Today’s Number of the Day from pollster Scott Rasmussen is a poignant 9/11 memorial: 204 New York City firefighters have died due to illnesses from that fateful day. That’s in addition to the 343 NYFD firefighters who gave their lives on September 11, 2001 (the NYFD maintains a list of “line of duty deaths” dating back to 1865; deaths 809 through 1151 were the result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks). Rasmussen also notes that 2977 people died in the attacks.
The start of the school year always means the start of the grand narrative of American history. It dawned on me some years ago that, over the course of roughly 180 days, I undertake an annual, oral retelling of the story of the United States. One day, I plan to record my lectures, taking the best bits, and compiling them into a lengthy podcast series. After that, I’ll never have to teach again!
Regardless, the story always starts the same: a brief overview of the pre-Columbian Americans (what we used to call “Indians,” and more clumsily “Native Americans”), followed up with Spanish exploration from Christopher Columbus through Hernan Cortez and on.
A major part of those early lessons is the encounter of the bloodthirsty Aztecs and the gold-mad Spaniards. Students love the story of the advanced Aztecs, sacrificing humans to ensure the sunrise, and the arrival of the fiery-haired Cortez and his ragtag band of conquistadors and buccaneers.
This week’s TBT feature was also in last Sunday’s “Lazy Sunday XXIV – Education.” With the school year in full swing, it’s always enjoyable to look back at the benefits of education—a reminder of why getting education right is so important.
Abraham Lincoln was largely self-educated, and he was motivated, it seems, by both a desire to improve his condition in life, and by a genuine love of learning. As an avid reader myself, I can related to the anecdote (relayed below) of young Abe walking around with “a book in his hand or in his pocket.”
This little piece was an “Historical Moment,” a monthly feature for the Florence County (SC) GOP’s public events. If I recall correctly, the FCGOP Chairman skipped over my segment in the program (presumably by mistake, but perhaps to save time), so while I wrote this brief talk for the September 2018 meeting, I did not deliver it publicly until the October meeting (it was published on this blog in September).
I hope you’ll find this adaptation of my talk enjoyable. Here is “Lincoln on Education“:
We’re gathered here tonight to hear from members of and candidates for School Board; in that spirit, I’d like to speak briefly about education, particularly the education of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln.
From what I’ve read, Lincoln’s entire formal education consisted of around a year of schooling. He would have a week or two here and there throughout his childhood in Kentucky and Indiana, and then return to working on the family’s farm.
Despite little formal education, Lincoln taught himself throughout his life. He loved to read, and would read deeply on a variety of subjects, obtaining books whenever and wherever he could. One of his contemporaries commented that “I never saw Abe after he was twelve that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket. It didn’t seem natural to see a feller read like that.” When he sat for the bar exam, he’d read law books on his own time to prepare.
Lincoln also believed in education as a source of patriotism, morality, and self-improvement—what we might call “upward mobility.” He was not a man who wanted to stay on the farm, and his self-education was a means to escape poverty.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to quote Lincoln at length from his 1832 speech “To the People of Sangamo County”:
“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.”
Here we can see Lincoln’s belief that education lays the foundation for patriotism—we understand our freedoms better when we understood what they cost, and that others lack them. We see, too, the power of education to teach us the virtuous and the good. From that morality flows, as Lincoln said, “sobriety, enterprise, and industry,” the tripartite tools to improve our material conditions.
Patriotism, morality, and industry—these were the three benefits of education Lincoln espoused. Coming from the man who wrote the Gettysburg Address, I think we should take Lincoln’s views on education seriously.
This past weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday post was delayed until Sunday evening. The end of the first week of school, followed by a very late night/early morning drive, with that followed up by a long day of family events, meant that my perfect attendance record for Saturday posts had to suffer.
But you can read that post—which went up last night—with a subscription to my SubscribeStar page!
Here’s a sneak peek:
Robert Kennedy was a strong contender for the Democratic Party primary in 1968, especially among the progressive wing, before Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian terrorist, shot him. His death left Vice President Hubert Humphrey as the only viable candidate. Remember, LBJ declined to run for reelection in 1968 because the Vietnam War was so deeply unpopular among antiwar Democrats, many of whom were radicals who were exerting greater control over their party (sound familiar?).
The Democratic National Convention devolved into riots and chaos, with Humphrey nearly succumbing to tear gas in his Chicago hotel room. Humphrey managed to close the gap with Nixon, but it was a three-way race (with segregationist George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, running as a third party candidate), and Nixon won on a law and order platform.
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I’ve been catching up on photog’s excellent blog Orion’s Cold Fire, and boy did I miss a doozy. Good ol’ photog regularly presents his pick for American Greatness “Post of the Day,” and on August 7, he wrote about a sobering Angelo Codevilla piece, “Igniting Civil War.”
Meanwhile, Southern history think-tank The Abbeville Institute posted an essay Monday asking “Is Political Separation in Our Future?” These pieces suggest that something cataclysmic is looming for the United States. Are they right to be concerned?
With school starting back in just FOUR DAYS—may God have mercy on us all—it seemed germane to bring back this post from 2018, itself a contextualization of a Facebook post from 2014.
Here is “Back to School with Richard Weaver“:
Every year, I try to sit down and re-read at least the introduction to Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, probably the most powerful book I’ve ever read. I tend to undertake this re-reading around the time school resumes, as it helps remind me why I teach.
In addition to Ideas Have Consequences, Weaver wrote some of the most eloquent essays on the South—and what it means to be Southern—in the twentieth century. In 2014, I posted the following quotation on Facebook; I will allow it to speak for itself[:]
I’m undertaking my annual baptism in the works of Richard Weaver to focus my philosophical thinking for a rapidly approaching school year, and, as always, I’m presented with an embarrassment of riches. Few thinkers cram so many nuggets of truth into so little space. Every paragraph of Weaver’s writings yields insights that speak to the very heart of humanity.
Here’s an excerpt from “The South and the American Union,” an essay from _The Southern Essays of Richard Weaver_, published posthumously in 1987. It might clarify a few things for some of my Yankee friends who have expressed a certain bafflement with Southern mores and attitudes…:
“The Southern world-outlook was much like that which [Oswald] Spengler describes as the Apollonian. It knew nothing of infinite progressions but rather loved fixed limits in all things; it rejected the idea of ceaseless becoming in favor of ‘simple accepted statuesque becomeness.’ It saw little point in restless striving, but desired a permanent settlement, a coming to terms with nature, a recognition of what is in its self-sustaining form. The Apollonian feeling, as Spengler remarks, is of a world of ‘coexistent individual things,’ and it is tolerant as a matter of course. Other things are because they have to be; one marks their nature and their limits and learns to get along with them. The desire to dominate and proselytize is foreign to it. As Spengler further adds, ‘there are no Classical world-improvers.’ From this comes the Southern kind of tolerance, which has always impressed me as fundamentally different from the Northern kind. It is expressed in the Southerner’s easy-going ways and his willingness to things grow where they sprout. He accepts the irremediability of a certain amount of evil and tries to fence it around instead of trying to stamp it out and thereby spreading it. His is a classical acknowledgment of tragedy and of the limits of power.
“This mentality is by nature incompatible with its great rival, the Faustian. Faustian man is essentially a restless striver, a yearner after the infinite, a hater of stasis, a man who is unhappy unless he feels that he is making the world over. He may talk much of tolerance, but for him tolerance is an exponent of power. His tolerance tolerates only the dogmatic idea of tolerance, as anyone can discover for himself by getting to know the modern humanitarian liberal. For different opinions and ways of life he has no respect, but hostility or contemptuous indifference, until the day when they can be brought around to conform to his own. Spengler describes such men as torn with the pain of ‘seeing men be other than they would have them be and the utterly un-Classical desire to devote their life to their reformation.’ It happened that Southern tolerance, standing up for the right to coexistence of its way of life, collided at many points with the Faustian desire to remove all impediments to its activity and make over things in its own image. Under the banner first of reform and then of progress, the North challenged the right to continue of a civilization based on the Classical ideal of fixity and stability….”
There are so many great passages I could cite (“Man [to the Southerner] is a mixture of good and evil, and he can never be perfected in this life. The notion of his natural goodness is a delusive theory which will blow up any social order that is predicated upon it. Far from being a vessel of divinity, as the New England Transcendentalists taught, he is a container of cussedness.”), for almost all of Weaver is quotable.
I’ve written quite a bit about the “God hole” in modern Western life, and how that place—intended for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—is being filled with everything but. We desperately search for meaning wherever we can find it—politics (for the progressives and some conservatives), witchcraft, power crystals, celebrity, money, sex, etc.
Part of this state of affairs stems from the persistent onslaught of postmodern, relativistic ideas that permeate our culture, so much so that they effectively infiltrate even our churches. The ethos of “if it feels good, do it” sinisterly insinuates itself into Christian teachings in a form of Christology that reduces Jesus to a spiritual boyfriend who is unfailingly supportive of our bad life choices.
But Jesus is not a soy boy, and Christianity is not a pick-and-choose faith that is copacetic with sin.
The “suicide” of infamous pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein has shattered whatever illusion remained that Deep State isn’t entirely in control of our politics and culture. What’s remarkable is that it seems that a large number of Americans don’t buy the suicide-by-hanging story, and there are serious reasons to doubt it.
While Epstein came off of suicide watch at the end of July, he was still under heavy surveillance while in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correction Center. Allegedly, inmates there are under CCTV surveillance constantly, even as they shower, and are confined to their cells for 23-hours a day.
An anonymous former inmate of the MCC suggests the paper-quality sheets are too fragile to hang a 200-pound man, and that the ceilings are too low for a tall man like Epstein to hang himself, anyway.
The far likelier explanation is that Epstein was murdered.
About a year ago I wrote about the Leftist attack on Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk while they were attempting to enjoy breakfast. Last summer, all the rage was for Leftist activists to harass conservatives and Trump administration officials while they were trying to dine.
Fast forward one year and we have conservative journalists getting smashed over their heads with concrete-filled milkshakes and guys in MAGA hats assaulted in the streets. Nevertheless, the ranks of Conservatism, Inc., stubbornly insist on taking the high road, ruthlessly policing any threats to their Right, while shrugging helplessly—perhaps accompanied by a schoolmarmish finger wagging—as the Left ratchets up its wanton, unabashed violence.