Slavery And The School

Richard has a very interesting piece in today’s Columbia Missourian about the role of slavery in the history of the University of Missouri. It addresses, in detail after fascinating detail, the slave-owning pasts of some of the central figures in the early history of the school, and the efforts of their descendants to try to atone for that fact.

IMG_0741It’s an excellent piece about a very difficult subject, and it poses a question that is impossible to answer for those of us in the modern world: how could a person like James Sidney Rollins, who professed to be enlightened and was such a strong supporter of public education that he earned the title “father of the University of Missouri,” nevertheless have justified and rationalized being a slave owner, unable to recognize the fundamental, unforgivable injustice in his claim to own fellow human beings?

I urge all of our Webner House readers to read Richard’s piece and think about how many of the institutions of modern America have some roots in that terrible institution that will forever be a stain on America’s past. Stories like Richard’s that reveal more of that past do us all an important service.

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Dennis And The Dictator — Continued

Dennis Rodman returned from his ill-advised trip to North Korea and promptly checked himself into a rehab facility, saying that his behavior was due, in part, to excessive consumption of alcohol while in the land of Kim Jong-Un.

Normally I wouldn’t comment on someone’s decision to seek treatment; that is their business. In this case, though, when Rodman went into rehab his agent issued this statement: “Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally. The pressure that was put on him to be a combination ‘super human’ political figure and ‘fixer’ got the better of him.”

I’ve got news for Rodman’s agent — no one put any pressure on Dennis Rodman but Rodman himself. No one asked him to go to North Korea and pal around with a dictator. No one — and I mean no one — would ever expect that the dysfunctional Dennis Rodman would be “combination ‘super human’ political figure and ‘fixer.'” Indeed, we’re not even sure he’s capable of being a regular human, much less a super human. All we ask is that, if American citizens go to a foreign country that regularly issues anti-American statements and engages in repressive conduct, they at least keep their mouths shut and not make statements and engage in conduct that feeds the propaganda machine of that regime. Rodman couldn’t even meet that very basic standard.

If Rodman in fact has an alcohol problem, I hope he addresses it, sobers up, and becomes healthy. And then I hope we never hear of Dennis Rodman again.

TV-Free

Sometime over the weekend our TV went on the fritz. We’re not sure exactly what happened, but we lost our ability to change cable channels.

IMG_1708The TV itself turns on and off, so we believe the problem lies with one of our remote control units. Like many American households, we have more remote units than we need. The black one turns the TV on and off and controls the volume, the gray one changes the cable channels, and we don’t really know what the high-tech silver one does or, for that matter, how it got into our house. Nevertheless, we’re afraid to get rid of it for fear that it may eventually be needed to do something essential, like unlock America’s nuclear arsenal.

When the gray remote stopped working, Kish and I went through our entire array of electronic repair techniques. Unfortunately, that array consists solely of changing the batteries, then standing directly in front of the TV, pushing down on the channel-changing buttons with maximum force, and ultimately handing the remote control to the other person so they can do precisely the same thing. Those time-honored techniques didn’t work. And yesterday, when we returned from our brief trip to Pittsburgh, we clung to a forlorn hope that the remote control problem had gone away during our absence — either through miraculous self-repair or due to a visit from the remote control fairy. Those things didn’t happen, either.

Despite all of our efforts, our TV remain locked on The Golf Channel and its urgently whispered coverage of a tournament in Hawaii. It was riveting TV, but we decided to pass on the linksters and instead spend a TV-free weekend reading our books, chatting, and catching up on the news on the computer. It was nice — but today Kish goes out to get a new remote control unit so we can watch the new episode of True Detective.