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The Des Moines Register’s Opinion Section on Sunday, July 3, 2011 featured a “Progressives Trifecta” of half-truths and sophistry:

Richard Doak – What if the founders were around today?

Donald Kaul – My favorite 4th of July speech

Dean Baker – Keep Social Security safe from politicians who want to save it

This week I will focus my comments on Donald Kaul’s article sub-titled “Real patriotism requires coming to terms with the grimmer side of American history”.

Donald Kaul – He shares viewpoints about the things he likes and dislikes about the 4th of July.  He likes back yard gatherings but he dislikes patriotic claptrap.  He likes patriotism, defined as acts of citizenship and service, but dislikes speechifying.  He likes the flag itself but dislikes flag-waving, defined as substitute emotionalism for rational behavior.  My primary issue with his meandering opening is that he never refers to the holiday by its real name, which is Independence Day, not the “Fourth of July”.  

  • Flag Waving Emotionalism-His example of substituting flag-waving emotionalism for rational behavior is “War, for example.  How many times have nations been led into truly stupid wars behind a flowing flag?  Does the word Iraq suggest anything to you?”
     The rest of the story: Which Iraq war was Mr. Kaul referring to?  Why did he select war(s) started under Republican Presidents, but not include Vietnam, started under Democrat Presidents?  There was meaningful United Nations support for both military actions in Iraq.  There was minimal UN involvement in the military actions in Vietnam.  His point about irrational behavior would have seemed less partisan had he said “Does the word Vietnam suggest anything to you?”.
  • Favorite Fourth of July Speech-He proceeds to inform his readers about the great black orator and civil rights leader, Frederick Douglass.  He rightfully acknowledges the key role that Douglass played in pointing out the hypocrisy of the “Independence Day” celebration of 1854, a time when slavery was a legal practice in southern states and segregation a common practice almost everywhere in the United States. 
     The rest of the story:  Mr. Kaul does not fully inform us about the political party that was responsible for the safeguarding of slavery between 1789 and 1854.   That was the Democrat Party.   Frederick Douglass supported abolitionist John C Fremont in the 1864 Republican primary.   Lincoln, who won the nomination and the election, was a moderate, not a radical abolitionist. Douglass eventually reconciled himself with Lincoln’s shortcomings and legacy.  Douglass supported Republican Ulysses S. Grant in 1868.  Mr. Kaul, why not acknowledge that Frederick Douglass’ speech was about injustices imposed by Democrats, including Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson?

(On a side note, I wish influential liberal writers like Mr. Kaul would acknowledge that Republicans drafted and passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments ending slavery, providing citizenship and voting rights to all minorities.  It is a tragedy that the Supreme Court later gutted the clear intention of these amendments with the Cruikshank decision of 1876. After that, southern Democrat Senators prevented enforcement rights for 88 years until a coalition of Republican and Democrat Senators prevailed with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.)

  • Tulsa Race Riot- He concludes with a review of the history of the Tulsa race riot of May 31, 1921. The Wikipedia article on this event varies substantially with Mr. Kaul’s article, but my interests are not to quibble over details.  It was a deplorable event driven by unreasonable fear and hatred stirred up by sensationalistic newspaper reporting.   The town’s black community was burned to the ground and they suffered a large number of deaths and injuries.  I support Mr. Kaul’s desire to educate the public about this event.   Our nation’s history has too many examples of horrible behavior denying life and liberty to minorities and the underprivileged. 
    The rest of the story:   Now, it is also a fact that the state of Oklahoma originated in 1907 and had Democrat Governors until 1963.  The Governor in 1921 was Democrat, James Brooks Ayers Robertson.   An article from the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, referring to the early years of the state legislature, “The legislature banned interracial schools at all levels. Many public facilities along with common carriers were segregated. Some 540 railroad depots in the state had to be altered to fit the new separate waiting rooms requirement, while new coaches also had to be added to the lines. Over time, legislators segregated everything from hospitals to housing to cemeteries to restaurants. In 1915 Oklahoma made national history by becoming the first state in the Union to segregate public pay telephone booths.”.[1]  Mr. Kaul, why don’t you acknowledge that the Tulsa race riot was a product of the racist history of the Democrat Party?



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