Reparations for Descendants of Slavery?

Apparently several Chicago Mayoral Candidates support the idea of “reparations for descendants of slavery.”

Am I the only one who wonders how on God’s Green (er, sun blasted over heated Co2 saturated…) Earth this is accomplished? Does anyone agree with this idea? I have some concerns.

1. Is this Really Fair? What’s the true goal here?
2. Why? Social Justice. Those people who believe in “cosmic justice” that simply does not exist.
3. How? (Lot’s of hows: how do we determine who was or was not a descendent? How do we pay?, eh, print money I guess…)
4. Who pays for this? My ancestors never owned slaves, I don’t want a dime of my tax money going to such a thing?
5. How about Indians, we need to pay them too? Who else? Time to step up for your Social Justice pay…

Perhaps Spain should pay reparations to descendants of the Aztecs?

Please, someone explain the logic here for me!?!

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Isolationism, The Myth of the Founders?

With so much talk recently of the United States’s involvement in the Middle East and how it violates our Founding principle of “isolation,” I had an interesting discussion recently with my students concerning the historical theme “Isolationism.”

The debate centered on whether or not the United States has always been an isolationist nation? On the surface it is very easy to show cause and effect and change over time with regard to American foreign policy.

But seeing that we are expected to teach (here in Colorado, at least) “Isolationism” as a foregone conclusion, the question stands, “Isolationism, The Myth of the Founders?”

If we first consider George Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality (1793) and his belief that United States should act”friendly and impartial” towards any “Belligerent Powers.” Washington was being prudent, if you consider the year you know that the United States is but a fledgling nation having just created a Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was struggling to maintain itself. Though his cabinet was somewhat split on who to support in the European conflict between England and France, the road to Neutrality was the obvious one, to be sure.

As President Washington signed the first American Neutrality Act (1794), he seemingly established the tradition of isolation. Moving forward to Washington’s Farewell Address and his appeal to the Nation to keep America’s involvement in “permanent alliances” to a limit, “which to us have none or a very remote relation,” and recommend a policy “to steer clear of permanent Alliances,” the case seems closed.

And, if that does not solidify the argument in favor of America being an “Isolationist” nation, Thomas Jefferson followed up Washington proclaiming that “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations,” was the goal and to avoid “entangling alliances with none.”

However, as should be noted, neither Washington nor Jefferson had any understanding of “Isolationism” as the word had not yet made it into the English vernacular. Both would arguably have issues with suggesting that the United States be “isolated” from Europe. Both looked to expansion in the West and the continued immigration of Europeans to their “Empire of Liberty” for settlement.

And Jefferson, as was his way, proved to be the enigma as he would send the U.S. marines to “the shores of Tripoli” to rescue Americans kidnapped by Barbary (Muslim) Pirates and to protect American commerce. He would unconstitutionally purchase the Louisiana Territory, an expansion that guaranteed the United States would probably be involved in foreign affairs. Jefferson, in particular, wanted the continued importation of European culture — hardly the stance of an ideologue bent of isolation.

From our involvement as a fledgling colony in the first World War (Seven Years War) to our ideological involvement in the first world crisis after independence: the French Revolution. Perhaps “Isolationism” is but a myth.

The United States of the late 18th and early 19th centuries could not afford an active role in foreign affairs, and perhaps had never intended to be as “isolationist” as we teach our students on a yearly basis.

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The Blue Eagle

The Blue Eagle, a blue-colored representation of the American thunderbird, with outspread wings, was a symbol used in the United States by companies to show compliance with the National Industrial Recovery Act. It was proclaimed the symbol of industrial recovery on July 20, 1933 by Hugh Samuel Johnson, the head of the National Recovery Administration.

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Last Surviving World War I Veteran

Frank Woodruff Buckles is our lone surviving WWI veteran and still going strong at 110 years of age.

A story in the May 30, 2010, edition of Parade magazine on Buckles said he lied about his age in 1917 when he was 16 so he could enlist. The Army sent him to France, where he drove ambulances and motorcycles. After the armistice, he helped return German prisoners of war to their country.

In 1941, he was working in Manila for the American President Line, a shipping company. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II, Buckles was captured and spent 3 1/2 years in a prisoner-of-war camp before he was rescued by American forces when they retook the Island nation.

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Life As a History Teacher

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The Civil War: A Concise History

The Civil War: A Concise History
Louis P. Masur
Hardback, 136 pages

From the Publisher: Louis P. Masur’s The Civil War: A Concise History offers a masterful and eminently readable overview of the war’s multiple causes and catastrophic effects. Masur begins by examining the complex origins of the war, focusing on the pulsating tensions over states rights and slavery. The book then proceeds to cover, year by year, the major political, social, and military events, highlighting two important themes: how the war shifted from a limited conflict to restore the Union to an all-out war that would fundamentally transform Southern society, and the process by which the war ultimately became a battle to abolish slavery. Masur explains how the war turned what had been a loose collection of fiercely independent states into a nation, remaking its political, cultural, and social institutions. But he also focuses on the soldiers themselves, both Union and Confederate, whose stories constitute nothing less than America’s Iliad . In the final chapter Masur considers the aftermath of the South’s surrender at Appomattox and the clash over the policies of reconstruction that continued to divide President and Congress, conservatives and radicals, Southerners and Northerners for years to come.

The fine folks at Oxford sent me Louis P. Masur’s The Civil War: A Concise History and I have to admit when I first looked at it I was bewildered that anyone would have the audacity to write a “concise” history of our Nation’s second greatest struggle and do so in less than 100 pages (not counting the bibliography, notes, and index.) Even though the book was accompanied by quotes of paise from Gary W. Gallagher and James M. McPherson, I was still skeptical. After reading it, I am rather happy they did send it! Masur’s book is every bit as good as Gordon S. Wood’s concise history of the American Revolution, The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library Chronicles). The first chapter of Masur’s book, Origins of the American Civil War, is as fine of a presentation as I have read: succinct, forceful, concise, and effective. I will be sure to offer this to my A.P.U.S. History class next year as a select reading. I highly recommend the book as it is just published and on sale!

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Was Keith Olbermann Right? Civil War Nothing to Celebrate!

I remember back in November (busy time of year for me and didn’t get a chance to discuss it) when former MSNBC host of The Countdown with Keith Olbermann, proposed the question, Why would the any state want to celebrate the Civil War?

Olbermann Quotes:

“The 150th anniversary of, you know, treason and defense of servitude and murder and suicide, billed as a joyous night of fun, dancing, food and drink… Don’t forget the silent slave auction.”

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, treasonous secession that started the Civil War and was the direct result of slavery, happy birthday to you.”

“And as part of the continuing historical revisionism that tries to claim the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, the secession celebrations have begun. Yay, treason, yay.”

The thing about Olbermann is, you have to know when he is being, well Olbermann… Anyway.

However, it is an interesting question. With the Sesquicentennial, how do we remember the war?

The debates will rage about the cause(s) of the Civil War, could the South have won, why did the North win, ect. There are also heated discussion over who fought, why they fought, and why some didn’t fight? The motives and the experiences!

So, should we “celebrate” the event? The question’s answer seems obvious to me, nothing to celebrate. Olbermann was right, as much as it pains me to say that, the Civil War was a tragedy and the institution of slavery was as well. No balls, banquets or dinner parties, please. Remember it, study it and learn from it. Let’s not break down the nuances of the word “celebrate,” we know what the word stands for. We should not remember the Civil War like we “celebrate” the 4th of July, right?

But it seems I am in the minority here, do a simple Google search for the Civil War and Celebration and the results are troubling! Lots of Celebrating going on! Oh well…


George Washington’s First War: His Early Military Adventures

George Washington’s First War: His Early Military Adventures, David A. Clary; Simon & Schuster; 352 p.

George Washington was a brash, self-confident, driven, and often daring and dashing young man, he was also at times indecisive and prone to make a bad judgment call or two. David A. Clary’s George Washington’s First War: His Early Military Adventures is a well balanced presentation of a young Colonel Washington who cut his teeth on the back-country of Virginia and the Ohio Valley, the future speculator and Revolutionary war hero thrived on achieving personal advancement and success. Washington earn some of what he wanted, but ultimately realized he could never get all of it as a “provincial” member of the British Army.

However, controversy did surrounded the young commander, such as the massacre of French soldiers near Tanaghrisson by Mingos after they had surrendered to Washington. Yet, by the end of his journey during the French and Indian War, and his heroic leadership during Braddock’s blunder, and the retreat, Washington had gained the confidence and learned what true leadership was.

George Washington’s First War: His Early Military Adventures is an excellent read and an insightful look at the growth of an American legend, though as the author notes, he was just a boy who became nothing more than just a man.

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Shopping in the Social Justice Store!

Ever wonder what you can purchase in a store dedicated to “Social Justice”? Let’s take a look!

There’s actually some really nice things that you can purchase:

“The medieval feminist,” Joan of Arc. T-shirt, coffee mug, water jug, lots of goodies with that symbol.

You can also find t-shirts and other stuff with the slogan. “Diversity Rocks! Show your appreciation for diversity, equity, and justice!” Agree, diversity does indeed rock!

How about these (and remember this is a store for Educators and Activists! Maybe someone who is teaching your child some good ole Social Justice!!)

Old Boys Network
Meet Harry Slickman of the Old Boys Network. What a Jackass!

(You can get the following with this stereotype slogan, you know, all those rich white people, like myself, who are keeping everyone else down.)

Hats, Mugs, t-shirts, ect..

(But wait, there’s more: Infant outfits, bibs, boxer shorts, underwear, doggy t-shirt, mouse pads, coasters, and even a pillow. So you can go to sleep and dream about Mean Old Whitey!)

White Supremacy Sucks
White supremacy really does suck. White supremacy is white privilege is racism.

Kill Imperialism
Don’t kill people. Kill imperialism and advocate human rights.

If you care for social justice and peace, help foment revolution!

Got Revolution?
Black T-shirts with a variety of “got _____?” statments (their mis-spelling): got diversity? got peace? got justice? got feminism?

Pay attention! See racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia. And do something! (If you’re not outraged then you’re not paying attention!)

Karl Marx, defender of the working class. (That’s right, he’s a good guy!)

and my personal favorite:

Whitey O. Pressor Thong

(Image at top featured) Whitey is an anti- anti-racism advocate. I know, that doesn’t make sense. Make sure to see the back of the items for Whitey’s “You may be a White O. Pressor If…” list! (Just $23.99)!

Very catchy!! However, my main question here is, what does the Feminist think of such an item!? Are you a “Whitey”? Check out the image to the right and find out!

Anyway, Maybe that’s me, “Whitey O. Pressor.” Gonna get my Whitey on and purchase one for my Woman locked up in my house making my dinner!

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Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration…

Do I dare show this to my U.S. Studies Class? We are approaching the American Revolution…

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