Harriet and Andy

The news in numismatics this week is that Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, is to be booted from the face of the $20 bill in favor of Harriet Tubman, of Underground Railroad fame.

Jackson’s getting the axe for two reasons:  The present administration is determined to put a face on U.S. currency that is not a white male face, and Jackson owned slaves.  He is also warmly despised for ejecting the Five Tribes from the Eastern United States.  So he has to go.

Harriet Tubman was a leading figure in the organization and operation of the Underground Railroad, that system of hiding places and safe houses which conducted escaping slaves from their points of origin to Canada, where the fugitive slave laws didn’t apply.  It was work conducted, at least in the South, at peril of the parties’ lives, and once in the north, at peril of arrest and imprisonment.

Suffice it to say that Harriet Tubman was equipped with guts enough to equip a regiment.  If you were to set out to fill an auditorium with the Greatest Americans who have thus far lived, she’d have a seat somewhere.

And yet I do not favor kicking Andrew Jackson off the $20 to make place for her.


For starts, a portrayal on U.S. paper currency is, if you will look at it, presently reserved for people who did great deeds in their capacity as public officials, not for acts of private significance, however worthy.  The only even possible exception is Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill, but even then, Franklin was among the United States’ most important public servants.  The revolutionary alliance with France, that enabled us to win the war for independence in the first place, was a product of Franklin’s credibility at the court of Louis XV, of Franklin’s acknowledged place in world society (he regularly corresponded, as an equal, with the pre-eminent scientific minds of his generation).  Even before the war, he represented several colonies in London, and it was his personal experience of vituperation in Parliament which decided him that continued affiliation with Britain was not a workable long-term solution.  Later, he was a key player in the constitutional convention in 1787.  So even though he never held any public office under the United States Constitution, he was one of the men but for whom that compact would never have come into existence.

The other public servants scarcely need introduction.  Washington?  Father of the country.  Lincoln?  His deeds require no justification for the reverence in which we hold his memory.  Hamilton?  Father of our national economy (and also a key player in the constitution’s birthing).  Grant?  If being the key commander in winning the Civil War doesn’t merit his place, what might?  On coinage the pattern is similar.  Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson.  Eisenhower, who held together the Western allies in defeating Germany.  The two heads I don’t really understand are Truman’s on the dime and Kennedy’s on the half-dollar.

There is a single exception, and one that never took off:  The Sacagawea dollar (by coincidence I happen to have one in my pocket at this moment).  But even she has a claim to a service in the public interest:  It was she who guided the Corps of Discovery (better known at the Lewis and Clark Expedition) over the western mountains, who was valuable in securing for them the safe passage from the tribes whose lands they crossed.

Now let’s think of why Jackson might be on the $20 bill.  He was the founding light of the oldest continuing political party in American history.  Being a party hack doesn’t really merit a spot on the currency, though, does it?  Victor of New Orleans?  Well, as every school child knows, that battle was fought after the peace had been signed, although the point has been made that it in fact was not, in all likelihood, totally irrelevant for that reason.  There is strong reason to believe that Britain, had it been in possession of the mouth of the Mississippi, would not have surrendered it willingly after the war, which would have utterly changed the complexion of later American development.

No, I think Jackson earned his spot on the $20 bill when he stared down the South Carolina nullifiers.  As Gentle Reader will recall, a protective tariff had been adopted for the benefit of northern industrial interests.  The new imposts had the desired effect, of making imported manufactured goods more expensive than domestic production.  The burden fell hard on the Southern agricultural interests, because of their dependence upon their trade relationships with the British to move their cotton crop.  They bought a large proportion of their manufactured goods from Britain as a result of that trade.

Needless to say, the Southern interest was outraged at the new tariff law.  South Carolina announced an intent to “nullify” the federal statute.  It even passed an ordinance declaring the law to be unconstitutional and null within its borders.  It just was not going to apply in South Carolina (sort of like all these bullshit “sanctuary cities” that have announced that the federal immigration statutes don’t apply within their city limits — San Francisco is very much in the slaveholders’ tradition in this respect).

Let’s pause for a moment and take stock of where things stood during the Nullification Crisis:  In 1832-33 the United States was still a comparatively weak country, a comparatively small country.  Its parts were not yet bound by an enormous rail network, and outside the coastal plain there weren’t even all that many canals.  Large areas were still virgin wilderness (that situation applied far longer than one might expect: not far from where I live there is a county in which there were still over 100,000 acres of virgin hardwood in 1910).  The forces of cohesion in the country were still fragile, and there were still many powerful actors in the world who would have rejoiced in a failure of what was then known as the American Experiment.  This was still a world in which people’s demands for written constitutions were believed to be, and were treated as, an act of rebellion.  In fact, the Revolutions of 1848 in Central Europe were based in large part on precisely that — demands for written constitutions to tie down monarchs’ privileges.

[By the way, note what this understanding of constitutionalism has to say about the notion of a “living constitution.”  Until the U.S. Supreme Court got into it, everyone understood that a written constitution was written for the precise reason that its meaning did not morph over time into whatever you wanted it to say.  The U.S. Constitution was a revolutionary document for exactly the reason that it was written and its meaning did not change to suit the whims of the ruler of the moment.  The idea of a “living constitution” in which no provision has any permanent meaning does violence to the very concept of a constitution, and until the American left got at it, was universally understood to do so.]

The United States with its written constitution was a direct and immediate threat to all those crowned heads in Europe who fiercely resisted the pressure to shackle themselves to a written document with ascertainable substance.

Had South Carolina succeeded in openly defying the federal government as to Congressional action in respect of a matter unambiguously placed within its constitutional competencies — the regulation of trade with foreign nations — the American Experiment would have failed.  The country would not have survived, and there would have been no Underground Railroad because the borders would have been largely closed off.

Jackson was having none of it.  Congress authorized the Force Bill to compel South Carolina’s compliance with the law.  But of course, it would have been Jackson as commander-in-chief who would have been charged with implementing that, or not, and if so, how vigorously.  And what was Jackson’s position?  Well, a visitor from South Carolina asked him if he had any message he’d like to send to the good folks back home.  Jackson gave it to them with the bark still on it:  “Yes I have; please give my compliments to my friends in your State and say to them, that if a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can reach.”

South Carolina knew he meant every last word of that promise.  Compare and contrast Dear Leader’s “red line” in Syria that wasn’t.  South Carolina knew what it had to expect from Jackson, and a compromise was reached.  Syria knew what it had to expect from Dear Leader, and it has acted accordingly.

Jackson, in short, did no more and no less than save the union in 1832-33, at a time when there was an immediate danger of its dissolution.  For that, he more than deserves his place on the $20 bill.  Whatever Harriet Tubman’s private courage and dedication to the cause of human liberty may have been, her life’s work simply does not rise to that level of national significance.  The Underground Railroad never would have changed a damned thing about the institution of slavery; there is no way on earth they could have spirited enough slaves out of the South to make any but the most minuscule dent on the institution.  It took a civil war to make that happen, and had it not been for Jackson’s stance in the face of the nullifiers in 1832-33, there never would have been the northern industrial and demographic powerhouse twenty years later which tore the poison lance of slavery from the national body by main force.  Just wouldn’t have happened.

If you absolutely want to have Tubman’s face on U.S. currency, bilge either Truman or Kennedy, preferably the latter.  But to degrade the man whose courage saved the country betrays a profound ignorance of American history.

The Stars and Bars

Among the things going in the world while I was buried up to my eyebrows in trials was this bigot fellow sat down with the pastor and several members of the congregation at one of the most historically significant black churches in the United States, engaged in “bible study” with them for over an hour, and then shot nine of them dead, leaving two surviving for the express purpose of telling the world what he did.

This actually was a “hate crime,” if by that term you mean a crime whose underlying motive was animosity towards the victims based on something other than their actions or freely-chosen affiliations.  Like what happens to Jews all over Europe and elsewhere on a daily basis.  Like what happened to the manager of that French factory who got his head sawed off by one of his employees who propounds the Religion of Peace.  Like what happened to the dead and wounded at Fort Hood at the hands of a madman screaming Allahu Akbar! while gunning them down.

While the people of Charleston — a magical city where I was privileged to live for four years, many years ago — both black and white, showed the rest of the country how it’s done, in coming together in their grief, their outrage, and their demonstration of the very Christian virtue of forgiveness, the opportunity to strut and preen was just too tempting for the usual suspects.  Dear Leader of course chimes in on cue with the call to ignore that pesky ol’ Second Amendment, which he lards up with a slap at America and Americans.  “‘This kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,’ the president said. ‘Wedon’t have all the facts but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.'”  Of course, this month Europe is observing the 20th anniversary of the massacres at Srebrenica.  We know Dear Leader can’t count (“all 57 states,” anyone?), but just to make it simple, this scum bag in Charleston gunned down nine people because of the color of their skin.  In Srebrenica they gunned down 8,000 men and boys because of how they worshipped.  Or how about the Christians paraded on the beach and then beheaded?  Remind me again how many that was?  Bit more than nine, as I recall.  And wasn’t it just recently that a satire magazine’s office in Paris got to experience some of that ol’ “workplace violence” courtesy of the Religion of Peace?  Twelve dead, weren’t there?

But back to the title of this post.  In the weeks since the Charleston shooting everyone and his cousin has been falling all over himself to expunge all traces of the Confederate flag from public spaces and even from commerce.  Apple, for example, has discontinued a video game app of Civil War combat . . . because the Confederate flag is depicted in it.  You don’t say?  Have they discontinued all the World War II games because you can see the insignia of Nazi Germany in them?  In South Carolina the (Republican-dominated) legislature voted massively to remove the flag from the state house, where (Democrat) governor Fritz Hollings put it in 1962.  Think about that:  The cradle of secession somehow managed to soldier along for nearly a full century without waving that flag.  Amazon and Wal-Mart do not sell merchandise depicting the Confederate flag any more. Around here where I live I can’t say that I’ve noticed either greater or lesser display of it (although I’d be guilty of over-statement to say that I’ve really been looking).

Certainly opinion in general on the flag and its symbolism doesn’t seem to have shifted much.  Fifteen years ago 59% of people surveyed (I think it was a Gallup poll, but don’t hold me to that) allowed that they did not perceive it as being principally a symbol of hatred.  In the aftermath of the Charleston shooting that’s down all the way . . . to 57%.  I suppose you can read that either of two ways: (i) Proof positive that America is an inherently racist country which isn’t willing even to give up the visible and historically undeniable symbolism of racial oppression and exploitation, or (ii) All this hand-wringing and posturing (see: Apple) is vastly over-blowing a non-issue.

I confess to ambivalent feelings about that flag.  As the reader of this blog will have observed, I’m not terribly apologetic about the South or being from the South.  I kinda like it here (as do the tens of thousands of my black fellow citizens who are moving here from the O! so Tolerant North).  So far as I know none of my Southern ancestors owned any slaves, and among my Yankee ancestors is at least one veteran of the Army of the Tennessee (excellent history of that amazing army here (I think, in fact, that my ancestor’s name even appears in it, but that’s not been confirmed); Victor Davis Hanson treats of the army’s march through Georgia in a wonderful book that — alas! — because it was borrowed, I had to return).

Did my Southern ancestors profit from the existence of chattel slavery in their society?  Well, possibly so, although I’d like to see someone try reliably to measure how much better off a small, non-slave-owning farmer in this part of the South really was because of slavery as such.  I will point this much out:  It wasn’t the destruction of slavery that wiped out such large swathes of Southerners, but the physical destruction of the war.  Before the war they’d been more or less scraping by; after the war the people whose homes and farms weren’t burnt to the ground were still more or less scraping by, and the ones whose homes and farms had gone up in smoke to make Sherman’s neck-ties were wiped out.  If slavery as such was that much the foundation of prosperity for any significant portion of the population, then you’d expect to see vastly more disruption just from abolition.

In point of fact at home I actually have a full-size, flyable (it’s of real bunting, with brass grommets) Stars and Bars.  Haven’t laid eyes on it since about 1991; it’s packed up in a box somewhere.  I have a print of a Civil War painting depicting fraternization between the lines (a genuinely common occurrence); back in the day I folded the flag carefully so a single star showed in the center, then draped it across the top of the picture frame.  So sue me.  So far as I know that flag has never actually flown or been displayed so as to be visible from outside the room where that picture was hanging.

Is it a symbol of hatred and oppression?  It sure is for some people, like that shit-bird in Charleston.  It sure is for American blacks (in contrast to that 57% figure cited above, something like 85%+ of blacks perceive it to be inherently a racist symbol), and understandably so.  I’m equally sure that for quite a number of people it symbolizes something else entirely.  That’s the thing about symbols:  The viewer reads into it what he chooses.  But mostly I’m sure that for millions of people the Stars and Bars is a whacking great pile of Get Over It Already.  Like me.  It is neither inherently racist nor inherently innocuous.

Should that flag be flown over public buildings?  I don’t think that’s appropriate, even if only for the fact that for so many of my fellow citizens it in fact does, and on legitimate basis, speak to them of racial hatred, oppression, and the entire sad story of what has happened through the years to the descendants of the Africans brought here in chains (although, irony alert! those descendants are pretty uniformly vastly better off in every material sense than the descendants of those Africans who captured their forebears and sold them into slavery).  As a government we are supposedly all for one and one for all; you shouldn’t knowingly and gratuitously offend 13% of your population.

On the other hand should all these private actors get all hyperventilated about rushing to expunge all traces of the flag?  Well, that’s their privilege, of course.  But it savors of more than just a tiny bit of moral posturing.  They were perfectly willing to deposit all those sales receipts for all those years, and somehow their black customers and their white customers always seemed to survive the trip up and down the aisles.  They’re perfectly willing to flog communist chic apparel (Che Guevara very intentionally had his office overlooking the execution yard so he would watch his victims being slaughtered day by day . . . his picture is very much still for sale on Amazon).  I’d be wiling to bet not a single World War II video game is going to be taken down at the Apple (or Google) store, just because there happens to be a swastika waving somewhere in the background.

I forget who it was who first pointed this out, or where I first ran across the observation, but it’s true, I think:  Much of political correctness is about permitting one group of white people to feel morally superior over other white people, and to parade that superiority as conspicuously as they can.

Seems to me that’s what’s going on here.

I’m not getting rid of my Confederate flag, and it can jolly well stay in that box in the attic.

Layers of Editors and Factcheckers, Perhaps

Logic checkers, not so much.

Yesterday, when I launched the All-New (Now Featuring Moxie!) post category of Them Awful Southerners, I hadn’t suspected I might be putting out a great big ol’ jar of honey to catch me some bees.  No, I thought it would just be something I could occasionally have recourse to, sort of like Teutschtümelei (an expression I picked up 30-plus years ago from a play by either Lessing or Schiller, I forget which; it doesn’t translate very well, but if you imagine a strident form of hoaky, kitschy Americana, that would be about our modern equivalent) for stuff pertaining specifically to Germany (as opposed to just using German sources for a post on a topic of more general interest).

I may have under-estimated my powers of seduction.  No sooner do I launch Them Awful Southerners than sure enough, here comes today’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung with its lead, above-the-electronic-fold headline:  “Erschossen im Herzland der Sklaverei“; “Shot in the Heartland of Slavery”.  For starts, oughtn’t it read “Shot in the Former Heartland of Slavery”?  I mean, if South Carolina is the “heartland of slavery,” does that not imply that, you know, slavery is still practiced there?  I haven’t been to South Carolina since 2005, but when last there I don’t recall that being the case.

But let us not bust too hard on the reporter; he probably didn’t write his own headline.  Just because the FAZ wants to run the equivalent of “Fun Times in the Heartland of Nazism” over a report on the 2015 Oktoberfest in Munich, it’s not his fault, is it?

The text of the article must, however, be laid at the author’s feet, and he required to answer for it.  The author — who is based in New York City, which may fully explain the whole thing (here’s his c.v. on the paper’s website; he certainly appears to be someone who ought to know better than to publish bullshit like this) — has actually written two articles.  The first article is about a police officer who conducted a perfectly normal traffic stop until the driver panicked and ran, after which (i) the officer shot him down like a dog, and then (ii) attempted to falsify a crime scene.  The second article is one more tired-ass installment of Them Awful Southerners, and how we’re just lyin’ in wait for the next unsuspecting darky to happen along so’s we can lynch ‘im.  The two articles are separated by a helpful bridge in which the author lets us know everything we need to about him and his ability to think or to report honestly.

The incident happened one week ago today.  The beginning and the end of the confrontation are shown on two separate videos from two independent sources.  The first part, the stop, the request for license, registration, and proof of insurance (just like I got asked for when stopped for my last speeding ticket) all went by the book and are captured on video by the police cruiser’s on-board camera.  Significantly, the audio originates from a microphone on the officer’s shirt.  You can hear the officer indicate that he’s pulled the driver over for a broken tail-light, and then ask for license, registration, and proof of insurance.  The driver tells the cop he doesn’t have registration because he’s still in the process of buying the vehicle, at which point the cop returns to his car, presumably to run the plates.  At that point the driver gets out of the car and the cop asks him to get back in.  Which the driver does.  Then the driver panics.  He gets out and runs.

The cop and the driver are now out of frame for the cruiser’s on-board camera, but you can hear confused words and rustling, apparently as something was disturbing the officer’s body microphone.  You can hear the officer tell the driver he proposes to use his taser on him.  Which he does, without the desired effect.

At this point the second video, captured by an aware hair-dresser on her way to work, picks up.  You can see the taser’s wires deployed.  You see the driver running away and the police officer pickle off eight (!) rounds at a fleeing man.  The driver was struck five times, at least once through the heart.  He falls dead.

And this is where the officer, having already ended one life and screwed up his own, damns himself as a liar.  The by-stander’s video captures him as he turns away from his victim, goes back to where they’d been standing a few seconds before, picks something up out of the grass, and then take it over and drops it beside the corpse.  It was his taser gun.

It seems that in his initial report and his post-event write-up he alleged that the driver had seized his taser, and that he had attempted first-responder life-saving on his victim.  Neither happened.

Within a matter of a couple of days the officer was fired (not placed on “administrative leave,” with or without pay, which is the common administrative proceeding in use-of-deadly-force occurrences, until the facts are straightened out), and formally charged with murder by the district attorney general’s office.  Tellingly, as soon as the officer’s lawyer got the by-stander’s video to examine in detail, he requested and was granted leave to withdraw.

Now, every lawyer in the United States knows what happened.  The client swore up and down to his lawyer that he’d Told it Just Like it Happened in his report.  And then the lawyer takes a look at the video evidence that shows him his client just lied to him about the central fact of his defense.

To this point the FAZ has done a good job of summarizing the actual facts as they can be shown to be.

So much for the allegro of this little concerto grosso.  There then follows an adagio of a few paragraphs, consisting of the obligatory Ferguson comparison.  Although the author is finally forced to observe that the forensic evidence in Ferguson can’t be squared with the pro-criminal version of events, and contradicts the supporters of a violent felon who was shot down in the middle of attacking, for a second time, a police officer, you can tell from the author’s remaining observations that he’d just as leave not have to admit it.  Our Author states that Wilson, after the publicity exploded (which is to say, after the witch hunt started), “submerged, but found sympathizers who spread his version” of the events.  In the end, he was “believed not only by his fellow citizens on the Grand Jury,” which was “directed by the state’s attorney” (grand juries are not so directed, by the way), but also the investigators from the DOJ who “found that the credible witnesses confirmed Wilson’s representations.”  In last Saturday’s events in North Charleston, there is no video of what happened between the time the shooter, officer Scott, and his victim step out of frame in the police car’s video and when the by-stander’s video picks up.  In Ferguson, our New York City author is glumly forced to admit that officer Wilson’s claim that the thug he shot attacked him through the window of his police cruiser was “supported” (notice he didn’t say “confirmed”) by the forensic evidence. [This word choice is what poker players call a “tell.”  It allows you to read what’s going on the other guy’s mind.  Our New York City author won’t say Wilson was “confirmed” by the forensic evidence, even though (i) Darren Wilson had orbital fractures of his skull surrounding his eye, (ii) the thug’s blood was found on the inside of Wilson’s vehicle door, and (iii) all of the ballistic evidence demonstrates that the perp’s hands were not raised, but rather were lowered, and he was charging Wilson with his head down when struck by the fatal round. You know, exactly like Wilson said it happened.]  In fact the DOJ didn’t so much rely on “credible witnesses” which it “believed” over the criminal’s buddies when it formally agreed with Wilson’s “version” of events as “spread” by his “sympathizers,” but rather on the physical evidence, which was specifically cited by Dear Leader’s own U.S. Attorney General.  You’d never suspect that from reading this author’s words.  It’s very considerate for this author to provide us with such rich indication of his journalistic ethics, and in fact, his basic honesty.

In the final movement, we suddenly find ourselves 250-300 years ago in South Carolina.

This sentence made it into print in a major European newspaper:  “South Carolina is the heartland of North American slavery.”  Present tense.  “Here lived more slaves than free persons.”  At least the author got the right tense on that one.

The police forces in South Carolina “developed from patrols for catching runaway slaves.”  Wrong.  Slave patrols and the few law enforcement forces of the times were entirely different.  Slave patrols were manned — on a compulsory basis, by the way — by ordinary free whites, in much the same way that in many places way back when every able-bodied free male had to work on the public roads a certain number of days each year.  These slave patrols had no judicial functions at all, in contrast to the sheriff and his deputies, who served warrants, who levied executions on personal and real property, who ran the jail, dragged the town drunks in for a beating every so often, and otherwise did what little law enforcement went on back then.

Having conflated the historical antecedents of today’s police forces with runaway slave patrols, our author then tosses a few observations about how such patrols operated.  Whippings and the death penalty for “ringleaders” were authorized.  Of course, our author doesn’t point out that the slave patrols didn’t do the whipping or impose the death penalty.  Generally, it was the owners, post-return, who did the whipping, or for those too squeamish, turned their slave over to a public facility for that purpose (there was such a place in Charleston, and another in New Orleans, and I’m sure most every larger Southern town similarly catered to those too cowardly to look their own victim in the face).  Death penalties for ringleaders of slave resistance were imposed by trial courts (however cursory the trial may have been, it was nonetheless a formal judicial proceeding).  Although the owner was supposed to receive his property back undamaged from the slave patrol, “wanted dead or alive” was not an unusual term of capture for repeaters.

Our author then slips up and gives us another “tell” about where he got his information.  He informs us that Indians were used as auxiliary patrollers.  This comes from a misinterpretation (willful? hard to say) of the Wikipedia.org write-up on the Stono Rebellion — of 1710.  It’s less well known than Nat Turner’s of 1835, but until Turner, the Stono revolt had been by a wide margin the bloodiest slave insurrection in North America.  Here’s the author’s source quotation:  “The lieutenant governor hired Chickasaw and Catawba Indians and other slaves to track down and capture the Africans who had escaped from the battle.”  The quotation is referring to the aftermath of the more-or-less pitched battle in which the slaves were defeated (after having killed 44 whites in action against their own losses of 25).  The Indians were pretty much run out of the Carolinas by a few years after the Revolution, a point our author isn’t familiar with, and so he just assumes that Indians regularly made up such auxiliary forces.  And by the way, as the Wikipedia.org article makes plain, the participating slaves were not defeated or caught by slave patrols, but by a raised-for-the-purpose militia.  If our author knew his ass from a hole in the ground he’d understand that militias in both colonial and post-colonial eras were filled by the entire able-bodied male population capable of bearing arms.  So once more, we’re not talking about either functional or organizational precursors of the North Charleston police department.

Did we mention that Stono happened in 1710, a brief 305 years ago and a scant 40 years after Carolina Colony was first settled?  Our author’s remaining data points intended to draw a straight line between the slave patrollers and local South Carolina police forces come from . . . 1739 and 1772.  Here, I’ll draw you a picture, doofus:  In 1772 South Carolina was a loyal colony of the British Crown.  Municipal law enforcement in South Carolina has existed as long as there have been municipalities.  South Carolina’s city police departments are no more descendants of the slave patrols than is the New York Police Department, which has even today its own set of problems with its black citizenry.  New York City until the 1820s had slavery and therefore slave catchers; here’s a basic history for you to read.

The Deutsche Arbeiterpartei was founded in Munich in 1919.  Hitler, at the time working for the army, was detailed off to attend a meeting to see what sort of subversion was going on there.  He came, he saw, he took the operation over.  After a time it became the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the NSdAP.  It took it a while to spread from Munich, but it did, and the world knows its blood-soaked history as that of Nazi Germany.

By the editorial and reportorial standards of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, we should refer to Bavaria as “the heartland of the Nazi party” and to Berlin as “the capital of Nazi Germany.”  In the present tense.

Repeat after me, class:  Not everything in the South has to do with slavery.  Just like not everything in the Federal Republic of Germany has to do with the Holocaust.  You’d think that of all places and papers, a major newspaper in Germany would know better than to try to draw straight lines between present-day misbehavior and long-ago atrocities visited upon an oppressed group.  Apparently that’s too much to expect of today’s left-extremists.

Final take-away:  The more you strain to make connections between unrelated phenomena, the more you beclown yourself.

[Update 13 Apr 15]:  For some reason the FAZ has closed comments on the linked article.  Yesterday when I came across it, there were no comments.  This morning there are maybe 12-15 total.  This is a much lower count than many articles garner.  Why shut off comments now?  I would hope that it’s because the editors realize they published what was, in its main point (the Them Awful Southerners parts, as opposed to the purely factual recount of what happened last week) a made-up piece of garbage by someone who hadn’t the slightest notion of what he was talking about and out of shame they don’t want to call any more attention to it.  On the other hand, we’re talking about a newspaper that’s already started its cheerleading for Chairman Hillary, so the more likely explanation, alas, is that having been caught out peddling bullshit, they’re reacting in the time-honored left-extremist fashion: shut down the debate when the other side starts to win.

Most of the comments are on the lines of what you’d expect from Europeans engaging in long-distance psychoanalysis of Americans, or condemning what a materially awful place the U.S. is to live because free health care! or something.  Several of the comments, however, come from Germans who claim extensive personal experience of the U.S., not only through their own travels here but also through their relatives and friends who live here and whom they visit.  Interestingly, every one of those commenters who has actually experienced America at close range calls bullshit on the white-cop-gunnin’-for-Uncle-Tom-the-runaway-slave-everyone-living-in-fear-of-being-gunned-down-while-walking-the-streets theme of the story.  Finally, I’m pleased to note that at least one of the commenters, who also claims personal experience of Charleston, points out the bogus present tense of the heartland-of-slavery claim.

One more point:  One of the commenters claims that the hair-dresser who shot the second video has stated that the officer and the victim engaged in a physical scuffle on the ground, before the video picks up.  I haven’t taken the time to track that down to see if it’s in fact the case, but it seems like it may be plausible.  Something caused her to reach for her cell phone and starting recording.  How likely is that to have been seeing a simple shoving match between a cop and a pedestrian on the one hand versus, on the other, a cop and a citizen on the ground pummeling each other?  If it’s true, it certainly puts a slightly less sinister sheen on the events.  But, and this is The Salient Point:  This officer shot eight times at an unarmed man who was in full flight away from him, and at least some of those shots were at his center of mass, which is to say potentially fatal.  The man at whom he was shooting was known to him (the officer would already have his driver’s license from the first portion of the stop), and how much harder could it have been to obtain a second warrant for his arrest?  Whether the cop was shooting in anger, or out of lack of training (or, who knows? perhaps he was acting from racialist motives), he still acted in an inexcusable fashion, and sufficiently out of line with his training and established procedures that the police department (remember they’d have taken the hair-dresser’s statement as well) fired him in a matter of hours.

So I suppose the intermediate take-away on the actual event is stand by to stand by.