Thursday, July 25, 2019
Here's another one of those social-political surveys. I, again, come down as a Left-leaning Libertarian. After answering questions as varied as free market (which I am for; I am against protectionism and against tariffs and against nationalism)
and abortion-on-demand (am against; sometimes conception has tragic elements; then the decision ought to be between the mother and her doctor; politicians of the left and right ought to stay out of the heart-rending decision).
Take the test:
In the Light,
Sunday, July 21, 2019
When I was growing up,
many devout American Christians emphasized
BUT now they EMPHASIZE U.S. FIRST
Others, including refugees,
American Christians' arrogant attitude, lack of concern for the impoverished and persecuted
A large percentage of Americans' actions are now self-centered, group-egotistical, demeaning, harsh, name-calling, lying, uncaring, ungenerous, unkind, etc.
American government leaders, are AGAIN, rejecting the moral truths of great human leaders of the past such as Jesus and,
instead, pursuing very selfish, arrogant realpolitik policies.
Please, every day, stand up and speak truth to Americans.
In the Light,
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Bulky Pompei’s Pillar
Towers over Yellowstone's River
That rugged brown bluff rears,
Engraved with historic graffiti
With Clark’s signatured
Declaration still writ large
Over 210 years later
Behind Plexiglas for us to gawk,
But Lewis ended it all;
Allegedly he balked;
Still the icy water courses on
Toward the Big Muddy
For all of us,
Finally down to the Gulf,
Each of us a brief tag
Muddled flow of history,
Sparks of consciousness,
Then ashed and gone--
then Dark Energy
Probably many people will find my article objecting to the removal of signatures and images (after 1906) at El Morro Rock National Monument a rather picky criticism over a minor change by the U.S. Government.
(Notice in the following photo where squares of rock have been smoothed, post-1906 signatures or images removed.)
And, besides, don't nearly all of us object to the defacing of homes and businesses by gang graffiti?!
Is there any difference between (possible examples) some young cowboy's branding image in 1911 or the signature by a Great War soldier in 1918 or the scrawled name by a young teen when his folks stopped here on their southwestern vacation in 1921
the signatures of a famous Spanish conquistador such as Don Juan de Ornate in 1605, or Western Explorers, or U.S. soldiers including a future Confederate leader, Breckenridge, or by Sarah Fox, a Wagon Train 12-year-old girl in 1858?
Well, yes and no.
I suppose given the nature of human beings, our sense of ethics, order, art and history and public knowledge that governments often need to make somewhat arbitrary judgments when it comes to its public places.
There are reasons given, some of them valid, some invalid, some inconsequential. For instance, consider the legality and illegality on a different topic. In the 1970's, the U.S. Government suddenly instituted the 55 mile an hour speed limit on the nation's highways. This occurred and remained in effect for over 20 years. Various reasons were given for the ruling including as a way of dealing with the 70's oil price hikes of Middle Eastern Nations and as a way to reduce auto accidents, in other words a way of safety.
Yet the federal law was repealed by Congress in 1995. Now on my recent trips, I regularly not only encountered speed allowances of 75 on major Interstates, there were also ones of even 80 miles per hour in Nevada and Utah, and 75 on narrow county roads in Texas! Etc.
Indeed, the nuances and bases of legality versus illegality vary from time to time depending on which facts are valued the most. And the rules of governments don't necessarily reflect moral truth or even good sense.
But one objection to graffiti is that it is crass, intrusive, and defacing.
graffiti: "usually unauthorized writing or drawing on a public surface"
etymology: "1851, "ancient wall inscriptions found in the ruins of Pompeii," from Italian graffiti, plural of graffito "a scribbling," a diminutive formation from graffio "a scratch or scribble," from graffiare "to scribble," ultimately from Greek graphein "to scratch, draw, write" (see -graphy). They are found in many ancient places, but the habit was especially popular among the Romans. Sense extended 1877 to recently made crude drawings and scribbling in public places."
However, as the etymology of the very word states, this sort of human activity has been going on for thousands of years. Indeed, archaeologists have discovered Roman soldiers' graffiti in Jerusalem from the time of Jesus and saved it, protected as worthy for public history!
And, it's not like that Onate's markings, those of the a Spanish conquistador and Governor of New Mexico, were significantly different than those of ancient Roman soldiers or even of modern at-risk youths carving their names or images or group identities into public places.
Notice in his signature that Onate carved right over an ancient Native American petrogyph!
Yet he could have signed his name anywhere on thousands of acres of blank massive rock.
Why did he deface the historical Native American's image?
Most likely because he didn't think that Native American images were important. As a Spanish leader he would have thought that Native Americans themselves were insignificant. He might have even done it intentionally to establish his territorial claim, like a male cat leaving his mark.
After all, Onate was an invader. And he brought a thousand Mexicans to settle this confiscated land that actually belonged to the Pueblo Native Americans and had for centuries before he and other Spaniards had conquered it.
Stacia Spragg, Associated Presss
What of some of the other actual signatures, unlike Onate's that didn't ride herd over ancient art?
Are they in their own way worthy to be considered art, more than mere doodling?
Yes, some of the inscriptions at El Morro Rock are very elegant and beautiful such as E. Pen Long's, true works of art.
But other old markings at El Morro are unclear, even some may have been idle scratches or hastily marked territory claims no different than disdained modern graffiti.
I still remember one day after a day of teaching students, discovering WP carved into one of my classroom's wood book cases in Santa Maria, California. I was not a happy educator at the time, though even then, I realized the seeming innate need of human beings to leave their mark.
Here is a nuanced view of a professor of anthropology:
Should the National Parks repeal its prohibition of new inscriptions?
"Doing so might revive a more vibrant, living kind of history at the monument, a history in which we participate as active agents, an open-ended history that is not yet finished or determined. Visitors might even glean a more authentic understanding of the experiences of those who passed by this very same place long ago.(28)
"And who is to say that the name of someone who died 300 years ago is more important than my name, or my child's?
"Allowing new inscriptions would certainly result in the loss of older ones (the monument receives 35,000 visitors a year), but such loss happened in the past, is inevitable in the future, and could be mitigated through documentation.
"So what policies and practices would I recommend instead? First of all, I am not suggesting that the park service repeal its prohibition of new inscriptions.
"Still, the prohibition makes sense to me, and I am glad that we can still see all those engravings from the past. Not only are the inscriptions interesting, they can teach us something about people who came before us and the history of the Southwest.
"Happily, the park service has provided two boulders outside of the visitor center and a sign that reads, "Carve your initials on this typical piece of local sandstone, if you must—but please remember: it is against the law to carve anything on Inscription Rock itself!"(29) Visitors can also "inscribe" their names in the monument's registry.”
from History, Preservation, and Power at El Morro National Monument: Toward a Self-Reflexive Interpretive Practice
by Thomas H. Guthrie, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
I didn't see the 2 boulders at the visitor center where anyone can inscribe their names.
But if that is still true, it is an excellent example of what the Park Service ought to do, ought to keep doing.
Providing an alternative for present day inscribing, as the professor Guthrie emphasizes, is not only a positive alternative to the negative of prohibition of Federal law, it creates new history for future visitors.
Consider how, especially, teens might not be enthralled most history, by some long-ago Spanish conquistador called Onate, but they might find identity with a teen from their own city who had carved his or her name 50 years before in 2019!
We live briefly in this stream of conscious history, then we die. Hopefully, we can leave behind memorable actions and creations.
But how important are even mere scratchings of the least important human being.
In the Light,
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Part 2: El Morro Rock: ERASING HISTORY-- About the Take-Downs of Some Monuments and Sites, Wrong! And Alternatives
When are the remains of history valid?
When is it ever correct to take down the memorials, monuments, statues, markings, etc. of past humans?
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
This article is about the intriguing action of the U.S. Government at El Morro Rock.
Here on this imposing monolith in Northern New Mexico, thousands of humans for a few hundred years have inscribed images and/or their names.
(It is one of the most fascinating of National Monuments to visit, as I did a week ago.)
There are engraved names and images from Native Americans, Spanish explorers, U.S. Military troops, Wagon Train emigrants, railroad workers, and so forth.
An early marking was done by Provincial Governor Don Juan de Ornate, "Pasa por aqui..." (Passed by here the Governor Don Juan de Orante, from the discovery of the Sea of the South on the 16th of April, 1605). He had visited the site earlier in 1598 when he and 1,000 Mexican settlers came to the area. Ornate named the site Agua de la Pena (Water of the Rock).
Unfortunately, his 'graffiti' partially covers one prehistoric Native American petroglyph!
A pool of water is what first drew Native Americans here hundreds of years before Ornate. They founded a village atop El Morro Rock in about 1275 C.E. until droughts came in sometime in the 1300's.
The water comes from rain and snow melt, and when the pond is full can have as much as 200,000 gallons of water! However, this isn't a spring so can easily become shallow and polluted.
But it is the only water source for 30 miles.
A preteen, Sarah Fox, a member of a westward wagon train, scratched her name here in 1858.
Look carefully because her name is difficult to read. Her name is right above the CA in the lower left of the photo. Later at the Colorado River, their wagon train was attacked by Mohave Native Americans, and she was shot with an arrow, but she survived.
But if teens (or adults) after 1906 carve their names or images, they are guilty of a violation of U.S. Law.
The sign states: "It is unlawful to mark...El Morro Rock."
A U.S. Army leader, P. Gimer Breckinridge came here twice. The first time was with Army camels; the 2nd time he signed on El Morro. Later he would become a leader in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
Will the U.S. Government or some local government eliminate his signature from the historic rock because he resigned from the U.S. Army (like thousands of other U.S. soldiers and Navy sailors and many West Point graduates) and enlisted in the Confederacy?
WILL BRECKINRIDGE BE ELIMINATED LIKE ROBERT E. LEE, STONEWALL JACKSON, AND OTHERS?
What concerns me in this article is the judgment by the U.S. Government to adopt 1906 as the defining date for judging names and other markings as either valued historical creations TO BE SAVED
or vandalism that was then
TO BE ELIMINATED.
IN THE EARLY 1920'S, EVON Z. VOGT, A RAMAH RANCHER AND AMATEUR HISTORIAN BECAME THE FIRST CUSTODIAN OF EL MORRO ROCK IN 1916. HE DECIDED IN THE 1920'S TO ERASE ALL MARKINGS ON EL MORRO ROCK AFTER 1906 AS INVALID.
PROBABLY, VOGT MEANT WELL, WAS ATTEMPTING TO PRESERVE THE PAST OF HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO FROM THE MORE RECENT PAST.
HOWEVER WHY WAS PRETEEN SALLY FOX'S SIGNATURE VALID BUT A TEEN'S FROM 1907 OR LATER NOT VALID OR WORTHY?
WHY ARE ANY LATER ADDITIONS VIOLATIONS OF U.S. LAW, BAD ILLEGAL ACTIONS?
Let's deal with a few background philosophical assumptions related to the issue of when if ever public displays of the historical past ought to be eliminated.
Don't the removers (the governments, the defacers, vandals, politically-correct, and so forth) realize that when they do the take-downs, they erase public history (for millions the only history they know, since only a small minority of humans are avid book readers of history)!?
Well, of course, for those, the erasers, that almost always is exactly the point.
They want to revise history, to present to all humans their own distorted version of human history, eliminate the humans of the past with whom they disagree and strongly oppose.
In this blog, I've already explained in past posts why I think it is very wrong that the U.S. Government, and local governments such as Dallas and Baltimore and Virginia have been taking down statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, memorials for soldiers, etc.
I oppose the take-downs because I was an American literature-history teacher for many years.
The reason I oppose their removal isn't because I agree with Lee, or Jackson, etc. because I don't. They were both fatalists, both supported slavery, both participated in the slaughter of at least 700,000 humans, the wounding and suffering of millions, the theft and destruction of billions of dollars of land, housing, and personal possessions.
HOWEVER, if the government thinks that their statues and memorials and street names should no longer exist, then to be consistent and fair, they ought to also take down the statues, memorials, street names, etc. to Abraham Lincoln,
to George Washington,
eliminate the State Flag of California--The Bear Flag, and so forth.
For the vast majority of Americans were as guilty, often more guilty, of racism, enslavement, slaughter than Lee or Jackson. HECK, 12 PRESIDENTS OF THE U.S. OWNED SLAVES IN THEIR LIFETIMES, 8 WHILE SERVING AS PRESIDENT.
George Washington owned slaves all of his life, didn't free them until his death.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, THOUGH PHILOSOPHICALLY OPPOSED TO SLAVERY AS WRONG, NEVER FREED HIS SLAVES.
THOUGH ABRAHAM LINCOLN PERSONALLY OPPOSED SLAVERY, AS PRESIDENT HE SUPPORTED THE ENSLAVEMENT OF NEGROES IN THE UNION UNTIL NEAR THE END OF THE CIVIL WAR!
LINCOLN EVEN DEFENDED A SLAVE OWNER IN COURT EARLIER IN HIS CAREER. AND HIS EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION APPLIED ONLY TO SLAVES IN THE CONFEDERACY.
"...Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation as a military measure, it didn’t apply to border slave states like Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, all of which were loyal to the Union. Lincoln also exempted selected areas of the Confederacy that had already come under Union control in hopes of gaining the loyalty of whites in those states. In practice, then, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t immediately free a single slave, as the only places it applied were places where the federal government had no control—the Southern states currently fighting against the Union."
LINCOLN STATED NEGROES WERE INFERIOR TO WHITES, NOT THEIR EQUALS: September 18, 1858, "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men."
I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes. [Continued laughter and applause.]"
Lincoln. also, wanted all Negroes to go back to Africa or some other country! Even as late as 1863, the Lincoln Administration tried to get ex-slaves to move to British Honduras!
SO OUGHT WASHINGTON'S, JEFFERSON'S, LINCOLN'S MONUMENTS BE TAKEN DOWN?
STATUES, MARKINGS, STREET NAMES, ETC. OF PAST HUMANS--BOTH THE GOOD AND THE BAD, AND THE IN BETWEEN (PARTIALLY GOOD, PARTIALLY BAD)--OUGHT TO BE PRESERVED!
What ought we do about the memorials of previous leaders who held immoral and unjust views and who committed evil actions?
How ought worthy historical markings be separated from the markings of vandals?
To Be Continued--
In the Light,