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Posts Tagged ‘JEFFERSON DAVIS’

REWRITING HISTORY: BUSH AND STALIN

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 18, 2015 at 12:54 am

At one time, Americans believed that wholesale rewriting of history could happen only in the Soviet Union.

“The problem with writing about history in the Soviet Union,” went the joke, “is that you never know what’s going to happen yesterday.”

A classic example of this occurred within the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

Lavrenti Beria had been head of the NKVD, the dreaded secret police, from 1938 to 1953. In 1953, following the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Beria was arrested and executed on orders of his fellow Communist Party leaders.

Lavrenti Beria

But the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had just gone to press with a long article singing Beria’s praises.

What to do?

The editors of the Encyclopedia wrote an equally long article about “the Berring Straits,” which was to be pasted over the article about Beria, and sent this off to its subscribers.  An unknown number of them decided it was safer to paste accordingly.

In the 1981 film, “Excalibur,” Merlin warns the newly-minted knights of the Round Table: “For it is the doom of men that they forget.”

Forgetting our past is dangerous, but so is “understanding” it incorrectly.

In Texas, state-mandated “history” textbooks omit selected events and persons from the historical record–such as Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King.

This can be as lethal to the truth as outright lying.

Joseph Stalin, for example, ordered that school textbooks omit all references to the major role played by Leon Trotsky, his arch-rival for power, during the Russian Revolution.

Similarly, in Texas students are required to study Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address alongside President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Such “teaching” should be seen for what it is: A thinly-veiled attempt to legitimize the most massive case of treason in United States history.

(The Civil War started on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, a United States fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later.

(At least 800,000 Southerners took up arms against the legally elected government of the United States.)

The late broadcast journalist, Edward R. Murrow, would have referred to this practice as “giving Jesus and Judas equal time.”

Recently, Jeb Bush has entered the “Rewriting History for Americans” contest.

On August 13, speaking at a national security forum in Davenport, Iowa, he defended the unprovoked 2003 invasion of Iraq by his brother, President George W. Bush:

“I’ll tell you though, that taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.”

And he went on to defend the 2007 troop “surge”, calling it “a great success that made Iraq safer.

“I’ve been critical and I think people have every right to be critical of decisions that were made.  In 2009, Iraq was fragile but secure. It was–its mission was accomplished in a way that there was security there.”

(Ironically, the phrase, “its mission was accomplished” proved an embarrassing reminder for the Bush family.

(A banner titled “Mission Accomplished” was displayed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as George W. Bush announced–wrongly–that the war was over on May 1, 2003.)

Jeb Bush claimed that President Barack Obama had prematurely withdrawn troops from Iraq during his first term, thus allowing ISIS to “fill the void.”

One dissenter to Jeb Bush’s effort to rewrite his brother’s history is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine.

Addressing Bush’s claims on the August 15 edition of The PBS Newshour, he said:

“I mean, I have to laugh a little bit, because I think he was setting a record for chutzpah.

“…It wasn’t until after his brother’s invasion of Iraq that you had something called al-Qaida in Iraq. And that was the group that morphed into ISIS.

“So ISIS is a direct result of the war in Iraq right there. And so he’s wrong on the history.

“But then he said what happened was that Obama and Hillary Clinton orchestrated this quick withdrawal after everything was secure.  Nothing was really secure in 2009-2010.

“…But it was George W. Bush in December 2008 who created the agreement with [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nouri] [al-]Maliki that said that U.S. troops had to be out by 2011.

“And then Obama didn’t renegotiate that. And there is a lot of question as to whether he could even have, given the political situation in Baghdad itself.

“So Bush is totally–Jeb Bush is totally rewriting this.”

Click here: Brooks and Corn on Cuba as campaign issue

This is no small matter.  George W. Bush’s needless and unprovoked war on Iraq:

  • Cost the lives of 4,486 American soldiers.
  • Wounded another 32,226 troops.
  • Resulted in the deaths of an estimated 655,000 Iraqis.
  • Cost the American treasury at least $2 trillion.
  • Turned up no Weapons of Mass Destruction–Bush’s pretext for going to war.
  • Led to the rise of Al-Qaeda–and later ISIS–in Iraq.
  • Strengthened theocratic Iran by removing its major secularist opponent.

All of which simply proves, once again, that the past is never truly dead. It simply waits to be re-interpreted by each new generation–with some interpretations winding up closer to the truth than others.

Or, in this case, each new Presidential candidate of the Bush family.

REWRITING HISTORY FOR TEXANS

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on November 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

“The problem with writing about history in the Soviet Union,” went the joke, “is that you never know what’s going to happen yesterday.”

The same can now be said about writing history under the new guidelines of the Texas Board of Education.

The changes to the state’s history textbooks were opposed by historians and civil rights leaders. The new curriculum presents history from a right-wing perspective and de-emphasizes the role of blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups.

The board’s decision will affect students living outside Texas because of the state’s major impact on the nation’s textbook publishers.

Because the Texas textbook market is so large, books assigned to the state’s 4.7 million students often become bestsellers, decreasing costs for other school districts and leading them to buy the same materials.

“The books that are altered to fit the standards become the bestselling books, and therefore within the next two years they’ll end up in other classrooms,” said Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education, a group devoted to history teaching at the pre-college level.

“It’s not a partisan issue, it’s a good history issue.”

The new version of history given Texas students will:

  • Celebrate the free market;
  • Minimize the role of labor movements; and
  • Give greater prominence to conservative figures like Phyllis Schlafly.

Additional changes will include:

  • Students will now study Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address alongside President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, which documented the horrors of working conditions in the meatpacking industry and led to calls for greater regulation, has been removed from the list of suggested readings.
  • The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” has also been removed.
  • Thomas Jefferson’s name has been removed from a list of the country’s great thinkers because he advocated the separation of church and state.
  • In a sop to the Christian Right, references have been added to “laws of nature and nature’s God” to a section in U.S. history that requires students to explain major political ideas.
  • The word “democratic” has been removed in references to the form of U.S. government, and this will now be described as a “constitutional republic.”
  • A reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms has been added to a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class.
  • Economics students will be required to “analyze the decline of the U.S. dollar including abandonment of the gold standard.”
  • The names or references to important Hispanics throughout history also were deleted, such as the fact that Tejanos died at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.
  • All references to “capitalism” have been replaced with “free enterprise.”
  • U.S. “imperialism” no longer exists; there is only “U.S. expansionism.” Only the Europeans are guilty of “imperialism,” just as only the Soviets committed “aggression.”
  • In a rare setback for the radical Right, the slave trade will not be renamed the “Atlantic triangular trade.”

At one time, Americans believed that such wholesale rewriting of history could happen only in the Soviet Union. A classic example of this occurred in 1953, within the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

Lavrenti Beria had been head of the NKVD, the dreaded secret police, from 1938 to 1953. In 1953, following the death of Joseph Stalin, Beria was arrested and executed on orders of his fellow Communist Party leaders.

Lavrenti Beria

But the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had just gone to press with a long article singing Beria’s praises.

What to do?

The editors of the Encyclopedia wrote an equally long article about “the Berring Straits,” which was to be pasted over the article about Beria, and sent this off to its subscribers.  An unknown number of them decided it was safer to paste accordingly.

In the 1981 film, “Excalibur,” Merlin warns the newly-minted knights of the Round Table: “For it is the doom of men that they forget.”

Forgetting our past is dangerous, but so is “understanding” it incorrectly. Deliberately omitting events and persons from the historical record–such as Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King–can be as lethal to the truth as outright lying.

Stalin, for example, ordered the deletion of all references to the major role played by Leon Trotsky, his arch-rival for power, during the Russian Revolution.

Similarly, requiring students to study Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address alongside President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address should be seen for what it is: A thinly-veiled attempt to legitimize the most massive case of treason in United States history.

(The Civil War started on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, a United States fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later.

(At least 800,000 Southerners took up arms against the legally elected government of the United States.)

The late broadcast journalist, Edward R. Murrow, would have referred to this as “giving Jesus and Judas equal time.”

All of which simply proves, once again, that the past is never truly dead. It simply waits to be re-interpreted by each new generation–with some interpretations winding up closer to the truth than others.

THE KKK COMES TO CPAC

In History, Politics, Social commentary on March 29, 2013 at 12:02 am

The Ku Klux Klan is rightfully despised by the overwhelming majority of Americans.

So it’s illuminating that its ideology found vigorous support at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. in mid-March, 2013.

Ku Klux Klan

K. Carl Smith, a black discussion leader, was a member of the Frederick Douglas Republicans.  He was speaking about the role of race in the Republican Party when he was suddenly interrupted.

Scott Terry, a 30-year-old attendee from North Carolina, claimed that “young, white Southern males like myself” were being disenfranchised by Republicans.

Terry blamed the growth of diversity in the party and its outreach to black conservatives.

Smith then told how abolitionist leader Frederick Douglas wrote a letter to his former slaveowner forgiving him for having held him in bondage.

“For giving him shelter and food?” asked Terry, a member of the White Students Union at Towson University in Maryland.

Several members of the audience gasped and others laughed.

Terry later told the liberal blog, Think Progress, that he would “be fine” with an America where blacks were subservient to whites.

African-Americans, he said, should vote in Africa. He claimed the Tea Party agrees with him.

And, no doubt, many of its members privately do.

Terry claimed to be a descendent of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

As a result, he didn’t totally disagree with slavery: “I can’t make one broad statement that categorically it was evil all the time because that’s not true.”

Another attendee, White Student Union “founder and commander” Matthew Heimbach, called civil rights activist Martin Luther King “a Marxist.”

Later, he said of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates extremist, racist groups: “You look at the SPLC, as fake as they are, they talk about how patriot groups are increasing in the Obama era.  With a black face in charge of the White House, of the federal government, we know it’s foreign. We know something isn’t right.”

According to the Atlantic Wire, 23 members of the White Student Union attended CPAC.

Racism is no stranger to high-ranking memers of the Republican party–and its right-wing allies.

In 2012, Inge Marler, a Tea Party leader in northern Arkansas, kicked off a rally with a joke implying that black Americans were all on welfare:

“A black kid asks his mom, ‘Mama, what’s a democracy?’

“‘Well, son, that be when white folks work every day so us po’ folks can get all our benefits.’

“‘But mama, don’t the white folk get mad about that?’

“‘They sho do, son. They sho do. And that’s called racism.’”

The joke was followed by laughter and clapping from the Tea Party audience.

Only after Marler’s remarks came to the attention of the media did the Tea Party oust her from her position.

Since November 6, Republicans have been vigorously debating about why their candidate, Mitt Romney, lost the 2012 Presidential election.

Generally, their “findings” have boiled down to: We didn’t get our message out clearly enough.

On the contrary: There was no mistaking the message that Republicans were sending.  Targeting a wide range of groups, this boiled down to: “America is for us–not you”:

  • Republicans enraged and alienated Latinos by their constant anti-immigrant rhetoric–such as their nominee Mitt Romney’s comment that illegal aliens should “self-deport.”
  • Republicans enraged and alienated blacks by their constant hate-filled and often racist attacks on President Barack Obama.  Clint Eastwood’s empty chair “comedy” act at the Republican convention pleased his right-wing audience.  But it outraged a great many others–especially blacks.
  • Republicans enraged and alienated voters generally and minorities in particular by their blatant efforts to suppress the voting rights of their fellow citizens–especially those of non-whites.  Republicans falsely claimed widespread voter fraud in areas where there was no evidence of it.  When voter fraud was found, the culprit was a get-out-the-vote consulting firm hired by Republicans.
  • Republicans allowed their party to be represented by Donald Trump, the infamous oligarch.  When he  repeatedly claimed that Obama wasn’t an American citizen, Romney refused to dump him as the hate-filled racist he was.
  • Republicans refused to distance themselves from their “de facto” leader, right-wing pundit Rush Limbaugh.  Romney refused to condemn Limbaugh for calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she told Congress that insurance companies should cover contraceptives.
  • Republicans angered and alienated women by constantly talking about: Gutting Planned Parenthood; outlawing abortion; “legitimate rape” and banning birth control.
  • Republicans alienated gays by their blatantly anti-gay sentiments and steadfast opposition to same-sex marriage.

Ultimately, Republicans came to depend for their success on a voting group that’s constantly shrinking–-aging white males. Having alienated blacks, gays, women, Latinos and youths, the Republicans found themselves with no other sources of support.

CPAC’s website claimed the event would showcase “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.  New Challenges, Timeless Principles.”

For many of the attending delegates, one of those “timeless principles” turned out to be old-fashioned racism.

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