The Corner

John Paul Jones, Terrorist?!

One of our interns in the NYC world headquarters of National Review, Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky, has caught a winner. Here’s what he writes:

In her review of Evan Thomas’s new biography on John Paul Jones, the New York Times’s Janet Maslin makes a shocking comment about America’s first naval hero: “Thus galvanized to commit feats of what now look like terrorism, he [John Paul Jones] challenged Britain’s complacency about its naval power.”

Which of Jones’s victories “look like terrorism”? A genuine hero of the Revolutionary War, Jones raided British commerce and won a series of stunning actions against the vastly superior Royal Navy, notably against HMS Drake (1777) and HMS Serapis (1779), all of which were completely legitimate acts of war, both then and now. This kind of offhand relativist smear is sad, especially at a time when the Navy Jones helped build is engaged in a struggle against real terrorists. President Theodore Roosevelt’s remarks at Jones’s tomb in the U.S. Naval Academy chapel offer a good rejoinder to Maslin:

“The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.”

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