Monday, September 07, 2020

American History, and then some




You will hear, especially if you engage on Facebook with devotees of the Left, that America has a bloody and violent history.  You will be asked to deny, if you can, the enslavement of Blacks, and the extermination of Indians. Rather than quibble over language, if they happen to overstate the case, as indeed they likely will, it is better to acknowledge it.  Yes, American History is stained in blood.  Agree.

The problem is perhaps the context?  Is America really unique?  Let's take a quick look at the rest of the 


To keep it quick, let me mention just a few names.  Tamerlane, Stalin, and Leopold II of Belgium.  Tamerlane is a fellow who built mountains of skulls outside the cities he conquered, Stalin I hope you already know about, and Leopold was the brute who wrecked havoc and murder on the Belgian Congo.

Do Belgians attend struggle sessions where they force each other to apologize for the crimes of Leopold?  Never mind, they probably do, when they aren't enjoying strong beer, and mayonnaise on their fries. Which, along with the art and architecture are some of the fine things about Belgium so lets get to the 


Has American History been a mere cavalcade of blood and horror?  Of course not.  Never mind the Civil War that ended Slavery, and the Civil Rights movement that took the defining words of our founding and applied them fully to all Americans.  Think of some smaller stories, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Navajo Code Talkers, and, why not, he is deservedly famous, Jackie Robinson.

I had the privilege of attending an airshow in Oshkosh Wisconsin a few years back at which some of the remaining Tuskegee Airmen were honored.  Was America still a racist country then?  Yes.  Did they suffer discrimination?  Yes.  Nonetheless they were given the opportunity to fly the finest aircraft of WWII into combat, and they performed heroically.  (Just btw, I am biased toward the P-51 Mustang, because I was fortunate enough to take my first flying lesson in one.  What a plane!)

The Code Talkers were young Navajo men who invented, implemented, and used under fire in combat, what is, to my knowledge, the only unbroken tactical code of WWII.  Were they mistreated, both as a people and as individuals before and even after the war?  Yes.  Nonetheless they were honored with a vital mission during the war, and in the years after the war, when the need for secrecy finally ended, they were honored publicly as well.   I recently read a fine book you might also enjoy: Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.

Finally Jackie Robinson heralded the modern era of black celebrity athletes and entertainers.   Anyone who tells you that America has a racial caste system has to ignore a lot.  Not just the black millionaires and billionaires, but the poor whites who suffer depression and die from opioid abuse, not just in Appalachia but all over our country.


Why am I writing all this?  Here is part of why:

This slide was presented at a "Racial Sensitivity Training" for employees of the Sandia National Laboratory, in Albuquerque New Mexico.  I suppose, as a White Male myself, I should feel proud that my efforts to display a "can-do attitude" have been noticed, and are deemed worthy of discussion.  However, I feel it more important to note that essentializing a positive attitude as a White Male attribute is Racist, Sexist, nonsense.

I've learned a lot about "can-do", from women, starting I suppose with my Mother, who taught me at Telethons years ago (some of my readers perhaps recall Super Sunday, which is still a thing) the importance first of showing up, then of picking up your pack of cards, and then dialing the numbers.  "If you don't ask, you won't get". I've been privileged to work with other people, some not white, some not men, and some not either, who gave me further lessons, by their example, of how to get things done.

Returning to my Mother, apropos of nothing in particular, she was also the one who taught me, again by example, that when you see something wrong, you say something about it.