Will @KenBurns “The Vietnam War” Whitewash USA Militarism? @PBS

I’ve only watched the first 30 minutes of the first episode, so I can’t answer this question. I do say that these first 30 minutes leave me suspicious. The opening narration begins at 6:20 in the online video. Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall plays in the background.

6:20 Narrator: America’s involvement in Vietnam began in secrecy. It ended, 30 years later, in failure, witnessed by the entire world. It was begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War miscalculation. And it was prolonged because it seemed easier to muddle through than admit that it had been caused by tragic decisions, made by five American presidents, belonging to both political parties.

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Augusta Docudrama Premiere of “The Sultan & The Saint” Apr 30, 3 pm

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During the Crusades, Saint Francis of Assisi risked his life by walking across enemy lines to meet the Sultan of Egypt, the Muslim ruler Al-Malik al-Kamil. This remarkable encounter, and the commitment to peace of the two men behind it, sucked the venom out of the Crusades and changed the relationship between Muslims and Christians for the better.

Featuring dramatic reenactments and renowned scholarship, this amazing story is brought to life. Scholars interviewed include Michael Cusato (St. Bonaventure University), Sr. Kathy Warren (Sisters of St. Francis), Suleiman Mourad (Smith College), Homayra Ziad, Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Paul Moses (The Saint and the Sultan), and others.

Join us for the Augusta Premiere to learn about the remarkable spiritual exchange between the Sultan and the Saint, and the great risks they took for peace.

Eventbrite - Sultan & Saint Augusta Film Premiere - April 30

State of Georgia in 1939: African-American recreation facilities only needed to include “simple local developments”

Throughout the [Georgia] State Planning Board’s Report on Outdoor Recreation in Georgia (1939), the writers advocated for segregated recreational facilities based on racial and socioeconomic categories. … For white “land owners,” prime destinations apparently included coastal and mountain destinations “during the warm summer months” and “especially when crop prospects” were favorable. But for “the white tenant class of the farming population,” the report observed, “recreation among the men and boys” consisted primarily “of hunting and fishing” and sports. Additionally, these white tenant families–perhaps white wives and girls more specifically–enjoyed “old fashioned church sociables [sic] … and special events” such as barbecues. Finally the authors assessed African Americans, who were not subcategorized as property owners or tenants or by their sex. The authors’ racial stereotypes assumed that African Americans’ recreation was “peculiar to their racial characteristics” and only “centered around churches.” As such, African American recreation facilities only needed to include “simple local developments, such as playfields with barbecue grounds and swimming pools.” African Americans, so the thinking went, would not like the beach or mountains, and these prescriptions ultimately limited African American exposure to particular types of outdoor recreation and environments.

From pp. 103-4, Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region by Christopher J. Manganiello.

Segregationists Opposed Federal Government Multi-Use Water Projects in the South

[McCormick, SC attorney] Frank Harrison was among a small group of regular writers to South Carolina’s congressional delegation who linked the Savannah River’s water and energy history to the nation’s civil rights conflict and postwar rights-based liberalism beginning in the 1950s. … “The taking of huge areas of private property by the Federal Government is becoming increasingly dangerous especially in view of  the recent [Brown v Board of Education] Supreme Court decision and other actions of the administration in attempting to continue the centralizing power of the Federal Government.” “The widespread increase of federal public use and recreation areas may result in serious political repercussions in this state and other states because these areas may become areas which cannot be used to any extent by members of the white race.” … The conservative letter writers who shared their ideas about Trotters Shoals and environmental politics identified entitlements–to local self-determination, to peaceful segregated recreation, or access to the water supply–as fundamental rights. [pp 158-60]

From Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region by Christopher J. Manganiello.

Rejoicing in USA Civil War Led to More Wars

I’ve previously blogged about the dangers of romanticizing the United States Civil War. Sinclair Lewis’s voice in It Can’t Happen Here, Doremus Jessup, in Chapter 13 considers the dangers posed by people who believe they have The Solution and questions the value his 1930s contemporaries place on the Civil War:

Slavery had been a cancer, and in that day was known no remedy save bloody cutting. There had been no X-rays of wisdom and tolerance. Yet to sentimentalize this cutting, to justify and rejoice in it, was an altogether evil thing, a national superstition that was later to lead to other Unavoidable Wars–wars to free Cubans, to free Filipinos who didn’t want our brand of freedom, to End All Wars.

Let us, thought Doremus, not throb again to the bugles of the Civil War, nor find diverting the gallantry of Sherman’s dashing Yankee boys in burning the houses of lone women, nor particularly admire the calmness of General Lee as he watched thousands writhe in the mud.

Leo’s Coronation Tires – A Children’s Book for Belgian-Congolese Friendship!

If you want more information about the problems with this book, read this article from Atlanta Blackstar.

A friend on Facebook shared this article with this caption:

what could be the next installment in the series? “Trail of Smiles”?

I then suggested:

The Happy Rubber Gatherers of King Leopold’s Congo!

A friend of the original poster’s commented with additional details for the story. I thought that contribution worthy of publication on this blog! I wish I had been as clever.

King Leopold wanted new bicycle tires for his birthday – he loved to ride around his palace! Oh no! there was no rubber to be found in all of Belgium! But when his happy subjects in Congo heard this, they headed into the jungle to help the King have the best birthday ever! Follow the adventures of three companions, Bula Matari, Kurtz, and Mr. Native, as they learn lasting lessons about cooperation, depraved brutality, and the meaning of friendship.

Updated January 21, 2016

The Dangers of USA Civil War Nostalgia & Romanticism

On November 5, 2015, author Robert Hicks (Twitter) talked about his book The Widow of the South and the place of the USA Civil War in history at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, USA as part of the 5th Civil War Symposium. In my opinion, he oversold the position he took in his New York Times column on the 150th anniversary of the final day of the battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What I heard, which may not be exactly or substantially what Mr. Hicks said, was that the federal government’s victory in the Civil War preserved the United States so it could play a saving role for humanity “twice” in the 20th century C.E. Continue reading