Tag Archives: racsim

“I Have the Most Loyal People” Trump and Those Who Believe Anything

trump-cpac-1519415653-article-header

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

The late and great American philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote:

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” 

Hatred is an amazing emotion to which demagogues seem most adept at tapping into and harnessing.  Such leaders and propagandists channel the anger and hatred of their followers by identifying enemies and then with every statement, speech, or tweet reinforcing those beliefs, even if their claims are devoid of logic or substance.

Over the past week the language of NRA leaders Wayne Lapierre and Dana Loesch does much to incite anger and potential violence against their mostly imagined political and ideological enemies. The unmitigated volcanic reaction of Lapierre and Loesch, as well as others who share their views about socialists attempting to destroy the Second Amendment in order to overthrow the Constitution and destroy “freedom” were turned with a vengeance against anyone proposing any kind of restriction on weapons which are based on well proven military rifles of the M-16 family. In response, President Trump reaffirmed his support and admiration for Lapierre and the NRA agenda.

The invective of the NRA was profoundly disturbing especially when Right Wing bloggers, meme generators, “news” sites, and politicians attacked the students that spoke out after the Parkland attacks, calling them “crisis actors” and labeling the massacre as a “false flag” attack engineered by the “deep state” in order to take do away with the Second Amendment and take people’s guns away. This is nothing new, the NRA and its allies have done so after every mass killing. The young people who spoke out and continue to do so, as well as their families, and law enforcement are the “the devil.” 

Truth does not matter to the people who need scapegoats, or who need a “devil” in order to have meaning for themselves and the movements that they find their salvation in.  Hoffer was quite correct in his words that “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” The really successful leaders of such movements in history understood this, as do Lapierre and President Trump. The President does this by labeling his opponents “enemies” as he does with the free press, and his political opponents outside and inside the Republican Party, but he is not the first to do so.

For Hitler it was the Jews and other untermenschen. For American Southerners of the Lost Cause following the Civil War and Reconstruction it was the Blacks and their white supporters. For the “Know Nothings” of the 1840s and 1850s it was immigrants, especially Irish and Germans who were Roman Catholic. For the leaders of the Islamic State and others like them, it is Jews, Shi’ite Moslems, less than “faithful” Sunnis, Christians and well for that matter anyone who does not line up one hundred percent with them on every issue. For Stalin it was anyone who opposed his Sovietization of life and society. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg and they are not limited to the past, they are happening today in Poland, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and gaining traction in other western European countries; including Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and yes, the United States where President Trump is leading the parade, or possibly is being led by the people at Fox News.

President Trump has managed to demonize and dehumanize more people and groups than I had thought possible for an American political leader of any party or persuasion. I honestly believe that we have reached a tipping point where any severe crisis, one Reichstag Fire moment, one major terrorist attack, or war from pogroms, ethnic or religious cleansing, mass imprisonments, or even genocide. The words and actions of many of his followers and allies, including Lapierre, Loesch, and so many others reinforces that belief on a daily basis. They are taking advantage of political and social tumult to increase the fear and anxiety of all of us, their supporters and opponents alike.

 

I think a lot of this situation is because humanity is not nearly as advanced as most of us would like to presume. In times of crisis human beings are particularly susceptible to believing the unbelievable. The perpetual unsettledness that people like Trump, Lapierre, Loesch, Sean Hannity, and the people at Fox and Friends thrive on concocting helps prepare people for believing the unbelievable and for later doing what would have been unimaginable to them at one time. Hannah Arendt noted in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism:

“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” 

No wonder then candidate Trump observed:

“You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.” 

He understands his followers and since his election they have proven to be quite loyal even when his policies and programs work to their detriment.

Those that follow my writings on this site know how much I love the various Star Trek television series and movies. There is an episode (The Siege of AR-558) of Star Trek Deep Space Nine where the Ferengi bartender Quark, makes a truly astute observation about humanity during a battle for survival at an isolated outpost:

“Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, Nephew. They’re a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people… will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don’t believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes.”

Quark’s words remind me of those of Dr. Timothy Snyder who noted:

“The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. It would serve us well today to understand why.”

I don’t think that we are too far from some tipping point where the Trinity of Evil, the politicians, pundits and preachers, especially of the political right and the media whores at Fox News who are more concerned about market share than truth, decide that their “devils” must be exterminated. Of course when they will do they will claim a higher moral, religious, or racial, purpose for their actions. The President’s CPAC speech, which I just re-read was full of such references.

Sadly in past few years, and especially since President Trump took office, many of those ruthless and often racist ideologies have seen a resurgence in many parts of the world, including in Europe and the United States. While these movements have existed  underground for years they have seen a dramatic resurgence following the election of President Trump, for whom many of their leaders credit with their rise; regardless of whether the President actually holds those views or not. The scary thing is that such groups count him as being an inspiration to them.

That being said the President routinely talks about crushing, eliminating, or destroying his political opponents as well as the racial, ethnic, and religious groups that he uses as straw men and declares to be enemies; enemies who must be sought out.

In a Star Trek the Next Generation episode, one called The Drumhead Captain Picard has to warn his security officer, Lt Worf about the dangers of rampant paranoia. Worf starts: “Sir, the Federation does have enemies. We must seek them out.”

Picard pauses and then notes:

“Oh, yes. That’s how it starts. But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here, Mister Worf. I don’t like what we have become.”

To claim Picard’s words for myself I have to admit that I don’t like what we have become either, and that thought frightens me; especially when the the followers of the President behave exactly how he said that they would.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under ethics, faith, film, Gettysburg, History, LGBT issues, Political Commentary

Accomplices to Tyranny: The North & Reconstruction

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Today I look at another aspect of what happened in the post-Civil War United States, that of the responsibility of many leaders and citizens in the North for the failure of Reconstruction and the return of “White Man’s Rule” to the South, with its impact on Southern African Americans that in cases still linger today. Like today, people faced with economic difficulties sought out scapegoats and and it was easy for Northern whites, many of who were willing to concede “freedom” to blacks were still deeply racist, and for many, economic considerations trumped justice as the North tried to move away from Reconstruction and on to new conquests, including joining European powers in attempts to gain overseas colonies and territories.

It is all too easy to simply blame Southern whites for what happened during Reconstruction and in the “Redeemed South” of the post-Reconstruction era. However, without the willing cooperation of Northern politicians, businessmen, media with their Southern counterparts, coupled with an ambivalent Northern population Reconstruction might have worked.

This is yet another portion of my ever growing Civil War and Gettysburg text, and it is important too many people today are willing to sacrifice justice for their own prosperity.

Have a thoughtful night

Peace

Padre Steve+

IMG_1879

As Southern extremists turned the Federal effort at Reconstruction into a violent quagmire that seemed to have no end, many Northerners increasingly turned against the effort and against Blacks themselves. Like so many victorious peoples they did not have the political or moral capacity to remain committed to a cause for which so many had sacrificed and they began to abandon the effort after two short years of congressionally mandated Radical Reconstruction.

Likewise, the men who had so nobly began the effort to enfranchise African Americans failed to understand the social and political reality of the South. To the average Southerner of the era “political equality automatically led to social equality, which in turn automatically led to race-mixing. It was inevitable and unthinkable. To a people brought up to believe that Negroes were genetically inferior – after all, that was why they were slaves – the mere hint of “mongrelization” was appalling.” [1] This was something that most Northerners, even those committed to the political equality of African Americans could not comprehend, and the ignorance of this fact would be a major reason for the collapse of Northern political and social support for Reconstruction.

Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, one of the most effective leaders of the Radical Republicans died in 1868 in despair that the rights of blacks were being rolled back even as legislation was passed supporting them. A few weeks before his death Stevens told a friend “My life has been a failure…I see little hope for the republic.” [2] The old firebrand asked “to be buried in a segregated cemetery for African American paupers so that “I might illustrate in death the principles which I advocated through a long life, Equality of man before his creator.” [3] Others including Senator Ben Wade, were not returned to office while others including Edwin Stanton, Salmon Chase and Charles Summer all died during Grant’s administration.

While Grant attempted to smash the Ku Klux Klan by military means, both his administration and Congress were of little help. He faced increased opposition from economic conservative Republicans who had little interest in the rights of African Americans and who gave little support to those fighting for equal rights for blacks. The situation was further complicated by the “financial panic which hit the stock market in 1873 produced an economic downturn that soon worsened into a depression, which continued for the rest of the decade.” [4] The result was that Republicans lost their majorities in the House and in many states, even in the North.

It was clear that “1870 Radical Republicanism as a coherent political movement was rapidly disintegrating” [5] and during the early 1870s many of the antislavery activists had left the Republican party either to death or defection, many “no longer felt at home in a party that catered to big business and lacked the resolve to protect black rights.” [6]

In 1872, some former radical Republicans revolted against Grant and the corruption in the Republican Party. Calling themselves “Liberal Republicans” they supported the candidacy of Horace Greeley uniting with Democrats to call for an end to Reconstruction. For many this was not so much because they no longer supported the rights of African Americans, but because for them, like so many, “economic concerns now trumped race relations…. Henry Adams, who shared the views of his father, Charles Francis Adams, remarked that “the day is at hand when corporations far greater than [the] Erie [Railroad]…will ultimately succeed in directing the government itself.” [7] The numbers of Federal troops in the South continued to be reduced to the point where they could offer little or no support to state militia.

The combination of all of these factors, political, racial, economic, and judicial doomed Grant’s continued efforts at Reconstruction by executive means. Despite the hard fought battle to provide all the rights of citizenship and the vote to African Americans racism remained heavily intrenched in all regions of the country. In the North and the South the economic crisis of 1873 caused people to look for scapegoats, and blacks were an easy target. With economics easily trumping the cause of justice “racism increasingly asserted its hold on northern thought and behavior.” [8] The Northern press and politicians, including former abolitionists increasingly took the side of Southerners, condemning Freedmen as lazy and slothful usurpers of white civilization.

Likewise the growing problem of labor unrest in the North brought about by the economic depression made “many white northerners more sympathetic to white southern complaints about Reconstruction. Racial and class prejudices reinforced one another, as increasing numbers of middle-class northerners identified what they considered the illegitimate demands of workers and farmers in their own society with the alleged misconduct of the former slaves in the South.” [9]

The depression hit Freedmen in the South with a vengeance and unable to pay their bills and mortgages many lost everything and were at the mercy of their former white masters. Those still working for Reconstruction in the South were increasingly marginalized, stigmatized and victimized by a systemized campaign of propaganda which labeled them Carpetbaggers and Scalawags who were had gained power through the votes of blacks and who were profiting by looting Southern Whites. In the end Southern intransigence wore out the political will of Northerners to carry on, even that of strongest supporters of emancipation and equality.

Violence now became a means to further politics in the South and carried out in broad daylight and “intended to demoralize black voters and fatally undermine the Republican Party…. They paraded at regular intervals through African American sections of small towns in the rural black majority areas, intimidating the residents and inciting racial confrontations.” [10] These armed bands were highly successful, if they were successful in provoking a racial incident they would then fan out throughout the area to find blacks in order to beat up and kill, hundreds of blacks were killed by them. During the elections of 1876 the White Liners, Red Shirts, White League and others would be seen in threatening positions near Republican rallies and on Election Day swarmed the polls to keep blacks and Republicans out, even seizing ballot boxes either destroying them or counting the votes for Democrats. The strategy employed was to use “Lawless and utterly undemocratic means…to secure the desired outcome, which was to win a lawful, democratic election.” [11] The pressure was too much for most Republicans in the South, and many who did not leave the South “crossed over to the Democratic fold; only a few stood by the helpless mass of Negroes….” [12]

The elected governor of Mississippi, Republican General Adelbert Ames, who was one of the most able and honest of all the Northerners to hold elected office in the South wrote in 1875 about the power of the paramilitary groups, “The “white liners” have gained their point – they have, by killing and wounding, so intimidated the poor Negroes that they can in all human probability prevail over them at the election. I shall try at once to get troops form the general government. Of course it will be a difficult thing to do.” [13] Ames requested Federal troops “to restore peace and supervise the coming elections” [14] but did not get them. Grant’s Attorney general wrote “The whole public are tired out with these autumnal outbreaks in the South…and the great majority are now ready to condemn any interference on the part of the government….Preserve the peace by the forces in your own state….” [15] Ames, who had been a strong proponent of emancipation and black suffrage understood that he was being abandoned and in order to prevent more bloodshed gave up the fight. Sadly, he like Grant realized that most of the country “had never been for Negro civil rights in the first place. Freedom, yes; but that didn’t mean all the privileges of citizenship.” [16] He negotiated a deal with Democrats which resulted in blacks being forced form the polls and the Democrats returning to power in the state. When he left the state, the discouraged veteran of so many battles including Gettysburg wrote, “A revolution has taken place – by force of arms – and a race disenfranchised – they are to be returned to a condition of serfdom – an era of second slavery.” [17]

Notes

[1] Ibid. Lord The Past the Would Not Die p.11

[2] Ibid. Langguth, A.J. After Lincoln p.233

[3] Ibid. Guelzo Fateful Lightening p.504

[4] Ibid. Perman Illegitimacy and Insurgency in the Reconstructed South p.458

[5] Ibid. Foner Forever Free p.170

[6] Ibid. Egnal Clash of Extremes p.337

[7] Ibid. Egnal Clash of Extremes p.337

[8] Ibid. Foner Forever Free p.192

[9] Ibid. Foner Forever Free p.191

[10] Ibid. Perman Illegitimacy and Insurgency in the Reconstructed South pp.459-460

[11] Ibid. Perman Illegitimacy and Insurgency in the Reconstructed South p.461

[12] Ibid. Lord The Past the Would Not Die p.15

[13] Ames, Adelbert Governor Adelbert Ames deplores Violence in Mississippi, September 1875 in The Civil War and Reconstruction Documents and Essays Third Edition edited by Michael Perman and Amy Murrell Taylor Wadsworth Cengage Learning Boston MA 2011 p.434

[14] Ibid. Lord The Past the Would Not Die p.17

[15] Ibid. McPherson The War that Forged a Nation p. 190

[16] Ibid. Lord The Past that Wouldn’t Die p.17

[17] Watson, Bruce Freedom Summer: The Savage Summer of 1964 that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy Viking Press, the Penguin Group New York and London 2010 p.41

1 Comment

Filed under civil rights, civil war, History, Political Commentary

“They” The Enemy of “Us”

einsatzgruppen executions

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” Eric Hoffer 

Hatred is an amazing emotion. I was noticing this week in the comments of a number of people on my Facebook page a tremendous amount of hatred against other people. Most of these were directed against Blacks, immigrants, Gays, women and Moslems.

Sadly, as one of those people messaged me it was about “they.” They being the blacks, immigrants, gays, and Moslems. You see “they” is a wonderful term to use to blame a group of people for the ills of society, and I might add for personal failure and petty jealously. You see it is far easier to blame “them” for problems than to take responsibility for treating others decently and maintaining our own humanity.

You see the terms “they” and “them” are terms used not just to divide, but to demonize. Mass movements love them, especially when using them against those of other races or religions. It does not matter if it is an unrequited White American Southern Christian who still to this day regrets losing the Civil War and that that allowed blacks to be granted equity under the law and finding redemption in the myth of the Lost Cause. It does not matter if it is the disappointed and disillusioned German Monarchist seeking to find answers for the loss of the First World War and finding them in the myth of the “Stab in the Back” which ensured that Jews, Socialists and others were blamed for the loss of that war, and finds his answers in the lies of Adolf Hitler. It does not matter if it is the pundits, politicians and preachers of the American political right who constantly blame blacks, gays, women, Moslems and immigrants for problems that they and their policies brought about.

None of this matters, but then it does. It does’t matter to the people who need scapegoats, or who need a “devil” in order to have meaning for themselves and the movements that they find their salvation in. No, not at all. Hoffer was quite correct that “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” The really successful leaders of such movements understand this. For Hitler it was the Jews and other untermenschen. For American Southerners of the Lost Cause it was the Blacks and their white supporters. For the “Know Nothings” of the 1840s and 1850s it was immigrants, especially Irish and Germans who were Catholic. For the leaders of the Islamic State, it is Jews, Shi’ite Moslems, less than “faithful” Sunnis, Christians and well for that matter anyone who does not line up one hundred percent with them on every issue. The examples are so plentiful to support this fact that it is almost overwhelming.

The problem is that when any of us lump others into the categories of They and Them, and in the process then demonize those people to the point that they become less than human we have reached a tipping point. We reach the point where we are just one crisis away from Jim Crow,  pogroms, ethnic or religious cleansing, and even genocide.

Sadly, we human beings are not nearly as evolved as we think. In the movie Gettysburg Jeff Daniels playing the role of the amazing Colonel Joshua Chamberlain quotes Shakespeare’s Hamlet to an Irishman of the Twentieth Maine:

“What a piece of work is man, in form and movement how express and admirable. In action how like an angel.”

The Irishman, Sergeant Buster Kilrain replied:  “Well, if he’s an angel, all right then. But he damn well must be a killer angel.” 

Sadly that is the case all to often. Those that follow my writings on this site know how much I love the various Star Trek television series and movies. There is an episode (The Siege of AR-558) of Star Trek Deep Space Nine where the Ferengi bartender Quark, makes a truly astute observation during a battle for survival at an isolated outpost :

“Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, Nephew. They’re a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people… will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don’t believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes.”

I don’t think that we are too far from some tipping point where the Trinity of Evil, the politicians, pundits and preachers, especially of the political right and the media whores who are more concerned about market share than truth, decide that their “devils” must be exterminated. Of course when they will do they will claim a higher moral, religious, or racial, purpose; or perhaps use the language of Manifest Destiny, the Lost Cause, or the Stab in the Back or some other historical myth that suffices to justify their actions.

In a Star Trek the Next Generation episode, one called The Drumhead Captain Picard has to warn his security officer, Lt Worf about the dangers of rampant paranoia. Worf starts: “Sir, the Federation does have enemies. We must seek them out.”
 

Picard pauses and then notes:

“Oh, yes. That’s how it starts. But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here, Mister Worf. I don’t like what we have become.”

To claim Picard’s words for myself I have to admit that I don’t like what we have become either.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

7 Comments

Filed under civil rights, civil war, ethics, faith, film, History, News and current events, philosophy, Religion

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Racism Still Exists

cover22

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

In a week and a half I shall be off to Gettysburg again with a new band of students, bracing the very cold and possibly even nasty winter weather to experience and learn about the people, whose courage, sacrifice and service helped change this country for the better.

That is not to say that we have arrived in any sense of the word. Today I was confronted on a social media site about a quote that I posted from the late Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall which said:

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling up our bootstraps. We got there because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns, bent down and helped us pick up our boots…” 

When I posted it I wasn’t thinking of anything more than that all of us owe something to someone else for what we have achieved.

The person who confronted me on this, a retired Navy Chaplain chastised me because of “institutionalized affirmative action programs.” When I defended Marshall’s comments I got a a comment that “those days are long gone….” 

When  I read that with or new puppy Izzy snuggled beside me I thought, “what the fuck?” I really didn’t know how to respond. I was astounded to hear those words coming from a person who served a full career in the military. Heck the Admiral I work for, who is one of under twenty African Americans serving at that rank today was told by a white Commanding Officer that he would never command anything because he was black. He entered the military a year after I did during the early part of the Reagan build up. I enlisted in 1981 and was commissioned in 1983, he was commissioned in late 1982.

So please keep telling me that institutional and personal racism does’t exist. It does and it is still a part of life, no matter what Ben Carson, Alan West or Starr Parker say. Those people are no different than Stephen, the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained. They benefit from being the black henchmen of those that oppress other blacks. In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s era they were called Uncle Tom. The sad thing is that such people never understand that the system that they defend and advocate still hates them. I’ll go back to that in another two articles this weekend, which will be entitled They Still Hate You and another We the Good White God Fearing Citizens of Rock Ridge Again both will have a film reference and if you don’t know those films you should.

Sadly it seems they one people that really believe that are white American conservative Christians. But I digress….

The heart of why over 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and the country was devastated by a total war, the effects of which still linger today was rooted in racism, the institution of slavery, the belief that Blacks were less that human and that States, backed by legislative “compromises” and Supreme Court decisions could and should be able to maintain and even expand an evil  social and economic system that treated Blacks as less than human, enslaved them and treated them not as human beings but as the property of slave owners.

That my friends is not just a fact, it is history and it is uncomfortable as hell because my family owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy, something that I am neither proud of or ashamed to admit. It is history. It is reality, and it is shameful. I will not simply resort to the lie that my ancestors who owned slaves and fought to keep that right were simply products of their time. They and thousands of others like them knew better, and they not only intellectually assented to the system, but the profited from it and fought for it.

What I am saying, and this will not be comfortable to those who want to believe that racism, or other forms of social discrimination exist and are being re-legislated into law in certain state legislatures in actions to roll back voting rights, civil rights and economic liberty.

No they will not, especially to those who hold those beliefs and back them with their religion. Just because an elected official, or a law enforcement officer who happens to be Black expresses an opinion that racism still exists and that the laws on the books designed to ensure equal rights are enforced does not mean that they are racist. It seems to me that the racism label today is used by the very proponents of racism, racism that seeks to assign blacks, women, other people of color, and gays to less than full social, political and racial equity. But then I could be wrong, maybe in  the words of Supertramp’s Logical Song I’m just a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal…. but then maybe all the world is asleep…. and my questions run too deep….

That my friends is just one of the reasons that I believe that history matters and that such evils, and yes they are evil, need to be confronted today. The history must be told and it cannot be varnished with the lacquer of the myth of the Lost Cause, or any sort of neo-Confederate romanticism, the politicians, pundits and preachers who do so be damned to the pit of the hell that they so adamantly assign those that do not agree with them.

So tonight I am reposting a link to the first of three previously published articles, which are one full chapter of my Civil War and Gettysburg text. They are uncomfortable as hell to read, because I know for a fact that from my own research, and family history that they are just that. The accounts, the words of the defenders of slavery and the racist ideology behind it and today behind much of the preachers, politicians and pundits of the Tea Party must be confronted. Not just because it is part of their ideology, but because it is an integral part of the ideology of the Islamic State, Boko Haram and all evil that go with them. Ideology, religion and racism matters, not just in the past but today.

So tonight I give you 

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: Religion, Ideology & the Civil War Part 1

I’ll repost part two tomorrow and part three Friday with a few more editorial comments because as you an see I am really spun up about this.

Have a great night.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under civil rights, civil war, faith, Gettysburg, History, philosophy, Political Commentary, Religion

42: Thank God for Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

 

WFTCRMImageFetch.aspx

“Your enemy will be out in force. But you cannot meet him on his own low ground.” Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) in the movie 42

“The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.” Jackie Robinson

Tonight I went and saw the movie 42. I have been wanting to see it since before it came out. As anyone who knows me or reads my articles on this website knows I am not only a historian and theologian but maybe more importantly a student of the game of baseball and baseball history. I have written articles on the integration of baseball as well as Jackie Robinson. I have read many books and article about the subject and even still I was unprepared for what I saw tonight. As I watched the movie I found that I was often overcome with tears. That doesn’t happen to me often in movies.

42-movie

A while back I wrote an article about African American soldiers in the First World War and I had a man ask in a comment “why is everything about racism?” The fact that the article was about history and the neglected sacrifices of African Americans who volunteered to serve their country in a time of war and were treated as less than human by many of their fellow citizens was lost on the man. The fact that the French government and not the American government recognized their achievements on those battlefields was also lost on the man. The same is unfortunately true in many other parts of our national life.

branch_rickey

Call me a liberal or whatever, but I find racism and other forms of discrimination and hatred to be abhorrent, especially when those that are their most virulent supporters claim to be Christians. Seeing on film the things that I have previously read about in the life and career of Jackie Robinson brought me to tears through much of the movie. To see the hatred, the threats and the open prejudice of people towards Jackie grieved me. It is hard to believe that 80 years after the Civil War and over 170 years after the publication of the Declaration of Independence that so many white people fought against the simple concept of the equality of the races and the rights of people to fully participate in society, even in sports.

611_1366048749

Unfortunately racism and many other forms of discrimination are still alive and well in our country. I am 53 years old. I came to age in an era where my high school class was the first to be desegregated in my hometown and attend high school completely in a desegregated environment. When I finished high school I really believed that racism was dead and on its way out. Unfortunately, 35 years after I graduated I still see it. In many cases it is much more subtle but I can say that there are times when it is nearly as blatant as it was in April of 1947 when Jackie Robinson first stepped onto Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

Jackie Robinson Shaking Branch Rickey's Hand

Some of the things that I have read and see about President Obama over the past 5-6 years are glaring examples of such racist attitudes. A friend of mine, a conservative evangelical Christian pastor and a graduate of the Citadel who hails from Georgia told me that many of his fellow Southerners believe that the President “doesn’t know his proper place.” I found that interesting because that has been a charge directed by many whites at blacks and others that aspire to higher office or jobs that they do not feel that blacks, other minorities or women should do.

Branch Rickey, the President and General Manager of the Dodgers was a visionary and a true Christian who dared to challenge the status quo of his age. Jackie Robinson was a courageous man who endured death threats, physical abuse, taunting and even physical assaults during ball games masked as wild pitches and hard base running. Rickey told Robinson when he signed with the Dodger’s “we’ve got no army. There’s virtually nobody on our side. No owners, no umpires, very few newspapermen. And I’m afraid that many fans will be hostile. We’ll be in a tough position. We can win only if we can convince the world that I’m doing this because you’re a great ballplayer, a fine gentleman.”

For me it seems so hard to comprehend the hatred that would seek to deny people who are fellow citizens, human beings and in the case of Christians, brothers or sisters in Christ a place at the table.  Whether that table is elected office, baseball diamond or even a church simply because of their race, gender, religion or even sexual orientation I do believe that the table should be open to all and that one’s character and competence need to be the measure, and not the color of their skin, whether they are male or female, the place that they are from, who their parents happen to be, the God that they worship or the people they love. I’m sure that both Robinson and Rickey would agree.

I admire both Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, as well as the Dodger’s team Captain Pee-Wee Reese for what they did in that pivotal season of 1947. However, there is so much more work to be done in our generation. I do hope that we find it in ourselves to answer this sacred call.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball, film, History