Now for a few words about the Confederate statues contretemps in various states:
1. I wonder how many of the counter-protesters at the Charlottesville event even had any idea who Robert E. Lee was. He was a major hero of the Mexican-American War. He fought for the Confederacy against the Union, but at the time he did it, it was not illegal. Slavery was — while 100 percent evil — completely protected by law as of 1861. When Lee went to work to defend his native Virginia, he was not violating any law.
In fact, at no time did the Supreme Court rule that secession was unconstitutional. To the contrary, when the Supreme Court moved towards declaring secession lawful, President Lincoln, in violation of every lawful principle, threatened to have Roger Taney, the Chief Justice, arrested and jailed.
He had already used federal troops to arrest much of the Maryland state legislature to keep Maryland from seceding. Again, this was an unequivocal violation of the Constitution. And when a court ordered the legislators released under habeas corpus, Lincoln simply ignored the order.
When the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox Court House in the spring of 1865, some officers of Lee’s Army suggested an ongoing guerrilla campaign against the Union. Lee absolutely vetoed the idea, saying that enough blood had been shed and that it was time to bind up the wounds of war.
I wonder how many of the counter-protesters who threw containers of urine and bottles and sticks at the protesters who actually had a license to demonstrate knew anything about Lee the peacemaker or about Lincoln, the lawbreaker. I wonder how many Americans of any age know that the immense majority of Southerners owned no slaves and that they laid down their lives to protect not slavery, but an invasion by Northerners who by the laws of the day simply had no clear legal right to be in North Carolina or Virginia at arms.
2. I watched with astonishment the demolition of the statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham. No police at hand at all to stop the destruction of public property. No vote by any government body to remove the statue. Just a mob of "students" and a complete absence of police or law enforcement at all. This was mob rule. Pure, simple, and terrifying.
Why even bother to have police at all if this is the way the law is protected?
3. I see that, as of late Tuesday night, the media is going berserk with rage about President Trump saying there were lawbreakers on both sides in C-ville. But clearly, Mr. Trump was right. The pro-statue people were strange looking, but they had a permit and they had the First Amendment. The ones who attacked them with clubs were the instigators.
Yes, of course I hate anyone who even hints at sympathy for the Nazis. The monstrous evil of those demons is unmatched. But they have the right to speak when not inciting violence and when not committing violence. Otherwise, the Constitution is trash.
For Trump to point out that while the KKK and the Nazis are nauseating, they have free speech rights, is not only correct, but actually brave of him. To take on the mainstream media and say the Constitution is above the networks and the major newspapers makes him a hero. The same day that this story appeared, I got a USPS letter saying — in a childish type written note on a torn sheet of lined paper, "Ben Stein–Economist, Lawyer, Actor, Commentator–Most of all F*****g Jew." I’d rather get those every hour of every day than lose one iota of the First Amendment. I appreciate that Trump, who is tortured every day by a hate-filled free press, still defends free speech. His endurance is exemplary. To read more of Ben Stein's article in The American Spectator, click here.
Ben Stein is a writer, actor, and lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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