xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Just what you thought I'd say

Sooner or later, every blogger or columnist succumbs to the temptation to publish as set of short observations rather than put in the labor for a thought-out post. Today is one of those days at You Don't Say.

Item: The defenders of the Confederate battle flag, still flying, by statute, at the South Carolina Capitol, want to see it as a symbol of Southern heritage, of Confederate bravery. They fail to see that the banner has been hopelessly compromised, first by its nineteenth-century association with slavery, second by its twentieth century association with opposition to the civil rights movement.

Advertisement

Think of it this way. The swastika is an ancient religious symbol, the word coming from the Sanskrit svastikah, "sign of good luck." Would you use it today, trying to insist that it represents the earlier meaning rather than Nazism?

Item: President Obama and The Economist agree that the political realities of our broad republic make any prospect of gun regulation after the Charleston shootings impossible. Those realities, and the underlying causes, are exemplified in a couple of recent online comments: first, that if there was no gun regulation after twenty white schoolchildren were mowed down, there won't be any now; second, that prospects for gun control would likely improve if the New Black Panther Party started to avail itself of the open-carry laws in several states.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Item: There are many reasons to take Andrew Jackson off the twenty-dollar bill. His policies toward the Cherokee amounted to genocide. His unreasoning hostility that led to the destruction of the Bank of the United States resulted in a series of panics and depressions. He enfranchised white working-class men, but he tied the Democratic Party to the cause of slavery.

But the decision instead is to remove Alexander Hamilton from the ten-dollar bill. Hamilton is also problematic. Though brilliant, he was vainglorious, strident, and impulsive; got himself involved in blackmail over an illicit affair; and destroyed his own political career and split the Federalist Party with in indiscreet attack on John Adams, these are not the reasons that I expect he will fail to garner enough support to stay on the currency.

The problem we have with Hamilton is that he was the foremost exponent of a strong central government, and his vision prevailed. The republic we live in is more thoroughly Hamiltonian than even he would have envisioned. But we prefer to think of ourselves as a Jeffersonian polity of limited government—or, even more foolishly, that the Jeffersonian ideal can be recaptured as we continue as a world imperial power.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement