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Author: Sofia Adams

Blog Post 11/18/20

Zinn begins his chapter, “The Coming Revolt of the Guards” by acknowledging that his book is, “a biased account, one that leans in a certain direction” (645). Zinn’s admission of a bias towards a history he desires to capture is vital. It is extremely important, especially at the end of reading a book, article, poem, news papers etc. that one questions the bias and limitations of that work. This informs what was learned as well as what is missing. Zinn also claims that he does not mind that his work is biased because there are so many works biased in the other direction.

In this chapter Zinn wraps up everything we has previously read. He discusses his opposition to the government and the fake patriotism born to control the majority of the population. Calling the constitution and revolution a “scheme” so that the wealthy elite white men could do as they please and control society. Zinn points out for how most of American history the elite worked so , “that the 99 percent remain split in countless ways, and turn against one another” (648). But the people were not always fooled into submission, “Every time it looked as if it had succeeded, the very people it thought seduced or subdued, stirred and rose” (648). Throughout this book and chapter Zinn highlights what happens when minority groups and the majority of the American population come together to fight for what is right. Discontent for and distrust of the government among the American people is evident.

There is hope. When the people revolt together, “The elite’s weapons, money, control of information would be useless in the face of a determined population” (654). This chapter left me feelings optimistic. Throughout this course we have spent a lot of time discusses all of the injustices faced by the American people/other peoples at the hand of the American government. However, I believe that if we become less polarized and united together I feel that our country could do a lot of good and improve lives. What more will it take to united the country in a time where it feels so divided? Is our polarization a result of government actions in order to maintain power?

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Blog Post for 11/11/20

In her article, “How Islamophobia was ingrained in America’s Legal System Long Before The War on Terror”, Mariam Elba discusses how Islamophobia is deeply rooted in American culture. This shocked me. I had always believed that islamophobic feelings and fears began after 9/11. One quote from the article that really stuck me was, “has always been a legal framework in place that defines Islam and Muslim identity as incompatible with Americanness.” (Beydoun). This is very hypocritical in my eyes. America is suppose to be a place of religious refuge and religious freedom. Why is that not the case for Islam and Muslim peoples? Why do many Americans view islamic religion as different than any other religion? I found it interesting that in the article Islamophobia is linked to Orientalism. I do see a lot of the comparisons. Do Americans constantly need a race/religion to demonize? This article left me with one main question: How does the government get away with putting in policies that promote the discrimination of a religious group?

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Blog Post 11/4/20 The Seventies

In this chapter Zinn discusses the 1970s in America, in particular the distrust the people had for its government. This distrust would be proven valid due to the Watergate Scandal that broke in 1972. Massive corruption in the government going all the way to the President was discovered. It was discovered that dirty tricks had been used against the Democratic Party (such as forging letters, stealing files, etc), illegal contributions in sums as much as millions of dollars were accepted by the Nixon campaign, illegal wiretaps, etc. This devastated an already skeptical public. When Nixon ultimately resigned most people were happy and ready to move on from the scandal. Claude Julien the editor of Le Monde Diplomatique wrote what no American paper would, “The elimination of Mr. Richard Nixon leaves intact all the mechanisms and all the false values which permitted the Watergate scandal” ( 545). No matter who held office the system was going to remain constant. This is due to our capitalist consumer culture that government officials and big cooperations took advantage of to generate more wealth for themselves.

I was shocked when I had read about what the U.S. government had done in Cambodia. I had never learned about this before. Americans (especially the government) were struggling to come to terms with the loss in Vietnam. When an American cargo ship was stopped and taken to port by Cambodians, even though they were treated kindly, President Ford had Cambodia bombed. Of the Cambodian invaders, “one-third were soon dead or wounded (this exceeded the casualty rate in the World War II invasion of Iwo Jima” (552). This was after the government had received a message from China that the crew was expected to be released soon. This was the result of a determination to show the world America was still a great power. It is just another atrocity by the American government.

Both of these events led to , ” unrest, shifting moral codes, the worse session in a generation…a new climate of questions and doubt” during the 1970’s. The 70’s was a period of change for the American population. The general population no longer supported the government blindly. This chapter was extremely enlightening for me and left me with a few questions. Do intentions matter in government actions? Was the government or any government officials ever held responsible for what happened in Cambodia? Did any government practices change due to the public skepticism in the 70’s?

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Blog Post for 10/28/20

In this chapter Zinn discusses the Vietnam War. Specifically, the history behind Vietnam and the positions that the US decided to take. I never learned about the French involvement in Vietnam. The French occupied Vietnam for a considerably amount of time leading up to the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese people however, were not fans on the French occupation. The Vietnamese felt, “They enforced inhuman laws…built more prisons than schools…mercilessly slain our patriots…they have drowned uprising in rivers of blood. They have fettered pubic opinion…robbed us of our rices fields, our mines, our forests….invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people … to a state of extreme poverty.” (470) The Vietnamese rallied behind Ho Chi Minh, a communist revolutionary leader. This scared the American people. This was in the late 40’s early 50’s a time when the red scare was eminent in the US. The United States feared a domino effect would take over Southeast Asia and leave US interests in Asia compromised. The domino effect being one country falling to communist rule and many others following. The US was so scared of this that we provided substantial military aid to the French to help them maintain control in Vietnam. Americans knew that , “If the French…decided to withdraw the U.S. would have to condor most seriously wether to take over in this area.” (472) So when in 1954 the French withdrew from Vietnam due to profuse pubic support of Ho Chi Minh the United States had to decide wether or not to get involved in Vietnam. Due to intense fear of Communism 10 years later in 1964, “President Johnson used a turkey set of events in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam, to launch a full scale war” (475). This chapter surprised me. I never learned about any sort of French connection with Vietnam. Is that because the US didn’t get involved until 10 years after French withdrawal? Would the United States have gotten so involved in Vietnam if the French had maintain their occupation there? Was the red scare a valid fear for the Americans to have at the time?

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Blog Post for 10/21

In Carson’s Article, “MLK Charismatic Leadership in Mass Struggle” I find it interesting that even a figure we hold in such high regard and a movement we deem just and important has been twisted in myth throughout history. I find this interesting because previously we have discussed controversial figures and events/America wrongdoings as twisted in myth. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior is a figure we learn about who is at the center of the civil rights movement in America during the 1950’s and 60’s for African American Equality. We view him in general as a just peaceful leader who fought for a righteous cause. However in the article I found it fascinating how Carson believes that we attribute and idolize MLK too much.”Because the myth emphasizes the individual at the expense of the black movement, it not only exaggerates King’s historical importance but also distorts his actual, considerable contribution to the movement”. Due to this we don’t focus on the movement as a whole we more focus on MLK as an important figure. The Article talks about how many people also have a false idea about who MLK was as a leader. Most people think he was just a charismatic leader. He had a few of the aspects of charismatic leaders but he also strategists, used ideology, and institutional leadership. As we have learned that a leader has to have substance behind their charism and charismatic leaders aren’t automatically good leaders. Yet another area where we fail is thinking of the Civil rights movement and MLKs contribution as just emotionally charged speeches and “blind faith” as opposed to creating a community and the strategies behind that. This article left me with a few questions. Is literally everything in American history spun in to a myth even if it isn’t for the creation of patriotism or the eradication of American wrong doing? What influence does MLK’s leadership have today during the current BLM movement?

 

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Yellow Wallpaper 10/14/20

While reading the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson I was drawn into the world of isolation of the women. The male figures in her life, her husband and brother, were both esteemed Doctors so when they both conclude she wasn’t actually sick that she just had a “hysterical tendency”. Of course that is what was true because the men thought it. Throughout the short story I found myself getting pulled deeper in deeper into her world through the vivid writing and dealing with the issues she was facing. She, ” meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already?”. As a wife her duty in the traditional sense to live solely for the comfort and betterment of her Husband and children lives. In this short story we see how she is human herself and dealing with her own issues. Humanizing women as real people not just something for men. The fact that she cannot fill her tradition role adds to her depression. Because in the past if a women couldn’t fill their role for their husband she was rejected by society. She is deemed almost “crazy” however, as we all have experience with isolation does make people go crazy. Her facilitation with the yellow wallpaper stems from her need for connection and activity. The short story touches on gender inequality. Her husband believes he knows what is best for her because he is a man and “more educated”. He takes charge over her-even when she tries to tell him what is wrong/what is best for her. However, we can see that women deal with problems that men cannot understand. This short story left me wondering, how many women suffered from depression as seen in the short story due to their role is society?

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War is the Health of the State 10/5/20

Zinn’s Chapter “War is the Heath of the State” discusses American involvement in World War 1 while the  Crash Course Video “Who Started World War 1” discusses the cause of the War as well as where we place the blame.

In Zinn’s chapter I found it surprising that the government held so much power in declaring war, while the people seemed to be forced to support it. “Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause of attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment of service in the US…two months after the law passed, a Socialist named Charles Schenck was arrested in Philadelphia for printing a distributing fifteen thousand leaflets that denounced the draft law and the war.” (Zinn 365) Here a man is getting arrested for speaking out against the government’s decision to go to war. This is crazy to me. In the United States we have freedom of speech but people during WW1 and even now people still debate if this is act is a  crime similar to”free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic” (366), or if this is a violation of our rights as US citizens. I find it distressing that the government held/holds and exerted/excerts so much power. It feels more like communism than democracy to me when the government decides we are going to war and the people (who have no say) are obliged to support the decision. Whats more surprising is that, “The Espionage Act… has remained on the books all these years since WW1, and although it is supposed to apply only in wartime, it has been constantly in force since 1950.” (366) Does the government have a right to enforce war and to hold all of this power? How is government power different during war time? Was the government justified in this behavior during World War 1?

The crash course video all raised an interesting question for me. Greene discusses how it is normal for people to associate characteristics with a whole country. Traits like militarism, nationalism, authoritarianism, etc. For example during World War 1 thinking everyone in Germany wants war. This is strange to me. Why do we attribute characteristics to whole countries? Is it because of relation identification? Since we are unfamiliar with different people and different parts of countries we stereotype what we know? How does this affect things like war and global relations?

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9/30 Blog Post

In Zinn’s chapter “The Empire and the People” he discusses American Imperialism. During this time period American government, action, and policy was still controlled by the wealthy elite white men, “upper circles of military men, politicians, businessmen…” (298). The capitalist basis that America was structured around made the elite men greedy. This is seen in not only American imperialism but also through the monopolies that formed at the time. A quote that stood out to me about American Imperialism was, “ It is the movement which makes for civilization and the advancement of race” (299). This shows that not only was American Imperialism deeply greedy it was also racists. American’s just stole the ideology of other European powers. The ideology that the white race was superior and people of other cultures and religion should assimilate to American culture. Religion played a massive role in this ideology. When deciding whether or not to take the Phillipines President McKinley, “prayed Almighty God for light and guidance … That there was nothing left for us to do but take them all and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them…by God’s grace”(313) This again displays how we used religion and our race as justification for our ideology and wrongdoings.Americans enjoyed the economic benefits of countries like Cuba without the responsibility. I am left with a few questions. What would America look like today if it weren’t for American imperialism/expansion? Do the positives of American imperialism outweigh the negatives at all? Why did religion, specifically, get used over and over again for justification of horrific behavior?

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9/23/20 Blog Post

Reading Zinn’s chapter, “As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs” was extremely enlightening and upsetting at the same time. This chapter again left me questioning everything I had learned previously. In this chapter Zinn goes into great detail about American and Indian relations in the 1800s. Zinn discusses the evil/selfishness that was the American government. The government and prominent figures such as President Andrew Jackson supported the “Indian Removal” because it, “was necessary for the opening of the vast American lands to agriculture, to commerce, to markets, to money, to the development of the modern capitalist economy.” (126) This indian removal consisted of the use of force to drive native tribes from their home lands. This created great suffering, loss of a huge amount of Indian lives, and the destruction of Indian ways of life/culture/and traditions. The American government continuously oppressed, lied to, and endangered the indian population of America. This disgusts me. Even when tribes would attempt to assimilate to “white” American culture the government still took advantage and harmed them. I never knew the extent of government wrongdoing until reading this chapter. “ The leading books on the Jacksonian period, written by respected historians…do not mention Jackson’s Indian policy, but there is much talk in them of tariffs, banking, political parties, political rhetoric. If you look through high school textbooks and elementary school school textbooks in American history you will find Jackson the frontiersman, soldier, democrat, man of the people-not Jackson the slaverholder, land speculator, executioner of dissident soldiers, exterminator of Indians.” (130) This quote struck a chord in me. This whole chapter left me with many questions. Why is it that our history teaches a figure like Jackson in this way? Does it have to do with American patriotism? Why are we unable to teach American failures and wrongdoings? Why could we just not have a peaceful relationship with the Indian tribes who were settled long before the white Americans? 

 

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1776 and Hamilton

1776 was entertaining and informative. I learned a lot about the continental congress that I hadn’t known before. The movie musical set in, 1776 Philadelphia, depicts the proceedings of the continental congress. We are introduced too many famous historical figures, most notably,  John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and John Dickinson. The movie focuses on John Adams struggle to get congress to agree to fight for freedom against the British. I never realized there was such an intense internal struggle within congress. I had just assumed that every delegate was completely against the British monarchy and for freedom. In the movie when anything is put to a vote it always ends in a tie with the same colonies voting on the same side and New York courteously abstaining. I wonder why New York is the one state to always abstain?

The portrayal of the presidential cabinet in the musical Hamilton is similar to that of the continental congress in 1776. In Hamilton Alexander Hamilton is constantly struggling against Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Before seeing Hamilton I never knew about the internal conflict within Washingtons administration. In the cabinet battles Lin Manuel Miranda illustrates Hamilton and Jefferson in a constant childish battle.

“Sittin’ there useless as two shits/Hey, turn around, bend over, I’ll show you where my shoe fits” (Hamilton in the First Cabinet Battle).

Jefferson: “Yeah, well, someone oughta remind you
Hamilton: What
Jefferson: You’re nothing without Washington behind you
Hamilton
Daddy’s calling” (Second Cabinet Battle)

I wonder why we never learn about all of these internal conflicts within our founding congress and presidential cabinet? Is it to protect patriotism? To create a narrative that all of the founding fathers were against the British and devoted to the creation of a free nation?.I found 1776 very funny and wonder if the delegates actually acted as childish in real life as they do in the movie? Are they just portrayed like that in the movie/musical? Or were they actually silly/childish? We still have to take everything in the movie and musical with a grain of salt. I question how much in the movie and musical is completely accurate? To what degree can we just the historical fact behind both pieces?

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Persons of Mean and Vile Conditions/Tyranny is Tyranny

While reading chapters 3 and 4 of Zinn’s, Peoples History of the United States I was fascinated by what I learned that I had no previous knowledge of. I had no idea of the extent of the extremely corrupt foundation of America. The descriptions of life for white servants in the early days of colonial America horrified and surprised me. One quote that struck out to me was, “The country therefore was not born free but born slave and free” (50). The majority of the freedom and wealth was secured by the small upperclass. This upperclass completely controlled the government/wealth and therefore the rest of the people in the society. I was surprised by the way these servants were treated. Their treatment was very similar to the treatment of black slaves. From the conditions on the boat to America, to the selling of servants, to the beatings/whippings, laws against servant marriage without permission, rape of the women, harsh working conditions, etc. This all shocked me. This horrible system of oppression and violence has been ingrained in and apart of our society since the beginning. I had no idea how deep this kind of behavior in society ran. It took numerous rebellions/riots like Bacon’s Rebellion to begin to change this system (however only in favor for whites).

I never knew that after their indentured servitude most servants were never able to re join society in the way I previously thought they were, “80% who were…hopeless…died during their servitude, returned to France/England, or became poor whites” (47). As a result of this growing lower class, “Poverty and Discontent appear in every Face (except the Countenances of the Rich) and dwell upon every Tongue” (52). The wealthy of course desired to keep their position of power and were terrified of uprising. So they used this power to create laws to separate the poor white, the black slaves, and the native Americans. Racism grew and was becoming practical due to this fear of rebellion from the minority groups. The wealthy used racism/classisim as a way to control these groups for their own monetary/political gain. The conditions in Colonial America for everyone expect the extremely wealthy white landowning men were atrocious. “The colonies were societies of contending classes” (50). I had no idea that the gap between the minority elite rich and the poor lasted for a significantly long time in colonial America.

This reading left me with some questions. I wonder why the servants, black slaves, and native Americans didn’t come together in more of a significant way? Especially since the ruling class was the minority. I also wonder how what Englands role was (if they had any) in maintaining the racial/class divide? As well as maintaining the wealth for the elite few? I find myself asking this after every reading we do but why have I not learned more about life in colonial America-very specifically the political, racial, and class divides?

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Drawing the Color Line

Zinn’s second chapter, Drawing the Color Line gave me a new perspective on slavery in America. Zinn’s exploration of the question if racism is “natural” or not through the history of slavery is eye opening. In the chapter we learn that before the slave trade, in England the color black was associated with dirt, death, wickedness, foul, etc. So does this existing European view of the color black have anything to do with the histories of racism? Throughout the chapter Zinn explores different events throughout the beginnings of slavery that tie to this idea of racism being natural or not.

At the very beginning of slavery, before any of the inhuman laws were passed and a disgusting racist culture was set, there were white servants as well as African slaves. These servants and slaves, ” behaved towards one another as equals… remarkably unconcerned about the visible physical differences” (31). The servants and slaves would collaborate to create escape plans. They would run away in the hopes of finding freedom. They would start new lives together. The difference in the color of their skin had no meaning. They had a commonality. They were being oppressed by a common enemy. They struggled with the same common oppressions and work. The bond between slaves and servants was strong. Together they were powerful enough to create concern among the slave owners. The friendships made created hope. Hope inspired rebellion and defiance. So in Virginia they had to pass laws prohibiting relations between white servants and slaves. In Virginia they they decreed that, “all white men were superior to black” (37).

Zinn also offers the idea that, “The presence of another human being is a powerful fact, and the conditions of that presence are crucial in deterring where an initial prejudice, against a mere color, divorced from humankind is turned into brutality and hatred” (31). I think this is an interesting point. One has to question if the servants and slaves not had the same common enemy would they have had relationships the way they did?

Before reading this chapter I never really thought about the question if racism is natural or not. I just assumed it wasn’t natural because I know it’s wrong. But after reading this chapter I feel more solidified in the belief  that racism is not natural. The relationships between the white servants and the slaves is a testimony to that. Even if it was their commonalities that brought them together it still gives me faith in the fact that racism is not a natural human behavior. I wonder why I never learned about the slaves relationships with white servants in school? Or why I never learned about the details of Jamestown and the beginning of the slave trade? Why is most of what is studied in middle or high school slavery during the civil war? Why we don’t  study the origins of slavery in America?

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Concepts of Leadership-Sofia

In his article, Concepts of Leadership, Bernard M. Bass examines the history of leadership through various cultures and time periods. I found it especially interesting how he discussed  how the greater the socioeconomic divide/stress on a country or peoples, the greater the distorted “realities” of leadership are. In my own personal studies of history I have found this statement to hold true. When people are impoverished and have little educational background (due to socioeconomic divides and class structure) they are less likely to understand what “good”  leadership looks like. Therefore they are unable to notice unfair tyrannical behavior from their leaders. This creates a distorted sense of leadership for the people and for the leaders themselves. This leads to an even more unjust society with cruel/bad leaders. Another point Bass made jumping off of that is that to keep the leadership in check you must educate the leaders and the people in the ideals of good leadership. I believe that is why studying not only history but specifically leadership is crucial. If people can truly understand what good leadership is and looks like then they can evaluate their own leaders, or their own leadership.

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