Notes from around the Human Experience…
AT LEAST WE’RE CONSISTENT: The cacophony over Robert E Lee statues – some of which are being covered up or taken down – is as illuminating as it is disheartening. It shows our racial divide is as wide as ever and national discourse – never our strong suit, going back to the founding of this republic – is as chaotic and disjointed as ever.
Fly In The Ointment: This got us thinking. We start taking down monuments to Confederate slave owners, what do we do about American slave owners? Where does it stop? Should Charlottesville, Virginia – which has covered up a Lee statue – take down their Thomas Jefferson statues, too?
A Valid Question: Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States has a lot to answer for because though he wrote the words “All men are created equal” he did nothing to end slavery either on his plantation or in his country.
You can say this and you can say that, but it is difficult to argue with the last part of that sentence:
…he did nothing to end slavery either on his plantation or in his country.
But not only are there statues of him, one of three main monuments in our nation’s capital is dedicated to him and he is one of four presidents memorialized on Mount Rushmore.
Dry, Technical Matter: Their slaves notwithstanding, both men served their country well. Jefferson, of course, attended our nation’s birth and later served as secretary of state, vice president and president. Lee served America honorably and well, too, before deciding his allegiance was with his home state of Virginia. He served the Confederacy honorably and well, too, if not particularly brilliantly as he had a tendency towards high casualty encounters when he had few men to spare.
The Bottom Line: Let’s leave all the statues up. If someplace has a statue or a monument to someone that offends you, don’t go there. The disgraces and inequalities of the past – and of the present, for that matter – are acknowledged. Lee and Jefferson, and others were men, not images on stained glass windows; they were as flawed as we are.
Some Philosophy Crap: This nation has done enough bickering on this matter and by continuing to do so we are allowing our past to define and control us. This is paralyzing our tomorrows.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Michelangelo receives a commission from a French cardinal to carve what would become The Pieta on this date in 1498. Michelangelo, then in his early 20’s, would finish the work in less than two years. The Pieta shows a dead Jesus Christ laying on Mary’s lap and is currently housed in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Oh Yeah: It remains the only work Michelangelo ever signed. It’s been said that shortly after the work was put on public display, Michelangelo overheard someone say it had been done by someone else, so Michelangelo put his name on Mary’s sash to remove all doubt, a move he later regretted.
Hey Batter, Batter: Owen Wilson of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits three triples in a doubleheader against the Boston Braves, giving him 32 for the season, a new major league record. Wilson would finish the year with 36 triples, a record that still stands.
Yeah, This Is Interesting: While we haven’t put this mark on our personal list of records that will never be broken, it has yet to be seriously threatened. The most triples anyone has hit in a season since 1950 is 23, done by Curtis Granderson, then of the Detroit Tigers, in 2007.
Go In Peace, Serve The Lord: John Paul I is elected pope on this date in 1978, replacing Pope Paul VI. John Paul would die 33 days later, the tenth shortest papacy ever. The College of Cardinals would then report back to Rome for duty and elect John Paul II pope in October.
Welcome Back: Kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard, who had been kidnapped in June 1991 while walking to a school bus stop, is found on this date in 2009.
Criminals Are Stupid: One of Dugard’s kidnappers had shown up on the campus of UC Berkeley two days earlier with the two daughters Dugard had borne him looking for a permit to distribute religious fliers. Two female campus police officers were immediately suspicious and asked Phillip Garrido to report to his parole officer the following day. Garrido complied, showing up with the girls and Dugard, whom he identified as his wife. Everyone was separated and after no small amount of questioning, Garrido confessed to kidnapping Dugard.
Oh Yeah: Garrido is serving a prison term of 431 years and his wife Nancy was sentenced to 36-years to life. Dugard’s whereabouts are unknown.
Quotebook: Lost in the cacophony of Oprah and O.J. are those classical values that once made a Saturday afternoon track meet so appealing. Of running for the love of competition, of throwing a javelin for applause and an olive wreath. Of sweating for hours on a lonesome track at dusk for the chance of maybe one day hearing the anthem. Of honor and glory and the spirit of victory, not the spoils. – Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/20/95
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: 2,271 Americans have died in the war in Afghanistan.
Today’s Stumper: 1978 is the last year there were three popes. When was the last year before 1978 that there were three popes? – Answer next time!