Robert E. Lee: Wikipedia

He found the experience frustrating, since many of the slaves had been given to understand that they were to be made free as soon as Custis died, and protested angrily at the delay.[53] In May 1858, Lee wrote to his son Rooney, “I have had some trouble with some of the people. Reuben, Parks & Edward, in the beginning of the previous week, rebelled against my authority—refused to obey my orders, & said they were as free as I was, etc., etc.—I succeeded in capturing them & lodging them in jail. They resisted till overpowered & called upon the other people to rescue them

.. Less than two months after they were sent to the Alexandria jail, Lee decided to remove these three men and three female house slaves from Arlington, and sent them under lock and key to the slave-trader William Overton Winston in Richmond, who was instructed to keep them in jail until he could find “good & responsible” slaveholders to work them until the end of the five-year period.

.. Norris stated that after they had been captured, and forced to return to Arlington, Lee told them that “he would teach us a lesson we would not soon forget.” According to Norris, Lee then had the three of them firmly tied to posts by the overseer, and ordered them whipped with fifty lashes for the men and twenty for Mary Norris. Norris claimed that Lee encouraged the whipping, and that when the overseer refused to do it, called in the county constable to do it instead. Unlike the anonymous letter writers, he does not state that Lee himself whipped any of the slaves. According to Norris, Lee “frequently enjoined [Constable] Williams to ‘lay it on well,’ an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”[53][57]

.. In 2000, Michael Fellman, in The Making of Robert E. Lee, found the claims that Lee had personally whipped Mary Norris “extremely unlikely,” but found it not at all unlikely that Lee had ordered the runaways whipped: “corporal punishment (for which Lee substituted the euphemism ‘firmness’) was (believed to be) an intrinsic and necessary part of slave discipline.

.. This [opinion] was the prevailing view among most religious people of Lee’s class in the border states. They believed that slavery existed because God willed it and they thought it would end when God so ruled.

.. However, despite his stated opinions, Lee’s troops under his command were allowed to raid settlements during major operations like the 1863 invasion of Pennsylvania to capture free blacks for enslavement.[73][74][75][76][77][78]

..  Emory Thomas says Lee had become a suffering Christ-like icon for ex-Confederates. President Grant invited him to the White House in 1869, and he went. Nationally he became an icon of reconciliation between the North and South, and the reintegration of former Confederates into the national fabric.

The Reagan-era invasion that drove North Korea to develop nuclear weapons

Few Americans will recall the 1983 invasion of a small Caribbean nation thousands of miles from North Korea. But in fact, this conflict set the stage for the nuclear standoff today. It intensified the animosity between the two countries, sending North Korea on a quest for nuclear weapons to combat what it saw as a looming American threat.

In October 1983, the United States invaded Grenada. The Kim family regime that controls North Korea saw this invasion as an early warning sign: If the United States could perceive even a small spice island as a threat, so too could it eventually train its sights on North Korea. Without an effective deterrent, any regime perceived as a threat would be little match for American military might.

.. Shortly after establishing diplomatic relations with Grenada in 1979, Kim Il Sung offered large amounts of free technical and agricultural assistance to Bishop’s regime. From sending tractors and cement to helping build the national stadium in the capital city of St. George’s, North Korea spared no expense in assisting its Grenadian allies.

.. The North Koreans also provided a large cache of weapons to Grenada. According to documents captured by American military forces during the invasion, when Bishop visited North Korea in April 1983, the two countries signed a secret military agreement. North Korea’s “free offer of military assistance” gave the Grenadians 12 million U.S. dollars worth of weapons and ammunition

.. President Ronald Reagan justified his decision to launch Operation Urgent Fury by citing the presence of 600 American medical students in Grenada and a military coup that took place six days before the invasion. Reagan argued that the coup, which deposed Bishop and brought even more radical Stalinists to power on the island, threatened to destabilize the entire Caribbean region.

.. After observing the swift destruction of the Grenadian revolution, Kim Il Sung feared that Reagan would launch an invasion of North Korea similar to Operation Urgent Fury and overthrow his government in a matter of weeks. Reagan’s strict anti-communist policy and his increased commitment to the U.S.-South Korea military alliance — Reagan had ratcheted up joint military exercises on the peninsula — unsettled Kim Il Sung.

.. In a 1984 conversation with East German leader Erich Honecker, Kim Il Sung lamented, “Every year the American armies conduct a major military exercise. They conducted these exercises even before the Reagan era, but since Reagan took office this has grown.” Kim Il Sung also fretted to Honecker that Reagan would never withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea and the American military presence would impede his plans for the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Kim Il Sung perceived Reagan’s combination of staunch support for South Korea and militant rhetoric, on top of the invasion of Grenada, as a sign that North Korea might be next.

.. He knew that just as Grenada’s military could not match the powerful United States military in battle, neither could his military stop a U.S. invasion. He knew that he needed a far greater deterrent to keep the Americans at bay and protect his regime. Thus, three years after the U.S. invasion of Grenada, the North Korean leadership established a Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, which formally declared Kim Il Sung’s intention to develop a nuclear weapons program.

.. North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapons program, because it believes that without it, nothing would deter an American invasion aimed at regime change. North Korea will not even establish a dialogue with the United States if the Trump administration insists on Kim Jong Un dropping his nuclear weapons program.

Religion, Violence and Roger Scruton

.. But let’s cut to the chase. What all “religion” might do and what all “violence” might be are fatal distractions, all too happily exploited by the Hitchdawk team. It is futile to get drawn into polemical debates with professional atheists about the meaning of abstract sociological notions looked at in the unlimited perspective of the past 5000 years, and that is the mistake Scruton makes. The real question today, as every man in the street knows, is not the anthropological seminar-room “What is religion?” question; it’s about the fate of Christian civilisation with its liberal, pacifistic and accommodating tendencies, versus militant Islam. How do we defend the former against the latter?

.. In the story Paul Stenhouse tells—which should be read by all—the 463 years between the death of Muhammed in 632 AD, and the First Crusade in 1095, were extremely dangerous for Christian Europe. Instead of peace there were unrelenting Islamic wars and incursions; Muslim invasions of Spain, Italy, Sicily and Sardinia; raids, seizures, looting of treasure, military occupations that lasted until Saracen forces were forcibly dislodged, sackings of Christian cities including Rome, and desecrations of Christian shrines. And be it noted: all this “violence” went on for fully 463 years before any Christian Crusade in response to these murderous provocations took place.

.. whereas Islam spread by the sword, Christianity mainly spread by precept and example and the peaceful proselytising of missionaries—many of whom contributed through their notes, journals and correspondence to what has become known in our time as “the anthropology of religion”.

A Conversation with Malcolm Gladwell: Revisiting Brown v. Board

No one is disputing that segregation was a heinous policy with far-reaching ramifications; the question is where do you locate the harm of segregation? And the court chose to locate the harm squarely inside the hearts and psyches of black children, whereas I would locate the harm in the world. I would say that the harm is located in the structure of laws and institutions that have the effect of systematically inhibiting and disempowering African Americans.

That may sound like a minor distinction. It is not. It’s a fundamental distinction. And particularly when you understand that it is the deliberate strategy of Southern whites to try and shift the racial conversation from institutions and political structures to hearts and minds. They’re trying to do that because they understand that if we can locate the argument entirely inside black people’s psyches, then we can leave institutional structures in place that systematically disenfranchise African Americans.

.. It’s because they’re locating the problem inside the hearts and minds of black kids that they can’t focus on teachers.*

..  it seems like they made a choice to pursue an argument that would convince the court. It didn’t seem obvious to me that they could have won making a structural argument, since that would involve taking power from people who would stand in their way.

.. Many African-American intellectuals have looked back on that and said, “You know what, we would’ve been better off if they had not overturned Plessy v. Ferguson,” and, “You want to play separate and equal? Let’s really do separate and equal,” and call them on their bluff. 

.. Like I said, many black intellectuals have subsequently said, “Look maybe what the court should’ve done in Brown in 1954 is say, ‘Alright, let’s actually do separate and equal—prove to me they’re equal before we go any further. Let’s start by equalizing funding. Let’s go down the list. If you want to have a separate law school for white people in the state of Texas then you have to prove to me that every element in the black law school is the equivalent of the white law school.’” That strikes me as being both a radical and a doable argument, at least in the short term. And then when you have equality—real equality—then you take the next step, and remove [segregation]. I’m not entirely convinced that would’ve been the right way to go—but I think that is an argument worth hearing.

..  I wouldn’t focus on the damage done to a person’s psyche, the way the Brown lawyers did for legal reasons, but rather on the burden of existing within a context that treats you as inferior. Other people’s beliefs, especially when they determine your outcomes, matter a great deal.

.. Maintaining separate school systems for blacks and whites in the south was very expensive, and they were able to maintain those systems only if they impoverished the black half. That’s what made it economically palatable to taxpayers in rural and urban southern school districts. They’re running two systems. It’s not cheap. And they get away with it by not giving any money to the black half. If you came along and said, “You have to fund the black half the same as you fund the white half,” you effectively force integration. But you force them to integrate themselves, as opposed to doing it from above

.. You’ve got to decide, what am I trying to do here? Am I trying to win a political battle, as expeditiously and expediently as possible, or am I trying to make a larger moral argument about race and society?

..  When they have a black teacher, black students are much less likely to be suspended and are more likely to get into the gifted program. But we don’t yet know what’s happening psychologically. Do the black teachers open doors, or do they motivate or inspire students?

..  In a sense, economists are much better suited for dealing with these big data sets. It’s incumbent on psychologists to figure out how to do that or collaborate with economists. But economists don’t necessarily care about the mechanisms, as long as there’s a difference. The problem then becomes, where’s that difference coming from? Is it about having someone that cares about you, regardless of race? Or is it about seeing someone like me in a position of authority, or seeing that person-like-me be successful?

.. The economists can look at the data set and describe the phenomenon with real precision. The psychologist can look at that same data and give us possible mechanisms—why is it happening? And then there is a role here for the sociologist, or even the anthropologist, to go in and, in a fine-grained way, to describe the experience of the participants.

.. there were enormous numbers of oral histories done over the last 30 to 40 years, and I drew on some of them. Interviews done in the 60s and 70s with black teachers, talking about the experience of being a teacher moving from an all-black school to a white school. That stuff—very anecdotal, very individual, placed alongside psychological accounts of mechanism and economic accounts of exactly what happened—that stuff is really powerful. Those three things in combination, I think, can tell you something really important.