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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 26 2011 / 24 Tamuz, 5771

The Man Who Told the Truth --- About Himself

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Our species has a number of formal names in the scientific-sounding Latin. Perhaps the most ironic is Homo sapiens, man the thinker. Especially when you keep coming across thoughtless statements in the news.

But man does use thought -- to rationalize his actions, however dubious. Some of those rationales are ingenious indeed. Even when admitting past wrongs, it is an almost irresistible temptation to add, "but...." As in "I'm sorry, but...." Which is what makes someone who simply confesses and stops there so rare -- and admirable.

All of which brings me to a now almost forgotten name that popped up in the obituary columns the other day:

Richard H. Poff, who died at the ripe old age of 87, was a highly respected lawyer, a B-24 pilot who flew 35 missions during the Second World War and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, and an adroit politician. He served almost 20 years in Congress -- and at one point Richard Nixon floated his name for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As part of his Southern Strategy, Mr. Nixon was looking for still another nominee for the high court who hailed from below the Mason-Dixon line. His first two such nominations, Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. and G. Harrold Carswell, hadn't survived scrutiny in the Senate.

As it turned out that Mr. Poff, too, would have had a lot of explaining to do at his confirmation hearing, specifically about his seggish past. In the end he withdrew his name from consideration -- and would go on to a distinguished career as a justice on Virginia's state Supreme Court.

To save his seat in Congress, Richard Harding Poff had signed the infamous Southern Manifesto of 1956 calling for resistance to the law of the land, and he'd gone on to vote against every landmark civil rights bill of the 1960s. An honorable man, he'd done some mighty dishonorable things -- for no better reason than political opportunism.

The gentleman did retain sufficient honor to admit it years later -- in a candid interview that was taped, transcribed and widely circulated at the time. It should be preserved as proof that at least one signer of the Southern Manifesto knew very well what he was doing, and why. As he would confess with typical eloquence:

"I can only say that segregation is wrong today, it was wrong yesterday. Segregation was never right. But it is one of the most lamentable frailties of mankind that when one's wrong is most grievous, his self-justification is most passionate, perhaps in the pitiful hope that the fervor of his self-defense will somehow prove him right. But this doesn't make it so. And he doesn't fool himself."

Or anybody else. Except maybe his fellow rationalizers. Here in Arkansas, the name J. William Fulbright, whose indelible signature still adorns the Southern Manifesto, is much invoked as a model of the intellectual in politics. After all, he was president of the University of Arkansas early in his career, and the College of Arts and Sciences at the university bears his name.

Sen. Fulbright always had the most high-toned excuses for his bargains with racism. Like the need to preserve his long and beneficent influence on American foreign policy. He was the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1959-74) in its history. In order to protect his seniority, he had to win election and re-election, didn't he? And to do that, he had to appease the prejudices of voters back home during the Jim Crow era.

The problem with that rationale is that his foreign policy, too, was all too comfortable accommodating evil. Considering his record on or rather against civil rights, it should have come as no surprise when he joined Henry Kissinger as a prominent advocate of detente with the Evil Empire itself. He'd long appeased evil at home. Why not abroad? He'd had a lot of experience at it.

Maybe that's why the name Richard H. Poff caught the eye when it appeared in the obituary column -- like a ray of light from a cloudy past. Despite all the moral compromises he had lent himself to in the bad old days, in the end he made no excuses for them, or for himself. Confession is good for the soul. It cleanses in a way rationalization can never do.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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