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Author: Isabela Keetley

Blog for 11/18- Isa Keetley

Zinn’s chapter “The Coming Revolt of the Guards” brought what he’s been saying throughout the book together in one cohesive chapter. He focuses on the commonality of the 99% of the population; the people in the middle and lower classes. Zinn writes, “…the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going…they become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying the system falls” (635). He states that the middle class is the buffer between the upper and lower classes, however if the middle class revolts and refuses to do these things just for the benefit of the upper, they can redefine the system and take some power away from the upper class. I think Zinn did a really good job of explaining the importance of the middle class and the clear discontent of the majority of people with the system in this chapter.

I enjoyed the prisoner and guard analogy Zinn used, for the lower and middle classes. I feel like this idea that the middle class is bridge between all the classes is often considered, however no one has called them the “guards”. I think another important point that he makes is that in times of crisis we often look to someone else to save us. This savior ideology only worsens our condition and Zinn explains some of the detrimental effects this really has. Overall, I enjoy how Zinn focuses on the other half of history, the history that many textbooks don’t talk about. This chapter specifically talks about the 99%, the common people and the power they have through unity over the other 1%. History should be respectful of resistance, and Zinn continues to reiterate this message through his book.

Also, in regards to the film, I do not have much to say. I really did not enjoy it, as I had a difficult time figuring out what I was supposed to take away from it. I found the horse people particularly disturbing and would not recommend the movie to a friend.

 

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Blog Post for 11/11- Isa Keetley

In Zinn’s chapter, “The 200 Election and the ‘War on Terrorism,’” he found a different way to address the war on terror. Instead of condemning the terrorists involved in 9/11, he argued that our response was the same, another act of terror. He states that fighting terrorism with terrorism does not work, and I agree with him. Obviously what happened on 9/11 was unfathomable and scary and hard for millions of Americans, but Bush’s reaction may not have necessarily been what the American people needed at the time, nor do I think it was particularly warranted  because the bombings carried our in Afghanistan did not kill Bin Laden, they killed civilians. I think Zinn did a good job of putting these acts of terror in perspective and in turn forcing the reader to really think about what they classify as an act of terrorism.

I also found the other in-class reading, “How Islamophobia was Ingrained in America’s Legal System Long before the War on Terror,” to be very insightful and challenge me to think about things I did not even consider prior to reading. Beyduon, the man interviewed specifically talked about Black Muslims and the idea that people never really consider this large group of people. Today we talk about anti-black racism, but we never consider how that effects people that are also facing the brunt of islamophobia at the same time. Beyduon also stated the idea that people had to prove their “whiteness” in order to become citizens under the Naturalization Act of 1790 and in order to do this they would increase anti-black sentiment to show that they were on the side of the whites and should be considered white as well.

 

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11/4 Blog Post- Isa Keetley

In his chapter, “The Seventies:Under Control?” Zinn emphasizes the distrust between the American people and the government during and after the Vietnam War. During the 70s something that unified people from every class and socio-economic background was their shared distrust in the government. This distrust only increased with Nixon’s scandal known as Watergate. For me, reading about Watergate was most interesting, because I had never actually learned what happened. Maybe that sounds crazy but I feel like many of my peers, specifically in highschool also had a lack of understanding for what Watergate truly was. We knew it was a scandal and that Nixon resigned because if it, but we never learned much else. Watergate exposed how corrupt Nixon and his administration truly were, as they were accepting illegal donations, interfering with the Democratic party, and illegally bombed places in Cambodia. Ford then became president however the American people were still restless because they had “cleaned” the government of corrupt people, but not of previous policies. There were no fundamental changes made to the system under Ford.

Another main point that Zinn discussed was what was happening in Cambodia and how the US interfered. Not only was Nixon illegally bombing some areas of the country, but Ford somewhat followed in his footsteps and entered Cambodia (legally) but in a horrible unnecessary manner. A ship of men from the US had been captured by the Cambodians, however they were not harmed; in fact, they were given food and beds to sleep on from the soldiers that captured them. Nevertheless, Ford demanded Cambodia let the men free and when they did not answer the US began bombing Cambodian ships and sending troops over. Chinese diplomats later stated that they were working with the Cambodians to get the men back however it was too late, and the day the troops arrived, the men were released (some of them killed in the attack). I found the American government needing to assert their dominance to be a reoccurring theme through many things we have read this semester. This was the same, Ford wanted the world to know that although we had lost in Vietnam, we were still a strong military force.

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Blog post for 10/28- Isa Keetley

The Vietnam War is somewhat of an enigma to me as I never really learned about it. In highschool my teachers tiptoed around the subject and only gave us bits and pieces; and I now understand why. The Vietnam War was very controversial and divided the United States even more than we already were at the time. And of course, in reading Zinn, it is expected that some of these hidden war truths were brought to the light.

Our entrance into Vietnam began eerily similar to our entrance to World War I, the enemy had displayed aggression towards us by “attacking” one of our ships. Thus, it was time to send troops over. However, Zinn challenges if this even happened, questioning LBJ’s ulterior motives to entering into this war. Especially because LBJ had deployed troops without asking Congress for approval, something that every president has to do before entering into war. In addition to this, the sentiment for fighting was to prevent the communism, however Zinn states that LBJ again, had other motives that had to do with the great amounts of natural resources in Vietnam. From the moment the US entered into the war, there was immediate backlash and resistance. Many men refused to enter the draft because they would be fighting a war that was not “their war”. In fact, the earliest opposition came from the Civil Rights movement, as Black men were dying at disproportionate rates to their white counterparts.

The war caused unrest in the states. Protests were happening everywhere, especially among students on university campuses. However, much like today, they often saw peaceful protests quickly turning violent. Whether this violence came from the police or people that believed opposing the war was treasonous, is hard to say. Despite this violence, people continued protesting. Nixon ran on the platform that he would end the war. While he did not end it, he brought home US troops. This can in part be a response to the seemingly never-ending protests that were still continuing throughout the country. Therefore, I ask, can protests still continue to influence change as they did during Vietnam? Or are they a hopeless cause with our current government and state of our nation?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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