noonan
Screenshot/CBS This Morning

Former Reagan speechwriter and conservative columnist Peggy Noonan took to Twitter Wednesday night, which was her first mistake. Her second was the subject matter she tried to write about: the removal from the Washington National Cathedral of two stained-glass windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Noonan opposes the move rather strongly:

Look, if you're going to use Yiddish, please spell shanda correctly. Also if you're going to call an action a shanda — something shameful or disgraceful — please don't do it in the service of defending the Confederacy. If the first person you think of who might describe the removal of these windows as a shanda is Judah Benjamin, you're on the wrong side of history.

Noonan wasn't done:

“Reconciled” ... except for another hundred years of Jim Crow laws, segregation and apartheid, and racial terror committed against African-Americans (particularly in the South), all of which required the shedding of the blood of thousands more people before the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in the 1960s. To say nothing of the white rage and resentment that some argue propelled Donald Trump to the presidency just last year.

And Peggy Noonan won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Recently!

Noonan went to bed, then woke up Thursday morning and decided she wasn't done digging this very, very deep hole:

As it happens, I have her most recent column right here. It is about the reaction to Hurricane Harvey and how the outpouring of support for those who lost everything in the flooding reminds us that America is a great nation, and so on and so forth. Basically the type of patriotic pabulum on which Noonan has built her rickety career.

Noonan seems to think of the Civil War in similar terms, that it was a Grand Guignol of an event where Americans fought with honor to settle the greatest moral quandary of the nation's founding. And in the end, the side of righteousness, the side that said no one has the right to own another human being, prevailed. Then we all got on with the business of being Great Americans:

“Sometimes uncomfortably” might be the greatest understatement since the invention of language. See above for why all this talk of “reconciliation” is ridiculous. The truth is that this country did not face up to its obligations to African-Americans after freeing them from slavery. It is only now that there seems to be some real movement towards doing so in our culture. And one step in that process involves no longer glorifying the Lost Cause.

In Noonan's head, then, this is the Civil War: Just a never-ending Ken Burns montage of sepia-toned daguerreotypes, fife music, and the sound effects of cannons and musket fire. It is a grand and noble step towards the actualization of America as we know it today, an epic story in which, for all the bloodshed and fear and death, the country in the end did the right thing.

The possibility that having to fight the Civil War at all might be the country's most epic moral failure, that the end of slavery was not a philosophical debate with a side of brutal warfare that, once over, allowed America to become an imperfect but still great country, that equality for African-Americans was not something granted by our noble collective heart but rather a prize that had to be bloodily, brutally, through countless acts of hatred and violence, wrenched free of the death grip of white supremacy, and is still in many ways an ongoing process, never seems to have occurred to Peggy Noonan.

Who, I will remind you again, recently won a Pulitzer.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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