The Second Amendment And Reality

I am writing this as an historian who focused on U.S. History. Conservatives today are making hay claiming that they are simply using a founder’s view of the Amendment. This could not be further from the truth. Additionally, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right of the individual to bear arms is sacred. Still, a handful of states have laws that outlaw carrying weapons in public. But now, a New York law is in their N.R.A.’s sights as it challenges a law in that state that bars the carrying of a loaded weapon.

Republicans since the 1970s have made a mockery of the Second Amendment. Their claim of historical accuracy is an entirely false spin. How can that be? We need only look at the years from 1767 to 1789. Starting in 1770s, the court on King George through its military emissaries in the Colonies, took steps to remove arms and gun powder from the militia forces each town had. Their final assault on the colonists right to have a well-armed militia took place on April 19, 1775 when British Regular army and marine units set foot to remove the powder from Concord. Now the colonists were well aware of the British forces intentions and removed all arms and gun powder from Concord’s armory. This assault was the last in many other such assaults, all failures, the British Military conducted.

The question here is why was the court of King George III dictating such maneuvers? The answer does not lie in the simple desire of the crown to increase its power over Colonial America. In 1767 the British Parliament passed a set of laws called the Townshend Act. Within this act were the Revenue Act, the Port Act, the Quartering Act and the Indemnity Act. Where the colonies had no representation in Parliament, the colonies rightly felt repression. But these acts were only the beginning of additional acts the British Parliament passed to reign in the colonies. Parliament felt the colonies were out of line with British law, and to come extent, they were! A great example of this was the overt act to avoid taxation in the sugar trade. Massachusetts had a thriving rum distillery business. These merchants set up the triangle trade where sugar was shipped directly to Jamaica where molasses was manufactured. There being no tax on molasses, the substance was then shipped to the Massachusetts, and other, distilleries in the colonies. Another example was the requirement that all ships be built in England. With its lush forests, this law also was entirely ignored. In Manchester NH there is a road named Mast Road which derived its name from the large trees which were hauled over that road on their way to Portsmouth where ships were built.

These restrictive and coercive acts stirred large amounts on rancor among all colonies towards England. Since the earliest of days, the various cities and towns of colonial America secured individual militias to, first, protect them from Indian attack and later as a general form of individual protection. These towns elected their own officers, who, then reported to the General Officers each colony appointed. About 1773 the English forces overtly sought to insert their dominance over the Colonials. On this particular point, however, the colonial stood firm, never giving an inch to the English troops. This, of course, infuriated and exasperated English Parliament as it was never able to overcome the Colonies desires on this point.

One further point must be observed. In the early to mid-1770s, England’s Parliament sought to quiet American editorialism and their individual’s right to protest. The colonists believed these points to be sacred. English oppression was obvious. And it was on this very point that Bostonians, lead by Samuel Adams, went to the port of Boston and threw the tea from three English ships into the bay. The value of that tea at that time was approximately $1 million. That would translate to roughly $33.5 million today.

Now if you look at the Bill of Rights and then at the various coercive acts of England, you will find a one-to-one correlation. The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In this Amendment you need only look at two phrases to realize that it simply refers to the ability of each state to maintain an active militia which today is known as the National Guard. And we know this to refer only to a group but the phrase, “right of the people” where the noun “people” is always plural, never singular. Now if, as in 1790 America, most town’s militias required the individual to purchases their own arms to participate in the militia, that right would naturally transfer to the individual. It is over this point jurists argue. Today’s National Guard has its weapons and ammunition supplied by the Federal Government, their is no require put upon the individual. This, therefor, negates the notion of an individual’s right to bear arms according to the original act.

However, as a nation of ever changing laws, we have granted, via the various state’s primacy, the individual to hold arms. And the Constitution, via another amendment, has made a state’s law inviolable. That means that New York has the right to restrict, as the state legislature sees fit, who can own fire arms and to restrict the ownership of certain types of arms ownership. And therefor, the Federal Government is not allowed to make a national law regarding this amendment.

Where Racism Does Not Exist!

For the second year in a row, I have been tasked with teaching kindergartens. Last year it was in Somerville, Massachusetts and this year is in Greenville, North Carolina. In Somerville I had a class of about 40% Latino students and this year in Greenville, I have a class that has 16 black students, 1 Hispanic student and 1 white student. At this age of 5 years, I dare say, most American children have no concept of race. They are pure in heart and mind. They are the perfect American.

If they are perfect at age 5, what happens by the time they are age 12 and all that has changed? The answer is quite simple. It is primarily the influence of their parents. They teach their white children, their black children, their Hispanic children that it is “us” against them. Secondarily, it is the influence of their peers and of the social norms of their neighborhood.

For 14 years now, I have been teaching in racially diverse school rooms. I can say that between 90% and 100%, the children in these classes have maintained their color blindness. They are racially mixed and most times to turn their backs on any one particular group would bring an end to those whom they call friend. They are mostly unwilling to do this.

It is easy to say that this sort of discrimination is part of white culture. But the white culture is not alone. Certain parts of black culture and Hispanic culture are also discriminatory.

When I was a child, my Roman Catholic orthodoxy taught me religious discrimination. We Catholics were right while all Protestants were not going to heaven. A ridiculous idea in most of today’s culture. Black culture was so tired of the overt discrimination they felt that they took to the streets to protest and, at times, these protests turned violent.

It was my father who greatly tempered my Catholic doxology with his Protestant Unitarian view of the world. They sought to find the expected good in all people.

Almost always through the eyes of young children, we find a perfect world. Yes, a good part of that is their lack of understanding of the world at large. Their world is one of family, school and play friends. Why cannot adults garner the same attitude as their children? Because they lack the understanding necessary to see all people in the same light. They have mostly allow other people to do their thinking for them, a most unhealthy way of life.

Whjle their may be nothing we can do for older prejudiced adults, their is something we can do for children and adults. We can educate them as to while certain minorities feel so angry as they do. They are not angry just to be that way. They are angry because of the overt and covert discrimination they have felt. Fully enlightened education will work. That education must begin at an early age. We as parents, as educators, as leaders of the community must see to it that our children and young adults are witness to a culture of good-will and acceptance.

Biden’s Failing Presidency

I voted for Joe Biden however I am very discouraged with his performance so far. I would give him a grade of D right now, even though he has been in office only 8 months. He can turn it around but he has to change his mindset.

My first disappointment with him was his decision to complete what Donald Trump had started in his presidency, the removal of all troops from Afghanistan. This was always a mistake. With Trump, a man who said he knew more than his generals, I stayed quiet only because this was a man who was impossible to reason with. But Biden, who did not listen to his military advisers, just as bad as Trump, was told by many of his top generals that he needed to leave a force of about 2,500 to 3,500 troops in Afghanistan to maintain its stability. But Biden figured he knew better and did not consider the repercussions of a complete pull-out. And in 11 days, the country was overrun by the Taliban. General Milley described this as a complete failure.

Now, the intelligence is saying that Al-Qaeda is in position to become a serios threat to the U.S. within the next 12 months as they position themselves in Afghanistan. What can Biden do? He has put himself in a very difficult position. To reverse course now and reinsert troops into Afghanistan is a very difficult process and will be a deadly one. But for Biden, the time to do that is now while the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are relatively weak. Still, he would need a country that would allow troops to flown in prior to their invasion of Afghanistan. And what countries might support such an undertaking? Turkey will not as it did not 20 years ago. Pakistan is unsuitable. That leaves Saudi Arabia and Qatar as the best candidates. I suspect the leading generals at the Pentagon have already draw up such a plan and Pres. Biden would do very well to listen to them.

Now comes Biden’s infrastructure bills. This is where Biden has shown little if any leadership at all. Even though the 2nd infrastructure bill was his vision, he must discover its political viability. The Republicans and a number of Democrats have come out and said they will not support this bill. Biden does not need to have this bill passed this year! He needs to shut down discussion on the bill and return it to committee for reconsideration. That done, he could focus on the bi-partisan roads infrastructure bill that will pass and which all Democrats can declare as a victory. And with the second bill, it needs to broken up into pieces and each passed on its own. In the existing bill, most people support the proposal to get broadband to areas which are not now served; This should get bi-partisan support. Unlike that portion, many people, including many Democrats are balking at the day-care portion and so why not cut that out?

Biden, in my opinion, does not understand the underpinnings of good leadership. He needs to put Nancy Pelosi in her place as in that relationship, the tail is wagging the dog.

Other failures, his slow response to the victims of hurricane Ida. His not having a plan for the southern border and the influx of migrants. This is where a “bad look” has haunted the administration. He has failed to speak to the public in a manner that will soothe their concerns about these immigrants, It is not easy but that is why he has highly intelligent advisor who understand the political landscape and know how to navigate it.

Afghanistan: Biden’s Huge Blunder

President Biden made a misguided plan to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan immediately after taking office. He was more concerned with the look rather than the reality. As someone who served in the 25th Infantry Division, I can tell you that absolutely no commander is willing to leave the battlefield before the job is done, and the job in Afghanistan is far from done!

One of the concerns, unwarranted, was that we were becoming an occupational force in a country where we have been involved for 20 years. Really? Let us look around and you will quickly see that we have been an occupying force in Germany, Italy, Korea and Japan since 1945. What of that? In Korea we have committed 28,500 troops. And in Japan we have 39,000 troops! In Germany we have 34,000 troops. That is a total of over 100,000 troops.

Afghanistan is unstable and very likely to fall under the control of the Taliban before year’s end. This is extremely unnecessary since we should maintain a large military presence there. The army maintains 10 infantry style divisions on active duty. That comes to over 200,000 men. By simply splitting 2 divisions at a time for one year in Afghanistan, you would not be putting our men at risk for more than a minimal time.

The Afghan troops are failing miserably, many just quitting the fight even before it has begun and giving up bases and materials to the Taliban. There are a small number of elite forces who are struggling to push back against the Taliban but they simply lack the numbers to maintain the fight, let alone win it.

The Vietnam War shows us the inevitability of what will happen upon our departure. Now, as someone who was a part of that, I can say in that case we needed to withdraw as we lacked any commitment from the general public for us to stay. But you can see on YouTube how the last personnel leaving that country had the Vietcong hot on their tails. Although such a thing will not happen in Afghanistan, it will still happen in time.

If we are going to continue to be a true friend to the people of Afghanistan, we must recommit to having a large military presence in that country until its troops are fully and properly trained, and, until the country is both politically and economically stable. That will probably take a long time but for our own security, we need as many stable governments in the middle east as can happen.

History of America: Chapter 3, 19th Century

The 19th Century was fairly steady state where immigration was concerned in the years from 1800 to 1890. The exception was, first, the potato blight in Ireland, 1845. A flotilla of 5000 boats brought tens of thousands of Irish to America. (When America Despised the Irish: The 19th Century‚Äôs Refugee Crisis – HISTORY) Those Irish congregated in two cities, New York and Boston. Boston’s blue bloods took exception to their influx as they brought their Roman Catholic religion with them to a place were Calvanist beliefs prevailed. The Irish in turn set up their own school system which was attached to their churches. A few decades later, the Boston Brahmins started sending their children to these Catholic schools as their proved far superior to the public school system in Boston at that time. Still, it was commonplace to see a sign in a shop window, “Irish Need Not Apply.”

The Chinese immigration to America started in 1848 with the discovery of gold in California. By 1850 25,000 Chinese had emigrated. In 1875, the Page Act excluded the emigration of Chinese nationals as laborers. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which suspended all Chinese emigration for 10 years. (Chinese Exclusion Act – 1882, Definition & Purpose – HISTORY) Then in 1892, the Geary Act extended Chinese exclusion for another 10 years. Then in 1902, Chinese immigration was permanently banned. These acts were purely racially motivated.

In 1880 there was a second mass exodus from Ireland the result of wide spread famine among the poor farmers. Still, immigration until the 1890s was almost exclusively northern European. The Swedes started settling Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Germans tended towards Pennsylvania but a significant number settled in other Northeastern States. Names of cities and towns reflect this immigration, cities like Steubenville NY among others.

Starting around 1890 there was termoil and famine in Eastern and Southern Europe which brought those taking flight from Russian service impressment of the Polish, Armenians and Syrians fleeing the bloodbath inflicted upon them by the Ottoman Empire, Italians fleeing extreme poverty in the southern portion of Italy. By 1890 approximately 15,000 Greeks had come to America.

The late 19th century arrivals frequently came being lured by posters saying they can get rich in American mills. Federal law prohibited such advertisements from being put up but the industrialists felt, correctly, that the politicians of the cities and states would bow to their wishes. Even a Congressional probe into such acts said such actions were not happening.

When America switched from a mainly agrarian economy in the 1820s to an industrial economy as the result of the cotton gin and the importation of the water powered loom, mills cities throughout the northeast, Pennsyvania and New Jersery lured farm girls to their mills. No where was this more evident than the mills of Lowell MA where relatively good wages and good housing had farmers pushing their daughters from New Hampshire to the Lowell mills. The reason was a simple and pragmatic one: New England farms were always difficult entities from which they made a living. The farmer relied upon male offspring to assist in the farming while the girls were seen as surplus and a drain on the household. By moving the girls to Lowell, the farmers gained twice: first, the household budget no longer included the girls and secondly, the girls sent money back home.

The Lowell and Lawrence MA mills were textile for the most part. In the early 19th century the farm girls were plentiful enough to satisfy mill needs. But as the looms got larger and faster, and the entire process of textile fabrication grew more sophisticated, the mills expanded quickly and surpassed the labor available to them from the local economy. This started about 1885. That there was abundant work available in America sounded like a really good deal to the poverty stricken Europeans of all nationalities. The Germans supplied what was referred to as “skilled labor.” They took the positions of mechanics in these mills. The job of tending to looms, cleaning wool and cotton fell to the “unskilled labor” market. And it is that market which drew droves of Europeans who were battling poverty, religious oppression, and ethnic hostilities. By 1900, immigrants were counted in the millions per year. These immigrants filled mill positions from Maryland northward and from Massachusetts westward to Chicago.

There were also the coal miners of Pennsyvania, West Virginia and Colorado who came from this immigrant stock. They became some of the first to attempt to unionize and strike. There were many scenes of violence which played out around these mines when the miners struck. The miners’ strife continued through most of the 20th century.

America’s immigrants soon lived in America’s slums as was particularly visible in Massachusetts cities, New York’s lower east side, and Chicago. In her book, Twenty Years at Hull House, Jane Addams describes her outreach work in the Chicago slums to assist single mothers who had to work in the stockyards and mills of Chicago together with the task of parenthood. American novelists such as Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser, and Upton Sinclair. These authors took on the industrialists and their poor treatment of their workers. Theodore Dreiser wrote the fictional novel Sister Carrie which cronicled the life of a middle class young woman who becomes a nurse and finds herself starting a “settlement house” in New York’s lower east side. This was, of course, a thinly veiled look at the life of Margaret Sanger.

America seems to always have had problems with immigrants. Each ethnic group found itself being preyed upon by the older immigrants.

History of America: Chapter Two, Colonial America Settlers

England laid claim to all thirteen of the colonies. But in many colonies, it was people of other nationalities who made up a large portion of the population. People came from Holland, Germany, France and Scotland.

In 1609 the Dutch settled today’s New York. However, they named it New Netherland. They settled all along the Hudson River and to this day there are large numbers of Dutch people living there. The Dutch, along with Swedes, also settled northern New Jersey. Swedish settlers in New Jersey were found on the shores of the Delaware River. The Dutch also were the first to settle Delaware. In between New Jersey and Delaware is Pennsylvania which was an English settlement of William Penn, a state which was called “Penn’s Woods.” Following the early English were the religious group Quakers who felt they could experience religious freedom in this new colony and who settled in Philadelphia.

Maryland is an interest case as an English colony, it was settled by English Roman Catholics. George Calvert brought the colony’s charter to America and settled along the Potomac River.

Above is the Maryland state flag, unique in the United States. Where most states have the state seal emblazoned on their flag, Maryland’s flag represents the Clavert family colors. As discussed in the previous chapter, Virginia was settled by the English.

The remaining colonies, North and South Carolina and Georgia were all English settlements at their start. But after the initial settlements, other nationalities came to settle the southern colonies as-well-as Pennsylvania. In the case of Pennsylvania, Germans soon came to the colony settling at first in Philadelphia. They were followed by German religious groups, first the Mennonites, and then the Baptist Dunkers, Schwenkfelders, Moravians, Amish, and Waldensians and Lutherans. The Pennsylvanian countryside is littered with cities and towns showing religious beliefs, Bethlehem and Nazareth, to name a couple.

Scots settled America in New Jersey and North Carolina. Their influence in North Carolina was far reaching. The Scots first came to North Carolina in 1683. The Scots brought their Presbytarian religion to the region. An estimated 145,000 Scots, primarily Highlanders, came to the region. Additionally, the colony was settled by Germans.

Although Colonial America was considered largely English, the nationalities mentioned had considerable influence in the daily lives and politics of the various colonies. America was a melting pot on many nationalities from its earliest days. Other nationalities also came, Swiss, Belgian, and Irish came as well.

But in 1790, what was the largest single group in America? Black slaves who numbered at least 6 million, 2 million more than all other settlers! At least at the beginning of the United States, black people were the majority! But that first census of 1790, slaves were not counted. But these people of Africa brought with them foods, beliefs, and music which stood in stark contrast to white America.

History of America, Chapter 1 — Who Came First?

Your average high school history book awards this idea to the Spanish in the form of Christopher Columbus, who was actually an Italian for Genoa.

The location of the first settlement is actually in Salem New Hampshire at a site known as “America’s Stonehenge.” This site is dated at about 4000 years old. But who occupied the site is unknown. Its contruction leads anthropologists and historians to compare it to the Stonehenge in England. But even in England the builders are unknown. As easily as it could have been Saxons in the area, it could also have been a Nordic people who were regular raiders and occupiers. We just do not know.

Now we need to look at Greenland where it is believed Europeans first settled this island 2500 years ago. Greenland is not that far from eastern Canada and Maine. The waters off those coasts teamed with fish, an important part of the European diet. But again, no one knows who those first settlers were.

The first English permanent settlement in North America Roanoke Island in 1587 under the auspicies of Sir Walter Raleigh. But this settlement is not continuous as it disappeared under unknown circumstances by 1590. The longest continuous settlement is St. Augustine Florida starting in 1565 when the Spanish settled there. The Spanish additionally explored the San Diego California area in 1542 but made no permanent settlements. Curiosly, the French in 1564 settled on the St. John’s River in Fort Caroline Florida. That settlement was unsuccessful after repeated battle losses to the Spanish.

English America got its start in 1607 in Virginia by the Virginia Company. During its early years the Virginia Company fought for its very existance against disease and food shortages. Unlike the New England tribes of that day, the Virginia tribes were warriors and had little interest in aiding the English settlers. In 1609, when the Native leader Powhatan realized the English were not leaving, aid was given the English. However, when it was realized the English did not intend to return aid in kind, wars broke out and again challenged the settlement’s survival. What the natives had given the English was tobacco, unknown to Europeans, which quickly turned the colony around as demand for tobacco skyrocketed. This colony has the ignomonous distinction in bringing the first slaves to America.

In 1620, as is well-known, the Pilgrims made their way to Plymouth. As with their southern neighbors, these colonists struggled to survive their first winter, losing 50% of all settlers that winter. But unlike the Virginia Colony, the Pilgrims were quick to make friends with the Wampanoag tribe and its leader, Squanto. These natives showed the Pilgrims the basics in farming the New England soil.

To the northern, on the Shamut penninsula, today known as Boston, Samuel Maverick in 1624 brought two slaves there. The Puritans did not arrive until 1630. And even though their religion banned slavery, they not only tolerated it, they bought into it. None of the New England colonies had a large number of slaves but every colony had them.

To the north of the New England colonies, the French settled Quebec and New Brunswick. With American domination in mind, the French moved southward over the Michigan penninsula down the Ohio and Mississippi River to New Orleans founding the settlement of St. Louis along the way.

The Spanish interest in North America was in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. But the early years found no conflict between the Spanish and either the English or French.

It is necessary to point out, when discussion who came here first, that African slaves existed in all 13 colonies. To be certain, the black American predates almost every European save the French and English. They must be counted as an original settler. Additionally, although the exact number is not known, between 6 and 7 million slaves were brought here.

A History of Immigration in the U.S.: Preface

This is the first in a series of posts to tell of the history of immigration to America starting with its earliest instances and continuing to today. I am prompted to do this because of the latest round of xenophobia stoked by the Trump presidency. But Trump is only the latest in a long history of such response.

The United States undoubtedly has citizens who trace their ancestry back to every country in the world today, and, to countries which either no longer exist or have changed their identity.

We are a nation of immigrants with only a very small portion of indigenous peoples, who, according to anthropologists are actually immigrants themselves. The difference is that those immigrants came approximately 10,000 years ago over the frozen bridge between present day Russia and Alaska. But that sort of migration was a ancient form of world population which first began in Eastern Africa a million years ago, possibly longer.

The immigration policies of today in the United States have only existed since 1924 in full force as part of a quota system established by the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924. That act had its beginnings in 1917 when the United States tried to stem certain populations from entering the United States. But even 1917 is not the beginning. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, a purely racist act by the westesrn states over fear of white supremicy and racial purity. Those Chinese immigrants first started entering the U.S. in 1848.

The American idea of who was an American came out of the large emigration of people from England in the early years of our country. As other nationalities started to enter the United States, there was a push back against them over fears of these immigrant taking jobs from established residents.

But the American view of who was actually an American was narrowly defined excluding black Americans who first arrived in 1619 in the Virginia Colony but quickly spread to all 13 of the original colonies. Later, when there were threee waves of Irish immigration, more and more the actual signage on stores of “Irish Need Not Apply” were common. What brought this sort of xenophobia was the fact that almost all Irish brought with them Roman Catholocism with them, a challenge to the anti-Papal religions of Protestantism.

But anti-Irish sentiment quickly passed into the background when beginning in the 1890s a wave of southern and eastern Europeans arrived on our shores. These non-English speaking peoples who not only brought more Catholicism with them, also brought Judeism with them. Additonally the southern Europeans brought a darker skinned people who stood out. Nowhere in the United States was this assimilation shown more prominently than in the lower east side of New York City when these peoples settled. Suddenly the English speaking majority’s ears heard Italian, Polish and Yiddish languages which these immigrants clung to. But this shows the short memories of those Americans who had forgotten the German speaking immigrants of the 1880s.

In the following chapters, I will outline how and who grew our population over the decades. But also, with the great immigration of 1890 to 1920 was the beginnings of many reform movements and unionization. Each of these was an anathema to the English speaking conservative Americans. Immigants poured through the ports of New York, Boston and Baltimore unabated until 1924. American industrialists fought that immigration and were behind the 1924 act.

This is an overview of what I will present in the following chapters. American thought today has the unfortunate lack of understanding that we are still a country heavily reliant upon new immigrants, a fact that will undoubtedly continue in the coming decades. Hopefully you will gain an appreciation of “how we got here” when I finish.

Southern Baptists Espousing Racism?

First, I am obligated to give credit to the Sunday Boston Globe (June 13, 2021) for certain of the beginning thoughts here.

Tennessee and Oklahoma have recently passed certain laws in regard to what is taught in public schools about race and racism. At the heart of these laws is a restriction in how racism is taught. This is the result of many factors, not the least of which is the political divide of the very conservative wing of the Republican party and its evangelical proponents. This coming week there is a meeting of the white Southern Baptist ministers in Nashville. These far-right wingers claim to be strict adherants to Biblical law. The difficulty here, of course, is the very definition of Biblical law, every church having its own interpretation.

The Baptist Church of the south split from its northern bretheren in 1848 over the issue of slavery. The historical boundary was laid in place and where the northern churches have been far more inclusive, the southern churches have clung to “old south” ideas. But problematic here is the very nature of church and state. Everyone thinks of the 1st Amendment as the “freedom of speech” amendment, which it is and includes religion, however, within that amendment is a bar against making laws that support any single religious idea. And so, it would seem that the newly enacted laws in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Idaho, along with a dozen more southern states with plans to enact similar laws, fly in the face of the 1st Amendment.

What bothers me most about these very conservative churches is that while they swear they are following Biblical Law, it sounds like their tendency is more towards Mosaic Law, Old Testament, than New Testament Law. Two phrases in the Gospels of the New Testament have always been a guide to me as to how Jesus meant us to live our lives. He was asked twice about how to act and said, in so many words, do unto others as you would have others do unto you, and, whatever you do unto the least of my children, you do unto Me. As far as I can tell, conservative southerners do not follow either of these principles. They seem more comfortable with the “eye for an eye” concept, as rendered in the Old Testament. But they are unwilling to accept that highly educated theologians of all walks have long argued over the veracity of both Old and New Testament verses. The best example of this comes under the guise of Moses. The problem here is that there is no proof that a person by the name of Moses ever lived. To wit, the Egyptians of those days kept very exacting records of events and no where is the name of Moses or anyone akin to him mentioned. This in turn puts into doubt all stories about the Ten Commandments which many historical theologians have placed at more along the lines of 500 commandments.

I only bring up those Biblical references as examples of religious dogma and its affect upon modern society. In our country, Christianity makes up 67% of all beliefs in the U.S. No other religion commands more 2% to include atheists. Of the Christian religions, 25% of all are Evangelicals, 21% are mainline and black protestants, and 21% are Catholic. But, according to today’s Bostn Globe, Evangelical religions have been enduring a decreasing membership which have the southern bishops fearing they are losing out to more centrists beliefs. But, since Evangelicals hold substatial polical sway in all southern capitals, they are doubling down of their efforts to stem the tide. This, as shown above, is coming at the expense of truth in history and society. The 1925 Scopes Trials first brought into view the problems with religion dictating what is taught in our schools. It would seem that nearly 100 years has put this landmark decision into the fog of history and allowed those who have forgotten it to return to more primitive times. It would seem the time has arisen for a second Scopes trial, only this time it must be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court to stem religion’s hold on public education.

It is our responsibility to allow our children the full view of both history and society, and to allow them the purview to make up their own minds as the progress in life. It is ill-advised to allow blinders to be put on our children to hide inconvenient truths, to the stains of our past, the the need for civility and acceptance of all people regardless of their beliefs for if we do not, the ability of our democracy to survive will be put on trial.

U.S. History and the Tulsa Massacre

Let me first quality myself. I have a masters degree in U.S. History from Harvard and I only mention the school for the level of difficulty in getting that degree.

The Tulsa massacre is just the latest piece of history that people are saying is forgotten. But that is not the case. The incident in Tulsa deserves a place in history book but only when it is part of many more such events. What do I mean?

If I were to write a comprehensive history of America, I could easily fill ten volumes at 1000 pages per volume and minimal pictures, maps and other such things. Decades ago a sociologist suggested that the approach to history was too thin and suggested a thick interpretation. That means, when you look at an event, such as the Battle of Lexington and Concord, you cannot give it a full explanation without including everything which was involved in that event. That means you must include weather conditions, what the mission of the British military was, who their commanders were and their level of education and experience. You must talk about the size of the villiages they traveled through and of course the population of Lexington and Concord vs. the military forces which descended upon them. Having studied this event closely, I can tell you that this lone event would easily take 100 pages if were truly use a thick interpretation of the event itself and all the tangental events. That is an unreasonable amount of time and presentation for this event.

The Revolution itself had many stories of individuals and their effect on history. There is the story of Deborah Samson, a woman who join the militia saying she was a man. She successfully evaded detection for almost two years and that was only because she was wounded at a conflict which required the attention of a doctor. She had been able to handle other injuries successfully without being detected. But she represents women in history, most of whom are never mentioned in our history books. Women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, Margaret Sanger and many others who played very important roles in our history. Why do we not include them.

The Civil War could easily take up five volumes of 1000 pages each. And that is true of every conflict our nation was ever in, each deserving mention in our history books. The incident in Tulsa, ugly as it was, is far from the only incident of that type. Many other similar events happened throughout the south.

We must include black history, Spanish history, French history, the history of suffrage, of reform movements, of strikes, of labor unions, of a segregated military, of each president, of immigration, and so on and so forth. My listing out the various events here should give anyone pause to consider how to present a full accounting of our nation’s history. But that is an impossible task. Who what do include and what do we not include? It does not matter who you leave out or what you leave out, someone is going to feel shorted in the tell of our history. But unless the public suddenly accepts telling history in 10,000 pages, a comprehensive telling of our history is impossible.