Sunday, August 29, 2010

Commemorate on of the days that changed America

Glen Beck and his rally for American Values:

What I find the most interesting and hypocritical of this movement is that these guys want us to ensure that everyone says the Pledge of Allegiance (written in 1891 and not mandatory for schools because the US Constitution prohibits compulsory swearing of allegiance), sing the National Anthem (written by Key in 1814 but not our national song until 1920's), singing “America the Beautiful” or “God Bless America” and now declaring the "Civil Rights for All" is not a political movement to return us to "historic traditional values of the founding of this nation and all the while slamming socialism as a bad thing.

Well all of the above were placed into our American cultural history, lobbied for as items of American identity and created to instill patriotic feelings in the American’s by Christian Socialists and the Social Christian Movements of the end of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. These guys say go back a read the history to know your countries origins; I cannot agree more. In fact, it is my contention that American’s do not know or read their history but rely on others like Beck, Limbaugh and other talking heads that spout ideas they like to give them the history they want to hear.

While agree with Beck that the historic foundations and processes that make this country great and have formed our national identity (warts and all) needs to be known by the citizens and taught in our schools; I know he would not recognize or be willing to accept the truth about our Founding Father’s motivations. Which I am sure he has not read or he would not be saying, “we are a Christian nation.” All one has to do is look at Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state;” Franklin’s feelings concerning “that damned book,” or Addam’s (John Q) legal argument of “not wanting to be part of any nation that persecutes one for their religion or a nation who espouses a religion as the faith for the populace.” Heck, Beck et al should just read the “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (aka The Jefferson Bible) to see the deist and socialist (though term socialist will not be around until early 1810 or so) nature of the late 18th century American movement. This movement that preached all laws to e maintained equally, all ideas to be voiced but supported by logic and debated by reasoned and educated people and that all of humanity be seen, protected and treated equally under the law, by the national government and those who reside within the borders.

We must stand up to these bullies, we cannot dismiss them as mere idiots or whack jobs. They are dangerous and corrosive forces at work in this country and are using rhetoric and tactics similar those used in the mid 1920’s in Germany, France, Britain and even the US by the Fascists to gain popularity, become a mass popular movements that threatened the freedoms and lives of us all. Of course in Germany those Fascists did more than threaten.

STAND AGAINST IGNRANCE, HATE and BIGOTRY but most of all we need to DEFEND OURSELVES FROM OURSELVES as we have become media consuming, uneducated, parochial, insular and isolated pockets of people.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

stumbled across this quote via a TED talk and I thought that I would share it and invite commentary. I highlighted a very significant passage but I will let the words of President Lincoln speak for themselves-

President Lincoln's Annual Message to Congress --
Concluding Remarks, December 1, 1862:

I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I, in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here--Congress and Executive--can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united, and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means, so certainly, or so speedily, assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not "can any of usimagine better?" but, "can we all do better?" The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. (would that we contemporary Americans understand this passage and act accordingly-Jim)

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We -- even we here -- hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In givingfreedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

Texas and re-writting society

I posted this at a blog in the New York Times online and because some folks were asking my opinion

As a history and sociology professor that most people anywhere do not realize that any single history is a fabrication and manipulation of facts that replaces facts with truths. By truth, I mean philosophically bound or guide representation of facts. While I cannot disagree with some of the additions to the required text; such as the internment of Japanese, German and Italian American citizens at the outset of the American involvement in WWII but to say that such an act was not motivated by racism and fear is preposterous. (By the way check out the congressional records) IF you want to balance history you do not re-write it to suit, you attempt to find all of the stories that make up the history of us and the history of the US. You accept it worts and all and move on, fixing the issues in society and restructuring the future not the past.

As for the evolutionary view points expressed by the Creationist, they should go back and review the history of the study of Evolutionary Theory, which started in the Church, funded by the Church to develop a better understanding of the workings of the earth that God created so as to honor God better. Even the Big Bang Theory was created by a priest, George Le"Maitre, and was commissioned by the Pope directly to find a purely scientific and physical way of understanding Genesis. Think about it, some point in the past the universe did not exist and then it did pretty biblical stuff and can be proved through science. The problem that most conservatives have with this is that "faith" can be scientifically supported which is problematic. Once you accept one aspect of creation can be supported by pure science then you have to accept when science does not support your idealized positions about people, society and so on.

Lastly, I personally do not know a history or sociology teacher anywhere that does not teach from multiple sources beyond the textbook but the problem does lie in the power of such conservatives to limit that action. I for one teach Dr. King, Malcolm X, Gov. Wallace, the Black Panthers and more when teaching Civil Rights. The trick is teaching the students to see who has the correct set of process and ideals and whose process, such as active non-violent protest not only worked but became an influence and model to others as well as where that influence itself comes form; i.e. H.D. Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and Gandhi's liberation of India.

By the way insistence that this nation was founded on "Christian" principles is so ludicrous that it seems to be beneath the necessity to respond but obviously it needs to be stated. If you remove Jefferson from the "Founding Fathers" you must then remove, Washington, Franklin, Madison, Adams, and the rest because they while being "of faith," as they would have said are not strictly Christian. I am glad to see someone in the previous blogs mentioned the Treaty of Tripoli from which Article 11 states:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Which was ratified unanimously by the senate and congress and signed into law by President John Adams and published in every newspaper in the states. But let us not forget the treaty of Paris, the Constitution itself, while true does not specifically declare a separation of Church and State that many articles and Bill of Rights are set to establish the fact and then the earliest federal laws that prohibit discrimination and enforce of religion on the citizens. There are also hundreds of letters, documents, notes and even court briefs that were written by and supported by the "Founding Fathers" not to forget the Jefferson Bible. This nation was not constructed as a Christian Nation, in its earliest years was staunchly anti-Catholic but this to did pass, its people maybe Christian, but there were also Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, Animist, Deists, Atheists, and even a few Hindus in the earliest formation of our country. Religious freedom does not mean freedom to practice a specific religion it does mean the freedom to practice any religion and the freedom from the oppression of other religions too.

I am not saying we close our eyes and hope this goes away and I hope that the person who said they had to leave Texas does not because without us there would be no US. We the people need to stand up to these bullies, because that is how a bully is beaten, not by one person who fights and wins but by a community that stands together against them and will not tolerate their behavior. Let us hold the Texas School Board to their own words, force them to be balanced and include facts not truths. Remove the ones from the board who will not listen and elect the ones who will. Remember, We the People must speak up and not just in the blog-o-sphere but in our houses and offices of government, in our schools and in our work places and you MUST vote to be heard.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To my friends and those who have friended me out there, I was so driven to write and express my feelings by some recent articles and events that I could not help myself and I am publishing this rant and hopefully logic here-sorry for the length-

As one who studies God, Judaism, Christianity, Jesus, the Profit Mohammed, Islam and their various connection to community; I must ask of those who posted here who claim to be religious (Jew, Christian or Muslims), 1st, all things, beings, creatures have an obligation to follow Allah's/God's will, yes? 2nd, as humans we cannot assume to know or understand God’s/Allah's will or the process of God, yes? 3rd, While Abraham, Moses, Jesus and The Profit Mohammed are all messengers of Allah/God, some supposedly the last messengers, that does not mean that God is done with leading humanity, correct? Then how can anyone be judging Miss Fakih about her actions or how can anyone claim that she had no right to win?

If the above is accurate, then Miss Fakih maybe be or may not be following the will of God/Allah and we humans, righteous or other wise, cannot stand in judgment of her ever but as an American she is doing exactly what we expect of her. To stand in moral judgment of another is to assume the role of Allah/God and the height of vanity, hubris and ignorance. Ironically, all of the above is also true about all Hebrew and Christian faith and processes.

The conservative religious whack-jobs out there, on all sides, that say Miss Fakih should not have won or participated in the contest based on religious ideology or who are angry she did are forgetting one important American tenant. In the USA anyone has the potential of being anything and find success where they wish. I am not a fan of such denigrating displays of women, the pure meat market and objectification of women is wrong on so many socio-political and cultural levels. And before anyone out there is blog-o-land, says you can't have it both ways; yes in America you can, it is called Rights, knowledge and process. She and those who construct such events and objectification of women are free to do so within limits and I as an educator of adults I am free to have those students explore and examine how such activities degrade the positions of serious socio-cultural reform about the place of women in society; such as equal pay and benefits. Or to explore along with many music industry professionals how the objectification of women in any fashion leads to some serious self-esteem and identity issues.

Again, while I cannot support the Miss USA pageant I do support Miss Fakih's reign and hope that she will use it's socio-cultural power to create a more positive identity for women in America. So please ask her tough questions about the society, law and process in the United States and I hope she continues to answer them with the intelligence, pose and acumen she has shown thus far. The rest of you get off her back!

As for Miss Schlussel’s vitriolic attack on this young women, or any person who has come to America as an immigrant; she is showing her racist ignorance of world affairs, processes of American ideals and the American way. I suggest she take a really good civics course, course on the American Constitution and American history, oh yes, that would presuppose that she would be open-minded enough to understand the information she was being exposed to instead of the propaganda of her nefarious heroes and demagogues. There was a time in America, not long ago, when we as a nation, we would look at such ignorant fools and with scorn and derision; would label them as just that fools, then relegate them to the sidelines but in today’s America we have forgotten how to be Americans.

We have allowed for the contemporary media to once again so politicize our lives in a way that is forcing us to turn away from one another as good neighbors and good citizens. What do we need to happen in the US, to pull us back together into our true American ideals of respect, Rights, fair-play, justice, equality, acceptance and true governance, another Kent State! Oh, no that would unfortunately that would not shake us out of this blindness, especially given that in contemporary America we have some folks/citizens in willing to shoot their neighbors over simple disagreement such as a lane change, or God forbid governance, Rights, freedom and liberty. Kent State, May 4, 1970, shocked the US out of its rhetorical and entrenched political and social views as most American’s were shocked that the US military would shoot down any college students who were voicing their opinions about war, life and society. A question flashed through the American psyche; “what had we become?! the Soviet Union, Cambodia” and the answer left many Americans cold and redefining their ideals.

Unfortunately some such event today would just leave some Americans with a, “they deserved it,” statement rather than revulsion. Miss Schlussel and her elk need to remember we are not a country of conservatives, liberals, socialist, neo-cons, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, or any specific ideology, creed or color but Americans. We are a unique experiment in true liberty, justice and equality set forward by forward thinking men and women, sustained by their high reaching goals, failed attempts and exquisite examples of success to create a more perfect union among humanity to serve humanity and to be a beacon of civil justice, civil morality, civil rights and civil equitable government of the people and by the people. These framers or the visionaries did not always get it right nor did they have the perfect answers for the time in which it was needed most. But, what those visionaries were doing was to serve all Americans and provide a progressive framework in which a more perfect union can be attained and to provide us the future with an optimism and example for success.

In 1906 soon to be president Teddy Roosevelt said, “there are no such things as hyphenated Americans,” there are only Americans who share the goals of the common man, the ideals of life, freedom from want, liberty from oppression and equality in the law. We are all Americans and yes we can disagree but we are not liberal or conservative we are Americans, we do not believe in torture, we stand against it; we do not believe in unilateralism as stated in the US Constitution, we stand against it; we do not believe in legal inequity, we stand against it; we do not believe in racism or social ignorance, we stand against. We the people beyond our subjective and petty differences made the world shake, Kings fear and religion conform to our ideals in society. We the people took stands that showed the world how to be free and while not perfect and causing social angst it was just that free. Equality is not easy and those who feel threatened act out in vitriolic and violent ways and when we fail to see each other as neighbors, whether it is 1839, 1861, 1898, 1906, 1939, 1949, 1969 or 2010, we are doomed to ignorance or violence of threat, rancor and intimidation of a vocal minority who are seeking to destroy the American Union.

When I was child, not so long ago, I was taught some very primary lessons and I am sure that most of humanity knows these lessons from their sources:
everyone is valuable,
violence never solved anything,
the strong are kind to those who are not and protect them when they cannot protect themselves,
turn the other cheek when struck,
do not seek a fight when diplomacy will serve,
if struck only strike back enough to secure ones self and others from harm, love thy neighbor,
the law prevails above emotion,
power must be controlled by the masses,
law provides access to justice,
humans are good,
treat others with the respect you wish to be treated with,
never use the word stupid to describe anyone and
possibly the most important lesson of all is to be open-minded, educated and compassionate of what others are enduring and find ways to change those situations as rapidly as possible.

These lessons are old as human existence and are woven into the fabric of every major religion on the planet and are ironically in part some of the ideals that frame this nation. Yet, people like Miss Schlussel, Mr.’s Paul, Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Buchanan and many more or organizations like Goldman-Sachs seem to have not been taught these fundamental tenants of our countries process, course or creation. One wonders why anyone listens to them at all.

We the people need to shake the world again, come out of our complacency, realize that all points-of-view while real and hold some truths are not all valid or valuable to a society that professes equality, the Rule of Law, freedom, opportunity and liberty. I am not a libertarian of the so-called and contemporary “Tea-Party,” I am a Social, Political, Legal and Cultural Progressive who like the Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, both Adams. Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and finally Obama believe that our revolution of ideals and process is not yet complete and will not be complete until all Americans benefit from all aspects of our society. The purpose of government is to serve the people, to provide the people with opportunity, to support our ideas for a positive and inclusive society. I am tired of telling my students when asked, “why does America lag behind the rest of the developed societies in education, social issues, health care and so on,” that is it because of politics. We the people need to stand and shake the world, we the workers need to take back our rights, we the middle class need to hold our corporations accountable to our socio-cultural ideas and not the other way around, we the followers of faith must demand that those who profess to lead the faith are themselves following faith and the ideals of the synod. As the song goes, “this land is our land,” not the land of bigotry, big business or of corporate greed and blind consumerism and their extreme excesses of the last 25 years or so.

The Carnegies, Roosevelts, Kennedys, Mellons, Fords, Edisons, Morgans and all of the so-called robber barons of the early 20th century made and amassed huge fortunes, built museums, libraries, schools, concert halls, endowments of all sort (some of which still have more money than they can give away) at a time in which they paid 90% income tax voluntarily. They employed millions of people and built America while paying the lions-share of the taxes need by the government to provide even more services for Americans and then sought to give away what equals trillions to build American culture and education. What can we learn, as contemporary Americans from these men and women; well one lesson is that “greed is not good” for society and America and that self-interested is interest in how our fellow citizens are being treated by our culture, society and government. Another lesson is that the contemporary division between Wall Street and Main Street is not a fabrication but is very dangerous for America and it is Wall Street who is exploiting the vitriolic division and sponsoring such demagoguery as Miss Schlussel, Mr. Limbough and Mr.’s Paul and many more. They are distracting us from our true calling as a nation, as an example in the world and as Americans.

Jim McLachlan