Never Be Surprised

Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system.  Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement.  Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia.  Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard  “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)

Devaluing the term "genocide" since 1978

Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978

So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back.  History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship.  Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.

Surely, you jest...

Surely, you jest…

This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts.  James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion.  Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume.  Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life.  Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears.  As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide.    But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class.  Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.

 

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Uncommon Valor- Book Review

   Frank Antenori with Hans Halberstadt, Roughneck Nine-One: The Extraordinary Story of a Special Forces A-Team at War, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2007

 

Rising above the politicization of the Iraq war is a task best left to the men who fought it.  Well publicized memoirs by the commanding Generals, the Secretary of Defense, and the Commander-in-Chief only fueled the partisan debate.  Green Beret Frank Antenori’s gripping account of the Battle of Debecka Pass is a vital primary source detailing the misunderstood conflict. An unusual blend of tactical storytelling and technical detail, Roughneck Nine-One is a rare look into the world of America’s “quiet professionals.”

Roughneck

Antenori expresses the unprecedented nature of his battle history.  Typically, Special Forces battles are classified affairs, kept from public scrutiny until years later.  Embedded reporters from CNN and the New York Times present at Debecka prevented the combat from being classified.  Antenori and co-author Halberstadt are able to relay the events with brutal frankness and commendable accuracy.  The frustrations of military logistics are explained to build anticipation for the inevitable battle.  Glimpses into American military planning are rare, and Antenori’s insights are particularly telling- the warrior struggling with red tape to acquire the necessary tools.

 

Roughneck Nine-One is essential reading because it dispels many commonly held myths about the Iraq war.  First, most importantly, the myth about weapons of mass destruction.  Mainstream media perpetuates the narrative of Bush lying about WMD to start the war- Antenori establishes that if true, this was a most elaborate lie.  Special Forces units were assigned specific missions targeting known WMD sites. Strategic complications delayed US entry into Iraq giving Saddam Hussein time to destroy or hide the incriminating evidence; Debecka was fought on such a mission.  Secondly, that Saddam had no ties to terrorism.  The Green Berets regularly engaged foreign fighters using the Iranian border as shelter- Antenori has no politically axe to grind, he tells a story the way he experienced it.

Quiet Professional

Quiet Professional

Frank Antenori opens an important window to a misunderstood conflict.  Partisan bickering over the justification for the war has clouded a proper historical picture of it.  Stories like Roughneck Nine-One are invaluable to scholars looking to accurately record America’s involvement in Iraq.

    

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Myth #146: In early America, firefighters wouldn’t put out a house fire unless the building bore a fire insurance plaque.

History Myths Debunked

Legend in Charleston, SC, and other cities says that a fire company would not put out a house fire unless there was a marker on the building proving that fire insurance had been paid. This is a myth.

I want to acknowledge Stephen Herchak, president of the Charleston Tour Association (a group representing over one hundred tour guides), and Dr. Nic Butler, archivist and historian for the Charleston County Public Library system for their research on this subject. Everyone who looked into this topic found the legend highly improbable. According to Herchak: “This never made sense to me, given the great threat a burning structure poses to the rest of the city, and as you’re probably most likely aware, here in Charleston there were numerous disastrous fires (the Great Fire of 1740, as does all other Charleston fires, pales in comparison to the fire of 1861, but, nonetheless, it destroyed more…

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The Tragedies of General James Longstreet

Presidential History Blog

General James G. Longstreet

James G. Longstreet’s reputation has been a controversial yo-yo for more than 150 years.

Pete.

James G. Longstreet (1821-1904) was nicknamed Pete in infancy, and it stuck throughout his long life. Born in SC to a large family of Dutch lineage, he showed sufficient promise to warrant a better education than his parents could provide.

At nine, he was sent to live with relatives in Georgia, where they believed he would thrive more academically. Pete thrived, certainly in the sense of a happy childhood. When his own family moved to Louisiana, he chose to remain with his adoptive relative.

Academically alas, he was not the scholar his parents had hoped. Nevertheless he was accepted into West Point’s class of 1842, where he graduated in the bottom quarter of his class. His demerits were on a par with his academics.

A West Point Academic Aside

“Pete” Longstreet…

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Review: Devotion by Adam Makos

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

Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos

Ballentine Books, 2015.  Hardcover, 464 pages.Cover: DevotionDevotion is the true story of a pair of naval aviators set during the Korean War.  This pair, despite their very different backgrounds, provide an example of friendship that should inspire all.  Ensign Jesse Brown grew up poor as the son of a sharecropper in Mississippi.  He always had a fascination with flying, something many did not think a black child would ever learn to do.  However, he proved them wrong.  Lieutenant Tom Hudner grew up a merchant’s son on the East Coast.  It was a privileged life and he turned down admission to Harvard to attend the Naval Academy.  He served in Naval Intelligence for years before he decided to try flight school.

The pair met when they are assigned to the same squadron.  In those early years, Makos shows how…

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Old Glory

 

Proper flag etiquette is often misstated… lost in urban legends, misinformation, and simple ignorance.  Here are some of the highlights set down by the official government handbook on flag etiquette.

  • The flag is never to be lowered in deference to another person or country- only if on a ship saluting a ship from another country.
  • The flag should never be used as clothing, bedding, curtains, or decoration-  bunting is used for these purposes
  • The flag must never be displayed in a manner that could lead to it being damaged-  like flying it in a thunderstorm
  • Flags can be cleaned and repaired when necessary
  • No additional marks, symbols, lettering, or images can be displayed on a flag- only military designations
  • Only when a flag has become damaged beyond repair should it be burned- ceremonies are held every year on June 14
  • Flags touching the ground DO NOT have to  be destroyed- this is a sign of disrespect, not a reason to destroy a flag
  • Flags must always be allowed to fall freely-  only the flag used during the alleged moon landing is exempted
  • The flag should be properly folded before it is stored
  • Proper flags should not be used for advertising or displayed on commercial products
  • Flags are only displayed upside-down in extreme distress – not like bad Tommy Lee Jones movies

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Not a Myth if You See it

June 12, 1987

Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down…the Berlin Wall and seemingly cemented his Cold War legacy.  Historical debate erupted in recent years as partisan politicians look to the Reagan legacy for inspiration.  Competing interpretations of the speech, delivered at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, show that Reagan’s foreign policy is still pertinent to this day.  Liberals decry the speech as a “stunt” with no impact on US-Soviet relations; Reagan supporters hail the speech as the event that led to the end of the Cold War.  Neither perspective is correct, both fail to acknowledge the complexity of Reagan’s Soviet policy.

 “We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Negotiate from strength

Critics fail to acknowledge the effects the speech… had upon Soviet leadership.  Declassified documents clearly show that Gorbachev was listening- “If he’s talking about this wall, he’s never going to let go unless we do something.”   The Soviets needed Glasnost and Reagan showed them the way.  Reagan admirers make the mistake of placing mythical proportions on the moment; Reagan spoke, the world trembled, the Cold War was over-  It just didn’t happen that way.  Reagan’s handling of the Soviet Union was a complex series of give and take- summits, speeches, deals, and treaties.  American Conservatives (Bill Buckley in particular) were frustrated with the foreign policy of Reagan’s second term.  The tough rhetoric and military build-up of the first term had given way to nuclear talks and peaceful overtures.  “Tear down this wall” was not an ending, but a prelude to more negotiations.  Reagan was responding to Glasnost, but on our terms….

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