‘America the great’

Shikha Dalmia writes, truly, of America the great:

Ever since President Trump sauntered into the White House, America’s image — or “brand,” in marketing parlance — has taken a beating. This month, a Nation Brand Index poll of public opinion in 50 countries found that the “Trump effect” had caused America’s reputation to drop from first to sixth place in world rankings on a whole host of metrics, such as its attractiveness as a tourist, business, and work destination. This is in keeping with the March U.S. News & World Report “best country” rankings, based on a poll of business leaders and other “informed elites” around the world, in which the U.S. fell several notches.

But fear not. America will overcome this loss of respect. Because American greatness has nothing to do with Trump. Indeed, what has long made this nation “great” in the eyes of the world is not its politics or political leaders. America’s greatness stems from the fact that it has set the standards of excellence in literally every human endeavor for the last 150 years.

While immodest, it is not an overstatement to suggest that when it comes to the sciences, arts, technology, and business, America dominates the world. And it does so not by imposing its will on others, but by excelling so much that it forces other countries to compete on a higher plane. Quite simply, America has made the world a better place to live….

We are an astonishing people, having established a world-historical republic, and we will overcome Trumpism just as surely as we overcame Loyalists, Copperheads, Confederates, the Bund, and the Klan.

Hard, long work ahead, to be sure: those earlier stains on our history were eradicated (however imperfectly) only after heroic effort. We have, however, the inspiration of past successes, and our own tenacity, in our favor.

Even now, so many of us in resistance and opposition have made new allies and friends from across the continent. Our position will prove indomitable.

We will see this through, and on the other side of it, an American renaissance will await.

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863

From first proclamation until now, across generations, Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation has inspired and reassured (and ones hopes does so again today):

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

‘When 20,000 American Nazis Descended Upon New York City’

America has faced movements dark before, not only from abroad, but sometimes from within. It’s worth reminding ourselves, today, that in little over six years’ time after Nazis gathered in Madison Square Garden, the United States – through countless, painful losses and sacrifices – rightly destroyed the very nation that inspired those gathered in 1939.

There was a malevolent cunning to these filthy men, as they mixed worthy American symbols with their own unworthy foreign emblems of a bigoted & murderous ideology. For it all, how detestable – then and now – were those who allied themselves with a foreign dictatorship against their own free society:

In 1939, the German American Bund organized a rally of 20,000 Nazi supporters at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When Academy Award-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry stumbled upon footage of the event in historical archives, he was flabbergasted. Together with Field of Vision, he decided to present the footage as a cautionary tale to Americans. The short film, A Night at the Garden, premieres on The Atlantic today.

“The first thing that struck me was that an event like this could happen in the heart of New York City,” Curry told The Atlantic. “Watching it felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone where history has taken a different path. But it wasn’t science fiction – it was real, historical footage. It all felt eerily familiar, given today’s political situation.”

Rather than edit the footage into a standard historical documentary with narration, Curry decided to “keep it pure, cinematic, and unmediated, as if you are there, watching, and wrestling with what you are seeing. I wanted it to be more provocative than didactic – a small history-grenade tossed into the discussion we are having about White Supremacy right now.”

“The footage is so powerful,” continued Curry, “it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. This story was likely nudged out of the canon, in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget.”

For Your Consideration, Dr. Jonas Salk

local scene Each year, newcomers arrive in Whitewater to take positions of one kind or another. Two weeks ago, in Welcome to Whitewater, I posed this question to new residents: “If Whitewater were perfect – that is, complete and lacking nothing – would anyone have needed you?”

Beyond that question, with its interpretation and answer left to others, I’ll offer no personal checklist, no set of rules for “how people talk around here,” no indulgent reminiscences, no cautionary words or sly advice.

Instead, I’ll offer the example of a great man, who remained to the last an industrious and humble man. Dr. Jonas Salk introduced his polio vaccine in 1955, saving the lives and health of people around the world. He worked until his death in 1995, his last project an attempt to develop a vaccine for HIV, a goal that others are yet pursuing even today.

Around the same time as the Salk’s vaccine was introduced (and after trials that assured him it would work), Salk wrote a letter offering an internship in his laboratory. The letter is a model of simplicity and humility. Salk writes kindly and directly, making no reference to his own accomplishments either in the text or below his signature.

His work was its own reward, requiring not the slightest ornamentation.

For your consideration, Dr. Jonas Salk —

Don’t Be a Sucker

In 1943, in the middle of the Second World War, the United States Government, fighting on both sides of the world, commissioned a short film about fascism entitled Don’t Be a Sucker. The film describes the fight in which America was embroiled in the style and vernacular of that time; it’s even more compelling to me for its simple presentation.

Americans’ lives were not then without deep contradictions, but the plain, direct defense of American liberty & equality that the film advances is morally superior to anything Trump or his ilk have never said, even these decades later. Indeed, that 1943 defense is a worthy reply to the bigotry Trump’s vanguard (Bannon, Miller, Gorka, Anton) daily foments.

Via Why an Anti-Fascist Short Film Is Going Viral @ The Atlantic.

A Craft of Future Past

A Craft of Future Past: Mastering Antiquarian Horology from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Brittany Nicole Cox is one of the only antiquarian horologists in the world. She’s basically a mechanic—a mechanic from the 17th century. Cox fixes old machines with watch or clock mechanisms inside them for a living. Often, these machines are missing parts that frequently no longer exist, so Cox fashions them herself. To visit her workshop is to see what the future looked like centuries ago, and while Cox’s trade is laborious, time-consuming and incredibly intricate, she is preserving a magical part of humanity’s past.

What Grant’s Overland Campaign Teaches for Grave Political Conflict

For matters far removed from warfare, including ones concerning severe political conflict, Grant’s Overland Campaign offers useful lessons. It’s typically a poor idea to describe political affairs in military terms, but grave threats to the political order sadly call for a different approach.

One fights in more than one way: sometimes using maneuver, at other times attrition.

One may maneuver many times, again and again, each at a time of one’s choosing, until at last an adversary is in a gravely disadvantageous position, after which attrition will prove effective.

A campaign should fit an overall strategy, often where one coordinates with those farther away to inflict losses from many directions.

One engagement will lead to other engagements, and even a campaign will lead to other campaigns. One must be patient.

One will experience losses, often severe, along the way. There are no easy victories over great matters. Push on.

An adversary is finished only when he will, or can, go on no longer. Particular successes along the way are insufficient; one drives until an adversary’s final, irrecuperable ruin.

The 1940 Map That Depicts America as a Nation of Immigrants

“America—A Nation of One People From Many Countries,” by Emma Bourne published in 1940 by the Council Against Intolerance in America. FROM THE COLLECTION OF STEPHEN J. HORNSBY/COURTESY THE OSHER MAP LIBRARY AND SMITH CENTER FOR CARTOGRAPHIC EDUCATION (click for larger image)

Lauren Young describes The Powerful 1940 Map That Depicts America as a Nation of Immigrants:

In the years leading up to the Second World War, isolationist sentiment coursed pretty strongly throughout the United States. Some Americans feared that immigrants were a threat to the country. Sound familiar? Then you’ll have no trouble understanding the reasons why the map below, titled America–A Nation of One People From Many Countries, was published in 1940 by the Council Against Intolerance in America

“With the exception of the Indian, all Americans or their forefathers came here from other countries,” the illustrator Emma Bourne inscribed on the map. The Council Against Intolerance commissioned Bourne’s work in an effort to remind Americans that the U.S. had always defined itself as a country of varied national origins and religious backgrounds.

 

Full Transcript of Trump’s Black History Month Remarks

Well, the election, it came out really well. Next time we’ll triple the number or quadruple it. We want to get it over 51, right? At least 51.

Well this is Black History Month, so this is our little breakfast, our little get-together. Hi Lynn, how are you? Just a few notes. During this month, we honor the tremendous history of African-Americans throughout our country. Throughout the world, if you really think about it, right? And their story is one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work, and faith in America. I’ve gotten a real glimpse—during the campaign, I’d go around with Ben to a lot of different places I wasn’t so familiar with. They’re incredible people. And I want to thank Ben Carson, who’s gonna be heading up HUD. That’s a big job. That’s a job that’s not only housing, but it’s mind and spirit. Right, Ben? And you understand, nobody’s gonna be better than Ben.

Last month, we celebrated the life of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office. It turned out that that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished, it’s one of the favorite things in the—and we have some good ones. We have Lincoln, and we have Jefferson, and we have Dr. Martin Luther King. But they said the statue, the bust of Martin Luther King, was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is. Very unfortunate.

I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.

I’m proud to honor this heritage and will be honoring it more and more. The folks at the table in almost all cases have been great friends and supporters. Darrell—I met Darrell when he was defending me on television. And the people that were on the other side of the argument didn’t have a chance, right? And Paris has done an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community. He’s all by himself. You’ll have seven people, and Paris. And I’ll take Paris over the seven. But I don’t watch CNN, so I don’t get to see you as much as I used to. I don’t like watching fake news. But Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you.

We’re gonna need better schools and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages, a lot better wages. We’re gonna work very hard on the inner city. Ben is gonna be doing that, big league. That’s one of the big things that you’re gonna be looking at. We need safer communities and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re gonna make it safe. We’re gonna make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really—you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show.

I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this: We’re gonna work together. This is a great group, this is a group that’s been so special to me. You really helped me a lot. If you remember I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting—and I won’t go into details—but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. And now we’re gonna take that to new levels. I want to thank my television star over here—Omarosa’s actually a very nice person, nobody knows that. I don’t want to destroy her reputation but she’s a very good person, and she’s been helpful right from the beginning of the campaign, and I appreciate it. I really do. Very special.

So I want to thank everybody for being here.

Via A Full Transcript Of Donald Trump’s Black History Month Remarks.

Trump Surrogate Defends Precedent of Internment Camps

Carl Higbie, a Trump surrogate, while speaking to Megyn Kelly on Fox News suggested the internment of the Japanese during the Second World War as a precedent for a registry of Muslim immigrants to America. Kelly rightly rejected the precedent, as the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and the Korematsu decision upholding that internment have been considered – at least until recently, it seems – among the worst civil liberties violations of that era.

What was unmentioned only weeks ago is now part of our political discussion; what is part of our political discussion now may yet become policy in the new administration.

Weaving the Threads of History

At one point, Venice, Italy, was famous around the world for producing some of the finest textiles. Velvet—woven from thousands of fine silk threads—was especially desirable. In 1500, the clatter of 6,000 enormous looms echoed through the streets of the ancient canal-lined city. Today there is just one company left producing velvet in the traditional way; the Luigi Bevilacqua Company. The Bevilacqua family can trace its weaving lineage back to the 1400s, and remains entirely family owned and operated.

Kevin Drum on Trump and the End of Reconstruction 

Blogging at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum – like many of us, of whatever politics – seems uncertain about the consequences of a Trump Administration.  (In fairness, much has happened in a short time, and it’s hard to make sense of it all.)

Still, Drum’s thinking has shifted significantly over the last few days, in ways he no doubt sees.  His 11.9 day-after post, Things We Can Count on In the Next Two Years belies his 11.10 post, The United States Is Not About to Spiral Into Fascism and Tryanny

Two days after the election, Drum writes to reassure, contending that Trump will be no different, no worse, than 

say, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be. Beyond that, though, he’s less conservative on the policy front. The reason Trump is uniquely bad is mostly symbolic: he’s willfully ignorant; he’s vindictive; he’s a demagogue willing to appeal loudly and proudly to racial animus; and he has the attention span of a small child. He’d be an embarrassment to any country, let alone the most powerful country in the world.

Isn’t that bad enough? There’s no need to pretend we’re about to spiral into a fascist nightmare or a financial collapse. We have not embraced tyranny. The United States is a very big battleship, even for Donald Trump.

One day earlier (that is, one day after the election), Drum sees a different prospect for America under Trump:

Since I have the Reconstruction era on my mind right now, it’s hard to avoid the obvious comparison. Reconstruction lasted about eight years, and then was dismantled almost completely. Barack Obama’s presidency lasted eight years and will now be dismantled almost completely. I will withhold my opinion for now on the obvious reason for this similarity.

There lies Drum’s – and our – problem. If a Trump era is anything like the end of Reconstruction was for millions of black Americans at that time, then there is every reason to be extremely concerned. Generations – indeed, during roughly a century of history – went by before millions received the rights the Constitution granted them.

There’s no need to belabor a point that Drum knows, and about which he is sympathetic. The problem for this country is that a politics like the end of Reconstruction was for blacks would be devastating for millions our fellow citizens. When one reaches the need for an analogy between our time and the decades after 1877, one has already arrived at a moment of crisis for huge numbers.

So, is Drum’s initial concern (by way analogy) on 11.9 justified, or is a Trump Administration likely to be little different from how a Cruz or Rubio Administration might have been (as Drum wrote on 11.10)?

Few during these last months thought that Trump, Cruz, and Rubio were much alike; there’s no reason to think they were. A populist politics of Trump’s kind will push as far as it can, making Drum’s initial concerns more probable than his subsequent reassurances.

And the Internet was Born: The Creation of the ARPANET

Bridget Galaty has produced a fine documentary on the ARPANET, an early packet-switching network.  Ms. Galaty is a 12th grade Video Cinema Arts (VCA) student at Denver School of the Arts (DSA) – a public, magnet, arts school within Denver Public Schools (DPS).  Her work here, and her other videography on her YouTube channel, is excellent.