But I think it's time to find something else to celebrate in October, as I'm sick of having the day off in the name of a shameless, murderous, tyrant. Aren't you?
I'm sure you've heard by now -- your first grade elementary history lessons were crap - lies your teacher told you in order to perpetuate a fairytale that Columbus was a hero.
To get a taste of Christopher Columbus' real character, It's best to hear the story in his own words. So let's start with this journal entry, written by Columbus himself. (Source: Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States).
The entry is Columbus' reaction to the innocence, and hospitality of the indigenous Arawak population of his `new world'.
When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
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Determined to bring to a blessed end my three day journey into the painful miasma explored by Douglas A. Blackmon in his extraordinary Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of African Americans from the Civil War to World War II, I chose sleep deprivation last night and read long past dawn.
I passed over not a word -- not even the Ibids in the extensive footnotes and bibliography section. Even that ostensibly dry and academic denouement had its horrors, however. I encountered citation upon citation of Congressional and federal records marking the infuriating inaction of the risibly defined protectors and defenders of the Constitution that exposed the Emancipation Proclamation (and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution regarding slavery and the role of African Americans in the United States) as the cruel joke it turned out to be for nearly a century after the ostensible "freeing of the slaves."
Nothing related to race, African Americans, American history, political "facts" or sociological issues in America will ever be the same again for me.
Perhaps I should rejoice in the fact that I am capable of being educated and instructed, of absorbing wholly new information at my advanced age of 40...
But I feel a weight upon me just now, so heavy it seems it will never be lifted; and perhaps that's as it should be. Self-congratulation for finally having attempted to learn something I ought to have sought out long ago wouldn't simply be unseemly; it would only be mildly less grotesque than that same attitude expressed by innumerable whites who still see nothing solecistic in claiming "We" fought the Civil War to end slavery, freed Europe from Hitler, defeated communism, marched for civil rights and so on.
I used to assure myself, privately, that despite the obvious shared ancestral shame of so many white Americans, my ancestors had nothing to do with that ugliness. After all, they were Irish and Scots -- northerners all, poor or working class until my mother's generation. Aside from the admittedly insidious and long-lived spectre of inveterate racism in their attitudes (which persists to this day, albeit in a milder and assuredly less overt form, in some of my mother's brothers and cousins), what evil deeds could they -- shunned and discriminated against themselves -- have perpetrated, after all? Surely my relatives and I share only the merest, microscopic percentage of the collective taint befouling all whites in America born second generation or earlier?
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Trying to make sense of tribal politics in the Middle East can't be done with simple bumper sticker slogans. The history, entangling relationships, religious dimension, shifting alliances, geography and multiple cultures are a Byzantine maze of complexity. Specifically, the Muslim world is often regarded by people in the west, especially Americans, as a large bowl of alphabet soup. As a result, policy makers who look for quick and easy fixes by force in the region overreach and miscalculate.
One tragic example of miscalculation and overreach is Lebanon. Once regarded as the "jewel" of the Middle East, Lebanon endured a brutal civil from 1975 to 1990. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Syria and Israel, this small country the size of Connecticut has flummoxed leaders in Jerusalem and Washington for two decades.
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This diary serves both as an invitation to check it out if you haven't seen it yet (it's long, bring coffee) as well as an opportunity to touch upon the various artists responsible for the images found within. Come on inside, and learn a little more about the artists and their works.
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Where Democrats too often fail is not, as the Greens and Republicans would have it, in lacking ideas. The Democratic Party has been, for 70 years now, the primary source of new ideas for American politics even while Republicans simply try to restore pre-1930's ideas over and over again no matter how often they fail. Where Democrats too often fail is in having a lack of good leadership from within. But when that leadership emerges, great ideas and great policies often result.
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Now, our presence is being felt once again as the destroyer of human history.
For three long years, U.S. troops have wrecked what little remained of the ancient city of Babylon.
They've built roads over the 5,000-year-old walls, poured a concrete helicopter landing pad over an archaeological site, filled sandbags with "soil rich with precious artifacts" and dug trenches through temples.
At least those sins were done for military reasons. There's no such excuse for the graffiti left by American Marines ("Cruz chillen' in Saddam's spot") or the thousands of precious objects the troops sifted from the sand to take home as souvenirs. Looted cuneiform tablets from Babylonian museums have already shown up on eBay.
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Bound for Glory: America in Color is the first major exhibition of the little known color images taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information.
Here's a "taste" from Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942:
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Though for reasons that continue to escape me and every logical person on the face of the planet, the scientific validity of evolution as a theory is currently under strenuous debate. Whatever you may think about evolution (and if you don't agree with it, I shall laugh at you) I think it's impossible argue with its opposite...no, not creationism or intelligent design, but de-evolution.
A case in point would be the Republican Party, highlighted by their presidents. Today is the exact anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's re-election, Tuesday, November 8, 1864. We're just over one year removed from the re-election of George W. Bush. So, I thought as useful exercise given the anniversay in question, we'd compare and contrast the first and most recent Republican presidents in their own words.
You shall thus see, Dear Reader, that de-evolution is not only a fact but is extremely prevelant in today's Republican party.
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