Terrorism, not politics

It’s always interesting to see people discover new sources of knowledge.

Take the progressives. They recently “discovered” Russia, which they may have been aware of before but had largely stuffed into the dusty areas of the closet because the previous administration had said that Russia was all 1980s stuff. Certainly they don’t want voters to think about the 1980s because, well, you know who was president and no progressives want to remind voters of that time.

Now they’ve discovered the importance of the Civil War, which is just in time because from what I have seen in various random street interviews of millennials and college students, most didn’t know much about the Civil War or American history for that matter.

I’m betting that even given all the attention, if you interviewed many of those protesting against or for Confederate monuments, they still would not do very got job of answering when the war occurred, much about what happened or be able to identify which was a famous general during the conflict – J.E.B. Stuart or Jed Clampett. Bonus points for identifying which side of the conflict that general was aligned with. (By the way, one ended up living in Beverly Hills).

All in all it’s probably a good thing for people to take a look at their own history periodically and it’s understandable that a lot of black Americans don’t enjoy seeing monuments celebrating people who, at least in large part, were fighting to preserve an institution that subjugated many of their ancestors.

What is unfortunate and no one should condone is indulging in too much self-help and pulling down monuments and statues. That makes a lot of Americans uncomfortable. It seems like what happens in other countries when lawlessness takes the place of order, plus, it creates a rallying point for idiots from fringe organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi party to stoke confrontations.

For that reason it’s more than disappointing to see political figures use these confrontations for their own purposes.

I suppose to some extent all politics is about getting people riled up, but there’s a dangerous feeling in all of this that it can be the type of thing that control can be lost over very quickly.

It might help some on the political left, hoping to guide this debate toward electoral success or retaliation toward the present administration, to leaven their thinking about how they measure past extremism by considering some of their own history.

For instance, I’m sure most would agree it’s an unhealthy situation to have a president with overtly racist policies, complete with students locked in a struggle to bring those actions to light. However, the struggle at Princeton to have Woodrow Wilson’s name removed from some of the schools property hasn’t gotten much attention, I have some theories why that is but it doesn’t change President Wilson’s actions. He segregated the federal workforce, including separate bathrooms, lunchrooms and supervisor positions as well as dividing the United States military on the basis of race including the Navy, which had never been segregated before.

Then there is President Andrew Jackson, who owned close to 300 slaves and once placed a famous ad for a runaway slave that offered not only a reward but the inducement of “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.”

President Jackson is also the principal founder of the Democratic Party. The modern symbol of the party, a donkey, is taken from that used by Jackson in his campaign when his opponents referred to him as a “jackass.”

What this should mean today is exactly nothing — because one of the principal foundations of this country is that we are not responsible for those that have come before or after us simply because there was commonality in name, region or any other characteristic.

Americans, stand on who they are today and while we can admire, detest or have some measure of both for historical figures, free men define themselves by their beliefs and the actions those inspire and never by the dead hand of the past.

Let’s then encourage debate, not discord, and when someone’s life is lost, as the young lady’s was in Charlottesville, then treat that act for what it is — terrorism not politics.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Mr. Wagner begins his opinion article the way that many do, by pointing the finger at others and “It’s their fault”.  As to Russia, even us progressives know about Russia.  It is also a fact that the Russia of today is not the Russia of yesterday.  But then, in order to recognize that, it would have been necessary to know what Russia was back then, and noted the changes within that country from then to now. 

That people don’t know little, if anything, about the civil war (and what it was really about) is as true of such as Mr. Wagner as it is of most Americans.  As they were not required to study the period, they did not do so.  Mr. Wagner should have learned the basic lesson of the nature of war.  It is that they are conflicts begun by the old to be fought by the young.

It is not only the “blacks” that should be offended by slavery and its reminders, but would offend any individual with even a minimal human conscience.  The very concept of one individual owning another individual, no matter how that is achieved, should be considered absolutely abhorrent and so should the very concept of racial, or any other type of claim of superiority over any other (no matter what is the basis for such a claim).  Mr. Wagner should give it much more thought.  If he did, he would come to the same realization some of us have. It is that while most will claim that they believe in human equality, and even preach it, their actions reflect the exact opposite.

Let us drop the overuse of the word “terrorism”, a word to which the so-called “conservatives” have claimed ownership.  The killing of that young lady was the act of a fool, who could not stand anyone disagreeing with him.

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