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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Taking the Context Out of History- The Sunday Collage

"For everything you know, there was a time when you didn't know it."

I remember my first commercial plane trip very well. I was pretty excited about it. It was uneventful as plane rides go. That trip in the early 70's had something not found on commercial airliners anymore.

The plane was full of cigarette smoke.

Everyone seemed to smoke back then. There was simply no point in complaining about it because you would be told to shut up by the smoking mob. That's how it was.

Today, nearly 50 years later, our culture has changed dramatically. The smokers are all dead or recovering. Smoking today is not only frowned upon and illegal in any number of venues- smoking in public may subject you to any number of verbal assaults and shitty looks. That type of obnoxious behavior never happened in the 70's. Some people feel entitled to engage others with that type of obnoxious behavior because now they stand with the new majority. I know that mentality well.

The point of this vignette is that our history is a shared experience. Human beings have been making mistakes for thousands of years and undoubtedly, we will continue to do so. We realize smoking is harmful and kills us now. The vast majority of us have learned that lesson, some of us the hard way, and most of us no longer smoke.

Our shared historical experience is full of mistakes. People generally don't make decisions thinking that they are bad decisions at the time or that their decisions will go horribly awry later on. That is the context of decision making- we take our best shot given the circumstances at that moment. We do the best we can and yet, our best decision making has spawned some remarkably bad mistakes with horrific consequences throughout history.

The truth is- we may not be that smart to begin with.

Owning slaves was considered normal back in the 17 and 1800's. Slaves were brought here and sold by other black "slavers" or traders. Slowly, covering some decades and perhaps a century, our collective conscience got the best of us. Treating people like property, like farm animals to be bought and sold at auction, was losing favor.

If you love irony, I have always loved this. A slave owner himself, Thomas Jefferson penned the famous sentence in the Declaration of Independence that "All men are created equal."

Can you imagine what might have happened if you had stood in front of the Second Continental Congress and asked, "Umm Tom, that "all men are created equal phrase" does that apply to slaves like the ones you own or did God just sort of exempt them according to your interpretation of God's intent?

Our collective history is full of mistakes. That's how we learn. That's not something to be ashamed of- that's something to hold sacred and not forget lest we keep making the same mistakes.

In 1862, we had the mass hanging of Indians in Mankato, Mn. Originally our government was going to hang over 300, but instead hanged just 38 at once. They were not tried or convicted of anything really, other than they were Sioux. It was all part of a war or uprising brought about by our own government- as is often the case. The great emancipator, Lincoln, settled on the number 39 and ordered the executions. (one Indian received a reprieve)

Who could forget the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee?

In 1917, mine owners in Arizona rounded up nearly 1300 striking miners, kidnapped them and forced them into rail cars, and dumped them in a desert 200 miles away. I can't even begin to list all of the laws that were broken and civil rights violations that took place. Not one person was ever prosecuted for the Bisbee deportation.

The 1942 illegal seizure, deportation, and false imprisonment of 130,000 Japanese- Americans. Our country ruined their lives, they lost most if not all of their property, and a few lost their lives.

I want you to remember that according to our Constitution in place at the time- all of these men were created equally and endowed with certain inalienable rights. They were also entitled to freedom from illegal search and seizure, due process, trial by jury, and all of the other protections in place and afforded to them by the Bill of Rights. Yet somehow, we simply ignored all of those inalienable rights as we deemed fit.

That is part of our history. Horrible mistakes made by our best and brightest leaders. Yet every one of those mistakes seemed justified at the moment we made our decisions. The context in which all of those mistakes were made can never be forgotten. They were all thought to be good decisions at the time. You cannot simply erase our collective history by tearing down statues or declaring certain individuals as racist. The time and the context are long gone.

History is our collective, cultural memory- attempting to erase our history will not change anything. The dead will not care. The history books will not change. Robert E Lee will still have come from a family of slave owners. So will Andrew Jackson, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Johnson, Sam Houston, John Hancock, James Madison, Zachary Taylor.

Are we going to declare all of them racist, remove all statues and documents tied to them, tear out pages of our history books?

I love history. Transcribed as accurately as possible by the winners, I try to understand what it must have been like to be a soldier out on the South Dakota prairie that winter at Wounded Knee. Or who were those people who had to physically round up Japanese Americans and take them away? I try to understand how they must have thought and felt- like they were doing the right thing. I find it all quite fascinating but the one thing I never want to forget is that at the time those things were done- those were the best choices and solutions available to us. History and the context in which it happens- are inseparable.

Like smoking on planes.

Once again I shall leave you with my all time favorite quote which sums up this piece quite nicely.

“Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.” 
― Isabel PatersonGod of the Machine


Anonymous said...

If I could be so pompous and arrogant as to add, just as the soldiers who rounded up Indians and the police who rounded up Japanese thought they were doing the right thing, so must have the Germans who rounded up Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and any deemed 'other' to the Aryan cause. This could not have happened without a concerted, consistent, and persistent campaign -- administered by?

The media.

As always, excellent piece.
Shoban Illiterati

Anonymous said...

I have read accounts from a couple of Hitler's insiders- that their defense was precisely that. They believed what they were doing was the right thing and following orders.

Killing jews in ovens. They can go fuck themselves. Certainly the media was nothing but a propaganda tool for the different than today....a tool for the statists, collectivists, and liberals.

They still lost.

Thanks SI. See ya in an hr...I actually won a big bet last nite.


Compleat Patriot said...

Obviously this has been a republic in form but a monarchy in power… For a very long time, longer than most folks care to consider… Unfortunately.. All men are equal under the law.. The question is who's law? Obviously not man's made up legalism… Because all through man's history of man making his own laws their has been no equality.. NONE.. Equality for all men exists but almost all men have turned their backs upon it.. Equality for all men under that law makes all men equal.. Thats where the equality is.. Apparently we don't have the capacity to act accordingly.. Love His Love Language and love your brothers.. So much for The Republic of Plato aye Brian? Perhaps they should have poured a cup of poison down his neck…

“Let me draw a parallel. The Republic of Plato is the founding document of Western political theory. It is of overwhelming importance and contains a hundred fundamental insights and foundational thoughts. But it is a directly totalitarian text. It endorses an intensely hierarchical or caste society. It says that philosophers should rule, and with absolute power. One of the recurring themes is that the rulers will have to lie to the people continuously in order to control them, and it says they ought to. It proposes that the rulers match people up for mating in a gigantic eugenics program designed to entrench the class structure more in each generation: mate shoemakers with shoemakers, male soldiers with female soldiers, philosopher kings with philosopher queens. It says unauthorized infants should be killed. And so on. Aristotle was the first to systematically attack the Republic on such grounds, and in a democratic era, we must find the basic ideas repugnant.”~~Sartwell

I have come to these very conclusions myself after reading The Republic.
As far as real democracy is concerned, and not the false paradigm of Bernaysian Democracy – the only path to this principle is statelessness, that is anarchy.
Finally a society of grown up men no longer sucking on a wolf's teet, with no need for a Parental State.

Compleat Patriot said...

In other words I prefer to live and control my own anarchy rather than be forced to live their predetermined anarchy designed to manage me...

Compleat Patriot said...

Notice who determines who lives in a society and who is removed from said society via various methods of removal as described in your words above..

It should be clear who a Nation/State belongs to and who it does not belong to…
[Sylvester, supra note 55, at 67; see also Stewart Jay, The Status of the Law of Nations in Early American Law, 42 VAND. L. REV. 819, 823 (1989) (“In ascertaining principles of the law of nations, lawyers and judges of that era relied heavily on continental treatise writers, Vattel being the most often consulted by Americans. An essential part of a sound legal education consisted of reading Vattel, Grotius, Pufendorf, and Burlamaqui, among others.”).]
Below is what Vattel and the Law of Nations has to say…
“The law of nations is the law of sovereigns. It is principally for them, and for their ministers, that it ought to be written. All mankind are indeed interested in it; and, in a free country, the study of its maxims is a proper employment for every citizen; but it would be of little consequence to impart the knowledge of it only to private individuals, who are not called to the councils of nations, and who have no influence in directing the public measures. If the conductors of slates, if all those who are employed in public affairs, condescended to apply seriously to the study of a science which ought to be their law, and, as it were, the compass by which to steer their course, what happy effects might we not expect from a good treatise on the law of nations! We every day feel the advantages of a good body of laws in civil society: — the law of nations is, in point of importance, as much superior to the civil law, as the proceedings of nations and sovereigns are more momentous in their consequences than those of private persons….”
“…But fatal experience too plainly proves how little regard those who are at the head of affairs pay to the dictates of justice, in conjunctures where they hope to find their advantage. Satisfied with bestowing their attention on a system of politics which is often false, since often unjust, the generality of them think they have done enough when they have thoroughly studied that. Nevertheless, we may truly apply to states a maxim which has long been acknowledged as true with respect to individuals, — that the best and safest policy is that which is founded on virtue. Cicero, as a great master in the art of government as in eloquence and philosophy, does not content himself with rejecting the vulgar maxim, that “a state cannot be happily governed without committing injustice;” he even proceeds so far as to lay down the very reverse of the proposition as an invariable truth, and maintains, that “without a strict attention to the most rigid justice, public affairs cannot be advantageously administered.”
Providence occasionally bestows on the world kings and ministers whose minds are impressed with this great truth. Let us not renounce the pleasing hope that the number of those wise conductors of nations will one day be multiplied; and in the interim let us, each in his own sphere, exert our best efforts to accelerate the happy period.”~[Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations]
From: The Law of Nations; Preliminaries: (This is what “States should be attain­ing” and this will give you a clue about what “all indi­vid­uals in a State” should be striv­ing for.)

Compleat Patriot said...

Remember you don't appreciate lawyers? Or rather Attorney's...

Somebodies posterity somewhere in this crowd did have complete freedom to do whatever they deemed necessary and proper to preserve their complete freedoms… And they're still doing it while we all look on…

So sovereigns get to make all of these historical "blunders" and citizens get to watch and complain… My opinion is the same old nation/state entity is controlling all of these nation/states and their inquisition has evolved to the the point of being unrecognizable by the majority of people in these various societies within these various nation/states - estates - plantations - that are members of the United Nations - Family of Nations all implementing similar forms of the Law of Nations based upon International Law.. There is even an international intellectual property data base where the owners of said legalisms are clearly listed.. Who owns the LAW owns it all.. I've been pointing this out for several years now.. You're still in the skeptical category.. You're a complainer.. AND there is a section in the Law of Nations that refers to citizen complainers.. Suggesting how sovereigns handle complainers.. when the Framers referenced Law Of Nations Law book, by mere reference to it they incorporated the entire Law of Nations into their Constitution…

Article I Section 8 - Powers of Congress~ To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

This includes "human resources"… Resources be property, is a consumable article… When they labeled us property we should have woke the fk up…

"Governments have universally exercised a despotic control of consumptions, sometimes from humane, but chiefly from fraudulent motives. Laws for limiting the prices of consumable articles, unattended by the desire of transferring property are of the former description; and laws for controlling consumptions, with the covert intention of transferring property, of the latter. But whether the motive by which such laws have been dictated has been good or bad, their effects have been uniformly tyrannical or pernicious. They have even sometimes created the famines they intended to prevent. The whole code of these laws is a commentary upon the policy of subjecting consumptions to the absolute control of governments, however constituted. When these laws designed to provide the multitude with bread, they starve them; when they pretend to supply the multitude with money, they impoverish them." ~John Taylor: Tyranny Unmasked

I'm not a human…

Article I Section 8 - Powers of Congress
~ To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
What is "necessary and proper"? Anything they want it to mean. There is no such thing as an unconstitutional law because if it got passed it had to be "necessary and proper".


Clever aye?