A philosopher ponders on the other history of America’s evolution over time. The question he asks is a valid, though not a quintessentially “patriotic” one: If only a refugee child were to be told about the history of violence, cruelty and systemic disenfranchisement of groups that white supremacists have successfully weakened, decimated and dominated, how would she perceive her adoptive home?
Rumors can solidify into facts, especially in the minds of people who don’t care to work hard to the facts–ferret them out of the archives, that is.
For a very long time it has been rumored, and in many cases believed, that the American President Barak Obama is a Muslim sympathizer, an “Arab” (rhyming with Ahab of “Moby Dick” fame), if you will. The current Republican party nominee Donald Trump, who was instrumental in igniting the “Obama-is-Muslim” suspicion in the early 2000’s, has now come full circle to allege, with his usual in-your-face mendacity that Obama is the “founder” of ISIS, the enemy number 1 of world. Upon being asked for evidence, Trump simply said “absolutely” Obama is the founder of ISIS. Regardless of whether one believes, yet again, that this is another instance of a “joke gone bad,” one needs to decipher the code: Donald Trump and his ilk wish to solidify the rumor of Barack Obama as the ultimate threat to America’s national security.
Yet, it’s easy to counter this allegation, if one seeks to dignify such a claim as Trump’s, with a glimpse into actual historical facts. Of course to expect folks–Trump supporters– who scream “down with the bitch” during political rallies to study history is a non-starter. But everybody should have a glimpse, at least of historical facts.
The New York Times has published an elaborately researched story in multi-parts of such a history. What can ISIS be traced back to? What kind of historical trajectory in the Arab world has culminated in the “founding” of ISIS. History tells us that nothing is “founded” or demised; factors or conditions coalesce to create the moment of a movement, a group or an uprising, among many things. Likewise, conditions or factors again coalesce to weaken such movements resulting in them evanescing.
A birdseye view of events tells us that the Arab world has come apart not because of a single individual’s machination, but because of historical conditions and the West’s meddling–mandated I suppose by history as well–in the internal and external affairs of said world.
Just as Donald Trump, the man-bitch, can’t be held responsible for bringing America down in case he wins the presidential election by hook or by insidious crook this November, so neither the Bushes nor Obama or any other single individual can be said to have “founded” the poison of ISIS that’s currently cracking the Arab world and the world at large.
Tony Judt, bless his prescience; in a series of books and essays, predicted the break up of the European Union and the ultimate rotting away of Britain, the once mighty sovereign of the world.
I took two classes with Judt when he was alive and the director of the Eric Maria Remarque institute of Global Studies at New York University.
In his essay, “A Grand Illusion?” Judt attributed the reversion to nationalism in the 21st century to the “growth” model of economic sovereignty. He wrote that to believe “social and political institutions and affinities naturally and necessarily follow economic ones” is to believe in a “reductivist fallacy.”
Furthermore, he said
Just as an obsession with ‘growth’ has left a moral vacuum at the heart of some modern nations, so the abstract, materialist quality of the idea of Europe is proving insufficient to legitimate its own institutions and retain popular confidence. […] Since 1989 there has been a return of memory and with it, and benefiting from it, a revival of the national units that framed and shaped that memory and gave meaning to the collective past.
A post-civil war address to the nation by the one who serenades the masses profoundly:
Now, it just so happens we are in a horrible, stupid war. They’re killing us. Just killing us. I would sue for peace, because when I sue I never settle, but if it had been up to me we never would have been here to begin with. I would have negotiated, and I wouldn’t have risked the country over a few slaves, who some of them might be good people — I had some nice African-American ladies working for me, and they were very dependable ladies — but it’s dumb to risk the whole country for political correctness. It really is. The blacks love me, by the way. Frederick Douglass has been to my house.
Yes, thinks Leif Wenar, Chair of Philosophy and Law at Kings College, London.
The thesis that humanity at large, is, since 1945, experiencing the longest regime of peace yet, is eloquently argued. Statistics is used to evidence a claim that human longevity and prosperity has increased globally.
Yet, go tell this “fact” to the countless, often invisible, victims of the so-called era of interconnectedness and progress, I mean the wretched of the earth demographic who historically seems to have never benefitted from what Wenar outlines as human progress.
Allegorically speaking, progress for some who matter is also, simultaneously, a regress for many. Strangely, Wenar, suggests that progress of humanity is contingent upon the dehumanization of many members of this species:
Humanity does learn, painfully and often only after thousands or even millions have died — like a giant starfish hurrying over a jagged reef, with only primitive vision, slicing off spines on its way, yet regenerating as it grows and slowly adapting its motion.
Conceived of in this way–as a giant starfish fulfilling its biological destiny–humanity appears to be peculiarly indifferent to its “sliced off” spines. In my opinion, the discarded “spines” could very well be representing the sacrificial lambs of history, on whose demise the progress of human history’s angel is predicated.
Today, 70 years ago, a “searing white light” flashed across the skies of Hiroshima in Japan.
According to the United States rationale, the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, August 6 and August 9, respectively, preempted an U.S. invasion of Japan preventing the loss of more lives.
The NYT recounts the atomic bomb-history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the numbers:
350,000: Population of Hiroshima before the bombing, of which 40,000 were military personnel.
140,000: Estimated death toll, including those who died from radiation-related injuries and illness through Dec. 31, 1945.
300,000: Total death toll to date, including those who have died from radiation-related cancers.
1.2 million: Population of Hiroshima today.
31,500: Height in feet (9,600 meters) from which the B-29 Enola Gay dropped the “Little Boy” bomb.
2,000: Height in feet (600 meters) at which the bomb exploded 43 seconds after it was dropped.
3,000-4,000: The estimated temperature in Celsius (5,400-7,200 Fahrenheit) at ground zero seconds after the detonation.
8,900: Approximate weight of the “Little Boy” bomb in pounds (about 4 metric tons).
1,600: Radius in feet (500 meters) from ground zero in which the entire population died that day.
90: Percent of Hiroshima that was destroyed.
45: Minutes after the 8:15 a.m. blast that a “black rain” of highly radioactive particles started falling.
3-6: Weeks after the bombing during which most of the victims with severe radiation symptoms died.
10 million: Folded paper (“origami”) cranes that decorate the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima each year.
Among other things, I love to collect anniversaries. The present remembers the past through marking birthdays of events.
We are currently celebrating many 50th anniversaries:
Of Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamp, or in general of all compassionate, pro-citizen policies launched by the federal government in America during a time when being compassionate even in governmental policies was considered normal.
We are also into the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
We are in the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Now would be the opportune moment to light candles for Michael Brown, as we are into the 1st anniversary of “Ferguson.”
Google Doodle reminds me that the first electric traffic signal system was operative a 101 years ago.
Herman Melville’s birthday just passed by, on August 1. Incidentally he is buried in the Bronx.