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We do too much "heroification" in America, according to James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (one of his several books that ought to be on everybody's shelf). Like me, he thinks the word hero has been cheapened, ending up more often a description for football quarterbacks who throw perfect last-minute passes than for, say, the passerby who risks her own life to pull a child from a flooding river.

Heroification describes what textbooks, too many teachers, and the likes of Lynne Cheney have done to historical figures such as the deeply racist Woodrow Wilson and a multitude of other notable Americans. The process of heroification not only turns the notorious into role models but many people who actually deserve the praise pressed upon them into one-dimensional stereotypes without flaws. As if we couldn't stand to see our heroes as human beings who don't always get things right, who, in fact, sometimes behave deplorably and hypocritically.

Despite his flaws, my number one personal hero is—and has been since I was introduced at age 14 to his autobiography—Frederick Douglass, the runaway slave whose persistent eloquence was one of the leading factors persuading Abraham Lincoln to bring black soldiers into the Union Army. Without them, it is uncertain that the Union would have survived. As historian Eric Foner wrote in 2004:

At an Independence Day meeting sponsored by the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in 1852, the former slave Frederick Douglass delivered one of the nineteenth century's greatest orations. His theme was the contradiction between American slavery and American freedom.

Douglass did not mince words. He spoke of a government that mouthed the language of liberty yet committed "crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages"; of patriotism reduced to "swelling vanity"; of hypocrisy destroying the country's "moral power abroad." Although slavery is gone, Douglass's critique remains as relevant as in 1852. But so too does his optimism that the days of empire are over, and that in the modern world abuses cannot permanently be hidden from the light of day. Douglass, not the leaders of a slave-holding republic, was the genuine patriot, who called on his listeners to reclaim the "great principles" of the Declaration from those who had defiled and betrayed them. That is a truly patriotic goal for our own Fourth of July.

Here is an excerpt of the scathing speech Douglass gave 160 years ago, in Rochester, N.Y., where he founded the abolitionist newspaper, The North Star:

Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, "may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth"! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine. I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate, I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just....

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!...

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply....

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.


A version of this diary first appeared at Daily Kos in 2008.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One of the greatest speeches of all time (21+ / 0-)

    from the man who educated Abraham Lincoln about his racism.

    Hands off my ObamaCare[TM] http://www.reddit.com/tb/vbkfm

    by Mokurai on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:49:33 PM PDT

  •  Most of Loewen's books belong on everyone's shelf (21+ / 0-)
    one of his several books that ought to be on everybody's shelf
    Not this one: Lies Across America belongs in everyone's travel bag. Thanks for your reminder of Loewen on top of Douglass's reminder of our founders:
    What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: ... your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy
    Douglass says this in 1852, to an audience that might have included children of those who first fought for independence. Some may have even been children at the time of the boycotts, blockades, evacuations, forced quartering and street by street fighting. An audience in Rochester would certainly have remembered at least the war of 1812. And he calls it "your Fourth of July."

    Why? He's a wise man, and wouldn't waste his effort on beating people down verbally without some practical goal. He's knows this audience, and knows what the founders mean to them.

    The founders knew that Royal surrender and evacuation did not complete their mission, a mission which this audience knew they were expected to continue. The founders knew that their laws and institutions were imperfect, and were at best a necessary compromise on the road to self governance. The founders' second attempt at a federal constitution, then as old as the New Deal is now, was under severe stress, and Douglass knew he could rouse them to the task.

    Choosing hypocrisy as a common enemy is some of the best political genius I've seen. All the specific cases of barbarity he demonstrates, and all the religious and philosophical arguments he makes, are really in the service of his final image: Your parents meant to build a throne for Liberty, and now it's up to you all to finally throw Hypocrisy's hairy old butt out of it.

    For all of our ideals we each and we all fail to live up to, a Douglass harangue now and then would do us good.

    Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

    by chimpy on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:50:29 PM PDT

  •  Douglass on John Brown (16+ / 0-)

    http://memory.loc.gov/...

    The friendship of Frederick Douglass and John Brown began in 1848, when Douglass visited Brown's home in Springfield, Massachusetts. Brown confided to Douglass his ambitious scheme to free the slaves. Over the next eleven years, Brown sought Douglass's counsel and support. In August 1859 Brown made a final plea to Douglass to join the raid on Harpers Ferry. Douglass refused. After Brown's capture, federal marshals issued a warrant for Douglass's arrest as an accomplice. Douglass fled abroad. When he returned five months later to mourn the death of his youngest daughter Annie, he had been exonerated. Douglass wrote this lecture as a tribute to "a hero and martyr in the cause of liberty."

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:51:03 PM PDT

  •  Allen West would do well to read this before he (14+ / 0-)

    next talks about enslavement

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 05:54:27 PM PDT

  •  I would like to do away with this version (6+ / 0-)

    of independence day, and actually earn one like it that has whole truth in it for everyone.
    What a world that would be.

    Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

    by Burned on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:00:07 PM PDT

    •  It stands as a reminder (6+ / 0-)

      Think about it for our country like New Year's Eve is for your own personal goals. We are each a work in progress, and on every birthday or New Year's Eve we take stock on how well we've lived up to last year's resolutions. It's not always pretty, and it can be hard to take without friends and family around to cheer us. We know there's room for improvement. That's obvious in our finances, waistlines, and relationships. But, it's imperative to our survival that we also believe there's hope for improvement. Because we can't truly commit to something we believe impossible.

      And, just as we're each ourselves a work in progress, so is our collective attempt at institutions of self-government. Nobody thought it was going to be easy, and few ever agreed on the best methods. Every attempt to improve it demands personal sacrifices, yet improve it we must.

      Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

      by chimpy on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:14:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  :) That reminds me of mom (7+ / 0-)

        When my kids were born, my mom said that I should think of baptism as just a wish that my children would do good in the world and go ahead and do it anyway, despite my non belief, because what if you didn't...she was afraid of me not doing it, even though she herself was not a believer. That's what she said she did with me when I was baptized.
        I didn't do it. Times are easier now, to break away from those things that have no purpose or meaning in your life.

        I believe we can do better some day. There is no failure of imagination, and I sure don't need a bunch of flag wavers in my face to continue imagining. Fireworks are pretty though.

        I don't set goals on New Years, but I do set goals most every morning when I open my eyes. It works better for me that way.

        Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

        by Burned on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:42:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sublime's version of the biblical reference (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimpy, palantir, divineorder, 4Freedom

    from Douglass's speech:

    certainly a powerful speech. Pity there is no recording of it, it would probably rank right up there with "I have a Dream" and 'The Gettysburg Address"

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:02:40 PM PDT

  •  This is read every year in Boston (15+ / 0-)

    Every year volunteers gather near the state house in Boston around July 4th to read this entire speech - 52 paragraphs.  The venue is in front of a statue honoring the Mass. 54th - the first black regiment to fight in the civil war.

    It is very informal - you just line up and wait your turn to read.  It has become one of the regular black community events around Boston's historical celebrations - along with the ride of William Dawes through Roxbury on April 19th etc.

    This year the reading was done on Monday, July 2nd at noon.    Thanks for posting this.

    Dig Deeper. No one said this is easy. Contributions this cycle so far: Orange to Blue democrats in Congress; Elisabeth Warren; Tom Barrett and Wisconsin recall; Ann McLane Kuster, Planned Parenthood

    by tsackton on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:20:51 PM PDT

    •  Douglass's speech itself was delivered on... (9+ / 0-)

      ...July 5, but you'll see references to it having been made on July 2, 4, and 5.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:25:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I lived there long ago, never heard that reading (5+ / 0-)

      Just standing in front of the Mass 54th's memorial relief any day of the year is enough to make the rest of the city disappear for a moment, though. I wish I knew those were going on, and I hope events send me there on some future Fourth.

      OMNIA RELINQUIT
      SERVARE REMPUBLICAM
      Standing there, I might expect the magnitude of our ancestors' accomplishment, and the weight of their expectations, to make me feel terribly small. It doesn't. Humble, yes, but not small or weak. It shows those with so little giving what they could. Their expressions makes clear that they don't look forward to glory or expect easy success. It somehow calls out our strength without forcing us to dwell on our weakness.

      Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

      by chimpy on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:45:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is one of my very favoritest (6+ / 0-)

    American speeches. Douglas's graceful rhetoric is music to the ear, no matter what color that ear is. The cadence of his words makes me feel like those words are dancing, all by themselves, in a stately rhythm that encompasses heaven, hell, and the dusty fields where mortals walk. He's one of the people I want to meet after I'm dead.

    The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature. - Arthur D. Hlavaty

    by Alice Venturi on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:48:50 PM PDT

  •  An amazing essay. (8+ / 0-)

    The passage from Matthew as quoted by Frederick Douglas:

    "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."
    From Godspell: On the Willows

    On the willows, there
    We hung up our lyres
    For our captors there
    Required
    Of us songs
    And our tormentors mirth
    On the willows, there
    We hung up our lyres
    For our captors there
    Required
    Of us songs
    And our tormentor's mirth
    Saying
    Sing us one
    Of the songs of Zion
    Sing us one
    Of the songs of Zion
    But how can we sing?
    Sing the Lord's songs?
    In a foreign land?

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:50:50 PM PDT

  •  My history classes talked about Frederick Douglass (13+ / 0-)

    role as a Black leader, but we never read any of his blistering oratory.

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:59:08 PM PDT

  •  A few of the 180,000 USCTs ... (11+ / 0-)

    U.S. Colored Troops

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:01:00 PM PDT

  •  One of my heroes... (7+ / 0-)

    and I don't have many.

    Frederick Douglas belongs in the American pantheon along with Franklin, King, and Lincoln.

    "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

    by Inventor on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:32:41 PM PDT

  •  'Heroification' is a good word (7+ / 0-)

    for a troubling phenomenon.  

    Wonderful diary.

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

    by David Kaib on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 08:30:42 PM PDT

  •  Echo of History (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, 4Freedom, peregrine kate

    Last I heard, the current owner of the plantation in Maryland where Douglass was sent to the "slave-breaker" Edward Covey  was Donald Rumsfeld.  Douglass, a teenager, after many beatings, knocked Covey down and was never beaten by him again.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 08:42:59 PM PDT

  •  America (9+ / 0-)

    If that speech doesn't sum up America (especially the second-to-last paragraph above), I don't know what does.

    Thank you for posting this, MB.

  •  and with an extra tip for (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, Mary Mike, 4Freedom, nancelot

    the Loewen book, which is quite wonderful and too little known.

    Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. -- James Dean

    by Mnemosyne on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 04:16:48 PM PDT

  •  re: Woodrow Wilson (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, 4Freedom

    Reality check:

    One - heroes do something noble at great risk to themselves, period. It has nothing to do with their character as a whole. To suggest a hero must be perfect is yet another pernicious myth.

    Two: high politicians are successful, worldly people, seldom good candidates for heroism.  This in no way denigrates their usefulness. Wilson was horribly racist. He was also the leader of the high water mark of early 20th century progressive policies (look it up) and was so far ahead of his time in how we should behave internationally that we still haven't caught up.

    Honoring the great Frederick Douglass with this kind of gratitutous slight is indecent.

    •  Kit..you may want to re-read the first two (0+ / 0-)

      paragraphs of the diary again.  Your first paragraph basically recaps the diarist's point for which you both use Woodrow Wilson as an illustration.

      While you may disagree with the diarists coining and defining of the term "heroification", it is inaccurate to accuse him/her of committing an "indecent", "gratuitious slight."

      - "Justice is what love looks like in public." -Cornel West -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 05:40:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

        Just re-read to be sure. It was a cheap and gratuitious shot at Wilson. I totally agree with the foolish "herofication" plague.  

        Wilson and Douglass are apples and oranges.  Wilson was a successful politician who needs to be evaluated on his own grounds. Douglass was a prophet and an outsider who spoke  fearlessly to the ages.

    •  ..to be specific... (0+ / 0-)

      ...it suggests that Wilson is defined by his racism and while it says that Douglass was flawed it strongly suggests that he was not -- and also implies that because he was without flaws, defines him as a hero.

      The answer to herofication is not to narrow the definition to people who do great things and are perfect in our eyes. The answer is to define a hero as one who does something brave and dangerous to him or herself and to limit the term to that definition.

      Douglass was a great man.  He may also have been a hero. He may also have been flawed.  Leave it at that.

      •  "while it says that Douglass was flawed ... (0+ / 0-)

        ...was flawed it strongly suggests that he was not -- and also implies that because he was without flaws, defines him as a hero."

        There aren't many books about Douglass that I have read in the 50 years since I first discovered him. So I know he was indeed flawed (beyond the usual we're-all-sinners way), and I intentionally pointed this out. His failure to fight for women's suffrage from 1865-1870 epitomizes this. He redeemed himself later on this score. I simply do not agree with you that I implied, in any way, that he was unflawed or that heroes must be perfect. On the contrary.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 06:59:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What the hell? (0+ / 0-)
        ...it suggests that Wilson is defined by his racism and while it says that Douglass was flawed it strongly suggests that he was not --
        This reads very much as though you are accusing Douglas of racism. Is that what you meant to say? If so, evidence please.

        The evidence for Wilson's racism and its influence on his policy decisions is easy to find: his endorsement of the film Birth of a Nation as historical truth and his imposition of Jim Crow in the US Postal Service, to cite two outstanding examples.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 07:49:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If you are going to call me "indecent"... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      navajo, peregrine kate, nancelot

      ...you might at least have the decency to read what I wrote:

      The process of heroification not only turns the notorious into role models but many people who actually deserve the praise pressed upon them into one-dimensional stereotypes without flaws. As if we couldn't stand to see our heroes as human beings who don't always get things right, who, in fact, sometimes behave deplorably and hypocritically.
      As I noted, Douglass, like all of us was flawed, and those flaws made him commit some dreadful political errors.

      As for Woodrow Wilson, I am well aware of his contributions, having taken my undergraduate degree in international studies where, it is, obviously, impossible to ignore Wilson's contributions even 100 years after he won his first term as president. My senior thesis adviser was a Wilson scholar, and wrote several monographs on him that were the subject of an entire semester's discussion in American Diplomacy.d

      But, to downplay his role in intensifying segregation, actions which encouraged the murderous elements of Jim Crow, is what I call indecent. Useful? Without a doubt.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 06:17:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  just above (0+ / 0-)

        ...please see my response just above. It is the herofication phenomenum which concerns me the most in this context. I don't think your initial post  helps clarify this. On the contrary.

  •  Thanks for the diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom

    Obama wants your guns = Romney wants your Medicare Stop choosing your guns over your health You're shooting yourself

    by blueoregon on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 04:30:34 PM PDT

  •  Read some Joseph Campbell and learn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, 4Freedom

    what the hero myth is all about.  

  •  He writes like Melville. Just a stunning n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom

    "But Brandine, you're supposed to be in Iraq stopping 911!"

    by leftyguitarist on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 04:52:38 PM PDT

  •  thanks, and a correction (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, magicsister, Meteor Blades

    Thanks for posting this wonderful speech.

    Small correction: there is a line missing in the sixth paragraph. I looked up the full version, which is this:

    "...working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries..."

  •  Thanks for this MB (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom

    Few, if any, could match Frederick Douglas for his eloquence and moral clarity. Your diary inspired me to post the following.llowing.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 04:56:17 PM PDT

  •  First, a reflection on the beauty of the day. (3+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    Then an homage to why I'm hear and reading MB's FP post today.

    small bear

    HumanKind ~ be both

    by 4Freedom on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 04:58:06 PM PDT

  •  He would be on a 'terror watch-list' today. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre

    Probably indefinitely detained.
    Sad.

  •  'Lies My Teacher Told Me' is a great book, that's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancelot

    where I first discovered John Brown (one of my own personal heroes).

    Whose interest does ignorance serve? - Carl Sagan

    by spgilbert on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 05:13:31 PM PDT

  •  "Lies" is required reading in my classroom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, nancelot

    I start every freshman American history class at the high school where I teach with the chapter on either Columbus or the Pilgrims. We always start with how much the students feel they already know about the subject and then how much of it is wrong. Then we ask why is what they learned wrong and why do the lies continue to be taught?

    I had a chance to meet Dr. Loewen several years ago when he spoke to a group of us history teachers - yes, I had him autograph my copy of "Lies".

    Douglass' speech is one of the primary sources that we cover in our freshman American history class. It is a great example of how the abolition movement had divisions among the white and black members and how they disagreed with the overall goal of the movement: freedom for slaves ong>and equality as well?

    "The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." - James Madison, Jr.

    by halebo on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 07:49:31 PM PDT

    •  curious (0+ / 0-)

      What do those kids think they know that's wrong? Can you give an example? Do they think Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and ninety-three? What?

      •  "Lies" and students' mistakes (0+ / 0-)

        Columbus is usually covered in third grade for most of my ninth graders. The biggest mistake is one that Dr. Loewen speaks to in great detail - that Columbus discovered that the Earth was round! Students also can't place his nationality; they think he was English, Spanish, French, etc.

        As to 1493, that's where their collective knowledge of Columbus falls off a cliff. Many of them know that he sailed in 1492, many of them can even name the three ships that went on the voyage. But when I ask for details of Columbus' three subsequent voyages to the New World, I get a collective, "huh"?

        This is the hook that I use (with Dr. Loewen's assistance) to get them interested in the subject. When they are exposed to the rest of Columbus' life - they are usually floored by how much was left out of what they were taught in third grade.

        "The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." - James Madison, Jr.

        by halebo on Thu Jul 05, 2012 at 09:30:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hatred of President Wilson unfounded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre

    I have seen the poster on here make a number of attacks on President Wilson. It's true that I would describe my opinions of him as conflicted, but in looking back on his time in politics he brought forth the idea of international cooperation.

    What this meant was that instead of nations engaging in petty wars people would bring their greivances to a world community. He fought to make this happen, but the cynics in Europe had other ideas. Therefore World War I lead to World War II, but the idea survives in the United Nations to this day. To me that is a pretty big fucking accomplishment.

    Oh and President Wilson also fought for the repeal of tarrifs that were in place since the founding of the nation. The tarrifs were originally designed to help new industry but American industry had been booming for nearly 65 years. All the tarrifs did was keep the rich richer and Wilson campaigned again corporate lobbyist to get this past.

    Oh and President Wilson also instituted fair pay with blacks and white soldiers.

    However, it remains true that segregation was continued in America and that he did nothing to try and stop this. The exact same thing could be said about President Roosevelt! This speaks to a larger issue because Democrats stood for the working man but its voting bloc remained with the "Solid South." It was only nearly 50 years later that President Lyndon Johnson had the guts and courage to stand up to the Southern Democrats. This lead to the fracturing of the party and the eventual rise of Ronald Reagan.

    •  Excuse Me (0+ / 0-)

      The only person who has said anything about hating Wilson is yourself.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 07:54:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wilson was a step backwards from TR (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre

      TR welcomed African Americans to the White House, something Wilson never did.  Wilson's sense of injustice extended only to people outside the United States.

      Romney '12: Bully for America!

      by Rich in PA on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 07:57:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  TR and WW (0+ / 0-)

        TR backed Wilson's Anglophile, nativist ethnic bashing to push the country into unnecessary participation in the Great War on the side of the British Empire.

        That would be the Empire Wilson had least inclination to break up for the sake of oppressed nationalities demanding self-determination.

        At home, both of them made damned sure "hyphenated Americans" from Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe stfu and did as they were told.

        TR had been thrilled, earlier, to see America gain an empire in the Philippines.

        Wilson imposed Jim Crow on Washington, DC.

  •  To which the crowd roared, "We're #1!" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves
    Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

    Romney '12: Bully for America!

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 07:58:07 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, IreGyre
  •  FD speech (0+ / 0-)

    You do remember that 8 years later the country would tear itself to pieces and butcher itself to end slavery?

    Doesn't seem like you do.

  •  Lies My Teacher Told Me... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority

    I read it many years ago, when I was teaching third grade.  Even as an elementary teacher, it really informed how and what I presented to my little students.  I re-read it again after I left public school teaching to become a psychotherapist.  I need to re-read it again, in my old, retired state!  

    Speaking of Lies... A great little folk song by Tom Paxton:

    What Did You Learn in School Today?

    Words and Music by Tom Paxton

    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that Washington never told a lie.
    I learned that soldiers seldom die.
    I learned that everybody's free.
    And that's what the teacher said to me.
    That's what I learned in school today.
    That's what I learned in school.

    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that policemen are my friends.
    I learned that justice never ends.
    I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
    Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
    That's what I learned in school today.
    That's what I learned in school.

    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    I learned our government must be strong.
    It's always right and never wrong.
    Our leaders are the finest men.
    And we elect them again and again.
    That's what I learned in school today.
    That's what I learned in school.

    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    What did you learn in school today,
    Dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that war is not so bad.
    I learned of the great ones we have had.
    We fought in Germany and in France.
    And some day I might get my chance.
    That's what I learned in school today.
    That's what I learned in school.

    Pete Seeger sang it.

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