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Author: Henry Groves

11/11 Blog Post

In Zinn’s chapter, “The 2000 Election and the ‘War on Terrorism’,” I was fascinated by the election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Zinn talks about how Gore winning the popular vote was not enough to win the election due to Bush winning the electoral vote. Instead of considering the results, the conservative Supreme Court turned a blind eye and allowed Bush to walk into office without reconsideration. I wonder if the United States’ responses to the terrorist attack in 2001 would have changed tremendously if Al Gore won the election. Even before the terrorist attacks in 2001, Bush pushed for an increase in the military budget. Once the World Trade Center was attacked on 9/11, Bush immediately announced the “war on terrorism.” After declaring war, Bush called for the bombing of Afghanistan which most Americans supported, thinking that being strong and violent against terrorism was the correct response the United States should take. It was not a political case, with both republicans and democrats believing in the cause. Americans supported the actions that Bush took, but never fully saw what actually was happening from the bombings of Afghanistan.

Not knowing the full story created suspicion from certain groups of people. I had no idea the extent of precaution that the Department of Justice took, as well as how unfair it was for innocent non-citizens. The paranoia that people felt made created distance from their non-citizen peers. Families of the victims were against the strong military force used. What this seemed to me was another example of Americans not knowing or seeing the full story of what is happening with a United States’ response. News sources were not giving the full extent to what the bombings were doing to Afghanistan. In my opinion, this made the public more inclined to support the use of violence since they did not witness the immediate impact and tragedy that it was causing. I wonder if the people who supported the violent actions on Afghanistan saw the full impact of what the bombings were doing to them, would they have still sided with it? This seems to be a common theme, that the United States does not tell its people the full truth about foreign affairs that they are involved in if they know that it would create resistance to that action.

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Blog Post 11/3

In Zinn’s chapter, “The Seventies: Under Control?”, Zinn talks about the distrust that the public had in the government during the 1970s, and how the government tried to solve it. The beginning of the seventies saw the general public being very critical of government violence. Any trust that the people had in the government was thrown out with the Watergate scandal in 1972. I always thought that Nixon’s resignation was a step in the right direction for trust the people had in the government, but Zinn talks about how nothing truly changed in government. Nixon’s successor held the same political views as Nixon, so the public did not really see change happen in the administration. I was surprised to see such a lack of change in public view before and after Nixon’s resignation, which I thought to be a turning point in the relationship between the government and people. Towards the end of the chapter, Zinn talks about how the public belief in power stayed low throughout the 70s no matter the action taken by the government. There was a lack of trust with foreign policy and the economy was at a low too, both not helping the public gain trust in the government. This really shines a light on how much the Vietnam war divided the two.

The second part of the chapter that I wanted to talk about is how Henry Kissinger decided, through all of the public criticism, that the United States needed to declare itself as a world power. I was again surprised to see another military cover-up in the Mayaguez affair happen in the middle of the public having little to no trust in the government and foreign affairs already. Though this secured the United States as a dominating power around the world, it seems ironic that the government tried many different ways to gain the publics’ trust, but then decided to create another cover-up. I was very interested in how the tension between the public and the government not only continued after the Vietnam war but actually got stronger throughout the beginning of the 70s.

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Blog Post 10/28

Throughout this chapter, Zinn talks about US involvement in the Vietnam War and how the United States ultimately failed. Zinn talks about the reasoning to why the West was so persistent in controlling Indochina from the rebels. The United States, as well as the rest of the western countries, were scared of the “domino theory.” The domino theory is the concept that a political event happens in one country, neighboring countries would follow. The West was scared of communism spreading, so they took more drastic measures to try and stop the rebels. Eventually, in 1954, the French withdrew from Vietnam; however, the United States stayed. The United States took control of South Vietnam to prevent them from joining the north in the rebellion. The United States had other reasoning to be persistent in this war. The United States did not want to lose business in Southeast Asia. This is another example of the United States fighting for different intentions then what first is shown to the public.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson declared war on Vietnam over a stretched truth. He, as well as other powerful officials, lied to the public by saying that Vietnam attacked some of the American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. This to me is where the divide between the public and government really started to get out of hand. The United States started bombing Vietnam in attempts to destroy their morale, but instead, the bombs mostly hit the civilians. 1968 is when the common people really started to get tired of the war and doubted the chances the United States had to win. Protests started emerging in the United States and young men started to refuse to join the draft. Eventually, this strong opinion created by the people influenced the United States to pull troops out of Vietnam. Overall, this was a terrible move by the United States to join and stay involved in this war for so long. All it created was mass suffering for civilians in Vietnam and for families of dead soldiers in America. The United States was defeated in this war, and it was entirely their fault for joining a war with an impossible chance to win.

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Blog Post 10/21

I really was interested in Zinn’s chapter, “Or Does it Explode?” The civil rights movement was a topic in which I was very excited to hear the details that were “left out” through Zinn’s eyes. Black culture throughout the 20th century had further pushed the idea that a rebellion would be coming soon. If this was through poetry or music, these artists hinted that enough was enough, and change needed to happen. What I never knew was that the government was influenced by their image perceived by the rest of the world to start trying to obtain racial equality. This was also very noticeable when the government did not protect the protestors as the violence got worse. It took the death of five protestors to finally get the government to intervene. Laws were passed promising certain rights that were never enforced. This further shows me that the government was still hesitant in helping to obtain racial equality.

Another part of the chapter that I found extremely important was the divide that Zinn puts between MLK and Malcolm X. Everyone in school was taught about how MLK believed in non-violent protesting which became the norm for civil rights movement. What I did not know, or forgot, was that there were many cases in which black people did not agree with MLK and thought that the more violent approach was better before Malcolm X. What I never realized was that these ideas came before Malcolm X started the Black Power Movement. I wonder if there was a period of time in which blacks were fighting about the proper way to go about the civil rights movement before Malcolm X started the Black Power Movement. Did the black people that did not agree with MLK’s approach stand in his way? I just found it interesting that some people pushed away from the idea of obtaining equality for the idea that there could be even more separation between races, even though this is the problem that they are fighting in the first place.

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Yellow Wallpaper Post 10/14

I thought that The Yellow Wallpaper gave me a different perspective with Charlotte being sick but being told by her husband, who was a wealthy doctor, told her that she was not sick. Since Charlotte’s husband told her that, it was deemed true. The reader gets to dive into Charlotte’s thoughts when she tells the reader that the worst thing to do is to think about the condition, so she starts talking about her house. It almost takes the reader’s mind off the sickness as Charlotte goes into detail about her home. One is left to think about if this is sarcasm coming from Charlotte or if she genuinely trying to take her mind off it. The hard part about reading this story is how she does not get the help that she needs both mentally and physically because she is a woman. This story dives into the unequal treatment that women had to go through. Charlotte did not stand up for herself when she thought that something more could be wrong with her than just being nervous. She took what her husband said and believed it to be true without debating with him. The relationship between Charlotte and John is just an example of the typical household in the 19th century something that I understood but have not heard of a specific story relating to the matter.

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Blog Post 10/7

Zinn does a good job explaining the interest levels of World War 1, which is something that never got explained to me. I knew that the Woodrow Wilson stated at the beginning of the war that the United States would stay neutral; however, once Germans attacked the US ships, the United States entered the war. I thought that once this happened that the people of the United States would come together and mostly be on the side of fighting. Zinn makes it clear that the war was actually not popular with most of the people in the United States and that most people did not volunteer to join the military. This war was needed on both an economic standpoint and a unity standpoint, which both did not fully go the way it was supposed to.

In the Crash Course video, John Green talks about how World War 1 is one of the most interesting topics to talk about. He goes on and talks about who is to blame for the war. Green states that “The German character isn’t to blame for WW1 and in fact, no national character has ever been to blame for any war.” I thought this was interesting since when learning about wars, blaming the aggressors is normally how I was taught it but apparently that is not always the case.

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Blog Post 9/29/20

In Zinn’s Chapter, “The Empire and the People”, talks about the desire for international economic expansion, or the lack of it from the common people. Zinn mentions that newspapers actually could have overemphasized the publics’ opinion about international relations. President Roosevelt had a wanting for taking over nations that he thought to be lesser due to race. Cuba was an example of these two combined, with the people thinking that the United States was supporting Cuban freedom but actually it was protecting its personal interests in trade. When the American ship was brought down close to Cuba shortly after, the bond of war brought a kind of identity that the United States needed. The idea of war brought both money and unity to the United States so this is why Zinn said that the country needed it.

The Crash Course episode talks about how Europe succeeded at colonizing close to all of Africa. They were able to do this by industrialization. Europeans controlled the production which allowed them to expand. The interesting problem that Europeans ran into while trying to conquer and expand was not the force of Africa, but rather the disease that Africa has had for years and years before which the common people were immune to. With the development of technology, the machine gun allowed Europe to completely wipe out African people at ease allowing for the eventual expansion into Europe. The domination that Europe had in Africa came from wars that killed a lot of people. Africa resisted Europe; however, did not have the technology to withstand Europe.

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Henry Groves’ Blog Post 9/23/2020

In Zinn’s Chapter, “As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs”, he talks about the Indian Removal Act as Andrew Jackson’s influence in it. Like the other chapters, a history that I thought I knew has a cruel twist to it. I was taught about the Indian Removal Act and how the US government wanted to grow which led to the forceful removal of the Indians. The US wanted to expand and be able to produce more agriculture and have bigger civilizations, which required the Indians to move westward.

The really surprising part about this chapter is the description of Andrew Jackson. I was never really taught about Andrew Jackson in school and I always remember questioning why he is on the 20 dollar bill. The vague teachings of him led to me thinking that he did something worth getting recognized for and created this image of Jackson as a good person. Zinn does a great job in this chapter making Jackson look to be the opposite of this. Zinn goes on and mentions how he, Jackson, was one of the biggest enemies to the Indians while being a terrible leader with treating his soldiers terribly. Jackson, who has been vaguly remembered as the guy on the 20 dollar bill, is actually another hero that the history books made up. Zinn greatly emphasizes that Jackson persited on removing Indians westward even after most of them had already fled or been killed. Jackson used policies to take the blame of Indian displacement and death off his hands. In this chapter, Zinn gives another prime example of how the history that schooling systems teach its students, focuses on vague stories about “heroes”, like Andrew Jackson and Christopher Columbus, that do not grasp nearly the full history of what happened.

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9/16 Blog Post (Hamilton + 1776)

I believe that both Hamilton and 1776 do a decent job giving the viewers the historical story of what is happening. I have seen Hamilton many times, but this last viewing of it made me look at it differently. It taught me that the writers of Hamilton, and even 1776, glorify its heroes and do not give enough credit to the working class. I understand that these musicals have a timeframe that they have to be within, so explaining every detail is impossible. So technically these stories do not give nearly the full picture of what happened; however, they provide the viewer with some historical knowledge that would have been left unknown.

The prime example of the two is Hamilton. A near-forgotten founding father got his legacy reborn with the creation of this play. He played an integral role in the Revolution, but history seems to forget his name when teaching the lessons in class. I think the common topic that we seem to be focusing on right now in class is about forgotten history so this assignment fits perfectly with that.

In both of the soundtracks, the music that is sung by the leaders and “heroes” is upbeat and strong, portraying them in this way. The music also allowed the audience to stay engaged in these long stories about history and made them more popular than if it was just a documentary.

 

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Blog Post 9/9

In A People’s History of the United States, Zinn talks about the social divide in the chapter titled “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition”. The divide was too one-sided that it made the wealthy fear of being outnumbered by the slaves, Indians, and white lower class, so the wealthy and legislators created a bigger divide between whites and blacks so that there would be more balance. This was the time when the majority of the social divide came from the color of a persons skin instead of socio-economic value.

Again, another chapter in one of Zinn’s makes me rethink what I already know about history. I always was under the impression that slavery in the United States and racism came hand and hand right from the beginning, but apparently, racism came a bit after. We read earlier about how slavery came from a time of low income and a necessity of cheap labor, but I thought that with that came what we know today to be racism. I never was taught about a rebellion that gave more power to the whites so that the balance could be maintained for the wealthy. This is why the majority of the middle class was white. It was to keep a divide from the black and Indian people and it was a way for the wealthy elite to keep their power.

 

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Blog Post #2

While reading the second chapter of The People’s History of the United States, I learned many things about slavery that was not taught to me before. One of the most interesting things that Zinn talks about in this chapter is how Europeans justified their own slave trade by noticing how different African states had slavery themselves. I appreciated the contrast that Zinn made throughout this chapter between the two different forms of slavery.  Zinn does a good job bringing African slavery and how it was “better” than slavery in the Americas, but makes sure to mention that, “African slavery is hardly to be praised.” He continues to make examples of why American slavery was “the most cruel”, limitless profit from agriculture and the act of dehumanizing slaves.

The other interesting part of this chapter that really drew my eye was that slavery came from a desperate need for labor. I was always under the impression that slaves were a way for the rich to stay richer, but this chapter explains how “the Virginians of 1619 were desperate for labor, to grow enough food to stay alive.” The people were desperate for more workers and realized that black slaves were the easiest answer to help them get what they wanted. Zinn explains how obtaining these slaves was not easy, but it was easier than enslaving anyone else, so that is what the whites did. Zinn talks about how the only way in which the culture was inferior to white was in military capability. Since the whites had guns and ships, blacks were considered “inferior” even though Westerners could not get blacks to surrender “and had to come to terms with its chiefs.” Even though in some ways, the African civilizations were more admirable than their European counterparts, Westerns took the people and brutally used them for their own profits.

I find it insane that I was never taught the full story about slavery, but only the small bits and details that were mentioned in the history books that I studied in high school. Zinn does a great job of talking about the information that isn’t talked about. He brings hidden facts out so that the real stories can be written.

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8/25 Blog Post

Through the readings of Concepts of Leadership: The Beginnings and The Meaning of Leadership, both written by Bernard M. Bass, it was interesting to read about the different meanings of leadership and leaders themselves, as well as how they maintained their power. In Concepts of Leadership: The Beginnings, Bass talks about how different stories and myths were created about different leaders, and that helped civilizations. Bass mentions the story Beowolf and others which were used as explanations for why various leaders had their power in society. In the same reading, Bass continues to talk about how leaders got support from the common people. The preferred way was if the leader gained this respect through popularity, but if this couldn’t be accomplished, the leader needs to create power through violence and anger. 

This connects to the reading The Meaning of Leadership since Bass talks about the many different definitions of leadership. He continues to mention the confusion that the word “leadership” has with it. Continuing on this, Bass states that the definition of leadership is dependant on the environment it is said in and has to do with the ability to getting the compliance of the people in which you are “leading”. Overall, it was fascinating to read Bass talk about how the terms “leadership” and “leader” have different meanings depending on the person one would talk to. Hence it is important to consider the person someone is with when mentioning in the idea of who is a leader and who is not.

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