Lydster: Toussaint Louverture

from the French word for ‘the one who opened the way’

Toussaint LouvertureVirtually all my friends say they never helped their children with homework. My parents certainly never helped me. But there was a disconnect last year between her algebra teacher and most of the class, so I did what I could.

This year, I didn’t help much until my daughter had two sick days in early May. Being ill in high school does not mean you don’t have to do the work. So during the last week of classes, I did assist her for three days in a row.

One of the assignments for AP World History was to talk about a notable historic figure. My daughter decided to draw, then paint, François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (or L’Ouverture). He could be considered the George Washington of Haiti, although he did not live long enough to see the end of that country’s revolution.

While she worked on English homework, I found some biographical information about Louverture. The early stuff was vague; he was born between 1739 and 1746, with many historians settling on 1743, in May, or maybe November.

He was a leader of the 1791 slave revolt. “His military and political acumen consolidated those gains, and eventually controlled the whole country. He worked to improve the economy and security of Saint-Domingue,” later called Haiti.

“Some time in 1792–93, he adopted the surname Louverture, from the French word for ‘opening’ or ‘the one who opened the way.’ Although some modern writers spell his adopted surname with an apostrophe, he did not.

“The most common explanation for the name is that it refers to his ability to create openings in battle. The name is sometimes attributed to French commissioner Polverel’s exclamation: ‘That man makes an opening everywhere.’ However, some writers think the name referred to a gap between his front teeth.

On 29 August 1793 he made his famous declaration of Camp Turel to the blacks of St Domingue.

In 1800, he created a de facto autonomous colony, and named himself governor for life in the constitution, against Napoleon Bonaparte’s wishes. “In 1802 he was forced to resign by forces sent by Napoleon to restore French authority. He was deported to France, where he died in 1803.

“The French, suffering the loss of two-thirds of their forces from yellow fever, withdrew from Saint-Domingue that year. The Haitian Revolution continued under Louverture’s lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared independence on 1 January 1804. It was the only slave revolt in the modern era that led to the founding of a state.”

The airport in Haiti is Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Tabarre, near Port-Au-Prince. The number of cultural references to Louverture is enormous, including a 1971 track by Santana from the group’s third album.

Not helping my daughter with the homework would give me more time. (And I DO love summer vacation!) But in helping, I learn stuff, so that’s the trade off.

Where is the revolution?

Huge outbreak of civil disobedience. The cause?

revolutionActress Susan Sarandon has said “some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in. Then things will really, you know, explode.” She made similar comments on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

Then last week, on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, “Sarandon took her argument a step further, all but encouraging [Bernie] Sanders supporters to sit out in November should Clinton become the Democratic nominee.”

I know other people willing to vote for DJT rather than HRC, because Trump will either make things better or so much worse that people will get off their duffs and have mass protests. Whereas Hillary will be an incrementalist, picking off a couple of Sanders issues to placate the left. More than one person has suggested that Hillary would make a good Republican from the era before many of them (Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina) went guano crazy.

I keep vacillating between expecting the revolution, the political one that Bernie Sanders keeps talking about, or perhaps worse, and… almost nothing.

In response to a comment from an old acquaintance of mine, a fellow named Max Dee wrote:

At one point, I thought riots would be breaking out all over. I figure the American people had finally been pushed to their limit and they would take to the street to express their displeasure at being treated like garbage by their elected leaders. Didn’t happen. I wanted to find out why.

Then there was a huge demonstration in Chicago. People were coming from all over to protest. But what the cause? Macy’s was removing the name Marshall Field from the store. And in looking, I see it again and again.

Huge outbreak of civil disobedience. The cause? Sporting events. Black Friday. Lotto Fever. What would really upset the masses? Dropping the Super Bowl coverage. What would get people riled up and shouting? Delay shipping in the latest smart phone. At one point I didn’t think we could have a president as bad as Dubya Bush. Now I don’t think we’ll have one any better. You get the government you deserve.

Now rioting does happen when the social contract gets broken. But it’s usually in marginalized communities, and onlookers scratch their heads and say, “What’s wrong with THOSE people? They’re burning down their own neighborhoods!”

Given the continuing inequality that Occupy Wall Street began addressing a half-decade ago, where do you think we’re going as a country:
1) If Trump wins (which many people dismiss as a possibility, but I’m not one of them)
2) If Clinton wins

A bunch of religious leaders has issued a Call to Resist Bigotry — A Statement of Faithful Obedience. DJT is the target.

Oh, a note to you rabid Clinton supporters: these belligerent calls for Bernie to drop out of the race, since he has no likely path to the nomination, are not helpful. He maintains leverage going to the convention as a candidate, to formulate the party platform. Of course, NO ONE EVER remembers much what’s on the platform. Frankly, Hillary’s folk cannot fathom the depth of the true left’s contempt for her family.

Those Bernie supporters are not Bernie’s just to hand over. They’re committed to HIM, not the Democratic party, which he only recently joined. His supporters are grieving his, and their, probable loss and you’re over there hectoring, “Get over it!” Please Stop It.

In time, some will vote for Clinton; I will, even though she’s more of a war hawk than I’d like. I know I’m reacting, in part, as a response to some blatant sexism. What IS the “woman card” that Drump has accused Clinton of playing? Is it like the race card, only with estrogen instead of melanin?

A few Bernie supporters will vote for Trump. A bunch of them will cast their ballot for Jill Stein from the Green Party. A fair number will stay home in November. Hill fans: your nagging WILL NOT HELP your cause; give it time.

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