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Rockford’s role in the war to end all wars

  A scene from 100 years ago this coming spring: It was an odd hour for a parade, but at 9 p.m. sharp on the warm night of June 6, 1917, some 200 men, women and children stepped onto East State near 6th Street in Rockford and began walking west toward the Rock River. By the time the group crossed the State Street bridge, 500 antagonists had joined the procession from behind. When the marchers got to the Church Street side of the Winnebago County Courthouse, where the jail was located, thousands of people filled the yard and surrounding...

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Here’s how the Republican Party disowned its Lincoln legacy

  From time to time, I read opinions on the Internet from people who seem mostly ignorant of how and when the Republican and Democratic parties traded places ideologically on the issue of civil rights and other matters related to race relations in America. Some of these folks think they’re making good points when they mention the segregationism promoted by Southern Democrats in the 1960 and contrast it with the liberationism of Republican Abraham Lincoln. They ignore the fact that most of those Southern white yahoos of 50 and 60...

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TV commercials increasingly mirror social change

  Back in the early 1960s, I had a barroom conversation with an old guy who snarled that he never watched the “Ed Sullivan Show” on TV anymore because it was one of the first programs that regularly featured black guests. He thought black people should never be shown on television — at least not in a favorable light. Indeed, all through my youth in the 1950s, black people were very rarely featured in entertainment programs on the tube. That situation gradually began to change in the 1960s, but only gingerly. Jack...

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Why does the United States honor former military enemies?

  An article I read the other day that mentioned Fort Lee, Va., reminded me of a complaint I made a few years ago about the fact that some U.S. military facilities are named for men who fought against the U.S. Army. Fort Lee is named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a man who, according to historians,  was responsible for killing more U.S. soldiers in the Civil War than Hitler and Tojo did in World War II. Lee was an enemy of the United States. He fought in defense of slavery. At the outset of the Civil War, he declined Abraham...

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Historians rank Obama our 12th best president

  A C-SPAN survey of 91 presidential historians ranks Barack Obama as the 12th best U.S. president in the nation’s history. Abraham Lincoln was ranked at the top of the list, followed in order by George Washington and the two Roosevelts, Franklin and Theodore. The worst were James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, the presidents who served just before and just after Lincoln. Some presidents rise or fall in these periodic surveys of historians. Ulysses Grant, for example, has moved from the bottom quarter of the pack to the middle in the...

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What happened to Trump’s claim of massive voter fraud?

Donald Trump’s peculiar penchant for making outrageous claims — consider, for example, the ludicrous arguments he made during his birtherism phase of five years ago, or his recent complaint that Barack Obama waged a campaign of eavesdropping last year at Trump Tower — has become a part of his personality. We expect it of him, especially when he portrays himself as the victim. Remember his explanation of why he apparently lost to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes in the tally of popular votes in last year’s...

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