On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where more than 23,000 men had been killed or wounded the previous July defending the United States of America from those who would destroy it.
"And he urged them “to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain
—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”"
Dr. Richardson. I can hear your message. I can see what you see through your writing and historical understanding of our country.
However, I have a son. Twenty-four. I am from Texas where public education turned me from a poor East Texas dirt farmer to a senior engineer people relied on to get stuff done correctly. I was paid well after about 10 years of not being promoted because: My father is from Mexico and my mother was redhead whose lineage in the USA began in 1620.
So, I had a "Mexican" last name. For 10 years in my early career as an engineer, while folks around me in my corporation were getting raises and promotions, but, working less and doing less, I was getting zero raises.
Finally, I got out of that company (Eastman Kodak) and managed to move into a software imaging role at a company where they did give me a few raises.
When I changed jobs the group leader at my new company told me I was getting paid $25,000 per year less than a guy they hired with my same degree who was five years younger than me.
This group leader worked to give me good raises. By the time I "retired" because our organization was outsourced to India by the "new" manager in a white shirt with, shocker, white skin who decided that was a great idea.
But, I managed to make it to age 60 in America as an engineer with a minority last name and came close to getting paid the same as the another white guy who actually slept during meetings where critical aspects of the project were discussed. I routinely put in 10 hour days just to get to parity by the end of my career.
Now? My son is 24. He is an engineer. His boss just told him that he would not make the promotion milestone at two years like everyone else (all white). He told my son this even though the two year marke is EIGHT MONTHS away.
So, Dr. Richardson, I can tell you: I hear your call to action.
But, my wife is an American of immigrant parents from Greece. She is now a Greek citizen.
We are working mightily to get our children Greek Citizenship.
Then, we will get them over to the EU and out of the USA. Having a "Mexican" last name in America where only white guys get hired and promoted EVEN when "Democracy" is working?
For me, for miy kids, it does not make any sense to go and "fight" for Democracy in a Democracy that only reocognizes the existence of white people where economic success is relevant.
So, I think this time around, Dr. Richardson, you will find that there are far fewer people willing to leave their homes and go die for the concept of "Democracy" when, even when it is ostensibly "working" it is really not working for everyone.
Just white folks.
I was in engeering at three big corporations for 39 years. During that time I saw two black engineers hired (both were accused by the whites of being recipients of affirmative action EVEN though both of them had higher GPA than any of the whites that were also employed).
I saw one other person with a "Mexican" last name in the engineering ranks. Like me, he was paid below all his whte counterparts.
And I saw an ARMY of white guys whose Dad's got them jobs, whose grades from college were atrocious, whose work ethic was sleeping during meetings.
So, Dr. Richardson, I hear your call. But, I don't think Amurca, even when it is a "Democracy", is worth my kids dying at the hands of the nutcases like Rittenhouse.
Let Amurcans have "their" country. I am sure they will grind what little is left into the dirt.
The Chinese already have all of our manufacuturing and technology, outsourced by white guys in in white shirts here who were shafting America workers for big bonuses while Amurca was a "Democracy".
OK. This was too long, I am sure you will not read it.
But, AFTER Lincoln's Gettysberg address America had 100 years of Jim Crow and after the Civil Rights legislation people could vote but guess what?
They could not get good jobs and still cannot. I was lucky because my Mom was white.
Otherwise, I would never have even been hired in America as an engineer. I would never have become middle class.
I would apologize, but, I want my kids in the EU. Not dying in another civil war that won't matter any way. They, my kids, will still be "spics".
But, I will keep learning and reading from you and appreciate your passion for "Democracy".
Although not surprised by the Rittenhouse verdict with a blatant white supremacist judge who influenced the trial, I am more concerned about our democracy than ever. I see the gerrymandering and the voter suppression laws being passed by the gerrymandered Republican states. We are definitely at a crossroads and I want to help however I can to protect our democracy from the violence promoting fascists that are threatening it. Like many I was already exhausted from 4 years of Trump. Then came Covid exhaustion. We (nurses) are still being threatened by Covid deniers/ anti vaxers. We are exhausted! Sorry I just had to vent. I know I’m safe venting to this community. Thank you Heather and all.
This is a brilliant repartee between Lincoln's words on 19th November, 1863 and the occurrences and words spoken on the same date in 2021, and between Lincoln's vision and current Republicans' diabolical sightlessness. Your play with shadows and light on both occasions is perfectly executed. Thank you for the audiovisual contrasts that highlight the positives as well as the negatives.
"[The Build Back Better Bill] reorients our national investment away from a wealthy few and toward ordinary families, much as Lincoln insisted in 1859 that the country should not invest in elite enslavers, but rather in ordinary men, who would innovate as they worked to provide for their families."
The Rittenhouse verdict is not simply disappointing, it is devastating. The message it gives to our country, our youth, and BIPOC communities is that of bloodshed and a return to John Wayne's Wild West when what we all need sense and sensibility.
Thank you for your teachings and your wisdom!
Hundreds (if not thousands) of Americans will die violent deaths as a direct result of the Rittenhouse verdicts. The OJ Simpson verdict pales in comparison. Another huge win for Republicans in their Civil War against American Democracy. (Personally I will remember the exact moment I read the Rittenhouse verdicts on my phone as precisely as I remember the times and places when I heard about the Kennedy assassination and the fall of the Twin Towers. It is that big a deal ... make no mistake about it.)
# SEVEN SCORE AND FOURTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY
On November 19th, if I’m working in a school, I like to teach a lesson about The Gettysburg Address. But it’s not a history lesson, it’s a writing lesson.
I’ve never published this lesson but I’m putting it into my 3rd edition because I need to feel like I’m contributing at least some small measure of hope that the United States of America will survive the current unprecedented assault on democracy by people who I won’t call Republicans because I have too much respect for Republicans like Abraham Lincoln—and the few Republicans left today, like Liz Cheney—to lump them in with what I call “The New Right” or “The New Wrong”.
As you read this, remember that it’s not a history lesson, or a lesson in politics, or anything the least bit provocative at all.
It’s just a harmless writing lesson about a simple technique for helping people remember our words when every word matters.
Here it is…
# THE STUBBORN SOUND OF STRUGGLE
What most of us remember about *The Gettysburg Address* is the opening phrase, “Four score and seven years ago,…”. Even if we don’t know what a “score” of years is, why Lincoln began the address this way, or what he was referring to that happened in the past, the sound of the line catches our ear and tells us that something special is about to unfold.
We’re probably hooked after two words: “Four score…”. It’s a rhyme as simple as any from Dr. Seuss. That’s part of what makes it work.
The truth is we don’t have to know that a “score” of years is 20. Or that “Four score and seven years…” is 87. Or even that the speech was given in 1863, and that 87 years earlier it was 1776, and that what Lincoln was doing here in this very first phrase was attempting to broaden the appeal of the Union cause beyond the issue of slavery to the fate of the nation as a whole—by connecting The Battle of Gettysburg with The Declaration of Independence.
We don’t need to know any of this because the sound of Lincoln’s words tells us that the ideas they represent matter because the fate of democracy everywhere on Earth depends upon the success of democracy in the United States.
## A RIGHTEOUS MUSIC
There’s another part of the speech, a part of few of us know, a part that isn’t talked about much, but a part nonetheless where the sound of Lincoln’s words brings a righteous music to their meaning.
> “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
When Lincoln wrote, “The world will little note nor long remember…” he knew the exact opposite would be true, that the world would indeed take note and always remember The Battle of Gettysburg. Here again, he used the sound of his words to make a phrase more memorable.
In this case, he gave us a beautifully folded pair of alliterations: “…little note, nor long…”. It’s an elegant turn of phrase that turns our attention to another interesting sound in the speech: the sound of the word “here”.
## HERE, HERE!
The speech lasted less than three minutes. It’s only 272 words. Nine of those words are the word “here”. He uses the word “here” five times in just 68 words here:
> “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled HERE, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say HERE, but it can never forget what they did HERE. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated HERE to the unfinished work which they who fought HERE have thus far so nobly advanced.”
This is no accident. It’s not a person out of words to express himself. It’s a deliberate trchnique, and an effective one for two reasons: (1) It heightens our sense of the importance of the place; (2) And it brings back that “R” sound over and over just like “FouR scoRe” and the “woRLd will little note, noR long RemembeR”.
## SAY IT!
Say the “R” sound. Stretch it out. Feel the rattle in the back of your throat, your teeth coming together, maybe even your jaw clenched.
This is the sound of deteRmination, the sound of peRseverance. It is the stubborn sound of struggle, the sound of right here, right now, this changes everything.
And everything did change.
## WHAT LINCOLN KNEW
Gettysburg proved to be a decisive battle. But both sides lost the same number of men: about 50,000 each. What Lincoln knew was that he had more men to bring to battle as long as he could inspire them to the cause.
Lincoln was so conscious of the importance of this moment. That’s why he spoke for just a few moments.
## WHAT LINCOLN NEEDED
*The Gettysburg Address* is short and full of easily memorizable bits of language because Lincoln knew he needed more men to fight beyond those fighting against the injustice of slavery.
He needed more men to fight for the survival of the American experiment, the fate of a “new nation” that he contends began in 1776 with the signing of The Declaration of Independence.
Never mind at all that we didn’t actually have a nation at that point. The United States of America didn’t exist in 1776. There was a war to fight and win and even a few more years after that before The US Constitution would be worked out well enough to know we had a new nation well in hand.
But none of this mattered because Lincoln’s speech was so short and the sound of his words said everything anyone needed to know—even if they didn’t know what the words meant.
And even though it was windy that day and Lincoln’s voice was never a strong one, people could copy his words quickly and send them all over the country so that tens of thousands of people would hear them, too, and be moved to that larger sense of purpose.
Lincoln spoke for only three minutes. The man before him spoke for three hours. It was Edward Everett, former Governor of Massachusetts and America’s first Ph.D. He was one of the great orators of the day. But no one remembers any of the words he said or even that he was there to say them.
Today, we all remember what Lincoln said, even if all we remember are the first few words. Even if we don’t know why he said them or exactly what they meant, we know, even now, more than 150 years later, what it felt like because we can hear in his words the stubborn sound of struggle.
## TBE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
My heart breaks. I can only hope that reasonable people experience enough good through the actions of the Biden administration that we can somehow continue to move forward despite the volume and machinations of the far right. But I am discouraged that the hate and lies continue to be broadcast so loudly and prominently.
An underage kid illegally obtains an automatic rifle and travels to a town where he does not live, knows no one, and has no investment to protect.
He gets into a confrontation with 3 others and shoots them. He not only gets off on all counts, he is now a hero for killing people on cold blood?? He’s being offered a congressional internship? He’s being idolized in a documentary?
WTF have we come to?
"Every single Republican voted against the measure."
There needs to be a massive, continuous PR campaign to highlight their opposing votes because you can bet the Republicans are going back to their districts to take credit for bringing the fruits of BBB to their constituents. The Democrats need to work at getting all the credit.
Lincoln's idea that the Declaration of Independence is more a "proposition" than immutable cornerstone is much closer to the mark than the Founder's belief that "all men are created equal", especially since many of the Founders owned slaves.
Slaves and Native Americans were not equal, nor were white women.
The "inalienable" rights belonged to white, Anglo-Saxon men.
Fast foward to the present, and the absence of inclusiveness in the Declaration of Independence (and its attendant horrors for Native Americans, and enslaved Africans (along with other acts of great violence) demonstrates a causal link to the casual violence of a Rittenhouse (other vigilantes), the current GOP and its supporters.
And believe me, had Rittenhouse been Black, armed and killed two unarmed people, and wounded a third, he wouldn't be alive to stand trial.
The idea of "inalienable" rights for a few is what the GOP craves.
I hope such a craving is firmly denied by those of us who want a better, healthier, safer country for all.
We are in a civil war now with common sense pitted against the extreme right. I hope some federal charges can be filed against Rittenhouse. Wolf Blitzer implied they still could. We are in a civil war against those who are trying to prevent our votes from counting, and those who think it is reasonable to gun down anyone trying to protest what they are doing. The kind of police brutality that inspired the Wisconsin protests that Rittenhouse brought an AR 15 gun into, and all this madness that has people allowed to carry guns around with them, like the 3rd guy Rittenhouse shot, who said he always carries a gun when he goes out, puts us all in danger. This is total insanity.
This is as close as HCR can get to telling us to stop resting and ACT--we've had a year of rest! To get back on the phones and canvassing, and contributing to organizations paying attention to elections for DAs, judges, state attorneys general, election commissioners, school boards. We have to win the democracy in a million small pieces and that takes WORK. We have less than a year left. Given the darkness of this year and the massive success rate of Republican gerrymandering and voter-suppression legislation and in off-year elections, it looks like 2022, not 2024, will be the decisive election. If it's lost, we'll have no chance in 2024 or, according to many scholars of electoral politics, ever again. Climate change without democracy...think about it.
The acquittal on all five counts by the jury shows the system worked as it was intended
-and that system is unjust.
"Faux news" was allowed to film a documentary, but MSNBC was banned from covering the end of the trial.
The dead were not allowed to be called victims.
He crossed state lines and armed himself with an assault weapon it was illegal for him, at 17, to purchase. His mother reportedly said she fears if he had not had the weapon, he would have been killed. But Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber the only people killed at that protest.
...a protest against a law enforcement officer putting four shots into James Blake's back and another three into his body, paralyzing him. With his three children in the car - boys ages 3, 5 and 8.
Are we witnesses to government of the people, by the people, for the people
perishing from the earth?
Swamped in the sadness, the reprehensible sorrow of the Kenosha court, in apologia for this grave miscarriage of justice, I rage against the machininations of the lawless...the illegal defenses of the para-whatevers. Inchoate rage against the idjts and their ilk. Sickened, am I, by the violence, judicial, and otherwise, against our rights. How many among us will protest in free and just actions now that we have been declared fodder for the likes of Rittenhouse?
If Kyle was BIPOC, he likely would have been harmed, and definitely would have faced a different outcome in court.
I once took a self-defense class when I was in college.
The instructor said, “everyone has a right to go anywhere they’re legally permitted access and at whatever time of day or night, barring any rules to the contrary.” (This varies in society’s eyes depending on skin color.)
The instructor also said, “That being said, the best way for anyone to defend themselves is to avoid situations where their safety might threatened.” (The situations to be avoided also vary depending on skin color.)
White male, Kyle Rottenhouse, with the full knowledge, consent, and aid of his own mother, willingly and irresponsibly cast good sense and his own safety aside to put himself in an unsafe situation, with a loaded weapon that was clearly visible, looked intimidating / threatening to others, and easily able to kill a person. Which it did. Twice. And seriously harmed one other person.
Let’s look at this from a another perspective. Had this been a rape case and Kyle a female victim, those same people who think Kyle is a hero would have thought “Kylie” dressed in a manner designed to elicit a certain emotion, shouldn’t have gone to that place, and shouldn’t be surprised that others drew certain conclusions about “her intentions”.
What we witnessed with the Rittenhouse trial is a horrid victory for the members of the KKK and their offshoots like the Proud Bois, etc. If there are other trials that the verdict(s) are similar, our nation will have a very tough time recovering to any type of normalcy, as we knew it. I truly do not want to be a fatalist but both of my parents were Holocaust victims. They never wanted to say they were survivors because they weren’t in the camps, but their plight to get to America was difficult and arduous. My mother’s parents were killed…gassed at Chelmno in 1942. My father’s relatives were lined up in fields and shot. This is the grim reality of what people do to other people. African Americans have had to fight tooth and nail just to be recognized for what is fair and just. Look at how long that has taken!! It’s still being argued about. Why? Because they are a different shade than you? Jews received the same fate. How many millions must die and why are we killing each other? The Senate is full of neo-Nazis and so is the House. They are in full view. Ask yourselves why would we even tolerate their egregious acts of speeches that incite. They are not going away but neither are we. We must fight arm in arm. We must!
Thanks to the Rittenhouse verdicts, I fear a chilling effect on lawful protests. Wannabe Rittenhouses, hoping to become famous and cash in, will feel emboldened to use their weapons against people peacefully exercising First Amendment rights. And just wait to see how Tucker Carlson, TFG, and the rogue's gallery of authoritarians in Congress build Rittenhouse into a larger-than-life action hero. Mark my words, Rittenhouse will be invited to attend Biden's State of the Union address and bask in the attention from fawning Republicans. Imagine the spectacle.