January 31, 2001
comments powered by Disqus
The lead, front-page news article in this morning's New York Times reports that Senator Feingold "questioned Mr. Ashcroft's sensitivity to racial issues, citing an interview he gave to Southern Partisan, a magzine often described as a neo-Confederate, in which he said it was important to let future generations know that the South did not fight the Civil War for 'some perverted agenda.'"
Here's what Senator Ashcroft actually said in the Southern Partisan interview: "Revisionism is a threat to the respect that Americans have for their freedoms and liberty that was at the core of those who founded this country, and when we see George Washington, the founder of this country, called a racist, that is just total revisionist nonsense, a diatribe against the values of America. Have you read Thomas West's book 'Vindicating the Founders'?"
Southern Partisan: "I've met Professor West, and I read one of his earlier books, but not that one."
Senator Ashcroft: "I wish I had another copy: I'd send it to you. I gave it away to a newspaper editor. West actually disassembles all of these malicious attacks the revisionists have brought against our founders. Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of defending that, of defending Southern patriots like Lee, Jackson and Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."
It's unclear whether the description of the Southern Partisan interview is Mr. Feingold's or the Times'. If it is Mr. Feingold's, the Times should not have let him get away with it. And if it is the Times', it's inaccurate. The reference to Washington and the reference to the West book makes it clear that Mr. Ashcroft's reference to "these people" refers to the American Revolutionary founders, not the Confederate Civil War traitors. If it wasn't clear enough, the reference to "lives. . . sacred fortunes. . .and their honor" is clearly a reference to the last line of the American Declaration of Independence, which says, "we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Mr. Ashcroft was speaking out, reasonably, against tarring Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison as racists who were pursuing a "perverted agenda."
That said, it was a mistake for Mr. Ashcroft to grant an interview to Southern Partisan, which itself has a perverted agenda and whose editorial board includes such spewers of venom as Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran and Sam Francis. And his description of Lee, Jackson and Davis as Southern patriots, while accurate, benignly omits the fact that they were traitors to America who were fighting to perpetuate an evil system of slavery. Still, the Times and Mr. Feingold undermine their case against Mr. Ashcroft when they misunderstand what he said, accusing him of saying things about the South when he was actually speaking about the American founders.
If the Times bothered to read the entire 1998 Ashcroft Southern Partisan interview, the newspaper might find some comments that are newsworthy even without being distorted. For instance, Mr. Ashcroft offers his views on federal education policy: "When they came along with the federalized testing system, I was the only person in the Senate to stand up and speak against it on the floor. I got 12 Senators to vote with me at the time, but since then we've fought back. The last time we took a vote on this, there were 52 votes and Jesse wasn't there, so it's safe to say that there are 53 votes to deny any federal funding for the development, implementation, deployment, or field testing of a national testing system. If you control and specify the tests, you're going to control and specify the curriculum. For me, education is far too important a thing to cede to faraway bureaucrats. . . .Being against federal intermeddling in education is perhaps one of the strongest things you can do in favor of student achievement in education."
Take that, George W. Bush.
'Incident': A locator map in the metro section of today's New York Times marks the site where police say five Brooklyn boys raped a 13-year-old girl. The map label says "site of incident." "Incident" is the wrong word. Too weak. Site of alleged assault or site of attack or site of rape (or, if the lawyers insist, site of alleged rape) would be more in keeping with a crime that goes far beyond a mere "incident."
Muslim Holy Sites: A dispatch from Cairo in the international section of today's New York Times paraphrases Arabs as saying, "the current heavy bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians began after Mr. Sharon visited Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem with a strong contingent of armed policemen." Smartertimes.com has made this point again and again, but here goes: Mr. Sharon walked around on the plaza outside Muslim holy sites. The plaza is also a Jewish holy site. Somehow the Times always refers to Israeli policemen as "armed policemen," but never notes it when other policemen are armed, as they usually are.
Subscribe to the Mailing List
© 2017 FutureOfCapitalism LLC