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Roosevelt the Ass

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This inscription appears in the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Problems abound with Theodore Roosevelt’s statement, “If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.”. Roosevelt places peace and righteousness at odds with one another; many would say that peace, and nonviolence more generally, are the essence of righteousness. There is no concrete definition of “righteousness.” History is littered, replete, scattered, piled high and deep — any word but resplendent — with opposing leaders in bloody, violent wars who each have chosen “righteousness” over peace. Substitute “arrogance” for “righteousness.”  And who’s to say there isn’t some third option?

To its credit, the museum features a book with this more pithy summary of the Roosevelt era of American history:

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I prefer the word “ass.”

8 comments to Roosevelt the Ass

  • I’ll have to disagree on this one, Theodore Roosevelt played the ‘strong armed cowboy’ who prevented the Russo-Japanese War by being the aggressive “righteous” leader, who threatened a larger war to prevent that same war [which would have dragged US troops into the fray] AND when he did so, his “righteousness” maintained the peace.

    When you stop the bully in the school yard, you usually step up and first tell them to quit being a bully, then demonstrate or ‘discuss’ the methods by which he’d better stop being a bully ‘or else’ and if that doesn’t work, you hit the larger opponent in the jaw when he looks away and allow the bullied children to get away. That’s how it works in my world.

    This is the same man who pushed through the Panama Canal when both war and disease threatened it’s construction.

    Okay, let’s just cut the crap and read THE ENTIRE STATEMENT that this sentence was removed from:

    “There are some well-meaning people, misled by mere words, who doubtless think that treaties of this kind do accomplish something. These good and well-meaning people may feel that I am not zealous in the cause of peace. This is the direct reverse of the truth. I abhor war. In common with all other thinking men I am inexpressibly saddened by the dreadful contest now waging in Europe. I put peace very high as an agent for bringing about righteousness. ****But if I must choose between righteousness and peace I choose righteousness.**** Therefore, I hold myself in honor bound to do anything in my power to advance the cause of the peace of righteousness throughout the world. I believe we can make substantial advances by international agreement in the line of achieving this purpose and in this book I state in outline just what I think can be done toward this end.”

    “America and the World War” (1915) by Theodore Roosevelt.

    NOTE: This is TR’s quote from HIS book and not someone trying to pick apart and remove the context and meaning of what he actually said.

    I would summarize this entire statement to a more modern term of “peace through superior fire power”.

    TR’s “progressive” was used as an **adverb** referencing our the nations advancement from being controlled by international conglomerates who bribe politicians to rewrite the laws of free enterprise to the nation’s original intent where all Americans have a fair shot at doing what we want to do and create our own businesses. Today, the conglomerates and one world group control what businesses we create and operate, so TR was 100% right.

    Today’s Progressives -as a noun- are demented perverts who believe in the exact opposite of Theodore Roosevelt.

    Other than that- If your commentary was not on a phrase pulled from context by someone else (because if you read the entire quote, you’d agree with me), you wrote up a decent article. Now all you need to do is forget everything that Glenn Beck has ever said against Theodore Roosevelt because Beck is wrong.

    JL MEALER, Arizona’s Next Governor

    • Jim Cook

      JL, I meant my post in the full context of what Roosevelt wrote and what he did.

      How many years of peace has the United States of America enjoyed since it developed superior firepower, JL?

  • Dave

    Peace and righteousness are indeed at odds with one another at times, sometimes not. I do not want to be at peace with the child molester down the street, nor do I want him to be at peace with me. I want him to shake whenever he thinks I may know what he’s up to. And when he is found out, I don’t want my community to be at peace with him. If that makes me an ass, so be it. If I must choose btw R and P, I choose R.

    As to there being no concrete definition of righteousness, in the case of the child molester there does not have to be; there only has to be my definition. My quaint notions of what is righteous sometimes bring peace to a circumstance, sometimes they bring conflict. I am at peace with that, so I suppose in that sense, for me, righteousness and peace are not at odds after all.

  • Jim,
    It’s not how many years has the US of A enjoyed peace because of superior fire power… It’s how long and how many times has the US (IE. the federal gov’t) placed themselves into war at the expense of the individuals who make up the states themselves.
    Most sane Americans do not want to go to war… But the gov’t and the military industrial complex that pays the congress loves war.

    The answer could be counted on one hand, but wars are not entered into by the people, nor by the states.

  • Judge Andrew Napolitano recently wrote a book crticisizing Teddy. Ivan Eland also has a book on President called Recarving Mount Rushmore. It criticisizes Teddy as well.

  • I was not aware that Judge Napolitano wrote a book criticizing TR… I will definitely check out his book. I value his opinion on these types of issues.

    • It’s Theodore and Woodrow. http://www.amazon.com/Theodore-Woodrow-Presidents-Destroyed-Constitutional/dp/1595553517/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382129550&sr=1-1&keywords=theodore+and+woodrow

      That’s if you want to buy the Hardcover version from Amazon, but you can click the other options as well. Kindle, Audiobook, and Audible are your other choices.

      • Okay, borrowed the book. Borrowing was good idea, even though I truly appreciate most of what Judge Napolitano says. In his book, ” Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedoms” he suggests that TR somehow helped to form the Fed Res and initiate the income tax. The Judge is 100% wrong, because TR ran against two candidates who had already stated they intended to pass the Fed Res Act.

        TR even gave up his party-politics (which he never played anyway.. and that’s a great thing) to take on whatever ballot access he could muster in each and every state. *Same issues today’s ‘non-party-owned presidential candidates have. TR was the MAIN VOICE against corporations buying candidates and paying for their campaigns (Great thing). Today we have the opposite in most cases and the transnational corporations OWN the elected officials and the phony statutes/laws they write to bolster their businesses.

        TR also set up we individual’s Right to challenge statutes as Law. (Very Great thing). Again, the same players above are doing away with this such as under the Obama administration’s outlay of the individual mandate. TR is the opposite of Obama. That’s extremely good.

        TR is the man who, like each of us, despise the International Conglomerate businesses that write the laws that keep each of us in the dirt and our businesses from ever competing with those special interest Goliaths of the world.

        I believe TR’s 1906 State of the Union Address is worth the read because that states his goals and aspirations for an America that is free of special interest giants ruling of the lawmakers… It’s too bad his ideas are not in use today.

        Wilson on the other hand… You can have him.

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