No matter what President Donald Trump says, guts don’t produce rational thought.
It is difficult enough to be rational about controversial issues without the COVID-19 pandemic.
We know that COVID-19 does serious damage to lungs; but apparently even fear of the disease causes hyperventilation, a major symptom of which MedlinePlus reports is “feeling lightheaded, dizzy, weak, or not able to think straight.”
This is evidenced when a policeman injures or kills someone and there is an immediate public outcry for him to be arrested forthwith, tried, convicted and deprived of his hard-earned pension.
Rationally, the cop should be immediately relieved of duty with pay while an investigation is conducted to determine whether there is evidence that he should be arrested and tried.
But “immediately,” is irrational and contrary to both reason and the rule of law.
With today’s Internet and cell phone video, the actions may be demanded before the suspect gets back to the precinct station.
Assuming conviction, withholding his pension should not be on the table.
If an officer is married, his or her spouse and children should receive the full pension. The cop’s penalty of going to live in the “big house,” should be sufficient.
Similarly irrational is manifest when citizens clamor for the defacement or removal of statues of former presidents.
Statuary honoring Confederate generals is a legitimate issue, and they should come down or be placed in museums. They also might be appropriate on memorial battlefields, placed where their troops fought.
But demands to take down statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and a host of other Revolutionary War patriots is gastrointestinal, not cerebral thought.
It is highly unlikely that slavery would have been abolished were it not for General U.S. Grant’s military genius, notwithstanding the fact that he owned perhaps six slaves. They were given to his wife and were a great embarrassment to him.
With all due respect to those behind the effort to take Jefferson’s name off the school, the request lacks grounding in history.
Jefferson called slavery a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot” on society and believed that slavery was “equal to tyranny.” Under his leadership, importing slaves to Virginia was banned in 1778. In 1824, Jefferson proposed to end slavery by having the federal government buy African American slaves and training them for occupations as freemen.
He forbid his overseers to whip his slaves, although apparently when he wasn’t on the plantation his orders weren’t always obeyed.
Yes, but what about Sally Hemmings?
That’s a bit of a sticky wicket; but consider the times. Mid-teenage women, black and white, often gave birth. If sex with an underage slave was illegal, it was rarely if ever prosecuted.
Today we find it repulsive, and properly so.
Let’s have a little respect for a slave holder who made several attempts to legislate against slavery.
If Jefferson school is renamed, what’s next?
How about Lincoln Middle School? Abraham Lincoln never owned slaves, but at the time of his first election he advocated shipping all of America’s slaves to a colony to be established in Africa.
The past isn’t always pretty.
The school directors would be well-advised to table demands to rename the city’s Jefferson Elementary School until citizens can quit hyperventilating.
It will take time.
Terence L. Day is a retired Washington State faculty member and a Pullman resident since 1972. He encourages email to firstname.lastname@example.org.