Category Archives: Current Affairs

The 9-11 Gift Shop is Not For Us

I am not surprised to read that family members, residents of New York City and others are upset with the contents being sold at the 9-11 Memorial and Museum’s gift shop. As someone who lost a close family member in the South Tower of the World Trade Center I get it. Reports on this controversy are quick to point out that “Ground Zero” is not the only site of death and violence whose museums include gift shops, but they overlook one key factor. Continue reading

From Robert E. Lee to Cliven Bundy

Robert E. Lee (1856):

The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. (1856)

Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races while intermingled as at present in this country, I would depreciate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both. (1865)

Cliven Bundy (2014):

They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, when they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and a garden, and the people had something to do?

Bundy’s views on race and slavery, while shocking to most intelligent and decent people, have a long and distinguished pedigree.

Is Glenn McConnell’s Confederate Past the College of Charleston’s Future?

College of Charleston

College of Charleston

Ultimately, the question of whether Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell becomes the next president of the College of Charleston will be decided by school officials. McConnell is one among three finalists for the position. Whether or not McConnell is selected will tell us a great deal about the legacy of the Confederacy in Charleston and the state as a whole. Can a popular politician who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and has openly supported the flying of the Confederate flag on statehouse grounds successfully serve his alma mater and steer the college toward its stated goal of increased diversity?

That Charlestonians are even debating this issue is fascinating, but I suspect that he will be appointed. If McConnell’s commitment to keeping the memory of the Confederacy alive in South Carolina does not constitute a sufficient reason to look elsewhere does that mean that we can expect these activities to continue?

Travoltifying the Civil War

John Travolta’s butchering of Idina Menzel’s name last night at the Oscars is now a handy little widget that you can use to “Travoltify” your own name. My name becomes Kelvin Lezwis. I decided to plug in a few names from the Civil War for fun:

  • Stonewall Jackson becomes “Sebastian Jerkson”
  • Abraham Lincoln becomes “Archibald Wailson”
  • James Longstreet becomes “Joss Lopeez”
  • Robert E. Lee becomes “Robbie Edbrards”
  • Alexander Stephens becomes “Aleksander Sorphens”
  • Ulysses S. Grant becomes “Ellis Stonz”
  • Bonus: Alexander Schimmelfennig becomes “Aleksander Sancheez”

You get the picture.

Three Cheers for the Ivory Tower

I am still trying to figure out what is behind Nicholas Kristoff’s Sunday Op-ed in the New York Times in which he castigated academics for not embracing their responsibilities as public intellectuals. Kristoff is disappointed that not more academics have embraced social media as a means to engage the general public about important issues that otherwise would only see the light of day in obscure academic journals. Others have already pointed out that even a quick glance at his own newspaper would dispell him of such an absurd claim. There is nothing more that I can add to the discussion. Continue reading