Thursday, November 12, 2009

... wandering further astray

Hammerstein got it wrong!
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

["You've got to be taught", Oscar Hammerstein, South Pacific]
Well... no, you don't.

Fear of "The Other" seems to be the natural human condition.
You've got to be taught that "The Other" is YOU! - that we're all humans, with the same emotions and motivations. With the same DNA.
It's a hard lesson.

We've been here before. Within 11 years of our country's founding, The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed, under John Adams.

In fact, a not-so-careful reading of our history...
Kasper Gutman: These are facts, historical facts, not schoolbook history, not Mr. Wells' history, but history nevertheless.
[The Maltese Falcon]
... again, a not-so-careful reading of our history reveals that the U.S. has never lived up to its promise that "all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...". NEVER.

An engaging parallel:
Sacco and Vanzetti were followers of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist who advocated revolutionary violence, including bombing and assassination. Galleani published both Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), a periodical that advocated violent revolution, and an explicit bomb-making manual (La Salute รจ in voi!). At the time, Italian anarchists ranked at the top of the government's list of dangerous enemies, and had been identified as suspects in several violent bombings and assassination attempts (even an attempted mass poisoning), going back to 1914.
[Wikipedia article, Sacco and Vanzetti]
The Galleanists and other anarchist groups were the Al Qaeda of early 20th-century America. Congress passed a series of "Patriot Acts":
On June 15, 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act. The law set punishments for actions interpreted as acts of interference in foreign policy and espionage - including many activities that would be seen by contemporary standards as dissent, such as the publication of magazines critical of the government. The act authorized stiff fines and prison terms of up to 20 years for anyone who obstructed the military draft or encouraged "disloyalty" against the U.S. government.
Congress also passed a series of immigration, anti-anarchist, and sedition acts (including the Sedition Act of 1918 and the Anarchist Exclusion Act) that sought to either criminalize or punish (through deportation) advocacy of the violent overthrow of the government or desertion from the armed forces, defiance of the draft, or membership in anarchist or revolutionary organizations.

In 1919, the U.S. House of Representatives refused to seat Socialist representative Victor L. Berger from Wisconsin because of his socialism, German ancestry, and anti-war views.

[Wikipedia entry, Palmer Raids]
Does any of this sound familiar?

Anti-immigration hysteria.
Harsh - and illegal - suppression of dissent.

We have been down this road before.
More than once.

"You've got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made"???
We've got to learn that "The Other" is US!

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