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Author: Alexander Dimedio

11/30 Post

I think taking a deeper look at the movie Dear White People is especially important for college students.  This movie opens people up to the idea that conforming to a stereotype makes people more successful.  I never really thought about conformity like this.  I wondered why people would continue to conform to be the person they are supposed to be rather than the person they want to be, but this movie provides a good reason for conforming.  Conforming to society sends you down a path that is already paved.  it is an easy way to become successful even if it is not your way.  That being said, People see success as a clear cut thing all too often, so that is what it becomes.  I never really thought that conforming to what people think you should be will lead to success, but this movie shows how it does. 

I also like how the movie shows the people who oppose conformity.  I think it is interesting how these people naturally stick out just because they act like themselves rather than the person they are supposed to conform to be.  The way Dear White People develops the non conformist characters makes me wonder if this is a possible solution to the growing problem of conformity.  Movies can make these people seem unique and successful in their own way, which may lead more people to create their own path.  It is important to see that success comes in many forms.  People conform to find success, but in reality success can be found in other ways.  Success can be achieved by finding your own path and living a life that brings happiness to you and others.  Money and tangible items lure people to follow conformity, but these things should not trump the value of finding your own path.  This point is a deeper dive into one aspect of the movie, but I think it is extremely important.

 

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Post 11/18

Zinn uses this chapter to provide a sort of inspiration for the middle class of America.  He describes the distribution of power currently held by American elites, but he provides hope that this can change.  Zinn acknowledges that revolutions often do not work, but that does not stop him from making middle class Americans fed up with the current system.  The American Elites hold their power by inciting violence into the middle class to keep the pressure and flaws at the bottom of the class structure.  Zinn shows that people have been incapable of flipping the script, because of the lack of unity in the lower classes.  I can not see Zinn’s radical proposal working.  It would require such unity that I feel is unachievable in the near future.  I love the perspective and hope Zinn provides for the rest of us, but I cannot see a full revolution of the punishment system to be in the near future. 

That being said, I am hopeful for the future of the country.  America is extremely divided right now, but I think change is coming.  The pandemic and progressive movements within the United States are beginning to bring people together and limit the influence of American Elites.  I feel that politically we are far from united, but people are beginning to see that we are all in this together.  Joe Biden will continue to make this his goal, and I have faith in the American people.  I do not believe in the utopia that Zinn proposes, because of the high expectations he is putting in all American people, but if we can meet in the middle with where we are now and where Zinn wants to take us, I believe in the future of the country.  Zinn even acknowledges his plan is next to impossible, but if we can use the flaws of our past to guide our future I genuinely believe an alternate sort of utopia can be found.  People are far from perfect, and everyone will continue to make mistakes, but if the leaders of our country and the people following them can use this book to see the past to guide decision making, then a better future is there.  America is a young nation that has made so many mistakes, and this historical book is essentially a guide through the years of failures.  Failures that will create a better future in America and the rest of the world.

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Post 11/11

The Gore vs. Bush election has some extra significance to the election that is still going on today.  Lawsuits and court battles are keeping Trump and his team in the race when the election is all but over.  The Gore vs. Bush election came down to tight margins in Florida, but the Republican held the supreme court.  The court essentially decided the election by voting against a proper count of all votes.  The politically driven court should not be the deciding factor in an election, because all votes should be counted.  The idea that every vote should be counted is simple, yet somehow was put into question again this year.  The Trump campaign team tried to call for all votes to stop being counted even though it was established that late mail in votes would be counted in many states. When it comes down to it all that matters in the election is that the correct candidate is chosen based on the people.  The supreme court denied Gore and the American people the right to a fair election, because of petty politics.  It is important that lawsuits do not overtake this election, and the American people get to choose the president, because in the end that is what democracy is all about.  

Zinn discusses the flaws of attacking terrorism as if it was a clear enemy.  Violence should not be retaliated with more violence if possible.  Bush killed millions of civilians in Afghanistan, because of his approach to the untraditional war.  The media played a major role in the times surrounding 9/11 and the war on terror.  Some news sources hid the fact that more people were being killed out of vain, because of the national pride it brought to many people.  Other news sources, however, showed the point of view coming from injured civilians in Afghanistan.  It is important for the media to not provide biased information that alters the minds of American citizens, so having new sources with opposing viewpoints such as Fox and CNN is important.

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Post 11/4

Today’s Zinn chapter focused on the Nixon administration and how trust between the people and the government began to diminish even more.  The American people were already on edge with the government due to the involvement in the Vietnam War, which proved time and time again that America should not have gotten involved.  The watergate scandal furthered distrust in the government and President Nixon.  Nixon could no longer lead the country due to the lack of trust, so he was removed from office.  I did not know Nixon executed an illegal bombing in Cambodia, and this news did not sit well with me.  This type of misuse of power makes me question the democracy within America.  Zinn continually exposes how America has failed to represent the people through its form of democracy, and as the examples pile up it makes me feel less and less confident in the American government.  I want to look deeper into how much power the president of the United States of America actually has.  I was under the assumptions that the checks and balances formed in the American government would prevent the president from doing things like bombing Cambodia without full support of congress.

 

The United States of America’s constant need to be seen as a world superpower causes problems.  Zinn states that Ford wanted America to be seen as a superpower once again, so he made some rash military decisions such as sending the American military to Cambodia quickly over a relatively calm issue.  The questions of trust in the government came into full swing when news of the CIA and FBI instituting a variety of things that ultimately kept American citizens in the dark.  Zinn describes a variety of things the CIA and FBI did without consent from American citizens and this once again questions the legitimacy of American democracy.  Zinn concludes the chapter by analyzing international business and corporate power.  It is interesting how Zinn brings the chapter full circle with this segment.  The themes of distrust and abuse of power filtered throughout this chapter, and Zinn, once again, brings to light so many of the stains on American history.

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Post 10/28

Zinn states in this chapter that once again the reason for the United States of America entering the war was not just. Lyndon B. Johnson entered the war over events surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin, but it is stated that there was actually no open aggression against America.  American leaders often commit to wars without fully weighing the implications of the war and the impact it will have on the American people.  Johnson did not ask for permission from congress before deploying troops in Vietnam, which makes the government seem like a dictatorship.  Is the American government so disorganized that it can not even enforce its policies within the white house?  Learning this from the reading makes me even more worried about the upcoming elections, because the wrong president has even more power than I thought.  After reading this, I would like to learn more about the strength of checks and balances in the American democracy today.

 

I think there is an interesting connection between the actions of American military officers in Vietnam and police officers today.  Zinn describes military officers murdering women, children, and elderly and trying to cover it up.  Some of the officers failed to cover it up, and they were tried for their actions.  Only one military officer was convicted.  Police brutality in America is in the spotlight along with the black lives matter movement.  It is very disappointing to know that we made these mistakes in the act of war, and we are continuing to make these mistakes within our own borders.  There are clearly problems with the American legal system if people can get away with doing horrible things like the things described above.  History continues to repeat itself in different forms, and it is disappointing to see we are not improving the country at a significant rate.  I think Zinn’s historical book is a must read for anyone pursuing public office in America.  If people in office can learn from all the many mistakes Zinn outlines throughout American history, I believe the country will be much better off.

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Post 10/21

Once again, Zinn shows us the bad intentions behind some of the progressive actions from the government.  Zinn claims Lyndon Johnson and the American government only signed the Voting Rights Act, because of the increasingly distraught group of people in America.  Zinn does not see this as a decision of good faith, but rather a way to save himself and his country from a larger group of protestors.  The Voting Rights Act was small enough that it did not significantly impact white American Society, but it was enough to pacify many of the riled up black members in America.  Zinn criticizes the rich and powerful members of America for not stepping up to take on the major issues.  Poverty and racism was being avoided by focusing on the less important things at the time like the Voting Rights Act.  Many aspects of Zinn’s historical book centered around this idea that throughout history the people in charge will always inevitably look out for themselves first.  

The new election is coming up in the United States of America, and I think it is important to connect this chapter to the new candidates.  This chapter showed the selfishness and unwillingness to change when needed in leaders, and we can use this information to vote for a better future.  When looking at the candidates for each of the public office positions, it is important to think about which candidates will be looking out for the people and not just a small percentage of the population.  Zinn showed how this is important when describing how the American government was just looking to pacify the protestors, rather than create change.  I believe the most important thing is to look for a candidate that is brave enough to make a big change when necessary.  President Lyndon Johnson had a chance to change the course of America for the better, but the people’s interests were not the first thing on his mind.  We need to find a candidate that has all the people of America on his mind.  Someone that is willing to make the tough decision and revolutionize the country.  I really enjoyed reading this chapter and evaluating the leaders described in the chapter.

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10/14 Post

I think there is a very interesting relationship between “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” and the videos about women’s suffrage in America.  “The Yellow Wall-Paper” shows the negative effects of forcing people into isolationism.  I find it interesting how the narrator of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” emphasizes how women can feel as if they are trapped behind metal bars.  I think it is interesting how this connects to the women’s suffrage movement.  The inability to vote and express personal opinions in society can give off the feeling of being trapped.  I see this as the major reason why women were able to unite across the country to try to create a better world for women to come.  The video’s show how difficult this was, but after reading “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” I see why this movement was absolutely crucial for all women in America.

The video’s talk about how the constitution never explicitly stated women could not vote or have the same rights as men.  The 15th amendment debatably set women back a step by allowing black men to vote before women.  I personally see this as another step towards equality for everyone, but I see how this could be worrisome.  This concept makes me wonder about the comparison between the female equality issues and racial equality issues.  Black men were able to vote before women, but how does this impact inequality today.  In theory, this would lead people to believe black men would have an advantage in today’s society over women, because they received more rights earlier on.  Based on a Pew Research study on gender and race wage gap (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/ ) black men do not out-earn white women in America today.  This makes me believe that females have more rapidly overcome inequality than racial minorities in America.  We definitely have work to do in achieving equality for all groups, so it is important to understand what is happening in America today in order to achieve a greater America for both females and racial minorities.

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10/7 Post

In this Zinn chapter, the role of war in a country’s success is analyzed.  It is hard for me to believe that a war is good for a country, but after reading this chapter I feel that I better understand why war is so prominent throughout history.  If a war is supported by a large proportion of people, then the war could be effective in uniting a country under one common goal.  Zinn’s argument behind Wilson trying to find a way to get into the war is very interesting.  The United States of America entered the war over something so irrelevant when looking at the impact of joining the war, so it definitely makes me wonder if Wilson used the minor German submarine attack as a way to start a war and save the American economy.  I also find it interesting how war has played a war in politics.  I believe a war decision should not have anything to do with politics, because political games should not be played when deciding whether or not millions of people need to die.

The crash course on World War I expresses the point that European countries found a sort of glory in going to war.  I believe this connects very well to our in class discussion about exceptionalism.  People of a country would definitely feel stronger about participating in a war if they thought their country was the best.  This leads me to believe exceptionalism can be very dangerous.  A government would feel more inclined to go to war if it was known that the people would fight for the cause no matter what.  This can prove to be detrimental to society, because of the excessive amount of wars that would be started.  I also find it very interesting how wars can be traced back thousands of years.  There is a cause and effect to everything that is done throughout history, so it is difficult to truly blame one person or country.

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9/30 Post

The United States of America typically portrays their involvement in other nation’s affairs as heroic, however Zinn highlights some of the less heroic aspects of America intervening in other countries’ problems.  A major problem is that America used race as a reason to either help or deny help to a country.  I understand the thought process behind not helping a nation that follows opposing economic systems or policies, but I find it to be shameful that race played a role in whether the United States helped a country in a time of need.  I struggle to grasp the concept that war is necessary for a nation.  There will always be sensitivity within a nation when deciding whether to go to war, but unfortunately it oftentimes doesn’t even matter what the general public think about a war.  The American Elites are the people that decide whether or not the nation will go to war, and consequently the elite members of society are the people who benefit from the war. 

 

I worry that the widespread patriotism in America could have a negative impact on the world.  It is much easier for the government to brainwash a group of people if they have pride in their country, and if it is easy to unite a country behind a war then it is more likely the government will choose to pursue the war.  My whole life I thought of American pride as a good thing, but I am beginning to question my patriotism everyday.  In this class we have broken down so many things that make loving America so difficult.  In previous posts I have questioned why the education system is so flawed, but I am beginning to see the answer to my question.  If people only learn the positive history about America, then they will naturally develop pride in their country, and therefore be willing to help the government when called upon to serve.  I am not sure this is the reason the education system left out so many details about American history, but this is definitely a side effect that benefits the American Elites that make decisions for the country. There is a very interesting dynamic between the education system and patriotism, but I need more information to confirm the connection between them.

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9/23 Post

Chapter seven of Zinn’s book pertains to the atrocities committed by Andrew Jackson in response to Indian Tribes being in the way of American expansion.  This is yet again another example of how so many history books see the past through tinted lenses.  Up until today I saw Andrew Jackson as a positive figure in American history that contributed to the expansion and progression of America.  Andrew Jackson is even on the twenty dollar bill!  I see Andrew Jackson’s face almost everyday, and I am just now learning that he killed thousands of Native Americans for an indecent cause.  There were many Native Amercians that were ready to assimilate and coexist with the expanding Americans, yet Andrew Jackson still encouraged Americans to essentially take land and kick the Native Americans out.  I find it very interesting how each of Zinn’s chapters have connections to each other, and they all share a common theme of inequality and injustice.  

 

Andrew Jackson blatantly killed and pushed the Native American tribes away from the territory they previously held, yet these parts of American history are oftentimes pushed aside.  This chapter from Zinn’s book, and every chapter prior to this one has collectively brought me to a conclusion.  The American education system must be reformed to have a more balanced teaching of American history.  We learned all about how bad Nazi Germany was, and all about the atrocities committed by Stalin, yet America is seen as a morally and ethically superior country in many aspects.  I would question who is pushing for America to be seen in such a positive light, and why is this misinterpretation of history happening?  Is America better off now that its citizens feel the country is morally superior?  I genuinely do not know why the teachings of American history are so flawed, but I believe education reform in America is of the utmost importance.

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9/16 Post, Alex DiMedio

 

I find the dynamic of watching a live action play to be very impactful on picturing history.  Anyone that watches the play 1776 or Hamilton is given a picture of what history looked like.  People use these plays as a way to put the words they learn in history books into images.  I believe the playwrights have a crucial role in upholding the true values of the past, and not sugar coating it to make the founding fathers look like heroes, but rather for the men they actually were.  Live stream media revolves around television and many of the falsehoods that people believe today can be attributed to the glorified aspects of Hollywood.  

 

I find it interesting how the play writers of 1776 make John Adams, and a few of the other founding fathers seem very intelligent and very hard working.  In reality these were average people that happened to grow up in a social status that provided them the opportunity to pursue independence and speak on the behalf of the thousands of people living as a British colony.  I wonder about the truth of many scenes of the play 1776.  Jefferson adamantly opposes the institution of slavery in front of congress, and I fear the play is glorifying America’s founding fathers.  However, I am glad that both of the plays, especially Hamilton, acknowledge some of the faults of these men.  I am glad to see the more recent play is more concerned with performing a play that does greater justice to the past.  Hamilton is a play that broke color barriers, and did a great job of bringing out some more truth about the founding fathers, and I think this is what made the play so successful.  

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9/9 Blog, Alex DiMedio

 

Money is the root of all evil.  In the chapters “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” and “Tyranny is Tyranny,”  I feel that economic issues ultimately started the many atrocities of this time period.  Indentured servitude ultimately stemmed from the rich getting richer, and the gap between the rich and poor grew drastically.  After reading these chapters I would argue that America’s horrible past can be attributed primarily to the American Elite. The American Elite did so much to try to tarnish the relationship between the poor whites and the black and the indigenous people. The American Elite set laws into place that prevented interracial sex and prohibited white business owners from hiring black people for skilled labor.  The American Revolution seems to have been a way for the American Elite to avoid a rebellion and keep their economic status.

 

Economic divide has always been a problem in America.  I believe the indentured servitude has connections to the economic system in America today.  Minimum wage is sub eight dollars in many states including my home state of Pennsylvania.  This is not a wage that can support a person in America, let alone a family of five.  We can see how wrong it was to have indentured servants, yet people work twelve hours a day at a minimum wage job, and they can barely support themselves.  Times have obviously changed greatly, and a minimum wage worker still has life way better off than an indentured servant, but the premise of the argument still stands.  There is so much to be learned from the development of early America, and I feel like more can be done to increase the standard of living for all people.

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Drawing The Color Line, Alex DiMedio, 8/31

I find the relationship between the Native Americans and the Europeans to be very interesting.  The European civilization is far more advanced technologically than the Native Americans, yet they struggle with basic survival skills.  The Native Americans prove to be the superior group, in that they could easily feed their people, and attaining enough food to get through a tough winter was relatively easy, while the European group had to resort to cannibalism and other horrible methods of survival.  The incompetence of the early European settlers however had a terrible effect on the future of the world.  The ideas about race being a factor in whether or not someone should be a slave began to sprout here.  The ideology of white privilege took form among other horrible things.  The white European settlers developed a mindset that they deserved more than the Native Americans, and other people of color, so they took action on this mindset.  The European settlers laid waste to many Native Americans and their lands essentially because they were better at the game of survival.

 

The horrible mindset the European settlers grasped onto is very relevant today.  The United States of America has officially abolished slavery and almost everything connected to it, but racism has done anything but gone away with it.  The way European settlers and early Americans set a precedent that black people are lesser than white people has permanently affected the mindset of so many people even today.  I think it is very important for people to read “drawing the color line,” so people can see the horrible nature of what so many people believe.  This chapter outlines slavery rooted in race, and it provides a new perspective to the black lives matter movement today that I think people need to understand.

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The Value of History in Leadership

Defining Leadership in a short and concise manner is next to impossible.  The word has developed over the years, and in many places did not even exist until just a few hundred years ago.  Bernard M. Bass emphasizes the sophisticated nature of the word, and he helped show me why we have leadership studies courses here.  There are many ways in which people throughout history try to define leadership, and  this little article makes me wonder if we can correctly identify the word, and if certain groups see different meanings in the same word.

 

Bass drives home one of his central arguments that history presents a variety of types of leaders, but the study of Leadership is more than just history.  Leadership Studies is a deeper and more extensive look into society and how leadership is created and executed.  Although leadership studies is much more than just learning about leaders, the value of learning the past should not be diminished.  Thousands of years of history books help to expand our knowledge of what makes a “good” leader, and with the knowledge of the past hopefully we can build a better future led by educated people that also understand the pieces of leadership that can not be understood by reading about previous leaders.

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