Sunday, May 19, 2013

“Joseph R. McCarthy on the Attack,” (1950)

    During the 50's America faced a tough time. It was time when the country was faced with rooting out communism. "In West Virginia in February 1950, McCarthy stated that he had a list of 205 communists working for the State Department... the demagogic pursuit of communists riding roughshod over civil liberties came to be known as McCarthyism." Senator McCarthy begins this witch hunt for Communist because he believed the country was under attack from its citizens. However he did so with great biased:

"It has not been the less fortunate or members of the minority groups who have been selling this Nation out, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer --- the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give."

McCarthy seems convinced that the communists/spies are not motivated by promise of wealth. In his mind because they already have wealth, they act out of opportunity or boredom. Perhaps it is this reason that he is so vehemently accusing people in the state department with little evidence. To accuse them and have them found guilty would prevent the country from being sent down the wrong road.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sharon Statement (1960)

According to Voices of Freedom, the 1960s was known as a decade of radicalism, but also had a conservative side. Students emerged as a force in politics and issued the Sharon Statement. "In this time of moral and political crisis, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths."Through this dignified statement, the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), and the Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were established. These two documents "portrayed youth as the cutting edge of a new radicalism and claimed to offer Americans a route to greater freedom." The Sharon Statement also discussed things such as the free market being underpinned "personal freedom," political freedom rested on a free market economy, government must be strictly limited, and "international communism."

There are many political and culture conflicts of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Many were demanding equal rights and changes in American life other than African Americans. The 1960s was known as the decade of radicalism. Student radicals emerged while fighting for equal rights in segregated restaurants. The Greensborough sit-in launched in the 1960’s proved that students have become the social edge of change. The Sharon Statement was a striking document that summarized beliefs that had circulated among conservatives during the past decade—the free market underpinned “personal freedom, “ political freedom rested on a free market economy, government must be strictly limited, and “international communism,” the gravest threat to liberty, must be destroyed (Foner 270). Organizations such as the Young Americans for Freedom aimed initially to take control of the Republican Party from leaders who had made their peace with the New Deal and seemed willing to coexist with communism (Foner 968). 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mike Gralla "Cheerful Robots"

Mike Gralla
American People II
Professor Mattson

“ ‘Cheerful Robots’ [and what C. Wright Mills really felt about society]”

Many of C. Wright Mills' ideas, which were considered radical in his time, are now taken for granted in the present.  A term coined by Mills, "power elite" defined as “a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth.” ended up in Mills being ostracized by conservatives and liberals.  But that was in the past and ironically the term is widely used today by the mainstream media.  In the article by C. Wright Mills titled “Cheerful Robots,” Americans during the 1950s were “Cheerful Robots.”  In the following excerpt from the article you can start to understand the perspective ob Mills.

“Americans during the 1950s were stuck on the idea of perfection.  They wanted to live the perfect life.  Americans lived in cookie-cutter houses, had nuclear families, and were happy all the time.  At least that's what they longed for. There were few differences from one family to another on the surface.  Most Americans worked hard to maintain their happy, perfect images.  They were all the same.” (C. Wright Mills, “Cheerful Robots”)

This view of American society by mills is not too far-fetched.  If you really examine what he is describing he is actually pretty astute.  Whether you refer to the elite as the "establishment," the "power structure" or the "top 1-percenters," the American people understand that this concentration of power undermines democracy.  The lines between Democracy and financial-tyranny in this country has seemed to grow slimmer which also has given credit to Mills points.

“The husband worked while the wife stayed home and did domestic work.   The house they lived in was in a neighborhood along with other houses that looked the same.  Inside the house were all kinds of appliances and material things to make them "happy."  Outside of the house were nice cars sitting in the driveway when they husband returned home from a hard day of work.  If there was any unhappiness or imperfection, Americans did not let it show.” (C. Wright Mills, “Cheerful Robots”)

Hiding what is really going on, not “showing true colors,” or living a life of double-sided secrecy all seemed to relate to 1950’s American society as a whole.  Look at Happy Days.  Sure it is just a TV show, but it was based on the model of American society at the time.  And it is not much different today, possibly even worse.  Houses full of electronics and smart phones, gigantic TVs and cutting-edge technology simply used for playing the best video games.  It is true that Mills was often seen as a "Marxist thinker" because of the emphasis he put on social classes and their roles in historical progress, and attempting to keep a somewhat Marxist social theory alive.  But C. Wright Mills rebelled against conventional thinking and sought his own theories and beliefs, many of which have proven valid, and not so radical, as time passed. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BLOG Redstocking Manifesto

Michelle Abalos

American People II

Redstockings Manifesto


“Redstockings was one of the radical feminist movements that arose in the late 1960’s. Based in New York, it issued this manifesto, which, in language typical of the era, illustrates how at its most radical edge, feminism had evolved from demands for equal treatment for women to a total critique of male power and a call for women’s “liberation.”

“Women are an oppressed class. Our oppression is total, affecting every facet of our lives. We are exploited as sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor. We are considered inferior beings, whose only purpose is to enhance men's lives. Our humanity is denied. Our prescribed behavior is enforced by the threat of physical violence.”

Among the political and cultural conflicts of the 1960’s, women united to win their freedom and to no longer be “exploited as sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor.” Women wanted to be liberated. Liberation meant more than the right the vote. It meant equality in economic, racial, education, and political rights. Other than the African American population, the Redstockings was an organization demanding equal rights and changes in American life for women.

“ ‘there seem to be many parallels that can be drawn between the treatment of negroes and the treatment of women in our society as a whole.’ What bothered them the most was the status of women within the movement, where assumptions of male supremacy seemed as deeply rooted as in society at large.” What one can conclude from this quote is that the status of women in both the negro and white culture, was the same.















I After centuries of individual and preliminary political struggle, women are uniting to achieve their final liberation from male supremacy. Redstockings is dedicated to building this unity and winning our freedom.

II Women are an oppressed class. Our oppression is total, affecting every facet of our lives. We are exploited as sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor. We are considered inferior beings, whose only purpose is to enhance men's lives. Our humanity is denied. Our prescribed behavior is enforced by the threat of physical violence.

Because we have lived so intimately with our oppressors, in isolation from each other, we have been kept from seeing our personal suffering as a political condition. This creates the illusion that a woman's relationship with her man is a matter of interplay between two unique personalities, and can be worked out individually. In reality, every such relationship is a class relationship, and the conflicts between individual men and women are political conflicts that can only be solved collectively.

III We identify the agents of our oppression as men. Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination. All other forms of exploitation and oppression (racism, capitalism, imperialism, etc.) are extensions of male supremacy: men dominate women, a few men dominate the rest. All power structures throughout history have been male-dominated and male-oriented. Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force. They have used their power to keep women in an inferior position. All men receive economic, sexual, and psychological benefits from male supremacy. All men have oppressed women.

IV Attempts have been made to shift the burden of responsibility from men to institutions or to women themselves. We condemn these arguments as evasions. Institutions alone do not oppress; they are merely tools of the oppressor. To blame institutions implies that men and women are equally victimized, obscures the fact that men benefit from the subordination of women, and gives men the excuse that they are forced to be oppressors. On the contrary, any man is free to renounce his superior position, provided that he is willing to be treated like a woman by other men.

We also reject the idea that women consent to or are to blame for their own oppression. Women's submission is not the result of brain-washing, stupidity or mental illness but of continual, daily pressure from men. We do not need to change ourselves, but to change men.

The most slanderous evasion of all is that women can oppress men. The basis for this illusion is the isolation of individual relationships from their political context and the tendency of men to see any legitimate challenge to their privileges as persecution.

V We regard our personal experience, and our feelings about that experience, as the basis for an analysis of our common situation. We cannot rely on existing ideologies as they are all products of male supremacist culture. We question every generalization and accept none that are not confirmed by our experience.

Our chief task at present is to develop female class consciousness through sharing experience and publicly exposing the sexist foundation of all our institutions. Consciousness-raising is not "therapy," which implies the existence of individual solutions and falsely assumes that the male-female relationship is purely personal, but the only method by which we can ensure that our program for liberation is based on the concrete realities of our lives.

The first requirement for raising class consciousness is honesty, in private and in public, with ourselves and other women.

VI We identify with all women. We define our best interest as that of the poorest, most brutally exploited woman.

We repudiate all economic, racial, educational or status privileges that divide us from other women. We are determined to recognize and eliminate any prejudices we may hold against other women.

We are committed to achieving internal democracy. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that every woman in our movement has an equal chance to participate, assume responsibility, and develop her political potential.

VII We call on all our sisters to unite with us in struggle.

We call on all men to give up their male privilege and support women's liberation in the interest of our humanity and their own.

In fighting for our liberation we will always take the side of women against their oppressors. We will not ask what is "revolutionary" or "reformist," only what is good for women.

The time for individual skirmishes has passed. This time we are going all the way.

July 7, 1969

P.O. Box 748*
Stuyvesant Station
New York, N.Y. 10009


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Phyllis Schlafly "The Fraud of the Equal Rights Amendment" (1972)

Phyllis Schlafly is an American constitutional lawyer, conservative activist, author, and the founder of the Eagle Forum. She is known for her opposition to modern feminism and for her campaign against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment of 1972.  Before this point Phyllis Schlafly already had political involvement, yet still stood by her role as a house-wife. To Phyllis Schlafly stopping the ERA was an issue she could build a political career around. Schlafly began her own campaign called "STOP ERA". STOP is an acronym for "Stop Taking Our Privileges." Schlafly argued that the ERA would take away gender specific privileges currently enjoyed by women, including "dependent wife" benefits under Social Security and the exemption from Selective Service registration. 

Here are some quotes from Voices of Freedom: Phyllis Schlafly "The Fraud of the Equal Rights Amendment" (1972)
“Suddenly, everywhere we are afflicted with aggressive females on television talk shows yapping about how mistreated American women are, suggesting that marriage has put us in some kind of “slavery,” that housework is menial and degrading, and –perish the though –that women are discriminated against.” (Pg. 315)

“The claim that American women are downtrodden and unfairly treated is the fraud of the century.” (Pg. 316)

- “Why should we lower ourselves to “equal rights” when we already have the status of special privilege?”

-“Foxholes are bad enough for men, but they certainly are not a place for women.” (Pg. 316)
“Why should we abandon these mandatory wife-support and child obligation to take job?” (Pg. 317)

- “The women’s libbers are radicals who are waging a total assault on the family, on marriage, and on children.” (Pg. 317)

In conclusion, Phyllis Schlafly is a woman who during the 1970's almost single-handedly prevented the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (also known as the ERA), which is a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing equality of rights for women. Schlafly strongly believed in all the privileges women received before the ERA and believe that as women, “we” should be grateful. Throughout the 1970's she barnstormed the country with her supporters, lobbied state legislatures, and debated feminist leaders. Phyllis Schlafly was very determined and strong-minded. She wrote many books such as The Positive Woman, which was published in 1978, in which she compared a traditional wife and homemaker, pro-family and pro-defense ideal, to feminist ideals and values. Her style and content again offended readers across the political spectrum, but some commentators acknowledged a strong vein of common sense in her arguments. Although Phyllis Schlafly worked real hard to stop the ERA, it wasn't enough.

The "I Have A Dream" speech was delivered by Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963. This speech was known as one of the defining moments for the American Civil Rights Movement. In this speech, King calls for racial equality and a just place where blacks and whites could live happily without segregation or discrimination.

His first point was to mention the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which was supposed to free all slaves indefinitely. He referred more to the symbolic significance because the proclamation did not automatically free slaves everywhere. The Emancipation Proclamation was a sign that blacks would be able to reach the American dream once they were declared free by Abraham Lincoln.

He then explains how the blacks are still not free. Although they were not officially slaves anymore, the whites found ways to segregate them. These actions were called the Jim Crow laws. Whites and blacks would have different bathrooms, fountains, seats and even schools. This not only degraded blacks but showed them that they were still not equal to whites even being free men and women.

King then goes on to say that both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were made to protect and guarantee our right's as citizens. "Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds"", there he says that instead of blacks obtaining equal rights as whites as promised in these documents, blacks cannot figuratively "cash their check" because those rights weren't guaranteed for all men. King urges for the change to happen now and for people to stop putting it off any longer. This movement would not be temporary and it would take people that will not give up easily. If people continued to ignore the injustice then nothing would change. He was not about a violent struggle for freedom. He believed that it could be acquired peacefully. He urged people to fight for equality until it was completely achieved, zero racism, zero segregation. He hopes that one day we could all rejoice in equality just like slaves did when finding out they were free.

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.