Category: Sins of Omission

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Democracy, Real and Imagined
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Democracy, Real and Imagined

Revisionist-historian and anarchist anthropologist David Graeber insisted in a book he co-wrote before his death last year that agriculture was to blame for the sorry state of humanity. According to the departed scholar, hunter-gatherers lived happily in bands until agriculture was invented, which led to surpluses, population growth, private property, tribes, cities, chiefs, tyrants, bureaucrats,...

California Exodus
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California Exodus

In the 1950s grammar schools of the Golden State we kids substituted “Oh, California!” for Stephen Foster’s “Oh, Susanna!” The tune was the same, but the lyrics came from the pen of John Nichols just before he climbed aboard the bark Eliza in December 1848 at Salem, Massachusetts, for the voyage to California. I come...

A Tale of Two Withdrawals
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A Tale of Two Withdrawals

It’s difficult to characterize President Biden’s precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan as anything but a shameful debacle. It’s also difficult to determine who was responsible for the lack of a strategic withdrawal plan. Can the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff be that incompetent or feckless if an immediate and unconditional...

When Cali Was Conservative
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When Cali Was Conservative

Facing a recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the state would pay all back rent for qualifying tenants and then, sounding like Jack Bailey in the 1950s TV show Queen for a Day, said, “And that’s not all. The state will also pay all past due water and utility bills!” “Qualifying” renters include all...

Canceling Uncle Tom
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Canceling Uncle Tom

The only thing those on the left hate more than a conservative white male is a conservative black male. It simply infuriates leftists when a black man rejects their socialist dogma and espouses such conservative ideals as individual initiative, freedom from government, self-reliance, responsibility for decision making, and competing in the marketplace. How dare he! A...

That Damn Cowboy
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That Damn Cowboy

His statue in front of the Museum of Natural History in New York City is scheduled for removal, which is certainly ironic for one of New York’s most accomplished, adventurous, self-sacrificing, and patriotic sons, Theodore Roosevelt. Although he never owned slaves and was a recipient of both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor,...

The Chinese Exclusion Act
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The Chinese Exclusion Act

In 1882 Congress took steps to control Chinese immigration with the passage of “An Act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese.” The act later became known misleadingly as the Chinese Exclusion Act. In high schools and colleges it’s taught that the act was simply another example of American racism.  The real story is more...

Epidemic for the Record Books
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Epidemic for the Record Books

As the hysterical coronavirus overreaction crashes our economy, I can’t help but think of the Spanish flu, which took some 675,000 American lives in 1918 and 1919. Adjusting for the difference in the size of the American population then and now, that number would be equivalent to two million deaths today. I’ll be surprised—I’m writing...

Jackson and the American Indians
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Jackson and the American Indians

Everyone knows that Andrew Jackson wanted American Indians annihilated, defied the Supreme Court in a famous challenge to Chief Justice John Marshall, and forcibly removed the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast to lands west of the Mississippi River. What everyone knows is not true. Once a venerated American hero, Andrew Jackson has been attacked...

George O’Brien: American Star
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George O’Brien: American Star

WWI veteran George O’Brien became a star in Hollywood with his breakout performance in John Ford’s silent film epic, The Iron Horse. Handsome and built like the top athlete he was, O’Brien appeared in 11 more Ford movies and 85 films altogether, a successful career punctuated by voluntary and selfless distinction in two more wars,...

The Old West’s Deadly Doctor
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The Old West’s Deadly Doctor

Most Americans know of Doc Holliday only as Wyatt Earp’s sidekick. He was much more than that. He was not only one of the most colorful characters in the Old West but also one of the most feared. He acquired the nickname “Doc” honestly, earning a degree in dentistry and practicing in several towns. However,...

Getting Real About Reparations
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Getting Real About Reparations

The call for slavery reparations is reverberating throughout the land once again. It will be entertaining to watch the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 position themselves on this topic. They must know the very idea is irrational and entirely impractical, but at the same time they will worry that one candidate or another will endorse...

James Howard: Two-Theater Double Ace
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James Howard: Two-Theater Double Ace

One would think the only American fighter pilot to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II in Europe would be remembered and honored, or at least mentioned in history textbooks in high school and college.  No such luck today.  For those of us who grew up in the aftermath of the Second World...

David Crockett
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David Crockett

“Watch what people are cynical about,” said General Patton, “and one can often discover what they lack.”  Since the 1960’s I’ve been watching what are often called revisionist historians trying to destroy the American heroes I grew up admiring.  At first I couldn’t understand why such historians would be so hell-bent on tearing down figures...

Parry O’Brien
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Parry O’Brien

It’s difficult to explain today that, from the 1920’s through the mid-1960’s, track and field was a major sport in Southern California.  There were several reasons for this.  There was no Major League Baseball anywhere on the West Coast—Chicago and St. Louis were the westernmost cities to field teams.  We had only a minor-league circuit,...

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Hang ’Em High

I was recently watching Westward Ho, one of the many dozens of B Westerns I have in my collection, and it struck me that until the 1940’s vigilantes were most often portrayed in the movies as the good guys.  Following the credits at the beginning of Westward Ho we read, “This picture is dedicated to...

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The Real McCoy

In the early 1950’s when my family got our first TV set—it had a whopping 12″ screen with a green tint—we kids tuned in to The Tim McCoy Show, which aired early Saturday evenings on a local Los Angeles station, KTLA, Channel 5.  McCoy told stories about the Old West, gave lessons in Indian sign...

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White Slaves

For many years I taught a U.S. history survey course.  One of my lecture topics was American slavery.  I made a real effort to put the peculiar institution into historical perspective.  I noted that slavery was not something reserved for blacks here in America but was as old as man himself and recognized no racial...

Kit Carson
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Kit Carson

Though the mountain men were responsible for blazing nearly every trail to the Pacific Coast, discovering the natural wonders of the Trans-Mississippi West, and providing the muscle that fueled the fur trade—a major component of the American economy—few gained national recognition.  An outstanding exception was Kit Carson.  During the 1840’s and 50’s, John C. Frémont...

Butch O’Hare
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Butch O’Hare

For years I taught a course on the history of World War II.  I liked to ask the students if any of them had ever flown into Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.  Invariably, one or more in each class had.  This was not surprising, because for the last 40 or 50 years O’Hare has been the...

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Corsair Ace Ken Walsh

Americans have always loved their real-life Horatio Alger characters.  They fired our imagination as children and were worthy of emulating.  I hate to see many of those who were an inspiration to me disappear from our histories. A perfect example is Kenneth Ambrose Walsh. Ken Walsh was born in 1916 in Brooklyn, New York.  His...

The Gunfighter: Myth or Reality?
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The Gunfighter: Myth or Reality?

The reality of the Old West does not sit well with many in academe, who take pride in thinking they are debunking what they call cherished myths of the American people.  I think this is especially the case when talking about gunfighters.  There is clearly an impulse to attempt to destroy what most of us...

An Aroused Populace—With Guns
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An Aroused Populace—With Guns

At the Pulse nightclub on June 16, Omar Seddique Mateen, a Muslim on his own personal jihad, opened fire on the crowd of more than 300.  No one shot back.  Some tried to hide in the bathrooms.  One of those in a bathroom texted his mother, “He’s coming.  I’m gonna die.”  He was right.  Mateen...

The Okie From Oildale
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The Okie From Oildale

A boyhood pastime when I was growing up was building radios.  We did it in Cub Scouts and again, at a more sophisticated level, in Boy Scouts.  Various kits were available, but we all started with a simple crystal set.  It seemed almost magical that with a few components, essentially wire and a crystal, and...

A Perversion of History
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A Perversion of History

If you think the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the South Carolina capitol was the end of flag controversy, you may be surprised to learn that an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times declared, “It’s time California dump” the Bear Flag, “a symbol of blatant illegality and racial prejudice. ...

Belleau Wood
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Belleau Wood

Within the Marine Corps the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood is legendary.  Outside the Corps it is relatively unknown.  Yet the battle was a turning point in the history of the Corps, clearly demonstrating that the Marines could operate at brigade strength in conventional warfare.  Until then Marines were used principally as landing...

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An American Sniper

A galloglass was a professional warrior hired by an Irish chief.  The practice of employing such men became common in the decades following the Norman invasion, when it became obvious that heavily armed and mail-clad fighters were needed to contest the battlefield.  One Irish contemporary described how the Gaels of Ireland had gone into battle...

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Ernie Nevers

George Nevers and Mary McKenna were married in 1881 in New Brunswick, Canada.  He was from an old Sunbury County family, but her parents were immigrants to neighboring York County from Ireland.  The Neverses would have eight children.  The first two were born in Canada, and the rest in either Minnesota or Wisconsin after the...

The Fighting Chaplain
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The Fighting Chaplain

Born in 1905 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Joseph Timothy O’Callahan was reared in a devout Irish Catholic family.  He took to learning with a passion and earned his bachelor’s degree by the time he was 20, and his doctorate at the age of 24.  Shortly afterward, he joined the faculty of the physics department at Boston...

Chinese Exclusion
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Chinese Exclusion

Five years ago, the California state legislature voted to apologize to the Chinese for former laws that discriminated against them, including the federal government’s Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which California congressmen championed.  The apology bill was sponsored by state assembly members Paul Fong and Kevin de León.  Fong said he was not planning on...

Operation Tidal Wave
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Operation Tidal Wave

It seems that Benghazi is remembered today only for the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission there.  In the 1940’s and 50’s, though, it was known for launching the planes that conducted Operation Tidal Wave, a brilliant example of the heroism of American airmen, and an equally brilliant example of Murphy’s Law.  The former...

Bear Flag Revolt
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Bear Flag Revolt

Most Americans have no idea that California was once an independent republic and came into the Union, like Texas, without going through a territorial stage.  This is symbolized by California’s state seal, which features Minerva, who sprang from Jupiter’s head fully formed.  During the 1950’s we Golden State schoolchildren were taught all about our Bear...

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The Mexican War

It’s popular in academe today to describe the Mexican War as an example of an aggressive and expansive colossus beating up on a weak neighbor, but that was not the case in 1846.  The war was really a second phase of the Texas Revolution.  Most people don’t understand that Mexico never recognized Texas independence.  It...

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Japan’s Prelude to Pearl Harbor

Was Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor out of character for the chrysanthemum nation?  Her actions at Port Arthur, nearly 38 years earlier, suggest otherwise. In 1898 Russia began leasing the Liaotung Peninsula, which juts into the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula, from the Chinese.  On the southern tip of the Liaotung...

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A Different Hollywood

We’ve all heard it dozens of times after another disappointed moviegoer leaves the theater: “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”  One reason is the absence today of the kind of men who once made the movies.  Try this test yourself: Think of a few of your favorite movies, and then identify the directors,...

Bob Mathias
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Bob Mathias

One of the greatest Olympians of all time, Bob Mathias, is all but forgotten today.  He was born in 1930 in Tulare, in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Robert Bruce Mathias was his name, but everyone called him Bob. Bob had extraordinary coordination from infancy onward.  Although plagued by anemia, which caused him...

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Music That Stirs the Soul

A favorite time for me at John Randolph Club annual meetings is the songfest.  Invariably, there is someone in attendance who can sit down at the piano and play all the great, old American tunes that were once familiar to several generations of Americans.  The melodies stir my soul.  The accompanying lyrics evoke memories of...

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Tiburcio Vásquez

During the last four decades, California has been proving that demography is indeed destiny.  At an ever-accelerating rate the state is becoming Mexifornia.  So many Mexicans have flooded into California, nearly all illegally, that instead of the new arrivals assimilating to American culture they are Hispanicizing the state.  This means far more than ballots in...

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The Patton You Didn’t Know

Thanks to the movie, most Americans are familiar with George Patton—the crusty, outspoken, and brilliantly aggressive general of World War II fame.  Yet few know of his exploits as a young officer.  There is nothing about Patton’s early career in any of our standard history textbooks, an omission that is unfortunate.  At one time we...

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John Wayne and World War II

Ever since I can remember, John Wayne has been the actor the left most loves to hate.  While the left’s criticisms of him are many, the one that seemed to have the most validity was his failure to serve his country during World War II.  “He’s a big phony,” I was told by leftist classmates...

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Ace of Aces: Richard Bong

He was an all-American boy who became an American hero in World War II.  Born in 1920 to a father who, at the age of five, had immigrated to the United States with his family from Sweden and an American-born mother of Irish, Scottish, and English descent, Dick Bong was reared on a farm a...

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The Battle off Samar

One would think that a battle called the most gallant in the history of the U.S. Navy would be prominently featured in our textbooks.  Not only does the Battle off Samar in the Philippine Sea on October 25, 1944, go unmentioned in schoolbooks, but it’s rare for anyone under 60 even to have heard of...

The Shot Heard Round the World
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The Shot Heard Round the World

While nearly all my college students had heard of Lexington and Concord and the first battle of our Revolutionary War, only rarely did any of them know why the British were marching on the small Massachusetts towns. During the summer of 1774, Gen. Thomas Gage, supported by a squadron of the Royal Navy and five...

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The Tuskegee Airmen

If you think political correctness is a recent phenomenon in America, then the longtime promulgation and perpetuation of distortions and falsehoods concerning the Tuskegee Airmen should disabuse you of such a notion. The very creation of the group was an attempt by President Franklin Roosevelt to showcase blacks in the war effort, which was dominated...

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Divine Wind

Many Americans today are left aghast at Adm. William F. Halsey’s admonition to U.S. forces in the Pacific: “Kill Japs.  Kill Japs.  Kill More Japs!  You will help to kill the yellow bastards if you do your job well.”  Yet those who fought through the island campaigns fully appreciated Halsey’s words, realizing the only way...

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Bombing the West Coast

The “Battle of Los Angeles,” or the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, occurred during the early morning hours of February 25, 1942.  It has been portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s 1979 slapstick comedy 1941, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.  The farcical movie is about all younger generations today know of the Battle of Los Angeles...

The Betsy Ross of California
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The Betsy Ross of California

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.”  When I was young, we were taught about men and, yes, women in California, not because of their “sexual orientation” but because they were figures of substance and significance.  One of my favorites...

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James Arness

Early in June, James Arness died.  Everyone thinks of him as Matt Dillon, the brave and incorruptible town marshal of Dodge City in the television series Gunsmoke.  I think of him as the father of one of my childhood friends and as one of the last actors in Hollywood to have fought in World War...