Growing up with the name O’Bannon I was vaguely aware that there was a famous person named Presley O’Bannon who was important in American History. When I got married 37 years ago to a Marine Corp veteran who has a degree in history, I was informed that not only was Presley O’Bannon an important figure in history, he was especially important to the Marines. The United States Marine Corps hymn opens with “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles on the land and on the sea.” Presley O’Bannon was the man who led battles on the shores of Tripoli from whence the song lyrics came.Read More
In his Gettysburg Address at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln pointed out that the United States was “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” “Now,” he continued, “we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
Thankfully, we are not in a civil war today – and, one hopes, never will be again. We are, however, in a battle for the soul of our country.Read More
The last two years have seen an unprecedented escalation in a decades-long war on the American past.
But there are lots of logical flaws in attacking prior generations in U.S. history.Read More
This week in 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was screened for the first time at the Globe Theatre in New York City. Audiences weren’t quite sure what to make of the film, even though it starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed and was directed by Frank Capra. Perhaps the economic jeopardy of life in Depression-era small towns was still all too real. Or maybe the specter of sons and husbands returning from the front reminded audiences of how many American fighting men had not come back from Europe or the Pacific.
Stewart, the leading man who portrayed small-town savings-and-loan owner George Bailey in Capra’s movie, was such a charismatic leading man that when studio executive Jack Warner heard in 1965 about Ronald Reagan’s plans to run for governor of California, he quipped, “No, no! Jimmy Stewart for governor. Ronald Reagan for best friend.”
But casting in movies, as in life, can be deceiving. It was something of an in-joke, for instance, to have Jimmy Stewart play the older brother who flunks his Army physical in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and can’t go to war. In real life, Stewart and Frank Capra both enlisted in the military after making “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” together in 1939. The Italian-born Capra, then in his 40s, produced an evocative series of films for the military called “Why We Fight.” Stewart did his part, too, and then some. After winning Best Actor for his role in 1940’s “The Philadelphia Story,” Stewart had become the most bankable star in Hollywood. Nonetheless, by the time Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was already in uniform, pulling duty at Moffett Field, south of San Francisco, in the Army Air Corps. By the end of World War II, Stewart had flown 20 combat missions in a B-24, become a squadron leader, been awarded a chest full of medals, and risen in rank from corporal to colonel.Read More
Last year, our nation experienced the largest increase in murder in American history and the largest number of drug overdose deaths ever recorded. This carnage continues today and is not distributed equally. Instead, it is concentrated in cities and localities where radical, left-wing, George Soros progressives have captured state and district attorney offices. These legal arsonists condemn our rule of law as “systemically racist” and have not simply abused prosecutorial discretion, they have embraced prosecutorial nullification. As a result, a contagion of crime has infected virtually every neighborhood under their charge.
Soros prosecutors refuse to enforce laws against shoplifting, drug trafficking, and entire categories of felonies and misdemeanors. In Chicago, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx allows theft under $1,000 to go unpunished. In Manhattan, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. refuses to enforce laws against prostitution. In Baltimore, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has unilaterally declared the war on drugs “over” and is refusing to criminally charge drug dealers in the middle of the worst drug crisis in American history. For a time, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon even stopped enforcing laws against disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and making criminal threats.
All of these cities have paid a terrible price for these insane policies. Last year, the number of homicides in Chicago rose by 56%, and more than 1,000 Cook County residents have been murdered in 2021. In New York City, murder increased 47% and shootings soared 97%. In 2020, the murder rate in Baltimore was higher than El Salvador’s or Guatemala’s — nations from which citizens often attempt to claim asylum purely based on gang violence and murder—and this year murder in Baltimore is on track to be even higher. Murder in Los Angeles rose 36% last year and is on track to rise another 17% this year.Read More
The final decision, after years of debate, was made on Oct. 8 to remove from the New York City Council chambers the statue of the man we all know to have been a dreaded slaveholder—to the tune of 600 over his lifetime—Thomas Jefferson.
Despite that, writing at Bari Weiss’s Substack, political science professor Samuel Goldman, with whom I concur, is less than happy.
“The removal is disgraceful. Unlike monuments to Confederate leaders that display them in full military glory, Jefferson is depicted as a writer. Holding a quill pen in one hand and the Declaration of Independence in the other, he is clearly being honored for composing an immortal argument for liberty and equality.”Read More
Across the political spectrum, Americans are recognizing the importance not just of school choice but of what students actually learn in schools. Elected representatives have finally taken notice as well. In Michigan, the state legislature has proposed two bills that seek to address how American history and civics are taught.
Unfortunately, some want teachers to tell students that they should understand American history primarily by looking for racism, injustice, and oppression. The phrase “critical race theory” (CRT) has been used mainly in academia to describe this filter on history and civic instruction.Read More
If Black Lives Matter were a civil rights organization, one would reasonably expect its patron figure to be Martin Luther King, Jr., and its aspiration to be King’s vision of a race-free America where individuals are judged on their merits and not by their skin color. Instead, the revered figure and inspirational icon for Black Lives Matter activists is a designated terrorist and convicted cop killer: Assata Shakur.
In the 1970s Shakur was a member of the Black Liberation Army, a group that robbed banks and murdered police officers to achieve a Marxist revolution. Shakur is still wanted for the 1973 murder of Werner Foerster, a New Jersey state trooper who stopped her for a broken taillight on her car, whereupon she pulled out a gun and shot him. The 34-year-old officer and Vietnam vet was lying wounded on the pavement pleading for his life when Shakur walked over and finished him off, execution-style. Foerster left behind a wife and two young children. Shakur was convicted of the murder but escaped from prison in 1979 with the help of left-wing terrorists, including Susan Rosenberg. With the help of Rosenberg and others, Shakur fled to Communist Cuba, where she has lived as a fugitive for nearly 40 years. After being pardoned by Bill Clinton, Rosenberg went on to become board vice chair of Thousand Currents, the left-wing nonprofit organization that served as Black Lives Matter’s fiscal sponsor from 2016 to 2020.
The dedication page of Patrisse Cullors’s memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist, contains these lines written by Shakur, which allude to the most famous incitement from Marx’s Communist Manifesto:
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.Read More
Earlier this month, a 21-foot-tall bronze statue of Robert E. Lee — perhaps the most famous monument to the Confederate general — was removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Supporters of the statue’s removal, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), hailed the event as a triumph for racial justice.
The left has decided that Lee, the most recognized and celebrated figure of the Confederacy, is intolerable, a man who should be erased from American history. This maelstrom surrounding Lee has reached a fever pitch in recent years, as the woke movement has grown.
In short, anyone who dares mention Lee at all better demonize him as pure evil or else face the wrath of the progressive mob. This is retroactively imposing cancel culture on the past, while silencing free speech today.
In this context, Allen Guelzo’s newly released biography on the Confederate general, Robert E. Lee: A Life, is especially welcome and important.