Open Thread for Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The former Fort Lee has a museum, which is always interesting: the Army Women’s Museum…

Some things that have grabbed my attention today:

  1. Russia strikes Odesa for a second day after withdrawing from the grain deal — Putin is aiming to starve not only the Ukrainian people, but the other people who depend on the grain that Ukraine exports. The effect of these latest actions — which include threatening to attack merchant ships coming to get said grain — has of course been to send wheat prices up sharply. Just in case you’re struggling to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are here.
  2. ‘Active club’ hate groups are growing in the U.S. — and making themselves seen — Our society continues to slide downward. There is just so much aggressive stupidity out there, and now at the paramilitary stage. And thanks to the Internet, these people are able to get together and reinforce their deviance, making themselves feel “normal.”
  3. Army base once named for Lee now named for two black South Carolinians — Which is fine, but I wonder — why South Carolinians, when Fort Lee was in Virginia? These were certainly not the only two non-Confederate soldiers to have distinguished themselves in the Army. Irrelevant digression: It’s too bad there are no Air Force bases named for Confederates (are there?). I’d be advocating to rename one for Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., probably best known for commanding the Tuskegee Airmen. I want to add that “I knew him,” but that would be an exaggeration. My Dad worked for him as part of Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, and I used to walk by his house on the way to catch the bus to school. Also, when I worked at the base golf course, I was once assigned to clean his golf clubs. I guess it’s silly, but I’ve always been kind of proud of having that thin connection to him…
  4. Is It Ever Morally Acceptable to Visit a Confederate Historical Site? — Since we’re on kind of a theme here today. I was grabbed by this question in the headline of an email from the NYT’s “Ethicist” today. The simple answer is that of course it is morally acceptable — and even imperative, given the widespread, appalling ignorance about the past in our society — to visit any and all historical sites, to understand history better, or even a little bit. But that question doesn’t fully explain the dilemma posed in the reader’s question. This particular site is operated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and they charge admission. So no, I wouldn’t go to there. Want to learn about the Confederacy — and the Union, and everything else have to do with that conflict? Go to Gettysburg. I highly recommend it.
  5. What we know about Travis King, the U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea — Well, we know he’s not a candidate for promotion. In fact, he seems to be going out of his way to be creative in demonstrating his unsuitability. Apparently, seeing as how we know he had just gotten out of the stockade for having “punched a South Korean national.” But I was drawn to this because of the “what we know about” language in the headline. That made this hed a close relative of the “what you need to know” headline that is all about getting you to click. Headlines used to TELL you something, rather than urging you to click in order to learn something. (An old school hed would have said, “U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea, was imprisoned for violent behavior,” or something along those lines.) Anyway, in this case as in so many, “what we know” is not much. Of course, you click wanting to know WHY he did it. How can we ever fully know what’s going on in such a person’s head?

I guess that’s enough, except that I’m thinking about adding this next thing as a regular feature, I’ve been having so many of these lately.

Today’s Earworm — A slight departure from my usual recent obsessing about the Zombies and the Moody Blues, today I woke up trying to remember the tune to Heart of Oak, the anthem of the Royal Navy. The words were in my head from having read a reference to it before going to bed. So I went to YouTube, went “yeah, that’s it!” You’ve probably heard the tune many times, generally as background music in historical movies. Anyway, it’s been stuck since then. England expects that every man will now go listen to some sea shanties.




26 thoughts on “Open Thread for Wednesday, July 19, 2023

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Actually, I understand the Army may not want to name something for an Air Force officer, but they COULD name something after Gen. Davis’ FATHER.

    He was a pretty extraordinary guy, too. In fact, he was the first black general in the Army. He rose to that rank in 1940…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Of course Davis Junior WAS in the Army before there was an Air Force. He went to West Point.

      But interservice rivalries being what they are, the Army might be more comfortable with his Dad…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, but I did mess up there. I meant to say “first black general in the Army,” and I left out the “black.” I’ve fixed it now, so thanks, Clark.

        In any case, he was never “general OF the Army,” because that’s a five-star. He was a brigadier, which in 1940 is impressive enough…

    2. James Edward Cross

      Um, I think you mean he was the first *black* general in the U.S. Army ….

  2. Carol+Smith

    I love your explanation about visiting Confederate sites. And the reasoning for which ones are acceptable.
    I am in a book club studying racism and this is a conversation that we had recently after visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery. That is a must do if you haven’t been there yet.
    You are a brave man because being in SC, you are probably going to be blasted by the Daughters of the Confederacy. Thanks for doing what you do!

  3. bud

    Here is an absolutely horrific story that illustrates just how craven the Republican Party has become. The awfulness of this outfit extends beyond Trump. Any thought of considering a vote for any Republican candidate for ANY office is ridiculous. The Democrats certainly have their faults but they are our only hope. There is no plan B for the future of this nation.

    1. Doug Ross

      They’re almost as bad as the people who brought the children across the river in the first place… They made the same choice to risk the kids lives… Probably made them walk hundreds of miles in the heat before that..

  4. Ken

    No. 4: I would balk at having to pay a fee that goes to the SCV. And I would have no interest in touring Jeff Davis’s postwar home. But I don’t fundamentally reject the idea of visiting places that present what might be deemed a Confederate-sympathetic point-of-view. Because it’s important to know that that point-of-view exists and what forms it takes. It’s important because these viewpoints also have a life outside these sites and organizations, in what Jesse Jackson called “the Confederacy of the mind.” It’s also present to one degree or another in many of the plantation homes that draw in many visitors, whose former residents were practically to a person supporters and defenders of the Confederate cause. Covering up that history with fine furnishings and well-kept grounds is a disservice to the history of race in America. And because battlefields focus overwhelmingly on the military aspects of that conflict, visits to Civil War battlefields are not sufficient to gain a proper appreciation of what led to that war and how some of that thinking still persists.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I appreciate the precise caution in saying that the plantation’s “former residents were practically to a person supporters and defenders of the Confederate cause.”

      I might have just said ALL of them supported slavery — since slavery certainly supported them. But that would be unfair to people such as John Laurens, and no doubt others. Although most of the others who had doubts about that system were probably afraid to say so…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I don’t mind them. I do find them interesting.

      “Heart of Oak” was a pretty sticky one. I was thinking about it again this morning…

  5. James Edward Cross

    No. 3: Actually, three of the nine bases were renamed for individuals who have no link to the state – Forts Gregg-Adams (Lee), Walker (A. P. Hill), and Johnson (Polk). Fort Liberty (Bragg) is of course a wash. Fort Barfoot’s (Pickett) namesake retired to VA, and Fort Cavazos’ (Hood) and Fort Novosel’s (Rucker) namesakes were born and grew up in the states where the forts are located (TX and AL, respectively). Fort Moore’s (Benning) namesake got his West Point appointment from a GA representative (even though he was from KY), served various times over the years at the fort which now bears his name, and is buried there. Eisenhower (Fort Gordon) did serve at various camps in GA (and Texas) prior to WWI and served 1 year at the now Fort Moore in the 1920’s but has no other link to GA.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Nor do they have to be named for people in those states. I just remarked on it because this was coincidentally named for two people in South Carolina, and the news story I read was about it was probably only written and played prominently because it was a South Carolina newspaper.

      But it is neat when they can find a local person to name these things after. For instance, awhile back I recommended renaming Fort Hood after Audie Murphy, since he was from Texas. Did anybody listen? No, but they did name it for Richard E. Cavazos, who was also from the Lone Star State. I don’t think Audie would complain about that, since Cavazos WAY outranked him…

  6. Barry

    Nearly two years after Texas’ six-week abortion ban, more infants are dying

    “Some 2,200 infants died in Texas in 2022 – an increase of 11.5%, over the previous year, according to preliminary infant mortality data from the Texas Department of State Health Services that CNN obtained through a public records request.

    Infant deaths caused by severe genetic and birth defects rose by 21.6%. That spike reversed a nearly decade-long decline. Between 2014 and 2021, infant deaths had fallen by nearly 15%.”

    “We all knew the infant mortality rate would go up, because many of these terminations were for pregnancies that don’t turn into healthy normal kids,” said Dr. Erika Werner, the chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts Medical Center. “It’s exactly what we all were concerned about.”

    Several women – who suffered difficult pregnancies or infant deaths shortly after giving birth – testified in Travis County court this week.

    One witness became so emotional while testifying Wednesday that she vomited on the stand.”

    1. Doug Ross

      Wait.. so more babies died who would have previously been aborted? Seems like the number is just moved from column A to column B. And how many more births occurred that would not have previously? Shouldn’t those offset the deaths?

      1. Barry

        I don’t know all the data.

        I’d say aborting a fetus very early with severe genetic defects is preferable to letting it continue on putting the mother’s health at severe risk – and in a few cases- preventing the mother from being able to have other children- when the outcome isn’t going to change anyway.

        and in one case in Texas- putting her twin in jeopardy. Thankfully, she had enough money to travel out of state for the abortion. Her surviving twin is doing well.

        1. Doug Ross

          Lies, damn lies, and statistics… You think you’re numbers mean something because you want them to mean exactly what your bias expects. It’s lazy math..

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, I’m on your side in terms of disagreeing with Barry on this subject. But your criticism here baffles me — totally aside from the ad hominem factor: You’re clearly dismissing him, personally, more than what he is saying.

            On that point, I was simply not going to approve the comment. But now I am, because I want to respond to it with a question:

            What do you mean, in this context, by the Twain quote? I refer to “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

            He didn’t cite any statistics. There were no numbers at all. In fact, he quite plainly said that he didn’t have any “data” to offer.

            So what are you responding to with this calumny, this brief assault on his alleged lies, bias and laziness?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Excuse me, I see where Barry used numbers earlier in the thread. I suppose you were referring back to that.

              So I guess there was no point in my approving your comment lashing out at Barry’s character, since I didn’t need to raise that question.

              It’s almost comical — in a dark sort of way — how my efforts to promote civility are constantly frustrated. I groaned when I saw Barry bring up abortion on a thread in which I had proposed several topics completely unrelated to it (although, mind you, we could have had arguments break out over the subjects I raised, but of course abortion is the champion these topics that make people yell at each other). And that was right after Bud brought up immigration, not so much to talk about immigration, but to illustrate the “awfulness” of Republicans. Again, a subject tailor-made for yelling, and for separating the world into two teams of people who despise each other.

              But it’s all my fault, isn’t it? I call it an Open Thread, and I mean it — bring up any subject you want to present for discussion.

              But come on, y’all: whatever you bring up, can’t you try to discuss it in a civil manner, showing respect for the people with whom you are interacting? That’s all I ask…

  7. Barry

    Amanda Zurawski, the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, testified Wednesday that her water broke 18 weeks into her pregnancy, putting her at high risk for a life-threatening infection. Zurawski’s baby likely wouldn’t survive.

    But the fetus still had a heartbeat, and so doctors said they were unable to terminate the pregnancy. She received an emergency abortion only after her condition worsened and she went into septic shock.

    Zurawski described during Wednesday’s hearing how her family visited the hospital, fearing it would be the last time they would see her. Zurawski has argued that had she been able to obtain an abortion, her life wouldn’t have been in jeopardy in the same way.

    “I blame the people who support these bans,” Zurawski said.

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