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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Two Peas In A Pod

Ever since November 8, 2016, I have been steadily and voraciously reading a wide variety of literature on several subjects including the US Constitution, the electoral process, international relations, the US Presidency, and the US Supreme Court.  I have been reading in the areas of political philosophy, history, and biography.  Rarely, if ever, in my reading do I find myself speechless but I did a day or two ago as I began a new book, a biography of one of the most reprehensible figures in American history.  The following excerpt from that book is the opening description of that figure: 
"...(He) was a pirate, and one does not, one cannot, pass valid moral judgments upon pirates.  This is meant in no facetious or superficial sense.  The close similarity between (his) character, mentality, and motives and the basic patterns of piracy is clear.  The distinction which sets the freebooter apart from the violent revolutionary, for example, or from the man who wages a war for some purpose other than plunder, appears in (him), the essence of this distinction being that the pirate is not amenable to moral laws because he recognizes none.  By the very act of becoming a pirate he has forced the moral code, which is binding on other men, to walk the plank.  A man cannot be held morally answerable to laws of which he is not cognizant; hence the pirate, entertaining no scruples whatsoever, is freed of their encumbrance....Whether we are aware of the fact or not, we do not pass moral judgments upon pirates...because intuitively we grasp that their ways and standards of conduct lie outside the confines of conventional morality...Moral conformity is not the pirate's concern. For him, rapine is no more morally reprehensible than is preaching to a parson or lending money at interest to a banker.  We may, if we are strong enough, hold the pirate sternly accountable under statute law; we may even stretch his neck; but morally he will not be answerable to us." Lately Thomas, "When Even Angels Wept" pp 1-2
Without a doubt, many of you are wondering who on earth that description could have been intended to describe.  Some of you might have already rushed to Google to learn the subject of Lately Thomas' biography "When Even Angels Wept".  The book is an excellent biography of the late, greatly despised US Senator Joseph McCarthy.  I am currently reading the book because it is a part of my study and research regimen to learn as much as possible about failures and deliberate miscarriages of justice in government, by government officials, and in defiance of the majority of the governed.  This project is motivated by my deep seated, well founded, and universally justified fear of the damage being perpetrated to American Democracy by the TRAITOR Donald Trump and his well chosen band of criminals.  At the time I began reading Mr. Thomas' book, I had no idea that his description of Senator McCarthy would so aptly describe the TRAITOR Donald Trump.  As I opened the book and began reading the introduction, my mouth literally dropped open as those first two pages, written more than forty years ago, gave a very apt description of the TRAITOR Donald Trump today.  Those paragraphs, with only the minor change of inserting and bracketing the words, "he", "him', or "his" in place of the name of the greatly reviled Joseph McCarthy who caused and led the horrible Communist Witch Hunt of 1954, serve just as well to describe the current, illegitimate occupier of the White House.  

It is interesting that during some shallow research on Lately Thomas and his work I found one review of the book by Louis Berg which takes great offense to Mr. Thomas' decision to state that we cannot hold pirates morally responsible for their actions because pirates do not accept or comply with moral standards.  However, I agree with Mr. Thomas' assessment that we cannot expect to hold pirates morally responsible but we can successfully, "...hold them responsible under statute law".  And I submit that is exactly what the country and the people must do with the TRAITOR Donald Trump.  Just as Mr. Thomas wrote about Joseph McCarthy, the TRAITOR Donald Trump "is not cognizant" of morals or laws.  We are now in the grips of an illegitimate occupation of the White House by a group who either do not understand, do not respect, or willfully disregard the United States Constitution, have no respect for the Bill of Rights or the federal courts, and are willing to abuse the rights of any person or group of persons in the country in order to gain the things they wish to have.  Rapine is not morally reprehensible to the TRAITOR Donald Trump and the gang of criminals he has surrounded himself with after having been illegally installed in the White House by Vladimir Putin and his computer hackers.  

On February 24, 2017, two native born United States citizens, the widow and son of former Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali were unreasonably detained at an airport upon returning to the country because ICE agents did not like the sound of their names even though the son, whose name is Muhammad Ali, Jr., had one of the most famous and well publicized names in the world.  Interestingly, the ICE agents released the widow Ali after she presented a photograph of herself with her late husband which is absolutely no legal proof of any level of innocence if she had actually been a terrorist attempting to enter the country on malicious plans.  We now have federal government agents, at the behest of an illegitimately constituted administration, detaining natural born citizens because they don't like the sound of their names and releasing people they have initially implied might be terrorists based simply on a photograph of their victim with a famous person.  

During the recent Women's March On Washington on January 21, 2017, six legitimate journalists covering the top news story of the day were arrested  and charged with felony rioting in an obvious attempt to intimidate all journalists who might be covering other events held to express the well justified ire of the nation with the TRAITOR Trump.  That effort to intimidate and control the media is continuing at a maddening pace by the TRAITOR Donald Trump and his minions.  Journalists have also been arrested and shot with rubber bullets at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  Those journalists have also been charged with fictitious felonies while covering the top news story of the day.  On January 23, 2017, the White House criminals in charge denied many of the major news organizations in the country admission to a rigged "press conference" by the TRAITOR Trump.   These acts are repressive, unconstitutional restriction of a free press, and a blatant attempt to control the news cycles to prevent accurate and honest reporting of the crimes and incompetence of TRAITOR Trump and his minions.  

The United States Constitution is under a daily attack by the occupiers of the White House.  Individual freedoms, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion are all under attack by a Right Wing Radical criminal and his flunkies.  At this point, we are only a little more than a month past the illegitimate inauguration and I have no doubt far worse is coming.  Indictment, prosecution, conviction, impeachment, and imprisonment are the only acts which can legally put a stop to this terrorism which is being practiced on Pennsylvania Avenue.  At this point, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the Republican party are unwilling to act because they hope to destroy as much social, environmental, and health care legislation as possible before ever admitting that a criminal and terrorist has been allowed to occupy the White House.  Every citizen should be standing up, speaking up, and speaking out to protect the country, the Constitution, and all our individual and collective rights.  Call your congress members and senators.  Insist that they take action immediately to begin the impeachment, prosecution, and imprisonment process for the TRAITOR Donald Trump.   

Friday, February 17, 2017

"A Nation Defiant Polish Resistance To The German Occupation Of Poland" by Richard S. Fuegner--Book Review

Fuegner, Richard S.: A Nation Defiant Polish Resistance To The German Occupation Of Poland (Edina, MN, Beaver's Pond Press, 2014)

Ever since November 8, 2016, I have been steadily reading every piece of literature I can find in all formats (books, pamphlets, electronic media) which I am led to believe can be useful in the American Resistance against the illegitimate administration which is in control of the White House.  I found Richard S. Fuegner's book in a general Internet search, ordered it, and read it quickly between reading the works of George Orwell and other writers on the subjects of totalitarian, dystopian, and repressive governments and methods to resist such governments.  It is my considered professional opinion based on my education, training, and experience that the United States is being turned into a highly repressive regime in compliance with TRAITOR Donald Trump's perverted world view.  No nation in Europe did a better job than Poland of resisting Adolph Hitler and the Russians during World War II.  We have a great deal to learn from the actions of the Polish people during World War II.  Richard S. Fuegner is an expert on the subjects of both Polish and general European Resistance during that war.  He has published several books about World War II Resistance.  

"A Nation Defiant..." is an extremely well researched, well documented, and well written work.  Mr. Fuegner has studied this general topic for many years and his massive research effort shows all through the book.  The book does an excellent job of documenting the Nazi and Russian invasions of the country, the wide ranging acts of repression and savagery which the Polish people suffered, and their determined and tireless resistance to those invasions.  The country was jointly and simultaneously occupied by both Russia and Germany and the two armies consensually divided the country choosing to seize those areas nearest their own borders.  They took every action possible to repress, oppress, and abuse the citizens of Poland.  Murder, infanticide, torture, and imprisonment with little or no cause was common by both occupiers with Germany sometimes taking slightly more violent actions against citizens.  But the Polish people, right down to relatively young children, fought valiantly and ceaselessly to impede German and Russian operations all across Poland.  This book does an excellent job of telling the story of the Polish Resistance all the way from the initial Nazi invasion to the Warsaw Uprising and eventual liberation.  It tell the story of how both Russia and the United States betrayed the Polish people by not assisting them adequately or expeditiously during the Warsaw Uprising.  The Poles were led to believe they would be assisted with supply drops, an advancement of the Russian front, and bombing raids by both countries.  These actions were not carried out at all or only in a limited way because both Russia and the United States were more concerned with their own tactical and territorial goals and thousands of brave Polish fighters were murdered by the Germans during the sixty-six days of the Warsaw Uprising.  It is a powerful story and an even more important warning sign for any country such as the United States today which is under an ever increasing attempt to create a totalitarian state by the TRAITOR Donald Trump who, interestingly enough, appears to be colluding with Russian in his efforts.  When mass roundups and deportations of relatively innocuous, harmless, and productive people are being staged daily, when multiple journalist in multiple incidents are being arrested for doing their job and covering public discontent, when threats are being made daily against the peace and dignity of the country by illegitimate occupiers of the Whiter House, it is the most important mission in the country to educate yourself and as many others as possible about all and any means by which American citizens can protect American Democracy and this book will help you to do that. 

My one criticism of the book is that is was published by a small vanity press in Minnesota, Beaver's Pond Press, and the editing was not up to par.  The book is a slick presentation with a nice cover, good printing, and acceptable illustrations which are numerous.  But it is also loaded with many typographical errors, missing words, and other linguistic mistakes which a good editor would have corrected.  The author, Richard S. Fuegner, is now 81 years old and the book was published three years ago in 2014, when he was 79.  It is possible that at his advanced age Mr. Fuegner chose to use a vanity press rather than risk becoming disabled or dying before a traditional, major publisher could be found to publish the book.  If so, that is a shame.  Mr. Fuegner had a previous record of multiple published books and this book deserved a better publisher.   But don't let the errors stop you from reading the book.  It really is a masterful piece of research, organization, documentation, and writing.  It is well worth the time and the money necessary to order and read it.  It will teach you a great deal about what happened in Poland and what could happen in the next four years in America. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Watching "Loving" On Valentines Day

Richard and Mildred Loving Photo by Find A Grave

On Valentines Day 2017, my wife Candice and I watched the movie "Loving" in a theater.  This movie has had one nomination for Ruth Negga for the Oscar for Best Actress In A Leading Role which was the only Oscar nomination for the movie.  The film has been quietly and persistently well reviewed and has been moderately successful in the theaters.  But it ranks barely in the top 75 money grossing movies of the year at this point and is likely to fall lower as the year goes on and more mass market money machines hit the big screen.  But earnings or Oscar nominations were not the motivation for our attendance.  The story the movie tells is why we went and why every Appalachian and American movie buff ought to see this movie. You should also see this movie even if you hate movies but care about human rights. "Loving" tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in Virginia, who married in 1958 in violation of the miscegenation law in Virginia at that time.  They actually had to travel to Washington, DC, in order to get the ceremony performed.  Shortly after their marriage, they were arrested in Caroline County Virginia and eventually took a plea agreement by which they were sentenced to one year each in prison which was suspended and they had to agree to leave the state of Virginia and not to return together for  twenty-five years.  In compliance with the sentencing agreement, they left Virginia and moved to Washington, DC, for several years.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Loving couple eventually appealed the conviction in 1967 to the Supreme Court of Virginia and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court where their appeal was upheld and the miscegenation laws of at least seventeen states were overturned.  It was one of the most historic decisions delivered by one of the most active and productive incarnations of the court. At that time, William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, Byron White, and Potter Stewart were all members of the court and, during their tenure together, became one of the most effective liberal voting blocks in the history of the court. The Loving decision made interracial marriage legal in the entire United States.  The Loving Decision will always be one of the most important decisions in the history of the court and the United States.  I was sixteen years old at the time and a senior in high school but I do not actively remember it.  I was raised, as I have mentioned many times on this blog, in an area of Knott County Kentucky which was totally white.  I did not attend school with an African American until I began Upward Bound the summer after my sophomore year in high school which was 1966.  But I had heard often in my childhood of one church in the Indian Bottom Association Of Old Regular Baptists which was integrated long before I was born.  That church was the Little Home Church which had been founded by African American members of the Old Regular Baptists and had always been integrated.  It was located on the opposite side of the county and my family never attended there.  That part of the county was the home of nearly every African American in the county at that time.  Residents of the two sides of the county rarely mixed unless work required it. 

Later, as an adult in about 1973, I was taken by Don West to a church in Matoaka, WV, which had been integrated for many years and had two ministers, one black and one white. About that same time, I also made a trip to Washington, DC, with West Virginia poet and professor Robert F. "Bob" Snyder where we stayed in the home of an interracial couple who had married and lived in the District of Columbia at about the same time the Loving couple lived there. From March 1989 to July 1992, I worked for a company which had a very high percentage of interracial marriages among the employees and came to know a fairly large number of such couples who had all individually and collectively faced the kinds of prejudice which the Loving couple faced in Virginia.  Unless you have lived in such a marriage, you cannot know what kinds of pressures, prejudices, and discrimination these people faced.  I do not pretend to know even though I probably have more experience in this area than most average Appalachian Caucasian males in my age range. It is also impossible for anyone who was not present in the extended families of Richard and Mildred Loving to have any idea of the courage required for them to appeal their case to the US Supreme Court and face the publicity, both positive and prejudicial, which they received as a result.

The movie is presented as much as a love story as it is as a historical or political story. The acting and the cinematography are both deliberately low key and the acting is both powerful and understated. The tensions of the time are seen in the faces and body language of the actors more so than in voice volume, timbre, or inflection.  It is a beautiful powerful piece of work on the part of everyone involved.  It is well worth seeing and I recommend it highly. I also would like to remind my readers of just how many earth shattering legal cases the ACLU has been involved in since their creation in 1920.  This organization is the most important guardian of civil and human rights in America.  At this time, they are under attack from the radical right and need your help morally, socially, and financially more than at any time in their history with the one possible exception being during the McCarthy Communist Witch Hunt during the 1950's.  Join the ACLU, make a donation, support them publicly and privately.  They have been protecting you since before you were born.  In today's political environment, you, your family, your ethnicity, your social group could become the next victim of a Right Wing Radical attack. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jenny Wiley State Park Is Hosting A Hate Group

Today, I was appalled to read Internet news from WKYT-TV27 in Lexington, KY, and learn that Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, KY, will be hosting a meeting of the Traditionalist Workers Party, a hate group as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL.  I also confirmed the accuracy of the story by watching the evening news on WKYT-TV27  and by calling the park office to protest the fact that a state park would be hosting a meeting of a hate group.  When I contacted the park office in Prestonsburg, I was told that staff there could not comment on the issue and was given the name and telephone number of Gil Lawson, the information officer and official spokesperson for the KY State Parks in Frankfort, KY.  When I called Mr. Lawson, he would only read the official statement which the parks department had prepared and which is included in the Internet news story from WKYT-TV27.  Here are the contents of that statement: 
""The executed contract for this event was for a family reunion, and the parks department was not notified of the intent of this meeting until late last evening. As a public event, a different contract will be required. The new contract will include safety and other provisions, and the group will have to reapply under the correct process. As a public agency, the Kentucky State Parks cannot discriminate against individuals or groups under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and any threats to our guests, and we will take appropriate actions as necessary." Official Statement From The KY State Parks System Downloaded on February 8, 2017, at 8:40pm.
Upon hearing the statement on the telephone, my response to Mr. Lawson was that he was "talking out of both sides of his mouth".  We both graciously allowed the conversation to end on that note.  My logic for that assessment is based on these facts as stated in the statement.  The parks system is attempting to imply, but not clearly state, that they were mislead when negotiating the contract and they may well have been mislead.  At the same time, the parks system is stating they have no intentions to attempt to do the right thing by voiding the contract and refusing to host the event.  The parks system is also attempting to claim they have no legal means by which to refuse to host such a group.  The portion of the statement which says "we will continue to monitor the situation and any threats to our guests, and we will take appropriate actions as necessary".  By virtue of that sentence, they are admitting that possible threats to their guests do exist.  

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Traditionalist Workers Party as:
"...a white nationalist group that advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems. Even as it claims to oppose racism, saying every race deserves its own lands and culture, the group is intimately allied with neo-Nazi and other hardline racist organizations that espouse unvarnished white supremacist views." Southern Poverty Law Center Downloaded on February 8, 2017, at 8:51pm.
For those of you who do not know the Southern Poverty Law Center, they were founded by Morris Dees, one of the most successful civil rights attorneys in the history of the country, and are located in Montgomery, AL.  They track, confront, and litigate against hate groups all over the country and do a phenomenal job of gaining, protecting, and preserving human rights all over America.  The bottom line is that if the SPLC tells you a group is a hate group you can bet your boots on their assessment.  The Traditionalist Workers Party is described in their own literature as being strongly anti-Semitic and homophobic although they attempt to couch those beliefs in language which can avoid the possibility of constituting hate crimes on its face.  At the same time, they attempt to disguise their supremacist views behind stated intentions of "fighting for faith, family, and folk".  However, it is interesting that on their official website they list their philosophical literature on a web page they have named "Propaganda".  According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary Eleventh Edition, the definition of "Propaganda" is: "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a cause or political view".  It is fascinating that such a group would use a word to describe their teaching which means "...biased or misleading...". 

In their statement about the goals of the event which is linked from the WKYT-TV27 web site, the Traditionalist Workers Party makes several statements that cause concern.  They state that: " Pike County is 98.35% European and went over 80% for Trump in the recent elections."  It is fascinating that an organization that SPLC has identified as a hate group is choosing to visit and hold a meeting in an area which supported Donald Trump who has always denied his support from and possible connections to such white supremacist hate groups.  They go on to say that Pike County is an area that is "in need of advocacy and organization".  They also gloat that " Given that the venue is a State Park, they cannot shut down the event".  That statement, and the likely fear of state park officials, is probably why the official statement from the KY State Parks is so unwilling to confront the fact that they have agreed to host an event from a hate group.  The TWP go further near the end of their statement by discussing possible "...possible Leftist attacks, we will not be driven from the streets, under any circumstances" which appears to state that they are prepared for violence during their street demonstration in Pikeville on April 29th, 2017.  

Every citizen, every elected official, every church, every legitimate social organization in the Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia area should immediately and unequivocally denounce this group, their proposed event, and their potentially violent agenda.  Every member of such churches, groups, and organizations should immediately contact Gil Lawson and the Kentucky State Parks to protest this event and to demand that it be cancelled.  Potential violence, which is openly discussed in that statement and that is alarming and potentially very dangerous.  Such plans, such groups, and such threats of violence must be confronted and must be stopped. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Reading Newberry Medal Winning Books

Rarely, if ever, do I read what I refer to as "drugstore fiction" or what the booksellers refer to as "popular fiction".  The one author for whom I sometimes make an exception is Dean Koontz, who writes high quality fiction at his best.  My usual reading fare is non-fiction and fiction of literary value and an Appalachian nature and generally related to some research interest in the area of Appalachian Studies.  When I want to take a break from this frequently heavier type of reading, I will sometimes read a winner of the Newberry Medal which is awarded annually to the best children's book in a given year.  While these books are generally intended for a juvenile audience somewhere between the ages of 10 and 16, they are always high quality fiction, very well written, and worthy of reading by anyone who appreciates great literature.  They are books which can turn children into lifetime readers, writers, and students of both literature and life.  A few recent winners of the Newberry include "Last Stop On Market Street", "The Crossover", and "The Graveyard Book".  Newberry Medal Winners may not be best sellers when they are nominated but are always best sellers, and rightly so, after winning the award.  A few previous winners which I have read and recommend highly are "Holes" by Louis Sachar, a juvenile book which will stand up to most adult "great literature" for its plot and counter plot; "The Midwife's Apprentice" by Karen Cushman, a book about a young girl's effort to become self assured and independent; "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman, a classic novel about an overly entitled prince and his designated whipping boy who successfully change places; and, "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH", an absolute classic about medical research and its dangers at the National Institutes  of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  The Newberry Medal has been awarded annually since 1922 and I have to say I wish that I had read every winner.  

My most recent experience with a Newberry Medal Winner was "Julie Of The Wolves" by Jean Craighead George which is an excellent coming of age story about a young Eskimo girl in Alaska who struggles with her identity between the worlds of the traditional Eskimos and the Caucasians.  The young girl in question, Miyak or Julie, becomes lost in the tundra after running away from home and is rescued by a pack of wolves and her knowledge of Eskimo traditions which she learned from her father who is presumed dead following the known death of her mother.  The book is an excellent work from a perspective of cultural diversity, coming of age, female independence, and dealing with grief.  I recommend it highly for any juvenile reader, especially a female juvenile.  These books are an excellent way to encourage children to read and to read real literature of value.  Try a Newberry Medal Winner sometime soon. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Animal Farm by George Orwell--A Textbook For These Times

Orwell, George: Animal Farm (New York, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1946)

Hopefully, most of you are already familiar with George Orwell's classic satirical novel, "Animal Farm".  Even more hopefully, many of you have either read or reread it within the last two weeks.  There will never be a more appropriate time to read and study this little masterpiece.  It is regularly read and studied in high school and college literature classes all over the world as well as many philosophy and political science classes.  The book is only 128 pages and can easily be read in one sitting by most readers.  Yet it contains lessons that will last you a lifetime.  As I recall, I read "Animal Farm" the first time in about 1968 or 1969 which was also a most appropriate time to read the book.  At that time, Richard Nixon was rising to his second ascendancy in American politics after his famous Checkers Speech  in which he stated that we "...won't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore...".  What a shame that he never stuck to his word!  Nixon was elected to the Presidency in 1968 and went on to escalate the Viet Nam War to the point that we lost 58,220 of our finest young citizens.  Nixon also went on to perpetrate the Watergate Scandal and resign from office rather than face impeachment.  

George Orwell

Now as we discuss my most recent reading of the book "Animal Farm", the White House is being illegitimately occupied ( I use the military sense of the word "occupied".) by a career criminal, self admitted sex offender, and seriously mentally ill individual, TRAITOR Donald Trump.  TRAITOR Trump is totally out of control, exhibiting a serious megalomania and an unwillingness to accept advice or criticism.  In less than three weeks, this lunatic has the country on the verge of total disgrace in the minds of both our allies and our enemies.  Could there ever be a better time to read a satirical novel about the dangers of blindly following a leader with megalomania and no respect for his citizens?  There are moral, political, and ethical lessons to be learned from "Animal Farm" which can help every citizen of the USA to learn to stand up to tyranny, injustice, and criminality at the highest levels.  Looking back on the Nixon Administration, we can at least see that the country does have the backbone and moral strength to stand up to and put an end to the nefarious efforts of a would be tyrant.  

A few years after the original publication of "Animal Farm", George Orwell stated: 
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly, or indirectly, against totalitarianism.  Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one artistic whole." George Orwell, "Animal Farm" pp. vii

Thank God for the work, the vision, and the political foresight of George Orwell.  "Animal Farm" tells a satirical story about a small English farm which is seized and operated by the animals as what appears to  be intended to be a cooperative, a communal effort, or a socialistic experiment.  Over the course of the novel, the pigs who are in charge of the management seize power and turn the farm into an obvious totalitarian state with absolute power in the hands of one Napoleon, a pig with a serious case of megalomania which he carries to the extreme and ruins the lives, hopes, and dreams of the other animals.  The book is a literary classic which has never fallen out of popularity in the three quarters of a century since it was written.  It is also a metaphorical "burning bush" for the citizens of America today.  There are marked similarities between Napoleon the pig and Donald Trump the TRAITOR who several sources tell us conspired with Vladimir Putin to hack the American election of 2016 and seize control of the White House.  

Do yourself and the country a favor and read "Animal Farm" as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.  If you have read it in the past, refresh your memory and reread it with a focus on comparing Napoleon the pig and Donald Trump The TRAITOR.  Then make a personal commitment to join the American Resistance and fight to save America from an illegitimate megalomaniac. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Reviewing The Works Of Theda Purdue

Perdue, Theda: Mixed Blood Indians Racial Construction In The Early South (Athens, Georgia, University Of Georgia  Press, 2005)
Perdue, Theda & Michael D. Green: The Cherokee Removal A Brief History With Documents (New York, Bedford Books, 1995)

As I mentioned in an earlier book review of John M. Ehle's "Trail Of Tears The Rise And Fall Of The Cherokee Nation",  recently I have been doing research about a particular historical Cherokee Chief and have been reading extensively about the Eastern Band of Cherokee in the Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee areas.  Theda Perdue is clearly recognized as one of the best informed and well written experts on both Native Americans in general and the Cherokee in particular.  Dr. Perdue is a Professor Emerita in the history department of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and was previously employed as a professor of history at the University of Kentucky.  She has written extensively about the Cherokee and other Native American tribes.  She is the author or co-author of nine books primarily about Native Americans.  She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship along with several other awards and fellowships and has held several high level positions in professional organizations.  Dr. Perdue's work is well respected by both academics and well read laymen.  

The first of her books which I read was "Mixed Blood Indians Racial Construction In The Early South".  It is an excellent book and my respect for it led me to read "The Cherokee Removal A Brief History With Documents" which Dr. Perdue co-edited with the late Dr. Michael D. Green who had also taught at the University Of Kentucky and the University Of North Carolina.  Dr. Green had also written extensively on Native American topics.  "Mixed Blood Indians..." is an excellent book and was originally delivered as a Lamar Lecture at Mercer University where Dr. Perdue had been a law student before deciding to change the focus of her academic and professional life to history.  The book is well written, extremely well documented with primary source material and a delight to read.  It does an excellent job of  explaining the complicated story of how the Cherokee and other eastern native peoples intermingled with the white settlers in the region, intermarrying, and eventually producing many of the most important leaders of the Cherokee via intermarriage.  These mixed blood children, often the products of marriages between Cherokee, Creek, and native women from several other tribes with white traders, became some of the most influential leaders in the Cherokee tribe especially.  Among these mixed blood leaders were three men who collectively and singularly played major roles in Cherokee history: James Vann, Major Ridge, and Charles Renatus Hicks.  

Dr. Perdue also does an excellent job of addressing the complicated cultural adjustments involved in the interchanges between white settlers and the Native Americans with whom they lived in close proximity and, at times, conflict.  The book also addresses the roles many of these mixed blood children played in the wars of America and in the Cherokee Removal, one of the blackest periods in the history of both the Cherokee and the country.  The book is not a light read by any means since it was originally written for academic presentation but it is well worth the read.  I recommend it highly.  

The second Perdue book I read, "The Cherokee Removal A Brief History With Documents" did not please me as well as "Mixed Blood Indians...".  The book does an excellent job of placing a large selection of key historical documents or documentary fragments in one place for the reader who does not wish to do major research.  Each key segment of the book is prefaced with a short discussion from the editors to place the document in question in appropriate historical perspective.  But it doe not have a source listing at the end of the book which would have improved it greatly.  It also uses Socratic questioning at the end of most sections of the book which I believe tends to discomfit the casual reader.  While the book was probably intended to be primarily an academic work for classroom use, it covers a topic with a great deal of appeal to the ordinary non-academic reader and would have better benefited that segment of the readership if a more direct didactic method had been used in these segment ending comments.  

One of the most informative sections of the book contains several letters written by young Cherokee children in the mission schools of the time and sheds a great deal of light on the topics of acculturation, education, and the many hardships of removal and the period of conflict leading up to the removal by President Andrew Jackson.  The book is well worth reading and I am certain that the other works of Dr. Perdue and Dr. Green are also worthy of inspection.  I will look forward to my next encounter with a work by either of these authors. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

"Trail Of Tears The Rise And Fall Of The Cherokee Nation" by John Ehle Book Review

"Trail Of Tears.." book cover Anchor Books

Ehle, John, Trail Of Tears The Rise And Fall Of The Cherokee Nation (New York: Anchor Books 1988)

Several months ago, I began a research project connected to the Eastern Band Of The Cherokee, primarily about one particular chief from the late nineteenth century.  I have not set the earth on fire with the research due to a variety of other demands on my time.  But I have been wending my way through a long list of books, articles, and other media about the Cherokee.  The book has been positively reviewed more than once, sold a reasonably successful number of copies, and was well received by the general public.  But I found it cumbersome to read, inadequately documented, and worst of all, highly fictionalized.  Admittedly, Mr. Ehle's major stock in trade has always been fiction and he has been successful as a novelist.  He also grew up in the same area of the country in which the book is set.  I do not deny that he has a plethora of knowledge about the subjects of the book.  But his writing style, in addition to the freely administered fictionalization, is awkward, disjointed, and at less than academic standards for a book which was marketed as history.  I did slog on through the book and finished it in a period of time in which I might have read two similarly sized works.  The book is not all bad and is worth reading for the person who is not seeking well resourced and documented history.  The text contains no footnotes and the reader must decide to go to a "Notes" section in the back to determine if a particular segment was even sourced and documented when they meet a passage needing source documentation.  The "Notes" are simply inserted with a page number and a quote from the beginning of the notated segment to identify it.  The work would have been much more satisfactory to me if it had been footnoted in some particular style of documentation such as Chicago Style or MLA.  The simple act of numbering the notes in each chapter sequentially and placing the notes at the ends of chapters would have been better for the academically oriented reader.

John M. Ehle Photo by Wikipedia

I have no doubt that Mr. Ehle did far more than adequate research before he wrote the book and it does appear that it might be the product of a lifetime of study and personal experience on the subject.  For me the best part of the book was the extensive use of personal correspondence of several people from the period under discussion.  Mr. Ehle uses many letters and military reports from first level sources and they enhance the work a great deal.  In particular, a series of letters from the march west from a soldier L. B. Webster to his recently married wife at home shed a great deal of light on conditions along the Trail Of Tears.  They show a soldier who was in command of a portion of the tribe who was compassionate and deeply affected by the death, disease, and mistreatment he saw being perpetrated against the Cherokee people.  Several documents from General John E. Wool, who was in charge of the mission, also work well to provide insight into the military thinking which led to the deaths of several thousand people. The book also gives interesting insights into the life and motivations of President Andrew Jackson and how he brought about one of the most horrifying acts in US Government history.   If you wish to read about the Trail Of Tears, the book is worth reading but I would suggest that it be supported with other, better written, less fictionalized, and more appropriately documented works.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ashley Judd, A Heroine For Kentucky, Appalachia, and America

Ashley Judd Photo by NY Daily News January 21, 2017

On January 21, 2017, Ashley Judd, a native Kentuckian and outspoken member of the Democratic Party appeared at the Women's March On Washington and performed a powerful poetic work by Nina Donovan.  The performance was perfect for the setting and the sentiments of the Women's March.  It did contain graphic images and some language which was considered inappropriate, vulgar, or inflammatory by supporters of Donald Trump.  However, it was not worthy of the virulent and sometimes violent opposition it attracted.  It was timely, well written, professionally presented, and just strongly worded enough to make it a lightning rod for Right Wing Radicals who have been misled into believing that Donald Trump and the ideas he represents are necessary or productive in a country where inclusion, acceptance, and religious tolerance have been capstones of our democracy for many generations.  Let me say at the outset, in case you failed to read the title of this post, I support Ashley Judd strongly and I am immensely proud of her and her work on January 21, 2017, at the Women's March On Washington.  She deserves your respect whether or not you agree with her politically.  She is a proven professional and committed liberal activist whose resume proves her stature as a worker for human rights, world peace, and justice for all.  She is a heroine for our times and should be treated as such.  

Ashley Judd has served as a Goodwill Ambassador For The United Nations Population Fund.  She has spoken out against child marriage, forced marriage, and other abuses of human rights around the world.  She has sought to improve worldwide knowledge of Ebola and improvement of research work to stop the disease.  She considered and eventually decided against running for the US Senate from Kentucky, her native state and the home of her Alma Mater the University of Kentucky.  She would have made a far better senator than her potential opponent, Rand Paul, a Right Wing Radical carpetbagger from Texas.  But I do understand that her decision to run was probably based in part on the fact that she would have faced withering personal attacks by the Republican Party both in Kentucky and on the national stage since she is a national and international celebrity.  In her statement announcing her decision against running, she said that "...politics as usual – and the egregious abuses that have become all too common in the public space – must end".  She was absolutely correct and both Kentucky and the nation need more elected officials who are willing to both make and support such sentiments.  

Every citizen of Kentucky, Appalachia, and the nation should be proud of an American patriot who is willing to speak out, speak up, and take positive actions in support of unpopular but greatly needed changes both at home and world wide.  Whether it was posing for a much discussed calendar in support of the University Of Kentucky Hockey team or fighting Ebola, Ashley Judd has always been willing to take a stand on important issues.  Ashley Judd is a heroine for Kentucky, Appalachia, and America.  Thank you for all you do, Ashley Judd!