City Journal Winter 2016

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Winter 2016
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Ryan L. Cole
His Bravery and Theirs « Back to Story

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It was a well written piece of American History and of the men who fought and died. I had to go to the online site to see what the brouhaha was about from Mr. McGohey and Mr. Worth and read the political speeches from the Presidents present and former as well as Rep. John Lewis's speech. Both speeches from Mr. Clinton and President Obama were stock stump speeches, using the occasion to drum up votes for their agenda's. Rep. Lewis's speech was fine except it was marred by his remembered lies about the Tea Party when they marched on Washington and he accused them of calling him the "N" word and spitting on him; he was proven a liar by Breitbart and his offer of $100,000 if anyone could produce a film of the alleged incident and out of the over 200 iPhone filming that day no one collected the money. Here is the web site with all of the speeches: The "I have a dream" speech will be remembered, the other 3 already forgotten.
A well-written and poignant piece. I was quite moved by it -- until the cheap shot smear of March on Washington commemoration near the end. Totally uncalled for. Reveals the same kind of small-minded partisanship that you criticize in marchers, suggesting the entire event was nothing but "grandstanding," etc. In fact, I read many news articles describing grandparents telling stories of that significant moment in Civil Rights Movement to their families. Stories I imagine that told with great pride. Why not include those stories if you want to draw contemporary parallels? Why focus only on the negative? What pol or public figure doesn't indulge in self-promotion? For all we know, Gov. Andrew, despite his genuince concern for universal equality, was using the 54th's heroic actions, in part, for a bit of self-promotion himself. Support for emancipation was hardly universal in the North,after all, including Massachucetts. Great art may transcend such grubby realities, but its purpose is not to persuade us they never existed. You scored a petty point, but in the process diminished your own otherwise admirable essay with a bit of grandstanding, proving that such a mixture of flaws and virtues within individuals is indeed universal. I imagine Shaw and Douglas would be happy with that revelation.
"The tenor of the exhibit stands in quiet contrast to the grandstanding, self-promotion, and partisanship that accompanied the 50th-anniversary commemorations of the March on Washington earlier this year."

Yes, indeed. Republican refusal to participate in these celebrations despite repeated invitations could not have disappointed more thoroughly.

That was a great day for America. King's speech will be read in schools for as long as we have our democracy. And 50 years later we have a party of politicians too arrogant and foolish for words.