Trump & Suburban Women – Decision on Cemetery Ridge

  • Posted: January 6, 2020
  • Category: Politics
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I have heard, ad nauseum, the disdainful drill since grade school, “history is boring, endless lists of people and dates, too much to remember”. Once away from high school’s slight standards, history has a place in people’s lives just a bit more important than memorizing priestly genealogies in the Old Testament. The cultural appreciation of history is just another marker among the many defining my existence as a stranger in an increasingly strange land.

History is a dramatic extravaganza in CinemaScope, better than anything on HBO, spread over thousands of years and the entire globe. History is filled with people and situations so different from the daily life I experience, but at the same time, so familiar. It is saturated with romance, tragedy, comedy, spiced with irony. You remember irony – proof that God exists and has a sense of humor.

Who knows why, but some of the stories and people just pull me into a relationship that deepens over the years. On our first date, it’s just romance, a first kiss with story and actors simple, pure and uncomplicated. The Bat Signal lights up the sky over Gotham. Batman and Robin slide down the Batpole into the Batcave, jump into the Batmobile, speeding into the city to right injustice and punish evil. But as we spend more time together, the story grows richer, deeper with the actors becoming complicated, conflicted. Contradictions emerge. Truths grow murky. One morning Bruce Wayne (Batman) looks in the bathroom mirror while shaving and sees The Joker staring back.

Certain times abound in rich stories, having long since captured my imagination, becoming touchstones of memory, well-worn paths in the mind’s thickets. One such era, a bubbling spring of stories, is our own American Civil War. Against all expectations for a Nebraska farm boy, I have always been partial to the Rebels, the South of the Confederacy. Perhaps that is because long ago I fell under the spell of the Army of Northern Virginia and its peerless leader, Robert E. Lee. Over the years, I have read the books. I have visited the sites. I never tire of their story.

In his youth, Lee was nicknamed the Marble Man by his fellow cadets at West Point. I expect the nickname was mostly sarcasm but carrying with it more than a tinge of admiration. How do a bunch of high spirited teenage boys get along with a fellow cadet who is the all-time Teacher’s Pet? But Lee’s virtue was not an act. He grew into a man of such qualities that in his own lifetime as well as in most times and places since he has been virtually deified.

In my own mind, he has always served as model, as mentor, as paradigm. When I muse on what it means to be a man, my own father and Robert E. Lee come to mind. During my time running a company, Douglas Freeman’s trilogy, Lee’s Lieutenants, served as my guide into the door lined corridors of stewardship, the hard tradeoffs surrounding the care and feeding of people in organizations.

Lee’s star shines so brightly that those around him are dimmed, becoming shadows playing against the wall. There is Stonewall Jackson, Lee’s right arm, the humorless pedant but fearless and brilliant warrior, a Templar Knight born out of place and time. The moody and dour James Longstreet, his solid warhorse, loyal and jealous in equal measures, but indispensable. The taciturn and uxorious US Grant, his nemesis, the forerunner of the modern corporate general/manager, working the levers of the great Union economy, an unstoppable engine overwhelming and defeating the Rebels.

But in this time and place, I would like to pay tribute to the legions of men, those remembered and those anonymous, following Lee through victory and defeat. For three years they shared death and destruction, glory and gloom, deprivation, hunger and want. Tens of thousands of young men and boys drawn from across the American South, known by their fellows and to history as the Army of Northern Virginia.

The Army of Northern Virginia knew great highs and great lows, mountains high and valleys deep. Given the thick stream of Scotch-Irish roots from which most of them came, who better to give voice to their experience than Rhiannon? Go to YouTube and listen to Stevie Nicks singing the lyrics of Jon Bon Jovi in “Sometimes It’s a B****”:

“There are days when I swear I could fly like an eagle

And dark desperate days that nobody sees

My arms stretched triumphant on top of the mountain

My head in my hands, down on my knees

What’s it all worth

Only the heart can measure

It’s not what’s in the mirror

But what’s left inside”

Perhaps Lee’s men best lived the truth of those words on a large pasture south of Gettysburg, PA, the fateful afternoon of July 3, 1863. Since the hammer blows of the eventful and bloody Seven Days outside Richmond just a year past, these men had been outnumbered 2-1, hungry, barefoot and dressed in rags, but they had followed their General from one victory to another. Except for a hard fought draw in Maryland (Antietam – the bloodiest day in American history), they had swept all before them.

Now here they were once more, a collection of dirty scarecrows, hard marching on callused bare feet, carrying the war into the comfortable well-fed Yankee homeland in the fat untouched farms of Pennsylvania. The town of Gettysburg had been the scene of heavy fighting for two days with the Union Army on the verge of defeat each day, saved by the coming of darkness. And now with one final maximum effort, Lee’s boys from the backwoods of the South would push it over the top, their blue-bellied foe fleeing back along the roads to Washington. Final victory felt near.

And so on that early July afternoon, a line of men over a mile wide, stepped out into view from the tree lined edge of the pasture camouflaging the Rebel positions. Years later, the men of the Army of the Potomac, watching from their positions on top of Cemetery Ridge, recalled a “thick grey snake” coming into view. Marching in measured cadence as on parade, nine brigades, 12,500 men, of the Army of Northern Virginia moved through the positions of their now silent cannons, the air heavy with smoke and the stink of burnt gunpowder left by the previous hour’s artillery barrage.

This “thick grey snake”, advanced on the Union line a bit over a mile away, dug in behind a wall atop the ridge, Cemetery Ridge, across the pasture. For a moment the silence stretched as this incredible sight temporarily stunned the watching Federals, and then shaking out of their momentary stupor, the Union guns began to fire. For the next half hour, the Confederate line advanced into the fire of cannons, explosive shells morphing into double canister grapeshot – the cannon as shotgun- as the grey line drew closer. And then a continuous storm of rifle fire swept over them, as they came even closer. Some 3,000 of Lee’s boys made it to the crest, breaching the Union line where a vicious melee of bayonets, knives, rifle butts and fists erupted. It was hand-to-hand combat of the fiercest and most brutal kind.

Eyewitnesses report that the lines of men crossing the pasture never wavered. It was remembered that individual units would stop, dress their lines – under fire -closing up the holes left by the men who had fallen, and then continue the advance. Some few reached the top of the ridge, breaking the Union line. But there were simply too many Union soldiers, reinforcements rushed in and forced them back down from whence they came.

How do we come to grips with this remembered time? For somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes the men of the Army of Northern Virginia marched in rank, rifles shouldered, in step forward. The air was thick with acrid smoke, the sights numbing, the sounds deafening. Friends and fellows beside them suddenly snatched away, stumbling or being thrown to the ground by a Minnie ball, shrapnel or a thumb sized grapeshot. Blood splattered them, smoke blackened them, carnage numbed them.

Men? Boys, most of them. In today’s world, we would not think it strange if they lived in their parent’s basement, not yet giving serious thought to anything but video games, girls, and booze/weed. As parents and neighbors, we might smile in resignation, making jokes about their “failure to launch”.

What man reading this, picturing this in his mind, cannot be struck dumb, humbled by these men, these boys standing tall in valor? Looking in the mirror, how can we not see ourselves in our own time as small and mean? We look for poetry to give weight to our emotions, in awe of that which humbles us. The French, for all their faults, have a way of celebrating the marvelous in a phrase. The assault on Cemetery Ridge is the acte glorieux, the beau geste.

But as the years pass and Batman grows more familiar, The Joker grows ever more visible as well. This stirring and heart rending story of glory, of honor, of duty is a mirage. These men, bravely fighting and dying served a dark cause, a cause not of good but of evil, of Satan himself. These brave men of honor are not the Fellowship of the Ring, or even the Riders of Rohan, but the Uruk-hai of Saruman assaulting Helm’s Deep in the dark service of Mordor.

This paragon of virtue, the Marble Man, and his men served a cause dedicated to keeping other men in chains, the dark dungeons of slavery. This army suffered and died, selflessly and faithfully, not to advance any righteous cause, or even for the dirty coins of profit, but for the right to keep other men as slaves. Kept as slaves not through the fortunes of war or the vicissitudes of life’s downturns as in other times and places, but simply because they were black.

It is a hard thing to face the hidden darkness of your models, of your heroes. The caped visage of Batman shimmers and the harlequin masque of The Joker blinds me with sudden clarity. Of course the Confederacy’s connection with slavery has always been in my face, but I chose not to look. The military was not alone in recognizing the advantages of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Over time, it becomes harder to ignore inconvenient truths. As the image of The Joker loomed ever more clearly, I found refuge in my heretofore hidden aptitude for management. I made excuses, excuse me – I forgot myself, “explanations”. Excuses or “explanations” are not hard to find. In fact a cottage industry of sorts has been in the business of manufacturing them as far back as evil has existed. The South seceded in defense of state’s rights, not over slavery The war could have been avoided if the North would have reimbursed the slave owners for the value of their slaves. Slavery was on its way out anyway, it made no economic sense in the Industrial Age. Most slaves were well taken care of, etc., etc., etc.

What truly damns of hypocrisy is the visible Christian faith at the heart of Lee’s character. Lee talked the Christian talk and walked the Christian walk. His Christian faith writ large in his actions and his character served as an example for the South in the dark days of defeat after the war. In every respect, he was a man for the ages, but then again, Lee led the armies of slavery. For Lee as well, the excuses fall like rain. Lee knew slavery was bad, but he thought it would go away if just left alone. He was raised with the loyalty to his State of a higher calling than loyalty to the Nation, etc., etc. etc.

It is only within the refuge of God’s grace can we find any measure of peace with the blackness that lies in the human heart. Strangely enough, it is easier for me to accept my own sinful nature than Lee’s broken soul. I’m used to my own black heart, I live with it every day. I try to live a good life, to work for the good and the pure, to fight the evil that is in the world and in me. But God knows my blind spots, my sophistries, my “wink wink” at the ravening demons I imagine to be charming imps in my life.

Of course I know that Robert E. Lee and all of his men were sinners, just like me. And so we are condemned, each and every one unless we accept God’s freely offered grace, the salvation of Christ on the Cross. But we must still make our way in this world. Swords have not yet been beaten into plowshares, nor does the lion yet lie down with the lamb. Can we honor virtue in the service of evil? But then what cause, what endeavor does not contain evil? Sunday School answers are easy, but life is complicated.

The Confederate States of America for which Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia served and fought existed solely to enslave black men and women. From my perch here in the 21st Century, comfortable in my gilded cage, I see and condemn the evil that was The Confederacy. But men and women of good will, both of Christian belief and not, how did they see it at the time?

The passage of time allows the emotions to cool, the costs to be amortized, the confusions to fade. But in the moments of decision – of action, we are in the grip of our emotions, the costs loom large and the bedrock of righteousness is buried under dunes of windblown sand. Is it Batman or The Joker we follow? How do we know?

These questions are always there, but don’t necessarily demand we really think about them. Most times, we just follow our leaders. They’re supposed to think about these things while we get on with life. Usually that’s good enough. But sometimes when we’re not looking, the stakes become life or death and we belatedly realize that we don’t really understand the game. Do you suppose all those boys from Texas, worried about their families back home naked before the savage mercies of Comanche raiders, really wanted to die on a Pennsylvania pasture protecting the rights of Mississippi Delta slave owners?

So today, we have a great disturbance. The people we trust to make sense of the world for us are united in their hatred of our currently serving President, Donald Trump. In the always questionable – but fun nevertheless – job of stereotyping people, our elites can be called the Adorables. Though they are far too polite and self-effacing to use the term, it is how they think of themselves. The Adorables compose the leadership class of our country, in politics, the media, the professions, business and public life.

Adorables may be a bit smug, but they have good reason to be – and let’s be clear here – introspection is decidedly not in their job description. The Adorables are good people doing what they were educated to do, what they think is right, subject of course to the usual caveats common to the human condition. They are our leaders, self-appointed to be sure, but we have endorsed their choice many times over. The Adorables – Democrat, Republican, conservative or progressive – are united to an unprecedented degree in their hatred, not too strong a word, of President Donald Trump.

Simply put, one must assume any Adorable in our great republic who supports President Trump is an opportunist, looking to profit by hiding their repugnance. It takes a special person to cause such universal revulsion from the people that define our nation.

To be sure, Donald Trump has earned such opprobrium. The Donald has made a career out of being an unrepentant cad, rubbing our noses in it and becoming a billionaire while doing so. There is no need to rehash his trysts with porn stars, vulgar language, over the top narcissism, casual cruelty, misogyny and just plain rude behavior.

It is interesting that his name served as an easily recognized tagline in 1980’s era TV sitcoms, well before his political coming out. Even thirty-five years ago, his name was used to get laughs on national TV as a stand-in for crude, loutish “New Yorker” behavior. Donald Trump was the boy your mom warned you to stay away from.

And that is a very interesting point. Perhaps no Adorable demographic has reacted more uniformly and strongly against Donald Trump than educated women, both moms and their daughters.

While educated urban women are a lost cause for any Republican, even the second coming of Abraham Lincoln would be anathema to them, those women living in the suburbs known as “suburban women” are thought to be in play. Perhaps in our age of scanty fecundity, “suburban women” – the “soccer moms” of earlier political campaigns – is both a more politically correct as well as accurate term for that group of women once known as middle class mothers.

It’s hard to fault their visceral revulsion. Donald Trump may be our President, but that doesn’t mean he is not a rude, crude and lewd guy. It is truly an unhappy circumstance that this man represents our country in the eyes of the world. He is an uncouth individual and, for what its worth, I did listen to my Mom. Even though he has not given me opportunity, I don’t think we would be friends.

But just like my unrepentant Confederate empathizing self, I do support him, using the excuses littering the Op-Ed pages of the Wall Street Journal as life rafts for my fragile dignity. The economy is booming. We’re not against immigrants but we need to control our borders. Somebody needs to take care of US interests, stand up to the Chinese. Somebody needs to stand up for the Deplorables, call “BS” on Adorable sanctimony, etc. etc. etc.

My own support for President Trump is hesitant, conflicted even. I would dearly like to find someone else, but where? The Donald is something new, a one of a kind politician – one who steers an independent course and keeps promises. Support for Trump threatens descent into the madness of caudillo government, but the alternatives before us are a corrupt and what is worse increasingly inept status quo or a death spiral into rule by the commissars.

I think many who will once again vote for him are like me, worried and hesitant but left with no real choice. But President Trump does have a strong base of enthusiastic support that is worrisome to me. The populist passions stoked by Candidate Trump are dangerous in an Imperial power with nuclear weapons but what I find most troubling is the enthusiastic support for Donald Trump by the Evangelical community, particularly among our leaders. Do they not remember Paul’s words in I Corinthians or in I Timothy on the requirements for good leaders?

I realize all too well that the trend of Adorable society is moving in directions virulently opposed to faith in anything but Man & The Earth Mother, but should we so loyally defend the indefensible? What is our witness to a dark world worth if Trump supporter and Christian become one in the minds of the unreached?

Sometimes making common cause with the enemy of my enemy only postpones the Holocaust. One might consult the Jews of 20th Century Europe on that one. Or perhaps a more apt example, some 2,500 years ago King Hezekiah believed he had no choice but to bind himself and his people to the fleshpots of Egypt against the frightening fury of Assyria threatening to engulf them all. It didn’t turn out well for him, or Jerusalem, either.

As I said, Sunday School answers are easy, but life is complicated. I am tempted to return to the original metaphor, but in attempting a deft bit of sleight of hand, reverse it. I work on convincing myself that even though Donald Trump may be The Joker, I can see the shadowy form of Batman shimmering in the background. Is it defeatism or realism to believe we have to live with the choices life gives us? As a counter example to Hezekiah, Nehemiah found himself doing God’s work as a loyal servant to Darius, the Persian king described by Herodotus as a scoundrel – an assassin and usurper. Perhaps the hardest of life’s battles is to understand which battles must be fought.

But what I, or any other unenlightened man, think or choose to do is almost irrelevant. The “unwoke” man such as myself now finds himself living on a plantation ensconced squarely in the Republican Party, similar to the generations old plantation for Afro-Americans maintained by the Democratic Party. “Suburban women” are the battleground where America’s future will be decided.

A funny thing happened on the way to equal rights. America’s cultural, political and moral norms are now firmly in the hands of women, with “suburban women” serving as the center of gravity for those cultural norms, morals and decorum. America’s vision of itself has fallen out of an absent Dad’s hands and been taken up by Mom.

The great questions facing our country will be determined by the distaff sensibility, if I might use such a quaint, sexist and misogynist term. Those young men on both sides of the wall atop Cemetery Ridge fought over rights. But their conception of rights was given shape by their beliefs in the ideals of courage, honor, duty, manhood.

Today, such concerns have fallen by the wayside, becoming irrelevant if not denounced or laughed at outright. Even as their fathers disappeared, the sons have been numbed or rendered irrelevant by Adderall, the needs of classroom placidity, video games and given a coupe de grace by the triumphs of “social justice”.

Boys today are left to their own devices, with little choice other than to accept the voluntary gelding required by Adorable America. Those boys who find such a future unacceptable are left to indulge their testosterone charged anger as barbarians in souped up pickups or accept a well paid exile from polite society – becoming invisible Morlocks tasked with keeping the machines of Adorable civilization humming.

Just as did the young men on the pasture outside Gettysburg, “Suburban women’s” answer to the questions before us will be shaped by their ideals, the ideals that now shape our country. But “suburban women’s” ideals are very different than those animating the Army of Northern Virginia. “Suburban women’s” ideals appear concerned with showing compassion, uplifting the mistreated, rescuing cute animals, defending the bullied and seeing that everyone plays nicely with one another. I say “appear concerned” because, despite living with women all my life, I really can’t say I understand, or even pretend to understand, the female branch of the human species at all.

Just as their wives and mothers saw sons and husbands march off to war, husbands and sons now watch the bloodless, but increasingly vicious battles being fought on social media by their wives and daughters. But despite the difference in battlefields, “suburban women” have grasped the Ring of Power. Tutored in its use by their trusted Disney movies, it is theirs to wield as they will, though they remain naïve as to the brutal facts of power. “You go girl!!” has the excitement of a hot dance club’s Saturday night rave, but hides the ugliness of backroom compromises and the morning after.

Educated within the comforting fables of women’s literature with its pervasive motifs of underdog triumph against endemic discrimination, “suburban women” appear to be naïfs, innocent of power’s real nature. To be sure, the Ring of Power is a rush, an elation like no other, but there is no escape from the soul deep corruption that comes along with it. Tolkien provides a look into true nature of the Ring, but “suburban women” appear to prefer the songs of caged birds.

The question facing “suburban women” is no different from the question facing the boys on Cemetery Ridge – What are we fighting for? A century and a half ago, the Confederacy knew the answer to that question. Distilling down the Confederacy’s rationales and excuses into a simple reason, an elevator speech if you will – they were fighting for their rights. The problem was that the precious right they fought and died for was the right to deny rights to others, specifically they fought for their right to own another human being.

“Rights” formed the common language of the Confederacy, a lingua franca allowing its ugly nature to remain veiled, a perfumed handkerchief to shield the nose while walking through the open sewer. As General Lee wrote to a grieving father whose son fell at Gettysburg:

“I know of no more fitting resting place for a brave soldier than the battlefield in which he has laid down his life in the defense of the rights of his Country”

In the calculus of the rebellious South, their right to live life as they chose overrode the right of others for freedom. That is the thing about “rights”. “Rights” are a zero sum game with rules as implacable as the First Law of Thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics is the metronome, the drumbeat driving the rhythms of the inescapable reality of the Universe – energy and matter can neither be created or destroyed, simply exchanged for one another within the complex logistical mazes of chemistry and physics.

The pie from which individual rights come is a closed box, there are no rights just hanging out in space waiting for someone to find them. The sum total of rights can neither be decreased nor increased. Giving someone “rights”, means taking “rights” from someone else.

And so we come to “suburban women”, the comfortable mothers and daughters populating the meritocratic neighborhoods of today’s United States. These women have grown up in a time when women’s rights have been the cause of the day, the path of prescribed public virtue, a tide sweeping all before it. Perhaps these women might resent being described as “comfortable”, but what other adjective might be used? What avenue of endeavor or station is denied them? Are they not given a discreet thumb on the balance scales of the Adorable Meritocracy?

Today they stand as the arbiters of society’s norms, the keel of the Nation, and they are united in their revulsion of Donald Trump. Perhaps they project onto “The Donald” the sins of past Neanderthal boyfriends or an inculcated response to the floods of tearful #metoo memories on The View. But President Trump is at worst just a “boogie man”, an avatar of what they truly fear, a threat to women’s hard won rights. “Suburban women” look to defend their rights, just as did those long dead boys on Cemetery Ridge.

The rights of “suburban women” were not created ex nihilo. Their rights did not come without cost or compromise. They emerged from earlier cultural equilibriums and morphed into their present form – rights swirling in a minuet mimicking the dance of matter and energy in the elaborately choreographed ballrooms of thermodynamics. God did not give us the equations of state by which rights morph and exchange. We can only sense them, “seeing them through a glass darkly”.

The path of “virtue” only appears clear in retrospect, given form by the dispassion available only to future generations. The broad language of rights we talk of so glibly must be defined and refined, their measures clearly understood. It took 75 years for the rights of slave owners and their chattel in the United States to become so clearly drawn that compromise was no longer possible, where the right and wrong of it must be decided on the battlefield.

It is in the nature of human beings that we follow our leaders. Christ’s use of sheep as a metaphor for humanity in His parables is no accident or ill-considered usage. We are content with the grass of our own pasture, secure within our flock until the shepherd or fear drives us in new directions. It was in Congress and the newspapers, the social media of the day, where the bounds of the South’s “peculiar institution” was worked out. So too, it has been in Congress and the media of our day where the manners and customs of women’s rights have been hammered out.

The agrarian South had particular needs for tariffs, taxes and other legalities different from the industrializing North. Farmers live in a different commercial and social reality than do factory workers. Over the first 75 years of our nation’s existence, those different needs were hammered out, sometimes peacefully, sometimes acrimoniously. As the needs of North and South, farmers and factories were different so too women have need of different codes and practices than men. Over the past decades these differing needs and obligations have been in the process of being worked out, not without flare and fire, justice and injustice.

Compromise is nearly always possible between men and women of good will. But there exist moral questions, if drawn clearly enough, that allow no compromise. Over the first 75 years of this nation’s existence, the moral question of slavery was finally drawn clearly enough, starkly enough, where compromise was no longer possible to men of good will.

Now, this nation has been working through the issue of women’s rights for twice that long, some 150 years. Compromise has settled many questions, but a moral question remains that has become increasingly clearly drawn. That moral question is of course the matter of abortion.

As was the case of slavery as well as every other moral question of importance, the more clearly the question is drawn, the more heated the emotions and vicious the debate. In the debates over slavery, men were shot dead, beaten into unconsciousness on the floor of the US Congress.

He that rules us – whether God, Satan, lusts of the flesh or Caesar – will not be satisfied with a half-hearted acceptance when it comes to the heart. Allegiance is demanded. Compromise is unacceptable. As Christ warned the Church at Laodicea:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Abortion is the moral question that, like slavery, allows no compromise. Each individual must make our own choices, but it is our leaders that frame those choices. Do not take the easy road of believing that women’s rights are the same thing as abortion. They are not despite the self-serving public gabbling that poses them so.

The contentious leadership of the Democratic Party has anointed itself as the arbiters of women’s rights, the spokespersons for its claims. Just as Jefferson Davis and his colleagues defined the rights of the South for the boys on the Gettysburg pasture, so too the leaders of the Democratic Party have defined women’s rights for “suburban women”. The leaders of that party have made it crystal clear that there is and can be no compromise on abortion, or as they so daintily euphemize it, the right to affordable birth control. Talk about a perfumed handkerchief.

Abortion must be free and must be available at any place, at any time and under any circumstances – even after birth. Perhaps this final distillation, this now public stance of the Democratic Party, might be compared to the 1857 Dred Scott decision on slavery that did so much to bring the nation to war. The Supreme Court of the United States made clear in its infamous Dred Scott ruling that there would be no compromise on slavery and that all citizens of the United States, whether in South or North, would kneel before the rights of the “peculiar institution”.

The spice of history giving it flavor is irony. The irony of “suburban women’s” situation is pointed. Only the willfully blind could fail to notice the irony in the loudly proclaimed views of “suburban women’s” opinion leaders, preening in their own superior virtue, decrying the sordid realities in our nation’s history. Based on what is said by those speaking for them, “suburban women” view the many moral “failings” in our country’s past with revulsion and a signal lack of either grace or mercy for our forerunners perceived lapses. In particular, I am led to believe by the deep and broad veins in the public discourse that very few “suburban women”, educated and acculturated by the reigning orthodoxies of oppression and victimology, look on the Glorious Cause of the Confederacy with anything but stomach churning revulsion.

But the spice of history continues to provide a piquant flavor to the stew of our present times. “Suburban women” have so much in common with the men marching through that hell on the pasture fronting on Cemetery Ridge. Those boys bleeding and dying on the Gettysburg pasturage were fighting for their rights. These “suburban women” are asked to defend their rights by voting for the Right to Choose, differing from Lee’s boys only in allowing the blood of children to substitute for their own.

In the case of “suburban women”, their right to live life as they choose, overrides the rights of others, the right to be born. To twist the original metaphor once more, one morning Oprah puts on her makeup in the mirror but finds Dr. Kermit Gosnell looking back.

I believe that many if not most “suburban women” have much less dogmatic views on abortion than the official stance of the Democratic Party. But who is actually going to engage in public debate, or even talk about it? Occupying the commanding heights of the media, the leadership of the Democratic Party clearly knows a publicized and hard line position on abortion to be unpopular, a divisive and losing issue in the great voter heartlands. It is no mark of genius to recognize that newsreels glorifying the gas chambers and ovens of Auschwitz will not encourage the soldiers on the front lines of Stalingrad facing Stalin’s hordes during the fearsome Russian winter. To the great good fortune of the Democratic Party’s brain trust, their opponents – the leadership of the Republican Party – are mostly men who have little heart for a battle over abortion.

What is missing from the abortion battles is the Army of the Potomac. Missing from my earlier paean to the Army of Northern Virginia and Robert E. Lee was mention of their foe, the men in blue atop Cemetery Ridge known as the Army of the Potomac. In the main, it was Winfield Hancock’s II Corps, a part of that army, opposing Lee’s men advancing across the Gettysburg pasture. It goes without saying that on the 3rd of July 1863, II Corp fought with courage, suffering very heavy casualties.

It turned out that Lee, arguably the greatest of all America’s combat generals, had chosen the location of his assault well. Cemetery Ridge was indeed the weak point of the Union line, and Hancock’s men perhaps encountered that rarity, being outnumbered by the Army of Northern Virginia. But II Corp fought well, fought hard and won the day.

The irony surrounding “suburban women” and the Army of Northern Virginia deepens in learning that most of the men in Hancock’s II Corp came from Pennsylvania and New York, areas preferring compromise on slavery. In 1860 the States of Pennsylvania and New York voted heavily against the crude and rude backwoods Lincoln and for the smooth cosmopolitan – dare I say Adorable – Democrat, Stephen Douglas. Tensions during the war years against the Lincoln Administration remained high in Pennsylvania and New York, particularly in places such as New York City. To put a point on it, many, maybe even most, of II Corps men on Cemetery Ridge voted against Abraham Lincoln for President, believing him a crude Neanderthal if not a ill-mannered buffoon.

Irony indeed – it is the gift that keeps on giving. Perhaps no President since Abraham Lincoln has inspired such broad emotional hatred upon his election as Donald Trump. Just as “suburban women” have reacted in emotional revulsion to the public image of Donald Trump, so did large areas of the North revile the newspaper caricature believed to be true of Abraham Lincoln. Doris Kearns Goodwin won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, Team of Rivals, a book profiling Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with his cabinet but so alike to Trump and his cabinet.

The better folk of Pennsylvania and New York were appalled at this country bumpkin, perhaps he was not lewd, but he was definitely crude and rude. Northern newspaper editorials made much of Lincoln’s “bizarre habit of drawing his bony knees to his chin and cackling at his own jokes.” Imagine the New York Times reaction, or better yet Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert, if Donald Trump would draw up his knees and laugh at his own jokes? Our present First Lady, Melania Trump, is treated with sensitively and grace compared to the snark and insults directed at the socially inept and awkward Mary Lincoln.

The working stiffs from Pennsylvania and New York were little interested in the Lincoln family’s lack of social graces, though like people everywhere, they were quick to laugh at rude jokes made at the expense of those in high places. But they saw little advantage in the war, seeing freed blacks as nothing but competition for their own jobs. Yet these were the officers and men making up Hancock’s II Corp risking their lives facing the advancing Army of Northern Virginia.

I made a snide comment earlier about today’s Republican leadership, but it is simply a jaundiced writer’s parody of a simple if difficult truth. In our country and culture today, abortion is a woman’s issue. Rightly or wrongly, anything less than enthusiastic approval of abortion by a man is viewed as an attack on women’s rights, particularly by that demographic known as “suburban women”. Anything other than silence or evasion on abortion is a non-starter and no male leader of any consequence, even Donald Trump, is going to attempt it.

In the election of 1860, there were approximately 4 million slaves crying for justice, for freedom. That cry caused a great war, a war that cost 700,000 men their lives. Since 1973 when Justice Harry Blackman found penumbras in the emanations of the Constitution in Roe v Wade, 70 million human beings have been denied their Right to Life by a woman exercising her Right to Choose.

I believe those unborn lives call out to us for an end. There is nothing we can do about the past but fall on our knees, individually and as a nation, before a merciful God, begging for forgiveness. We can stop the bloodshed. But it is “suburban women” who must choose, who must exercise their Right to Choose. If abortion is to end, it is “suburban women” who must man the walls, defending the line of life atop the aptly and ironically named Cemetery Ridge.


4 Responses to “Trump & Suburban Women – Decision on Cemetery Ridge”

  1. Katrina says:

    Bill, as always, thank you for your view. First off, i was raised a Republican and have voted that way since my first election when i voted for George Bush Sr in 1989. But how any woman or even man could support this complete idiot (understatement) i will never understand. Yes our economy is better than ever and he will tell you he’s the one and only reason it is! But we all know it takes a village (no pun intended) not one person or president.
    Besides blatantly breaking the law (Quid pro quo)and ultimately getting away with it, Trump has a history of attacking women and children by mocking them and their bodily functions, demeaning their looks or comparing them to animals and everyone just smiles and says “Well that’s just Trump” or completely ignores it…Are you kidding me? If someone that i work with even says something slightly derogatory, sexist or makes someone feel uncomfortable they could be fired without judge and jury and he just smiles, contradicts himself and changes the subject. He embarrasses us all as Americans and yet “We The People” do nothing and I’m ashamed at us all. Thank you

  2. rex rinne says:

    Seriously, if abortion is a woman’s right, half those eliminated would have been women. When will we see abortion for what it is…..the senseless and immoral murder of fellow human beings created in the Image of God. If increasing scientific advancements have taught us anything about the unborn since 1973, it has revealed the stupidity of those who persistently deny this miraculous ongoing creation.

  3. Judy says:

    To be honest I’m afraid to say much for fear of starting a fight among the women…and that is one thing we are good at for sure! In the first debate I was appalled at some of the responses Trump gave..but then as I thought about it…it was actually the woman, Megan Kelly who opened the can of words with her question to Mr Trump about something he supposedly said about a female washed up ex actress from Florida. And as they say when you hit Mr Trump he hits back, and it hasn’t stopped! So…I did end up voting for him ,because the choice was obvious and voting for any democrat who has put this country through a living hell would in my opinion be the death knell to everyone of us. At this point all of Trumps boorish behavior cannot compare to the evil I see coming from one democrat let alone all of them. Does anyone remember Bill Clinton and most of all the BABIES

  4. jw says:

    How many times do we have to be attacked before we recognize that we are at war
    How many treaties and agreements do we sign, followed by money and aid, with the others not holding up their side of the desk, before we learn our lesson.
    How many times do we listen to political pre-election promises and still believe them.
    How many times will we elect spineless politicians who lack all principal

    As rude, obnoxious, etc. As Trump is, it has certainly shaken up Washington, which needed it. Hopefully some will learn from the exposure of many of the politicians for what they are. I feel that the polarization of beliefs and patties is as much if not more due to the hatred of Trump and his street fighter style. He’s a successful business man, not a politician, and approached things very differently. There are many of us who agree with what he is doing, even if we don’t agree on the approach.

    I hope that more people will try to get”the rest of the story” of the results and consequences of our actions., Of the “feel good” decisions we make.

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    What I’m Reading

    The Twelfth Department
    By William Ryan

    What happens when we forget, or never bothered to learn, what we believe in and why we believe? What happens when the emotional whirls of Facebook and Twitter are the depths of our understanding? Evil, great evil, is regularly found lurking in the unexamined depths of good intentions. Mathew Arnold put our present political climate in memorable words years ago:

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