The Thinker: Rich Galen


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You've Got to be Carefully Taught

Rich Galen

Monday August 14, 2017

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  • In 1949, Oscar Hammerstein (lyrics) and his writing partner Richard Rodgers (music) presented a musical play on Broadway based loosely on James Mitchener's "Tales of the South Pacific."

  • On of the numbers in the stage play "South Pacific" was titled, "You've Got to be Carefully Taught. Here's the four line refrain:
    You've got to be taught before it's too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You've got to be carefully taught.

  • Too many American Nazis, White Supremacists, Alt-Right zealots, and other forms of Domestic Terrorists had been too carefully taught as they descended on the university town of Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

  • The whole thing started over a plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, sitting astride his horse Traveler as he has been doing since its installation in 1924.

  • Keep in mind that 1924 was only 59 years after the end of the Civil War. A fair number of Virginians who fought in the Civil War were still around.

  • Whether or not you think Robert E. Lee's statue should remain in place or be moved is not the issue here. What is at issue is the manner in which you express your thinking.

  • In the case of Charlottesville, according to an account in the New York Times, a member of the City Council suggested, in 2012, that there should be a "discussion" over whether to remove the Lee statue as well as other "monuments to the Civil War."

  • Four years later the city council appointed a commission to study the issue which, returned with a recommendation that the statue either be relocated or the site be altered to "include new, accurate historical information."

  • The city council voted to move it, that led to a court challenge which has not yet been settled and so Robert E. Lee and Traveler remains where they have been for the past 93 years.

  • The "Unite the Right" rally was organized by Charlottesville resident, Jason Kessler who is described by Newsweek as "a newly sworn-in member of the 'Proud Boy's' alt-right fraternity."

  • The word of the rally spread and began with a tiki-torch parade on the campus of the University of Virginia on Friday night complete with the chanting of anti-Jewish and anti-Black epithets. The follow-on White Supremacy demonstration Saturday afternoon spawned the deadly violence.

  • Saying that both the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators are equally to blame is just wrong. Had the racists not been so meticulously provocative, there would have been nothing to counter-demonstrate about.

  • Someone carefully taught Jason Kessler and his fanatic friends to hate. Someone taught them to spend time, energy, money, and intellectual energy not making America a better place for all, but to make America an intolerable place for people who don't look, act, speak, or pray as they do.

  • It was also wrong for Donald Trump not to have called the extremists out by name in his short statement on Saturday night. He read his remarks which included:
    "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides."

  • It is not clear to me that the "On many sides" language was in the written text because he looked up as he said. I am absolutely certain it wasn't in there twice.

  • On Sunday, the WH staff had to do what it has had to do on many Sundays: Clean up a mess Trump had made on Saturday.

  • Sunday's wipe up included this: "of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis and all extremist groups."

  • Yeah. Well. I'm not so sure.

  • A wide swath of GOP officeholders including Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla), John McCain (R-Ariz), Cory Gardner (R-Colo), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), Tim Scott (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Tx) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) weighed in against Trump's timidity or at least demonstrated their own ability to know domestic terrorism when they see it.

  • Hatch said:
    "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

  • Gov. Chris Christie, Speaker Paul Ryan, and Newt Gingrich added their voices.

  • You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made
    And people whose skin is a different shade
    You've got to be carefully taught

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A YouTube link to the song from "South Pacific", to the NY Times backgrounder on the Robert E. Lee statue that started the whole thing, and to Proud Boys.

    The Mullfoto is an homage to Keanu Reeves' career highlight.

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