Black History: First Shots of the Civil War

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: First Shots of the Civil War

Six days after South Carolina seceded, U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson abandoned the indefensible Fort Moultrie and secretly relocated the 85 men under his command, who comprised two companies of the 1st U.S. Artillery, to Fort Sumter. Anderson had been appointed to command the Charleston garrison that Fall because of rising tensions. Anderson had been a protégé of Winfield Scott, the senior general in the U.S. Army at the time, and was thought more capable of handling a crisis than the garrison’s previous commander. Throughout the autumn, South Carolina authorities considered both secession and the expropriation of Federal property in the harbor to be inevitable. As tensions mounted, the environment around the fort-which was located in what was still technically a constituent U.S. state-increasingly resembled a siege, to the point that the South Carolina authorities placed picket ships to observe the movements of the troops and threatened violence when forty rifles were transferred to one of the harbor forts from the U.S. arsenal in the city.

Several forts had been constructed in the harbor, including Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie. Fort Moultrie was the oldest and was the headquarters of the garrison. However, it had been designed essentially as a gun platform for defending the harbor, and its defenses against land-based attacks were feeble; during the crisis, the Charleston newspapers commented that sand dunes had grown up against the walls in such a way that the wall could easily be scaled. When the garrison began clearing away the dunes, the papers objected. Fort Sumter, by contrast, dominated the entrance to Charleston Harbor and was thought to be one of the strongest fortresses in the world once its construction was completed; in the autumn of 1860 work was nearly done, but the fortress was thus far garrisoned by a single soldier, who functioned as a lighthouse keeper. However, it was considerably stronger than Fort Moultrie, and its location on a sandbar prevented the sort of land assault to which Fort Moultrie was so vulnerable.

Under the cover of darkness on December 26, 1860, Anderson spiked the cannons at Fort Moultrie and moved his command to Fort Sumter. South Carolina authorities considered this a breach of faith and demanded that the fort be evacuated. At that time President James Buchanan was still in office, pending Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861. Buchanan refused their demand and mounted a relief expedition in January 1861, but shore batteries fired on and repulsed the unarmed merchant ship, Star of the West. The battery that fired was manned by cadets from The Citadel, who were the only trained artillerists in the service of South Carolina at the time.

Following the formation of the Confederacy in early February, there was some internal debate among the secessionists as to whether the capture of the fort was rightly a matter for the State of South Carolina or the newly declared national government in Montgomery, Alabama. South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens was among the states’ rights advocates who felt that all of the property in Charleston harbor had reverted to South Carolina upon that state’s secession as an independent commonwealth. This debate ran alongside another discussion as to how aggressively the properties-including Forts Sumter and Pickens-should be obtained. Jefferson Davis, like his counterpart in Washington, D.C., preferred that his side not be seen as the aggressor. Both sides believed that the first side to use force would lose precious political support in the border states, whose allegiance was undetermined; prior to Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, five states had voted against secession, including Virginia, and Lincoln openly offered to evacuate Fort Sumter if it would guarantee Virginia’s loyalty.

In March, Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard took command of South Carolina forces in Charleston; on March 1, Davis had appointed him the first general officer in the armed forces of the new Confederacy, specifically to take command of the siege. Beauregard made repeated demands that the Union force either surrender or withdraw and took steps to ensure that no supplies from the city were available to the defenders, whose food was running out. He also increased drills amongst the South Carolina militia, training them to operate the guns they manned. Ironically enough, Anderson had been Beauregard’s artillery instructor at West Point; the two had been especially close, and Beauregard had become Anderson’s assistant after graduation. Both sides spent the month of March drilling and improving their fortifications to the best of their abilities.

By April 4, President Lincoln, discovering that supplies in the fort were shorter than he had previously known, and believing a relief expedition to be feasible, ordered merchant vessels escorted by the United States Navy to Charleston. On April 6, 1861, Lincoln notified South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens that “an attempt will be made to supply Fort Sumter with provisions only, and that if such attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition will be made without further notice, [except] in case of an attack on the fort.”

In response, the Confederate cabinet, meeting in Montgomery, decided on April 9 to open fire on Fort Sumter in an attempt to force its surrender before the relief fleet arrived. Only Secretary of State Robert Toombs opposed this decision: he reportedly told Jefferson Davis the attack “will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet’s nest. … Legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary. It puts us in the wrong. It is fatal.”

The Confederate Secretary of War telegraphed Beauregard that if he were certain that the fort was to be supplied by force, “You will at once demand its evacuation, and if this is refused proceed, in such a manner as you may determine, to reduce it.” Beauregard dispatched aides to Fort Sumter on April 11 and issued their ultimatum. Anderson refused, though he reportedly commented, “Gentlemen, if you do not batter the fort to pieces about us, we shall be starved out in a few days.”

Further discussions after midnight proved futile. At 3:20 a.m., April 12, 1861, the Confederates informed Anderson that they would open fire in one hour. At 4:30 a.m., a single mortar round fired from Fort Johnson exploded over Fort Sumter, signaling the start of the bombardment from 43 guns and mortars at Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson, and Cummings Point. Edmund Ruffin, a notable secessionist, had traveled to Charleston in order to be present for the beginning of the war, and was present to fire the first shot at Sumter after the signal round. Anderson withheld his fire until 7:00 a.m., when Capt. Abner Doubleday fired a shot at the Ironclad Battery at Cummings Point. But there was little Anderson could do with his 60 guns; he deliberately avoided using guns that were situated in the fort where casualties were likely. Unfortunately, the fort’s best cannons were mounted on the uppermost of its three tiers, where his troops were most exposed to enemy fire.

The fort had been designed to hold out against a naval assault, and naval warships of the time did not mount guns capable of elevating to fire over the walls of the fort; however, the land-based cannons manned by the South Carolina militia were capable of landing such indirect fire on Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter’s garrison could only safely fire the guns on the lower levels, which themselves, by virtue of being in stone emplacements, were largely incapable of indirect fire that could seriously threaten Fort Moultrie. Moreover, although the Federals had moved as much of their supplies to Fort Sumter as they could manage, the fort was quite low on ammunition, and was nearly out at the end of the 34-hour bombardment. The shelling of Fort Sumter from the batteries ringing the harbor awakened Charleston’s residents (including diarist Mary Chesnut), who rushed out into the predawn darkness to watch the shells arc over the water and burst inside the fort. The bombardment lasted through the night until the next morning, when a shell hit the officers’ quarters, starting a serious fire that threatened the main powder magazine.

The fort’s central flagpole also fell. During the period the flag was down, before the garrison could improvise a replacement, several Confederate envoys arrived to inquire whether the flag had been lowered in surrender. Anderson agreed to a truce at 2:00 p.m., April 13, 1861.

Terms for the garrison’s withdrawal were settled by that evening and the Union garrison surrendered the fort to Confederate personnel at 2:30 p.m., April 14. The soldiers were safely transported back to Union territory by the U.S. Navy squadron whose anticipated arrival as a relief fleet had prompted the barrage. No one from either side was killed during the bombardment, with only five Union and four Confederate soldiers severely injured. During the 100-gun salute to the U.S. flag-Anderson’s one condition for withdrawal-a pile of cartridges blew up from a spark, killing one soldier (Private Daniel Hough) and seriously injuring the rest of the gun crew, one mortally (Private Edward Galloway); these were the first fatalities of the war. The salute was stopped at fifty shots. Anderson lowered the Fort Sumter Flag and took it with him to the North, where it became a widely known symbol of the battle, and a rallying point for supporters of the Union.

The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the first military action of the American Civil War. Following the surrender, Northerners rallied behind Lincoln’s call for all of the states to send troops to recapture the forts and to preserve the Union. With the scale of the rebellion apparently small so far, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers for 90 days. For months before that, several Northern governors had discreetly readied their state militias; they began to move forces the next day. The ensuing war lasted four years, effectively ending in April 1865, with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Charleston Harbor was completely in Confederate hands for the four-year duration of the war, a hole in the Union naval blockade. Union forces retook the fort just days after Lee’s surrender and the collapse of the Confederacy. On April 14, 1865, four years to the day after lowering the Fort Sumter Flag in surrender, Anderson (by then a major general, although ill and in retired status) raised it over the fort again.

Two of the cannons used at Fort Sumter were later presented to Louisiana State University by General William Tecumseh Sherman, who was president of the university before the war began.

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Special Request to Town Called Dobson Fans The San Francisco Chronicle is pondering the addition of new cartoons for their paper – a process that seems to be initiated by Darren Bell, creator of Candorville (one of my daily reads – highly recommended). You can read the Chronicle article here and please add your thoughts to the comments if you wish. If anything, put in a good word for Darren and Candorville.

I am submitting Town Called Dobson to the paper for their consideration. They seem to have given great weight to receiving 200 messages considering Candorville. I am asking TCD fans to try to surpass that amount. (I get more than that many hate mails a day, surely fans can do better?)

This is not a race between Darren and I, it is a hope that more progressive strips can be represented in the printed press of America.

So if you read the San Francisco Chronicle or live in the Bay Area (Google Analytics tell me there are a lot of you), please send your kind comments (or naked, straining outrage) to David Wiegand at his published addresses below. If you are a subscriber, cut out your mailing label and staple it to a TCD strip and include it in your letter.


David Wiegand

Executive Datebook Editor

The San Francisco Chronicle

901 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94103

Black History: Prison for teaching slaves to read

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: Prison for teaching slaves to read

Special Request for Town Called Dobson Fans: The San Francisco Chronicle is pondering the addition of new cartoons for their paper – a process that seems to be initiated by Darren Bell, creator of Candorville (one of my daily reads – highly recommended). You can read the Chronicle article here and please add your thoughts to the comments if you wish. If anything, put in a good word for Darren and Candorville.

I am submitting Town Called Dobson to the paper for their consideration. They seem to have given great weight to receiving 200 messages considering Candorville. I am asking TCD fans to try to surpass that amount. (I get more than that many hate mails a day, surely fans can do better?)

This is not a race between Darren and I, it is a hope that more progressive strips can be represented in the printed press of America.

So if you read the San Francisco Chronicle or live in the Bay Area (Google Analytics tell me there are a lot of you), please send your kind comments (or naked, straining outrage) to David Wiegand at his published addresses below. If you are a subscriber, cut out your mailing label and staple it to a TCD strip and include it in your letter.


David Wiegand

Executive Datebook Editor

The San Francisco Chronicle

901 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94103

Strip Essay:

In 1831, a bloody slave rebellion took place in Southampton County, Virginia. A slave named Nat Turner who was able to read and write and had “visions”, led what became known as Nat Turner’s Rebellion or the Southampton Insurrection. On a crusade with the goal of freeing himself and others, Turner and his followers killed approximately fifty men, women and children, but were eventually subdued by the white militia.

Nat Turner was hanged and skinned. His fellow freedom fighters were also hanged. In addition to killing Turner and his fellow insurrectionists, more than a hundred innocent slaves who had nothing to do with the rebellion were also murdered by the white militia. Across the South, harsh new laws were enacted in the aftermath of the 1831 Turner Rebellion to curtail the already limited rights of African Americans. Typical was the Virginia law against educating slaves, free blacks and children of whites and blacks. These laws were often defied by individuals, among whom was noted future Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.

In mid-century, at the same time that religious instruction was waning as the primary goal of education — at least among reformers — religious instruction of free and enslaved blacks in the South appeared to take on a renewed urgency. The slave rebellions, especially Nat Turner’s, had underscored for whites the need to maintain tight control over the literacy of blacks and the tenor of their religious beliefs. Although every southern state had outlawed the teaching of reading and writing to enslaved blacks (and in some cases, free blacks as well), there is considerable evidence that some whites defied the law.

For example, in 1853, a Mrs. Margaret Douglass of Norfolk, Virginia, “being greatly interested in the religious and moral instruction of colored children and finding that the Sunday school where they were allowed to attend was not sufficient,” began teaching free black children to read and write in her home. Mrs. Douglass pleaded ignorance of the law, having believed that it applied only to the teaching of slaves, and the mayor announced his intention to dismiss the charge; however, the Grand Jury chose to indict her. In her defense, she demonstrated that teaching free black children to read had been a common practice in the city’s Sunday schools for years. The jury’s penalty of one dollar was overturned by a Judge Baker, who imposed a month-long prison sentence, “as an example to all others in like cases.”

In rendering judgement, Baker spoke at length about the importance of religious instruction of blacks and its role in making slaves moral and happy, but stressed that it should be kept separate from “intellectual” instruction. He blamed this prohibition against black education on “abolition pamphlets and inflammatory documents” intended “to be distributed among our Southern negroes to induce them to cut our throats.”

The Verdict & Judgement

November 13 [1853]

The Jury this morning returned into court with a verdict of Guilty, and fixing the penalty at a fine of one dollar. The Court then adjourned for the term.

January 10, 1854

After the adjournment of the Court on November 13, Mrs. Douglass obtained permission from the Judge and the Sheriff to visit New York, where she remained several weeks, returning to Norfolk with her daughter. She appeared today for sentence.

Judge Baker . . .

There are persons, I believe, in our community, opposed to the policy of the law in question. They profess to believe that universal intellectual culture is necessary to religious instruction and education, and that such culture is suitable to a state of slavery; and there can be no misapprehension as to your opinions on this subject, judging from the indiscreet freedom with which you spoke of your regard for the colored race in general. Such opinions in the present state of our society I regard as manifestly mischievous. It is not true that our slaves cannot be taught religious and moral duty, without being able to read the Bible and use the pen. Intellectual and religious instruction often go hand in hand, but the latter may well be exist without the former; and the truth of this is abundantly vindicated by the well-known fact in many parts of our own Commonwealth, as in other parts of the county in which among the whites one-fouth or more are entirely without a knowledge of letters, respect for the law, and for moral and religious conduct and behavior, are justly and propely appreciated and practiced.

A valuable report or document recently published in the city of New York by the Southern Aid Society sets forth many valuable and important truths upon the condition of Southern slaves, and the utility of moral and religious instruction, apart from a knowledge of books. I recommend the careful perusal of it to all whose opinions concur with your own. It shows that a system of catechetical instruction, with a clear and simple exposition of Scripture, has been employed with gratifying success; that the slave population. of the South are peculiarly susceptible of good religious influences. Their mere residence among a Christian people has wrought a great and happy change in their condition: they have been raised from the night of heathenism to the light of Christianity, and thousands of them have been brought to a saving knowledge of the Gospel.

Of the one hundred millions of the negro race, there cannot be found another so large a body as the three millions of slaves in the United States, at once so intelligent, so inclined to the Gospel, and so blessed by the elevating influence of civilization and Christianity. Occasional instances of cruelty and oppression, it is true, may sometimes occur, and probably will ever continue to take place under any system of laws: but this is not confined to wrongs committed upon the negro; wrongs are committed and cruelly practiced in a like degree by the lawless white man upon his own color; and while the negroes of our town and State are known to be surrounded by most of the substantial comforts of life, and invited both by precept and example to participate in proper, moral and religious duties, it argues, it seems to me, a sickly sensibility towards them to say their persons, and feelings, and interests are not sufficiently respected by our laws, which, in effect, tend to nullify the act of our Legislature passed for the security and protection of their masters.

The law under which you have been tried and found guilty is not to be found among the original enactments of our Legislature. The first legislative provision upon this subject was introduced in the year 1831, immediately succeeding the bloody scenes of the memorable Southampton insurrection; and that law being found not sufficiently penal to check the wrongs complained of, was re-enacted with additional penalties in the year 1848, which last mentioned act, after several years’ trial and experience, has been re-affirmed by adoption, and incorporated into our present code. After these several and repeated recognitions of the wisdom and propriety of the said act, it may well be said that bold and open opposition to it is a matter not to be slightly regarded, especially as we have reason to believe that every Southern slave state in our country, as a measure of self-preservation and protection, has deemed it wise and just to adopt laws with similar provisions.

There might have been no occasion for such enactments in Virginia, or elsewhere, on the subject of negro education, but as a matter of self-defense against the schemes of Northern incendiaries, and the outcry against holding our sIaves in bondage. Many now living well remember how, and when, and why, the anti-slavery fury began, and by what means its manifestations were made public. Our mails were clogged with abolition pamphlets and inflammatory documents, to be distributed among our Southern negroes to induce them to cut our throats. Sometimes, it may be, these libelous documents were distributed by Northern citizens professing Southern feelings, and at other times, by Southern people professing Northern feelings. These, however, were not the only means resorted to by the Northern fanatics to stir up insubordination among our slaves. They scattered far and near pocket handkerchiefs, and other similar articles, with frightful engravings, and printed over with anti-slavery nonsense, with the view to work upon the feeling and ignorance of our negroes, who otherwise would have remained comfortable and happy. Under such circumstances there was but one measure of protection for the South, and that was adopted. . . .

For these reasons, as an example to all others in like cases disposed to offend, and in vindication of the policy and justness of our laws, which every individual should be taught to respect, the judgement of the Court is, in addition to the proper fine and costs, that you be imprisoned for the period of one month in the jail of this city.

The situation was better in the North and the first African Free School was opened in New York City in 1787. This school and six others in the city began receiving public funding in 1824. People who graduated from these schools included Henry Highland Garnet and Ira Aldridge.

When Prudence Crandall, a Quaker, opened a school for black girls in Canterbury, Connecticut, attempts were made by local white people to burn the building down. Despite attempts to prevent the school receiving essential supplies, Crandall school continued and began to attract girls from Boston and Philadelphia. The local authorities then began using a vagrancy law against these students. These girls could now be given ten lashes of the whip for attending the school. William Lloyd Garrison reported the case in the Liberator and with the support of the Anti-Slavery Society Crandall continued to run the school.

In 1834 Connecticut passed a law making it illegal to provide a free education for black students. When Prudence Crandall refused to obey the law she was arrested and imprisoned. Crandall was convicted but won the case on appeal. When news of the court decision reached Canterbury, a white mob attacked the school and threatened the lives of Crandall and her students. Afraid that the children would be killed or badly injured, Crandall decided to close her school down.

In 1849 Charles Sumner helped Sarah C. Roberts to sue the city of Boston for refusing to admit black children to its schools. Their case was lost but in 1855 Massachusetts legislature changed its policy and declared that “no person shall be excluded from a Public School on account of race, colour or prejudice.”

Birth Of A Notion Disclaimer

Black History: The Causes of the Civil War

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: The Causes of the Civil War

The main explanation for the origins of the American Civil War was slavery, especially the issue of the expansion of slavery into the territories. States’ rights and the tariff became entangled in the slavery issue, and were intensified by it. Other important factors were party politics, expansionism, sectionalism, economics and modernization in the Antebellum Period.

The United States was a nation divided into two distinct regions separated by the Mason-Dixon line. New England, the Northeast and the Midwest had a rapidly growing economy based on family farms, industry, mining, commerce and transportation, with a large and rapidly growing urban population and no slavery outside the border states. Its growth was fed by a high birth rate and large numbers of European immigrants, especially Irish, British, German, Polish and Scandinavian.

The South was dominated by a settled plantation system based on slavery, with rapid growth taking place in the Southwest, such as Texas, based on high birth rates and low immigration from Europe. There were few cities or towns, and little manufacturing except in border areas. Slave owners controlled politics and economics. Two-thirds of the Southern whites owned no slaves and usually were engaged in subsistence agriculture, but support for slavery came from all segments of southern society.

Overall, the Northern population was growing much more quickly than the Southern population, which made it increasingly difficult for the South to continue to control the national government. Southerners were worried about the relative political decline of their region because the North was growing much faster in terms of population and industrial output.

In the interest of maintaining unity, politicians had mostly moderated opposition to slavery, resulting in numerous compromises such as the Missouri Compromise of 1820. After the Mexican-American War, the issue of slavery in the new territories led to the Compromise of 1850. While the compromise averted an immediate political crisis, it did not permanently resolve the issue of the Slave power (the power of slaveholders to control the national government).

Amid the emergence of increasingly virulent and hostile sectional ideologies in national politics, the collapse of the old Second Party System in the 1850s hampered efforts of the politicians to reach yet one more compromise. The compromise that was reached (the Kansas-Nebraska Act) outraged too many northerners. In the 1850s, with the rise of the Republican Party, the first major party with no appeal in the South, the industrializing North and agrarian Midwest became committed to the economic ethos of free-labor industrial capitalism.

Arguments that slavery was undesirable for the nation had long existed. After 1840 abolitionists denounced slavery as more than a social evil – it was a moral wrong. Many Northerners, especially leaders of the new Republican Party, considered slavery a great national evil and believed that a small number of Southern owners of large plantations controlled the national government with the goal of spreading that evil.

In 1860, the election of Abraham Lincoln, who won the national election without receiving a single electoral vote from any of the Southern states, triggered the secession of the cotton states of the Deep South from the union.

Birth Of A Notion Disclaimer

This cartoon is not funny.

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  This cartoon is not funny.

Call me a mutant, but I don’t see that much wrong with Pastor Wright’s sermons.  America’s chickens did come home to roost on 9-11.  Right after the Towers fell, we asked first “who” never “why.”

Some of the talking heads on MSM and on local talk radio can’t figure out why Obama did not called for the beheading of Jeremiah Wright.  Because if you take the 5 quotes the media has been playing over and over and look at the rest of these sermons, they are fiery oratories on the Black experience in America which many Americans won’t understand because they have never been called n*****.”

When I went to school, we were never taught Black History.  We never learned about the Black leaders, the long, agonizing history that brought most Blacks to America.  Those atrocities were glossed over in favor of mindlessly boring topics like the X Y Z Affair.

This series of cartoons will review Black history as told from a Black mother to an interracial child.  This series will be ugly, course, horrific and truthful.  I will mostly abandon the commentary for an article on Black history.

This series is not about Obama or Hillary.  I want to you to try to imagine how Black families tell their children of the atrocities their ancestors, all of them, suffered because of the color of their skin.  Try to imagine how Black families counsel their children when someone calls them “n*****” for the first time.  Can you imagine the bone crushing emotion that must well up?  Can you imagine the agony, frustration, and anger?

Can you imagine being the Black preacher who tries to paint a picture of a just God every Sunday?  Especially in a country that claims where the notion of racism is a thing of the past, the job is difficult.

These strips may at times be entertaining and sometimes they may not.

I don’t want you to laugh so hard you cry, I want you to cry so hard you do something about it.

Waging Iraqi Civil War ©

Question: What occurs when vengeance does not see itself?  Answer: War!

This past Friday evening as I watched NBC Nightly News I was struck, hard!  It was reported that a Whitehouse official declared, we, the United States, does not wish to be drawn into an Iraqi civil war.  My thought, ??how ludicrous.’  This assertion is as many that we each make individually in our own lives.  We create chaos, trauma, and drama, and then claim to be separate from it all.

We do not see that our choices are the source of what comes.  Yes, the actions of others have an effect on us.  They influence us; impact us, however, ultimately, we decide.  We decide the manner in which we wish to counter a situation, a circumstance, a thought, or an expression.  We all affect each other.  What we do, think, say, feel, and are, is the cause, and will have an affect on us.

In assessing the current Iraqi war and the possibility of an upcoming civil war, in thinking of the causes and effects, I offer these considerations.  I am purposely not going back in history and offering potential reasons that some may argue.  I am choosing to stay with the current, the undisputable, and the superficial probabilities.  For even these may help to explain, why we will not be drawn in; we are in.  Indeed, we have created what will possibly come!

We, the people of the United States speak of globalization and act on nationalism.
We claim that it was our patriotic duty to attack Iraq!
We inaccurately accuse Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of having Weapons of Mass Destruction.
On the pretense that he or the people of Iraq attacked the World Trade Center, we chose to wage war.
In the name of justice, we do not wait for evidence; nor do we engage in diplomacy.
America articulates democracy and then, unilaterally strikes out against another government.
The United States comes in with guns blazing, bombs dropping, and kills citizens.
We destroy lives in a country where the vast majority of the population is under the age of 15 years.
In mass we enter, or invade, a country violently; we take over a government, and disrupt a way of life.
We do not ask if this is what the Iraqi people want.
Then, we expect the citizens of Iraq to welcome us with open arms.
We ignore their century long history of tribalism and civil unrest.  We want them to be united.
Might some consider us elitist, stating, “our way is the only way.”
We invade in the name of democracy.
We occupy in the name of liberation.
We say that we are fighting for human rights; yet we force our form of government on the nation of Iraq.
If our interests are for human rights, why do we slaughter men, women, and children?
It may be asked, do we desire their abundant oil supply?
Are we concerned with the welfare of those in Iraq or our own?
There is Abu Ghraib prison and the dreadful actions taken by United States soldiers.
Might we also consider Guantanamo Prison and the internment of persons without due process.
Violations of the Geneva Convention are rampant in our treatment of those that we imprison.
We are hypocritical.  We speak of hating war and loving God; then we create war in the name of God.
The debate on desecrating their holy book continue.
Apparently, an internal investigation of our treatment towards their religious symbols has been ongoing for years.  Sunday, May 22, 2005 The Los Angeles Times reports, Dozens Have Alleged Koran’s Mishandling.  This information is not new; nor is it unsubstantiated.  Inmates in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cuba concur.  In 2003, the Pentagon established a “Sensitivity policy after trouble at Guantanamo.”
Thus, we wonder; we exclaim, “We do not wish to be drawn into an Iraqi civil war!”  We are not being drawn in; we created it!
Please read MaxSpeak. He addresses the “U.S. foreign policy quagmire” in his recent MAXIMS, X.

From Writing History to Re-Writing History ©

“History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions.”
    Voltaire [Author and Philosopher -1694 ?” 1778]

On Saturday, January 29, 2005, while reading The Los Angeles Times I discovered an interesting article by Peter Wallsten.  Initially, it appeared innocuous, though newsworthy.  First, I noticed a large photograph of Condoleezza Rice; she was taking her oath of office, being sworn in as Secretary of State.  Granted, this event is important; yet, it was not the occasion that intrigued me, the title of this exposé did.  It read, “Recasting Republicans as the Party of Civil Rights.”

I knew that the Republican right was working to write history, paying pundits to promote their propaganda and using taxpayer monies to do so, nonetheless this title implied more.  It seems that the Republicans are not only writing history, now they are re-writing history!

As I read further, I felt great trepidation.  Apparently, Yale University history professor David Blight does as well.  He proclaimed that, "It’s appalling to me as a historian and as an American citizen.  It necessitates ignoring and avoiding at least 80 years of the history of the Republican Party, that the Republican Party became the bastion of white solidarity, white comfort.”

When historians consider the legacy of the Grand Old Party, they note that it is quite “complex.”  The Republican Party came into being in 1854 and while it was founded on the philosophies of freedom, free people, free minds, and free expression, the focus quickly became that of free enterprise.  Shortly after the Civil War, [1861 – 1865], the Republican Party adopted policies and practices that emphasize the individual.  The Party offered opportunities, though not equally or for all.  Increasingly, businesses were befriended and the GOP showed far less concern for civil rights issues.  This was and has been the character of the Grand Old Party for nearly a century now.

These qualities are still strongly served in the Republican bequest.  As recently as three short years ago this vein was still apparent.  Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) voiced a segregationist stance.  He mused that the country might have been better served under a Strom Thurmond, Presidency.  After this admission, Lott was forced to resign as the Party’s Senate leader.

Words may amend the actions of the party or its proponents; however, the affects of these do not change.  This administration is known for its use of language; they give languishing circumstances a new light.  Agendas are reframed; conservatives are compassionate.  Policy is under a kinder and gentler guise.  Nonetheless, we cannot escape what we have witnessed.

In May 2004, we read reports, one from the AFL-CIO, of how this administration was attempting to “write history” in questionable manners.  Through a General Accounting Office report, it was discovered that the Department of Health and Human Services and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services generated, what appeared to be news broadcasts, those that are presumed to report history in the making.  In actuality, these were advertisements praising the Medicare Reform program proposed by the Bush Administration.  The GAO stated that this practice of paying for and producing propaganda with taxpayer funds was and is illegal.

Then, almost a year later, we learn that the Department of Education is also giving rise to create as they crave.  They worked to assure a supportive following for the “No Child Left Behind” program.  They paid commercially successful conservative commentator, Armstrong Williams money to sing the praises of the Bush plan.  This endorsement cost the taxpayers a mere quarter of one million dollars.  Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post wrote of this conflict of interest in January of 2005.

Then there was Maggie Gallagher; she states that she was hired for her expertise and of course, columnists are often hired for their expertise. Again, Journalist Howard Kurtz wrote of this escapade,“Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract.”

Next, we heard of Mike McManus.  CNN revealed that, “Another columnist paid to help promote Bush policy.”  Again, the right continues to write history, as they would want it to be.  While it is true that every event and every exchange is historical, the Republican plan seems to be, if you want to ensure that history is, as you desire, then write it yourself.
Please consder another writing, AlterNet on “The GOP Media Machine Churns On”