Thursday, May 2, 2013

Letter From Delano

Letter From Delano By Cesar Chavez

"As your industry has experienced, our strikers here in Delano and those who represent us throughout the world are well trained for this struggle. they have been under the gun, they have been kicked and beaten and herded by dogs, they have been cursed and ridiculed, they have been stripped and chained and jailed, they have been sprayed with the poisons used in the vineyards; but they have been taught not to lie down and die nor to flee in shame, but to resist with every ounce of human endurance and spirit. to resist not with retaliation in kind but to overcome with love and compassion, with ingenuity and creativity, with hard work and longer hours, with stamina and patient tenacity, with truth and public appeal, with friends and allies, with mobility and discipline, with politics and law, this and with prayer and fasting. They were not trained in a month or even a year; after all, this new harvest season will mark our fourth full year of strike and even now we continue to plan and prepare for the years to come. Time accomplishes for the poor what money does for the rich." (Letter From Delano By Cesar Chavez)
Cesar Chavez was a Labor Leader and civil rights activist. He wrote this letter to Mr. Barr regarding the wrongful accusation that was made about the union movement and table grape boycott. (Demanding equal wages according to the Federal minimum wage) The boycott lasted five years. This was a political and cultural conflict of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The National Farm Workers Association   was one of the organizations that demanded equal rights and changes in American life. This letter expressed the feelings in Chavez’s heart. Cesar Chavez says that he and the union want to “advocate militant nonviolence as our means for social revolution and to achieve justice for our people.” He asks for openings, bargains, and meetings to discuss the future of the industry (agricultural) and the labor union. All which are peaceful ways of negotiation. As seen in the quote above Chavez shows the organization and power that the union has and by what means they will use them. Chavez and Mr. Barr both know that there was no violence during the table grape boycott. Chavez tries to make this business man understand what the farm workers are going through and demands equal rights, demands that the masses of farm workers be free and human, and not enslaved by the industry Mr. Barr represents.

How the Beats Beat the Man by Joseph Lagalante, Jr.

            The post WWII American landscape was certainly an interesting one.  Having persevered both world wars and the Great Depression, America began to jockey for position as supreme world superpower with the Soviet Union.  Being as “American” as possible became important during this time as the country soon became consumed with paranoia due to the “red scare.”  Hollywood quickly became a point of interest in weeding out potential leftist-radicals: Congress had feared the Communists had infiltrated the American film industry, causing Congress to identify these bad red seeds among prominent Hollywood directors, actors and writers.
            Considering the late 1940s and early 1950s proved to be incredibly trying times for celebrities in the United States it is interesting to note the rise of a contesting counter-culture.  Although they knew they would be met with great opposition, a group of young writers emerged during the late 1940s as anti-conformists who refused to bend to the whims of the American government; who discussed through their literature and art items deemed “obscene” and “unmentionable” in the American mainstream media.  Motifs such as sexuality, homosexuality, drug use and biting political commentary involving the Vietnam War, all served as focal points for the Beat Generation writers; these themes were utilized to attack the attempt to stifle creativity in the American media, and the Government’s attempts to reconstruct the First Amendment of the Constitution.
            Allen Ginsberg served as one of the founding and perhaps most influential members of the Beat Generation writers.  Along with Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and others, the Beat writers handled the topics no one at this time would dare approach.  In his poem “Howl,” Ginsberg juxtaposes explicit homoeroticism with religious diction and imagery.
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who hiccupped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword… (Ginsberg lines 35-39).
It was this type of overtly sexual and borderline blasphemous poetics that landed Allen Ginsberg in front of a Congressional hearing committee and was tried in an attempt to censor his “obscene” publication.
            Ginsberg, however, was able to evade prosecution which served as a major victory for the Beat Generation, the First Amendment and America at large.  Although many people would quickly assess the Beat Generation as “un-American,” due to their counterculture nature and their unwillingness to conform to the contemporary “American ideals,” I would argue these brave men were perhaps even more American than those portraying the contemporary American ideals.  By directly opposing the American government and combating censorship in the 1950s, these Beat writers embodied the ideals our founding fathers revolted to secure.  As Americans we should find the Bill of Rights entirely non-negotiable.  These are the rights our founding fathers dictated should never be denied to this country’s citizens.  By attempting to censor creative artistic projects, the American government in the 1950s almost successfully denied the first right promised to us.  We have seen this right try to be redefined, or reconstructed several times throughout the past hundred years; but I maintain as Americans this should be what we hold and cherish most.  When the government tries to take away any of these ten rights, but perhaps most importantly the one which promises us the ability to speak, worship, assemble or protest freely, it is detrimental for us as a society to reaffirm that we are unwilling to forego this promise our country has made to us.  I only hope men as strong as Ginsberg and Burroughs will continue to persist throughout time, and this country’s history.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Richard Nixon, "What Freedom Means to Us"

Ashley Baker American People II 30 April 2013 Professor Andrew Mattson In voices of Freedom, “An Affluent Society”, Richard Nixon discusses “What Freedom Means to Us. “Overall Nixon speech and the ensuring debate reflected the triumph during the 1950s of a conception of freedom centered on economic abundance and consumer choice within context of traditional family of life”. Throughout the speech Richard Nixon is basically convincing the Soviet Union that a Capitalistic society is the best option for their nation. This was during the time of the cold war, when every nation was trying to prove that they had the best policies and government. The United States and the Soviet Union realized that they couldn’t compete in the arms race because they both have extremely powerful weapons that could be pointed against one another, so the idea of competition between the better societies seamed beneficial to both. Nixon states, “We welcome this kind of competition because when we engage in it, no one loses -- everyone wins as the living standards of people throughout the world are raised to higher levels”. In 1958 the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to display exhibits, allowing the other to become acquainted with the life of the other. In Nixon speech he congratulated the Soviet Union for a job well done with the rockets they developed, but he also lets them know that while they are ahead of us in the scientific department they are still lacking in others such as industrialization. He quotes Abraham Lincoln, "...We do not propose any war upon capital; we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. In Nixon exhibit rest a car, radio, and a house, each of the most modern objects produced. Nixon goes on to explain the definition of rich but at the same time he is showing the Soviet Union how prosperous the United States is. He states, “In fairness we must recognize that our country industrialized sooner than the Soviet Union. He explains how almost every American can afford the objects that were represented in the exhibit. “The average weekly wage of a factory worker in America is $90-54. With this income he can buy and afford to own a house, a television set, and a car in the price range of those you will see in this Exhibit. There are 44 million families in the United States. Twenty-five million of these families live in houses or apartments that have as much or more floor space than the one you see in this Exhibit. Thirty-one million families own their own homes and the land on which they are built. America's 44 million families own a total of 56 million cars, 50 million television sets and 143 million radio sets. And they buy an average of 9 dresses and suits and 14 pairs of shoes per family per year”. As Nixon continued through his speech he gave examples of what freedom meant to them. Material progress is important but the very heart of the American ideal is that "man does not live by bread alone." To us, progress without freedom to use a common expression is like "potatoes without fat. The workers right to join with other workers in a union and to bargain collectively with management is recognized and protected by law. No man or woman in the United States can be forced to work for wages he considers to be inadequate or under conditions he believes are unsatisfactory. President Eisenhower is one of the most popular men ever to hold that high office in our country. Yet never an hour or a day goes by in which criticism of him and his policies cannot be read in our newspapers, heard on our radio and television, or in the Halls of Congress. The fact that our people can and do say anything they want about a government official, the fact that in our elections, as this voting machine in our exhibit illustrates, every voter has a free choice between those who hold public office and those who oppose them makes ours a true peoples' government. Under our Constitution no church or religion can be supported by the State. An American can either worship in the church of his choice or choose to go to no church at all if he wishes. Acting with this complete freedom of choice, 103 million of our citizens are members of 308 thousand American churches. We also cherish the freedom to travel, both within our country and outside the United States. Within our country we live and travel where we please without travel permits, internal passports or police registration. We also travel freely abroad. For example, 11 million Americans will travel to other countries during this year, including 10,000 to the Soviet Union. We look forward to the day when millions of Soviet citizens will travel to ours and other countries in this way”. Nixon concludes his speech stating, “The great majority of Americans like our system of government. Much as we like it, however, we would not impose it on anyone else. We believe that people everywhere should have a right to choose the form of government they want”. Although it seems as if the U.S was promoting capitalism in a calm matter, they were still considering themselves the superior nation and felt everyone should follow their lead. Work Cited "An Affluent Society." Voices of Freedom / a Documentary History. Ed. Richard M. Nixon. Third ed. Vol. Two. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2011. 243-48. Print.