The Oval: What History Teaches Us

Good afternoon.

If you have watched my show for just two minutes or met me for 20 seconds you know one thing about me: I love history. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop talking about it. I love old things, I love relics, anything that came before me that history has blessed…I’m honored to see and hold.

Maybe that makes me odd but I don’t think so.

I think Americans love their history. We are a young nation but we love to learn about our past. And there is a good reason for that. Our past is where we discover who we really are as a nation, just as children inherit certain things from their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. Our nation has inherited certain things from those who came before us. And it’s critical, we know what those things are. Otherwise, we leave our inheritance on the table. And it just will wash away.

That’s why I wish that the person who sits at this desk, and the people who advise him, took the time and topped thinking about the next news cycle, the next attack ad. And just stopped. And walked over to the bookshelf right here and read one of these books. They’re not just there for decoration!

They are there because our history tells us who we are. What we built. What problems we faced and how we overcame them.

The people who work in this office, not just now, but in every administration, ought to spend a lot of time studying history.

Because if they did, they would learn soon enough that some of the biggest problems they face are small compared to those which have come before. That some of the solutions they think will work have been tried and have failed before. That America may never have been perfect, but that America has been better than this. And America can be better than this again.

The problem we have Is that the people who sit behind this desk have so much going on around them. And they confuse action with accomplishment. They don’t spend time doing something that would solve a lot of their problems. They don’t read. They don’t study. They don’t learn from the past.

History is the greatest weapon against one of mankind’s strongest enemies: forgetfulness.

Forgetting is such a human trait. I go to the supermarket, and I forget to buy a gallon of milk. I come into the office, and I forget my keys in my car. Someone asks me: ‘Glenn, how old are your parents?’ And I forget. I have to think about it before I answer.

But forgetting to buy milk is one thing. Forgetting our nation’s history is another.

Let me give you an example.

This nation was once attacked on its shores and the enemy worked to infiltrate our populations. They placed in our cities sleeper agents. Gathering intelligence. Preparing for the day of attack. They watched. They listened.

So this nation took action. We discovered the plots.  We disrupted their plans. We found those who were guilty. And we hung them. Because in America, we have always believed that treason and treachery is a crime punishable by death.

Today, our nation faces a similar threat. The enemy has slipped past our thinly guarded borders. And we don’t know where they are.  But when we discover these plotters we don’t know what to do! We say: ‘There is no precedent for this!’ And so people sitting at this desk and working in this office - they simply make things up as they go along.

They bungle prosecutions. They expose vital intelligence. They give comfort to the enemy. And they allow treachery and treason to build further. All because they didn’t know their history.

They didn’t know that a prior administration – seventy years earlier –faced the same issue. Developed a plan. Took action. And solved the problem.

The cost of this historical illiteracy can be measured. It can be measured in the lives that have been lost. To terrorist attacks in our cities, at our military bases, all because our leaders didn’t study their history.

They didn’t read. They pretended like they were the first Americans to face a challenge.

But they were not the first. Not even the second.

The circumstances change. The cast of characters change. The culture changes. But in the end the challenges are the same.

Prosperity or stagnancy.

Freedom or dependency.

Justice or injustice.

Unity or disunity.

The individual or the state.

These are the choices that every American has known. Every generation of Americans has been asked to choose. These are not new choices. And our problems are not new problems.

What’s new is ignorance.

Ignorance of history.

Ignorance of what America stood for 236 years ago.

Ignorance of what America has learned in those years.

Ignorance of the successes.

Ignorance of the failures.

That’s new.

You can get ignorant by not learning. Or you can get ignorant just by being arrogant. By thinking you know more than those who came before you. By thinking that you know what you need to know. That’s arrogance.

And we see it today.

Wouldn’t it be great if the president sat behind this desk and spoke to the nation once a week for 43 consecutive weeks each time talking about a single president? One man, one president - five minutes. Just a little message about each former president.

Each time, saying:  “This president – Jefferson, Grant, Arthur, Truman… whatever…He led the nation for so many years. He tried to do these things. He succeeded here and he failed there. And this is what I learned from his time in office. So I thank him for his service to the nation.”

That’s it. Five minutes. Just a simple acknowledgement that nobody – not even the president – is above it all.  Above his predecessors. Above history.

And here is my hope: that if the current president, or any president, stopped to learn some history, stopped to think about what history teaches him, he might realize that America is better than he thinks. Is stronger than he thinks. More independent. More industrious. More capable of great things. That he does not need to wave a wand, give a speech, even sign a law that will solve a problem. That Americans are quite capable of solving themselves. America is better than its leaders. And that if Americans are trusted and if Americans are encouraged, Americans can restore this nation. Can rebuild it. Using the original blueprints. Using the original documents.

And just maybe if we had a president sitting at this desk who appreciated that history is the best adviser, we would begin to recognize that history is alive! And history is to be celebrated. Honored.

Let me close with one story, because it tells you why history matters.

This desk is called the Resolute. It was a gift from the British. It came from a ship called the HMS Resolute. The Resolute was a ship in search of the explorer Sir John Franklin in 1852. And on that search, deep in Arctic Seas,  it had to be abandoned by the crew.

Three years later, an American whaler, the George Henry, found it.  Broke it free from the ice. Towed it to port. And America restored it. Outfitted it. And gave it back to the British Crown as a gift.

The ship spent three more decades in service. Then it was retired.

Queen Victoria had an idea. She ordered that craftsmen use wood from the ship to make a desk. And she gave that desk to the president Rutherford Hayes. It has been in the White House for all but a few years ever since. And it has been in the Oval Office for nearly four decades.

Maybe it’s easy to read that history and think “Well, that’s just stuff that happened way, way back. And everyone in the story is dead!” And if you think that, you probably are bored by history. Or, If you’re like me, you love that story because it tells you something about a friendship and about national honor.

It tells you in one story: Why America and Great Britain share a special friendship. A friendship both nations have fought and died to preserve.

And from that story, you learn what it means to sustain that friendship over decades.

That story might have helped the current president when he was thinking about what to give as a gift to the queen and to the prime minister in his first year of office.

Maybe, instead of an iPod and some DVDs, he might have looked at this desk and thought: “We can do better. We should do better.” And for once in his presidency he might have avoided a mistake just by studying history. Just by acknowledging that he’s not the first smart guy to sit in that chair.

That’s how history is. It’s like an instruction manual for the world. An instruction manual for the president. An instruction manual on America.You can be president and not read the instruction manual, but you know how it is with instruction manuals. Whether it’s a TV or a mobile phone or a country, if you don’t read the manual, you won’t know how the dang thing works. You won’t get to use all the features. And in the end – it might break on you because you didn’t read the manual.

So even if our president won’t study our history, you should. Because one day, we’re going to have to fix this mess and it would be good if you’ve read the manual first.

Thanks for watching.

May God bless you, and may God bless this Republic.

 

 

Has anybody else noticed how politicized sports have gotten? The NFL is practically three berets away from a socialist revolution. They seem more concerned with dismantling social norms and protesting than with playing football. The Minnesota Vikings announced yesterday they will host a summit and fundraiser for LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

According to LifeSiteNews, the LGBTQ inclusion summit will "include speeches, interviews, and panel discussions with a variety of athletes, coaches, and activists who are homosexual or transgender" and "will be hosted at the team's recently-completed TCO Performance Center."

The summit marks the latest in the NFL's continued advocacy for LGBTQ rights and initiatives. Last year, the league launched NFL Pride, in a bid to "heighten sensitivity to the LGBTQ community" and reinforce "commitment to an inclusive environment in which all employees are welcome."

RELATED: New NFL policy will punish players who protest the national anthem

Fair enough. No one should be harassed or discriminated against in the workplace, but is that really what this is about? Because it kind of seems like there's more going on here. Kind of seems like there's a political, ideological slant to it. At the very least, it's virtue signaling.

The summit is "part of a settlement agreement the Vikings made after [former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe], who is straight, filed a lawsuit against the team in 2014 for allegedly creating a hostile work environment for homosexual and transgender people."

So, yeah, virtue signaling.

Ultimately, the NFL is a private business and, as we saw with the National Anthem kneelers, they can conduct their business however they like, and in turn the consumers can decide whether or not to keep giving them their money.

Mostly, the situation is just strange. Can you imagine how well this partnership would have gone over in the 1970s? Moreover, at what point does being LGBTQ come up during sports? How have we landed in this strange place, where politics and gender and race must be represented within every single interaction?

It's also worth mentioning that most people don't care if an athlete is gay — with the possible exception of transgender athletes, but that's another topic entirely. This tolerance has actually been confirmed by studies and surveys throughout all kinds of sports, in various countries throughout the world. Even countries with, shall we say, a far less tolerant view of the LGBTQ community than we have here in the USA — even people in those countries believe that it doesn't matter. People watch sports to see athleticism, to enjoy the unpredictable fury of sports at its finest.

People watch sports to see athleticism, to enjoy the unpredictable fury of sports at its finest.

Overwhelmingly, regardless of the sport, people do not care about the athletes' sexuality — in fact, most of us would rather not know. We don't watch golf to muse the social significance of gender norms and sexuality. We don't go to a baseball game to meditate on the evils of the patriarchy and the terrors of cultural appropriation. If an athlete is good, who cares what their orientation is? It's certainly not a new idea that LGBTQ can perform in sports. Typically, what sports fans care about is talent. Is the athlete good?

I guarantee that if Liberace rose from the dead tomorrow morning and was suddenly able to play basketball as well as 90s-era Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls fans would not complain if he joined the team. I think it's fair to say that most people like sports better when they aren't swamped with politics. Keep the politics elsewhere, especially these days, when it's nearly impossible to escape the increasingly intolerant politics of the Left.

Perhaps they could learn a lesson from our friends, the Ancient Greeks. It's no secret that the Ancient Greeks indulged in, well, LGBTQ activities. They were quite fond of the various activities. But they also built a civilization of tremendous importance to humanity as a whole. Philosophy, art and, yes, sports. When they were charged off to war, they didn't slap a Rainbow flag bumper sticker on the back of their chariot. Their sexuality did not define their identity. They were multifaceted human beings, able to go to war or to the theater or to the town hall as a citizen, because citizenry was what mattered, personhood and selfhood. More importantly, they lived in a time when people cared about self and tribe over sexuality and gender. Identity was selfhood, not sexuality.

At the end of the day, who cares if the Minnesota Vikings want to host an LGBTQ event? But they should expect to see an increase in shoulder-padded men traipsing across the stage on Broadway.

UPDATE: Here's how the discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.

Most people like sports better when politics aren't involved

Breaking down the announcement that the Minnesota Vikings will be hosting a summit and fundraiser for LGBTQ inclusion in sports.


Stop trying to be right and think of the children

Mario Tama/Getty Images

All the outrage this week has mainly focused on one thing: the evil Trump administration and its minions who delight in taking children from their illegal immigrant parents and throwing them all in dungeons. Separate dungeons, mind you.

That makes for a nice, easy storyline, but the reality is less convenient. Most Americans seem to agree that separating children from their parents — even if their parents entered the US illegally — is a bad thing. But what if that mom and dad you're trying to keep the kids with aren't really the kids' parents? Believe it or not, fraud happens.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

While there are plenty of heartbreaking stories of parents simply seeking a chance for a better life for their children in the US, there are also corrupt, abusive human traffickers who profit from the illegal immigration trade. And sorting all of this out is no easy task.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security said that since October 2017, more than 300 children have arrived at the border with adults claiming to be their parents who turned out not to be relatives. 90 of these fraud cases came from the Rio Grande Valley sector alone.

In 2017, DHS reported 46 causes of fraudulent family claims. But there have already been 191 fraud cases in 2018.

Shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pointed out this 315 percent increase, the New York Times was quick to give these family fraud cases "context" by noting they make up less than one percent of the total number of illegal immigrant families apprehended at the southern border. Their implication was that Nielsen was exaggerating the numbers. Even if the number of fraud cases at the border was only 0.001 percent, shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

This is the most infuriating part of this whole conversation this week (if you can call it a "conversation") — that both sides have an angle to defend. And while everyone's busy yelling and making their case, children are being abused.

What if we just tried, for two seconds, to love having mercy more than we love having to be right all the time?

Remember when cartoons were happy things? Each panel took you on a tiny journey, carrying you to an unexplored place. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes:

The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen. The visible and the invisible. This dance is unique to comics. No other artform gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well. This is why I think it's a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction. What happens between . . . panels is a kind of magic only comics can create.

When that magic is manipulated or politicized, it often devolves the artform into a baseless thing. Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published the perfect example of low-brow deviation of the artform: A six-panel approach at satire, which imitates the instructions-panel found in the netted cubbyhole behind seats on airplanes. The cartoon is a critique of the recent news about immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border. It is a step-by-step guide to murdering US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.

RELATED: Cultural appropriation has jumped the shark, and everyone is noticing

The first panel shows a man shoving an infant into a cage meant for Pomeranians. The following five panels feature instructions, and include pictures of a cartoonish murder.

The panels read as follows:

  1. If an ICE agent tries to take your child at the border, don't panic.
  2. Pull your child away as quickly as possibly by force.
  3. Gently tell your child to close his/her eyes and ears so they won't witness what you are about to do.
  4. Grab the ICE agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust, causing the agent's sternum to break.
  5. Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
  6. Hold his bloody heart out for all other agents to see, and tell them that the same fate awaits them if they f--- with your child again.

Violent comics are nothing new. But most of the time, they remain in the realms of invented worlds — in other words, not in our own, with reference to actual people, let alone federal agents.

The mainstream media made a game of crying racism with every cartoon depiction of Obama during his presidency, as well as during his tenure as Senator, when the New Yorker, of all things, faced scrutiny for depicting him in "Muslim clothing." Life was a minefield for political cartoonists during the Obama era.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This year, we saw the leftist outrage regarding The Simpsons character Apu — a cartoon representation of a highly-respected, though cartoonishly-depicted, character on a cartoon show composed of cartoonishly-depicted characters.

We all remember Charlie Hebdo, which, like many outlets that have used cartoon satire to criticize Islam, faced the wrath and ire of people unable to see even the tamest representation of the prophet, Muhammad.

Interesting, isn't it? Occupy Wall Street publishes a cartoon that advocates murdering federal agents, and critics are told to lighten up. Meanwhile, the merest depiction of Muhammad has resulted in riots throughout the world, murder and terror on an unprecedented scale.

The intersection of Islam and comics is complex enough to have its own three-hour show, so we'll leave it at that, for now. Although, it is worth mentioning the commentary by satirical website The Onion, which featured a highly offensive cartoon of all the major religious figures except Muhammad. It noted:

Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is free to publish any cartoon they like. Freedom of speech, and so on—although there have been several instances in which violent cartoons were ruled to have violated the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" limitation of the First Amendment.

Posting it to Twitter is another issue — this is surely in violation of Twitter's violent content policy, but something tells me nothing will come of it. It's a funny world, isn't it? A screenshot of a receipt from Chick-fil-A causes outrage but a cartoon advocating murder gets crickets.

RELATED: Twitter mob goes ballistic over Father's Day photo of Caitlyn Jenner. Who cares?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud concludes that, "Today the possibilities for comics are — as they've always been — endless. Comics offers . . . range and versatility, with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word. And all that's needed is the desire to be heard, the will to learn, and the ability to see."

Smile, and keep moving forward.

Crude and awful as the Occupy Wall Street comic is, the best thing we can do is nod and look elsewhere for the art that will open our eyes. Let the lunatics draw what they want, let them stew in their own flawed double standards. Otherwise, we're as shallow and empty as they are, and nothing good comes of that. Smile, and keep moving forward.

Things are getting better. Show the world how to hear, how to learn, how to see.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.