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What we are both getting at, finally, is that the problems of our foreign policy

are spiritual issues tied to gender issues. That is, oil is not the Horse but rather

the ground upon which we operate presently. It is a slippery one and filled with peril.

 

 

Books by Ralph G. Clingan

Against Cheap Grace in a World Come of Age, an intellectual biography of Clayton Powell, 1865–1953

 *   *   *   *   *

Nuking, Westerns, & White Manliness

An Exchange between Rudolph Lewis and Ralph Garlin Clingan

 

Introduction

USA society is white-male centered. It may indeed be truly a global phenomena in terms of international affairs.  “White” males are dominant and they press their dominance in all fields, especially politics, despite the last century of struggles for voting, civil, and human rights to eliminate racism and racial oppression. “White” American male leaders go rather headlong without consultation with other men or women (or nations) in their bold and brazen ideas of how our nation should operate or behave in the world. They are in possession of the power and wealth of the nation (if not the globe) and they unfortunately establish US foreign policy, that is, they determine whether we will have war or peace. Maybe “white” American women have a greater input into those decisions (than the rest of us) in that they couple with these men of power and wealth.

Three items have brought me to this understanding, other than the war of Father Bush in the Middle East for the last four years: 1) the high incarceration of black males and the increase in the size of the criminal justice system and the number of prisons in the USA; 2) a reading of Theodore Allen  Invention of the White Race, which provides a non-racialist historical perspective; and 3) the recent Republican presidential debate in which all the participants jauntily spoke of tactically nuking Iran, which would mean the death of hundreds of thousands if not millions of civilians and possibly peoples in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, depending on the season and the wind.

There is an endemic historical madness (or enthusiasm) that exists here in our nation and many “white” male leaders ("whiteness" a relatively new invention, maybe three centuries old) are the source. This racialist conception of their being however has been projected back over the millennia to the very beginning of time, to the biblical and mythological Adam and Eve (of fundamental Southern Christians), and this “whiteness” has been extended forward into the science fiction future, ad infinitum. Note the popularity for over forty years of the American film series Star Trek.

The notion has enlarged itself to the belief that these “white” men have a natural right to rule the globe and a  natural right to control its resources, regardless of what peoples may be in possession of them, that they have a right to seize them with whatever might at their disposal. (Note the congressional act on Iraq—no Western control of Iraqi oil, no USA reconstruction of Iraq.) Maybe my recent discovery of this racial knowledge has existed long before my recent awareness. But now these “white” men have an unstoppable momentum, seemingly, that will lead to horrific events in which most of us will be forced to the sidelines as horrified observers.

I send out internet messages for feedback on where we stand and how we might halt the coming catastrophe. I recently made an intellectual  exchange with the Reverend Dr. Ralph Garlin Clingan that may provide you, my dear reader, with some insights if you too have been troubled by these developing issues of our foreign relations. In my mind the USA threat of nuclear war against Iran stimulated an analysis of American “white” manhood as expressed in the genre of American films called “Westerns.” My meditation struggles against despair in hope that our words will reach many so as to cause “white” men of our nation to look in the mirror and consider their humanity.

*   *   *   *   *

Four Horses of the Apocalypse

By Rudolph Lewis

As for the election; it is foolish to hope.   Our Constitution is tied to an eighteenth century political system that

 never anticipated a standing army, air-transportation, oil dependency, political parties, or mass communications. –Wilson

 

After two succeeding nights of storms (rain, wind, thunder and lightning, what I sometimes call Nature's Four Horses of the Apocalypse), it's a cool night and the stars shine clear out of the purple dome. My room, however, is rather comfortable, though I may have to close the window. Tomorrow promises to be hot. On my breaks I've watched TCM and their old war movies. I gave that up and began to watch the Westerns channel. The old Western provides, maybe, a closer insight into the American psyche than the racist propaganda of 40s war movies with John Wayne and such actor types.

I saw two Westerns tonight: one with Gary Cooper and the other with Charles Bronson. They weren't really shoot'em-ups, involving the struggle for a woman or the usual conflicts between farmers (or sheep herders) and cattlemen; or between badmen and lawmen, or Indians and settlers. Nor were these films the liberal ones of the 60s and later about "squaw men" as heroes defending the honor of nonwhite women or white women who had babies by a native American man. Most of the characters were so-so men, none really "evil" men, none altogether good. Set primarily in the South west, these two films were psychological explorations of manhood and to some extent womanhood.

The one with Gary Cooper They Came to Condura was actually about a military man, a cavalry major who had the good fortune recently to watch men under his command behave courageously under fire. Rather than recommending his superior (a colonel) for a certificate so that he might become a one-star general, the major is set on recommending four subordinates (one junior officer and three enlisted men) for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Battle, against man or beast, has been a traditional initiation into manhood. The military as an institution, however, has probably always been a means of escape (of unemployment or crimes or for adventure) or a career.

The setting is somewhere near the Mexican border around about 1916. The first World War had just begun and the Cooper character believes the nation will get involve and it needs heroes. But in order to accomplish his recommendation a journey to another post had to be made. It becomes a journey of endurance and thus insight into aspects of manhood occur. On that journey he questions his men to discover the source of the courage they displayed in a particular battle and he take notes. An upper-class liberated woman  accompanies them as prisoner charged with treason and other military charges, related to her association with Pancho Villa. Midway the journey Cooper saves her from rape by two of his men. She becomes his primary ally when his men turn against him after losing confidence in his leadership. Cooper is an unmarried man, a loner, though he lives the military life.

The Bronson film, a black-and-white one, was made in the middle 50s. So he's a young man without his famed mustache and pock-mocked rough demeanor. He's a deputy marshal and he has hunted down his man and finds him (an older man) in a restaurant of a small western town. The "former" outlaw with a bounty of $200 on his head (dead or alive) is well-liked by many of townsmen, especially those who frequent the saloon. The outlaw ignores Bronson when he serves the warrant on him and walks away from him. Bronson pressures the man to give up his gun and the man draws on him and is killed.

The townspeople don't care for bounty hunters. There's an inquest but a notification with the man's name is refused Bronson. That becomes the basis of the conflict in the film between him and some of the townspeople who plot to kill him and for the psychological exploration of Bronson and the daughter of a saloon woman who works as a waitress in the same  restaurant in which the outlaw is slain. Bronson, the gunman with a badge, falls in love with this curious spinster-like woman who lives alone in an hotel. He too is a loner, unmarried.

I had these two tales in mind when I considered how the Democrats might feel about America nuking Iran. Do they wish to really follow the Republican path and their rhetoric in this instance as they have  in others since Ronald Reagan's influence of the 80s and his built up of the military to confront the Communists, the Soviet Union? Do they wish to make that strident appeal to that imaginary American out there who thinks it is really manly talking out loud about nuking the people of Iran?  That country is one of the "evil empires" of Middle East terrorism according to Father Bush. War or making war, even the old American mob and American lynch party, is about American manhood and how it manifests itself in our peculiar racialized society.

I tried to write about this subject once in Masculinity Manliness Violence. I am not sure how well I did. That was a while ago and my views may have changed somewhat. I approach it now from a different starting point

These two Western films are about American manhood as  Reagan's political rhetoric ultimately was about manhood  and I suspect it was derived from his promotion of  Westerns as a genre of film that represented American values. Republican war rhetoric is in that tradition of  American manliness in how it is expressed nationally with regard to minorities  and on the world scene with regard to "terrorists." In some sense, in its individualistic competitiveness, it is not much unlike what which occurs in the lyrics of gangsta rap, but from a different class view, at times.

But in these manhood challenges there is also a kinship to the psychology of Russian roulette. Do you remember that film in which Samuel Jackson played the role of an urban teacher in a school with Hispanic gangs, and he did the Russian roulette thing with one of his hoodlum students? Or do you remember those contests of "chicken,"  about who backs off on the gas first before the cliff comes up or the car smashes into the concrete wall? One places one will against that of the other. In some sense it can be liken to playing poker, as well. The Bluff and he who can afford it, or is willing to take the gamble. And for those who lack such skills, there is the mob option when one gets others to join in on attacks against the skilled or frightful individual or group.

In both Western films with Cooper and Bronson, there is a hidden element (or character flaw) that comes out as the stories develop. Cooper as a younger man in battle showed cowardice under fire. He still lives with that shame and guilt. Bronson as a kid was teased about his height, which we discover through a female Hispanic shopkeeper who explains that Mexican men are small in stature but in the arms of her husband none of that mattered. She said that noting Bronson's attraction and reticence with regard to the young spinster We discover that Bronson to compensate for his height (or his fears or inferiority complex) became a gunman and shocked those outlaws that he confronted by his fearlessness with his quick and deadly gun.

Cooper also compensates or overcompensations for his former cowardice by finding that which he thinks that he does not possess by discovering it in others and branding them as "heroes." Each of his heroes for one reason or another does not want to be a hero and asks that he does not file the commendation. Yet Cooper against all reasonableness insists on turning in his reports on the men which he scribbles in a little black book. But there is trouble on the journey to the next post.

His leadership is challenged when he orders the horses released to Mexican bandits in order to save the lives of all his "heroes," who proved to be more villains than heroes under the hardships of a journey on foot without food or water. One young soldier loses his ear from a gunshot from one of the bandits and his excessively concerned about how he will appear to women. Another comes down with typhoid and has to be carried. Not knowing for certain where they are and how far they have yet to go, Cooper drives them forward (under the point of a gun), especially after two of them attempted rape of his woman prisoner and after one of the troopers tells the story of his cowardice. He is forced then to take away their guns. His men become a mob. His lieutenant also loses confidence and turns on him and joins the conspiracy to kill him. Cooper still hold no malice toward his men and seems throughout committed to make his men "heroes" and gives his little black book to the woman to make sure it reaches the post if anything happens to him.

In both cases, with Bronson and Cooper, they become by the end of the film greater than they were at the beginning of the story. Cooper shows endurance and courage, his humanity toward the weak and helpless (the sick soldier and the woman), and even those who plot to kill him. He is long-suffering and sacrificial and when they are about to murder him, they discover that the post is just over the next ridge The same is the case with Bronson. He too his attacked by a mob and also finds himself through a woman, who also has a flaw. Her mother is a saloon woman and entrepreneur, or in some eyes, a prostitute.

Her child, the young woman with whom Bronson falls in love, suffers from years of guilt and alienation from her mother and her alienation from men. But she finds a kinship in the flawed Bronson. To secure her love, after she has lost her mother from a shotgun wound from a member of the mob, Bronson tosses away his gun and subjects himself to a thrashing by the brother of the outlaw slain. Cooper's woman, a cigarette smoker and a drinker, a woman who "reasons like a man," she too has suffered a similar trauma which spilled down from her father being a crooked politician. So in both cases the women, escaping from perceived injuries, are mirror flawed images of the men to whom they are attracted and they act as guides for each other to create a new world, each for the other. In each case, a new woman is born; a new man is born. A new man is possible. This is America's story, in a way.

Of course, that is all fiction. But the more pregnant instances of our lives are they too unlike fiction, especially our inner lives. Can we take as serious for one instance that any of the Republican candidates once in office would personally order the murder of millions. Any one of them may have the stomach, of course, to order men into battle or a Negro to the electric chair. But to have to live with the murder of millions and  the aftermath of mass slaughter and the ecological consequences of such a horror that could not be hidden from the world like the Nazis attempted  with their holocaust or with the attempted justification of Truman of saving lives of American soldiers.

All that Republican rhetoric is manhood over-compensation. It’s playing the game of "chicken" with the Democrats, who have since Vietnam been accused of softness, of being weak and wieners. Wasn’t that how George Bush was referred to before 9/11? One might even say it was overcompensation that led us into the present war, which was believed initially would be a quickie. Such rhetoric also has the additional impact of having America's people pre-occupied with extraordinary fears for their souls, rather than the bread and butter issues of the ordinary lives of Americans—wages, employment, healthcare.

But there is this additional issue that I think is vitally connected to these material interests, namely, American identity and America’s warped manhood issues that we find manifesting themselves in our present aggression in matters of war-making. The old rhetoric about imperialism and world domination does not really get at the subtext of America’s war-nuking rhetoric and its assumed role of global policemen. It’s quite possible that we may see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in our life time arising out of the perverted sense of American manhood. It is not indeed inevitable and the Democrats do not have to play the Chicken Game.

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Oil, the Horse we ride on, but why?

The basic principal guiding the evolution of the species is not the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the most sensitive.

The Right Reverend Lord George Macleod of Fuinary, Founder of The Iona Community.

I watched The Cowboys  (1972), with John Wayne and the recently departed great African actor, Roscoe Lee Browne. His character was the charismatic, loving, smart softener of Wayne's otherwise violent macho character whose grief and sorrow were not depicted as weakness, but as the source of a patient understanding nurtured by Browne's character that allowed the drafted school boys to grow up into responsible manhood. Their love for him in his sacrificial death–that's right, "The Duke" died a sacrificial death–resulted in burying him under a stone that read "A Loving Husband and Father," which he only became because of the African character's influence. A real resurrection theme. I am always amused that Wayne always wore pink shirts in his movies, including this one. His mission was changed, transformed by Browne's character.

The essential mission of foreign policy really faces the United States now more than ever, and remains the reason why neither major Party "gets" the point. We do not want to. The 1948 George Kennan State Department memo to Harry Truman, quoted in Richard Manning's February 2004 Harper's Magazine  article, "The Oil We Eat," stated our mission as a nation: 1. to maintain our status as the world's richest nation without endangering national security; 2. To secure and maintain control over as many nations' oil reserves as possible; and 3. Forget about compassion, fairness, and good will unless they serve goals 1 and 2. Nothing really will change unless and until this matter matters in the public square. Just why do we exist at all? Can we change that 1948 ground of our being?Ralph Garlin Clingan,  ActionPreaching

 

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The Horse We Ride on

According to [George F.] Kennan, when American policymakers suddenly confronted the Cold War, they had inherited little more than rationale and rhetoric "utopian in expectations, legalistic in concept, moralistic in [the] demand it seemed to place on others, and self-righteous in the degree of high-mindedness and rectitude... to ourselves."  The source of the problem, according to Kennan, is the force of public opinion, a force that is inevitably unstable, unserious, subjective, emotional, and simplistic. As a result, Kennan has insisted that the U.S. public can only be united behind a foreign policy goal on the "primitive level of slogans and jingoistic ideological inspiration." Wikipedia [above my italics]

Ralph, I like very much indeed your response to the connections I made among Westerns, the notions we hold about manhood, and America's foreign policy. I appreciate even more your bringing my attention to George F. Kennan. Of course, like most of the electorate I am totally unfamiliar with US diplomatic history and Keenan's "Memo to Harry Truman" regarding maintaining our wealth by seizing control of other nations' oil reserves and what behavior is most productive in foreign policy, namely, forget about compassion, fairness, and the good. That indeed seems to be where we are today, though Keenan has insisted since 1948 that he was misunderstood.

I found a considerable amount of information on Keenan at Wikipedia. I scanned through it until I came to the quote above. If we substituted "force of public opinion," "American male psychology" for "American notions of manhood" are "unstable, unserious, subjective, emotional, and simplistic,"  the matter would be clearer and closer to the truth of the situation we find ourselves, of the kind of men who run our nation and the kind of politics we practice and the kind of rhetoric we find in so called presidential debates. That is, our "manhood" operates in regard to foreign relations at the "primitive level of slogans and jingoistic inspiration."

Probably, that which holds us back from even greater travesties, like the use of nuclear bombing as a preventive measure against potential challengers to our hegemony, is that corporate execs are more practical and realistic and fail to see what such measures would accomplish. That is, they see no profit in it. That realism does not really move us ahead; it just prevents by a fine thread from starting the unnecessary jingoistic use of nuclear weapons. Still We have to find some way of dealing with our "White" manhood problems, that which in their constitution is "unstable, unserious, subjective, emotional, and simplistic." Maybe the Negro as represented by Roscoe Lee Browne in the 1972 The Cowboys has played that Uncle Tom role, that more Christian-than-Thou Role and has mediated the "white male" machismo. But we have no more Negro men willing to play that role. The last of them died with MLK, Senior.

In any event, such mechanistic answers are not the way. The American "white" male needs a more integrated manhood, not a negro or a woman as the softener or a mediator to his male stupidity. I suspect that will not come about unless we have a more integrated womanhood, as well, which is probably as sorely lacking as an integrated manhood. As I pointed out in the Cooper film the woman prisoner who smoke and drank was described as "reasoning like a man." Some have described Hillary and Connie in similar terms, or as "iron ladies," which suggest that neither has integrated her personality as politician. Each ahs adopted the American "white" male conception of manhood, which from the Republican male perspective, the willingness to drop nukes on Iran.

What we are both getting at, finally, is that the problems of our foreign policy are spiritual issues tied to gender issues. That is, oil is not the Horse but rather the ground upon which we operate presently. It is a slippery one and filled with peril. And in this vein we can say in addition our religionists and our religions have failed us. Matter of fact, we can probably say their vigorous and intrusive entrance into the political realm have actually made matters worse, for they have with the Bible as their major referent brought in manhood issues of several millennia ago as a model for modern day uses. Of course, the lowly prophet of Nazareth gets lost in the crossfire.  

And at best our priests seem able to promise us is a Reckoning, the Apocalypse, the Rapture, in short, more destruction, to counter the self-righteousness and high-mindedness of American male political perspectives. As a man of the cloth, you must be extremely disturbed by the present turn of events in which we find ourselves having parlor discussions about the sanity and the political appropriateness of mass slaughter.Rudy

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My father rode a camel

I grew up on a small ranch in Oklahoma and always watched Western movies with a critical eye, being part Cherokee! My late Father was a nonbeliever and constant, critical, passionate seeker after truth. He would demythologize the Our Weekly Reader I brought home from school every Friday afternoon he was home. Two uncles were card carrying members of the American Communist Party headed at that time by the late Gus Hall. I never, ever, as we say in the post Jonestown age, "drank the cool aid." I was not allowed to go anywhere near it. I grew up aware of George K's memo and its disastrous consequences, and the horrible consequences of pop culture pale faced male icons in Western movies and TV series.

I received baptism in March 1953 when John Holcomb delivered a sermon about the loving, forgiving Jesus of the Gospels. Then I left religion later on in the 1950s when they burned Rock and Roll recordings and smashed TV sets to protest the June Taylor Dancers' "naked legs" on the Ed Sullivan show. The so-called "culture war" continued. I played Rock and Roll music and loved ladies' legs. Still do.

Frederick Douglass wrote that he preferred atheist slave owners to Christian because the latter, alleging they beat him in the name of God, gave more severe beatings. I re-entered religion to stop Fundamentalists and Liberals from beating up on each other and the world! After reading Paul Tillich's The Dynamics of Faith, Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and Sickness Unto Death, and Arthur Cochrane's The Church's Confession Under Hitler, a four year friendship with a Thai Buddhist missionary who converted from Christianity after earning a ThD from Heidelberg University, the late Frank Brown, and active engagement in The Civil Rights Movement led me to the District and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s transforming address on the Day that Changed the World, I had a mission: Transform religion.

The reactions and resurgencies by Fundamentalist Christians before, during and after MLK saddened and distressed me almost as much as the control games played by Roman Catholics. When the late Rev. Falwell's "Old Time Gospel Hour" came on TV I served two wee churches in Wisconsin, and had to demythologize his agenda, which became clear when African American Fundamentalists were turned away from one of his rallies. That was part of the Reagan Republican movement which, among other things equally nefarious, set out to prove a pale face could get elected without the votes of people with darker faces. Now that the folks with darker faces form voting pluralities and even majorities, the GOP has to change this agenda, but the forces within it are putting up one helluva fight. 

I struggled the good struggle of the faith of Jesus teaching in The Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta University 1980–88. Every day I contended with the twin demons of Christian Fundamentalism and Capitalist Politics from southern African American students from churches which, like ITC in the 1950s and 60s opposed MLK because he was too radical, and they preferred either the Conservative or Liberal agenda. By then I was thoroughly immersed in theological criticisms of both types of Christian theology, which was why I resonated so thoroughly with the distinctions Powell made as he criticized Fundamentalism and Liberalism in his day. MLK's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" contained a terrific criticism of Liberals wanting him to be more patient and accept gradual change, and spoke to my heart in the 1960s.

Working with Koreans there and here since 2001, just after the Twin Towers disaster in NYC, I have had to educate them as to the dangers of Fundamentalism and Liberalism, which are the only two kinds of Christianity they tend to think exist. To a great degree, that is because Christianity in East Asia built on foundations laid by The Confucian Code and Buddhism. Now, of course, with prosperity, Korea has the highest divorce rate in the world (60%), alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual exploitation of children, wife and child abuse, air, water and ground pollution, and all the other problems we have.

I appreciate George's objection that his memo has been misunderstood, but he really should be more circumspect. Power brokers use any and all rhetorical devices at their disposal to placate and control the masses. My study of Clayton Powell led me to his sermon about Manhood and true manliness, his sermon about Woman and his advocacy of equality for women. I believe the mountain of material created by Cherokee (and other Native American nations), African, Asian, Jewish, and Semitic/Arabic peoples which entered into our consciousness forms one line that defines the good struggle of faith today. Watching reruns of "Kung Fu" recently reminded me of that.

If George Kennan truly regrets being misunderstood, he owes the world a louder, more public apology. A man justifies his existence in part by atoning for his mistakes. The machinery of Western Rhetoric, after deriving truth from facts (the highest form, in Aristotle's Rhetoric), Movere, turns that truth into a catechism for the schools to teach curious children to placate their curiosity, Placere, and then develops various entertainment devices to appeal to and control the emotions of the people, to make them docile and pliant, Docere. The struggle to liberate people from this very intentional web of deception and control is constant. What did he really expect to happen? A year later, 1949, Truman and MacArthur engaged the build up leading to the Korean War in a vain attempt to control Chinese and Russian oil supplies.

As I travel the world in  my active retirement years, I encounter the results of my nation's belligerent foreign policy. I feel so very sad and dismal. I dismay as I lament the demeaning results of our Conservative and Liberal forces around the world. O how they love to take pictures and make movies: The heroic conquests by the Conservatives; the daring rescues, school openings, and food programs of the Liberals. Then, when a Hugo Chavez or the late Amilcar Cabral try to get a word of real hope in edgewise, they rain down on him with all the power at their disposal. I celebrate the victories of my small, and getting smaller religious tradition shared by others who also share the social witness agenda of The Presbyterian Church (USA). Ever since the baby boom left home for college in 1964, all the religious, culture, and social institutions of the US have declined, across the board, from churches to fine arts, to civic clubs. Will we bottom out as a polyglot of pleasure and wealth seeking individuals who do not care a bit about one another and start connecting again, as the more optimistic say? Or will we destroy the rest of the world so our stuff will outlast us, as their opponents say?

I hope you will use George's memo and its horrid, if unintended results, and inspire as many people as possible to deal with the very serious, foundational issues and problems it presents. I have addressed the looming crises Manning discussed in his article in the light of GK's memo in sermons I have preached in Korean churches, three seminaries, and two universities over there, and wherever I can get a hearing hereabouts, and, of course, in my work moderating my Synod's Public Policy Advocacy Network, representing the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association in my Synod, and writing books and letters to the editor (a short note favoring the abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey was in yesterday's Newark Star Ledger.

I serve also on the Quick Response Team of the Democratic National Committee. The editor of The Living Pulpit just asked me to pen an essay about how to prepare sermons quickly and deliver them in lively ways, in which I will raise again, as I did in my Powell book, the problems posed for us by the Rhetorical Establishment, and, as I have in my recent sermons, the problems we face with the end of the Petroleum Age. What relations do you have with other journalistic and higher education institutions that might allow the fielding of a major symposium on these issues? If you know people doing these sorts of things, I would find such work fascinating and morally satisfying.

I will close this part of our great correspondence with a quote from an Arab Oil Sheik: My father rode a camel. I drive a Mercedes. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel. . . . Ralph Garlin Clingan

 

*   *   *   *   *

Republicans consider nuclear bombingDid you take note that all Republican candidates for the presidency said in their last "debate" that they would consider dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran?  None seems troubled that this criminal act of mass slaughter was not met by the general public with astonishment and horror. Have we come to the point that such mass murder is accepted by the general American public without outrage? This kind of cold callousness to general humanity with its frightful annihilating consequences in the millions is beyond belief. It was as if they were talking about a sports game. I tossed and turned all night after hearing the report on the radio. I still find it beyond belief that none has found their remarks scandalous and that we did not wake this morning to find in media headlines that these men are monstrous by their serious consideration of such a scenario of their political leadership. How far we have fallen in our own humanity!Rudy

"It was shocking that several presidential candidates in the recent GOP debate talked almost casually about using nuclear weapons against Iran, but there was no public outcry. . . . . Today, the U.S. still has about 10,000 nuclear weapons and is designing new ones. The annual nuclear weapons budget is one-third higher now in real termsthan it was during the Cold War. We need to rekindle the intense international concern about nuclear weapons of 25 years ago that probably helped us survive." Jacqueline Cabasso http://www.wslfweb.org

posted 15 December 2007

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Remember Thomas Jefferson's Betrayal—Bill Moyers—02 July 12—Jefferson himself was an aristocrat whose inheritance of 5,000 acres, and the slaves to work it, mocked his eloquent notion of equality. He acknowledged that slavery degraded master and slave alike, but would not give his own slaves their freedom. Their labor kept him financially afloat. Hundreds of slaves, forced like beasts of burden to toil from sunrise to sunset under threat of the lash, enabled him to thrive as a privileged gentleman, to pursue his intellectual interests, and to rise in politics.

Even the children born to him by the slave Sally Hemings remained slaves, as did their mother. Only an obscure provision in his will released his children after his death. All the others—scores of slaves—were sold to pay off his debts.

Yes, Thomas Jefferson possessed "a happy talent for composition," but he employed it for cross purposes. Whatever he was thinking when he wrote "all men are created equal," he also believed black people were inferior to white people. Inferior, he wrote, "to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind." To read his argument today is to enter the pathology of white superiority that attended the birth of our nation.

So forcefully did he state the case, and so great was his standing among the slave-holding class, that after his death the black abolitionist David Walker would claim Jefferson's argument had "injured us more, and has been as great a barrier to our emancipation as any thing that has ever been advanced against us," for it had ". . . sunk deep into the hearts of millions of the whites, and never will be removed this side of eternity."

So, the ideal of equality Jefferson proclaimed, he also betrayed. He got it right when he wrote about "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" as the core of our human aspirations. But he lived it wrong, denying to others the rights he claimed for himself. And that's how Jefferson came to embody the oldest and longest war of all—the war between the self and the truth, between what we know and how we live.

So enjoy the fireworks and flags, the barbecues and bargain sales. But hold this thought as well: that behind this Fourth of July holiday are human beings who were as flawed and conflicted as they were inspired. If they were to look upon us today, they most likely would think as they did then, how much remains to be done.—readersupportednews

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Jefferson and his estate "disposed of" 600 slaves in his lifetime.   He was a slave trader.  This explains his opposition to the African Slave Trade.   Like many Virginians he wanted to maintain prices in the slave market.—wjm

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#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Jefferson's Pillow

The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

By Roger W. Wilkins

 In Jefferson's Pillow, Wilkins returns to America's beginnings and the founding fathers who preached and fought for freedom, even though they owned other human beings and legally denied them their humanity. He asserts that the mythic accounts of the American Revolution have ignored slavery and oversimplified history until the heroes, be they the founders or the slaves in their service, are denied any human complexity. Wilkins offers a thoughtful analysis of this fundamental paradox through his exploration of the lives of George Washington, George Mason, James Madison, and of course Thomas Jefferson. He discusses how class, education, and personality allowed for the institution of slavery, unravels how we as Americans tell different sides of that story, and explores the confounding ability of that narrative to limit who we are and who we can become. An important intellectual history of America's founding, Jefferson's Pillow will change the way we view our nation and ourselves.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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Forged: Writing in the Name of God

Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

By Bart D. Ehrman

The evocative title tells it all and hints at the tone of sensationalism that pervades this book. Those familiar with the earlier work of Ehrman, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of more than 20 books including Misquoting Jesus, will not be surprised at the content of this one. Written in a manner accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman argues that many books of the New Testament are not simply written by people other than the ones to whom they are attributed, but that they are deliberate forgeries. The word itself connotes scandal and crime, and it appears on nearly every page. Indeed, this book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else's name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even then considered acceptable—hence, a forgery.

While many readers may wish for more evidence of the charge, Ehrman's introduction to the arguments and debates among different religious communities during the first few centuries and among the early Christians themselves, though not the book's main point, is especially valuable.—Publishers Weekly

 Forged Bart Ehrman’s New Salvo (Witherington)

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Hopes and Prospects

By Noam Chomsky

In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest "real progress toward freedom and justice." Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. "This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him." —John Pilger

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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