Bully Barr should be reviled, not given award

Roy Cohn (Image via Wikimedia Commons) and Attorney General William Barr (Image via Screengrab)

Editor’s Note: Updated…

HM Alumni Council Shares Statement Regarding Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement Petition – June 6, 2020

“We have heard concerns expressed by current students, alumni, and school employees regarding the Horace Mann School Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Achievement presented to US Attorney General William Barr in 2011. In response, we are convening our Council to canvass the views of our alumni constituencies and to review in a deliberate manner the range of perspectives that are being communicated to us in connection with the award. We intend to consider the issues thoroughly and sensitively.”  Horace Mann School Alumni Council

They met, they didn’t discuss and they refused to do anything in the end.

To do more, click this link: sign this petition created by Horace Mann students

Would anyone call for notorious Joe McCarthy advisor, and corrupt lawyer, Roy Cohn to be given any kind of award or recognition as a distinguished graduate of their school?

How about Bill Barr?

Like Cohn, Barr went to Horace Mann School. Unlike Cohn, Barr was 2011 “distinguished” Horace Mann alumnus. Considering Barr’s immoral and unethical conduct in support of Donald Trump and circumvention of accepted legal practices and actions, that award should be revoked.

The Horace Mann Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Achievement is chosen each year by the Alumni Council, on behalf of the Alumni Association, in order to honor a graduate who exemplifies distinguished achievement in his or her chosen profession or accomplishments.

The first award was bestowed to a graduate of Horace Mann in 1939 and it has since become a well-recognized and anticipated event and honor every year. Award winners include Pulitzer Prize winners, artists, poets, writers, scientists, entertainers, inventors, lawyers, judges, and many more outstanding individuals.

And, as we said, Barr.

If alumni association, or school, leadership don’t have the courage or morality to revoke this award outright, let the alumni and school community decide. Hold a vote comprising either all alumni, or the entire community of alumni and current students and faculty to decide this matter.

‘Where’s my Roy Cohn?’

Bill Barr 1967 Horace Mann Yearbook entry

Donald Trump famously asked Jeff Sessions to “unrecuse” himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump whined to White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II in asking the counsel to fire Sessions.

Trump was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s. Cohn was a legendary, and controversial, attorney who pushed legal tactics to the limits for a dazzling array of clients — from senators to mobsters and high rollers in sports and entertainment. He was periodically in legal trouble himself and was disbarred in New York just weeks before he died in 1986.

Cohn also attended Horace Mann School in the 1940s. Trump didn’t have to stray far to find his new Cohn. He found that in Barr, who graduated from Horace Mann in 1967.

Barr famously lobbied in 2018 for his appointment as attorney general under the Trump Regime, penning a memo criticizing the special counsel investigation to the White House “almost as an attempt to solicit” the position, according to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Warner added during an interview on CNN that “it appears the No. 1 qualification” Trump was looking for in an attorney general was someone who would work to undermine Robert Mueller‘s probe.

We all saw how that worked out. Before releasing Mueller’s final report, Barr managed to mislead the public and Congress, spinning Mueller’s findings in a way that hobbled its impact and protected the president. Later, Barr launched highly controversial, and unprecedented, probes into various elements of the Muller investigations, none of which bore fruit.

Barr was just getting started though

Bill Barr proudly displyas his 2011 Horace Mann Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Achievement./Horace Mann

Over 2,000 ex-employees of the Department of Justice signed a letter in February calling on  Barr to resign, writing that his handling of the Roger Stone case “openly and repeatedly flouted” the principle of equal justice under the rule of law.

A few months ago, as well, in an unprecedented move, a national association of 1,000 federal judges called an emergency meeting to address growing concerns about the intervention of Barr and Trump in politically sensitive cases.

In just three days during February, non-partisan watchdog CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) collected over 89,000 signatures on a petition titled “Attorney General Barr must resign.”

CREW said: “Attorney General Barr’s efforts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report, and his apparent false testimony to Congress, have demonstrated that he is more committed to protecting the president than protecting the rule of law. Barr’s actions are a continuation of President Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice, from smearing the investigation into his campaign and his conduct, to trying to shut it down. Barr must resign as Attorney General immediately to restore public confidence in the integrity of the Department of Justice.”

Bill Barr, left, took a break from tear gassing peaceful protesters to get into a photo op with Trump and company at St John’s Episcopal Church, Monday, June 1, 2020/Twitter

That effort added steam this week as Barr directed U.S. security services, some mounted on horseback to attack, tear gas, throw flashbang grenades and shoot rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators at Lafayette Park just outside the White House so Trump could stage a photo op holding a Bible upside-down at St John’s Episcopal Church.

We could go on and on about Barr and his many unethical and immoral actions as Attorney General, only a fraction of which we know for now. That’s not even considering his tenure as George H.W. Bush’s attorney general from 1991 to 1993.

In 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as “Coverup-General Barr” because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iran-Contra.”

Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, who was Barr’s boss at the Department of Justice at one point, this week publicly called his former colleague, Barr, “un-American” because he thinks the president is above the law.

“The reason I say he’s un-American…is that the central tenet of our legal system and our justice system is that no person is above the law,” Ayer told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Bill Barr’s vision is that there is one man—one person—who needs to be above the law and that is the president.”

Bully Barr and Horace Mann

Jimmy Lohman’s 1991 article detailing Barr’s bullying behavior while at Horace Mann School, 1963-1967/File

Barr’s professional misconduct aside, yet another reason he should never have been designated distinguished alumnus dates back to his time as a Horace Mann student. While not precisely echoing Aristotle who said, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” Barr’s conduct as a young student at Horace Mann is further cause for his disqualification from any distinguished designation.

Jimmy Lohman, now a death penalty attorney at Austin, Texas, attended school with Barr. When Barr last scammed an AG appointment, Lohman spoke up about his experiences being bullied by Barr at HM.

Lohman wrote an article for the Florida State University newspaper while a civil rights and criminal defense attorney at Tallahassee in November 1991. That article detailed Barr’s extensive bullying, and abusive, behavior at HM and thn Columbia University. For an online view of Lohman’s story, visit Twitter here.

“Billy was my very own high school tormentor,” Lohman said of their time together from 1963 to 1967. “He was a classic bully. I met Billy when I was in seventh grade. Billy was a porky ninth grader who had a vicious fixation on my little Jewish ‘commie’ ass. Billy and another ugly mean porker friend of his lived to make me miserable.”

Lohman went on to address, in great detail, Barr’s bullying and abhorrent behavior while at Horace Mann and subsequently when the two attended Columbia University at the same time.

“Barr was a sick and sadistic kid,” Lohman said in 1991. “He’s come a long way from terrorizing seventh graders just because they wore racial equality buttons. Now he gets in front of cameras and says things like ‘I am committed to the aggressive protection of civil rights and a Justice Department under my leadership will not tolerate discrimination.’..while (former Reagan AG, who resigned in disgrace, Ed) Meese was ordering California cops to bust heads at Berkeley, Barr was busting ’em alongside the cops at Columbia. It’s just the same old sour wine in a newer bottle.”

Bringing it all back home

Horace Mann School, Riverdale, New York campus in undated arial photo/Horace Mann

I attended Horace Mann from First Form in 1965 through graduation in 1971. This was the very epicenter of the school’s sexual abuse scandals that have been well-publicized although not dealt with as well.

By NOT allowing alumni, or the entire HM community, to revisit, and vote on, Barr’s 2011 distinguished alumnus designation, the school continues its questionable legacy of moral ambiguity, cover-ups and lack of moral accountability.

For the last year, I have tried to bring this matter of Barr’s 2011 “Distinguished” alumnus designation and requested revocation on moral principles to the attention of Tom Kelly, head of school, and Kristin Lax, alumni relations director.

I have sent Kelly and Lax three letters asking for consideration of the matter. They NEVER have even done me the courtesy of an acknowledgment of receipt of those letters, much less a reply.

By not even acknowledging the immorality of presenting Barr to the world as distinguished alumnus, or allowing the school community to decide for itself the appropriateness of allowing this award to stand, school leadership is, in effect, endorsing Barr’s behavior and making a political statement.

Do the right thing. Either revoke this award or allow the community to decide whether to revoke the award.

Those wishing to send e-mails asking Horace Mann to revoke the award, may contact:

  1. Tom Kelly, head of school, at tom_kelly@horacemann.org

  2. Kristin Lax, alumni relations director at kristin_lax@horacemann.org

  3. Horace Mann Record newspaper at record@horacemann.org

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