Author Topic: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage  (Read 9447 times)

Gaoics79

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #50 on: September 01, 2017, 12:58:20 PM »
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While some do want these monuments removed because Lee was a slave-owner, that's not my main concern. 

Yet it will be and is the concern of others who will shortly be calling for the tearing down of statues of others (including Washington) for slave owning and many lesser offenses. Guaranteed.

Wayward Son

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #51 on: September 01, 2017, 01:38:56 PM »
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While some do want these monuments removed because Lee was a slave-owner, that's not my main concern. 

Yet it will be and is the concern of others who will shortly be calling for the tearing down of statues of others (including Washington) for slave owning and many lesser offenses. Guaranteed.

I know, and it's sad.  I don't agree with that reasoning.

But that doesn't mean the Confederate statues of traitors should stand, for the aforementioned reasons.

Crunch

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #52 on: September 01, 2017, 01:48:02 PM »
But that doesn't mean the Confederate statues of traitors should stand, for the aforementioned reasons.
And where does your outrage stop? What's your next target?

The selectiveness of the targets you want destroyed belies the phoniness of this effort.  Robert Byrd, literally as racist as they come, not a target. The Democrat party, home of the KKK and segregation for more than a generation, not a target. Planned Parenthood, founded by a eugenicist targeting blacks, not a target.

The reasoning for hopping on this bandwagon, is blatantly false. That much is obvious. Everyone knows it will not stop at statues. Where do you plan to go next?

Gaoics79

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #53 on: September 01, 2017, 02:03:54 PM »
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While some do want these monuments removed because Lee was a slave-owner, that's not my main concern. 

Yet it will be and is the concern of others who will shortly be calling for the tearing down of statues of others (including Washington) for slave owning and many lesser offenses. Guaranteed.

I know, and it's sad.  I don't agree with that reasoning.

But that doesn't mean the Confederate statues of traitors should stand, for the aforementioned reasons.

I actually don't have a problem with taking down Confederate statues and agree with you they should be taken down - but not by mobs. I am worried that this sort of thing will be a flashhpoint for more violence. It mightf even be the shot in the arm the white supremacists need to revive their largely faded and marginalized movement. Start seeing videos of mobs of minorities tearing down statues of white people on the news and they might just get the "race war" they have been hankering for. Complete madness and totally predictable.

NobleHunter

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #54 on: September 01, 2017, 02:12:44 PM »
The Nazis and White Supremacists don't seem to be reviving in the aftermath of Charlottesville. Given how tiny their presence was in Boston and the chatter about cancelled rallies, it seems like they're retreating.

Fenring

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #55 on: September 01, 2017, 02:31:22 PM »
White supremacy is a canard, and sold by the news for cheap clicks. Mob justice is the danger of the future.

Wayward Son

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #56 on: September 01, 2017, 02:45:38 PM »
But that doesn't mean the Confederate statues of traitors should stand, for the aforementioned reasons.
And where does your outrage stop? What's your next target?

The selectiveness of the targets you want destroyed belies the phoniness of this effort.  Robert Byrd, literally as racist as they come, not a target. The Democrat party, home of the KKK and segregation for more than a generation, not a target. Planned Parenthood, founded by a eugenicist targeting blacks, not a target.

The reasoning for hopping on this bandwagon, is blatantly false. That much is obvious. Everyone knows it will not stop at statues. Where do you plan to go next?

And tell me, Crunch, where does your outrage begin?

Obviously not with slavery.  Obviously not with those who fought and died and killed to preserve the legal right to treat people like animals.  Obviously not with traitors to the United States, who fought with the duly elected government and tried to overthrow their laws and institutions with guns and cannons.

Because, after all, anyone who stands against the Confederacy and traitors is a "phony" and his reasons are "blatantly false."  They "obviously" have some secret purpose for it, other than the one they state and defend.

You don't like Senator Byrd.  You don't like the KKK.  You criticize anyone who doesn't immediately criticize Byrd and the Democrats at that time for their racist views.  Good.

But for some reason you think that is a requirement to criticize these statues of traitors?  That without criticizing Byrd and the old Democrats' support of the KKK, that no one has the right to criticize the ennoblement of those who fought for slavery?  Or that decrying these traitors can only mean that the person wants every person with the slightest bit of racism taken down?

Sorry, Crunch, I won't be your strawman.  There are legitimate reasons to take down Confederate war-hero statues that have nothing to do with thought-policing or looking through history with only the single lens of racism.  The fact that you can't or won't acknowledge that says more about you than anything about me.

You seem to be worried about the slippery slope of this, that if the statues are taken down, what else will go?  But what about the slippery slope that goes the other way?

Why aren't you worried about the racists in this country who will feel emboldened if they keep these statues?  Why are you worried what they will go after next?  Perhaps taking away more votes from blacks and minorities?  Making sure that whites will always have the power and advantages in this country?  Perhaps even making sure that only whites are allowed to live in this country?  Why aren't you worried about those things, too?

Or is it more important to you that the slope doesn't go one particular way?  That the slope in the other direction isn't so scary?

If idolizing Confederate war heroes doesn't outrage you, what racist action would it take to outrage you?

Wayward Son

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #57 on: September 01, 2017, 02:59:01 PM »
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While some do want these monuments removed because Lee was a slave-owner, that's not my main concern. 

Yet it will be and is the concern of others who will shortly be calling for the tearing down of statues of others (including Washington) for slave owning and many lesser offenses. Guaranteed.

I know, and it's sad.  I don't agree with that reasoning.

But that doesn't mean the Confederate statues of traitors should stand, for the aforementioned reasons.

I actually don't have a problem with taking down Confederate statues and agree with you they should be taken down - but not by mobs. I am worried that this sort of thing will be a flashhpoint for more violence. It mightf even be the shot in the arm the white supremacists need to revive their largely faded and marginalized movement. Start seeing videos of mobs of minorities tearing down statues of white people on the news and they might just get the "race war" they have been hankering for. Complete madness and totally predictable.

I agree that these statues should not be pulled down by mobs.  We have legal means to do so, with reviews and input from the community.  That is how it should be done, or not at all.

But it should be noted that the Confederate statue in Charlottesville was being taken down through the normal, legal means, with meeting and reviews and all the other niceties of our government system--precisely the way everyone wants it to be done.  But then a mob showed up, brandishing guns and shields and truncheons, trying to intimidate anyone who disagreed with them and decrying those they felt were less worthy than them.  One of them even decided to try to kill people over it, and succeeded. :(

Yes, a number of people have overreacted to them.  But remember that it is an overreaction.  The white nationalists have already threatened violence, and have killed far, far more people in the past couple of decades than any Anti-fas.  So while we should worry about violence from the mobs against these statues, they cannot be responsible for violence from the other side.  People are responsible for how they react.

Seriati

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #58 on: September 01, 2017, 03:27:59 PM »
Seriati, even in 1860, reasonable people understood that conflicts over unsettled law could only be lawfully adjudicated through SCOTUS.

Pete, there is no legitimate merit to that argument.  If the states were States the act of succession terminated the SC authority to issue such a judgement.  The SC has not authority over sovereign entities other than the US.  In any event, it actually was an issue in dispute so I'm not sure why you'd claim otherwise to me, over a150 years later.

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If secession had been lawful, firing on Ft Sumpter was still treason and rebellion.

It'd be neither.  It'd be an act of war.

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The North was in a holding pattern. The South was overrepresented in SCOTUS.  If the powers that be in the South honestly believed their position to be lawful, then why start shooting before SCOTUS could take the case?

Again, if they believed their states retained sovereign status, as was asserted, no SCOTUS ruling would have been valid, in their favor or against.  effectively, they asserted sovereign immunity when they succeeded.

Wayward Son

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #59 on: September 01, 2017, 03:42:05 PM »
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If secession had been lawful, firing on Ft Sumpter was still treason and rebellion.

It'd be neither.  It'd be an act of war.

So the question is whether these "war heroes" are traitors to the U.S. or just enemies in a war with the U.S.

Neither sounds like a very good reason to put up statues of them. :D

Fenring

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #60 on: September 01, 2017, 03:52:51 PM »
effectively, they asserted sovereign immunity when they succeeded.

Or rather, when they did not.

TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #61 on: September 01, 2017, 04:43:35 PM »
Seriati, even in 1860, reasonable people understood that conflicts over unsettled law could only be lawfully adjudicated through SCOTUS.  If secession had been lawful, firing on Ft Sumpter was still treason and rebellion. The North was in a holding pattern. The South was overrepresented in SCOTUS.  If the powers that be in the South honestly believed their position to be lawful, then why start shooting before SCOTUS could take the case?

Because politics rarely is completely rational, and more often then not, wars are fought for political rather than rational reasons.

They'd declared their independence. They viewed the continued presence of Union Troops on their "independent territory" to be "a hostile occupation," and the Union using the excuse of "Waiting for a legal resolution" was probably taken as their use of a delaying tactic to allow them time to fortify and prepare (their much larger population and industrial base) for war.

Having many of the best Generals in the US Army at the time also happening to hail from Confederate States just made it that much more important that they strike while they both held the tactical advantage and had the political will to pursue it in the aftermath of Lincoln's win. Before the Union had a chance to regroup, reorganize, and find some competent generals to command their forces.

But a lot of this still cycles back to how decentralized a lot of the decision making was for the Confederacy(at least early on), and South Carolina "Acted out of turn" as I'm fairly certain nobody "at the top" of military command for the Confederacy authorized opening fire on Fort Sumter. Either their own president, or the ranking members of their War Department(or whatever they called it). That was simply an over-eager and hot headed act on the part of a Southern Governor acting on his own authority as the civilian head of the Armies/Militias of South Carolina.

Realistically, I'm actually kind of halfway curious what would have happened if Jefferson Davis has responded to the firing on Ft Sumter by declaring the governor of South Carolina a traitor to the Confederacy and disavowed the actions he had undertaken. But not having actually looked at their Constitution, I don't know if he was actually prohibited from doing what he did. Certainly he was under the US Constitution--as arguably committing an act of war against "a foreign nation" falls under the exclusive purview of the Federal Government as it holds final authority on "foreign relations." But we're talking alternate history at that point. (Also fully acknowledging that the politics of the reality is that even if Davis could have done so, he probably would have faced his own internal revolt for throwing his fellow Confederate under the proverbial wagon in that case) (Buses having not yet been invented)

Gaoics79

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #62 on: September 01, 2017, 04:47:34 PM »
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While some do want these monuments removed because Lee was a slave-owner, that's not my main concern. 

Yet it will be and is the concern of others who will shortly be calling for the tearing down of statues of others (including Washington) for slave owning and many lesser offenses. Guaranteed.

I know, and it's sad.  I don't agree with that reasoning.

But that doesn't mean the Confederate statues of traitors should stand, for the aforementioned reasons.

I actually don't have a problem with taking down Confederate statues and agree with you they should be taken down - but not by mobs. I am worried that this sort of thing will be a flashhpoint for more violence. It mightf even be the shot in the arm the white supremacists need to revive their largely faded and marginalized movement. Start seeing videos of mobs of minorities tearing down statues of white people on the news and they might just get the "race war" they have been hankering for. Complete madness and totally predictable.

I agree that these statues should not be pulled down by mobs.  We have legal means to do so, with reviews and input from the community.  That is how it should be done, or not at all.

But it should be noted that the Confederate statue in Charlottesville was being taken down through the normal, legal means, with meeting and reviews and all the other niceties of our government system--precisely the way everyone wants it to be done.  But then a mob showed up, brandishing guns and shields and truncheons, trying to intimidate anyone who disagreed with them and decrying those they felt were less worthy than them.  One of them even decided to try to kill people over it, and succeeded. :(

Yes, a number of people have overreacted to them.  But remember that it is an overreaction.  The white nationalists have already threatened violence, and have killed far, far more people in the past couple of decades than any Anti-fas.  So while we should worry about violence from the mobs against these statues, they cannot be responsible for violence from the other side.  People are responsible for how they react.

Not that I would be shocked if KKK members used intimidation but in this instance I'm going to request specifics about the acts of intimidation leading up to the confrontation with Antifa. In what way did they intimidate or attack others prior to being attacked themselves? And speaking of guns - how many shootings were there in Charlottsville anyway?

You keep bringing up the car attack but I have seen no scintilla of evidence that ehite supremacists have EVER used cars as a method of terror, let alone that this one man premeditated an "attack". Rather all evidence thus far points to it as an escalation of violence Antifa started.

It's not like they didn't have Nazi marches 30 yrs ago or that those guys were pacifists or something. Yet I cannot recall white supremacists rioting in my lifetime. Funny that, it took a bunch of black clad masked vigilantes with clubs and batons to bring out the ugly violence in Neo Nazi marchers. Who knew?
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 04:50:47 PM by jasonr »

TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #63 on: September 01, 2017, 04:56:06 PM »
So the question is whether these "war heroes" are traitors to the U.S. or just enemies in a war with the U.S.

Neither sounds like a very good reason to put up statues of them. :D

IIRC, most of those Generals had battle experience and had already acquitted themselves quite admirably in earlier wars prior to the Civil War. So for a number of them(Lee included), even ignoring what they did during the Civil War as Generals who arguably committed treason. They probably had sufficient "credentials" on their proverbial resume to warrant such monuments in their honor. Their fighting for the wrong side in the Civil War just makes it more ambiguous in a lot of ways. On the strong minus side, they arguably committed treason by remaining loyal to their home state rather than the Federal Government. On the plus side however, many of them continued to demonstrate tactical and strategic brilliance on the battlefield that is worthy of noting(as West Point and other military institutions still do) and even celebrating in terms of demonstrating brilliant and courageous thinking in adverse conditions. Albeit, thinking and courage demonstrated on behalf of "the wrong side."

And at that point, it's one of those things that something else has been lost in all of this current rhetoric. "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

At what point is Truman going to need to be scrubbed from history books because he nuked Japan twice? Maybe also scrub FDR as well since he authorized the Manhattan Project which culminated in that specific act.  Of course, if we're going to follow that chain backwards, that also means Einstein may need to be scrubbed as well, because he evidently wrote a letter to FDR strongly encouraging him to authorize research into the matter, so after a fashion, Einstein nuked Japan.

Wayward Son

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #64 on: September 01, 2017, 06:02:29 PM »
So the question is whether these "war heroes" are traitors to the U.S. or just enemies in a war with the U.S.

Neither sounds like a very good reason to put up statues of them. :D

IIRC, most of those Generals had battle experience and had already acquitted themselves quite admirably in earlier wars prior to the Civil War. So for a number of them(Lee included), even ignoring what they did during the Civil War as Generals who arguably committed treason. They probably had sufficient "credentials" on their proverbial resume to warrant such monuments in their honor. Their fighting for the wrong side in the Civil War just makes it more ambiguous in a lot of ways. On the strong minus side, they arguably committed treason by remaining loyal to their home state rather than the Federal Government. On the plus side however, many of them continued to demonstrate tactical and strategic brilliance on the battlefield that is worthy of noting(as West Point and other military institutions still do) and even celebrating in terms of demonstrating brilliant and courageous thinking in adverse conditions. Albeit, thinking and courage demonstrated on behalf of "the wrong side."

Yes, those military men had prior experience, and did good things for our country.

But so did Benedict Arnold. :)

And how many of those monuments are for their achievements before the Civil War?  Are they wearing U.S. military uniforms?  Are they located at or near the locations of their achievements?  Do the plaques talk about their heroic efforts in defense of our country?  And if not, does everyone know what they were, so when they look upon the statue of Robert E. Lee, they think, "Ah, there is the mighty fighter in the Mexican-American war"?

Or are they reminders of the great things they did battling the United States of America?

Certainly they should be remembered.  The courage of the Confederate forces should not be forgotten, nor the blood and human misery of the conflict.  The brilliant tactics should be studied.  But to honor the men themselves, when their most notable accomplishments were to battle our nation in defense of slavery?  I think we can draw a pretty clear line there, don't you?

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And at that point, it's one of those things that something else has been lost in all of this current rhetoric. "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

At what point is Truman going to need to be scrubbed from history books because he nuked Japan twice? Maybe also scrub FDR as well since he authorized the Manhattan Project which culminated in that specific act.  Of course, if we're going to follow that chain backwards, that also means Einstein may need to be scrubbed as well, because he evidently wrote a letter to FDR strongly encouraging him to authorize research into the matter, so after a fashion, Einstein nuked Japan.

Once again, we don't remember FDR primarily because he authorized the Manhattan Project.  We don't remember Truman primarily because he nuked Japan.  And the purpose of attacking Japan with nuclear bombs was to end the bloody war between us and them, hopefully saving lives, American and Japanese.  (IIRC, we were estimating over a million Japanese casualties if we invaded the islands.)

And these actions were taken in the defense of the country.

Compare that to the honored Confederate heroes.

What was Robert E. Lee's major accomplishment during his life?  Stonewall Jackson's?  Jefferson Davis'?  What do we remember these men for?

Yes, some will call for the removal of other monuments to other American heroes.  And I will question many of them.  Washington is not remembered primarily as a slave-holder.  Jefferson did not gain his fame defending slavery.  They are remembered for their service to our country.

But Robert E. Lee is not, just like Benedict Arnold.  Why should one be honored so much more than the other?

TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #65 on: September 01, 2017, 09:18:46 PM »
Yes, those military men had prior experience, and did good things for our country.

But so did Benedict Arnold. :)

But even he does have a monument in his honor! :)

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/boot-monument


TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #66 on: September 01, 2017, 09:41:59 PM »
And how many of those monuments are for their achievements before the Civil War?  Are they wearing U.S. military uniforms?  Are they located at or near the locations of their achievements?  Do the plaques talk about their heroic efforts in defense of our country?  And if not, does everyone know what they were, so when they look upon the statue of Robert E. Lee, they think, "Ah, there is the mighty fighter in the Mexican-American war"?

I haven't researched it, so I can't say for certain, but I'd suspect the Forts that are there namesakes like pay homage to them because of the locations they're at. But that's just a guess. Can't speak as to which regalia they are wearing, as "back in the day" there may have been some significant back and forth as to which uniform they should wear, but if I had to make a guess, the decision was made to have them remain in Confederate garb, not so much because it was to honor the Confederacy. But because the Union Soldiers took exception to those men being memorialized as Union Soldiers when they did ultimately take up arms against their own brethren-in-arms.

Which gives some of those monuments perhaps a double-meaning, and which one you ascribe to it depends on which "side" you're viewing it from. From "The Union side" their being in Confederate Garb is an affirmation and constant reminder of their betrayal, while for "The Confederates" (who were the losing side) could pretty much view however they wished.

Basically from the Union side: "We had a disagreemet, we fought, we won, they lost, we got over it." Only now here we are some 150 years later and people want to dig it up all over again. If the surviving/still iving Union Soldiers, and still living freed slaves didn't take particular issue with those monuments when they went up, who are we to take issue with it now? They were the ones with the biggest axe to grind on the matter.

And I guess that's my biggest issue with the Army Base naming thing.  As old as some of those bases are, there were plenty of people around to object to the naming when it happened. That it didn't seem to materialize as far as I'm aware, speaks simply enough for me. Although I guess a quick Wiki lookup shows that Fort Bragg in North Carolina was established as "Camp Bragg" during World War 1, some 50 years after the Civil War, so the number of veterans still around would have already been in pronounced decline by then(although the last living Union Soldier died in the 1960's, IIRC).

Of note with Fort Bragg:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bragg
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Camp Bragg was established in 1918 as an artillery training ground. The Chief of Field Artillery, General William J. Snow, was seeking an area having suitable terrain, adequate water, rail facilities and a climate for year-round training, and he decided that the area now known as Fort Bragg met all of the desired criteria. Camp Bragg was named to honor a native North Carolinian, Braxton Bragg, who commanded Confederate States Army forces in the Civil War.

Of course, I guess we could drill into the history of General Snow to determine if he was a Yankee or if he hailed from Dixie. Oh wait, I just did, he's a Yankee.
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William Josiah Snow was born in W Brooklyn, N. Y., December 16, 1868, the son of William Dunham Snow and Mary Elizabeth Newell Snow. Both his parents were of pure Colonial New England ancestry.

TheDrake

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #67 on: September 02, 2017, 03:54:08 AM »
At what point is Truman going to need to be scrubbed from history books because he nuked Japan twice? Maybe also scrub FDR as well since he authorized the Manhattan Project which culminated in that specific act.  Of course, if we're going to follow that chain backwards, that also means Einstein may need to be scrubbed as well, because he evidently wrote a letter to FDR strongly encouraging him to authorize research into the matter, so after a fashion, Einstein nuked Japan.

I find it interesting that somehow there's a munging of "scrubbed from history" versus "given a place of honor". He can stay in the history books, but there should PROBABLY be a paragraph or footnote about deciding to drop another bomb on Nagasaki, and exploring the question of whether that was reprehensible or necessary?

DJQuag

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #68 on: September 02, 2017, 08:08:09 AM »
+1.

Given the projections of casualties he was presented with, I can resentfully admit the Hiroshima bombing was justified. To show Japan just what we were capable of.

But...to repeat it three days later? Sorry, too extreme for me. At least give it a week or two for the reality of the situation to sink in. Japan wasn't a threat at that point; their fleets were defeated and they were pinned in their islands. There was no rush.

yossarian22c

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #69 on: September 02, 2017, 10:34:35 AM »
+1.

Given the projections of casualties he was presented with, I can resentfully admit the Hiroshima bombing was justified. To show Japan just what we were capable of.

But...to repeat it three days later? Sorry, too extreme for me. At least give it a week or two for the reality of the situation to sink in. Japan wasn't a threat at that point; their fleets were defeated and they were pinned in their islands. There was no rush.

The rush was to get Japan to surrender before Russia mobilized forces in the pacific and Japan ended up divided like Germany. Plus the generals who backed the Manhattan project had spent crazy amounts of money and resources on these weapons and were pushing hard for their use before the war ended so that the expense would be "justified."

Fenring

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #70 on: September 02, 2017, 11:43:51 AM »
The rush was to get Japan to surrender before Russia mobilized forces in the pacific and Japan ended up divided like Germany. Plus the generals who backed the Manhattan project had spent crazy amounts of money and resources on these weapons and were pushing hard for their use before the war ended so that the expense would be "justified."

That, and from what I've read it sounds like it was also about scaring the hell out of the Russians. Despite what is popularly claimed I've seen a source or two argue that Japan tried to surrender and it was rejected. The decision to bomb had nothing to do with them, they were just being made an example of.

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #71 on: September 02, 2017, 12:47:44 PM »
Here's another "crisis" that is generally manufactured and full of disingenuous intent. 

First, I don't believe that Southern Heritage or Culture is being destroyed by removing statues.  Culture is stronger than that.  Heritage is History and more resilient than statues.  I do believe this is simply a fever of iconoclasm.  The purpose is to destroy or remove from sight those symbols deemed hateful to a set of the populace.  In this way it pretty much is similar to what ISIS was doing, though probably less thorough.  Comparison of a single point doesn't really do much to conflate the removing of statues to ISIS, but it's food for thought and should bring to mind the roots and psychology of iconoclasm. 

I personally don't have a problem with a local population deciding to remove a statue of any kind because they no longer like it for whatever reason.  I do think that the proper way to do this is referendum rather than iconoclasm and rogue fundamentalists running around in mobs with torches, burning and tearing down and digging up graves.  It's basically another method of a group forcing their views through violence and criminal action. 

I think it's a manufactured issue because all this people, Lee and Forrest and Davis and whomever, have been dead for over 100 years and havn't hurt anybody or caused any mischief in just as long.  The problems with America, and the problems with racism and White Nationalism and Southern History and the Confederacy can not be fixed by tearing down a bunch of statues or renaming forts.  I don't think it's an attempt at solving these problems at all.  I think it's basically trolling.  In the days that the Civil Rights Movement made their greatest strides, and the greatest amount of influence and cultural change was effected, statues were not even on the menu.  30 years ago I don't think Jesse Jackson gave alot of thought to Confederate monuments and statues.  What changed? 

I think the entire thing is being pushed hardest by a young group of people who just want to fight somebody.  Racists and White Nationalists and Nazis are the present best targets, and they apparently love their Confederate Statues. 

I'm unconvinced by the arguments that the timing of the monuments and statues has any special significance in their meaning, or their actual symbolism.  Apparently, because a bunch of little old southern ladies who had brothers and fathers and uncles who died in the Civil War wanted to put up some statues during Jim Crowe, it means the statues themselves were all meant to be symbols of racism or Jim Crowe.  If this was the case, that the timing had some special significance, I'd like to know what particular time it would have been OK or better to put up a statue of Lee or a Confederate Monument between 1865 and 2017.  What period of time would it have not been a symbol of Jim Crowe and racism?  2008?  If this is the case, then are those Confederate statues who were put up in these other times OK to have?  We can keep them up because the little old ladies who paid to put them up at the time were not trying to defend Jim Crowe?  It's all a red herring.  It's meaningless. 

If the entire point is to destroy symbols of the Lost Cause or glorification of traitors and slavers, etc, then I'd not recommend going after statues.  I'd suggest they go after the real thing that fuels the ideas of good ole boys, the books and websites.  It should be an easy deal to remove all Lost Cause or pro-Lee biographies from all public libraries.  Have a nice bonfire with them.  Make the websites all illegal.  That should be real fun. 

My personal relationship with the Confederacy is generally indifferent.  I spent most of my time growing up in the South, a good portion of it as a military brat.  I've had enough experience with the good ole boys, particularly the ones between 16 and 25 years old.  There are still a couple of hangers on that you can run into, but mostly on social media.  There is plenty of soft racism to go around.  The wackos have been generally thrown out of polite and civil society, but they are indeed making a bit of a comback since they're getting so much attention, they have the internet now, and they want to be part of the great war on liberalism and MAGA! 

The majority of my ancestors were not around in 1860.  They were getting stepped on in Poland or Mexico.  I don't really have any dogs in the hunt.  I'm absolutely puzzled by those who seem to have so many that they are tearing around the Big Bottom with a pack of rabid hounds chasing Ole Ben.   The reason they hunted is because that is what they did.  That was their fun.  Ole Ben wasn't a threat to anybody except a couple of farmers with some dead pigs or cows.  He was the last great hunt, the last worthy foe, and I guess that's the role the White Nationalists and the Neo-Nazis play today.  Nobody can storm the beaches of Normandy or charge up the berm into the breach of Fort Wagner, so let's fight what we have:  David Duke and Richard Spencer. 

I can easily say that Slavery was a major cause of the Civil War.  I can say easily that slavery is evil.  My view of secession is rather less settled.  But I'm not a product of a cultural vacuum.  I'm an American who grew up in the 80s and 90s.  I'm partially a product of my time and environment.  I'd like to think that I'm not entirely without will or choice or responsibility in what I believe, but I cannot ignore that it's easier to sail with the current rather than against it.  I cannot ignore that I believe the vast majority of humanity really isn't terribly moral outside of their cultural matrix of beliefs. 

I don't know what I would have done if I had lived in 1860s Virginia, or South Carolina, as a white man.  I don't know what I would have done if I had lived in 1860s Vermont.  I know what I would have likely done had I lived there.  I'm not a moral relativist, but in order to be a moral objectivist, you need to believe in objective knowledge itself.  And if you believe in objective knowledge itself, you have to believe that morality IS a form of knowledge, and that it must be taught or discovered just as any other kind of knowledge.  While I can say without doubt that slavery is evil, and that political violence is evil, I have a harder time judging men and women from the past harshly.  It's easier to do on an individual basis, and there are exceptions. 

I enjoy the comparisons of Robert E Lee to Hitler.  Personally, if certain Germans wanted to keep statues of him around, I wouldn't have a stroke.  Napoleon wasn't exactly a great force of good in the Universe, but the French keep plenty of statues of him around.  Ditto for Genghis Khan.  Personally, I'd say that Hitler was a bit more of a pivitol figure in the Second World War, as compared to Robert E Lee.  I'm not sure if there would have been a WWII without Hitler.  I'm fairly certain there would have been a Civil War without Robert E Lee.  I'm fairly certain that genocide and invasions of conquest are worse than slavery and invasions meant to end wars.  I'm fairly certain that if Virginia did not secede, then Robert E Lee would have lead the US Army with great ability and would be a northern hero today rather than a goat.  If WWI did not happen, Hitler would have been a failed artist.  There is no WWII without Hitler and I doubt there would be a Hitler without WWII.  If Hitler had not existed, Germany would have likely gone socialist, or even communist, and the next great war in Europe would have been with the USSR and Germany as allies against France, GB, and possibly the United States.  It would have been a war that the west would have been hard pressed to win compared to WWII. 

Sure, Hitler was a product of his environment as well.  But I have no trouble judging him.  If I were a German in 1930s Germany, I seriously doubt I would have been Hitler.  I seriously doubt I would have been Robert E Lee either, but I probably would have been in an Army.  There are not a great many Hitlers and Napoleons in History.  There are plenty of Robert E Lees and Sam Watkins and Guderians and Mansteins and Rundstedts. 

At the end of the day, it's important to ask where these men went wrong.  Were they good, were they bad, wholely are partly, heaven or hell, what happened and why.  We should ask these questions so we know how to check ourselves, rather than check them.  Their time is gone.  Our own souls are of practical importance.  I think statues are an OK way to raise these questions, no matter the reason they were erected by little old ladies. 

Take down your statues, people.  But it isn't going to change the world.  It's not even going to change yourselves.  It's certainly not going to change Robert E Lee or history. 

Pete at Home

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #72 on: September 02, 2017, 04:37:48 PM »
Some good points, Grant, but ultimately I think that history is written and rewritten by the history writers.  Robert E Lee did change posthumously as the 1920s changed the story, and he can change again as the story changes. The trouble with history is that you don't always know whose story it is

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #73 on: September 02, 2017, 05:16:36 PM »
Some good points, Grant, but ultimately I think that history is written and rewritten by the history writers.  Robert E Lee did change posthumously as the 1920s changed the story, and he can change again as the story changes. The trouble with history is that you don't always know whose story it is
Yeah, in some ways.  One of the sayings thrown around too often was always "history is written by the victors".  But if this is the case, it kinda weakens the arguments against the "Lost Cause". 

I think history is often used as a tool, and is too often a target of revisionism.  My feeling has always been that history is more complex then it is simple, and you need to weigh all the evidence you have, and note the evidence you don't have, which is often a great deal. 

This is difficult, because I'm all for using history and viewing history through a moral lens.  But the goal is not to condemn, but to learn lessons so as not to repeat them.  Black Hats and White Hats are for Westerns.  Lessons of mistakes to avoid are for good citizens. 

TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #74 on: September 02, 2017, 07:07:56 PM »
Further considerations on things: The better historical analogue for Robert E. Lee and a number of Confederate Generals would be Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and General Erwin Rommel.

All of them were military leaders involved in leading and fighting wars they weren't exactly enthusiastic about prosecuting.

Jefferson Davis is another matter entirely, as "the political head" of the Confederacy, even if he may or may not have been in a position not much like the Emperor of Japan in some respects. Although my understanding is he'd be more in line with the Chancellor of Germany than the Emperor of Japan in many respects.

BUT also going back to comparing Robert E. Lee to Benedict Arnold. Another factor to consider on the "how's and why's" of the Civil War being treated differently than the Revolutionary War. Consider this aspect as well: The "Revolutionary War" or "The American War for Independence" has those titles rather than "The Colonial Civil War" for two reasons:
1) They won.
2) Their primary opponent was external to their borders, in the form of the British Empire.

Whereas the American Civil War from the Union Side:
1)  They won
2) Their primary(and only significant) opponent was internal to borders that existed circa 1860.
3) It was "further complicated" by having "Echoes of the revolution" in that the "traitors" were operating on (illegitimate--potentially ex post facto) authority granted to them by their respective (and collective) State Governments. Much like how the Revolutionary War was initiated and fought for many of the colonies. (Keeping in mind that "The Crown" would likewise say the colonies had no such authority to raise armies in revolt against the Crown)
4) The only side in the Civil War that viewed "the other side" as "a foreign power" during the War was, drumroll please, The Confederacy.

Generally speaking, High Treason, at least to the 19th century layman, would require betraying ones "own legitimate government to a foreign power." So thus, Benedict Arnold remains in a special class all by himself because he recognized the Authority of the Continental Congress, until he decided to turn around and join forces with the Crown(the foreign power) instead.  So you get into all kinds of legalistic fun and games from there.

Basically, while Lee and company can be viewed as traitors as they betrayed their oaths to the Union Army. They stop short of treason because they didn't betray the Union Army to "a foreign power." It also ironically means the only persons technically capable of committing Treason in that situation were the Confederates, and only if they decided to join on the side of the Union after having first fought on behalf of the Confederacy(and subsequently being captured/prosecuted by the Confederacy, as obviously the Union would have a differing view on that matter). Otherwise, they were simply guilty of Insurrection. So the BIG thing that separates the Confederate Generals and those who served under them from the people who defected to the British "Tory"/Loyalist side over the course of the Revolutionary War is the distinction between Insurrection/Rebellion and Treason which while being comparable, aren't quite the same thing.

Pete at Home

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #75 on: September 02, 2017, 08:04:13 PM »
Agreed and well said on the victors bromide, Grant. I have yet to see a history written by the Huns or the Vandals.

Pete at Home

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #76 on: September 02, 2017, 08:15:06 PM »
I hate Jeff Davis not so much for the co,federal but for the hypocrisy of his martial law and his shameless acceptance of surrender and pardon while continuing to see sedition and laying foundation of continued resistance after his war was lost.

TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #77 on: September 03, 2017, 01:53:32 AM »
I hate Jeff Davis not so much for the co,federal but for the hypocrisy of his martial law and his shameless acceptance of surrender and pardon while continuing to see sedition and laying foundation of continued resistance after his war was lost.

As I said. "More in line with the Chancellor of Germany" (aka Hitler)

SOME of the Confederate Generals are almost sympathetic characters after a fashion, in that they basically were opting for "My state right or wrong." And the cause their state took up was the wrong side(in more ways than one). Those men (and women) are in a different category from the other group that were cheerleading the process from the word go.

TheDrake

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #78 on: September 03, 2017, 01:54:57 PM »
If England had won in 1776, I wonder if they'd have let people put up statues of Washington.


NobleHunter

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #80 on: September 03, 2017, 06:40:12 PM »
I hate Jeff Davis not so much for the co,federal but for the hypocrisy of his martial law and his shameless acceptance of surrender and pardon while continuing to see sedition and laying foundation of continued resistance after his war was lost.

"Peace is the continuation of war by other means" - Hannah Arendt

I'd love an alternate history where the Confederacy lost.

TheDeamon

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #81 on: September 04, 2017, 02:45:13 AM »
https://www.guidelondon.org.uk/blog/around-london/statues-6-american-presidents-london/

So George Washington has a statue in London. Neat.


Quote
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/52834
https://www.trulia.com/property/3270733766-296-Daniel-Shays-Hwy-Belchertown-MA-01007
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Statue_of_Brigham_Young_in_front_of_Provo_City_Library.jpg

Should we add the numerous monuments to indians who fought against(or were simply slaughtered by) the US Cavalry? Chief Joseph has stuff scattered across Washington, Idaho and Montana that I know of first hand. Although he was fleeing, not fighting(well, much).

Although I'm intrigued as to how Brigham Young made the list? I can see a case with regards to Joseph Smith(in particular as it regards the State of Missouri), but Brigham Young is a bit more of a stretch I think. Best you have with him is a specific "firebrand speech" that he quickly backed away from, and a very tenuous link to Mountain Meadows, neither of which have anything to do with his statue in Provo. That and MM doesn't cross into open rebellion against the Government.

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #82 on: September 04, 2017, 07:52:32 AM »

Although I'm intrigued as to how Brigham Young made the list?

I'm not trying to knock Brigham Young.  But I think he met several criteria during the Utah War.  Next to slavery, polygamy was the Republican Party's big goblin.  Plenty of bad press for the Mormons in the East led to Buchanan removing Young as governor of Utah Territory.  To effect this change, he sent the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, commanded by AS Johnson.  (Lee wasn't there because his father in law had died and he was the executor of the will.  This is where the controversy of his telling his father in law's slaves to work 5 more years before being freed, and whether or not this was actually his father in law's desire, comes from). 

Young did not know he had been removed as Governor, but heard that US troops were on the way to Utah.  Fearing persecution, Young called up the Mormon Militia, spoke round-about secession, and generally prepared to fight the US Army.  It never came down to heavy fighting, and everything was resolved, partly because the entire action was so unpopular.  Buchannan had declared the Mormons to be in rebellion, traitors, and seditious, but pardoned them all as long as they stopped. 

The Republican Party removed all mention of polygamy in their 1860 platform, due to the backlash the entire affair caused.  But in 1860 Lincoln signed an act that made polygamy a crime in the territories. He promised Young he would not enforce it, though Republican grass root rhetoric against polygamy continued.  Eventually, polygamy was made a felony, and by the 1880s polygamists were being put in federal prison.

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #83 on: September 04, 2017, 07:59:53 AM »
Should we add the numerous monuments to indians who fought against(or were simply slaughtered by) the US Cavalry? Chief Joseph has stuff scattered across Washington, Idaho and Montana that I know of first hand. Although he was fleeing, not fighting(well, much).

I'm unsure if Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Black Hawk, etc etc, were ever US Citizens.  I'm pretty sure they were not.  Hence they could not be seen as rebels or traitors, but simply foreign enemies. 

We have plenty of statues and memorials to them, despite being enemies of the US, because they are now seen as being Americans.  All-one-tribe.  We named the fiercest Army helicopters after tribes like the Apache and Comanche, which the US fought against for years. 

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #84 on: September 04, 2017, 10:48:18 AM »
Le sigh.

The Civil War, like most big history, becomes mythologized over time.  The Civil War is no different than the Trojan War in this respect, but it is amazing how quickly the mythologizing started.  It shouldn't really be that difficult to see though.  Look at Vietnam and the Gulf Wars and the War on Terror, and you can see how fast politics and justifications and accusations can grow and spin out of control. 

The main revisionist thread that everyone likes to talk about and pound on is the "Lost Cause" revisionism.  Lost Cause revisionism is generally the idea that slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War, but it has many other romantic aspects to it, such as the "why" and "how" the south lost, and enters into the morality of those fighting on the side of the south.  It's amazing how quickly the "Lost Cause" revisionism started, almost immediately after the war ended.  But there are certain aspects of it that are true. 

The idea that slavery had nothing to do with the war is ludicrous.  I've stated that already.  Without slavery, the war would not have occurred.  It is a root cause of many of the lesser causes, including states rights, though the ideas of states rights and slavery are separate constitutional issues.  Nevertheless, Alabama was not fighting for marijuana legalization or the death penalty. 

But the South was largely outnumbered and under equipped.  The defeat of the South had to do with material and tactical and strategic concerns rather than moral concerns.  I suppose it's possible God fought on the side of the Union, though I figure most liberals today would find this ridiculous.  It is one of those things that probably got the good ole boy's dander up.   

There was a great deal of bravery, fortitude, and craft exhibited by the Southerners during the war.  Even President Grant could admit as such.  This fortitude was given respect by those who understood it's meaning and power.  Regardless of the cause, enemies found virtue in each other, and gave respect when it was due. 

It's true that a great deal of the southern population probably didn't give a damn about slavery.  I could believe the vast majority of them were racist, but they still didn't care about slavery and probably would not have fought if it were their sole motivation.  I feel a great many of them fought because they felt it was their duty to the government of their state, which they saw as a higher authority than the federal government.  Even President Grant fought in the Mexican War, despite feeling it was an immoral war, because of duty. 

But in my opinion, the south were not the only ones guilty of revisionism, even immediately after the war.  To say that slavery was a cause of the war, or even THE cause of the war, is a different proposition than saying that the war was fought over slavery, or that it started over slavery, or that slavery was the PROXIMAL cause of the war. 

The lead up to the Civil War during the 50s was a political one.  It's no more different than people counting seats today.  The slave states were desperate to maintain a slim majority or at least equality in the US Senate.  The writing on the wall had been seen long ago that the House would be primarily northern and free state.  The Senate was the last place the slave states could oppose legislation freeing the slaves, which the abolitionists had fought for.

But the Kansas-Nebraska Act had basically upended the Compromise of 1850, and by the election of 1860, it was evident that the slave states had lost the Senate.  Their last refuge was the Presidency.  The Democratic Party, north and south, did not call for abolition, but the Republican Party had.  More specifically, the Republican party platform demanded the end of the growth of slavery into the territories.  No more slave states.  For the Republicans and abolitionists, it was a moral matter.  To the Southerners, it looked like a political move. 

The election of 1860 brought the first Republican President, in Abraham Lincoln.  The deck was stacked and the political battle was over.  Lincoln had not run on abolition, but had run on the end of the growth of slavery in the territories.  He had been able to defeat more radical abolitionists elements in the Republican Party at the convention of 1860.  Lincoln desired to enact legislation to free the slaves in the south, and to monetarily compensate their owners, but it was not something he was ready to start a war over.  Lincoln won the vast majority of the north, but not by huge margins, against the northern democrat, Stephen A Douglas, who had run on a compromise platform that did not emphasize the abolition of slavery.  If you cared about slavery, you voted Lincoln.  If you did not, or were concerned about southern secession and war, you voted for Douglas. 

Similarly, the chief opponent to Breckenridge in the south was Bell, who ran as a Constitutional Unionist, who were against secession.  The choice to the southern voters was "for secession" and "against secession, whatever happens to slavery".  Even Breckenridge advised against secession and was part of the "border state neutrality" group, which included the swing vote in Virginia.  Both Bell and Douglas gave Lincoln and Breckinridge a run for their money in the north and south. 

Lincoln won 40% of the popular vote.  But he won a vast amount of the electoral votes.  The southern voter might as well have stayed home.  The election was decided by Lincoln vs Douglas.  Lincoln wasn't even on the ballot in most slave states.  This doesn't really matter as much to those who look to the Constitution, but even today, the winning of the Presidency without a majority of the popular vote is quite controversial.  Cries of "Not My President" today should generally give you an idea of how Southerners saw President Lincoln. 

It was after the election of Lincoln that the slave states started calling conventions to secede. The proximal cause of the Civil War was the election of Abraham Lincoln, whom the southerners saw as illegitimate, and whom they hated because he was part of the Republican party which had begun adversarial politics against slavery.  This is no stranger to us today who see a growth of demonization in politics, and generally a very emotional backlash against it.  Part of the rationalization of the whole MAGA! movement is the idea that liberals and progressives have impugned the morality and character of those who were against same-sex marriage, gun control, illegal immigration, voter ID, etc.  The argument being that liberals and progressives were the enemy, plain and simple, because they had attacked the character of conservatives.  The same argument was made against the Republicans in 1860.  They attacked the character of southerners, hence they were the dastardly enemy.  This goes to a psychological cause of war. 

Lincoln tried to hold the thing together.  In his inaugural address, he expressed support for the Corwin Amendment.  Seeing the writing on the war, the House attempted to hold things together by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would have expressly protected slavery inside the slave states.  Lincoln seemed perfectly willing to keep slavery in the slave states to preserve the Union. 

It seems that slavery inside the slave states then was not threatened.  Only the growth of slavery in the territories.  But by this time, it didn't matter to the southerners, who had whipped themselves into a fury, getting their dander up.  Secessionist Conventions were called in the southern states.  The deep south started to secede.  The votes in the conventions were quite one sided, with the majority of the delegates voting for secession almost immediately.  There are questions as to who exactly got invited.  Some argue that non-secessionist southerners didn't even vote for delegates, because they saw the entire process as disloyal.  Hence the conventions were stacked with secessionists.  One by one, the southern states began to secede. 

The exception was Virginia.  There were three factions in the Virginia convention, each about 1/3 of the total.  First were the secessionists, who wanted Virginia in the Confederacy.  Second were the Unionists, who wanted to keep Virginia in the Union, Confederacy or no, slavery or no.  Most of these were from West Virginia.  The third faction, the swing faction, were those who wanted to stay in the Union, but desired to stay neutral in the fight between Lincoln and the Confederacy.  After Fort Sumpter fell in Charleston harbor, Lincoln called up the army and asked for Virginia to contribute.  This was too much for those who wanted to stay neutral in the coming war, so the swing faction voted to secede in the second convention.  It was the appearance of Lincoln as invader that turned Virginia to secession. 

This does not take away slavery as the root cause of the war, but it does mean that the causes of southern secession were complex.  I'm personally in favor of Mark Twain's take on the start of the war being too many Sir Walter Scott novels. 

Quote
Sir Walter had so large a hand in making Southern character, as it existed before the war, that he is in great measure responsible for the war.

Southerners had a distinct view of honor and morality, and it could not countenance attacks on their morality or the morality of their "peculiar institution".  Slavery was somewhat taken off the board by the Corwin Amendment.  All that remained was political power as assurance and their sense of being attacked by northern Republicans and abolitionists.  It's no different than Trumpists saying progressives and liberals are to blame for Trump because they were called racists.  It's all insane, illogical, and bereft or reason, but it's nevertheless their psychology. 

Slavery cannot stand alone as the reason because there were other options for everyone involved.  Lincoln and Congress attempted to put forward some of these options.  Secession could have been attempted non-violently and brought before the Supreme Court.  But that is not how southern honor demanded it be fought.  Hence the great flushing sound of the Union in a deluge of blood due to a great temper tantrum. 


President Grant himself writes in his memoirs about slavery being the great cause of the war.  I personally believe this is the second form of revisionism that we deal with.  I'm unsure if slavery as "the great cause" of the north appeared before or after the "Lost Cause" revisionism, but I know it started rather quickly. 

Why do I believe it is a type of revisionism?  Grant himself admits to being no abolitionist at the start of the war.  I don't think it is deniable that a great many northerners who fought for the Union were not abolitionists, or were in some cases only slightly less racist than their southern counterparts.  Lincoln himself sought to preserve the Union by constitutionally protecting slavery in the slave states.  So what was the cause, the root of this view of the war in the north? 

Nobody thought the war would be as bad as it was, as long as it was, as deadly as it was.  Only people like Sherman, who were seen as insane at the start of the war, believed it would be as bad as it was.  A total of 215,000 deaths were attributed to combat in the Civil War.  140,000 alone on the north.  Were you to line these men up, shoulder to shoulder, along the side of a road, 1 meter per body, the line of dead men would stretch for 155 miles.  87 if were are only counting northern deaths.  If you walked along the road to view all the bodies, and walked 25 miles a day, it would take you a week of walking to view all of the bodies.  7 days, nothing but dead men.    This does not count all of the deaths attributed to the war by sickness and other causes.  That would be roughly 750,000 dead and a line that stretched a bit over 450 miles long.  That's the distance between Boston and Washington DC.  If you took the blood of all the men killed in combat, at 5L per man, it would fill a pool slightly larger than 61 feet long, 61 feet wide, and 10 feet deep.   That doesn't count the blood of the wounded. 

If you had said the war would cost that much in 1861, you would have been locked up as a madman.  Nobody believed it would have been that bad except a few crackpots.  If you could have presented these 140K deaths to the north in 1861, I'm doubtful there would have been a great deal widespread support for the war.  As it was, the war was not hugely popular to some in the north.  But confronted with such a death toll, support for Lincoln would have probably evaporated in the north, slavery notwithstanding.  At the end of the day, a great deal men in New York really didn't care that much how many people a man in Charleston owned.  That's not a defense of slavery, it's a simple declaration of the degree of motivation of people to fight against it. 

How do you justify these deaths?  The mountain of casualties?  I hesitate to call it a river of blood, but certainly a stream of it.  Lincoln was under pressure from the start.   Only impending victory saved him in the election of 1864.  For Lincoln, it was the idea that the deaths had not been in vain.  It had not been for nothing, and the cause of those deaths, regardless of any personal motivations, was the cause of liberty and freedom and equality for all men.  Lincoln himself, so eloquently put in the Gettysburg Address, argued that those deaths had been in the cause of ending slavery.  Grant made the same argument. 

Regardless of how you view that argument, or how you view the motivations of the majority of northerners, I think you could admit that nothing but ending slavery could have justified such a sacrifice on the people of the United States.  Despite the fact that in 1861 a majority of the people in the north, and the government itself, including Lincoln, signaled a willingness to keep slavery in the slave states to preserve the Union, by 1863 ending slavery was the only cause that could justify the war.  What was a non-issue in 1861 to the majority, became the great crusade. 

I don't see how this could be surprising.  We see it today and see it throughout the history of the United States.  We hear about the evil of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, but it wasn't the reason the United States entered war against Germany.  It was Germany who declared war against the United States first.  If Germany had not, it's possible the United States would have limited itself to war against Japan.  If not for Pearl Harbor, would the United States have entered at all?  Even if you had presented the evidence to the people of the United States, and the government, that the Nazis were industrially slaughtering the Jewish people (which actually did occur, but was not believed), I doubt a majority of Americans would have gone to war to save the Jewish people. 

That may sound like an indictment of the American people.  Maybe it is.  But it seems a historical fact.  America would not go to war to prevent genocides on several occasions.  In some occasions that it did, it failed because public support was limited.  Somalia, Cambodia, Syria, Ruwana.  All mass slaughters where the general feeling is that there is nothing to be done about it, or that the cost would be too high.  If tomorrow China started wholesale butchery of it's people, as it did during the Cultural Revolution, I doubt a war against China would begin, due to the perceived cost.  You could argue that a slave in Alabama is a lot closer to Chicago than a Cambodian in Phenom Penh, but I wonder.  It's possible that those who look askance on America being a world policeman have a distance factor, but I wonder. 

None of this is an argument that slavery was not a cause of the Civil War.  What it does is shed a light on the fact that a certain degree of revisionism was being perpetrated by both the north and the south after, and even during, the civil war.  Maybe it's not even revisionism, but a changing of minds and attitudes.  Maybe Lost Cause revisionism is actually a subtle indictment by southerners themselves that slavery was never a good thing to have defended.  It's possible that it's an admission that it was indeed a stain and evil.  The concern is that it is a whitewashing of history, to justify secession, but it doesn't seem to get very far.  Facing slavery was and is one of the challenges facing southerners.  Faulkner, now accused of being a Lost Causer, wrote reams on it. 

Honestly, if slavery is dropped as defensible by even the lost causers, then the victory of the north in the Civil War is complete, if it was indeed fought over slavery. 

The cause of war is a complex bit of historiography.  Why did WWI start?  An assassinated Arch-Duke?  The politics?  Failure of diplomacy and an inter-national entity?  Or was it simply that the machinery, once started, could not be stopped?  The cause of WWII?  Was it imperialism and the fight by nations over scarce resources?  Was it about power?  Was it about grievance?  Was it about Pearl Harbor? 

The American Civil War has descended and continues to descend into myth.  The history is all there, though.  But what happens often contradicts what people say.  History is people.  People have been and continue to be motivated primarily by their passions.  Passion over the great evil of slavery.  Passion over slight to character.  Passion over politics and justice.  You see it today, everywhere. 
« Last Edit: September 04, 2017, 10:56:32 AM by Grant »

TheDrake

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #85 on: September 04, 2017, 12:02:28 PM »
That statue of Washington was put up in 1924, a gift from Virginia. You may recall that this was slightly after WW1, and England was probably feeling pretty favorable toward the US at that time. I also think you don't have a situation where English walk by and think about what a horrific person Washington was.

This situation is not at all equivalent to one in which the rebel was put down but has supporters in the area.

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #86 on: September 04, 2017, 12:06:36 PM »
But in 1860 Lincoln signed an act that made polygamy a crime in the territories.

This was in 1862, NOT 1860.  I knew this but typed it in wrong. 

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #87 on: September 04, 2017, 01:02:03 PM »

This situation is not at all equivalent to one in which the rebel was put down but has supporters in the area.

It depends on what we are trying to equivocate it to. 

Was Washington a traitor to the crown?  To Great Britain?  Yes. 

Did Washington defend/fight for slavery?  Meh.  Not explicitly but roundabout. 

Was Washington a traitor who fought for slavery?  Meh.  His treason is not linked to slavery. 

Was Washington popular in England in 1789?  Ehhhh.  Certainly in some quarters.  Definitely not in others. 

Is Washington popular now in England?  Yes.  Why?  Change of opinion in what he did and fought for. 

Does Washington cause offense or bad feelings in Londoners?  Probably not, but there are probably one or two wackos. 


So what is the criteria for statue removal?  Treason?  Washington qualifies.  Holding slaves and fighting for slavery and being racist?  Qualifies if you really try hard.  Causing bad feelings?  No. 

So what we are left with is hurting feelings.  If such is the case, we need to ask why the upset over Lee and Davis and Forrest.  The answers usually bring us back to slavery and treason and the combination thereof. 

See, I find the "contiguous border" argument to be faulty.  Whether or not the colonies shared a land border with Britain in 1776 is meaningless.  The colonies were territory of the crown, and of Great Britain.  It would be like excusing treason in Alaska, or Hawaii, or the Marshall Islands because we did not share a land border with them.  This happened in Puerto Rico in 1950. 

There are plenty of people who wouldn't mind seeing Statues of Washington or Jefferson torn down, and colleges or roads renamed.  Some of them are the same people who want statues of Lee taken down.  You can make your reasoned arguments, but the people leading the charges here, on both sides, are not the reasonable ones.  It's all post hoc reasoning from the sidelines.  People want to support their team, because they're fighting the other team. 

In London, there have been calls for the removal of Nelson from Trafalgar Square because he was racist.  I hesitate to call him a white nationalist, because there generally wasn't such a term in the 1810s and 20s, but his views on slavery in the West Indies British Colonies are not PC to modern sensibilities.  You can't call Nelson a traitor.  He is one of the greatest heroes of British history.  But he defended slavery and was a racist, and that is enough to offend. 

TheDrake

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #88 on: September 04, 2017, 04:58:41 PM »
I think the people get to decide what statues go up and which come down. If a sufficient number of people decide Washington is as undeserving as Lee to have a statue or a monument, then so be it. My only complaint is with the illegal destruction of these by a self appointed vigilante group.

I thought the Tubman $20 was a pretty good idea. In general, it would be nice to look objectively at those enshrined as embodying our finest ideals, and see if there isn't a more favorable role model.

Maybe John Adams and Thomas Paine should replace some of the Jefferson stuff.


Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #89 on: September 04, 2017, 05:25:47 PM »
I'm in favor of communities deciding to take down statues by referendum.  It's certainly a better idea than bands of iconoclasts and vandals taking them down in the dark of night.  But I'm warning people, that you're not going to like the results.  Monuments and statues become politics.  Who's in, who's out.  This year we have a Trumpist majority and we take down statues of Obama.  Next year we have a Progressive majority and we take down Jefferson or Reagan or Bush II.  Then Shelbyville gets pissed because Springfield has a statue of Jebediah Springfield, who once peed in the petunias of Elizabeth Shelby.  The people of Shelbyville create a state referrendum, and because there are more people in Shelbyville, the state takes down Jebediah's statue.  In response, Springfield burns Elizabeth Shelby in effigy.  Etc Etc Etc.  What was once the concern on the fringe combative elements of society now becomes the battleground for the everyday citizens. 

If we are going to enshrine our finest ideals, we should just go back to putting gods and goddesses on currency.  No human is perfect, and if we're looking to find fault, we'll find it eventually.  Liberty with her torch, and Justice with her scales, and Social Justice with hir shears, etc etc.  We'll have to ensure that all races and genders are equally represented as deities on the new currency.  This should keep the mint in business. 

I doubt Paine would be a favorite of conservatives.  Particularly religious ones. 

Seriati

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #90 on: September 05, 2017, 10:40:41 AM »
Enjoyed reading the write ups Grant.  Never had the time to really dig into the history myself.

I would note, the idea that history is written by the victors is questionable these days.  As a historical matter war tended to be much more brutal and final, and the aftermath ignored niceties like rights for any conquered peoples.  Today however, with our protections for civilians and desire to reintegrate the losers it's not true that the losing side isn't still around and free to write about it.  Heck, they are often encouraged to do so.

These days, it's fairer to say that History is written by the professors, and honestly they tend to have a unitary view of politics that is highly sympathetic to the losers, if not actively against the victors.

NobleHunter

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #91 on: September 05, 2017, 11:34:59 AM »
Better that history is written by professors than poets or generals.

I think the profession of history as a whole is inclined towards people and subjects that have been left out of previous histories. So that tends to mean the losers and the oppressed. It probably bleeds over into recent events where there isn't a pre-existing history to revise or challenge.

Fenring

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #92 on: September 05, 2017, 12:15:11 PM »
To be fair, it seems that history is written by...people who write history. That can be anyone, from a rigorous professor to a hack trying to sell textbooks. There's also a large disparity in the approach to content between someone, for example, who chairs a history department, versus someone teaching high school. The latter often teaches wrong information without remorse, and since classroom teaching isn't peer reviewed there's no cushion to correct that. So "history" is basically what people are exposed to or told, since few people will actually read academic papers to see what's on the cutting edge of the field.

In terms of the conversion about cultural heritage I think it's a different issue than the study of history itself. People with an agenda or a socio-political axe to grind are less concerned with historical accuracy as with spinning the past to suit their current convictions. Take Antifa, for instance, which is an extreme example of this. I doubt very much the people participating in their protests are interested in an objective study of the history of their flag, of violence, or of the strength of the freedom of expression. They think in terms of making gains in the here and now, and history to them is little more than a tool to prove they're justified in what they do. The same is doubtless true to varying degrees with both sides of the political spectrum in how history is used (or abused) in order to justify positions that are entrenched in the first place. It's not like these parties are looking to change their opinions and will bow to whatever a study of history would reveal to them. So I take the concern about history to be not which side is writing it, but which side is making use of it to their ends. It sadly comes down to marketing in large part. This may not be true of the purer arenas of academic study, but I wonder how much their work really impacts anyone other than their little circle.

NobleHunter

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #93 on: September 05, 2017, 12:22:45 PM »
High School teaching can also be simplified to the point of error simply for convenience. It's not that they set out to teach things that are wrong but it's just easier to present a coherent narrative rather than explaining everything we don't know or are just inferring from sparse records. High school still tends to focus on political/military history which is easier to source from official records. Names and dates are easy to get right and lets you leave thornier issues for students who are more interested in history for it's own sake rather than ticking a box in diploma requirements.

Fenring

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #94 on: September 05, 2017, 12:45:19 PM »
It's not that they set out to teach things that are wrong but it's just easier to present a coherent narrative rather than explaining everything we don't know or are just inferring from sparse records.

Yes and no. I doubt it's almost ever intentional. But the question is - is teaching simplified for the benefit of the student, or of the teacher? I've heard plenty of stories about high school teachers who are not even in the field they're teaching, to say nothing of being experts in it. I think most high school science teachers must have studied science and may have degrees ranging from bachelor's to doctorates. But in other subjects, at least in many schools, they'll assign teaching of subjects by people who are "professional teachers" rather than professionals in that subject who happen to have chosen teaching as their chosen vocation within that subject. There may be some benefit to this, since you want someone teaching who knows how to teach, even if they may not be a leader in some field, but when the subject happens to be one where there's a lot to get wrong it starts to be problematic to have random Joe's teaching a topic that should primary show how complex people can be, rather than how simple memorizing dates can be.

The question of teachers and vocation is kind of like politicians who are career politicians and may choose some subject to specialize in once their career is underway, but who don't otherwise hold some expertise in government such as political theory, economics, or philosophy. The closest thing we get to that with politicians is career politicians who were once lawyers.

So yeah, I have no problem arguing that many high school teachers don't know much more than what's found in the questionable textbook they're teaching from, and that they're certainly not qualified to be able to independently verify the accuracy of the content they're teaching. But this goes into a much larger issue I have with the profession of teaching in the first place, where I think society seems to be totally upside-down in terms of how the teaching of young people is handled. There's no immediate monetary benefit to it and therefore it's treated as being worthless by the system. This plays directly into how history is taught because, yes, things end up simplified in narrative just to grease the wheels and make everything easy.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 12:47:35 PM by Fenring »

NobleHunter

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #95 on: September 05, 2017, 12:56:11 PM »
IRRC, Ontario requires a certain number of courses to be taken as part of a university degree in order for a teacher be allowed to list a subject as a teachable. I'm not sure how well that translates into what they end up teaching. Their main area of expertise is probably what they'd get hired for but I don't know how much weight schools give to a teacher's background when they someone to fill in for a less technical subject. I'm sure they'd prefer someone who'd taken a half-dozen English courses to teach English but if none of the potential teachers have English as a teachable I'm not sure how far they'd go to find someone with that specific expertise.

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #96 on: September 05, 2017, 01:02:53 PM »
Enjoyed reading the write ups Grant.  Never had the time to really dig into the history myself.

I would note, the idea that history is written by the victors is questionable these days.  As a historical matter war tended to be much more brutal and final, and the aftermath ignored niceties like rights for any conquered peoples.  Today however, with our protections for civilians and desire to reintegrate the losers it's not true that the losing side isn't still around and free to write about it.  Heck, they are often encouraged to do so.

These days, it's fairer to say that History is written by the professors, and honestly they tend to have a unitary view of politics that is highly sympathetic to the losers, if not actively against the victors.

I never liked the idea that history was written by the victors.  I thought it was myopic.  Sure, we have no Carthagenian historians, but we have plenty of historians from other losers. Also the implication that the victors skew the history to favor them is somewhat pessimistic. It's often true, but it ignores that the entire profession of historian, since Thucydides, has attempted the recording of objective facts, as best as possible. 

The problem that we have reached, and it's not exactly new, is when we move beyond history as reporting of facts and creating a great overall theory of history.  When you arrange the facts, look at the facts, and then come up with a theory as to what it all means.  It's the same in journalism.  It's the difference between news and punditry.  It's the creation of a narrative. 

It's not really new.  You could say that it started with the bible.  The bible presents the history of the Jews, and early Christians, as a narrative of God's interaction with the earth.   Plato and Aristotle arranged the history of government into a system of rise and decay.  It's more political science than history, but it relies on historical facts to support it.  Vicco was the great enlightenment historiographer who followed up with Aristotle's political rise and decay and divided civilizations into periods of rise and decay and saw history as a cyclical narrative.  Marx took Vicco's ideas and created a narrative of history that dealt with social struggle between those controlling capital and those who did not.  It was the Marxist view of history and sociology that have brought us to where we are today. 

While the Marxist view of social struggle is not exactly in vogue, the idea of creating these systems and narratives have become the crown jewel, and the lodestone of historical interpretation.  You have a narrative already built, and then you arrange the facts to support the narrative.  The problem is, that this is somewhat unscientific and can get you in trouble.  If you start with the conclusion, and work to arrange the facts to fit the narrative conclusion, you can almost do anything.  It brings confirmation bias into history.  Instead of looking at the facts and asking what they mean, you look at what you want them to mean, and try to arrange the facts to fit the narrative. 

It's not necessarily unscentific.  Every schoolthing knows that you start with a hypothesis and then start your experiments.  This gets science into just as much trouble though, when confirmation bias is at work.  When you loose objectivity, you can interpret things however you like.  Objectivity itself is under attack of course.  There is some validity to the idea that a human being can never be perfectly objective, but it sometimes seems to be taken to an extreme where you cannot be nearly objective, or as objective as you can be, or that objectivity is a pointless goal if it is impossible. 

So when history does not fit into the new narrative, or the chosen narrative, then it is declared anti-historical.  It's not attacked on the basis of the facts, but on the idea that the facts added together do not reach the correct sum.  These are the basis of the attacks on pro-capitalist history, Lost Cause history, etc etc.  To give an example, the above brief history of the origins and causes of the Civil War would be considered anti-historical and supporting Lost Cause history because it does not include several factors.  I make no mention of the trials and tribulations of slaves and the history of abolition in the United States, and I completely omit that one of the chief results of the Civil War, if not THE chief result of the war, is the freeing of the slaves in the American South.  That omission alone is enough to be called Lost Cause history, but if you add in the fact that the conclusions or the perceived conclusions that I present do not support that the South, or Southerners, were fighting for slavery, and that the North was fighting against it, is utterly damning. 

The idea is that my facts are not wrong, but by the omission of facts, the narrative and the history is wrong.  There is a good point to this.  If you only present the facts that you want in a case, you can more easily convict someone.  But in my opinion, the results of a war do not always point to the reasons why the war started, or the underlying causes.

 


Fenring

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #97 on: September 05, 2017, 01:13:50 PM »
While the Marxist view of social struggle is not exactly in vogue

Are you sure?   :-\

NobleHunter

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #98 on: September 05, 2017, 01:23:20 PM »
While the Marxist view of social struggle is not exactly in vogue

Are you sure?   :-\

As a school of history, Marxism is not popular. It requires too much meddling with the evidence for the model to remain coherent.

Grant

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Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« Reply #99 on: September 05, 2017, 01:38:40 PM »
While the Marxist view of social struggle is not exactly in vogue

Are you sure?   :-\

The conclusions of Marxism are not exactly popular, but it's easy to fall back on when faced with the problems of capitalism. 

What is in vogue is the core narrative of Marxism.  The narrative of the oppressor and victim.  Before Marx, history was about this culture or nation or civilization against that one.  The stronger one won because it was stronger.  Marx wiped this away and showed history as a struggle, not between this nation and that, but a history of the rich oppressing the poor.  Victimization history is very much in vogue, and is the bedrock of all kinds of Cultural Studies. 

This is not to say that many of the facts that Cultural Studies relies on are in themselves wrong, or that there is not some truth to their conclusions.  But the very concept of victim-hood is still rather new in the wide scheme of things, and very popular today.