503 Comments

Black Lives Matter. We are still fighting that war. On the streets, in the schools, in the libraries, in our government. When will the United States of America, every state, every citizen, understand the meaning of Civil? Civil War. Civil Rights.

Expand full comment

'You have to develop ways so that you can take up for yourself, and then you take up for someone else. And so sooner or later, you have enough courage to really stand up for the human race and say, 'I'm a representative.'

___Maya Angelou

Expand full comment

Beautiful words.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Irenie, "We are still fighting that war. "

You are absolutely correct about the lack of Civil Rights, however, we are no longer fighting a war to expand them. I do believe we are fighting to avoid watching them contract right before our very eyes. At least "mine eyes".

AND........"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted" means?

Ah. Yes. Did away with slavery did we? Beautiful song, and, surely we made an effort. No doubt.

However, folks in the south? Having read that sentence, and been thoroughly thrashed by the North, well, Louisiana converted the 16,000 acre Angola Plantation to?

Yep, A 16,000 acre prison. Only needed some "convicts".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_State_Penitentiary

Then, white folks summarily rounded up black men, convicted them of course, whether they committed a crime or not, and sent them to, yep, "prison". Where, surprise, they did the same thing they were doing before the Civil War.

Same approach in Alabama. EXCEPT, they also included black CHILDREN at the "Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children". Which was a farm slave camp for children. It still exists. You cannot get in.

Yes indeed. EVEN TODAY, 2023, Angola Prison stands ready to "Put that BOY to WORK!"

"Mine eyes have seen" alright. I don't want to snap them shut, but, it sure hurts to open them sometimes.

Expand full comment

I'm happy this past election my state of Oregon removed slavery as a form of punishment from our Constitution.

Expand full comment

Me too. Once again, Oregon leads the way to the importance of a human's dignity and autonomy.

Expand full comment

Perhaps trying to make up for exclusion of Black people being part of the original constitution of Oregon.

Expand full comment

That and closing ANY loopholes (like the one about using convicts for slave labor) as another step to ending that part of racism.

Now, convicts get PAID to work in the laundry, kitchen, etc. That's a good thing, but, I'm not sure if a portion of their earnings go toward their keep. (I never got paid an allowance. I was told the chores In did was "earning my keep". That didn't leave a lot of motivation to get them done. To be fair to my parents, they WERE small business owners, and they didn't have steady income.

Expand full comment

And already I see complaints about this and inmate labor.

Expand full comment

Check your prison system.

Expand full comment

Mike, thanks for the info on Angola. I was entirely ignorant of it. Sometimes I forget that I live in a bubble here in Colorado. We amended our constitution in 2018 to abolish slavery as punishment. What a stark contrast to Angola.

Expand full comment

I learned about Angola back in the 80's, when I briefly corresponded with a 17 year old inmate there. It's self contained. Inmate labor farms the food they eat, and the inmates also work outside on sugar cane farms and road crews. Angola is, to my knowledge, the largest state prison in America. It's brutally violent, with many inmates being murdered every year by guards and other inmates. Some say every sentence to Angola is a death sentence.

Expand full comment

Marycat2021,

Yes, "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted"

Well, it is OK then, right? No need to think of America as a slave nation anymore, we fought to rid ourselves of it except for:

"except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted".

Expand full comment

And of course, 26 years of solitary confinement is not "cruel and unusual punishment."

Expand full comment

"Angola is, to my knowledge, the largest state prison in America."

I believe the largest maximum security state prison is Parchman in Mississippi. Its size is 18,000 acres (about 28 sq. miles) as opposed to Angola's 16,000 acres. I don't know what the prison population is in either of them.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Oh, I agree. Colorado was the first state to eliminate slavery for prisoners via a ballot measure. Progress for sure. But not quickly enough. We even had a war over it that ended in 1865. The slavery side lost. And yet, as you note, perhaps they did not entirely lose.

Expand full comment

Mike, your post on Angola Plantation triggered my memory of "Angola, Louisiana" song by Gil Scott-Heron:

🎵"Well. I ain't never been nowhere near Angola, Lousiana,

Down in Saint Charles Parish where the Sun won't go alone,

Well, in-justice is not contained to Angola. Louisiana,

No. it can walk into your Living Room."🎵

Or drag you out of your Car when you are nearly home on a shift-break.

Expand full comment

Home run writing Bryan,

thank you.

Expand full comment

Almost poetic Mike, and sadly true. Heather's citation of the comment from an Indiana Congressman is ironic given that IN was the home of the KKK in later years.

Expand full comment

I am Hoosier born and raised. Indiana had the largest number of KKK members in the 1920s while here in Oregon they were in the legislature, mostly directed against Catholics. The irony of an Indiana congressman saying that also struck me. When I was student teaching in Kalamazoo, the person before me was Catholic and she told me about the KKK burning a cross in her grandfather's front yard in St. Joseph, MI. Growing up I heard all sorts of prejudicial remarks about people who didn't look like or believe like us. I would say for a lot of people there, nothing has changed. And of course, many of them call themselves Christians without understanding what Jesus taught in the first three Gospels.

Expand full comment

Many Christians fail in that understanding because they haven't read what Jesus taught and have to rely on what they've been told. Unfortunately, that isn't always accurate. The same is true of many 'Muslims' and the message that the Prophet Mohammed brought to them.

Expand full comment

One can find in The Biblical something to justify anything. Especially atrocities

Expand full comment

Provided one carefully chooses the passages one uses, you're correct. There are substantial differences between what Jesus taught and some historical passages in the Bible. The same is true of every Scripture I've ever read, as witness the clergy driven dictatorship in Iran killing its own people who are also believers.

Expand full comment

Too many pastors interested in power and money.

Expand full comment

Thank you Dave. I am not a poet. But, I do see a bit of irony here and there.

Expand full comment

Another version of American aversion; from the music community

https://youtu.be/NaqNc2sFO_4

Expand full comment

Thank you. Dave. Isn’t it amazing to go back in time, a sea of humans, so many we could call Peacenicks. I don’t remember hearing about stampedes and shootings. Except assassinations. Except a crisis of Civil Rights. Except in America underlying and overt white supremacy. Instead our government was involved in all that we would protest, sing about. The times of losing. Lives in wars, lives as leaders, innocence, trust, belief in the system. This note took an unexpected path that nostalgia also brings Truth if we’re awake.

Expand full comment

More to the point of what’s coming to America

https://youtu.be/Ms5J2U_ySdI

Expand full comment

Dave, I’m crying. That was my Time. Our Time. My friends who had to decide: go or stay. Our lives forever changed either way. We know we were right. Then. And now.

Expand full comment

I distinctly remember being glued to the radio listening to the draft lottery numbers. I was 197 that year, safe. Kids in my dorm not so lucky. The Beatles Revolution #9 played in one room all night

Expand full comment

Irenie,

Yes, you were.

and are.

mike

Expand full comment

Thanks for this info Mike. I also was entirely ignorant of this. It's quite shocking. 26 yrs in solitary? Hard to believe. OK, these people were convicts but still human beings. Too many thoughts running thru my mind. Words not coming.

Expand full comment

Jeanne,

It's OK Jeanne. I was "entirely ignorant" too. I only had time to explore after I "retired". Before that, I was working all the time from (well, a long time).

But, now, when I read, I try to really learn.

Expand full comment

I'm another "ignorant". So much I missed entirely while I was gainfully employed. Keep coming upon happenings that I should have been well aware of. I imagine that very mindset is why so many of our citizens are so very unaware of problems they could "fix" if only they would learn (not on facebook or faux) enough to vote responsibly. Or just vote - period!

Expand full comment

Thanks Mike. I am in the process of getting all of my ducks in a row so I can retire this year. I can't wait to have all the time I want to learn a lot of what I have missed along the way. Some good, some bad. I just wish that my short-term memory was better so I don't forget what I've learned.

Expand full comment

Having lived in New Orleans for years (where I met my male partner and my black wife) we were familiar with the infamous modern slave plantation at Angola.

Expand full comment

Rob,

Yes, don't drive above the speed limit down there. Not one bit.

Expand full comment

More about the funnel into the prison system.

This information is important, and I can't find a written accounting of it. This man shares incredible history and perspectives: https://www.tiktok.com/@levertthebassman/video/7194476955649969450

Expand full comment

thank you.

Expand full comment

Very informative, thanks Nancy.

Expand full comment

Wow, Mount Megis! I've never heard of this, thank you so much for posting. I'm listening to a series of podcasts giving a history of this nightmare place.

Expand full comment

CIVIL SOCIETY, CIVILITY, CIVICS,

Civics

Civics is defined as: the study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens.

'Civic education is the study of the theoretical, political and practical aspects of citizenship, as well as its rights and duties. It includes the study of civil law and civil code, and the study of government with attention to the role of citizens―as opposed to external factors―in the operation and oversight of government.'

'In recent decades, we as a nation have failed to prepare young Americans for self-government, leaving the world’s oldest constitutional democracy in grave danger, afflicted by both cynicism and nostalgia, as it approaches its 250th anniversary. The time has come to recommit to the education of our young people for informed, authentic, and engaged citizenship.' (LeagueofWomenVoters) See link below

https://my.lwv.org/delaware/government/what-civics

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

"'In recent decades, we as a nation have failed to prepare young Americans for self-government"

Yes Fern, you are (more than) correct.

I would also kindly offer that: Certain States in the this nation, are currently, actively and aggressively doing everything possible to make sure Americans stay ignorant of both history and anything to do with John Adams and the writing of the Constitution or its existence and content. Certainly they are not re-issuing his " A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America". Which captures Adams entire education in the past of governments.

Instead, they want ensure that anyone who thinks tax cuts for billionaire political donors is bad policy is "A Communist". Fern! That's good Amurcan civics!! Today. In some states.

Worse than the idea, though: Those efforts are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams.

Expand full comment

My sentiments also, Mike. I read an article last night about a person who has thrown her hat in the ring for the school board seat in an upcoming election. I was trying to determine where she stood, and I have a feeling she is someone I would not vote for. Wants police back in the schools and talks about parental rights. Our school district here in Salem is heavily Hispanic and right now the board has more progressives on it, thankfully. We have a good super, but she is retiring and they are interviewing candidates. As an aside, I reported earlier on about the regressive school board in Newburg. They have now rescinded their ruling about no rainbow flags and other posters, etc. in the classroom about Blacks. They were taken to court and found out that their stance was unconstitutional and i guess, decided not to fight it.

Expand full comment

Michele,

I hope the new school board candidate is a reasonable, thoughtful person. Those people really matter, don't they, our local governments?

I guess a flag with many colors on it should not offend anyone right? Colors are nice.

Expand full comment

I don't think she is...a few red flags in the article. The local progressives are very good at outing anyone who is regressive, but so far nothing from them. But she just declared.

Expand full comment

Amen! I have been screaming this for years. My Repub friend says it is budget cuts causing absence of Civics class. I say bologna!

Expand full comment

True, and much needed but it will be a battle for every paragraph.

Expand full comment

I have argued for years - decades, actually - that the three critical missing subjects in high school curricula are civics, rhetoric and logic. We are seeing the damage now, as a large part of our population is incapable of evaluating the truth of what they are told, and have become fodder for demagogues, swindlers and con men.

We've lost a couple of generations of critical thinkers, but it's not too late to save the current generation of high schoolers. Lobby your school board to reinstate these topics!

Expand full comment

Yes, Mobiguy, 'civics,'' rhetoric', 'logic', knowledge, news, social intercourse, associations, respect, for others, the rule of law and equality are crucial aspects of a civil society.

Expand full comment

And clearly missing from many public elements of our society right now.

Expand full comment

I heartily agree. Have to see if I can revive my abilities in the last two categories before I head to the school board meetings.

Expand full comment

What role does cynicism play? Many have given up to a rigged political or economic game. They resort to hate speech as a means of expressing their contempt, no?

Expand full comment

Yes. Every word, Irenie. Yes.

Expand full comment

Yes, we are still fighting. Enjoy this short video from today's magnificent Voice Against Hate, Shemekia Copeland. "Uncivil War" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKnvYAAFpys

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Irenie - when/if the Republican party is finally put to rest. It is this fetid corrupt institution - if you want to call it that - that perpetuates racism and inequality. Especially the far right Republican party that has been metastasizing since the late 70's. But any form of modern Republicanism is to blame. And the south, which is so very Republican. Racism, even the kind that is not openly admitted, is so ingrained in the south that I am afraid it is never going to go away. In southern cities where there is a large black population, a cold war (sometimes hot) endures where blacks are no more willing than whites to improve relations. And who can blame them. So the stalemate continues. I have a glimmer of hope - almost all other civilized industrial nations on earth have gotten over alot of the racial barriers. Maybe the US will grudgingly follow given more time, and more forcing by a progressive government. But not while Republicans have any kind of control.

Expand full comment

All good points, James. But I'm thinking it's a chicken or egg question. As I understand it, for most of the twentieth century, Southerners, especially those who held racist beliefs, were Democrats, and wouldn't touch the Republican Party with a ten-foot pole, because it was the party of Lincoln who freed the slaves. It was Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 who recruited Southern whites to the Republican party, in what started out as "Operation Dixie" and became known as the Southern Strategy. I am no expert. This Washington Post article from three years ago seems like an authoritative account (further below.) I'm just trying to say that as long as there are people with the combination of attitudes toward non-Whites, religion, economics, and the role of men vs. women, there will be some sort of political party that caters to them to get their votes. Maybe we are waiting for the old guard to be replaced by the Millenials, Gen X, and Gen Z.

Article link and excerpt:

What we get wrong about the Southern strategy

Perspective by Angie Maxwell, July 26, 2019

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/07/26/what-we-get-wrong-about-southern-strategy/

Angie Maxwell is the Diane D. Blair Endowed Chair in Southern studies, and associate professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. She is coauthor of "The Long Southern Strategy."

"Most Americans have heard the story of the “Southern strategy”: The Republican Party, in the wake of the civil rights movement, decided to court Southern white voters by capitalizing on their racial fears. Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater first wielded this strategy in 1964 and Richard Nixon perfected it in 1968 and 1972, turning the solidly Democratic South into a bastion of Republicanism.

But this oversimplified version of the Southern strategy has a number of problems. It overstates how quickly party change occurred, limits the strategy solely to racial appeals, ignores how it evolved and distorts our understanding of politics today.

In reality, the South swung back and forth in presidential elections for four decades following 1964. Moreover, Republicans didn’t win the South solely by capitalizing on white racial angst. That decision was but one in a series of decisions the party made not just on race but on feminism and religion as well. The GOP successfully fused ideas about the role of government in the economy, women’s place in society, white evangelical Christianity and white racial grievance, in what became a “long Southern strategy” that extended well past the days of Goldwater and Nixon.

Over the course of 40 years, Republicans fine-tuned their pitch and won the allegiance of Southern whites (and their sympathizers nationwide) by remaking their party in the Southern white image.

Goldwater’s campaign did launch the Southern strategy, originally called “Operation Dixie,” by directly and aggressively championing his vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As a result, the senator won five Deep South states, including 87 percent of the vote in Mississippi.

...."

Expand full comment

The southern strategy as I understand it was mostly a big pushback on civil rights. When Lyndon Johnson got behind civil rights for people of color, the south just plain abandoned the Democratic party. With the exceptions of Carter and Clinton (both southern persons), the south has voted red very time. No matter - today when it comes to the political party that would roll back civil rights, disenfranchise black voters, and support white supremacy, it is crystal clear which party we are talking about.

Expand full comment

Definitely. I totally agree.

Expand full comment

"As I understand it, for most of the twentieth century, Southerners, especially those who held racist beliefs, were Democrats, and wouldn't touch the Republican Party with a ten-foot pole, because it was the party of Lincoln who freed the slaves. It was Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 who recruited Southern whites to the Republican party, in what started out as "Operation Dixie" and became known as the Southern Strategy. I am no expert."

Based on Dr. Richardson's book: "To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party", all of your history is aligned with hers.

Expand full comment

Thank you! I need to read her book! In the meantime, I am grateful for everything I learn in her posts and from other commenters.

Expand full comment

Read Heather Cox Richardson's book, "How the South Won the Civil War." The fight will never stop, in fact, rights are reversing to the 1880's.

Expand full comment

Yes, have read it (listened to it). Racism - the idea that some races are superior to others, the idea of an enslaved or at least disenfranchised, work force consisting of those inferior races, and the deranged and evil mental state that allows such ideas, are powers within the US that have been underestimated all along. They know politics and how to game a system that is chock full of holes in which to weasel in, in order to advance their corrupt evil world view. It continues today.

Expand full comment

A late Post, but this resource for teachers supports diversity, Truth and Justice. Resources and educators sharing . Plus they will send books to Florida! RETHINKING SCHOOLS. I subscribe and used their resources for many years. https://rethinkingschools.org/

Expand full comment

Just signed up on their mailing list. Thank you, Irenie. In this state of TX... i'm sure teachers would lose their jobs and worse if they actually used these brilliant resources. Dangerous rulings and policies by powerful people and institutions terrified of any kind of equality or egalitarianism. Not sure if our country can survive this stuff.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Civility to all others, Irini.

Expand full comment

Not until “we the people” mean it! Mean it as in we want to change and be

kind and empathetic and well educated. Equality sounds nice. In fact “we the people” don’t mean it.😰

Expand full comment

Plenty of us DO mean it. We're not in power. Not up to us. And that is very much by design.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 3, 2023

Just reread Professor Richardson’s letter from three years ago today: the GOP Senate admitted trump’s guilt but they spiked the impeachment hearings anyway, preventing documents and testimony. Not one person in authority had been brought to justice from the Trump administration with the possible exception of steve bannon, though he has yet to serve his light sentence. Historian Clay Jenkinson wrote 3 years ago that the GOP senators betraying their oaths to the constitution was our crossing of the rubicon and the death of our republic. Today Trump’s likely successor Desantis has weaponized the most vile racism in his bid to become the American Mussolini if not Julius Caesar. The traitors who abetted the January 6 coups now run the House, probably taking orders from Putin via Trump. From the recent arrest of the FBI agent in Russian employ, we have fresh reasons to suspect that Putin stole the 2016 election. That the wife of the Chief Justice has been trading on her position with corporations with business before the SCOTUS is at this point just expected; another SCOTUS wife was a coup plotter. Where is justice, Merrick Garland? Garland? Garland?

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Kevin, I'm sitting here having a really difficult time accepting that entirely reprehensible but predictable "acquittal" as some sort of Rubicon. It doesn't even rank as the most historically boneheaded Senate vote. It doesn't even rank as the most historically boneheaded IMPEACHMENT vote; the 1868 Senate missed removing law-flouting white supremacist Andrew Johnson by one vote.

With all the unforgivable things our country has done to many classes of citizens, if such biblical points-of-no-return existed, we would have ceased existing before the Civil War. Yet here we still are, and still getting better in the long, slow arc of history.

We're already too close to catastrophe for comfort to indulge ourselves in catastrophizing.

Expand full comment

Appropriately said, Will.

Expand full comment

Ya know indicting a previous president has to be a stone cold locked case?

So many people seem to forget that the wheels of justice turn slowly, not like an episode of Law and Order.

What I would hate to see is drumpf get indicted and then let off. Can you imagine what would happen after that?

Even though I would rather see drumpf going to prison I would gladly give that up if it meant he might skate on charges.

Besides, the only thing that will help our country is drumpfs death. Will it end maga? No, but it will be easier for it to die when he's truly gone.

Besides, I have faith in the special counsel.

So instead of complaining let's give them time to do their job.

Expand full comment

I understand what you are saying but Trump could live to be 100 years old. Out of all of the laws he has broken and the felonies he and his crew have committed, you can’t tell me that some charge cannot be made to stick. A big part of the apparatus that did the bidding for those in charge in the January 6th coup for Trump have been rounded up and tried but Trump and members of Congress and others who did his bidding have not been brought to Justice. The head of the beast is still intact. I will never ever be truly over all of this.

Expand full comment

Truly, one cannot believe Trump is the head of the beast! He is being used by I belirve a much more powerful force that has been plotting and raising money and investing for years to achieve control. to progress their desire for dominance.

We need to stand firm for freedom. We need to remember those who came before us, who gave their lives for freedom and "to help form a more perfect union".

We must EACH examine our belief system and not be lead around like animals with rope and ring through our noses....being lead to the slaughter.

Please, those of you who claim Christ as your Savior....think!!!! For instance...Every woman is pro life....her life is important too. We must give her the choice....not abandon

her.....that has already happened! Your love for life must include her. I am mentioning this because lots of good people are being brainwashed and used to get votes from candidates who are NOT for life!!!just for votes.

Please examine what YOU believe and why and do not be used because you are too lazy to think on your own or will "not be invited to the party!!!"

Our country needs each of us to engage for freedom and for the care of one another and for the wellbeing of our planet in any way we are able.

Expand full comment

I don’t believe Drumpf is the head at all. He was just a very useful tool for a lot of greedy,power hungry politicians. His usefulness may,however, be coming to an end as he begins to capitulate now. DeSatan, his supposed successor,is proving to be so blatantly racist that his demise is most certain. If only 30% of the population is convinced the now Repo way is the “right way” we are safe. It’s when the religious persuasion’s begin to swing the tide towards more & more conservative beliefs-book banning for instance-than the US is doomed. We must fight for religious & personal freedoms no matter what. Sometimes that means violent protests and protests like Black lLives Matters that help to open eyes to overt racism. This history can’t be covered up by banning courses,books,& professors. Hopefully our youth are learning to fight for the truth no matter what!

Expand full comment

“He is being used“

Yup tfg is just a means to an end for the QOP….(and let’s not forget he’s bee being used by Putin too). If not him it’d be someone else (or something else). Once the rethuglican party no longer needs tfg, once he’s no longer of value to them he’ll be gone.

Expand full comment

There are slow wheels, and then there are stopped wheels. Other situations are addressed quickly, and there is no possible reason for Garland to have done virtually nothing up to this point.

Expand full comment

Judging from comments made often and publicly by the foxes who are now in charge of the henhouse, I suspect that you are absolutely on target about their connections then and especially now with Putin. I shudder to think what might happen should they be given any sensitive information that would endanger our national security. Might as well just send it directly to Moscow.

Expand full comment

Yes, the Letter 3 years ago was much better than the religio-blather posted today that seeks to make forced connections between coincidental dates, the Civil War, police brutality and a tired reference to an even more tired higher power.

Expand full comment

“the religio blather posted today” by whom? Please be more soecific.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

This is one of our Professor's most eloquent yet. I should just leave it there. But while we are on the subject of truth...

I've been a bit perplexed these past few weeks (months? years!) at people marvelling at the torrent of lies coming from the members of the conservative major party in our good old USA, with a certain freshman congressman chiefly providing the latest focal point. The attitude seems to be one of incredulity: can you believe they can do that?

Let's review: A lie is anything that is definitely untrue. No real grey area, just false. Right? Right. Okay, then!

The following are total lies on a completely obvious, the-sky-is-orange, 0% true level. Yet for the length of my lifetime they have all been categorized as "hot-button issues" where many people have "differing and sincerely held beliefs."

A non-viable fetus is not a person. Saying so is a lie. There is no scientific, factual justification for that position. Aborting it is a health care choice, not a murder. Calling it the latter is a lie.

Being gay is not a choice, and it doesn't make you more likely to be deviant. Saying so is a lie.

Having more guns makes you more likely to have gun violence. Saying otherwise is a lie.

Climate change is real and dangerous. Not "believing in it" isn't passive, ignoring reality by definition means you are lying to yourself. And dollars to donuts, other people.

There aren't "things" in vaccines that "might" cause a learning disability, and you're not as well off without them. That is a lie.

Oh, and giving rich people endless tax cuts does not result in rewards for everyone. Saying so is a lie. (This isn't a scientifically prima facie untruth, but it has a 0% success rate over half a century, so...)

These are just a few of the most popular greatest hits, and all of these pale in comparison to the damage done by the biggest lie of all: racism. It means that people are lesser in some way because of the color of their skin. The concept is a lie, one that has caused untold suffering and divisions, yet as obviously stupid as the kid with chocolate on his face saying he didn't eat the chocolate (bad analogy?). Racism is a LIE. (Sexism too, obviously.)

Yet a third of this country has had these lies legitimized as mere political differences by our inability to risk offense by calling them what they are: lies. Not disagreeable, not ridiculous, not ignorant, not backwards, not prejudiced, not unproductive, and certainly not conservative. Not *primarily* any of that.

Keep it simple: lies. As in, not true. The sky is NOT orange.

So yeah, of course the first Black president faked his birth certificate, and the current President didn't win, and the pandemic was a hoax, and schools are grooming your kids with critical race theory, and crime is up rather than down, and George Santos has a great resume. Those are laughable lies, but... almost all the people who believe and repeat them have been repeating the previously listed lies for almost half a century.

These new ones are actually not more ridiculous. They're just NEW, and coming at us faster. But they score the same on the truth percentage as the old, taken-for-granted ones: 0%.

Stop being surprised liars lie, or that they get real in a tizzy when called on their BS. Just get louder with the truth telling in your daily life, and keep framing it as what it is: not merely your preferred view, but the objective truth. Because it is. Own it. Be proud!

Help hardcore reality make a comeback, y'all. Only then can we can make some real progress.

Expand full comment

I agree, Will, that there is a lot of lying going on in Congress. This is not surprising at all -- these days -- but it is a big problem.

An even bigger problem is the credulity of so many Americans who believe the lies and then base their political beliefs and choices on them.

Lies start out as lies -- untruths knowingly uttered with the intent to mislead -- but it is hard to say people are lying if they believe what they are saying. When lies lead directly to the commission of crimes, the liars bear some of the responsibility and the committers of the crimes bear the rest of it, and our courts and legal system are sometimes able to sort things out, sometimes not so much.

I'm worried that by the time the DOJ manages to prosecute the actual liars -- as opposed to the lied-to true believers -- the DOJ will have become irrelevant.

Expand full comment

I suppose my distinction here is that while I can accept that it seems harsh to call someone a liar who is repeating a lie unawares, the character of the repeater does not actually change the content of the speech itself.

A lie is a lie. The fact the person repeating it may not have the nefarious intent of the lie's originator does not make it more true. The more people that repeat it, for a greater number of years, the more it may seem true to some. But more true it does not become.

I feel we have allowed objective truth and untruth to exist on the same plane of acceptance for too long, so afraid are we of abridging someone's genuinely held feelings, and we are now reaping the unfortunate results.

Expand full comment

I hear you. But I just keep saying silently to myself, as I sink into that hole of discouragement:

Jack Smith, Fanni Willis, Jack Smith, Fanni Willis.....JACK SMITH. Make it so, Jack! Go Fanni!

Expand full comment

Bill, "conservative activist", TOM FITTON "Groundswell" creator along with GINI THOMAS, appeared today before JACK SMITH's at Court DC Grand Jury. FITTON. In my opinion, is a rich source of criminal intent & pre- planning, evidence on several active prosecutions, J6, NARA documents, the Big Lie. Fitton is not a lawyer but, has operated out of Judicial Watch (sic). Also an operator at the hotel "War Room", circa Jan 3-5 the days before J6.

Expand full comment

Thanks for this! Perhaps we are really lining up the ducks :)

Expand full comment

Most Court's have reserved parking for Grand Juors. Hmmmm. At least 2 news agencies have video of Mr. Fitton arriving at Court, ergo....

Expand full comment

Yes, Bill, there is always prayer when nothing else works, but as a non-believer I have a hard time putting my heart into it.

Jack? Fanni? Can you hear me? I've got a little favor to ask....

Expand full comment

Excellent advice, Will. Unspin the spin...

Expand full comment

Lynell, you bring up a great point: the difference between spin (which is annoying) and lies (which are destructive).

I have come to the realization that most people do not understand this key difference. They are jaded by the spin because they are either too overwhelmed or not bright enough to figure out what is what. So they come to the conclusion that everyone is lying. But what they are ascertaining is that everyone SPINS, and yes, people in politics and business do it for a living. Most people, even in business and politics, don't actually lie. Spin is about giving the best impression of your ideas and/or your activity, often to hilariously transparent effect. It's the version of what is happening that you want people to have in their mind. Lies don't deal in what is happening at all. They purposefully reject reality entirely.

Spin is "No, that dress doesn't make you look fat, it accentuates your curves!" A lie is telling someone you're wearing a cocktail dress when we can clearly see it is a hunting jacket.

Expand full comment

I can’t help it. LOL!

Salud, Will.

🗽

Expand full comment

It is truly mind boggling and uses up so much of our energy.

Examples:

What are the truths, lies, and spins of JFK assassination??

What are the truths, lies, and spins of tobacco use?

What are the truths, lies, and spins of global warming?

What are the truths, lies, and spins of the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

It is truly mind boggling, when will we ever learn?

Expand full comment

One of my favorite movie quotes: "Blissfully free from the ravages of intelligence."

I'm pretty sure many are completely content to remain as such.

Expand full comment

Goes for both sides of the aisle, unfortunately. If WE can't put our own partisanship aside to acknowledge that, we're in for even deeper troubles. Hating to see it myself. However... it's becoming more obvious to me. And i can't not see it any longer.

Expand full comment

Thanks, Will. I have been doing a lot of thinking about BS lately. Not all BS is lies (most is, however), but all BS is uttered without actually checking facts. On an interpersonal level, I don't ask "why are you BS-ing me", I as "How do you know that?" I'm more likely to get a real answer that way.

On a practical level, BS works because people tend to think "truth" is the easiest to recall, usually most recent thing they've heard on a given subject. Hence the ad nauseum repetition of Faux News, OAN, and other such outlets in their ever decreasing news cycles.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Thank you, Steve!!! Yes!! Always asking people "How do you know that?" or "What makes you think that?" ... AND being genuinely curious to hear what they say seems so much more constructive to the conversation. Not jumping to conclusions or judging. Asking questions and listening with an open mind makes such a difference.

Of course, when it's some BS that they heard and are just repeating, as you said... and they're not open to honest examination of any of our exchange of ideas or views... end of conversation for me. Life is too short.

Expand full comment

TY for approaching this topic, Will. It is, indeed a very interesting topic and your examples are the ones that most frequent the discussion threads in this room.

I sometimes feel even more naive now, at this senior age than most of my life but, it feels like the acceptance of lies, in general have become much more the norm now. I fear for that and what it means to future generations. We have had (now former) friends that are truly indoctrinating their children with these lies and that is really scary. What you list are the big ones but, these are made acceptable by the gazillions of everyday lies, aren't they?

Whether the informercial on screen, the fast-talking narrator of their drug's side-affects, the used car salesman that it was a non-smoker, your contractor telling you when they'll return, the fine print in your insurance policy, that somebody close to you "didn't do that", or anything that comes out of George Santos' mouth. There are a million things we are told or given as truth,....that aren't these days including a majority of things posted on social media and 90+% of everything said on the Faux "news" entertainment channel.

We have become numb to these things out of self-preservation. We (in our home) sometimes just turn everything off because it is overwhelming. So, I applaud your saying it and reminding us to be ever vigilant. Thank you for that

Expand full comment

I often thought that the approach to liars is backwards. We try to unravel each lie and prove it's not true but, in the meantime, the liar has gone on and told 7 or 8 more. We can't keep up. Instead, when dealing with a known liar, we should assume everything he says is a lie until we can prove it true. They all follow Steve Bannon's philosophy. You have to fill the space with s**t.

Expand full comment

And social media (and bots) don’t help….they just give the liar a megaphone to spread it far ‘n wide…..you know, “I heard it so many times, it must be true”. Sheesh…. I miss the Walter Cronkite days where we all had a common news source (tho’ can be dangers in that mode too!).

Expand full comment

Wait….didn’t Giuliani ‘splain it to us? “Truth isn’t truth” he exclaimed. Laughed out loud when he said that plain as day. MSNBC is presenting a documentary about Giuliani mid-Feb I believe. Will be interesting to learn more about the man who spews buckets-‘o-BS!

Expand full comment

Excellent comment Will.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Republicans think they can upend the hard-fought, blood-stained progress of cruel decade upon cruel decade. But try as they might to weaken or even end civil rights, they ultimately will fail. Or the nation will cease to exist.

As for DeSantis, who seems to hate African-Americans or acts this way merely to attract Trump voters, he's taken on the persona of a pudgy George Wallace without the drawl and fiery speeches. DeSantis springing to the defense of gas ovens in a state lacking natural gas infrastructure is as odd as the white rain boots he wore to tour hurricane damage.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Michael, your comment about DeSantis' defense of 'gas ovens' (my quotation marks) took me literally to 'gas ovens.' I am Jewish and 'gas ovens' led directly to the crematoriums. My research eyes and fingers took a few steps from DeSantis' gas ovens to the Nazis'. The story of German engineering of the gas oven to their use in the death camps is quite a story, so is the trip from DeSantis to the Nazis...much too close for comfort.

'These Men Offered 'Perfection in Cremation Technology' to the Nazis. We Can Learn From the Records They Left'

'Aman in a stiff white collar sat down in his office in the provincial German city of Erfurt in the Spring of 1939, to draw up a plan for what he neatly named the first “mobile oil-heated cremation oven.” It was to be delivered to the nearby concentration camp of Buchenwald.'

'But this engineer, Kurt Prüfer, carefully marked on his design “incineration chamber” rather than “cremation chamber,” for he completely understood the power of words. With a few strokes of his pen, his bland description disguised the red line between his previous work, serving the life and death of an ordinary community, and building the technology to fuel mass murder. It was a technocrats’ trick often employed as first German and then all of Europe’s “undesirables” were herded towards the “final solution” and “selected” to perish in the so-called “undressing rooms” and “saunas” of the gas chambers.' (Time Magazine) see link below.

https://time.com/5371687/nazi-camp-crematorium-builders/

Expand full comment

Horrific. And that soo many Americans now have no knowledge of WWII, the Holocaust, not an inkling of the meaning of fascism, communism, socialism, most all isms, but spout what they hear.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Imagine, a few tricks of the trade and an inclination to damn your 'fellow' man and/or easily propagandized and pouf, millions are dead. Better pay much more attention and remedy what has been going on in these parts.

Expand full comment

I went there too, Fern. It probably says more about me than DeSantis, but his willingness to adopt racist rhetoric and destroy the FL State college system to score political points make it an easy assumption.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Steve, It is shocking how bias/bigotry/racism/anti-Semitism, economic rivalries and power struggles… whatever the flavor...can move as lightening from social disorder, gun violence and mass murders to atrocities and holocausts. In truth, as in our current situation; deep trouble has been cooking for a long, long time.

Expand full comment

I too, Fern, had the same thoughts as you.

Expand full comment

It's been bred in our bones, our minds, and our families' histories, Marlene.

Expand full comment

Yes it has, Fern, for sure.

Expand full comment

Yup. Words matter.

Expand full comment

Evil is hard to defeat. It is ironic and tragic that when the Democrats moved away from Wallace and his ilk, the Republicans became their new hosts, even switching sides on the Civil War.

Expand full comment

It wasn’t until Wallace was shot and permanently maimed, that he changed his tune. He governed from a wheelchair and his bombastic speeches ceased. If I recall correctly, Wallace apologized for his behavior that riled so many people. He was rather performative when he tried to physically deny black students from entering school buildings. Shameful part of our past history which is playing out today.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Nope.

George Wallace ran as a liberal and got badly beat by a flaming racist.

He swore that would never happen again.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/on-race-hustling/263210/

Expand full comment

Wallace was never a liberal in the true sense of the word. He was a bigot but not as large a one as his opponent. Carlson, at one time, when he wore his Orville Reddenbacher bowties, was fairly decent. Then he found an audience when he feathered up stories. His schtick started with an innocent wardrobe but then crescendoed to the Russian and Confederate mixture.

Expand full comment

Is the correct spelling of his name Gov. Ron DeSantos?

Expand full comment

Ask George, he’ll tell ya

Expand full comment

It's DeFascist

Expand full comment

No. It’s “DeSa-nazi-tis.

🗽

Expand full comment

Michael , perhaps it's out there, but I haven't heard DeSantis using the term "gas ovens". I have heard and read him using the term "gas stove". Minor difference, but huge implication.

I have heard and read Manchin, our DINO, bitch about the disaster it would be if Biden banned gas stoves. Rest assured he is using the same propaganda as the MAGA cult is.

Expand full comment

Linda - you're very alert! (I often get poo-pooed when I mention changes in verbage like that)

Keep on being alert!!! The world needs more lerts! ;)

Expand full comment

https://www.bitchute.com/video/HzrrHc7ivH1u/

Here he is going on about it.

Salud, Linda.

🗽

Expand full comment

A pudgy George Wallace without the drawl. Excellent. Of course, George Wallace racism will not be taught in Florida, so nobody will get the reference except for us old farts.

Expand full comment

Wallace's snarling face is burned into my memory. Now I see that snarl on the faces of multiple Republicans; a blend of contempt and grandiose entitlement. And for sure I'm old enough to recall the likes of B&W televised Wallace and "Bull" Conner as a daily bummer. And I suspect you also encountered the real Ronald Reagan under the glib salesman slick-down.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/31/ronald-reagan-racist-recordings-nixon

Expand full comment

I confess that having been raised in an all white environment, mostly without even Jewish people to go to school with, that racist remarks and ethnic "jokes" were heard all the time.

When my wife and I were both kids, the term "monkeys" meant children who were young enough to play on monkey bars and hang upside down. A grease monkey was a car repair guy.

My re-education really started slowly - we talked one day in 8th grade social studies class about how Ms. Lee was refused admission to the U of Alabama and Gov. Wallace stood on the steps forbidding her entrance. (That predated Black folks trying to move into white parts of Indianapolis and having rocks thrown through their windows.) When I went to college I heard very ugly anti-semitic remarks that I had never believed could be so vulgar and violent. From there it was not long until I got my head turned around. Converted from Republican to Democrat after JFK assasination, and my mother never forgave me for that. Oh well. I still have a lot to learn.

Expand full comment

Freedom is a constant struggle. And the question is, freedom for whom? Why are oppressors of all colors so determined to squash other people’s right to dignity and a fulfilling life?

Expand full comment

Power is tempting and then it is addictive.

Expand full comment

Some seem to live to empower. Others, to overpower.

Expand full comment

Power IS addictive. A friend of mine whose father in law held a very high position in our federal government said that it is an aphrodisiac.

Expand full comment

From personal observation I know it's true. My ex wife was a pretty decent, even shy person...not wild in any way. She was elected to city council and wanted to "serve" people. I could see the change as people looking for something, "kissed the ring" and bowed down...and then she learned she had power...and it changed her.

Expand full comment

Oh Mike, I am so sorry to read this. Hugs

Expand full comment

Thanks for your hug. It was 25 years ago...so I'm long over it. But she's a lonely Trumper now...and I'm not, with a very loving wife who never got into politics. Love wins.

Expand full comment

That had to be hard to watch unfold.

Expand full comment

It evolved slowly over 4-5 years. It became more obvious when she was re-elected. The whole thing got way out of hand for us personally. Politics is like rock & roll. I've been around both professionally...and I'll take the rock & rollers.

Expand full comment

I’ve been around some decent rocknrollers and some ego$hitheads. I known of what you speak

Expand full comment

How does our system enable and encourage this? How does it promote vanity as opposed to humility? I feel like I am seeing this human problem everywhere from local politics to the police department to schools to the church to colleges to prisons to "orphanages" to caretaking of animals and "hunting." I fear the human brain, which is capable of inventing amazing things and acts of kindness is also capable of cruelty and destruction. I don't know what the answer is. But I do think we need to put more effort into understanding it. Punishment of bad behavior, or the threat of it, is not solving our problems.

Expand full comment

Excellent observations and questions, Kim.

To me, the problem is not with the brain. I LOVE the inventiveness of the brain.

Instead, to me, at least, it's the heart... missing ethics, morals, values, empathy, compassion and refusal to engage the brain through the heart. That leads to 'practical' solutions. Doing something simply because it can be done. NO consideration to how, why or if it should be done... is where the trouble lies. My personal view.

As Marianne Williamson often said on the 2020 campaign trail ... amorality leads to immorality. I'd never heard that before and found it valuable to consider.

Expand full comment

That's a really good question. In the case of American slavery and then segregation it's rooted in the belief that folks of African descent are "less than" and don't deserve the same rights. In 2023 I just don't get it.

Expand full comment

More like rooted in the belief of self-righteous, white supremacism of which the first immigrants to what became "America" was founded upon. The moment they stepped onto this land, they replicated the caste system and have maintained it. It is the greatest shadow in the bricks of our foundation and of which we MUST be courageous enough to fight against within ourselves and our leaders. Civility is an action that needs to be seeded and spread, and obviously, needs to be the foundation of our educational systems and families, including the newer technology of the world wide web. An easy tool to spread hatred behind an electronic, anonymous white hood—around the world. Justice must learn to be much swifter in order to stop incivility and lawlessness when it's stinky, now un-hooded, heads arise.

Expand full comment

When will we protest in the streets to say enough? Are weapons of mass destruction making us too fearful to march? Certainly makes we think twice about my neighbors who drove down the street in Proud Boy Parades with guns and flags....Certainly makes me think about putting a sign out or a sticker on my car to Ban Assault weapons. How far to the edge do we humans have to be pushed before we just say, "I cannot take it anymore." Another innocent black man has been massacred by his own ethnic brothers in the most powerful uniforms a black man can wear. A uniform that is supposed to represent Keepers of the Peace. How much further do we have to go before we demand change en masse? How much longer will we continue to we mourn another victim, another school massacre of little children and teachers? Or another insane, corrupt leader to infiltrate our government and leadership across the nation? What does it take for a country's people to demand leaders of their governments to act on our behalf and to demand civility and enforce boundaries on this lawlessness? Now we witness that even the police are scared of all the weapons that abound and now hesitate to save our children. Our globe is on fire. But there are MANY more civil people and we need to be louder. It is so safe here in Heather's Herd to speak out. But that sticker I just bought on banning assault weapons, when it arrives, will I be brave enough to put it on my car. Strange thought in my head...my car is older, if it gets damaged because of the message it bears, I can buy another.

If I get damaged in my little rural town...will I just be another grain of sand to mourn. These are trying times, but we must look to those who sat at the lunch counter at Woolworths. Are we worth our own wool? I asked my scared self, isn't it time we all sit at that same lunch counter, together, no matter how scary that is?

Expand full comment

Pensa, I just started working on a documentary that addresses some of your thoughts above. It does not have a title yet, but it's focused on a Confederate Monument called the Talbot Boys which was erected 100 years ago on the Courthouse lawn in Easton MD. A year ago it was removed and moved to a Civil War battlefield in VA. A group called Move the Monument formed and organized around the time of George Floyds murder. They marched , they rallied, protested and methodically worked on the County Council and public opinion. They were successful. Now the monument on their Courthouse lawn is to native son Frederick Douglass. We are telling the story.

Expand full comment

I think you have very good points here. The amount of guns out there certainly make me less likely to hit the streets in protest. Not only the guns but now it is legal to run down protestors in some states(red ones ) if they are "breaking the law". Maybe this is part of a larger plan to keep people afraid and inside their homes. But as you said, there are MANY more of us than them. Too bad everyone who feels like we do here cannot make a huge statement that says IT IS ENOUGH! It would have to be a gargantuan action so we have the big strength in numbers advantage.

Expand full comment

Beautifully said. I can only hope that the generations behind us, like the oh so eloquent Will above, will hear the call.

Expand full comment

Pensa, what a powerful and heart swelling post. Such braver is to be applauded and embraced if we the " Civil" are to save our species from itself. Thank you for your thoughts.

Expand full comment

Pensa, You have given me much to ponder on.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

For over 20 years (1992-2013) I taught a college course WHAT vs. WHO: SOCIETAL DISCRIMINATION FROM PATRIARCHY TO THE PRESENT. It focused on gender, color, and other forms of systemic discrimination.

I fear that these days I would be prohibited from teaching this course at a public college or school in about half of the American states. I doubt, in teaching ‘white male history,’ that I would be permitted to dwell on slavery, lynching, ‘separate but equal,’ and how the rights of women were denied during much of America’s existence and, today, by the Supreme Court.

Expand full comment

Keith, I have only taught briefly at the college level and when I did so, no one told me what to teach or how to teach or what NOT to teach. When did it become the norm for a GOVERNOR to authorize the curricula of colleges and universities and be able to influence college AP curricula? This has really stumped me. Have Floridians turned their entire educational system, from top to bottom over to a dictator? And if so, how did this happen and why did they allow it?

Expand full comment

Same is happening right here in TX, too. Terrifying and deeply tragic.

Expand full comment

Who is doing it? The legislature? TEA? When did school districts lose their authority? I've been retired for a while, so I'm out of the loop.

Expand full comment

You're right to ask. Not sure. Could be any or all of them. Maybe it's the school districts themselves bending to current political pressure? Have heard it in debates between politicians and teachers on why we have such a big shortage of teachers. From teachers and authors themselves on tpr. Haven't researched it deeply enough to know the answer to exactly who is responsible.

Expand full comment

Some suggest that “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” should replace to “Star-Spangled Banner” as America's national anthem, and there is good reason to do so. Upon witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in September 1815 during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, a Maryland lawyer and slaveholder, penned the words to “Star-Spangled Banner,” the third verse of which contained the following lines denigrating fugitive slaves that helped the British during that war: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.” For an excellent recent study of “Star-Spangled Banner,” see Mark Clague, O Say Can You Hear?: A Cultural Biography of The Star-Spangled Banner (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2022).

Expand full comment

What we need is an anthem free of religious or slavery reference. Like it or not. the United States of America, is a multi-race, multi-National origin, and a very multitudinous religious bent. We have representatives from each of the three Races - Caucasoid (white) Mongoloid (Asian) and Negroid (black) and every conceivable mixture. We have religious beliefs from Atheism, Buddhism, Christian., Muslim, Confucianism, Hindi, Taoism, Shintoism, and undoubtedly many I've missed. The words on the Statue of Liberty "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." have been taken literally. We are a better Country for this diversity. We need to embrace it for the beauty and multi culture it brings.

Expand full comment

Yes, Fay, your comment expresses my thoughts so well. As a Jewish person, I have been aware of the Christian focus in our schools and often public programs since I was five years old. A long, long time. Our country. What about our constitution?

Yesterday in The Hartmann Report, Thom Hartmann addresses Religion and Civil Society: “The Founders and Framers believed that secular democracy is a more powerful unifying force for a decent and peaceful civil society than any religion ever was or could be. “ An excellent read. https://open.substack.com/pub/thomhartmann/p/is-scotus-about-to-put-religion-over?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email

Expand full comment

Thank you, Irenie. I apologize for leaving the founding religion (Judaism) of both Christianity and Muslim from my incomplete list of religions. And yes the Framers of the Constitution, regardless of their own particular religious beliefs were adamant that the State remain secular. I am an atheist, but I respect everyone's right to their own religious beliefs. I just happen to believe those beliefs should be kept personal and not foisted on the Nation as a whole. As a teacher, I refused to include the phrase "under god" in the oath of allegiance. Fortunately, during my time as a teacher, the State of California did away with pledging the oath and with school prayer, I'm ok with pledging an oath except I think it should say: "I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and for the Rule of Law for which it stands. One Nation, with Liberty and Justice for all"

Expand full comment

That's exactly what I say when I'm obligated to stand when the pledge is said. I refuse to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth. I also think that public officials should take their oath of office on a copy of the Constitution instead of a religious test. During the impeachment hearings it became painfully obvious to me that I could never testify before a Congressional committee because I refuse to say the words, "so help me god." Oh, and every day that each House of Congress is in session they open with a prayer, usually led by a Christian pastor yet the poor widdle Christians claim that they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Sigh....

Expand full comment

A Pledge should be just that, a promise. Here’s a pledge to our Earth.

“I Pledge Allegiance to the Protection of our Mother Planet, the Earth,

and to the Environment in which we live, one Global Home,

Indivisible, with unspoiled water, unpolluted air,

and protected natural resources for All Life!”

http://pledgeoftheearth.com/

Expand full comment

Beautiful. Thank you.

Expand full comment

If this were to happen, most people would never agree to passing any amendment or change of interpretation. The Constitution would be given such a religious patina of literalism that it would cease to work as a structure adaptable to the current mores and ethics...becoming the opposite of what makes it most valuable. Dogma always negates critical thinking.

Expand full comment

I get your point but would like to point out that the Constitution includes a provision to amendment itself.

That said, I doubt that there will be another amendment to the COTUS in my lifetime. The second to last one changed the voting age to 18. It was an attempt to appease Vietnam War protestors and took a mere 100 days from proposal to ratification. The last one (#27) took almost 203 years.

Expand full comment

Thank you MisTBlu (like that name) I too, want the elected officials to be sworn in on the Constitution not a religious tract, it is far more meaningful to the office they are seeking.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

Fay, your reply and comment really touch on the issue of religion and government. And choice. It’s not new but it’s a continuing conversation. And becoming more obvious when our courts allow religion to override constitutional rights and the limits of religion in government.

Expand full comment

I think “under God” was thrown in there by Eisenhower. My mother, a Holocaust victim from Berlin, said that always bothered her. I, like Irenie, was raised Jewish but in a Southern Baptist town. There was a church on every corner. In our junior high school, Bible study was part of the curriculum. I felt uncomfortable because it was the New Testament which I was not familiar with. My parents were none to happy about it either so they petitioned to get me out of that class...thank goodness! I am like you, Fay, in that I do not pledge my allegiance to “God”.

Expand full comment

One nation, under which you are free to worship whom and how you please,...

Expand full comment

It's astonishing to accept that many modern humans grovel and cower to imaginary super-beings merely because someone else told them to do so.

Expand full comment

You are correct. It was the Eisenhower administration that inserted the "under God" bit.

Expand full comment

Yes. I remember being in elementary school when we were suddenly instructed to add those two words. I wondered at the time, why? And why now? I think that was the beginning of my fervent belief in the continual need for separation of church and state, as our founders so structured our Union. It is essential to our democracy and is shockingly all too often ignored.

Expand full comment

It was inserted to counteract those "godless" Communists.

Expand full comment

Thank you for confirming that, Peter.

Expand full comment

A lot of permanent damage was done to religious freedom during the Cold War. Interesting that this seems to be the era that the MAGAts want to return us to.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

As one from the Land Down Under, I wonder why so many Americans are so into the Pledge of Allegiance (whatever wording it has). As a regular visitor over the decades to the US, I have been amazed at level of flag waving etc that goes on. The Pledge is part of that mentality and so many Americans - certainly all the MAGA crowd - are contemporary examples of what William Pitt was referring to when he quipped that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel".

Expand full comment

That phrase was actually coined by Samuel Butler.

“In 1774, he printed The Patriot, a critique of what he viewed as false patriotism. On the evening of 7 April 1775, he made a famous statement: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." The line was not, as is widely believed, about patriotism in general but rather what Johnson saw as the false use of the term "patriotism" by William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (the patriot minister) and his supporters. Johnson opposed "self-professed patriots" in general but valued what he considered "true" self-professed patriotism.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_views_of_Samuel_Johnson

Expand full comment

That would apply to Putin today, rewriting history and dishing up "the Motherland" at every opportunity. Patriotism is a common tool of fascists and despots. That doesn't mean it is fundamentally flawed, however. Despots create an enemy or enemies to justify their own existence. I would agree that fascism and despotism are raising their ugly heads again in America, in some cases disguised as patriotism, against our own form of liberal democracy.

Expand full comment

Nothing wrong with waving the flag of one's home Nation but there is something adverse with thinking one can describe the "mentality" of a population while pretending to be progressive.

Expand full comment

Unfortunately I have to use the phrase, "With Liberty and Justice for some."

Perhaps some day I'll be able to use the phrase as intended but for now it is a lie. -saw-

Expand full comment

I think the "liberty and justice for all" part is central if we take it seriously. To retain and improve our respect for everyone's human rights, it is necessary that the government we share limit itself to authority that can be demonstrated by testing, evidence and cross-examination as in a court, or scientific procedures to guide climate policy, public health, and even economic policies; that is, evidence based.

I am OK with allowing government to mandate particle masks in the midst of a predatory pandemic, just as it was mandatory to use blackout shades to confuse Nazi bombers over Brittan in WWII. I don't want something foisted on me just because an individual or group thinks it's so, but offers only their own intense belief as proof. They may be right, and to discus what they think. but should have no authority over those who lack their convictions. I think that's the position of the Constitution.

Expand full comment

Strongly recommend Hartmann’s work. He is a perfect complement to HCR. He also sees the big picture regarding the devastating gain by the wealthy of radio and television stations in the U.S., and how myriad

right-leaning radio stations and later podcasts caught hold in rural areas over the last 20 years, and further entrenched rural areas -- sans the Fairness Doctrine -- strongholds of white supremacists. And much more.

Expand full comment

Whole heartedly agree. I'm enjoying (I think) the current serialization of his book; kinda scary stuff.

Expand full comment

The "wretched refuse" part always seemed weird to me, but I think the US got a big boost by combining skills and perspectives from other parts of the world. I think there are still things we could learn from other societies around the world, including those that were here when Europeans landed.

Expand full comment

Those who came here or the prisoners sent to Australia were, for the most part, the wretched refuse. The Irish were treated as slaves. All came because they had been told it was a chance to escape poverty in their cities.

Expand full comment

America the Beautiful? I found this less known lyric on. https://americanliterature.com/author/katharine-lee-bates/poem/america-the-beautiful "America! America! God mend thy every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

Expand full comment

A few edits...

America! America! Let's mend thy every flaw,

Confirm this goal with gun control

Thy liberty in law.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 2, 2023

I love this - but would need to change remarks about god involved. The pledge of allegiance was written at the end of the Civil War. He was a minister. The ¨God¨ was added by Eisenhower in the 50´s https://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

Expand full comment

My Granddad, a Silver Star recipient and far from a raging atheist, disagreed with the addition of "under God," and never said it when reciting the pledge. He thought it went against the idea of America as a place where religion was irrelevant when it came to your value as a citizen. I am inclined to agree with him.

Expand full comment

People don’t need Government inclusion in order to worship “their own” God. Nor does God expect that

The Evangelical movement in that direction ignores the Constitution AND ignores the notion of worship itself

Expand full comment

Since the 3rd grade, I’ve omitted the words “under God” from any recitation of the pledge that I’ve done. Score 2 for Mom.

Expand full comment

"O beautiful for patriot's dream, that sees beyond the years, thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human fears. America, America, God mend thine every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law" Third verse in the version that I have, and it is what I "sing" every time I play it in public.

It is far more fitting than the SSB, and was written by an American woman. I am with other commenters that having mention of God in the national anthem sticks in my craw. For an anthem, I love "O Canada".

Expand full comment

Well, ¨God¨ seems to not be mending every flaw.

Expand full comment

Yes, Fay, we are. Very "multi". And I like it. Variety is the spice of life.

I am a "none" who reads the Tao to keep myself on course. I am offended by religious references that are expressed as some sort of universal truth. The government must be "faith neutral".

Diverse belief systems can be learned from. A variety of faiths can teach us lessons in history.

There is an arrogance and frankly, pure stupidity in saying that one's "religion' is the best one, or the only one that is legit, or the only one to be embedded in national anthems and documents.

Every system of faith, of social order, of governance - all of them were invented by somebody. Embraced by more and then perverted by others who used that system to dominate and control. They all have valuable lessons and they all suck when used for selfish gain.

But if we peel back the wasteful rituals and the twisted attitudes of the practitioners, there is usually a common goal. It's usually about harmony, peace, tolerance, love and welcoming the stranger. If you don't find that in your faith, run. Run and don't look back.

Expand full comment

My Mom used to bastardize an old Ken-L-Ration dog food commercial:

My God is better than your God, my God's better than yours

My God's better 'cause he gets Ken-L-Ration, my God's better than yours.

Expand full comment

Lol!

+1 for mom.

Expand full comment

Deep bow and much gratitude for this, Bill.

Expand full comment

Which is why Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is your Land” is offen offered as an alternative. Another is Irving Berlin’s “God bless America.”

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2023·edited Feb 3, 2023

Fay Reid: Excellent. I would only add the Red Race, the original peoples of America. If we don't include them as a foursome then we need to just say African/Negroid because that is ultimately where we all come from... and there is still some debate about that: multiple origin sites of homo sapiens. Nevertheless, Native American prophecy states that this land, Turtle Island, is the place where the 4 races would eventually come together in peace... or perish.

Expand full comment

We don't include them, because scientifically they belong to the Mongoloid race. There is one Genus (Homo) one species (sapiens) NO subspecies but we can be distinguished by 3 separated groups that evolved on different parts of the Earth. The term race is now obsolete as the original distinct tribes - Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid have become so interbred that there are no significantly distinguishing characteristics. As we traveled from continent to continent first in search of food and then from our innate curiosity (or greed) we became more and more interbred.

Expand full comment

Wow! Interesting. Thank you.

Expand full comment

I absolutely agree.

Expand full comment

We should use "America the Beautiful" (which we almost did if the captain of the US Olympic Team at the first modern Olympics in 1896 hadn't told the Greek bandmaster to use Star Spangled Banner when asked which song of the two to play, since there was no official national anthem at the time).

Of course it should only be the version done by Ray Charles.

Expand full comment

“Ray Charles!, Ray Charles!!; Columbus comes to America, he gonna discover Ray Charles!!!!”

—-Flip Wilson

https://youtu.be/q6RQEhUYTuQ

Expand full comment

For all the real problems with the Star Spangled Banner, the extensive religulous wording of the Battle Hymn fares no better. No thanks, next!

Expand full comment