“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated on the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American.
If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American.
“We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”
A long post, but Black is just too good not to quote in full. (In the original on NRO he goes on to discuss Truman & Eisenhower/Korea & Vietnam; recommended.)
There is an uncatalogued hobgoblin that should be chased up and classified by the Smithsonian, that requires part of the U.S. conservative historical community to persist in defaming Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was, in fact, rivaled only by Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan as America’s greatest and most effective conservative). FDR had barely settled in his grave, with Fala sadly silent and Eleanor back in Washington Square, when the Yalta Myth descended on him.
This held that he had been swindled by Stalin out of Eastern Europe and had approved the delivery of those countries to the hob-nailed jackboot of the USSR. He and Winston Churchill had extracted from Stalin at Yalta the unconditional promise of democracy, fair elections, and independence for all those countries. They achieved all that they sought. As Roosevelt biographer Ted Morgan has written, “If it had been a good deal for Stalin, he would not have violated every clause of it.” At the first summit conference after 1945, at Geneva in 1955, President Eisenhower, despite all the false histrionics of his Republican party about Yalta, began by demanding that the collective post-Stalin leadership honor their deceased leader’s Yalta promises to Eastern Europe.
Many of us who have specialized in Roosevelt studies had just finally driven a stake through the heart of the Yalta Myth when the hobgoblin lunged at our throats from another quarter. The Wall Street Journal’s admirable opinion pages erupted a few years ago in the contra-historical fabrication that Roosevelt didn’t end the Great Depression in the U.S.
There is no discernible distinction, in market terms, between — on one hand — German army draftees and British naval shipyard workers, and — on the other — New Deal unemployed building the Triborough Bridge or the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, working on the TVA, or planting a billion trees and saving the whooping crane. Yet the millions of New Deal workfare participants are still considered unemployed, while the millions of European and Japanese draftees to the armed forces and defense production are not. This fatuous debate must end. FDR had his faults and mistakes; his economics rated a C, but his catastrophe avoidance, crisis management, and ultimate success record were straight A’s. Serious historians should stop trying to breathe life into the limp sail that FDR was a continuer of Hoover and that Hitler, Chamberlain, and even the poltroon Mussolini fought the Depression more effectively than he did.
When he came into office in 1933, Roosevelt found unemployment at 33 percent (not the mere 25 percent that this nursery school of detractors claims), with no direct federal assistance for the jobless; the banking system and stock and commodity exchanges closed; farm prices beneath subsistence levels; 45 percent of residential housing under threat of foreclosure; and machine-gun nests at the corners and on the steps of Washington’s great federal buildings for the first time since the Civil War.
When he left the White House twelve years and 39 days later, to the most heart-rending dirges and lamentations the nation had uttered or heard since Lincoln departed (on the same caisson), unemployment was less than half of 1 percent; millions of mortgages and the whole banking system had been refinanced; most of rural America benefited for the first time from electricity and flood and drought control; Prohibition had long been repealed and the liquor industry repossessed from the folkloric gangsters who had been running it; the U.S. had pioneered nuclear fission and set up the United Nations, had half the world’s economic production, was on the verge of the defeat of Nazi Germany and imperialist Japan, and had unlimited moral authority, military and economic power, and cultural influence.
If Franklin D. Roosevelt did not lead America out of the Depression, who did? The hobgoblin’s answer is that the New Deal didn’t. There was actually a series of New Deals, starting with the giant workfare projects that put 40 percent of the unemployed to work at once and endowed the country with the greatest infrastructure and conservation assets in history; followed by Social Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and some other (not necessarily very successful) regulatory initiatives; then by the huge defense and military buildup of 1939–41, which brought conventional unemployment below 10 percent prior to the 1940 election, and eliminated it before Pearl Harbor; and finally by the GI Bill of Rights of 1944, which financed university or technical education, and small-business or farm acquisition, for the 13 million members of the armed forces (10 percent of the population).
The hobgoblin then grumpily states that the war ended the Depression (as if Elmer Fudd had been the U.S. commander-in-chief). The able historian (and good friend) Amity Shlaes, like distinguished deceased historians Frank Freidel and Arthur Schlesinger, and the otherwise groundbreakingly effective Doris Kearns Goodwin, has bought into this myth. Germany, Britain, Japan, and France all cut their unemployment numbers after 1934 by steadily more massive rearmament and comprehensive conscription. (Soviet statistics are too unreliable to yield useful comparisons, and were complicated by the Stalinist novelty of physically liquidating about 10 percent of the work force.)
In 1963, a popular Democratic president was assassinated by a Marxist named Oswald, who had actually defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, was an active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and had attempted to assassinate a right-wing general named Edwin Walker earlier in the year.
Yet those who write history found these facts inconvenient. (Think Ollie Stone). They created a different history in which the “atmosphere of hate” in the southern city of Dallas, Texas, led to terrible political violence. In other words, it was political conservatism that led to Kennedy’s assassination. This perceived history was recycled as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, noted that the Kennedy assassination was “eerily relevant” and asked Kennedy to evaluate the “political atmosphere” in the country today.
Starting just a few years after the Kennedy assassination, American liberals began to consider anti-Communism a kind of mental disorder. Hostility to Communism was akin to racism, sexism, and other character flaws. Reagan’s description of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” cemented liberal suspicions that Reagan was a dangerous buffoon. Yet starting in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, liberals began to find their anti-anti-Communism embarrassing. And so they created a perceived history — one in which the Cold War was a time of consensus, a time when, as former senator Bill Bradley put it, “We knew where we stood on foreign policy.”
More recently we’ve witnessed the creation of a new historical narrative about the financial crisis of 2008. The perceived history, eagerly peddled by liberals and Democrats, is that the crash of 2008 was the result of Wall Street’s greed. It was unregulated capitalism that brought us to the brink of financial meltdown, the Democrats insisted. And they codified their manufactured history into a law, the Dodd-Frank Act, that completely avoided the true problem.
It’s both surprising and gratifying therefore to report that a great revisionist history has just been published by none other than a New York Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, and a financial analyst, Joshua Rosner.
In Reckless Endangerment, Morgenson and Rosner offer considerable censure for reckless bankers, lax rating agencies, captured regulators, and unscrupulous businessmen. But the greatest responsibility for the collapse of the housing market and the near “Armageddon” of the American economy belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to the politicians who created and protected them. With a couple of prominent exceptions, the politicians were Democrats claiming to do good for the poor. Along the way, they enriched themselves and their friends, stuffed their campaign coffers, and resisted all attempts to enforce market discipline. When the inevitable collapse arrived, the entire economy suffered, but no one more than the poor.
Jim Johnson, advisor to Walter Mondale and John Kerry, amassed a personal fortune estimated at $100 million during his nine years as CEO of Fannie Mae. “Under Johnson,” Morgenson and Rosner write, “Fannie Mae led the way in encouraging loose lending practices among the banks whose loans the company bought. A Pied Piper of the financial sector, Johnson led both the private and public sectors down a path that led directly to the credit crisis of 2008.”
Fannie Mae lied about its profits, intimidated adversaries, bought off members of Congress with lavish contributions, hired (and thereby co-opted) academics, purchased political ads (through its foundation), and stacked congressional hearings with friendly bankers, community activists, and advocacy groups (including ACORN). Fannie Mae also hired the friends and relations of key members of Congress (including Rep. Barney Frank’s partner).
Reckless Endangerment includes the Clinton administration’s contribution to the home-ownership catastrophe. Clinton had claimed that dramatically increasing homeownership would boost the economy; instead, “in just a few short years, all of the venerable rules governing the relationship between borrower and lender went out the window, starting with . . . the requirement that a borrower put down a substantial amount of cash in a property, verify his income, and demonstrate an ability to service his debts.”
Reckless Endangerment utterly deflates the perceived history of the 2008 crash. Yes, there was greed — when is there not? But it was government distortions of markets — not “unregulated capitalism” — that led the economy to disaster.
It is possible that the ID requirements for planes, trains, automobiles, hotels, hospitals and jobs have justifications so compelling as to justify discrimination. It is also possible that by contrast, as Dionne maintains, preventing election fraud is not a sufficiently compelling justification. The point here is that no one has ever had to make the former argument, because nobody claims ID requirements are discriminatory against blacks except when it comes to voting.
Why? If Dionne or Wasserman Schultz has a good answer, we’ll be happy to acknowledge it in a future column. Our answer is that their claim of discrimination is a dishonest and divisive partisan appeal to blacks’ fears of racism–fears that, in this instance, do not appear to have any basis in contemporary reality.
This is not isolationism; it is a rational effort at judging how best to advance American values and interests in an ever-more witheringly dangerous world. The charge of isolationism should be reserved for the genuine article. Such name-calling advances neither rational debate nor national interest.
the divergence between sharia and American constitutional law is fundamental and unbridgeable. Apologists for Islam try mightily to obscure this fact. They pretend not only that a reformist brand of Islam is more prevalent than it actually is, but that, in this sugary “moderate” creed, sharia has no existence other than as an aspirational guide to private spirituality. This badly misses the point. The issue for America is not who is right about sharia; it is that most Muslims in the world accept the Islamist interpretation of sharia propounded by influential Muslim clerics and reject the smiley-face sharia on offer from Western politicians.
…However beleaguered his campaign’s missteps may have left him, Newt Gingrich grasps what Romney has yet to learn…It is every bit as essential today to say “No” to Islamists who use the shield of American religious liberty as a sword in the service of a dark political program — one that has precious little to do with spirituality. It remains to be seen whether Republicans will offer a presidential candidate with the guts to do it. If Mitt Romney is to be that candidate, he’s got work to do.
The air war in Libya is starting to crack Qaddafi’s forces. It broke Milosevic’s Serbs, and it will certainly do the same to the rag-bag of support for Qaddafi. Progress is almost continuous in Iraq, one of the stablest Arab countries in the region, and there is definite progress in Afghanistan, as there was bound to be with the injection of that level of force, despite the shenanigans of the Karzai government. The supposed entente between Turkey and Iran will quickly disintegrate; those countries have almost no points of agreement, starting with Iran’s nuclear program. And the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation will probably be a dead letter within a month. Rarely will there have been a more perfect example of a quarrel among thieves, though at least the West Bank leaders are numerate, especially in counting evidence of economic growth.