Democrats, Then and Now

Nancy Pelosi’s father was Tommy D’Alesandro, mayor of Baltimore from from 1947-59. At Newsmax, John Gizzi points out that it was D’Alesndro who presided over the erection of statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Baltimore. One might think this would be an embarrassment for Pelosi, but she withholds comment:

In the days following events of Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to remove all of the Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol “if Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy.”

“The Confederate statues in the halls of Congress have always been reprehensible,” declared Pelosi.

Pelosi will have to explain why she never tried to take down any of those “reprehensible” statues during her own stint as House speaker from 2007-11.

Newsmax also called Pelosi’s office to ask her opinion on another issue regarding her call for the removal of Confederate statues: the powerful praise for statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from the Democratic mayor of her own home city of Baltimore, Maryland, when they were dedicated in 1948.

Her office did not return our call.

The mayor was Pelosi’s father, Democrat Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr.

Point taken. But what strikes me most about the Newsmax story is how different from today’s Democrats D’Alesandro was. It isn’t that he wasn’t a partisan Democrat; he named one of his children after Franklin Roosevelt. But in those days, even partisan Democrats weren’t crazy:

In a powerful oration before a crowd of more than 3,000, Mayor D’Alesandro made the case for remembering and studying the lives of Lee and Jackson: “World Wars I and II found the North and South fighting for a common cause, and the generalship displayed by these two great men in the War Between the States lived on and were applied in the military plans of our nation and the Pacific areas.”

Referring to contemporaneous efforts by Communists to undermine the U.S. from within, D’Alesandro said “Today, with our nation beset by subversive groups and propaganda which seeks to destroy our national unity, we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions.”

With Soviet Russia gobbling up Eastern Europe and the Cold War beginning, D’Alesandro called on Americans “to emulate Jackson’s example and stand like a stone wall against aggression in any form that would seek to destroy the liberty of the world.” (Baltimore Sun, May 2, 1948)

This is a missive from a lost world. It is impossible to imagine any contemporary Democrat–certainly including D’Alesandro’s daughter, Nancy Pelosi–uttering such words.

Were they sincere? I think so. Maryland’s role in the Civil War was, of course, equivocal at best. Most of its citizens probably were Confederate sympathizers. But by 1948, those days were gone. Distinguished generals like Lee and Jackson were honored for their brilliance and dedication, not for the cause they served. The Civil War was generally seen as a crucible that had forged a national unity far stronger than any that had come before.

It is perhaps that unity, rather than the honor incidentally paid to leaders of the Confederate army, that today’s leftists are determined to undermine.

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