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The American Historical Association: Status Report on the Field of History

The American Historical Society (AHA) held its annual conference earlier this month. In addition, it has released some messages of interest. In this blog, I cover two news items and part of a conference session on “Building Bridges Between Historians and K-12 History Teachers.” The news items are:

1. Making history information more accessible to the history community even if one is not a member of a given organization or institution (like a college).
2. The status of history majors today.

From the Executive Director

Research Access and Scholarly Equity

James Grossman and Becky Nicolaides | Jan 10, 2020

Access to research materials—both print and digital—is crucial for any historian engaged in scholarship and teaching. For historians working outside of well-resourced colleges and universities, gaining access to these materials has become increasingly difficult, particularly with the increasing breadth and depth of commercial databases often accessible only to scholars affiliated with a well-resourced university.

This trend is an often-overlooked aspect of the changing landscape of historical research. More and more research material has been digitized by commercial database companies, who then control its dissemination. These firms rely on institution-to-institution contracts with large, well-funded university libraries. Historians working within these universities have full access, while those on the outside are excluded, placing them at a severe disadvantage in their ability to produce first-rate scholarship and excel as teachers. For a complex set of reasons, providers rarely offer individual subscriptions to scholarly databases. At the same time, contracts with vendors often make it difficult (or even impossible) for libraries to grant access to individuals outside these institutions. These structural barriers create difficult challenges for many historians….

Faculty with inadequate access cannot keep up with the latest scholarship for teaching and have circumscribed access to the primary sources that enliven a classroom and stand at the center of highly regarded history pedagogy….

Many independent scholars, museum professionals, public historians, and K–12 educators share the common status of nonaffiliation with a university, which excludes them from remote access to important databases. Recent degree recipients are cut off from library access upon graduation, impeding their ability to continue research and publication to better situate them in job markets or continue their research activity regardless of where they are employed….

The AHA encourages history departments to provide full library access to their own scholar alumni and to unaffiliated historians in their regions. History departments and academic units can play a positive role by supporting the scholarship of their alumni and by bringing more unaffiliated scholars into their orbit. Providing these historians a university affiliation—whether as a visiting scholar or by whatever means is feasible—will help close the gap between those with and without adequate research access. These actions will enable every historian to fully realize their potential as scholars and contributors to our discipline.

To read more click here.

History Enrollments Hold Steady as Department Efforts Intensify

Results of the 2019 AHA Enrollment Survey

Julia Brookins and Emily Swafford | Jan 15, 2020

Ask any department chair, and most faculty, what the most vexing data point during the academic year is and the most likely answer would be “enrollments.” In a data-obsessed age when it seems everything is tracked and analyzed, few data points matter as much in higher education as enrollments. For many institutions, department funding is tied directly to enrollment numbers. Courses that don’t meet minimum enrollment requirements are canceled, snarling the distribution of teaching responsibilities among faculty and narrowing the intellectual range in the curriculum. Fluctuations in enrollments and majors—a close relative of enrollments data—are cited as reasons to create or cancel tenure lines. A lot is riding on what academic slang calls “butts in seats.”…

Nonetheless, the AHA’s survey continues to identify strategies faculty can use, in conjunction with administrative partners, to address the lackluster trends. Respondents with stable or increasing enrollments described several concrete strategies to attract students. These included offering more online courses, hiring charismatic junior faculty members to teach new courses that students find exciting, and expanding departmental recruitment activities. In addition, successfully recruiting majors and minors, as might be expected, had a positive effect on overall enrollment.

To read more click here.

The Role of History Educators in a Time of Crisis: Building Bridges Between Historians and K-12 History Teachers

The following is excerpted from a blog by Sari Beth Rosenberg. The author is doing what I do when I write about the proceedings of conferences. She is doing so at the direct request of the AHA.  She is a U.S. history teacher and writer in New York City. Sari helped write the new social studies high school curriculum for the New York City Department of Education and is also a frequent curriculum consultant at New-York Historical Society. Specifically she wrote about a session on January 5th at 8:30AM organized by the AHA Teaching Division, “The Role of History Educators in a Time of Crisis.” The panel was chaired by Joe Schmidt (New York City Department of Education) in conversation with Trevor Getz (San Francisco State University), Christopher Martell (University of Massachusetts Boston), and Judith Jeremie (Brooklyn Technical High School). She writes that she left the session determined to redouble her efforts in finding more ways for historians and history teachers to join forces in meaningful ways. This is a subject near and dear to me. See most recently County Historian’s Roundtable: Lessons from Putnam County.

Chris Martell’s Two-Way Bridge Between Historians and Teachers 

Based on his paper, “A Two-Way Bridge: Building Better Partnerships between Historians and History Teachers/Teacher Educators,” Martell’s main message was that we need to move from historian/history teacher interaction to collaboration. That means we need to start presenting at each other’s conferences [see Putnam County blog] and utilize more digital platforms for sharing our resources and teaching strategies. He began by discussing how there are a few thousand self-identified historians and professors in the United States, but there are currently 1.1 million elementary school teachers. These educators are often overlooked when we talk about who teaches history. Meanwhile, beginning in 2008, we have experienced the steepest decline in history majors. Considering that 18% of 300,000 history majors report they wish to pursue careers in K-12 education, this does not bode well for the future of public education. How do we stoke the flames of enthusiasm for the study of history?

Martell’s answer is to partner history teachers with historians. In his studies, he found that K-12 history teachers often struggle to keep their content updated with the latest research and struggle to find helpful resources. They find historians inaccessible, most school-based professional development is not focused on content, and most of the history journals are not open-sourced. Martell realized that social media has become the new territory to best improve interactions between historians and history teachers. In response, he started a social media campaign, #BridgingHistoriansandTeachers, to get historians and history teachers to follow one another. It has been an effective venture thus far. In thirty days, Martell followed 42 historians. 33 of those historians followed him back and promised to follow back any K-12 historians who followed them. If Martell’s initiative continues, he hopes that historians and educators can learn about each other’s work and engage in meaningful conversations about classroom activities. He also emphasized the need for more PD opportunities that link content and pedagogy so teachers can actually implement the material in their respective classrooms. He cites the University of Massachusetts Boston/ Boston Public Schools model as one to which we should emulate.

Martell has touched on the issue of content and of being current in history scholarship. Presentations at each other’s conferences is a step in the right direction, but how many people can attend a national, state, or regional conference? And besides social media there still is something to be said for face-face discussions. After all, teachers still teach their students in the classroom. Here is where we need to examine the requirements to become a social studies or elementary school teacher and then to maintain one’s status once one becomes one. This includes the classes offered in the certification process and the professional development programs needed to keep teachers current. It also means as regular readers of my blog know, going out to the places where history happened and meeting with the local history museums and societies. It means attending summer programs that occur elsewhere or outside the school room. There are limits to what history organizations can accomplish in working with teachers if the system is rigged against teacher involvement with history organizations. And the history organizations themselves need to keep up with what the scholars are doing. Think of the NPS study on Imperiled Promise (for the last of multiple blogs on this topic see Imperiled Promise: History and the NYSOPRHP. It’s not just the elementary and social studies teachers who have a “history deficit.” When do the history staff at museums and historical societies get to learn what’s going on in the academic world?

So as not to make this blog too long, I will continue reporting on this AHA session in my next blog.

Rick Wilson Entertains and Frightens a Scarsdale, NY Audience

On January 15, 2020, Rick Wilson took his book tour to the Scarsdale Adult Education School. There may have been a couple of hundred people in attendance many of whom purchased his book. My impression is the audience leaned Democratic.  In other words, if Wilson had appeared here back in the 1990s or 2000s when he was working for Republicans, his audience would have been much smaller. Indeed, an event would not even had been scheduled even if he had written a book then.

Back in the good old days of Republicans like the Bushes, McCain, and Romney, Wilson would not have been a draw. Wilson said he had not tried to become famous as a consultant. He mentioned that Hispanics had been welcome in the Republican Party under Bush [and certainly would have if Jeb had been nominated given his Mexican-American wife]. He favored marriage of consenting adults. And he was perfectly willing to continue operating in the Republican world had he been able to.

Wilson even chastised the Democratic Party for enabling the Republican Party to eat their lunch. By this he meant that over the past two decades, the Democratic Party had lost hundreds of jobs in below the national radar positions. By that he means that when it came to state and municipal positions, the Republican Party for the last 20 years destroyed the Democratic Party. His book explains how he contributed to this victory. He also noted that it is with these grassroots jobs that people eventually move up to larger and larger positions. [Note – he may not be familiar with the Democratic carpetbagger tradition in Westchester, the Hudson Valley, and New York even though we were meeting a few miles south of Chappaqua.] However, this is not the Rick Wilson the audience came to hear.

Then something happened. Something happened that changed Wilson’s life. That something was his previous book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.  Even the people in the audience who had not read the book knew the book. They knew it because they had seen Wilson on the Fake News talk shows. They enjoyed watching him skewer Little Donnee Waney in ways Democratic guests tend not to. Indeed, it well may be that it is the Never-Trumper Republicans who have lost their party forever who vilify him the most.

So let’s turn to the topics of why the Democratic people showed up on a winter night to hear a Republican consultant. First he spoke about the Congressional Trumpicans [not that he used that term]. He divided the Congressional Trumpicans into three groups much as John Adams had divided the American people at the time of the American Revolution. One third were Loyalists [obviously an important trait for others to show this President]. For these people, the impeached President is their God-King. As an example, Wilson cited Clueless Jim Jordan, he never knows what is going on. Wilson did not use those terms. He just said Jordan wasn’t the brightest.

Another third were moderate conservatives who were scared. Wilson said people were scared of Fox and the mob. He acknowledged the success of Ailes and Murdoch in creating the Fox monster. They were TV and political geniuses. And Trump makes Fox a lot of money too. One might add that he makes Fox so much money, the network can afford to show his political professional wrestling arena performances without concern for lost advertising revenue. On a side note, Wilson said Fox loves stupid liberals and wild caricature liberals that Fox can use to stoke outrage while the liberals play the clown without meaning to.

The final third were the opportunists. These people were hustlers looking to get ahead. In my other words, one could say that if you focused like a laser on your political viability in 1960s in Arkansas, you became a Democrat. In other areas today, you became a Trumpican. Wilson cited Matt Gaetz, house frat boy [not his term] as an example. He predicted that even Mitch McConnell would drop the Impeached One if control of the Senate was at stake. He even predicted that Lindsay Graham would return to a facsimile of normalcy once the March 5 filing date for Senate candidates passes and he no longer has to worry about a primary challenge.

Since then we have seen Martha McSally’s staged “liberal hack” performance as an example of a Republican who went over to the dark side. Earlier we saw Nikki Haley correctly ascertain that she could not fulfill her ambitions for national office as a Republican so she switched to being a Trumpican. If Wilson is to be believed, then the non-believing opportunists will abandon ship if another RED WAVE wipes out as many Republicans in 2020 as it did in 2018. But by that time, it may be too late and they will have the mark of Trump taint on them.

When Wilson referred to the Impeached One’s servants, toadies, and lackeys, it was not clear to which of the three groups he was referring.

Turning to the 2020 elections, Wilson had a lot to say.

1. The election will be a referendum on the incumbent. His advice is to ignore policy calling it “poison.” “Medicare for All” would be a disaster for Democrats. The issue is the same as it was for Democrats in 2018: Do you want candidates who can win? It worked in 2018, it can work in 2020. He also spoke about demagogues but I can’t read my notes. I presume he was not talking about the Democratic candidate.

2. The Electoral College is the only game in town. Live in the real world or die. There are 35 states that are set and 15 states which could go either way. Concentrate on them. Don’t look at national polls. Look at the state polls. It is a game of small numbers.

3. Democrats should target the voters they can actually move to vote. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON GET OUT THE YOUNG VOTE! That is a pipe dream. Focus on the groups that can make a difference – GOP women, Obama Democrats who voted for Trump. Wilson also encouraged retail politics – knocking on doors and making personal contact even if it means New York Democrats going to the battleground states.

Wilson warned the audience: Trump can’t win but Democrats can lose. He cited the 2016 example of Democrats measuring their White House offices for curtains before the votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan had been counted. It’s a game of small numbers and people won’t focus until the fall, maybe not until the last 3 or 4 days. {They may not focus until then but the idea that they are not aware of the election and don’t know how they are going to vote is wrong. They just don’t admit to themselves or others for the record until the end. It’s a mental game people play.]

There were other ways Democrats could lose. Nominate Bernie Sanders, the Jeremy Corbyn of America. Democrats would lose 44-45 states then. Be a party of no discipline and many voices and see how that works out!

He noted that Bloomberg was spending at an unprecedented rate. In fact, Bloomberg seems to be taking Wilson’s advice to heart. He has launched a massive campaign that ignores Democratic rivals and hones in on one and only one target…and will continue to do so until November regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. Wilson claimed Bloomberg does make a difference.

I will skip over his comments on Ridiculous Rudy, Attack Mutt, except that Wilson thinks Rudy is drowning now and doesn’t know it.

I will skip over his comments on the Lincoln Project because the Republican Party is dead and doesn’t know it. Bret Stephens wrote in op-ed piece printed January 18, 2020 (NYT) “Can Anyone Save the Republicans?”

(Republican Presidential candidate Bill) Weld compared the party to the late-stage Whigs of the early 1850s, which were riven between the nativist Know Nothings faction and the antislavery wing that would become the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately, the good side won that time.    

Stephens suggests the only way to save the Republican Party is if a critical mass of conservatives repudiates Trumpism or forms a new party. Weld calls it the Liberty Party. The latter seems more likely but not easy. Even if the RED WAVE decimates the Trumpicans at the Presidential, Senate, and Congressional levels in 2020, he will still be around as will those who accept him as their lord and savior, the chosen one, blessed be his name. Even though McConnell is the one rigging the game, it is the Trumpicans who will be yelling (and more) if they lose in November that the vote was rigged. At that point, the Republican-in-Name-Only party will become even more extreme in its resistance and efforts to take by the country.

Wilson had more to say to frighten the audience. He said the Trumpican political operatives will run the nastiest campaign ever. It will be a barroom fight with chains. He didn’t mention Sean Connery’s line about bringing knives to a gun fight but he might as well have. Another way one could put it is Kumbaya versus assault weapons means you will die happy as you are slaughtered.  Wilson singled out Zuckerberg for providing one weapon of choice in the 2020 brawl: he could stop the Russian violation of America but he won’t.

Excerpts from Wilson’s book quoted by Timothy Egan in “Trump’s Evil Is Contagious,” (NYT January 18, 2020, print) expand on his warning about the pending war:

Do not, as my party did, underestimate the evil…There is no bottom. There is no shame. There are no limits….Do not come to this fight believing that the Trump team views any action including outright criminality, as off limits…[I]t means you do have to fight, or be counted among the do-nothings who allowed evil to flourish.

Yes, Rick Wilson can be very entertaining to listen to but the bottom line for the Scarsdale audience and America is “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

BREAKING NEWS

In a party-line vote, the Senate blocked Democrats’ bid to subpoena documents for the impeachment trial that the White House has refused to release.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 4:51 PM EST NYT

The Battle between 1619 and 1776: The New York Times versus the History Community

The New York Times Heats Up the Culture Wars (https://blackjunction.tv)

2019 marked the 400th anniversary of the slavery of Africans in the British American colonies. A Federal commission was created in recognition of this event. The commission did not develop a national presence. Instead of leading a discussion on the event, it was confined to some local events in Virginia where the landing had occurred.

At the national level the most significant voice was that of The New York Times. The Sunday Magazine on August 18, the approximate anniversary date, was dedicated to The 1619 Project. According to a subsequent blurb, the issue sold out and additional copies were printed. A related podcast series was the most downloaded podcast in the United States. The Project has been turned into school curriculum with more than 3000 teachers saying they are using it. Copies were sent to over 500 schools in 91 cities and towns in 30 states. Over 200,000 free copies have been distributed to schools, libraries, museums and for various events. There is a book project underway.

All in all it is safe to say that The 1619 Project of The New York Times is a big deal. So what’s the problem?

A HISTORY COMMUNITY REACTION

There was a reaction of a different sort as well to this publication. Phillip W. Magness of The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is maintaining a database of these responses at The 1619 Project Debate: A Bibliography last updated January 3, 2020. It would be a project in and of itself simply to report on these critiques. A great deal of attention in them is directed against the opening historical narrative written by Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times entitled “The Idea of America” (this title does not appear in the print edition). She had suggested the creation of a dedicated issue on 1619 at a staff meeting in January, 2019. She then invited 18 scholars and historians to a meeting at The New York Times for a brain storming session.

THE EDITOR’S NOTE

In this blog instead of analyzing her historical narrative or the responses to it, I will focus my comments on the six-paragraph Editor’s Note by Jake Silverstein at the beginning of the Sunday Magazine. He also is the person who responded in December to the Letter to the Editor signed by five historians who were critical of certain parts of the project.

The two-page Editor’s Note begins with “1619.” in huge print spread across the pages. The opening lines are:

1619 is not a year that most Americans know as a notable date in our country’s history. Those who do are at most a tiny fraction of those who can tell you that 1776 is the year of our nation’s birth. What if, however, we were to tell you that the moment that the country’s defining contradictions first came into the world was in late August of 1619?

The claim is certainly an audacious one. It announces that the true birthday of the country should be celebrated when slavery began here and not with the Declaration of Independence. One may say that Silverstein’s use of the word “contradictions” is a way to claim that it is not the birthday of the nation that is at stake, just its “contradictions.” But then he would be comparing apples to oranges since the opening sentence specifically refers to “our nation’s birth.” The implication is that our true birth is in the contradictions and not in the declaring of our independence.

THE EDITOR’S NOTE VERSUS THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

Still in the opening paragraph, Silverstein writes:

Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years.

I am not sure precisely what is meant by 250 years or 1869 as the concluding date. The 14th Amendment on citizenship and rights was ratified in 1868 so perhaps that is the 250th year. The number is significant as we are beginning the 250th anniversary celebration of America’s birthday in 1776. The Boston Massacre, for example, occurred in 1770, so in Massachusetts it will start this year.

Be that as it may, the impression conveyed by the text is that for 250 years the British colonies and American states had slavery. Why 250 years? Consider for example the separate section of The 1619 Project prepared by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture with Caitlin Roper, editorial director. In that section a full page is given to a quotation from Frederick Douglass expressing “the outburst of joy and thanksgiving that rent the air when the lightning brought to us the Emancipation Proclamation.” That document was proclaimed on January 1, 1863. The Smithsonian section contains no such expression of joy on the 250th anniversary exclaimed in the Sunday Magazine.

Regardless of whether one uses 244 years or 250, it is a false message. Not even all the colonies had been founded by 1619. Outside of Virginia, no colony/state had a 250 system of slavery even assuming 1868 is the date for the end of slavery. For that matter many northern states had outlawed slavery decades earlier. Consider again the Smithsonian section. There is a box there entitled “She Sued for Her Freedom.” It tells of Mumm Bett suing for her freedom under the new Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Her husband had died fighting in the American Revolution. Now she argued that slavery violated the rights enunciated in that document. She won and changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman. The Smithsonian concludes that item with:

Her precedent-setting case helped to effectively bring an end to slavery in Massachusetts.

This action occurred long before the 250-year period touted in the Sunday Magazine. Again, the Smithsonian section undermines the message of the Sunday Magazine.

In addition, other states were founded as free states and never had slavery. The intention to depict that all America had slavery and for 250 years is deceptive at best and outright wrong.

VIRGINIA VERSUS NEW AMSTERDAM

Furthermore, the characterization of slavery as a “barbaric system of chattel slavery” also is false. Northern European countries like England and the Netherlands had no or little familiarity with slavery. The legal codes of these countries could handle serfs but slavery was new. In New Amsterdam, the Dutch struggled for decades on the legal status of the African slaves. During that time, some Africans became free. Africans could own land did so on a farm adjacent to the farm of Peter Stuyvesant. Africans could join the Dutch Reform Church. Africans could testify in court. Africans could initiate law suits. The numbers involved were comparatively small at this time. I suspect that if New Amsterdam had remained Dutch, free Africans would have become more and more like free Dutch and that slavery would have ended long before New York began in 1799 to legally end it, again before the touted 250-year period.

Admittedly, the situation in Virginia differed from that of New Amsterdam given all the plantations. Still it took a while to develop the chattel system referred to. After all, to create a system where 75%-white Sally Hemings is black doesn’t happen overnight. The year after 1619 was not the beginning of Gone-with-the-Wind plantations. Again the Smithsonian section sheds light on the deceptiveness of the Sunday Magazine Editor’s Note. A section entitled “Race Encoded into Law” notes the passage in Virginia in 1662 that essentially defines slaves as commodities. This passage implies it took Virginia about 43 years to render a formal decision in law that slaves were property not people. Hence since Sally Hemings mother was biracial and her mother’s mother was black, she was legally a black slave too.

The point here is no to deny the barbarity of the chattel slavery system but to recognize that it did not spring forth fully formed the day after the landing in 1619 or in all the future colonies that were established. America would have been better served if The New York Times had told the story of how chattel slavery emerged in Virginia over these forty-plus years.

Why is Silverstein seeking to convey a message of a national barbaric system of chattel slavery that lasted 250 years? The answer is simple as he concludes the opening paragraph.

This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s very origin.

The message bluntly put is that We the White People of America were born in America’s original sin. We the White People of America need to repent for this sin. And The New York Times is going to show us the path to redemption.

SLAVERY DOES REQUIRE ANTI-BLACK RACISIM

Silverstein compounds the problem in the opening words of the second paragraph.

Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional…

Slavery does not require anti-black racism. Who knew Spartacus was black? The word “slave” derives from the Latin sclāvus (masculine), sclāva (feminine) from the Slavic peoples who dominated the medieval slave population in Europe. For that matter, why is it even politically correct to use the word “slave” or “enslaved” anyway? Can you say “gypped” or “jewed”? Putting that aside for the moment, there is a huge omission in The 1619 Project. It’s bad enough that Virginia is made the basis for all colonial and American history to the exclusion of what was happening elsewhere, but another gap in the storytelling is Africa itself. Hannah-Jones does mention in passing that the Virginia Africans brought by an English pirate ship were from a Portuguese trading ship that was from Angola, but that’s it.

WHERE’S AFRICA IN THE 1619 PROJECT?

Somehow the Middle Passage doesn’t have a start point. There is a lot of attention on the destination points in the Western Hemisphere. There is a lot of attention on the horrific conditions in the transportation to the Western Hemisphere. But there is minimal to no attention on the start point of that passage. In the (1500 and) 1600s, that means primarily modern Angola. Back then it meant two major kingdoms, Kongo and Ndongo(/Matamba) with a Portuguese colony of Angola named after the founding king of the Ndongo kingdom. The ignorance of the importance of Angola can be seen in the 400th anniversary trip to Africa by the NAACP. Where did they go? To Ghana. Going to Ghana for the 400th anniversary of slavery in Virginia makes about as much sense as going to England to honor Ellis Island immigrants.

The Smithsonian section introduces a slightly different picture. It notes the Romanus Pontifex of 1455 “which affirmed Portugal’s exclusive rights to territories it claimed along the West Africa coast and the trade from those areas.” The Smithsonian quotes from the affirmation that Portugal had the right regarding the people it encountered to “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.” But it excludes the reference to “Saracens” which was the whole point of the expeditions. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Moslems now encircled Europe cutting off access to both Slavs to serve as slaves and trade with Asia. There was the hope among Catholics that they could do an end-around by sailing south around Africa. In 1455, they didn’t know how far the coast extended. The Portuguese would not reach Ghana until the 1470s and Kongo until 1482. It should also be noted that Portugal was not even aware of the Western Hemisphere at this time.

Evidence of these sailings as part of a religious confrontation and not a racial one may be seen in the actions in Kongo. The king of Kongo was baptized in 1491. Missionaries began baptizing Kongolese in droves. Free Kongolese sailed to Lisbon to be educated. Diplomatic correspondence between Kongo and Portugal and the Vatican commenced. One Kongolese married into the royal family approximately 500 years before Meghan Markle. In the 1600’s Ndongo/Matamba entered into extensive relations with the Vatican in its quest to be recognized as a Christian kingdom. Kongo and Ndongo/Matamba were independent countries and represented Catholic outposts in the confrontation with Moslems. At this point in time, slaves were people not property and slavery was not based on anti-black racism.

Same-race slavery in Africa is another omission from The 1619 Project. In the Travel section of The New York Times, Jacqueline Woodson wrote Finding Pain and Joy in Ghana about her trip there as part of the 400th anniversary (December 15, 2019, print). On the Ghana invitation to descendants of which she is one, Woodson writes

In its efforts to bring the African diaspora together, Ghana’s leaders are also hoping to make amends for the complicity of Africans in selling their own people in what would become the trans-Atlantic slave trade….
…I found myself struggling to come to terms with those who worked with white traders to move black bodies into chattel slavery.

She quotes a passage from Henry Lewis Gates in Ending the Slavery Blame-Game published in The New York Times, April 22, 2010.

The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred…. But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.

The Smithsonian section also mentions Njinga. It focuses on her exploits as a freedom fighter against the Portuguese. There is no mention of her as a slave-owner or slave-trader. There is no mention of her alliance with the Dutch against the Portuguese or of her purchase of guns and ammunition in exchange for slaves. There is no mention of becoming Catholic and trying to create a Catholic kingdom with extensive correspondence with the Vatican. Think also about the 500 miles mentioned by Gates. Now imagine the Tuscarora in Buffalo rounding up captive Indian tribe slaves, marching them to New Amsterdam, and selling them to the Dutch to be transported as slaves elsewhere. But Njinga gets a pass on her slave-owning and slave-trading in her fight against the Portuguese that Thomas Jefferson on a much smaller scale does not get. There was no abolition movement in Angola.

Frederick Douglass commented on this issue of African slave trade as well. With all the fuss about colonization and Abraham Lincoln in The 1619 Project, it is important to remember what Douglass had to say and which should be included in any school curriculum.

Depend upon it, the savage chiefs on the western coast of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage, and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily see and accept our moral and economical ideas, than the slave-traders of Maryland and Virginia. We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave-traders, than to stay here to work against it. (“African Civilization Society,” February 1859)

Why should Middle Passage blacks give up their white masters in the United States for the black ones in Africa who willingly, eagerly, and freely sold them to white people in the first place? Wouldn’t that make for a good high school essay topic?

1619 VERSUS 1776: THE BATTLE IS ENGAGED

With this background in mind, let us return to the original issue of replacing 1776 with as 1619 as the birth of the country and revising the school curriculum and national culture accordingly.

The 1619 Project of The New York Times is a direct assault on what Abraham Lincoln accomplished. Prior to him, one said “The United States are a country.” After him, one said as we still do to this very day, “The United States is a country.” It was Lincoln at Gettysburg who redefined America from being a collection of states to being a We the People country. Lincoln deserves credit not just for making Thanksgiving a national holiday for all Americans even if you were not of Pilgrim descent but for redefining July 4th as well. When Lincoln said “Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers…” he knew that not everybody in the audience was a son or daughter of the American Revolution. He asserted that to stand for the Union then was to stand with the Founding Fathers in 1776. That principle has applied to all naturalized Americans since then.

Obviously not all Americans agreed with Lincoln’s vision then nor do they now. Most famously, Robert E. Lee self-identified as a Virginian and not an American. In effect, his Founding Father was John Smith and not the Founding Fathers we know today or who perform in Hamilton.

America at its birth consisted not only of many states but many peoples. There were Africans, Dutch, French Huguenots, German Palatines, Irish Catholics, Scotch Irish, and Sephardic Jews just to mention the main non-English ones. In addition there were English Anglicans, English Pilgrims, English Puritans, and English Quakers. And then there were the multiple Indian nations/peoples who thought of themselves as independent entities in their own right. To create a collective We the People from that mixed multitude was and is no easy task.

How many multi-religious countries were there in 1776 where people of all religions had the same rights?
How many multi-ethnic countries were there in 1776 where all ethnicities had the same rights?
How many multi-racial countries were there in 1776 where all races had the same rights?

The American story of exceptionalism has many points of origin leading to July 4 which did not grow out of 1619.

1607 with John Smith and Pocahontas
1620 with the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving
1624 with the Dutch and the Island at the Center of the World
1630 with the Puritans and the City on a Hill.

All contributed to the story of America. There is no problem with adding 1619 to this list. Indeed, it should be. There is a big problem with deleting those dates and 1776 and replacing them with 1619 as the origin of America or as the basis of “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional.”

Consider this date which also could be added to the list. The first black to arrive in New Amsterdam was Juan (Jan) Rodriguez in 1613, six years before 1619. He was a free person of Portuguese and African (probably Angolan) descent. He married into a local Lenape tribe. His story then combines multiple races and ethnicities. In October, 2012, the New York City Council enacted legislation to name Broadway from 159th Street to 218th Street in Manhattan after him. The neighborhood today is Dominican so the location is in tribute to Rodriguez’s place of birth. The location is around 120 blocks from The New York Times. So how about making 1613 the new birthday in recognition of the Island at the Center of the World and the expression of e pluribus unum through the life of Juan Rodriguez?

Our country is not defined by race, ethnicity, religion, or a geographic location but by an idea. The Founding Fathers built on the strands that came before them to start to weave multiple peoples into a unity. Abraham Lincoln continued that effort by including people who were not biological sons and daughters of the American Revolution as ideological sons and daughters if they stood with the Union. Irish who sang Yankee Doodle Dandy continued that journey of being included as Americans. Ellis Island immigrants who sang God Bless America continued that journey of being included as Americans. Middle Passage blacks who said “I have an American dream” and helped America land on the moon continued that journey of being included as Americans. The 250th anniversary of the American Revolution provides us with a desperately needed opportunity to continue that journey in the 21st century with many new peoples who are proud to be Americans and celebrate July 4th.

The 1619 Project represents a giant step backward away from continuing that journey. The front page article of today’s New York Times (“Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories.”, January 13, 2020) is about the divided history textbooks of our divided nation. The political reporting of the newspaper testifies to the importance of the hostility to the politically correct in the 2016 presidential elections, a far bigger factor than Putin. Now The New York Times has decided to promote and aggravate the division of the country just as our President does at the precise time when we need to heal and unite as We the People. The New York Times has given us a false history that is woke but not helpful. What a wasted opportunity.

Destroying Cultural Sites: Babylonia, Persia, and America

(pyramidanalytics.com)

When you come to the fork in the road, take it.

These words of wisdom from the Great Yogi apply to the decision raised by the President of the United States in the conduct of war. What sites are legitimate targets and what sites are not? A commanding officer has options as to what will be destroyed and what will be spared. Such choices have been part of the human experience as long as there have been material objects which could be destroyed. In the actions of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia in modern Iraq and Cyrus the Great of Persia in modern Iran, we have two contrasting examples.

Nebuchadnezzar II

Nebuchadnezzar II was the king of Babylon in the seventh to sixth centuries BCE. During his life he created a Babylonian Empire from the ashes of the Assyrian Empire. He is a figure of study in the secular academic world for his exploits. But his chief claim to fame lies in the biblical world for his actions in Jerusalem.

2 Kings 25:8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month — which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon — Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 And he burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.

The destruction of the temple became a day of infamy in Jewish tradition remembered to this very day. Babylon also has been remembered in Christian tradition as a result of this action as well.

Revelation 17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who is seated upon many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; 5 and on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations.”

Lo, the whore of Babylon. So while on one hand, one may view the treasures in museums of this mighty civilization, on the other hand, it has earned a reputation of disrepute for the destruction of cultural sites.

Cyrus the Great

A few decades later, Cyrus the Great brought the Babylonian Empire to an end. For his actions, he earned a biblical reputation diametrically opposed to one attained by Babylon. By contrast, he was remembered as a messiah, an anointed one of the Lord, even though he was not of Davidic descent or even Jewish.

Isaiah 44:28 who says of Cyrus, `He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfil all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, `She shall be built,’ and of the temple, `Your foundation shall be laid.'” 45:1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him…

What is that Cyrus did that garnered such biblical praise?

Ezra 1:1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. (See also II Chronicles 36:22-23.)

In effect, the biblical account portrays Cyrus the Great as the un-Nebuchadnezzar. He reverses what the Babylonian king has done. He allows the Jews in exile to return home and to rebuild the temple. Whereas Babylon is remembered as the mother of harlots, the Persian King Ahasuerus marries Esther. Even if you reject the story of Esther as being biologically literally true, it certainly is true from a storyteller’s perspective that an intermarriage between a Persian king and Jewess was believable.

So here we have two forks in the road based on mighty kings and cultural sites. The one who destroys and the one who rebuilds, the one remembered in a city that is the mother of harlots, the other as a messiah, anointed of the Lord, one leading to holiday of Tisha B’Av, the other Purim. How mighty kings treat cultural objects becomes part of their legacy.

Now we have an American version to add to the list. Should a President of the United States target cultural sites for destruction? Which path should he take?

The decision by an American President on whether or not to destroy cultural sites was not based on the careful analysis of an adult weighing the pros and cons of each option. Quite the contrary. The decision was made at the gut level based on what was best for him. Consider the claim that the decision to kill Suleimani was due to the threat of imminent attacks on Americans – it was to save lives. Certainly it is true that if Suleimani had lived a normal life span he would have killed additional Americans. That does not mean there was an imminent threat involving a significant number of Americans therefore warranting immediate action…or that killing him would eliminate the threat.

When the President of the United States decided to announce that he would bomb cultural sites, he did so because in his gut it was the right decision for him.

At no point did he consider whether or not such actions were legal under international law. The thought never occurred to him.

At no point did he consider what the consequences might be. The thought never occurred to him.

At no point did he realize that he would be giving our enemies the license to target our cultural sites. If Iran or Isis wants to target the Statue of Liberty it is a legitimate target but we will stop them. If Iran or Isis wants to target the Lincoln Memorial it is a legitimate target but we will stop them. If Iran or Isis wants to target the Alamo it is a legitimate target but we will stop them.

BUT IF IRAN OR ISIS WANTS TO TARGET A TRUMP PROPERTY THEN THEY WILL KNOW MY WRATH. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT ME!

Strangely enough, there other overlooked considerations worth noting.

There actually were no cultural sites on the list of 52 targets that were given to him. So why did he act as if there were? Recall what he wanted the Ukraine to do in his extortion attempt. He wanted the country to announce that it was investigating Biden, not that it really had to do so. Similarly here, the skilled media manipulator simply was announcing that cultural sites were targets even though they were not on the list and he had no specific plans to destroy any. He does not even know what any of them are anyway. He was going strictly for the media impact of frightening Iran into thinking this President would destroy every site that is holy to them. Only afterwards did he learn about the law prohibiting it and that he would be a war criminal just like those dictators from Trump-hole countries in Africa.

But suppose he had given the order to destroy cultural sites in a briefing session and not in public. What would the military do? Would the military be loyal to the Constitution or to the individual? Would the Secretary of Defense degenerate to the level of the Attorney General, Acting Chief of Staff, Vice President, and Secretary of State? Think of all the stories and real-life events involving coups where the military seizes power from a civilian government. Ironically, in America, it is the military so far that is willing to defend the Constitution from the Commander in-chief. What will happen after the 2020 elections if that Commander in chief loses? What will the military do then?

Why Did He Wag His Finger Now? – It’s Always about Him

America Alone: No One Wants to Play with THE DONALD

Why did he wag his finger now? What was the reason why the President of the United States chose this moment to kill Qassim Suleimani?

Most of this presidency has been what I have called play time. He got to play golf. He got to perform in political professional wrestling arenas. He got to issue hissy fit tweets. Rarely was he called upon to rise to the occasion and be presidential due to a crisis. He even loves to mock the presidential look with his penguin walk. When such crises arose, especially Charlottesville and Puerto Rico, he failed and didn’t care or even realize that he had. Fortunately, he had no Pearl Harbor, no Cuban Missile Crisis, no 9/11. There was no international crisis that demanded a response on the part of the American President. He was able to get away with being an immature child out of his league passing himself off as an adult. Then he created his own crisis. Now he has a real world adult problem. So why did he do it?

NO QASSIM SULEIMANI MANHUNT

Let’s keep in mind that the assassination of Suleimani was not the climax of an extended manhunt. The situation is not comparable to that with Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. We are not dealing with a person who was in hiding. The issue for previous administrations was not how to find him but whether or not killing would improve or worsen the situation. Once the decision was made to kill Suleimani, it did not take long to find him.

IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT HIM

No matter what the situation and in ways no one else can accurately predict, he always makes it about himself. When 9/11 occurred, his reaction was he now had the tallest building in lower Manhattan. It’s always about him.

If you think his extortion attempt in the Ukraine was about his concern for corruption in the Ukraine, think again or think for the first time.

If you think his cover up and obstruction of the extortion attempt in the Ukraine is about his concern for preserving the rights of future Presidents, think again or think for the first time.

If you think his decision was based on reports from the intelligence services, think again or think for th first time.

If you think the assassination of Suleimani was about an imminent attack and to make the world safer for America, think again or think for the first time.

The challenge here is to try to determine why the assassination of Suleimani was important right now to this one person who happens to be the President of the United. There is no geo-political thinking involved. There is no strategy involved. There isn’t even much thinking involved in this impulsive decision. What was going on inside his brain?

MAN-UP

When he was 13 years old, his father placed him in military school in the vain hope that this immature child would man-up. It didn’t happen. It never will. But it was and continues to be important to convey the illusion that it did happen. THE DONALD is a character he created to express his manliness. He loves acting as THE DONALD. Consider how he defines manliness as so often expressed in his tweets and in the political professional wrestling arena shows.

It means insulting and demeaning women.

It means insulting and demeaning people with handicaps.

It means insulting and demeaning people who are smaller than him or who he can characterize as smaller.

It means mocking people like John McCain as a loser while championing Hollywood-cast brutal killers like Edward Gallagher as real men.

It means falsely claiming that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died whimpering and crying.

It means having Hollywood-cast “my generals” reporting to him until they dare to think for themselves and be more educated, disciplined, and dedicated to the Constitution than he is.

It means having a parade with his action toys.

In short, it means the seventh-grade smart-aleck dumb-aleck is in his element being THE DONALD. The only arena he enters is a fake one where the confrontation is scripted. Oh, yes, in the real world he would have been a great soldier if it hadn’t been for this bone spurs. How can you expect him to remember on which foot he faked having them?

So in determining why he chose this moment to have Qassim Suleimani, one needs to keep in mind that first, it was about him, and second, it is about his need to be THE DONALD.

THE REAL WORLD

In the real world of adults, things haven’t fared so well for THE DONALD. World leaders don’t watch Fox and don’t attend his political professional wrestling arena shows. In the real world, the adult world leaders caught on pretty quickly that THE DONALD is an act. They know he is an ignorant, impulsive, immature child. But he is also a dangerous one because of the power he commands as President of the United States. The surreptitious tape of European leaders mocking him at a NATO summit was not as easy to deny as the laughter in the General Assembly at him. That tape is hardly likely to have been the one and only time that adult world leaders mocked the American child…and he knows it. The boy from Queens who always wanted to be accepted by the civilized world across the river in Manhattan learned that at the global level he is still the outsider the adult people look down on. Even for someone as skilled as THE DONALD at avoiding reality, he must have simmered over the exposure of his diminutive status as a loser. But he’s the President of the United States, so he will show them who is boss. Here have some tariffs.

Remember, it always about him and that includes tariffs. Let see how these cultured high and mighty like having tariffs dumped on them by the rude, crude, outsider, whom they don’t want in their club. Maybe he will even destroy the club. George Bush, the father, rallied a Coalition of the Willing to join the war against Saddam Hussein. Now the American President who has alienated America’s allies stands alone and acts impulsively before a coalition could even be organized anyway.

IRAN EXPOSES THE DONALD AS A FRAUD

With Iran, the exposure of THE DONALD became even worse. When Iran challenged him with bombings of Saudi oil fields, he was all set to be THE DONALD in the real world. He’ll show those Iranians who is a real man. Then Tucker Carlson talked him out of it. How is that Tucker Carlson could talk him out of the bombing at the last minute while actual government officials could not convince him to release the funds to the Ukraine?

This time around Tucker Carlson’s admonitions did not work. Something else had happened. As a result of not acting against Iran, THE DONALD was exposed as a weenie. Even he realized that he looked weak. Iran did not fear him. Iran even mocked him in public. YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING. WE ARE NEAR YOU. WE ARE THE MAN OF THIS ARENA, NOT YOU!

That was too much to take. After all his talk about how respected the United States is in the world as a result of his leadership, it turns out that the President of the United States was not respected at all. And unlike the European leaders who trash talk the American President behind his back, the Iranians did so to his face. That could not be tolerated. He could not risk a Libyan Embassy II. The image of THE DONALD had to be preserved. Kill Suleimani because I need him to die. It always about him.

PROVING HIS MANHOOD

As an example of his manliness, our Macho-Macho-Man President has announced he has selected 52 Iranian sites to be destroyed very fast and very hard if Iran tries anything. The 52 comes from the number of Americans held hostage by Iran beginning back in 1979. He is quite proud of making this connection. Remember when he said the father and son were both talking to Putin about ending the Russian freeze on American adoptions? He was so proud of himself for concocting that connection all by himself. He didn’t even need Hannity to do it for him! Now the targets included cultural sites which are protected by international agreement. What does he care about the rules? Why he is encouraging Iran to target American cultural sites is a mystery. Perhaps Iran should start with every Trump building or golf course anywhere and everywhere in the world. We are now at the 7th grade level of “OH YEAH! OH YEAH! OH YEAH!” negotiations. Maybe the adults in the room will stop him.

So what has this impulsive act to preserve the illusion of THE DONALD on the world stage and therefore to Trumpicans at home achieved. It is still too early to know how this self-imposed crisis will work. Some suggestions can be made.

1. The world is not safer for Americans.
2. North Korea will be more determined than ever to preserve and develop its nuclear arsenal.
3. Iran will move closer to Russia and to China, a prime oil customer.
4. The risk of Iraq dividing into multiple entities has increased.
5. America will not fight a land war in Iran.

Thanks to the anti-Obama President, Iran no longer has to observe the 15-year nuclear limit from the “worst deal ever.” What an accomplishment. It will probably be item #1 on the Trumpican Party platform to the cheers of all his fans and worshipers. Who knows what other surprises there will be as the immature child is forced to act in real world where he is out of his league.

Republicans versus Trumpicans: A New York State Case Study

In 1861 after winning the presidential election, Abraham Lincoln traveled by train to Washington, D.C. from Springfield, IL. His journey took him through New York State.

On February 18, he arrived in Albany. A riot ensued. While all this fuss was occurring over the arrival of the President-elect and he was dining at the Executive Mansion, the drama “The Apostate,” was staged at the Gayety Theater on Green Street. During the performance, the 23-year-old male lead who held a dagger accidentally fell and stabbed himself. He lived. The actor’s name was John Wilkes Booth. What if the wound had been more severe? There is no indication that Booth and Lincoln met then although obviously the former was aware of the latter.

So how did the new Republican Party fare in the Empire State?

In 1860 Abraham Lincoln won New York State with 35 Electoral College votes.

In 1864 Abraham Lincoln won New York State with 33 Electoral College votes. Confederate states did not participate in the election. Who knows what would have happened if they had voted and sent electors to be counted. After all, according to Lincoln, the Confederate states were legally still part of the United States. Another “what if” question.

In 1904, New York Republican Teddy Roosevelt won New York State with 39 Electoral College votes.

In 1948, New York Republican Thomas Dewey won New York State with 47 Electoral College votes.

In 1980 Republican Ronald Reagan won New York with 41 Electoral College votes.

In 1984 Republican Ronald Reagan won New York with 36 Electoral College votes.

That was the last time a Republican Presidential candidate won New York.

In 2016, New York was down to 29 Electoral College votes.

There was even a time not so long ago when both New York State Senators were Republicans. Then it became one. Then it became none.

The 21st century has not been good for Republicans in New York State. Once upon a time Republican New York State governors were national figures who became President or who tried to become President. When George Pataki sought national office he barely registered on the Presidential Political Richter scale. For that matter the Democrats have not done much better. Since the days of Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt, the Democratic New York presidential candidates have been a carpetbagger and former Democrat and Clinton supporter who attended future Democratic Governor Andy Cuomo’s bachelor party and used the Republican Party instead to become President before moving to Florida.

So where did things stand now for Republicans in New York State?

No Republican can win a statewide election in New York. The best one can hope for is around 40%. Consider the example of Marc Molinaro. In an earlier time period, he was the type of person who had future in the Republican Party at the state level and therefore perhaps at the national level. Now he has neither. He tried once at the state level and was victim of the 40% rule. He could try again for a state-wide position but why?

Molinaro could aim smaller and run for Congress, but why? First, his background is in executive positions so he would be a fish out of water in Congress. Second, he would be in a minority party which in the House of Representatives means you have no power whatsoever. Third he would be obligated to constantly travel both in his geographically-large Congressional district and to Washington. Fourth his district probably would change after the 2020 census and for the worse for him. Finally, does he really want to settle for making a name for himself like Elise Stefanik? For what purpose? Is that all there is?

During his gubernatorial campaign, Molinaro stated that he wrote in Republican former Congressman Chris Gibson for the 2016 presidential election. The father of a daughter with developmental disabilities, said that Trump mocking a disabled journalist, Serge Kovaleski of The New York Times, during a late-2015 campaign rally was the tipping point. Therefore even if elected to Congress, the non-Trumpican would have no standing within the Trumpican Party. So here he is in what should be the prime of his political life ready to make the big move like a Roosevelt or Dewey and instead he has nowhere to go.

Note: Since I first wrote these words, Molinaro has announced he will not be a candidate for Congress.

The Republicans continue to be irrelevant in the Legislature as they have been for years.

In 2018, the Senate Republicans experienced the full onslaught of the vaunted red wave the Trumpican President had predicted. For decades the Republicans had been able to retain control of the Senate despite the statewide changes. Finally all the maneuvering and lack of Democratic unity came undone. Now the Republicans are struggling to maintain a 1/3 position in the Senate. There is no constructive purpose even talking about it becoming the majority party again.

The trends are running against the Republicans. The most recent news from the Census front is that New York is the biggest population loser in the country. As one headline in USA Today put it, the new motto is “I LEAVE NY.” Roughly 1.4 million left from 2011-2018, a huge number of people equaling about 7% of the 2010 population. In the past, New York had been losing both upstate Republican and downstate Democratic population. The difference was that when people left upstate, no one replaced them; when people left downstate, they were replaced by Americans who wanted to relocate to New York City and by immigrants.

At the Congressional level, the result after the 2020 census will mean the loss to the state of another Congressional seat. It will probably be a Republican one although it keeps getting harder and harder to find one. The Democrats are advised not to flip all the Republican congressional seats. Leave at least two in proximity to each other so they can be combined into one district.

At the state level, the number of Senators and Legislators will remain the same. What will change is the allocation. As downstate grows to be an increasingly larger percentage of the total state population, the number of districts will grow accordingly. That change won’t go into effect until the 2022 election but the handwriting is on the wall. Already, Republican State Senators are dropping in droves. As the headline in City&State New York blared:

The state Senate is hemorrhaging Republicans
Life in the minority has some GOP incumbents getting out of Dodge.

Nine and counting with others at risk even if they run as incumbents or drive into a ditch.

So what is the New York State Republican Party going to do? At the national level, the Lincoln Project represents an attempt to restore the place of Lincoln in the Republican Party. Good luck with that. Polls show that Lincoln has lost favor with Republicans. That was true even before the 2016 elections. It is only because the party of Lincoln already was dead [R.I.P. Party of Lincoln (1856-2016), March 12, 2016] that it could become the Trumpican Party. So far this cycle, 26 Congressional Republicans are leaving the House. Soon only Trumpicans well be left.

As more and more evidence emerges during this interim between House impeachment and Senate acquittal, the transformation of the Republican Party into the Trumpican Party becomes more and more obvious. Consider the example of Mike Pompeo. He did not fight for his people in the State Department against the President. Why should the people of Kansas believe he will fight for them when he runs for Senate there? Why should they believe him period, about the Ukraine, about Iraq and Iran, about anything? Do you think he would tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth if he did testify? How much of party can you build on that?

In the Westmore News, my local weekly newspaper, there was a column by Dick Hubert entitled “The Republican political divide in our community.” He wrote about how the Republicans (Hubert does not use the term “Trumpicans”) oppose the effort of Wilson and Conway to save the Republican Party. He cited the example of New York State Trumpican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy urging political warfare against anyone even questioning Trump. Hubert quoted a media release from December 18, 2019, by Langworthy:

Neither the voters nor history will not (sic) look kindly upon this political hit job….[The] Democrats who went along with this sham will be held accountable.

It is unlikely that the new evidence further documenting the attempted extortion and cover-up will have any impact on a true Trumpican.

Hubert quoted Rye Town Republican Chairman Dan Panicia as being more forthcoming than the Westchester County Republican Chairman Doug Colenty who did not respond to this inquiry:

As far as impeachment, this has been purely political theater from the start, the sooner it is over the better. What a waste of time. Congress needs to focus on passing legislation that will benefit Americans.

This claim ignores the hundreds of bills the House has passed including on a bipartisan basis that the Senate has yet to consider.

These Trumpicans are fiddling with the Trumpican Party burns. Hubert noted the party professionals and volunteers who worked on the various campaigns of Republican former Rye Town Supervisor and Congressional candidate Joe Carvin who have informed Hubert that they have left the Party in disgust and/or cutoff communications with the Trumpicans.

At the national level, it is well known that white, college-educated, suburban Republican women have abandoned the former Republican Party in droves when it became the Trumpican Party. When Molinaro ran for Governor, his Lieutenant Governor candidate may have been just such a person. Julie Killian, former Rye City Councilwoman, declined to state for whom she voted. Her refusal to declare her loyalty means she has no future with the Trumpican Party. Not that the Trumpican Party has a future here. Republicans cannot win a county-wide race in Westchester and has been practically obliterated in the County Legislator. It has become difficult enough to find people to run yet alone who can win as Republicans or Trumpicans. When our Congressional Representative Nita Lowey decided not to run for re-election (she is older than the leading Presidential candidates), she created a once-in-a-generation opportunity. So far 8 Democrats have announced their candidacy; the Democrats have a deep political bench. BY contrast, although the Republicans do have an announced candidate this time, he comes from business wealth and not a political bench: there isn’t one.

Hubert ends his column with a dismal depiction of the Trumpican Party future in New York State.

Altogether, it’s not a pretty picture. Like the fate of Humpty Dumpty, it’s not at all clear the pieces can ever be put back together again….
Locally, at least, a safe prediction would be that policy and political disputes may be settled in our environs by Democratic primaries and the possible emergence of new parties.

Hubert’s conclusion echoes my own comment that Wilson and Conway would be better served trying to create a new party based on Lincoln than on trying to transform the Trumpican Party back to a party that admires Lincoln.

Ireland Sues Fighting Irish over Hostile and Abusive Name after Notre Dame’s Bowl Victory

Florida State University and the Seminole Tribe (www.joann.com)

The Fighting Irish triumphed over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl on Saturday, December 28, 2019. However instead of being able to exult in their victory, the Fighting Irish were hit by a lawsuit from Ireland. The constant reference to the Fighting Irish was more than Ireland could handle anymore. The demeaning and disrespectful name is a slight on the Irish people. Ireland called on the Fighting Irish to cease and desist the use of the term effective immediately.

Norway quickly followed the example of Ireland. It has had it with the all that Viking hoopla and hollering with those head horns. It mocks the Viking people and tradition and has no place in the civilized world. Therefore Norway has sued the Minnesota Vikings calling on them to cease and desist the use of the name and use of all related faux Viking paraphernalia effective immediately.

The Sioux Indians have sued the University of North Dakota for the hostile and abusive representation of them in the use of the mascot and logo the “Fighting Sioux.” The term is demeaning and disrespectful and is a slight on the Sioux people. The Sioux have sued the University calling them to cease and desist the use of the term effective immediately.

The Netherlands has decided to follow suit and sue the New York Knickerbockers. The suit is based not on a logo but on the quality of play. It was triggered by a sports article on the 2010s entitled “The N.B.A. During the 2010s: The Good, the Bad and the Knicks.” In the article, the Knicks were called the “underachievers of the decade.” The Netherlands is sick and tired of being associated with a pitiful loser.

Boeing has joined in with a suit against the New York Jets. It is bad enough for Boeing to have to deal with crash landings that have grounded a jet. It does not want to be associated with a perennial loser team named the Jets.

There is still no word from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the United Steelworkers about possible lawsuits against the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Katonah-Lewisboro school district in Westchester County (NY) has voted to drop the Indian mascot from the John Jay High School sports teams. Since the hamlet was named after Lenape Chief Katonah, it will change all Katonah-based names as part of its purification process to atone for its sins. Meanwhile the John Jay Homestead, the New York State site located in the Town of Bedford which includes the hamlet of Katonah, is considering a suit of its own. How exactly does having a high school name after Founding Father John Jay really honor him?

Which of the above examples are actual events? Which of the above examples are future events that have not yet happened? Which did I just make up as Fake News? Is it possible for intelligence and common sense to prevail in the culture wars especially once the Thought Police has been unleashed?

Yes, it is still possible for intelligence and common sense to prevail but that is the exception and not the rule. Before resuming the series on Columbus Day versus Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the culture wars that will tear America apart during this presidential election year, let’s examine one example that shows that e pluribus unum is still possible in the United States despite all the efforts to shred the social fabric.

Seminole Tribe and Florida State University

A Tradition of Tribute (excerpts from FSU’s website)

The Seminole Tribe of Florida are a courageous, tenacious and determined people who, against great odds, have struggled successfully to preserve their culture and to live their lives according to their traditions and beliefs. As history shows, they are a people who have resolutely refused to accept defeat, whether at the hands of the U.S. military or when faced with the unforgiving wilderness of the Florida Everglades.

For nearly seven decades, Florida State University has proudly identified itself with this heroic tribe. The name “Florida State Seminoles” was selected by vote of the university’s student body in 1947…The name was selected specifically to honor the indomitable spirit of the Florida Seminoles — those people whom the Seminole Tribe of Florida refers to as the “few hundred unconquered Seminole men, women and children left — all hiding in the swamps and Everglades of South Florida.” FSU’s use of the name honors the strength and bravery of these people, who never surrendered and ultimately persevered.

In recent years, critics have complained that the use of all Native American names and symbols — by FSU and other universities, as well as by professional athletic teams — is “culturally hostile” or “offensive.” Unfortunately, in some cases such names and symbols have in fact been misused and become derogatory. At FSU, however, we have worked diligently for 40 years to ensure that our representations of Seminole imagery bring only honor to the Seminole people.

During this time, FSU experienced a learning curve. It learned that the Hollywood image of Indians was at odds with the actual way Indians lived and had lived during the European settlement and expansion in America. It learned that not all Indian tribes were alike just as ethnic peoples from Europe varied. It learned that the way FSU portrayed the Seminoles was not consistent with the way the Seminoles lived. It learned that it did not know Seminole history. It also learned that it did not have to knuckle under to the Politically Correct Thought Police, that it could stand up for itself, and it could grow in its understanding of the Seminole people.

An Improved Understanding

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, FSU’s campus became a learning ground with regard to the Florida Seminole Indians. Several key people were directly responsible for the new awareness. Joyotpaul “Joy” Chaudhuri, an American Indian expert and FSU professor of political science, and his wife, Jean, an American Indian activist, came to the university during this period. They helped establish an American Indian Fellowship at FSU. This influential group led the campus and the community toward a better understanding of Native Americans in general and the Florida Seminoles in particular. The group was instrumental in mediating between the university and the Florida Seminole Indians. There were several meetings between the two, and problems were addressed to the satisfaction of both. As a result, FSU retired certain images that were offensive to the tribe, and began consulting with the tribe regularly on all such matters.

By the late 1970s, FSU’s campus, like the rest of country, had become more educated about Indians in general and the Florida Seminoles in particular. Along with this new understanding came major changes in the university’s mascots. It became very important to portray the university’s namesake with dignity and honor, and to do it with the graces of the Florida Seminole tribe. This attitude culminated in a mutual respect between the two institutions, and further tied their futures to one another.

Osceola and Renegade

In 1978, FSU embarked upon a new tradition — one that had the full endorsement of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. A Seminole warrior riding a horse, to become known as Osceola and Renegade, was introduced at FSU home football games, and soon became one of the most enduring and beloved symbols of the university.

For more than 30 years, FSU has worked closely with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure the dignity and propriety of the various Seminole symbols used by the university. The university’s goal is to be a model community that treats all cultures with dignity while celebrating diversity.

Imagine how much better off the United States would be if the experience of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Florida State University was the basis of “come let us reason together” relationships than the divisiveness of the Trumpican and Politically Correct rhetoric. That’s another one of my prayers for America.

Who Is a Real American?: Why the Needle Has Not Moved

Who Is a real American? Who is not? (www.youtube.com)

As the year draws to a close, I end with a confession. I was as wrong anyone can be. I was so wrong that I am not even going to provide the link to the blog where I was so wrong. I really believed there would come a time when Republicans stared into the ugliness of Donald Trump and would be so repelled that they would abandon him in shock, revolted over having being conned by a scam artist of such minimal mental necessities who was incapable of telling the truth.

I share the feelings of Michelle Goldberg who wrote:

At the start of this administration, many who are horrified by Trump thought that at some point the Republican fever might break, leading to conservatives in Congress to check a dictator-worshipping buffoon for the sake of the Constitution. I’ve become ashamed of my naïveté… (The New York Times, December 22, print).

To be fair to Little Donee Waney calling him a “dictator-worshipping buffoon” ignores the reality that he is an immature child who never was able to man up but desperately wanted to. His worship and submissiveness is not based on any political beliefs or values. The explosion of hissy fits tweets during this current interlude between impeachment and trial is testament to the threat the immature child feels as the adult world closes in around him. He is not fit psychology to function as an adult and the more he his forced to operate in the adult world, the more off the rails he will act.

It should be noted that some Republicans have acted against the longtime Democrat and Clinton supporter who subsequently hijacked the Republican Party in a brilliant exploitation of Republican fears and insecurities. But the efforts of Rick Wilson and George Conway (in the world’s strangest marriage) are not likely to prove fruitful. The Republican Party died a long time ago [R.I.P. Party of Lincoln (1856-2016) from March 12, 2016]. It exists merely in name. Republicans have been transformed into Trumpicans, the path they were already on, before the con artist had the skill to exploit it for his own needs. [A case study on the Republican and Trumpican parties in New York will the subject of a future blog.]

So what then were Trumpicans concerned about? Eventually I did realize what Little Donee Waney knew in his gut. The answer is that Trumpicans see THE DONALD as America’s last best hope against the Politically Correct, the triumph of identity politics, and the control over Real Americans by, you know, those people.

Skeptical-about-Trump conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage asked his listeners about their support for Trump. Here is one response:

Dave in North Carolina asked how anyone could blame Mr. Trump when he is fighting so many enemies at once. “He’s not just fighting the Democrats. He’s fighting the deep state. He’s fighting the cabals. WITHOUT HIM, WE HAVE NOTHING (capitalization added).” (NYT, June 19, 2019).

The idea that Savage represented a “a small crack in the foundation of Trump loyalists” seems absurd over six months later. It’s like thinking an editorial in a Christian evangelical publication represents another small crack as well. [Will white evangelicals see the light will be the subject of a future blog as well.] The excited urgency and passion of the caller Dave speaks to belief in the LORD AND SAVIOR, THE CHOSEN ONE, BLESSED BE HIS NAME.

This past July 4 was not without a politically correct scandal either. It seems that Kate Smith in her pre-“God Bless America” day, sang popular songs on the vaudeville circuit that were demeaning to blacks. As a result she has been yanked by the Yankees. In response, the Kate Smith Commemorative Society (I did not know there was one) issued the following statement in opposition to an action it characterized as

yet another example of the harmful excesses of the questionable concept of ‘political correctness,’ and the unfair and all-too frequent tendencies to judge events of the past by the standards and sensibilities of the present. (NYT, July 4, 2019).

A few days later on July 7, The New York Times printed some responses to a survey taken of Trump voters as to their preferences in 2020. Here are some of the responses.

1. Based on the debates, Democrats have learned nothing in the last two years. Democrats believe that identity politics is a winner. Wrong.

2. I did hear (from the Democratic candidates) about decriminalizing lawlessness [meaning immigration] (and) a healthy dollop of identity politics.

3. The Democrats want to give illegals just about anything they want. What part of illegal do they not understand?

On the other hand, some Trump voters had seen the light.

1. Mr. Trump was preaching as if he supported populism and “draining the swamp.” He failed to live up to both miserably.

This person would support Sanders, Yang, Warren or Gabbard. The Democrats should be able to capitalize on Swampbuilder having the most corrupt and incompetent Cabinet in American history. [One should note that competent Secretaries may implement policies you detest but that does not make them corrupt or inept.]

2. I absolutely will not vote for Donald Trump again. I regretted it as soon as he started up with the inauguration nonsense. If his mouth is open, he’s telling lies….Our institutions and democracy are at stake, and four more years of Mr. Trump will be disastrous and ruinous. Mr. Trump has to go.

This response provides Democrats with two possible avenues of attack:

1. Can You Count? – Can you count the number of people in the inauguration parade? Can you count that 63 million is less than 66 million? Can you count that 306 Electoral College votes are not a landslide?

2. The American Revolution 250th – How can we celebrate the anniversary of removing a king from rule over us when we have a President who wants to rule over us as a king above the law and with no checks and balances?

Here’s what renowned Trumpican Maureen Dowd wrote on July 28, 2019, in an op-ed piece entitled “Spare Me the Purity Racket”:

The progressives are the modern Puritans. The Massachusetts Bay Colony is alive and well on the Potomac and Twitter.
They eviscerate their natural allies for not being pure enough…The politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.

In an article on “How Lying and Mistrust Could Take a Lasting Toll,” Robert Shiller wrote:

In talks with strong supporters of Mr. Trump, I have found that they are often willing to admit that he has “rough edges.” They suggest that all politicians have to play politics, and like Mick Mulvany, the acting White House chief of staff, they sometimes say we need to “get over” that. Being caught in lies seems to them to be no great shame. The greater picture, they say, is that the president has freed himself from the constraints of “political correctness” to state unpopular truths, and to fight for the interests of forgotten Americans. That view seems to show no diminution of a basic sense of the importance of honesty. (NYT 11/10/19)

My ongoing series of blogs on Columbus Day versus Indigenous Peoples’ Day are part of this same conflict. The weaponization of terms like “native” and “indigenous” by politically- corrected people were acts of war. Non-college-graduate whites were able to figure out that they were the target of this alternate vocabulary.

As long as the Trumpicans accept the con that Little Donee Waney is really THE DONALD fighting for them against the Politically Correct they will stand by their immature child president. Saudi Arabia knows that THE DONALD is an act but Trumpicans have not yet been exposed to that truth.

I was enlightened to the truth of the concerns of the Trumpicans in response to my recent blog on a “Prayer for America.” I have posted that blog before but this time I added “Prayer for Pelosi” to the title. Just prior to my posting and partly a cause of my resending it, Nancy Pelosi had stated she had prayed for the President. Subsequent to my posting it, he had responded disputing her claim to have prayed for him. Obviously Pelosi’s praying for the President does not mean she is a partisan of the President. Readers of my prayer blog sometimes were unable to understand that and/or did know Pelosi had said she had prayed for him. The mere appearance of “Pelosi” in the title with the word “Prayer” was enough to ignite Trumpicans.

Here is one response that I think goes to the heart of the divide in America:

Are you kidding me! What the hell is wrong with you sending out this email! Your prejudice is unbelievable. Do you realize 63 million people voted for President Trump. You are supposed to be a historical organization not a partisan hack org! I am going to post this email all over social media and expose your organization!

This reader opened the blog 39 times which I understand to mean it was forwarded 38 times to social media. A challenge to identify what in the prayer was partisan was unanswered.

Focus now on the use of the “63 million people who voted for President Trump.” Why mention a loser number? It was not the majority. It was not a plurality. So why call attention the loser number instead of the winner number of 306 Electoral College votes? The same may be asked of Congressional Trumpicans and Media Trumpicans who continually cite this number. What does this number mean to Trumpicans?

The answer in part goes back to Sarah Palin. She called on supporters to “take back the country.” To take it back from, you know, those people. In this scenario, who are the “we”? Who are the people for whom the country is being taken back? The answer is the 63 million in 2016 numbers. They are a minority of the voters but a majority of the Real Americans. It was at this point when longtime Democrat and Clinton supporter sensed an opportunity in his gut, a way to be the center of attention, a path to power. Barack Obama was a foreign-born Moslem. That claim rocketed the con artist to national standing. Real Americans were deeply afraid and emotionally distraught over the prospect of having their country being taken over…AND BY PEOPLE WHO WERE HERE ILLEGALLY BUT STILL TO BE TREATED AS IF THEY HAVE THE SAME IF NOT MORE RIGHTS THAN REAL AMERICANS. Real Americans needed a savior and Little Donne Waney was ready to fill that role. More than ready. And nothing that has happened since 2016 has changed that view because for these “Real Americans” the problem still exists and there still is no alternative to him.

Teaching State and Local History: Lessons from a Social Studies Conference

As the year draws to a close, so does my review of the conferences I attended or would like to have attended in 2019. The final one is the annual conference of the Westchester/Lower Hudson Council for the Social Studies held on December 13 at a hotel in West Harrison in Westchester County. I am on the board of this organization. In this blog I will focus on the sessions related to civics and to local history.

CONCURENT SESSIONS I

HUDSON VALLEY AND THE CIVIL WAR
Rob Buccheri and Keith Reilly, Carmel School District, Putnam County

The Hudson Valley was vital for providing the manpower and manufacturing power to defeat the Confederacy. The presentation will highlight the people and places of the Hudson Valley that contributed to the cause. The presentation will also examine how the issues of the war still resonate today.

Both Rob and Keith have participated in IHARE Teacherhostels/Historyhostels and are re-enactors. They are well-traveled throughout the sites in the Hudson Valley and have offered professional development classes of their own. Unfortunately I cannot comment on what they presented since my own session was concurrent with this one. I can note that many counties have Civil War stories to tell. Just because the war was fought elsewhere does not mean there are no historical records here.

There were people involved who wrote letters from the battlefield and who tried to maintain life at home while their loved ones were away.

There were Confederate prisoners of war held in northern prisons.

There were draft riots.

There were presidential elections which should have produced newspaper coverage as well as vote totals.

Here is a perfect area where history organizations and schools should be working together. The Civil War is in the curriculum so why not make sure the story of your community is part of those lessons?

NYS SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE UPDATE

It just so happens that the chair of Senate Education Committee is Shelley Mayer, the State Senator of my own district. For the second year in a row, I invited her (with Board approval) to present at the conference. As best I understand, this is the only such conference she attends where she can speak directly to the social studies teachers (and probably does not any history conferences either).

She is keenly interested in civics. Much of her presentation was about her own efforts in support of various civic initiatives. One was for voter registration in the schools…and all the opposition to it. And yes, at times the discussion did veer off strictly social studies matters into more general education matters such as the funding of schools by the state.

Local history in the classroom was a topic but in New York State the Regents has more to do with setting the curriculum than the Legislature. The Regent representative for our region recently died. This led to the State Senator asking the attendees if they had had anyone they would like to nominate for the position. Appointments do have to be approved. Her preference is for someone with recent school experience. This means not someone drawing on their experience when they were a student decades ago or even a former teacher from a previous century and millennium. Rather she seeks someone who knows what is going on now in the schools.

My favor part of the session was when she referred to “my bill.” As regular readers of my blog know, I have taken exception to the emphasis to what has happened with slavery outside the state while ignoring what has happened inside the state. The historical organizations in the state have little material based on events in Virginia in 1619 or Texas in 1865. Therefore I have recommended a focus on what happened here: the upcoming Bicentennial of the legal end of slavery on July 4, 1827. I am pleased to say that State Senator Mayor responded favorably to that suggestion. She will be introducing a bill which I partially wrote (hence her references to “my bill” during this session) to create such a commission. I will be writing more about this in January.

CONCURENT SESSIONS II

ROUNDTABLE: TEACHING ABOUT IMPEACHENT

Mary Ellen Klock, Somers Middle School and Debbie Minchin, New Rochelle High School, Westchester

Join teachers in a discussion on how they have approached the impeachment hearings and proceedings in the middle school and high school social studies classes. Share ideas and materials that work effectively.

We are living in historic times. One day, schools and historical organizations will be looking back on this time just as we are doing to the Civil War as noted in an earlier session…or for that matter just as today in the centennial we look back on women’s suffrage. What records should municipal historical societies and historians keep about the local activity in their communities on suffrage, impeachment, or the current civil/culture war? Since so many local newspapers have disappeared (another future blog) and so much is expressed online, the challenge for municipal historical societies and historians on how to maintain records of current events that will become historical is a great one assuming you even want to. The reality is that it often much easier to ignore the history around us than to document it.

In a political blog which I do not disseminate to the history lists (The Gospel According to Rick Perry and the Rule of Law), I referred to the Declaration of Independence as an impeachment document. We were born as a country when we itemized a list of abuses of power by King George III and voted to remove him from office over us. I mention this because we are beginning preparations for the 250th birthday of the country and if you do not think the present circumstances will filter into discussions about the American Revolution, think again.

Speaking of the American Revolution…

THE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD: ARE YOU READY FOR THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION?
Joe Ryan and Bill Wienecke, Living History Education Foundation

A Living History approach to the opening shots of the American Revolution: is there a reason why? Did the technology of death and the mathematics of murder play a role in starting the Revolution? The weapons and tactics of the 18th century are key factors in what happened at Lexington Green and the Bridge at Concord.

These two people are re-enactors and Bill participated in IHARE Teacherhostels/Historyhostels before he retired as a social studies teacher from the Somers Middle School (Westchester). The Living History Education Foundation has enormous physical resources for re-enactment. It used to offer programs at sites such as Fort Ticonderoga but now is more of a school visit and local operation. I was unable to attend this session since my own presentation was at the same time.

SLAVERY IN WETCHESTER COUNTY: FROM RYE TO PHILIPSBURG MANOR

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in the British colonies. What is the Westchester story? Juneteenth commemorates an event in Texas. What about July 4, 1827? What is Westchester’s African, especially Angolan, history? Where is it in the curriculum? Let’s talk.

My own PowerPoint presentation is an outgrowth of my involvement in Westchester’s observation of the 400th anniversary of 1619. My investigations led me to realize how much more important Angola was than Ghana here. In 1685 voyage chartered by Frederick Philipse led to nine Angolans being brought ashore in the Town of Rye where I live. Most of my talk actually focused on Africa itself and its connection with Portugal. There will be a followup program on April 15, 2020, at New Rochelle High School to concentrate on events in Westchester and how to include local slavery history in the curriculum.

CONCURENT SESSIONS III

CHOOSING SIDES AT THE START OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY
Rick Forliano, Saint Paul’s National Historic Site, Eastchester Historical Society

After viewing a power point presentation consisting of recently uncovered documents, paintings, illustrations, pictures, maps, and political cartoons, participants will be asked to decide at the start of the American Revolution whether they would be a Patriot, Loyalist, or decide to remain neutral.

Rick also is a retired middle school social studies teacher, the Town of Eastchester historian, and part of the Westchester American Revolution 250th organization.

I think the informal consensus of the attendees was “Go away and don’t bother me.” That actually was the decision of many colonists but sometimes it was hard to avoid taking sides. Here in Westchester we were known as the Neutral Zone: north of the British in New York and south of George Washington. There were a number of lesser-known battles here. Perhaps the most famous example of the three geographical regions in the County occurred when John André attempted unsuccessfully to cross from the Patriot north to the British south and was caught in between.

Lately we have been hearing a lot about “loyalty,” treason,” “spies,” and how they took care of such people in the old days. At some point the Supreme Court will be ruling on how much a king the office of President really is. For better and for worse, one can easily speculate based on where people stand today, where they would have stood 250 years ago. In another political blog which I did not disseminate to the history community, I broached this subject in “You’ll Be Back”: Hamilton’s King George III Got It Right.” We may be able to get through the 2020 elections without the issue of which side would you have chosen back then, but my prediction is the question may become asked more and more prominent as the years pass. It is not only social studies teachers in the classroom who will have to deal with who would have been a Loyalist and who would have been a Patriot and how does it relate to the present political battles, it is the historical organizations as well.

Santa Claus to Relocate from Vanishing North Pole to Mar-a-Lago

SAVE SANTA'S HOME (DonLand/Shutterstock)

BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS!

This just in. Santa Claus has announced that this will be the last year he is based at the North Pole. The shrinking ice cap has made it impossible for him to maintain his worldwide operation at that location. Increasingly he is in competition with polar bears for the dwindling food supply. As a result, he is relocating toy production to mainland China to take advantage of the cheap wages and superb surveillance system. They know what you want even before you tell Santa! Santa himself will be moving to Mar-a-Lago to be with the world’s most charitable human being who would donate even more if the courts ordered him to do so.

Human beings have experienced global catastrophes before. The stories of worldwide disasters (based on the storyteller’s knowledge of the extent of the world) date back to ancient times. The oldest version is the Sumerian story known as “Eridu Genesis.” In that story, the King Ziusudra of Shuruppak hears directly from Enki that the gods have decided to destroy humanity in a flood after seven days and seven nights of an evil and stormy winds. Ziusudra builds a big boat to save the small animals and seed of humankind. Thus the human race is saved.

The next great global disaster story is the Epic of Atrahasis. In this story the gods had created human beings to be workers who serve them. The humans toil on behalf of their creators. They also make a lot of noise. They make so much noise that the god Enlil cannot sleep at night. He is in a position to do something about it. He vows to destroy these disrupters in a flood. The god Enki interprets a dream of Atrahasis as instructions to build a boat. Once again humanity is saved.

The third of this trio of Mesopotamian stories is lodged in the larger epic story of Gilgamesh. According to museum lore, when George Smith translated Tablet XI in the British Museum back in 1872, he was so overcome with emotion he tore off his clothes and began running around the museum naked. His excitement no doubt was real and he well may have run around to spread the good news. As for the rest…

The story itself tells of another king of Shuruppak named Utnaspishtim. He informs Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, as to how he survived a flood and became an immortal in a land far far away from Mesopotamia. Once again, the gods had decided to destroy humanity and once again a divine voice from the other side of a wall had informed the king how he can save everyone. Utnapishtim builds a boat. There is a fierce and frightening storm. On the seventh day, Utnapishtim sends forth a dove to see if the waters have receded. Then he sends a swallow. Finally he sends a raven. At last it is safe to leave the boat.

Obviously the most famous disaster story of all time is the biblical story of Noah. His ark and the boarding of the animals two-by-two is one of the most well-known images from biblical traditions. In the story, Noah is not designated as king. The Lord has decided to destroy humanity. Noah has found favor in His eyes for unspecified reasons. Noah is told directly what he must do: no dreams or voice from the other side of a wall. He does what he is told and his family and the animals are safe in the ark for forty days and forty nights of rain. Then Noah sends out a raven. Then he sends out a dove. He waits a week and then sends out a dove again. This time there is land and the sojourn is over.

Our apocalyptic stories of global destruction tend to be more science-fiction based. Consider for example the appropriately named Armageddon (1998). In this Hollywood planet-buster, the guilty party is an asteroid (not that asteroids actually know right from wrong!). The asteroid means doomsday for life on the planet and humanity will vanish into oblivion like the dinosaurs the last time something similar happened. This time there is no king to save us nor will anything we do or build on earth save us. Instead humanity takes a proactive role: we will destroy what would destroy us before it can do so. This effort is led by the United States but not by the President. A rag-tag bunch of misfits is called upon to do what needs to be done if humanity is to survive. They succeed.

That very same year another cosmic threat from space threatened to obliterate earth. Deep Impact (1998) is the story of a comet which is on course to smash the earth to pieces. This time, humanity becomes aware of the looming catastrophe due to a high school student, another American touch where misfits and high school students become saviors whereas kings were in ancient times. In keeping with the apocalyptic tradition of Armageddon, the President of the United States Morgan Freeman who also plays God, authorizes the construction of a savior rocket ship to be called Messiah. Once again humanity will blast into smithereens that which threatens blast us to kingdom come. The annihilation will be avoided.

A reporter for MSNBC discovers the truth that has not been revealed to the public. Fox denounces it as FAKE NEWS. Republicans dismiss the science as a mainland Chinese hoax and refuse to authorize any money for. As a result nothing is done and human life on this planet ceases. Actually even Hollywood would never produce a movie so stupid. Instead the reporter leverages this exposure to become Secretary of State and then President. Truth is stranger than fiction.

The final in this series of three science fiction movies of global disaster is Independence Day (1996). What was going on that all these end-of the-world movies were being made? This time a cable technician who just happens to know the President of the United States discovers that not asteroids and not comets but really illegal aliens are about to wreak havoc on humanity. In a stirring Top Gun battle with an illegal alien pilot, Will Smith wins but not before saying the immortal lines: “Welcome to Earth!! Get of my planet!!” Disaster is averted because ordinary Americans Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith triumph in the heavens while President Bill Pullman leads a rag-tag bunch of misfits in air-to-air combat. Before doing so, President Pullman, who does not have bonespurs, gives a rousing speech about America first, America alone, and the importance of transactional relationships that alienate our allies and comfort our enemies. Trumpicans in the audience have been known to cry upon hearing this.

In the original movie, the American President leads a worldwide resistance to this threat. In fact, when people around the world hear the American plan, the response is an eager thanks for America taking the lead. Times have changed.

First, mainland China would never permit Hollywood to produce a movie where Americans are the lead saviors of the world.

Second, Americans no longer believe that America is a City-on-a-Hill that the eyes of the world are on because We the People are the last best hope of humanity. Instead we are scared timid weenies that want to crawl into our walled shell and listen to echoes and reverberations of USA! USA! USA! while others take the lead.

What does all this mean for the Global Deluge – This Time It Is Not Rain? Where is Noah when you need him? Where is American leadership? This time, the rest of the world will have to proceed without American leadership. This time, the rest of the world will have to proceed without even American involvement. This time, the rest of the world will have to proceed on its own because American lacks the right stuff to go into the arena. All we can do is unleash demeaning hissy fit tweets against a small sixteen year girl who really does want to save the world. But as long as America does not want to be the world’s Noah, saving the world will be difficult to do. And that boys and girls is why Santa Claus has been forced to leave the North Pole before it ceases to exist.