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Author: Isabela Keetley

Isa Keetley Blog Post for 10/21

I found MLK: Charismatic Leadership in a Mass Struggle to be very interesting, specifically the idea of a “King myth”. Earlier on in class we discussed and debunked certain myths pertaining to the origins of the US, however I never thought we would be discussing the myth of a man like MLK Jr. However, while reading, I found myself agreeing with what the author was saying. It’s very important to emphasize that the black rights and civil rights movements would have happened without MLK. I think that in schools particularly, MLK is depicted as this fearless man who without him we wouldn’t have achieved freedom and ended segregation in our nation. He was a great man but he should not be idolized, the author writes, “Idolizing King lessens one’s ability to exhibit some of his best attributes or, worse, encourages one to become a debunker, emphasizing King’s flaws in order to lessen the inclination to exhibit his virtues,” which I believe is key to discussing King.

In Zinn’s “Or Does it Explode?” he discusses the government during these times and the steps they took to “help” the civil  rights movement. Zinn argues that the only goal of the government passing civil rights legislation wSa to “control an explosive situation” without making any real “fundamental changes” to society at large. This made me wonder what other sort of legislation has been passed to appease the people rather than to actually reform society. Obviously now, the Voting Rights Act and the rule that segregation was unconstitutional are completely upheld in our legal system and generally supported in society, but at the time of implementation they were not. Have we seen this sort of pattern in other points in history?


Isa Keetley- 10/14

At first, I was unsure what The Yellow Wallpaper was trying to portray, however the reason quickly came to surface. This story was upsetting to me as it displayed almost a sort of toxic masculinity (of the past) as well as the gender dynamic during this time period. Charlotte clearly had some health problems and things that would nowadays would be concerning to most people. However, her husband John, insisted that she was fine and just needed to be alone and recuperate. She constantly tried to tell him how she was feeling and he always patronized her telling her to stop worrying and that she needed to rest, and that she was wrong in whatever she was feeling because he was the educated doctor, not her.

This is upsetting to me because it was as if she had no control over her body, thoughts, or emotions. It was like she belonged to him and he decided if she was okay or not and what she needed. Throughout the writings, she made it clear that she was not allowed to write and if she was caught she would be in big trouble. Although probably not uncommon for the time, this disturbed me, because a wife was afraid of what her husband might do if she was caught writing. While I am not currently married, I hope that in the future I will not be scared to do things I love in fear of my husband. By the end of her time with John in that house, Charlotte wrote about how he actually frightened her and how he would act very odd. This story put in perspective what it would be like to not only be a woman at that time, but also to be a woman with mental health problems. Scary.


Isa Keetley 9/7/20

Zinn’s chapter “War Is The Health Of The State” was very interesting to me for many reasons. Something that I never knew the extent of was the suppression of people’s right to free speech. Which was carried out by the Espionage Act, which prohibited people from speaking out against the war effort, as that would be considered treason.  While I knew that during war times propaganda was common, I was unaware of the lack of regard for free speech rights. In the US at the time, many middle and lower class people, whether a part of the socialist party or not, opposed the war. Debs, a prominent man in the opposition effort said, “The master class has always declared wars; the subject class has always fought the battles” (367). The sentiment of this statement was nothing new; we have seen this idea repeated throughout history. The people that opposed the war rejected the draft and were often jailed. I then ask, why was this blatant violation of the constitution allowed?

Through Zinn and the Youtube video, “Who started World War I” I learned more about the US motivations and involvement in the war. While I did have some previous knowledge I was never certain exactly how we came to be involved in a war in which President Woodrow Wilson originally promised the US to stay neutral. Two of the main reasons for involvement were the desire to become more involved in foreign markets and the spread of capitalism. Wilson also went back on his promise to remain neutral when Germany sunk one of his ships carrying military supplies to help England. After this, Wilson joined the war effort and these anti-war protests began in the US.


9/30- Isa Keetley

In chapter 12 Zinn discusses American involvement in the affairs of other nations. He states that from 1798-1895, the US armed forces partook in 103 separate interventions in different nations. Furthermore, he describes the beginnings of the US involvement in Cuba and the Spanish-Cuban-American War. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the US was pushing to enter into Cuba and fight the Spanish. We are a bloodthirsty nation, always waiting for the perfect time to act and our past of frequent interventions in other nations, reiterates this point. Zinn also points out that the US had many plans for Cuba, none of which included independence. Go figure! Another disappointment, but not a surprise. This stemmed from the institutionalized discrimination at time; racism against people who were in white. Zinn writes, “Roosevelt was very contemptuous of races and nations he considered inferior” (300). The president at the time was known to be racist, and this drove him to engage with the Spanish in Cuba to ensure that it would not become a “black” territory. 

The additional reading touches on the idea that countries will do whatever it takes to benefit themselves, even in the smallest of ways. It also explains the idea of American Exceptionalism, something I feel we have all learned growing up. I find this “exceptionalism” to be similar to the “American Dream,” an idealized version of the United States, something the people needed to believe in. However, this is not the case at all, as American Exceptionalism, is all but a dream. The author of the article counters, the only way to actually achieve this sort of ideal exceptionalism is to view America from a different perspective, understanding that it is not the best at everything. It is only then that we can achieve exceptionalism as a nation. I then ask, in what scenario is nationalism too much as to become somewhat of a myth? Is nationalism another made up ideal to promote the interests of one country through the somewhat fake unity of people?


9/23 Isa Keetley

Reading Ch.7 of PHUS I was most surprised when learning about Andrew Jackson. In elementary, middle, and high school, I never learned much more than that he was a president that fought and led bravely in the War of 1812. Was Andrew Jackson just another one of the “American Myths” that I learned growing up? Never did I learn of the atrocities he committed against the Native Americans. Not only did Jackson pass the Indian Removal Act, but in Florida he lied to them, killed, manipulated, and ordered villages to be destroyed when they did not agree with his terms and conditions. 

Another idea Zinn brought up that I found to be most interesting was “tribal disintegration”. I had never heard of the term in relation to tribes, but it fits perfectly. The Americans at the time could not always fight the Native Americans, thus they employed other tactics, such as killing game so that there were food shortages, influencing them with whiskey, and smaller military attacks. Of course the Natives had no chance of winning if the Americans were slowly starving them, getting them drunk, and then attacking them. Zinn also repeats the term “Indian Removal,” a more harsh way of saying, what I was taught growing up- expansion. In order to expand, the Native Americans needed to be removed from the territory because there was no chance that the white people would live with them, because they were “savages,” “uncivilized,” and “violent”. I think the unwillingness of the Americans to live amongst shows how scared and intimidated they really were by them. 

In terms of the short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience, I thought it was very interesting how the idea of a VR “experience” was something people paid for to go on a spiritual journey. I feel like this is disrespectful to Native Americans, because vision quests are so sacred and the idea of people who may not necessarily come from Native American descent capitalizing off of them seems wrong. The main character changing his last name from Turnblatt to Trueblood was what made me consider this. It seemed like he was trying to sell something false and foreign to him. And in the end, this caught up to him.


Blog Post for 9/16 (1776 and Hamilton)

I found watching 1776 and Hamilton to be a very different experience compared to just watching a movie. I believe these live action plays give the viewer more insight than would live stream media. While they are both very different, they follow similar stories about the founding fathers and what led to the creation of the Declaration of Independence.

Personally, I found Hamilton to be more compelling because of the way Lin-Manuel Miranda created it and portrayed all of these originally white men in history as men of color. This changed my whole perspective on the story. I think that by doing this, the viewer is forced to confront the harsh reality that in the times of the Declaration these people, people of color, would have had no rights. Especially, under the laws laid out but the Declaration of Independence, which only protected white men who owned property. This theme of inequality underlies all of Hamilton, however I don’t think it is specifically brought about in the actual play. I believe 1776 failed on this aspect as well, especially due to the lack of diversity within the actors. Each playwright fails to show the side of the “others”. As we have talked about in class before, history is written by the victors, not the downtrodden “regular people”. I think adding more of this perspective to each, or at least mentioning it more often could help to bridge the gap between the shiny history we are taught growing up and the more authentic, relatable history that shows the realties of living during these times.


8/9 blog post (Persons of Mean and Vile Condition & Tyranny is Tyranny)

I found the chapter titled, “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” very interesting and very relevant to a point brought up in class on Monday. The chapter highlights the life of a servant and the lack of freedom they have that is, in theory “promised” to them. In class, the idea of the American dream was brought up. And shortly after the debunking of this theory, categorizing the American dream as bullshit. Zinn states that the large underclass of poor whites was made up of people who came to North America because their European home was eager to get rid of them. These people were brought over mostly as servants, to be sold, like slaves, for 5 or 7 year contracts. Upon arrival they were struck with the harsh reality that the colonies were nothing like what they were promised or for that matter, imagined.

While some servants made it out and somehow succeeded in owning land and following out their dream to a certain extent, many died or killed themselves due to the harsh conditions they faced everyday. My question then, is more broad…what really is the American dream and how has it shifted in meaning now in 2020? Is the American dream a real concept or just something made up by the English to rid their lands of these people they did not want? In addition to this, was Bacon’s Rebellion in vain and what did he do to shape the colonies and the lives of the frontiersmen?

Furthermore I find the persistent economic theme throughout both chapters very relevant today. Zinn mentions the idea of “levelling,” which was a call to equalize the wealth of the colonies. This is directly applicable in the United States now, almost 400 years later, as we face a large disparity in wealth distribution. In many ways the colonies, our past, directly relate to the future. While it may not seem like it, we are a lot more similar to our harsh, exclusive past than we would like to accept.


Blog Post for 9/2

Zinn’s chapter “The Color Line,” begins describing the first slave ship to the colonies in 1619. This slave ship, the White Lion, was technically a ship bringing over “servants” from Africa. Rather quickly however, these “servants” became known as slaves instead. I find it very interesting that when these Africans were brought over on the ship, the captain and other colonizers onboard, and waiting on land called these even began by calling them servants. This is interesting to me because Zinn specifically states that the Africans were treated differently and much more harshly than the actual indentured servants from Europe, or the white servants from the moment they arrived. Thus, why even try to consider them servants? The colonizers knew exactly why they were bringing over Africans, but lied to themselves, but why?

Another point Zinn brings up that I never considered is that even though the Europeans were much more technologically advanced than the indigenous people and the Africans they brought over; they could not do the simple tasks needed to survive. They needed the Africans to do their work for them or they would all die, but why then did they treat them so poorly? I believe some of the maltreat came because the colonizers were scared and intimidated by not only the indigenous people (very apparent), but by the Africans as well. The Africans were knowledgeable in agriculture, but also had a great sense of community and grit, this is what the colonizers feared most.


8/25 Blog Post

The three readings for this class all relate to one another, as they each focus on the meaning of leadership and the role of history in leadership and the humanities. However, I am going to focus on the two Bass readings. I found Bass’ definition or lack therefore most interesting in his writing “The Meaning of Leadership”. He states that “leader” was a part of the English language hundreds of years before the word “leadership” was even recognized. This then relates to incorrect assumption that leadership is an innate ability that all leaders possess. Bass then unpacks this assumption and instead argues that actual definition of leadership can depend on the institution that it belongs to, thus always changing.

Bass goes on to list some of the many understandings of leadership: an exercise of influence, a personality trait, a differentiated role, a power relation, etc. While these definitions alone could help to define the concept, he emphasizes that most times it is a combination of these ideas that actually define a specific type of leadership. Personally, I have found it difficult to describe what Leadership Studies actually is when asked by peers and family members that are unfamiliar with the area of study. Bass has helped me to understand more easily how to accurately describe what I am learning to these skeptical people.

In Bass’ article titled “Concepts of Leadership,” he expounds on the idea that leaders are everywhere and are not necessarily what we would consider to be the “typical” leader. The “typical” leader being a king, priest, chief, etc. He states that with leadership comes responsibility and references Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, where Hegel says that in order to be a successful leader, one needs to serve as a follower first. Subsequently, only then the follower becomes the leader and can understand his or her own followers. This idea stood out to me the most as it is the key to great leadership that many often do not consider.