I tend to get a lot of e-mail from idiots. They’ve signed me up for various and sundry mailing lists, send me stories and articles from out-and-out moonbats (alter.net, The Nation, and some Artist are fairly common). I guess it’s their way of “educating” me. I’ve had to set up filters for them, but every now and then, they sneak past them.
But among the muck and mire, every now and then I’ll find something that’s worthwhile.
I don’t know much about Keith Olbermann. I understand he used to be mainly into sports, and was regarded as all right there. I hear he used to do political stuff before, but was fired or had to quit that. And I believe that he has some sort of running grudge against Bill O’Reilly that seems to be a bit like a 3rd-grade crush.
He is one of the current darlings of the far left, and his “commentaries” are widely regarded by those who seem to have only a passing familiarity with reality. And someone decided that I just desperately needed to see one of them, so they sent me a link to this one that runs almost 11 minutes.
I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of it, but the gist of it involved the assault and near-beating death of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina on May 22, 1856. Sumner had given a fiery anti-slavery speech some days before, so Brooks had sneaked up on him on the floor of the Senate and beaten him savagely unconscious with his cane, only stopping when his cane broke. Sumner spent 3 years recuperating from the assault, and never fully recovered. Brooks’ constituents, when they heard about the attack, sent him dozens of canes to replace the one he’d broken over Sumner’s head.
Olbermann’s point in bringing up one of the more shameful incidents in Congressional history was to liken Sumner to a current Massachusetts senator, John Kerry, who spoke out last week and was rhetorically beaten by President Bush and legions of others. Olbermann speculated about to whom Bush would send new canes, and who would be those canes’ targets.
Living next door to Sumner and Kerry’s home state, I happen to know a little about the incident, and I can look up more details — which apparently is beyond the grasp of Mr. Olbermann and his staff. His comparison might seem appropriate on the surface (if you’re a complete loon), but it falls apart when actual facts are brought into play. For example:
1) Sumner was a Republican, his assailant a Democrat.
2) Sumner was physically assaulted, nearly killed, and never fully recovered until the day he died. No one, to the best of my knowledge, laid a finger on Kerry. The parallel would be to Kerry’s presidential ambitions, not his person.
3) Sumner was assailed for speaking his opinion forcefully. Kerry was denounced for three inter-related reasons: A) his initial misstatement, which insulted not Bush, his intended target, but the men and women serving in Iraq; B) his refusal to admit error for days; and C) his non-apology apology, where he didn’t regret his own words, but that others had been wrong to interpret them as they did.
4) The rampant physical thuggery in the mold of Brooks’ craven attack on Sumner is still around in politics today, but it’s pretty much exclusively the domain of the far Left against those it sees as its enemies on the Right. Witness the treatment of the Minutemen at Columbia University. The trends of throwing pies at conservative speakers at colleges (William Kristol, David Horowitz, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter) .(OK, Buchanan was hit by salad dressing, but the point is still valid.)
Even the counter-examples of “Republican thuggery” seem to show the Left in a bad light. Recently, a blogger was pysically hauled out of a George Allen campaign event by Allen supporters after he shouted rude questions at Allen. It was later revealed that the blogger himself had initiated the violence, forcefully shoving a security guard out of his way to get to the candidate.
And are these isolated incidents, aberrations from the norm? Considering the loud cries of support from the Left over these attacks (I seem to recall lots of approving laughter over these assaults, and a decided lack of criminal or other sanctions against the perpetrators), I’d have to say no.
Yes, the Sumner-Brooks incident is a good cautionary tale for today. But please take a hard look at who the modern-day Senator Sumners are, and who are the heirs of Representative Brooks — and remember that Brooks’ attack was a foreshadowing of the Civil War.