“Mississippi Flag Defenders Dig In” Friday, Aug 21 2015 

“Mississippi Flag Defenders Dig In” — headline, Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2015

Though writing about an already over-written topic goes against my grain, I can’t resist weighing in with a personal story involving undue exuberance for the Old Confederacy.

The time, autumn of 1951: The Korean War – or as the Truman White House euphemistically called it, “police action” – was underway and as a member of the 31st Infantry (“Dixie”) Division, I was temporarily stationed at Fort Slocum, just outside New York City.

Oh, about the Dixie Division. It was primarily composed of troops from Alabama and Mississippi, our uniforms bearing pin-on Confederate flags on both shoulders, and instead of Reveille every dawn we woke up to the sound of “Dixie” blared over a campwide sound system.

It was nothing out of the ordinary for someone who grew up in the South. Just out of the University of Alabama, I was accustomed to hearing the Confederate anthem played during football games and watching, whenever Ole Miss came to play, its student body waving the Stars and Bars.

All that would change, of course, when coaches in the Southeastern Conference found that, much as these symbols of the Lost Cause were revered, they drove away five-star African-American players who could help win football games.

But back to the autumn of ’51, a prime time to be stationed near New York, with young Tony Bennett breaking in at the Paramount, Rocky Marciano coming into his own at Madison Square Garden, and best of all for a jazz lover, Dizzy Gillespie playing at Birdland.

So there I was this particular night at Birdland, with a crowd of fellow jazz lovers, waiting for the King of Bop to show up; which he did, one hour late, explaining his tardiness with a story about playing a benefit on Long Island co-sponsored by the NAACP, the Knights of Columbus, B’nai Brith and — (pause) the Ku Klux Klan — (another pause) — with the punchline, “So you see, we’re lucky to be here at all.”

That brought on a big, forgiving laugh, but the best was yet to come. About to introduce members of his combo, Dizzy made mention of once having played a session down South, in Jackson, Mississippi. This brought on a whoop of appreciation from a table — fortunately not near mine — which led Gillespie to say, “Oh, someone’s here from Mississippi? You’ve come to the right place. It so happens we have the last Confederate flag ever flown. Pee Wee, show it to ‘em.”

At which point, Birdland’s diminutive emcee, Pee Wee Marquette, appeared onstage, took a flourishing white handkerchief out of his breast pocket, and waved it at the crowd.

According to the Post, today’s defenders of the Stars and Bars say the reason they stand by it is because it’s part of their past. One hundred fifty years after Appomattox they need to be reminded that the “flag” Pee Wee waved is, too.

Sound bite to remember

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.”

–Retired Confederate General George Pickett’s response (circa 1870) on being asked whether the battle of Gettysburg was lost because of Johnson’s failure to advance, Lee’s inertia, or Stuart’s negligence.

Myth, Crushed to Earth, Shall Rise Again Friday, Aug 14 2015 

Blasted into orbit by a trumped-up (if you will) impeachment and a stolen Presidential election… Stewart has lasered away the layers of hypocrisy in politics and in the media.

               —David Remnick, the New Yorker / August 10-17, 2015

I have been a subscriber to the New Yorker going on half a century and a follower of David Remnick’s career as a respected journalist since his days with the Washington Post. That said, the quote above, taken from Remnick’s column on Jon Stewart’s departure from “The Daily Show,” left me shaking my head.

What will it take, short of a shaft of sunlight and a wooden stake through the heart, to kill off the pernicious myth that George W. Bush’s election over Al Gore in the year 2000 was, as hot-eyed Gore supporters insist, “stolen”?

FACT: Following the 2000 presidential election, numerous independent investigations into the Florida vote count – including those of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal (pre-Murdoch) were made – extensive analyses of the returns in all counties. Without exception they came back with the same conclusion: Bush won the state, as the official returns had it, by 500 votes.

FACT: Yes, the outcome of the election was determined by the 5-4 decision of a Republican-majority Supreme Court. And had the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case? Then the Gore-tilted 5-0 decision of the Florida Supreme Court would have determined the outcome. The political composition of the Florida Supreme Court? Five Democrats, no Republicans.

FACT: Yes, one state, Florida, won the election for Bush, but if, like Remnick, you can’t shake a lingering resentment of the outcome, turn your peevishness toward the real culprit — a candidate who couldn’t carry his home state. Consider: In 1964 Barry Goldwater lost the presidency in a landslide, winning only five states — but Arizona, his home state, was one of them; in 1972, George McGovern lost in a landslide, but carried his home state of South Dakota; and in 1984 Walter Mondale lost in the worst of all landslides, carrying only one state — his home state of Minnesota.

Proving? That 2000 wasn’t a stolen election but an election lost by a candidate who had only to win a majority of the votes in Tennessee, the state where people knew him best. If he had, the Florida results wouldn’t have made any difference.

Not that all this will have any impact on the myth-makers of the Left, any more than a gilded birth certificate stating that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii has changed any minds among the mythmakers of the Right.

“Obama’s a Kenyan,” say Donald Trump and his fellow birthers. I expect no better from crackpots. But “Bush stole the election”? I expect better from the New Yorker and David Remnick.

Sound bite to remember

“The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.”

         —Emperor Hirohito, breaking the bad news to his people, 70 years ago this week (8/15/45)