June 6, 1944, also known as the longest day, was the day that we stormed the beaches of France. Against all odds we (along with our allies) got a foot hold on Europe. From there we were able to push inland. It was truly a remarkable achievement. There are several GREAT summaries of D-day (here, here and here). I highly recommend Stephen Ambrose’s book, D-Day.
Rachel Maddow goes out of her way to correct some of the things that Pat Buchanan said on her show Friday. I will not go so far as to say that Pat Buchanan is a racist. He may be. I will say that he is an active opponent of affirmative action. He has said on numerous occasions that affirmative action is evil. He looks at affirmative action as an aggressive attack against white people.
Rachel does a great job walking the fine line. On one hand, she could attack Pat Buchanan for his arcane views. On the other hand, she could correct just the simple factual errors that he makes. She takes the high road and is to be congratulated. (This is what makes Rachel Maddow different than other commentators on television today. She’s smart. She’s thoughtful. She desperately wants to inform the audience of the facts. She does a marvelous job at doing this.)
From a Daily Kos diary:
But 10 seconds ago I watched Rachel Maddow take Pat Buchanan apart, limb by limb, for his diatribe the other day on her show.
She did it in the form of “Whenever we make factual misstatements on this show, we have an obligation to correct the record.” (Not a quote, but that’s the sentiment.) Of course, that sort of announcement usually means that the show host had made an error.
She ran a clip of Pat saying “This country was built by white folks” – a line that has gotten hugely panned here and other places. She then showed how Washington DC was built by slave labor. Not quite what Pat had meant, but still.
More to the point was the 200,000 Blacks who fought for the Union in the Civil War, and the 1.2 million who fought in WWII. (According to Pat, it was “white folks” who died at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Normandy.)
I’m doing this from open-mouthed recollection, and there was a lot more.
But Pat Buchanan is never going to show his face on Rachel Maddow’s show again, not after that strafing run. There isn’t enough of him left to be patched back together.
Whether he’s off MSNBC altogether remains, as they say, to be seen. But given that there was a couple of days’ gap between his diatribe and her firestorm, I strongly suspect this was discussed at the highest levels and she was given permission to fire all guns.
Update [2009-7-20 22:20:19 by DanK Is Back]: (Hopefully not the first of many; I haven’t started dinner yet.) Rachel got in one more zinger: Pat had claimed he was always and ever opposed to affirmative action. Rachel’s staff dug up a memo he wrote in 1971 to Nixon urging that he appoint an Irish Catholic woman (or at any rate a Catholic) to SCOTUS for ethnic and political reasons – exactly what, near 40 years later, he blasted Obama for doing.
Her staff also contacted Yale, who explained that the students choose who gets on the Law Review (Pat had claimed Sotomayor got on by affirmative action).
I do wish she had mentioned Sotomayor won the Pyne Prize, given to the highest achieving undergraduate. No way did “affirmative action” get that for her. But she hit enough other points.
Here are President Barack Obama’s remarks:
Transcript of President Obama’s remarks:
Why is this? Of all the battles in all the wars across the span of human history, why does this day hold such a revered place in our memory? What is it about the struggle that took place on the sands a few short steps from here that brings us back to remember year after year after year?
Part of it, I think, is the size of the odds that weighed against success. For three centuries, no invader had ever been able to cross the English Channel into Normandy. And it had never been more difficult than in 1944.
That was the year that Hitler ordered his top field marshal to fortify the Atlantic Wall against a seaborne invasion. From the tip of Norway to southern France, the Nazis lined steep cliffs with machine guns and artillery. Low-lying areas were flooded to block passage. Sharpened poles awaited paratroopers. Mines were laid on the beaches and beneath the water. And by the time of the invasion, half a million Germans waited for the Allies along the coast between Holland and northern France.
At dawn on June 6th, the Allies came. The best chance for victory had been for the British Royal Air Corps to take out the guns on the cliffs while airborne divisions parachuted behind enemy lines. But all did not go according to plan. Paratroopers landed miles from their mark, while the fog and clouds prevented Allied planes from destroying the guns on the cliffs. So when the ships landed here at Omaha, an unimaginable hell rained down on the men inside. Many never made it out of the boats.
And yet, despite all of this, one by one, the Allied forces made their way to shore — here, and at Utah and Juno; Gold and Sword. They were American, British, and Canadian. Soon, the paratroopers found each other and fought their way back. The Rangers scaled the cliffs. And by the end of the day, against all odds, the ground on which we stand was free once more.
The sheer improbability of this victory is part of what makes D-Day so memorable. It also arises from the clarity of purpose with which this war was waged. (more… )