Forever Tricky

The Nixon renaissance is over before it could really take hold…recent renovations at the Nixon library were designed to renew interest in the 37th President’s foreign policy achievements – and to potentially redeem his reputation.  The new scrutiny has allowed researchers to bring forward evidence that Nixon’s 1968 Presidential campaign actively disrupted Lyndon Johnson’s attempts at peace talks to end the Vietnam War.

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HR Haldeman’s hand-written notes detailing instructions from Nixon… to utilize powerful Republican donors with ties to China and Taiwan– ties that would thwart attempts by Johnson to bring North Vietnam to the negotiating table.  News of the potential for peace allowed Hubert Humphrey to close the gap with Nixon as the Summer of 1968 drew to a close.  Preventing the talks became essential campaign strategy for Nixon- his intermediaries worked tirelessly through October to build suspicion in China and in the South Vietnamese government.  The talks failed to materialize…. Nixon edged Humphrey by .07%  of the popular vote.

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Nixon publicly denied his involvement until his dying day… and his defenders are responding to the Haldeman notes by portraying the chances for peace as “slim.”  The impact of Nixon’s interference is for historians to now decide.  The consistent deceit is evidence itself of the historical magnitude of Nixon’s actions.

Truman’s Decision

Historical revisionists cannot win all the debates… but they believed the issue of Hiroshima/Nagasaki was open and shut.  Impressionable undergraduates inundated with nonsense about Japanese intent to surrender and Truman’s secret agenda to begin the Cold War.  Minor Japanese diplomats approaching anonymous Soviet delegates with talk of negotiating conditional surrender to the US hardly constitute serious overtures to peace.  Truman issued the Potsdam declaration, the defeated Empire of Japan had to surrender unconditionally.  This was the policy of Roosevelt, which Truman was merely executing.  The Japanese ignored him….. So Truman unleashed the Atomic Bomb.

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“It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam.  Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of  ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”  August 6, 1945

 

There was no haphazard decision-making… from Truman or his staff.  Deliberate and sober statistical analysis led to the decision to use the atomic bomb.  The only argument Liberal historians can make is that the United States should have accepted conditional surrender from an enemy that initiated the conflict.  This course would have remanded the wishes of Liberal icon Franklin Roosevelt.  Per their usual, revisionists must have crucial debate points both ways.

It Will Happen to Jefferson

Jefferson is the obvious target…

It may start with the Confederate flag… but this movement to radically alter our history will continue.  Narrow minded academics like Paul Finkelman will fan the flames of discontent and dangerous media pundits will use tragedy to rally the uninformed to their nefarious cause.

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Jefferson is frustratingly complex and it is easier to… simplify his transgressions-  he owned slaves, therefore he must be bad.  We recognize the horrors of slavery today- but this doesn’t satisfy the new generation of moral police.  Regardless of what Jefferson did for our country, he owned slaves and that was wrong.  They believe America’s true greatness exists in spite Jefferson.  Our Creed did not need articulated apparently- and the thousands of freedom fighters throughout history who have spat Jefferson’s words at tyrants- they would have found them on their own.

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Jefferson critic Annette Gordon-Reed… is discerning enough to see advocacy gone too far.  She recently told InsideHighered.com –

“I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal, I think Jefferson’s contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story … to pretend that he was not there.  There is every difference in the world between being one of the founders of the United States and being a part of group of people who fought to destroy the United States.”

Millennials and Historical Revision

Call it Hubris if you will…

 

The younger,  “woke,”  generation wants to rebuild the United States on their own delicate sensibilities. The original Founding was at best flawed, most of these cereal box revolutionaries call it “evil.”

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These judicious, young stewards are enlightened far beyond their 18 or 19 years and clearly understand the human experience better than any nasty slave owner from 200 years ago. The sarcasm is only applied to further illuminate the hubris- this could be the beginning of our end.

 

But, in a greater sense, we of Generation X and to a lesser extent, the Baby Boomers, are to blame for this new strain of iconoclasm.  Our own misguided search for historic worth coupled with the inexcusable need to feel victimized has created a culture which exceeds mere political correctness.  Younger Americans are so desperate to feel relevant that they are willing to wage war on the dead.

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Review: The Flight Girls

Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

The Flight Girls by Noelle SalazarCover: Flight Girls

Mira, 2019.  Paperback, 384 pages.

Opening in 1941 on the lush shores of Oahu, The Flight Girls shows how pioneering some women were in flight before the WASPS (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots) entered service.  Audrey Coltrane is in the Hawaiian Islands serving as a female flight instructor for the military.  On December 7th, she and another crew were in the air when the Japanese attack came. From that point, Audrey finds herself bound to fellow pilot Lieutenant James Hart even as the war takes them to different parts of the world.

In the year that follows, James is off to war while Audrey returns homes.  When the call for women pilots finally arose, Audrey joined the cause and trained as a WASP.  Much of the middle part of the novel shows the life in the WASP training program, from daily instruction…

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Woodrow Wilson and the Suffragettes

Presidential History Blog

Woodrow Wilson liked women – and he liked intelligent women.

WW: A Boy and His Family

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) grew up surrounded by three doting women: his mother, Jessie Woodrow – and two older sisters. A younger brother didn’t come along until “Tommy” was ten.

Woodrow bonded with his father from the start, the women in his family pampered and encouraged and loved him dearly. That woman-nurturing became essential to his well being. Throughout his life, his health was always affected by his emotional well (or ill-) being, and in constant need of woman-tenderness. The family always believed that Woodrow was destined for greatness. He may have believed them.

WW: Southern Gentleman

Wilson was born in Virginia, but he grew up in South Carolina and Georgia in the years following the Civil War. (The NJ-connection came much later.)

True to the culture of his upbringing, he was raised as…

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Caution with Constitutional Amendment

Routine teaching about the US Constitution… instructs students that its genius is found in the fact that it can be changed.  This dogma can be traced to the influence of Charles Beard’s contention that it was purely an economic document, and well timed amendments rescued our republic from new world feudalism.  Such orthodoxy perfectly defines the problems with historical revisionism.  The need to redefine historical figures and events too often interferes with substantive analysis.

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The US Constitution has been amended 27 times… in 232 years.  Considering the first ten came as a package, followed by numbers 13-15 which eliminated slavery and its ramifications- 18&21 deal with the failed experiment of prohibition- 19,24. 26 are further extensions of civil liberties; our Constitution has been structurally altered eight times.  Far from an easily alterable document open to countless revisions, our Constitution has proven to be remarkably resilient through the course of history.  Appropriate additions were made to account for expanding civil liberties, but the amending process has prevented unnecessary changes from trifling interests.

 

Once an opponent of ratification… Thomas Jefferson saw the importance of the stability laid down by the Framers:

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“On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”