Stevie Wonder music featuring Rebecca Jade and Leonard Patton on vocals, Tripp Sprague on sax and flute, Mack Leighton on bass, Duncan Moore on drums, and Peter Sprague on guitar. The Prayer featuring Rebecca Jade and Chris Walker.
When I thought to write about Victory in Europe Day, I did a Google search and found the Wikipedia and History.com sites.
Soon, I came to the Imperial War Museums, founded in 1917. It prides itself on being a “global authority on conflict and its impact on people’s lives. We collect objects and stories that give an insight into people’s experiences of war, preserve them for future generations, and bring them to today’s audiences in the most powerful way possible.”
The five museums are physically closed because of COVID-19. Yet there is much online about “the causes, course, and consequences of war, from the First World War through to present-day conflict.” About VE Day, it notes that while it was celebrated around the world, it was not the end of the war, which would take place four months later.
I searched within the site for the word “holocaust,” “IWM London [was] to significantly expand and update our Second World War and Holocaust Galleries, and create a learning suite across all three floors of the exhibition.” How that might be affected by a pandemic, I do not know. “Opening in 2021, this £30.5 million project will make us the first museum in the world to physically and intellectually present the Holocaust narrative within the context of the Second World War…
“Research led by University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education” was conducted with over 9,500 secondary school students aged 11 to 18. [It] revealed that their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust was often based on inaccuracies and misconceptions.” I can only imagine that lacking is greater among Americans in that age range and older.
All This and World War II
Another page I came across is World War II Database, started by a guy named C. Peter Chen back in 2004. He wanted to share his “notes on WW2 history with others with similar interest and to showcase the technical capabilities” of his software company. The site is massive. Check out the timeline for 1945, for example.
Chen’s caveat: “AlthoughI am proud of this continuously growing site, I do not recommend this site to be used for academic research.” It is nevertheless impressive.
There was to have been a Victory in Europe Day 75 celebration in the United Kingdom this weekend, which has been canceled. “However, we are still encouraging solo pipers and town criers to continue to mark the occasion from a safe and suitable location.” There is also a call to a moment of silence at 11 a.m. Friday, and a toast at 3 p.m. “from the safety of their own home by standing up and raise a glass of refreshment of their choice .”
“Give Me Liberty or Give Me COVID-19” (actual sign)
I am simultaneously utterly fascinated and incredibly irritated by the protesters of the physical distancing protocols. They see themselves as the heroes in the story. Some high-ranking governmental official has been a provocateur, tweeting “liberate Virginia,” “liberate Minnesota”, “liberate Michigan” et al., and they are listening.
Meanwhile, the guy doing the daily press conferences at the federal level has been saying that he would let the science decide when to open up the country. I really wish those two guys could get on the same page.
Maybe he is, as Truthout noted, gone off the rails — “gaslighting the American people, instigating armed rebellion via tweets, interfering with deliveries of PPE to frontline health care workers, and ultimately making it abundantly clear that they won’t be taking an ounce of responsibility for this disaster.”
Some of them carry American flags, while others display symbols of hate – Nazi insignia, Confederate flags, anti-Semitic bamnners. A few are armed with guns, to prove…something, I think. The Weekly Sift guy wrote: “They aren’t patriots at all in any real sense. If you ask them to do anything for the common good — stay home, do without a haircut, wear a mask in public, pay taxes — it’s too much.
“Their vision of America is that the government builds us roads, delivers our mail, protects us from criminals, educates our children, and sends helicopters to pluck us off the roof when the flood comes, but in return, we wave flags and otherwise don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. JFK’s idea that we should ask what we can do for our country — that’s tyranny. All that ‘pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship’ crap — we don’t do that anymore.”
I was going to write about how, 50 years ago, members of the National Guard killed students at Kent State in Ohio. What I wrote five years ago is sufficient. I should note that today’s National Guard has been vital in assisting states in the time of COVID.
From The Atlantic: “According to former California State Senator Joseph Dunn, who in 2004 began an investigation into the Hoover-era deportations, ‘the Republicans decided the way they were going to create jobs was by getting rid of anyone with a Mexican-sounding name.'”
A Decade of Betrayal
Professor Francisco Balderrama has literally written the book on the actions, A Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s. He notes that Mexicans were targeted because of the proximity of the Mexican border and the physical distinctiveness of the people.
“The federal government imposed restrictions for immigrant labor as well, requiring firms that supply the government with goods and services refrain from hiring immigrants and, as a result, most larger corporations followed suit, and as a result, many employers fired their Mexican employees and few hired new Mexican workers causing unemployment to increase among the Mexican population.”
The term “repatriation: was actually inaccurate, since up to 60% of those sent to Mexico were U.S. citizens: American-born children of Mexican-descent who had never been to Mexico and often did not speak Spanish.
It wasn’t a unified plan. “In Los Angeles,” explained Balderrama, “they had orderlies who gathered people [in the hospitals] and put them in stretchers on trucks and left them at the border.” Others would round up people up in parks and scanning public employee rolls for Mexican-sounding names and send them on special trains out of the country.
From Timeline: In downtown LA “during the 1930s, La Placita Catholic church was a social hub for Mexican Americans and immigrants…
“On February 26th, 1931, they sealed off the area around the church before anyone could realize what was happening and began arresting suspected undocumented immigrants en masse. Families watched in horror as their spouses, friends, and colleagues — 400 people in total — were loaded into vans, and eventually shipped back to Mexico. Many of those detained had been in the country so long they didn’t speak Spanish.”
Read more at this NPR or Teen Vogue. I believe that knowing our history makes us better citizens.
for three decades, members of Congress have introduced H.R.40
In the current conversation about reparations, there is one thing I think we all can agree upon: we see race in America with very different lenses.
I have been skimming the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties’ hearing on H.R. 40 and the Path to Restorative Justice, which was held Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Both the bill number and the date were significant.
H.R. 40 refers to “forty acres and a mule,” a radical post-Civil war redistribution of land “set apart for the settlement of the negroes [sic] now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.” After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. this, of course, never took place.
June 19, or Juneteenth, was the date in 1865 “when the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.” After a period of decline, the celebration “received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. [in 1968]. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.”
The specific ask in the legislation is to establish “the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.” In other words, have a bunch of meetings.
“Reparations is not a new idea—and for three decades, members of Congress have introduced H.R.40, a bill to establish a commission that would study reparations. But only once before, in 2007, has Congress even held a hearing on the bill.”
You may have heard the riveting testimony of prominent black author Ta-Nehisi Coates. “It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders. And the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs: coup d’etats and convict leasing, vagrancy laws and debt peonage, redlining and racist G.I. bills, poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.”
However, another author, Burgess Owens, whose great-great-grandfather was a slave, testified: “At the core of the reparation movement is a divisive and demeaning view of both races. It grants to the white race a wicked superiority, treating them as an oppressive people too powerful for black Americans to overcome. It brands blacks as hapless victims devoid of the ability, which every other culture possesses, to assimilate and progress. Neither label is earned.”
Like me, the Weekly Sift is “of two minds about this subject. On the one hand, enslaved Africans and their descendants built a large chunk of America’s wealth and wound up owning none of it. That long-ago injustice (plus Jim Crow plus ongoing racism) still has repercussions, and even those whites whose families never owned slaves have benefited in ways we don’t always appreciate…
“But in addition to the inadequacy of monetary settlement, there’s a bigger problem: For reparations to bring this chapter to a close, our society needs to reach some kind of consensus about what the payment is for and what it means. We’re nowhere close to that.
“If reparations for slavery were paid tomorrow, the white-nationalist types would believe blacks had used their political power to extort something, and they would want to get it back. A lot of other whites would feel like racism was a dead topic now: ‘Don’t ever talk to me about racism again. I paid my bill for that.'”
That appears to be an accurate assessment, based on the comments of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who suggested that electing Barack Obama as President made up for hundreds of years of racism. As if.
The rationale for the Supreme Court gutting the heart of the Voting Rights Act in the 5-4 Shelby County ruling of 2013 was more voter equality. Yet, even before that ruling, states have passed discriminatory laws making it HARDER for people to vote.
My inclination, in this current retrograde period, is to have the conversation about what “reparations” mean go forward. But I need to continue musing on this, with perhaps more personal observations next time. Meanwhile, listen to Let Your Voice Be Heard radio for the episode 40 Acres and Barack Obama.