by Dr. Alan Snyder
Clash Daily Contributor
It was March 1770 when a crowd of Boston colonists began angrily harassing a British sentry. Soon other soldiers came to his aid. In the confusion, amidst the clamor, the throwing of snowballs, ice, and stones, and even being threatened with clubs, the soldiers misunderstood a command from the officer in charge and began firing into the crowd. Five colonists lay dead and six more were wounded. It became known as the Boston Massacre.
Emotions ran high. Would the soldiers have any hope of a fair trial? Into this tension-packed atmosphere, John Adams entered and volunteered to defend the soldiers. Adams was not in favor of British policies, but he believed the soldiers had been provoked into the attack, and therefore all the facts had to be taken into consideration.
He took a chance by standing up for them. He could have become the most hated man in Boston. Yet he showed that the crowd had been more of a mob than a simple crowd of people standing around. He argued for the soldiers while simultaneously critiquing the British government’s decision to place soldiers in the streets, thereby increasing the tension.
The result? The officer in charge was acquitted, as were most of the soldiers. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and sent back to England. Given that death would have been the sentence if a guilty verdict of murder had been returned, this was quite an achievement for Adams as he stood for the concept of the rule of law—a concept that is currently little understood, even less appreciated, and constantly under attack.
One of Adams’s statements in these trials has come down to us today, repeated by those who understand the basis for the rule of law. Here’s what he said:
“Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
At different times in American history, emotions have run rampant and caused no small amount of anguish, civil disturbances, and assaults on the rule of law. I point out John Adams’s strong character today as a reminder that we must not allow passions to run wild. We must always make all our decisions on the basis of evidence, not mere emotion.
All I have seen in the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh up to this point is pure emotion, stripped of any genuine evidence of wrongdoing. The FBI was tasked with another round of interviews to find out if there is any corroboration at all for the allegations against him. This came about through one of the most disgusting displays of partisanship ever seen in Congress, and that’s saying a lot considering what has transpired many times before.
Thus far, all we have is the word of women who are basing their testimony on strong emotion . . . yet without even one piece of corroborating evidence. We are supposed to believe them because they are women.
Do women never lie? Are they always to be believed? Do they not also have agendas at times? Has the media looked into the backgrounds of those who are making the accusations, or are they focused on Kavanaugh only?
Whatever happened to the need for real evidence before convicting someone?
Yes, I know this is not a court of law, but someone can be convicted in the arena of public opinion to the point that truth no longer matters. Just believe, even when there’s no reason to do so.
Could Kavanaugh be lying? Well, if he is, he’s survived six previous FBI background checks. Further, women who have known him in high school have testified that he never acted like the accusers have said. Even further, dozens of women who have worked with him in government have stood solidly with him, attesting to his impeccable character.
But we’re supposed to believe someone, in the case of Prof. Ford, who has escaped all media scrutiny. Where have you seen any in-depth treatment of her background, moral behavior, or current political agenda? Maybe I missed it, but nothing I’ve seen has even broached the subject.
No, she’s a woman who came across as credible. Yet by “credible,” what is really meant is she came across as emotional enough to convince people she must be telling the truth.
Yet where is the evidence?
Thomas Sowell has been a favorite writer and commentator of mine for decades. I’ve come across a couple of his most poignant quotes lately, and they are appropriate for what we have been experiencing in this current controversy:
“Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.”
“Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this. But years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people ‘feel’ have left too many people unable to see through this media gimmick.”
He’s one of the new John Adamses in our day. May there be more.
Image: Excerpted from: Unknown or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15894803
Alan Snyder is Professor of History at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Ideas expressed in his books, articles, and online posts are his own opinions and do not necessarily represent the policy of Southeastern University.