Jewish supporters who continue to fawn over Obama like obsequious weasels. Fortunately, Obama’s hold over the Jewish constituency was begun to wane, as more Jewish voters are coming to their senses and finding a home with the Republican Party. (Not enough yet, but it’s a work in progress.)
Is Obama an anti-Semite? Obama continues to literally bow down to the Muslim world. He made his first overseas visit upon taking office to Egypt. Obama said he would create daylight between himself and Israel. Obama refused to cease aid to the Palestinian Authority, even following a peace deal between the PA and Hamas. Obama has put Israel and terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad on an equal plane. Obama has made demands that Israel needs to consider a two-state solution, yet made no demands of concessions that should come from the terror groups. These terrorist organizations won’t even recognize Israel let alone accept its right to exist among the community of nations. Yet, there is Obama, sidling up to them as though they were legitimate states. What do those entities have to offer that Israel doesn’t in terms of economic or strategic partnerships? Nothing. Thus something must be drawing Obama and his minions toward terrorists while shunning the only democratic country and long term ally in the Middle East.
Obama has surrounded himself with anti-Semites, and to suggest that there is no guilt by association, one can define a person by the company with which he keeps – starting with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, himself a virulent anti-Semite. In his administration, Obama has UN Ambassador Samantha Powers, an outspoken supporter of a Palestinian state. Obama’s former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is a rabid anti-Semite having said, among other things, “the State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”
Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice sharply rebuked Israel for continuing to build settlements in the territory occupied in 1967, demonstrative of her lack of knowledge of history and of warfare – when one wins a war, one does not return territory. And Obama’s current Secretary of State, John Kerry, also demanded Israel make concessions to Palestinians or suffer global condemnation and possible financial repercussions.
To call himself, or simply suggest, that he is “the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office” is a disgrace and an affront to every self-respecting Jewish man, woman, and child the world over. The Jewish people, for one, are not “things.” Obama was completely insensitive by moving the White House observance of Chanukah in 2011 to suit his scheduling. Was Christmas observed on any day other than December 25th? Was Obama’s precious Ramadan celebrated in a month other than that which the calendar states? (http://sanfordspeaksout.blogspot.com/2011/12/obamas-inconvenient-chanukah.html)
With “friends” like Obama, do Israel and the Jewish people need enemies?
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.