The Case For a Zero Party System


Upon travelling to the Black Hills of South Dakota and seeing Mount Rushmore for the first time, Gutzon Borglum proclaimed, "America will march along that skyline."

Between the years of 1927 and 1941 Borglum sculpted and blasted away at that mountain, along with 400 workers, and finally realized that vision. There they were, the gigantic sculpted faces of 4 great presidents-George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, and after that last blast of dynamite on October 31, 1941, that mountain came to life.

And since this is my little blog universe, and because I can (which is as good a reason as any), I'm going to sprinkle some magic dust and say the magic words, and tell you that mountain of blasted and sculpted granite literally came to life on that cold Halloween morning. George Washington, squinting in the autumn sun as it rose over the majestic Black Hills and filled the sky with dazzling orange and purple hues, turned to Thomas Jefferson, and while remembering his Farewell Address to America written on another fall day in 1796, squawked:

"Damn it Tom, I freaking told you so!"

Thomas Jefferson, you see, was the founder of the Democratic-Republican party, a party created in response to Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Party, and the two party system of American government was born. It was born, however, much to President Washington's chagrin.

How was it that what has been characterized by our Constitution as a "perfect union" of thirteen colonies, was first organized and led by a president who not only refused to affiliate himself with a political party, but who also warned his contemporaries against the dangers of splintering that very union into a partisan-system of government?

In September, 1796 George Washington, with a quill and feather pen while sitting in his study, wrote a farewell address to the American people. A draft of the letter was initially started in 1792 after the end of his first term in office, but as the newly formed republic began fragmenting and dividing into Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties, President Washington was coaxed into serving another term (and he ran unopposed) in the hopes that he could hold this union together.

The address was later revised in 1796 with the help of Alexander Hamilton. It warned of the grave dangers associated with a representative government being divided into a partisan political process. This is what the only president who was never identified by a party wrote about partisan politics:

"It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration …. agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one … against another … it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption … thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. "

I do not know about you, but reading that sends chills up my spine.

What was it that Washington was so afraid of?

Well, unless you've been in a coma over the last 214 years, the answer to that question should be rather obvious.

We operate our government through two political parties who, rather than being beholden to their constituents, are beholden to their corporate and special interest masters. Rather than being beholden to the core philosophies that they purport to espouse, their primary focus is to gain power and maintain and increase the power they get.

THAT is precisely what Washington was afraid of.

"It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration … agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one …. against another …."

You said if brother!

A socialist, fascist, communist, liberal president, born in Kenya, who practices Islam on the sly, as he plots the downfall of America with a Baptist minister from Chicago. He's an African Adolph Hitler, I tell ya ', who wants to send grandma to a death panel and put that old bat down. Plus he smokes cigarettes. You want proof? That bastard just rammed down our throats a health care plan that Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts, the House Republicans tried to pass in 1993, and Richard Nixon advocated for while he was president of the United States.

Did you say the President lied about cheating on his wife? Here's what we need to do – shut government down, assemble both Houses of Congress together, spend tens of millions of tax payer dollars investigating what "is" is, and impeach the son of a bitch!

THAT is precisely what Washington was afraid of.

"It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption … thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."

NAFTA, NATO, UN, Kyoto, Copenhagen, China, Citizens United vs. FEC, 737 US military basis across the globe, 2,500,000 US personnel serving across the planet, the international privately owned Federal Reserve which controls our monetary policy.

THAT is precisely what Washington was afraid of.

(And that noise you just heard was him smacking Thomas Jefferson upside the head-go to South Dakota and you will hear and see it for yourself).

Enough said. We're screwed.

We've lost ourselves. Our parties do not stand for anything anymore. They pretend to stand for substantive things, but they really do not. They're doing what George Washington said they would do-they "agitate the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms" in attempting to cling to power. That's their sole function. They ceased to govern and began to rule. After all, governing demands accountability to those being governed, while ruling requires only propaganda and servitude by those being ruled.

I know I tend to pick on Republicans far more than I pick on Democrats, but that's because I probably identify most closely with Republican core philosophies as more a part of my own core philosophies, and I feel like I've been absolutely jilted and abandoned by a party that rarely practices what it preaches. Think about what we've been sold in terms of traditional conservatism:

1) small government;
2) low taxes;
3) state's rights;
4) laissez faire foreign policy and isolationism; and
5) fiscal responsibility.

Now think of what has been given to us:

1) the Patriot Act;
2) abortion restrictions;
3) ban on gay marriage;
4) a $ 2.4 trillion Iraq war;
5) a military-industrial complex culminating in more than $ 1 trillion a year in military spending;
6) maintenance of over 700 overseas military bases;
7) insistence on overturning marijuana decriminalization in states that pass it;
8) an income tax base that allocates more than half of its intake to maintaining defense spending;
9) government monitoring of book purchases;
10) warrantless wiretaps;
11) corporate takeover of our electoral process through Citizens United vs. FEC … and on and on. It seems that every opportunity Republicans get, they are looking to intrude on our private lives, create a "Big Brother" government which violates our civil liberties, and expand our military while expanding our debt to pay for it, which requires more taxes.

What the hell happened to this party?

This is the party that had to be dragged into World War II. This was the party that preached global isolationism. This was a party that preached no government intrusion into your private affairs. Now they're in my bedroom, taking my weed, sending me to war, building military bases all over God's green earth, and making me pay for it all, while claiming there's no money left for me to see a freaking doctor!


The Republican party has been bought and paid for-that's what happened. And it's a lot easier to buy and pay for a party that is continuously in a struggle to maintain its hold on power than it is to buy out individuals on a one on one basis that have to answer to constituents. These men and women do not answer to you and me-they answer to Exxon / Mobile, Halliburton, and Chase Bank. They will placate their constituents with rhetoric and diversion that we've come to know as "partisanship," in order to funnel more money to their corporate masters.

Of course in an attempt to create a façade that they are operating true to their core philosophies, they'll use those same core philosophies as a convenient excuse to oppose something politically when it suits their corporate masters' interest-for example health care reform is conveniently not fiscally responsible, but juxtapose that fiscal irresponsibility argument with the complete silence on fiscal responsibility when it comes to defense spending, and you see the absurdity that is the Republican party.

Democrats are equally divorced from their core values ​​incidentally. The "Civil Rights" Party was completely silent on the Patriot Act, and could not have been more accommodating when it made its way into passage in lightening speed through Congress. They were completely silent on the Iraq war, voicing no objection to George Bush's bogus claims of Iraqi 9/11 connections and non-existent WMD's. They got us locked up into Vietnam-that was a mess created by two Democratic administrations and an appeasement of the same defense industry master that controls Republicans. Democrats are equally in bed with the military-industrial complex, just as the Republicans are and pass a budget every year that allocates over a trillion dollars for defense expenditures. In all fairness though, their hypocrisy seems to be a bit more measured than that of Republicans. But make no mistake, they have their masters too, and many of them are the same masters the Republicans have and both parties routinely answer to them.

I keep hearing that we need a third party in this country.

What the hell for? Typical American reaction, you see two bad things, now let's add another bad thing to it in the hope that things will improve.

All I need is another group of boobs that play slave to corporate America. All I need is another party that advertises a philosophy and abandons it to hold on to power. That'll fix things all right!

No sir. Give me a man or a woman that will answer to their core philosophies and constituents and not tie themselves to a bogus party line that will keep him or her in power so long as they continue to tow that line.

Washington's co-author in his farewell address, Alexander Hamilton wrote, "The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority. "

The consent of the people. Not the consent of the party, nor the consent of lobbyists and special interest groups. Not the consent of foreign countries, and foreign banks. But the consent of the people.

How will America achieve this? In the same manner that Gutzon Borglum envisioned that America will march along a new skyline in which a national monument was carved into the face of a granite mountain with powerful dynamite blasts and the elegant hand of a sculptor with his chisel. Like Borglum, we need to blast away this old mountain of partisan-politics and carefully sculpt a vision of America that was first conceived by our founding fathers and born through our Constitution, and then march along that new skyline.

America was not founded under an ideology of partisanship. The literal fabric from which this country was born-the Constitution of the United States-was not created with such an ideology in mind.

There are practical considerations to make when abandoning the party structure of government to be sure, but other countries have done it. Future articles will explore how that can be accomplished. Indeed I am in the process of writing a book that addresses this issue in great detail. However the purpose of this article is to allow you to envision a country without partisanship, and realize that this was precisely the intent of the founding fathers when this country was formed.

Our country was designed to be non-partisan.

The preamble to the Constitution opens with: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union …"

… Not "we the People of the Republican or Democratic Party in order to form a more imperfect Division."

Division and partisanship lead to entitlement and elitism. Division and partisanship lead to loyalty to party rather than loyalty to country.

It's time to revert to what the Constitution of the United States intended for us, the People of the United States, to do-create a more perfect Union. It's time for us to abandon this "enfeebled" partisan structure of ruling which does nothing more than kindle animosity and get back to the business of governing-with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

It's time again to march along that skyline and forge an America in the vision of what our founding fathers had in mind when they first drafted that Constitution and created this undivided, non-partisan, perfect Union.


Source by Gus Bridi

Top 3 American Fridge Freezer Manufacturers


American Fridge Freezers add style and sophistication to a kitchen not to mention practicality. The side by side fridge freezer integration saves space and despite what many people think they can be fitted in most mid-sized kitchens and even in a small kitchen. The American Fridge Freezer market is dominated by few major players and here are the top 3.

Please note that these American Style Fridge Freezer manufacturers are not listed in any given order since this is not the intention of this list. These are simply what we consider to be the top manufacturers of this type of household appliance.

Samsung American Fridge Freezers

Over the years Samsung has become a major player of the household appliance market with top notch products in various fields such as the home refrigeration with a unique line of products like the stylish American Fridge Freezers. Samsung H series was a success with side by side refrigerators in black, white and stainless finishes to add style and elegance to any kitchen design.

The new G series side by side refrigerators utilises a high end insulation technology that provides an extra 100 litres of internal space without affecting the exterior dimensions. Samsung's unique humidity control technology also known as Twin Cooling Plus keeps food fresher for longer by maintaining a humidity level of up to 75%.

Samsung American style refrigerators offer all the functionalities you and could wish for in a fridge freezer. Tilt can carry, Fresh Room, bigger box drawers, LED Tower Lighting and the list goes on and on.

Price range of Samsung side by side refrigerators vary from £ 600 all the way up to £ 1500.

LG American Fridge Freezers

LG is well known for its high definition Plasma and LCD TVs but what many people do not realise is that LG also excel in the manufacturing of other household appliances, such as Fridge Freezers in particular the American style ones.

LG American Refrigerators differ from others for being what they call plumbing free, allowing you to install it anywhere you wish without the need of having to worry about being near a water pipe and tap. LG's unique linear compressor minimises mechanical loss, saves energy, reduces noise, increases durability and brings nature's freshness efficiently to your home.

Amongst all manufacturers LG is the one that cares the most about the environment by producing the most eco friendly refrigerators. The LG linear compressor helps you reduce your home's carbon footprint by an amount equivalent to planting 16 new pine trees each and every year.

If you are looking for energy efficient eco friendly and cost effective American style refrigerator LG is your brand of choice.

Bosch American Fridge Freezers

Bosch household appliances are of the highest quality with incredible functionalities, attention to detail, stylish finishes not to mention the energy efficiency of all products. All these characteristics put Bosch amongst the high end manufacturers of white goods. With Bosch American Style Refrigerators is no different.

Bosch refrigerators go a step further when the subject is energy efficiency as they can save anything from 20% to 40% than ordinary A + rated models, thanks to the exclusive "Green Technology Inside".

All refrigerators have a stunning finish be it in gloss black, white or stainless steel with external in-door LED electronic controls, separate cooling systems in the fridge and freezer sections that prevent transfer of odours, SafetyLock and indoor water and ice dispenser.

Now it is up to you to decide which is the American Style Fridge Freezer that best suits your needs or the one that will blend in better with your kitchen design.


Source by Felipe Bazon

Borat – Orientalist Satire for Make Glorious Debate Western Intelligentsiya


"Dzienkuje" Sacha Baron Cohen!

We were waiting for Godot, but you sensed what we really needed and instead sent us Borat! And Borat is if nothing else a moveable feast and a gift that keeps on giving. You managed simultaneously to offend Kazakhs, frighten Jewish anti-defamation groups, outrage the orientalism monitors, tee off hypocritically thin-skinned Americans, provoke laughter across the Beavis and Butthead, Southpark, and Archie Bunker generations, and last – but certainly not least –provide glorious opportunity for Western intellectuals for criticize and debate merit, meaning, and interpretation of celluloid masterpiece. Finally, thanks to you, we can now confirm that rumors of Yakov Smirnov's death were greatly exaggerated. It turns out he is fine and doing well, having found gainful employment in great American city called Branson, Missouri ( "Hours great … auditorium, career, and pockets less filling … but what a country!" … Ok , bad example)! Slamma dunk, emission accomplished, and hiyya-fiyva, to you Sacha!

Talk about a movie that led to theatergoers being bombarded – even before they checked cinema times – with conflicting cues and instructions from cultural elites, trendsetters, and peers:

1) Go the movie. Laugh, have fun!

2) If you go to the movie, do not laugh!

3) Go the movie, laugh, but later feign outrage!

4) Do not go the movie – in part because you might laugh!

5) If you do go, there's something wrong with you.

6) If you do not go, there's something wrong with you.

Borat !: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan can not help but leave the impression that we may have become an over-scripted, over-programmed culture.

This article attempts to address some of the controversies and larger ramifications resulting from Borat the character and Borat! the movie (hereafter Borat!). It does so by tapping some of the wide-ranging film criticism, op-eds, and Internet postings that the film has spawned. An admission and disclaimer of sorts about the film seems in order before I begin: I went … I laughed … I wept … (but because I was laughing, not because I went).

Is for make fun of Kazakh peoples! … NOT !!!

Let us begin with a question that has consumed so many keystrokes in recent months. In part we can do so because Sacha Baron Cohen's intent (ie production / supply side) is so much more straightforward than is the question of how the movie is or has been interpreted and used by audiences (ie consumption / demand side).

Shortly after the American release of Borat! an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen appeared in the 14 November 2006 edition of Rolling Stone. Clearly, a lot of people do not know about the interview, have not read it, or do not wish to, because on the Internet the debate about who Baron Cohen satirizes in the film rages on. While there can be, are, and will be many interpretations of who gets hurt as a result of Borat! (More on this below), Baron Cohen's comments to the interviewer Neil Strauss really eliminate much of the speculation about what Baron Cohen intends the film to do. That Baron Cohen may have realized too late that there was real value and power in keeping mum about his intentions with Borat is possible when you consider that, according to Strauss, Baron Cohen was bothered enough by the encounter that he called Strauss back a week after the interview to discuss it.

Here is what Baron Cohen said that should – although probably won't – once and for all dampen speculation about his motivations in making Borat !. Baron Cohen was reacting to news that the Kazakh government was thinking of suing him and placing a full-page ad promoting the country in The New York Times (they eventually did the latter):

I was surprised, because I always had faith in the audience that they would realize that this was a fictitious country and the mere purpose of it was to allow people to bring out their own prejudices. And the reason we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that no one had heard anything about, so we could essentially play on stereotypes they might have about this ex-Soviet backwater. The joke is not on Kazakhstan. I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist – who believe that there's a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine and the age of consent has been raised to nine years old.

Thus can end much of the debate about Cohen's intentions. It's about the people Borat interviews – in the film, Americans – not about Kazakhstan and Kazakhs. The film is designed to be about Americans.

Certainly, this was what Ryan Gilbey of London's leftist weekly, New Statesman, took away from the film. An article introduced as "Sacha Baron Cohen's exposure of crass Americana" and "The Kazakh ace reporter uncovers uncomfortable truths about the US" summarized the film as follows:

The violence that Borat encounters on the New York subway after trying to greet male strangers with kisses is frighteningly real …. There's an aging cowpoke who requires only the mildest of prompts to endorse the murder of gays and Muslims. Others indict themselves as much by what they do not say as what they do. A redneck rodeo crowd shows no compunction about cheering Borat's gung-ho speech about Iraq, clearly not realizing that what he actually said was: "We support your war of terror!" And it's shocking to witness the tacit acceptance with which Borat's ghoulish requests are greeted. Trying to find the ideal car for mowing down gypsies, or seeking the best gun for killing Jews, he encounters only compliance among America's salespeople. The customer, it seems, is always right, even when he's far right.

An April 2003 article by Lucy Kelaart in the British daily The Guardian, suggests that some Kazakhs – at least those with some exposure to the West – understood this about Borat even back then (based on his British television show visits to the US) . Most of Kelaart's interview subjects on the streets of Almaty were unamused, rather than really offended, and thought Borat was just plain stupid:

Ainura, 25, recently spent a year living in the US. Does she think Borat is giving Kazakhstan a bad name. "Borat's not making fun of Kazakhs, he's making fun of Americans," she says. "They are gullible. Not one of them said, 'No way – that can not be true.' The show describes a US stereotype, not a Kazakh one. It lays bare the American attitude towards foreigners: strong accents, loud voices, stupidity, male chauvinism. "

Of course, as I stated earlier and we shall see, were Baron Cohen's intentions the be-all and end-all of the criticism this article would be far shorter than it is. Particularly in the age of post-modern criticism, the audience and any real or potential sub-audiences take center-stage.

The "Full" Sacha Baron Cohen: Beyond Borat

Lest Americans who see Borat! think in ethnocentric terms that we are Baron Cohen's principal target in his work, it is instructive to look at the "Full" Sacha Baron Cohen, or at latest a broader array of the characters he has played on television and in film.

In Baron Cohen's other signature role in Hollywood films in 2006, he played Will Ferrell's foil and antagonist in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Baron Cohen's character, Jean Girard, is a French "Formula Un" driver who takes the NASCAR circuit by storm. He is a walking embodiment some might say of the "freedom fries," "red (neck) state" American stereotype of the French – a snobbish, effete, espresso-sipping, opera-listening, L'Etranger-reading (adding insult to injury all while he drives!), Perrier-sponsored homosexual (his longtime partner played by Conan O'Brien's one-time latenight sidekick Andy Richter).

It is hard to see this as a role in which Baron Cohen is somehow exploiting the American audience, other than that by playing a stereotype intended to be maximally offensive he is in a sense condescending that audience and its intelligence. Rather, his role as Jean Girard seems quintessentially English (a la Benny Hill), and in that sense sheds light back on Borat, as we learn from his Rolling Stone interview that Baron Cohen grew up idolizing Peters Sellers and loved Sellers' infamous French stereotype , Inspector Jacques Clouseau:

Baron Cohen's future was set when he was roughly eight years old by two significant events. The first was seeing one of Peter Sellers' Pink Panther movies at a friend's ninth birthday party – setting off a lifelong admiration of the British comic actor's work. The other was when his older brothers snuck him into a theater to see Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Certainly, Baron Cohen's most famous character – and the one whose success probably was responsible for Borat getting a chance over the long-run – is the faux "gangsta" rapper Ali G .. Indeed, it is instructive to note that in Ali G.'s first full-length feature film in 2001, Ali G. Indahouse, instead of an epic quest for Pamela Anderson, Ali G. is in pursuit of the supermodel Naomi Campbell. Much of the criticism of "Ali G." sounds in fact remarkably familiar when we see allegations about Baron Cohen's insensitivity to Kazakhs. Within the UK, Ali G. precipitated comments like the following from Felix Dexter, a comedian on a British television series. Substitute "Kazakhs" for "black street culture" and one could get a characterization similar to what we see in the wake of Borat !: "But a lot of the humor is laughing at black street culture and it is being celebrated because it allows the liberal middle classes to laugh at that culture in a context where they can retain their sense of political correctness. "

Tell It to the Kazakhs! … Nevertheless, Why Exactly Kazakhstan?

The forefather and prototype for Borat was the character of a Moldovan television reporter, named Alexi Krickler, who Cohen played in the mid-1990s on British television. According to Cohen that character was based on a doctor he met at a free beach getaway in Astrakhan, southern Russia: "… there was a guy there who was a doctor, and the moment I met him, I started laughing … he had some elements of Borat, but he had none of the racism or the misogyny or the anti-Semitism. he was Jewish, actually. "

This is revealing inasmuch as that the personal characteristics are separated from the views he ascribes to his artistic creation, which some might complain is the essence of stereotyping.

It was as Alexi Krickler that Baron Cohen hit upon what Strauss terms "a tiny epiphany that would eventually fuel Baron Cohen's career":

For example, when interviewing someone about the rugby team British Lions, he'd go back and forth with the interviewee for ten minutes, seemingly unable to comprehend that they do not have actual lions playing rugby. "I was struck by the patience of some of these members of the upper class, who were so keen to appear polite – particularly on camera – that they would never walk away," Baron Cohen says.
Of course, there was a difference that may have petered out over the years … at least in Borat !: originally, Baron Cohen heavily concentrated on the genuinely powerful, whether celebrities or those with money and power, but in Borat! he clearly started sliding toward "taking the piss out of" more average citizens. Perhaps this is where he "crossed the line."

Greetings from "Post (card) -Commiestan"

The Borat of Borat! was still to have several incarnations from Alexi Krickler to the Borat Sagdiyev of today. After Alexi Krickler came an Albanian television reporter named Kristo. Only later did Baron Cohen's "Borat" become Kazakh: first as Borat Karabzhanov, then as Borat Dutbayev, and finally in 2003 as Borat Sagdiyev. This is perhaps important for it suggests that although Sacha Baron Cohen and Kazakhstan have become inseparably intertwined, Borat's "Kazakhness" was almost incidental. One is inevitably reminded here of mistaken intention sometimes conveniently read into retrospective analyses: Bram Stoker's Dracula is today inextricably associated with Romania, yet Dracula apparently started out in Stoker's imagination as "Count Wampyr" from Styria (Austria) and only later (like Borat) migrated eastward to Transylvania.

Still, Moldova, Albania, and Kazakhstan have a clear common theme – they are all part of the post-communist world of the former Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union. And it is worth recalling here Baron Cohen's own comments mentioned earlier: "And the reason we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that no one had heard anything about, so we could essentially play on stereotypes they might have about this ex-Soviet backwater . " In other words, a generic post (card) -Commiestan of sorts.

Baron Cohen has not commented specifically on why Krickler had to leave Moldova and change his name and why his television reporter is always from the post-communist world, but we can speculate. In this way not much has changed from Bram Stoker's time: the need to find a setting that is simultaneously exotic and yet familiar, that acts as a prop but not distraction from the underlying goal of the artform. One wonders to what extent Borat's migration from Moldova to Albania to Kazakhstan was dictated directly or indirectly by real world events – Albania certainly losing some of the "unknown" character that is key to this plot device, because of heavier news coverage surrounding Kosovo in the late 1990s (witness perhaps, the film Wag the Dog). Distance of course makes parody easier (witness the infamous Weird Al Yankovic song and video parody "Amish Paradise" – talk about a disenfranchised community who was unlikely to get upset!) But only up to a point: Go eastward young man! .. .but not too far east because then you become unrecognizable and your audience can not relate and the power of the satire is lost!

Molvania, Romanovia, and Kreplakistan … Oh My!

This still leaves a key question unanswered: why has Baron Cohen sought to have his mock reporter come from real places … however fictionally-described? If, as Baron Cohen suggests, Borat is not from the real Kazakhstan, but from a fictional Kazakhstan so absurd that "the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist," why choose a real country name to begin with? Mirroring the separation, reclamation of independence, and micro-state phenomena of the region itself during the post-communist era, recent years have seen an explosion of "really imagined communities" in the form of fictional countries placed in the post-communist space.

As John Tierney opined in a New York Times op-ed, "I wish Cohen had instead invented a country like Molvania," rather than have Borat come from Kazakhstan. Molvania is, of course, the well-known fictional land of the Jetlag Travel Guide series [Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry], described as "somewhere north of Bulgaria and downwind of Chernobyl." (Despite the fictitious country's name, stipulated location, and characteristics, its three Australian authors maintain it was not modeled on Moldova or even Romania, but was inspired by travels in Portugal.) Among many other things, Molvania is home to Europe's oldest nuclear reactor , and as one of its authors relates: "It's a very beautiful country now that radiation levels have dropped to acceptable standards."

Unsafe nuclear power plants, environmental degradation, and genetic mutation are also the punchline in Ben Stiller's 2004 comedy Dodgeball, in which we are introduced to Fran Stalinofskivichdavidovitchsky of Romanovia: "In her home country of Romanovia, dodgeball is the national sport and her nuclear power plant's team won the championship five years running, which makes her the deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball. "

Then there is Mike Myers' creation of Kreplakistan in the Austin Powers series: Kreplakistan is a former Soviet republic apparently unable to protect its nuclear warheads and in a state of perpetual chaos (as mock CNN clips of people running pell-mell convey to us) . There is speculation on the Wikipedia that Kreplakistan is "likely based on the real Karakalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, now the Republic of Karakalpakstan." More convincing, however, is the idea that "kreplak" is inspired by "kreplach, an Eastern European Jewish dish consisting of meat-filled dumplings."

But is inventing a country the solution to the problems of negative stereotyping and prejudice? If the Internet is any indication: apparently not. Molvania comes in for sharp criticism from those who view it as yet another variation on the (neo-) orientalist theme. There are angry denunciations particularly of the photos the authors use in the book and on the Molvania website – for while they play the role of fictional, mockworthy Molvanians, they are indeed real people. Nor have criticisms of Molvania been consigned merely to the orientalism monitors. In comments similar to those of Kazakh officials about Borat, in 2004 former UK minister for Europe Keith Vaz criticized the book because "it does reflect some of the prejudices which are taking root [in Europe] … The sad thing is, some people might actually believe that this country exists. " Ironically, too, the choice of a fictional "everycountry" can in fact be interpreted as even more insulting because it treats the people of an entire region or group as an essentially undifferentiated "them" – "I can not tell 'em apart , they all look alike … "

Borat, Class, and Urbanity

The parallel drawn by John Tierney between Borat! and Molvania is arguably a natural one, and thus one that many, especially on the Internet, have made. Particularly as stories began to come out about how Borat's mock "Kazakh" home village in the movie was filmed in a poor Roma (gypsy) village in Romania – where the villagers received as payment for their work the feast of "a pig" and while Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly spent the night in the swanky mountain retreat of Sinaia –the issue of class entered the discussion about Borat !. It is difficult not to conclude that the issue of class can become funny in the film precisely because it is portrayed by a "safe cultural environment." That is: poverty becomes broadly funny when it is portrayed by the comparatively unknown or culturally unprotected … be it Kazakhs or "trailer trash" in "red (neck) state" America.

The Polish author of the blog "Beatroot" captured this well in a post on the Molvania guidebook entitled: "Why is it that the only people 'liberals' think it's OK to laugh at these days are the white working class and Central and Eastern Europeans ? "

Europe's 'white trash'

… There is something a bit strange happening in the West. If this sort of book had been written about, say, African people, then, quite rightly, there would have been uproar and outrage. Words like 'racism' would have been used by lefty-liberal reviewers. But it seems that Political Correctness extends to all groups these days except poor whites from urban, rural or semi-rural areas in America and Europe.

Indeed, I would venture to speculate that had the villagers in Borat! been presented as Roma or "gypsies," rather than as fictional Kazakhs, there might have been greater outrage about this, precisely because of the hierarchy of officially-recognized discrimination that prevails in cultural and political circles in the West. By being presented as the comparatively-unknown Kazakhs, however, it made it "easier" to laugh freely. And had the English tabloid press not taken an interest in the village of Glod (meaning "mud"!) And shown clips of the movie to the villagers, it is possible that these fictional Kazakhs would have been every bit as disenfranchised as the Amish relative to Weird Al Yankovic: according to the journalists, "not a single villager we spoke to had ever been able to afford a trip to the nearest cinema, 20 miles away"!

Sun-Baked Mud or When Things Get All Bollixed Up: The Uses of Borat

That finished cultural products can become intermediary inputs or be reprocessed for things their creators never could have dreamed of and might not even agree with is well-known. A few years back I remember seeing a television report in a major US metropolitan area where real estate agents were being investigated for using the shorthand "Archie Bunker" to describe clients with 'discriminating tastes,' thinking that by using such language they were somehow remaining within the bounds of equal opportunity regulations. Similarly, US troops in Iraq have described their incorporation of the satirical jingoistic ballad "America, ** ck yeah!" from Team America: World Police on their missions. So it has been with Borat. This is undoubtedly the complaint of Jewish anti-defamation groups: that it does not matter that Baron Cohen is Jewish and seeks to highlight anti-Semitic prejudice, if his audience laughs with, rather than at, Borat's anti-Semitism.

The London tabloid The Sun, well-known for its "misgivings" over immigration and some would argue pandering to racist and xenophobic attitudes, searched for its pitchfork to make hay out of Borat! in the context of the looming immigration debate connected with Romania and Bulgaria's entry into the European Union on 1 January 2007. The paper delighted in quoting Gheorghiu Pascu, 46, as saying "Borat is a son-of-a-bitch who made us look like savages. This is Transylvania, home of Dracula. If he ever returns we will stick a stake in his backside and impale him. Then I would cut his b *** s off. " Two weeks later, under a headline blaring "We're leaving Romania" was a picture of villagers in horse-drawn carts with the caption "Horse and cart … Romanians are heading our way for a better life; slowly." The article quotes a villager saying "people will simply get around the restrictions by working in the black market or being self-employed," and ends with another pledging, "Borat should watch out. He might bump into some of us in London soon. "

America the Stereotype … Now Coming to a Theater Near You:
Getting America's Wrongs Right, its Rights Wrong, and its Right Wrong

Borat! is replete with what might be called "nesting occidentalisms" or "nesting anti-Americanisms": that is, it creates and plays on foreign and domestic hierarchies of Americans, good, bad, and ugly. Chris Jones hits on the triteness and tawdriness of Baron Cohen's itinerary in the film as follows:

… Borat starts his American trek in New York, land of the cold and the distant, where the only communication is by epithet. Then he heads to the South, land of the obsequiously and idiotically polite, where the local gothics have not changed their outlook since the days of Scarlett O'Hara. He takes a turn for Texas – where outsize nuts in cowboy hats chew their cuds on every corner. And after a brief sojourn in the ghetto – where every street is named "Martin Luther King Blvd." – He ends up in Southern California, where surgically enhanced breasts heave in every swimsuit.

In other words, Baron Cohen took the road so-frequently-travelled through the European's amusement park of American stereotypes (and some would have us believe only Americans view the world as an extension of Disneyland!) "Othering," it turns out, does not acknowledge the class struggle or political correctness.

Baron Cohen certainly takes – or at least wishes to portray – himself seriously. It should thus come to no one's surprise that those Americans who come off best in the film are a religiously-observant elderly Jewish couple who run a bed-and-breakfast and an African-American callgirl (variously claimed on the Internet to be an actress ):

I think part of the movie shows the absurdity of holding any form of racial prejudice, whether it's hatred of African-Americans or of Jews … Borat essentially works as a tool. By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it's anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism …. I remember, when I was in university I studied history, and there was this one major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw. And his quote was, "The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference." I know it's not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but I think it's an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic.

But is that really what we are talking about with the ugly Americans Baron Cohen meets in Borat !? For one thing, Chris Jones poses a good question: did Baron Cohen really have to "cross the pond" to find such disturbing stereotypes?

Because Cohen is now reportedly the highest paid comic in Britain – and because he styles himself as a radical – here's the movie he should now make. Let's see his Borat make some Cultural Learnings of his own smug world. It would not be hard for him to chat up a racist in a London pub. He could go to any British soccer game and find a cacophony of anti-gay slurs. Get an Irishman on the street chattering about Eastern European immigrants and someone will put a foot in it. Borat could spend time with French gothics from the Dordogne. He could teach us about the way Europe has integrated (or not) its Muslim citizens. Do not they have hookers in Hamburg? Let's see if they're welcome at your better class of German party.

As Andrew Mueller notes about the movie: "What astonishes about every American he encounters is not their naivete, but their politeness, hospitality, and the extraordinary degree to which Borat has to inflame situations to provoke reaction. Had he attempted these antics in many other countries – bringing a hooker to dinner, desecrating the national anthem in front of a rodeo audience – he'd have conducted the publicity campaign in traction. "

I would argue that Baron Cohen to some extent misinterprets the reactions of those he "exposes." Is what he sees with most of the Americans he captures on tape the same as what he claims of the "upper-class Englishmen … so keen to appear polite for the camera"? I do not think so. The reserve, the failure to act, the consensual behavior of the Americans Baron Cohen meets, I would argue, is born of a desire not to offend the guest, no matter how odd he is, not to speak or ask questions lest one show one's ignorance. After all, the biggest faux pas one can make in today's globalized day and age, we are told, is to mock or express ignorance of our interlocutor's culture. Do not be judgmental, just play along, go along to get along …

This is American socio-cultural laissez-faire -also known as American self-centeredness – at its best and worst, a world where individual privacy can reach absurd proportions, whether it be not asking a neighbor about his salary or the worth of her house, or not interfering with the neighbor next door even though you might question the noises you hear at night as indicating physical or mental abuse. Indeed, the very American counter to Borat! can be seen in the final episode of the long-running comedy series Seinfeld, where the four main characters are hauled into court for failing to fulfill a newly-passed "Good Samaritan" law and helping a man in distress, whom they instead made fun of because of his weight – an homage, intended or not, to American self-centeredness.

Is it safe? … Is it safe?

"Is it safe? … Is it safe?" is no longer just something you hear at the dentist anymore. It is the thought that crosses people's minds before, while, or after they laugh in our post-modern world. Perhaps the lesson here, however, is to not to take all this overly-seriously.

Americans should actually be thankful for such a movie: it holds a mirror up and tells us how some in the rest of the world view us. As has frequently been said, in the past many who disliked the United States had a compartmentalized view that separated US foreign policy from the American people; increasingly surveys of foreign public opinion suggest that foreigners are no longer drawing this distinction (although it may indeed be that the perceptions of the former are negatively affecting the latter). Like it or not, Baron Cohen has tapped in effectively to foreign perceptions of the United States and he found enough Americans to play the ugly stereotypes he expected of them brilliantly.

On the other hand, yes, Virginia, it is safe to laugh at Borat. Andrew Mueller explains why:

The reason that Borat is such a liberating hoot is Baron-Cohen's understanding that nothing is funnier than what we're not supposed to laugh at – and, in the early 21st century, the pressure upon us not to laugh at the backwardness and stupidity of foreigners has been considerable. We are expected to take seriously people who want to execute cartoonists for drawing, and stone women for having sex – neither of which, as ideas, are dafter than the Kazakh custom, described by Borat, of compelling gay people to wear blue hats.

Nor should we cry too much for Kazakhstan (Moscow certainly does not). As one poster on a website debating whether Borat is good or bad publicity for Kazakhstan stated: "Without Borat, Kazakhstan is just another obscure Central Asian republic." Another pointed out, Borat is portrayed as "naïve, but he is not cruel or bad." Others suggest, the Kazakhs could pull off a real coup if they were now to use the Borat character in a film to market "the real Kazakhstan." Professor Sean Roberts notes that, according to GoogleTrends, Borat more than doubled Kazakhstan's usual Google hits during the lead up and height of the Borat film's PR campaign.

All that remains then is the final plot device for Baron Cohen to kill off Borat, so that nobody is upset anymore. A modest proposal: How about a "Dallas" -like plot twister with "Who shot Borat?" Was it the Americans, the Kazakhs, the villagers of Glod? … Why it was the Baron Cohen himself


Source by Richard Andrew Hall

Becoming a Skilled and Conscious Empath – A Spiritual Journey


Armed with a Ph.D. and a lucrative counseling professorship at age 30, I embarked on what was to be one of the shorter careers in the history of academia. Despite being nominated for early career awards and authoring a half-dozen research publications, I decided to leave my tenure-track position at the University of Wyoming in 2005 after just three years to begin working with empaths in Santa Fe, NM. I had to follow my heart. After I realized I was an empath, there was no turning back.

The cultural identity of empath is rapidly growing and gaining mainstream acceptance; Dr. Judith Orloff's best-selling holistic healing books are evidence of that. The primary characteristic of an empath is a high degree of sensitivity to the emotional state of other people. If you've ever been told that you're a good listener, then you might be an empath. People feel comfortable sharing their emotions and deepest thoughts with empaths, and thus, we tend to be especially popular around high-stress times like the holidays.

However, an empath's ability to bond with others can lead to unintended health consequences. In many cases, empaths will take on other people's emotional pain as if it was their own. In toxic situations, intense emotional energy can affect an empath deeply. We can unintentionally absorb emotions, like a sponge. I walked around for years with what felt like two fishing hooks stuck in my heart area.

In 2003, I sought out healing for my accumulated emotional and physical pain. I began a five-year apprenticeship with two Native American healers and drove the 8-hour trek from Laramie, Wyoming to Santa Fe every month. I quickly discovered why counseling came so easy. The Native American community recognizes empaths. These individuals have been trained as the medicine men and women in tribes and communities.

Research has shown that approximately twenty percent of people are highly sensitive in general. In my experience and observation, fewer still are empaths (those sensitive specifically to other people). Perhaps 5 percent of all people are natural empaths – and most do not recognize it. I am seeing women and men who have lived their entire lives wondering what was wrong with them, being called hypersensitive or oversensitive – who can now breathe a sigh of relief. What was thought to be a quirk or even mental illness in actuality is a special gift for being able to understand the emotions and motivations of other people.

In my coaching practice, I help empathic individuals differentiate what energy is theirs, and what is coming from other people. We work on coping strategies to manage the high sensitivity and prevent the absorption of harmful energy.

I'm so happy and privileged to work in this special field with empaths, helping us to become more joyful, more skilled, and more conscious of the tremendous spiritual gifts with which we have been blessed.


Source by Michael Robert Smith

Basic Misconceptions About Slavery


There are several misconceptions about the Atlantic slave trade but the worst misconception is that Africans sold their own people into slavery. This statement implies that parents sold their children into slavery; husbands sold their wives, and even brothers and sisters willing to sell their parents to the white slavers. This misconception also perpetuates the myth that Africans and descendants of Africans are nothing more than savages who will sell their own flesh and blood for a few trinkets.

The basis for this myth was to justify the enslavement of millions of people in order to do free manual labor and to promote white racial superiority. The main train of thought was: How could you feel sorry for a race of people who would sell their own people? Africans were obviously inferior and deserved to be enslaved.

In spite of the racial hegemony that caused the Atlantic slave trade, the greatest paradox is that some of it was true: There were some Africans that sold other Africans into slavery. However the Africans that partook into this madness were kings or tribal chieftains and they usually sold prisoners of war from other African countries that had been captured. They never sold their own kinsmen into slavery. Also, the people of Africa do not consider themselves to African, unlike people in America, who consider themselves to be American regardless of what state they reside in. Africa is a continent of different cultures and the only loyalty one had was to one's own culture. People who live in Ghana do feel any kinship towards some who lived in Mali. To their way of thinking, selling someone from a different tribe was not a bad thing. This was especially true if different tribes were at war.

The Atlantic slave trade grew at a time when many African countries were at ware with each other. Prisoners of war could easily be sold to slave traders in exchange for guns and other commodities, not having any idea how brutally the enslaved Africans were treated on the ships and later on in America.

Also, the conception about slavery for Africans was totally different that that of Europeans. Slavery had existed in Africa for centuries before the Atlantic slave trade but it was slavery of a different kind. In Africa, the slave usually had rights, protection under the law, and the ability to move up socially. Slaves were treated like family members by their owners and allowed marry legally and their children were not born slaves. Some slaves were even allowed to earn money and eventually buy their freedom from their owners. This was not the case for the slaves captured during the Atlantic slave trade.

In spite of the fact that there were some Africans who sold other Africans into slavery, it does not justify the fact that millions of people were snatched from their homeland and sold into bondage to make money for the status quo. Africans in Africa and their descendants in America have suffered a total loss of lies, heritage and human possibility. The bulk of the Africans sold into slavery during the Atlantic slave trade were young adult men and women and the loss these young people weakened Africa's economic, social, and political advancement. That is why it was so easy for Europe to strip Africa of its natural resources.

The ultimate degradation and humiliation of the slaves who came to America during the Atlantic Passage was being treated as property and sold like cattle. Even the lowliest slave in Africa had more rights than the slaves in America.


Source by Kathy Henry

Should I Learn American English Or British English?


American and British English are both variants of World English. As such, they are more similar than different, especially with "educated" or "scientific" English. Most divergence can be ascribed to differing national histories and cultural development and the way in which the two national variants have changed correspondingly.

It was said by Sir George Bernard Shaw that "England and America are two countries separated by the same language".

Written forms of American and British English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences in comparable media.

This kind of formal English, particularly written English, is often called 'standard English'. It is therefore important for teachers to be aware of the major differences between the two. And while lexical differences are the easiest ones to notice, knowledge of grammatical and phonological differences can be useful not only for teachers to be aware of, but also to be able to deal with in business world. Lack of awareness can lead to embarrassment and confusion.

Another thing which has become apparent is the fact that there are no definitive answers. Not only do different counties / states use different terminology but there appears to be differences between generations as well. All this makes it very difficult to produce information with which everyone agrees.

What has become very evident over the years is just how much language is merging between all the various countries. In the UK we have adopted many, many "Americanisms" into everyday language and, I believe, some British terms are now used in the USA. This is probably due to travel and the wide exchange of TV programmes etc.

Some people asked, "Which is better American or British English?" Generally, it is agreed that no one version is "correct" however, there are certainly preferences in use. It depends upon which English you will be most exposed to. If you are moving to the US then learn American English, if you're going to work for a British company then learn British English. And do not forget there are many different kinds of English and the rising star of International English.

The most important rule of thumb is to try to be consistent in your usage. If you decide that you want to use American English spellings then be consistent in your spelling (ie The color of the orange is also its flavour – color is American spelling and flavour is British), this is of course not always easy – or possible. That both British English and American English are accepted on the examinations as long as you consistently use either one or the other. In other words, do not mix!

Some of the key differences between these two languages; however, most of the words are exactly the same. Firstly, one can easily notice that the accents are much different. Some words are slightly different. For example, in American English the undergarments of a person are called "underwear." However, in British English, it is simply called "pants." Thus, some words can be easily confused in the opposite cultures.

There are also some reasonably consistent spelling differences. There are some common rules for American English. In the following examples listed below, the first is UK English and the second is American English.

• Where UK, Australian and NZ English often use the letter group of our, in American English the u is omitted.
favourite / favorite
neighbour / neighbor
colour / color

• UK English uses an s where American English often substitutes a z.
capitalisation / capitalization
recognise / recognize

• In word building, UK English doubles the final consonant where it is preceded by a vowel, whereas American English does not. For example:
traveller / traveler
labelled / labeled

• Some words which are spelt with a 'c' in the noun form but an 's' in the verb form of some words are not spelt with the 'c' in American English – both noun and verb forms retain the 's'.
practice / practise
licence / license

• Some words ending in 're' in UK and Australian English are spelt with 'er' in American English.
centre / center
kilometre / kilometer

• UK English retains the old style of retaining 'oe' and 'ae' in the middle of some words, whilst American English uses just an 'e'.
encyclopaedia / encyclopedia
manoeuvre / maneuvre

• Some words in UK English retain the 'gue' at the end, as opposed to just the 'g' in American English.
dialogue / dialog
catalogue / catalog

The best way to make sure that you are being consistent in your spelling is to use the spell check on your word processor (if you are using the computer of course) and choose which variety of English you would like. As you can see, there are really very few differences between standard British English and standard American English. However, the largest difference is probably that of the choice of vocabulary and pronunciation.


Source by Anya Van Musico

Langston Hughes – The Life, Times, Works as Well as Impact of a Versatile African-American Writer


Langston Hughes stands as a literary and cultural translation of the political resistance and campaign of black consciousness leaders such as Martin Luther King to restore the rights of the black citizenry thus fulfilling the ethos of the American dream, which is celebrated universally every year around February to april.

Hughes' overriding sense of a social and cultural purpose tied to his sense of the past, the present and the future of black America commends his life and works as having much to learn from to inspire us to move forward and to inform and guide our steps as we move forward to create a great future.

Hughes is also significant since he seems to have conveniently spanned the genres: poetry, drama, novel and criticism leaving an indelible stamp on each. At 21 years of age he had published in all four (4) areas. For he always considered himself an artist in words who would venture into every single area of ​​literary creativity, because there were readers for whom a story meant more than a poem or a song lyric meant more than a story and Hughes wanted to reach that individual and his kind.

But first and foremost, he considered himself a poet. He wanted to be a poet who could address himself to the concerns of his people in poems that could be read with no formal training or extensive literary background. In spite of this Hughes wrote and staged dozens of short stories, about a dozen books for children, a history of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP), two volumes of autobiography, opera libretti, song lyrics and so on. Hughes was driven by a sheer confidence in his versatility and in the power of his craft.

Hughes "commitment to Africa was real and concretized in both words and deeds. The fact of his Negro-ness (though light-complexioned) has aroused in him a desire to challenge those from the other side of the color line that reject it:

My old man's a white old man

And my old mother's black

My old ma died in a fine big house

My mad died in a shack

I wonder where I'm gonna die

Being neither white nor black?

His search for his roots was given impetus when in 1923 Hughes met and heard Marcus Garvey exhort Negroes to go back to Africa to escape the wrath of the white man. Hughes then became one of the poets who thought they felt the beating of the jungle tom-toms in the Negroes' pulse. Their verse took on a nostalgic mood, and some even imagined that they were infusing the rhythms of African dancing and music into their verse like we could sense in the reading of this poem: 'Danse Africaine':

The low beating of the tom toms,

The slow beating of the tom toms,

Low … slow

Slow … low –

Stirs your blood.


A night-veiled girl

Whirls softly into a

Circle of light.

Whirls softly … slowly,

Born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902, Hughes grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and Lincoln, Illinois, before going to high school in Cleveland, Ohio in of which places, he was part of a small community of blacks to whom he was nevertheless profoundly attached from early in his life. Though descending from a distinguished family his infancy was disrupted by the separation of his parents not long after his birth. His father then emigrated to Mexico where he hoped to gain the success that had eluded him in America. The color of his skin, he had hoped, would be less of a consideration in determining his future in Mexico. There, he broke new ground. He gained success in business and lived the rest of his life there as a prosperous attorney and landowner.

In contrast, Hughes' mother lived the transitory life common for black mothers often leaving her son in the care of her mother while searching for a job.

His maternal grandmother, Mary Langston, whose first husband had died at Harpers Ferry as a member of John Brown's band, and whose second husband (Hughes's grandfather) had also been a militant abolitionist. instilled in Hughes a sense of dedication most of all. Hughes lived successively with family friends, then various relatives in Kansas.

Another important family figure was John Mercer Langston, a brother of Hughes's grandfather who was one of the best-known black Americans of the nineteenth century.

Hughes later joined his mother even though she was now with his new stepfather in Cleveland, Ohio. At the same time, Hughes struggled with a sense of desolation fostered by parental neglect. He himself recalled being driven early by his loneliness 'to books, and the wonderful world in books.' He became disillusioned with his father's materialistic values ​​and contemptuous belief that blacks, Mexicans and Indians were lazy and ignorant.

At Central High School Hughes excelled academically and in sports. He wrote poetry and short fiction for the school's literary magazine and edited the school year book. He returned to Mexico where he taught English briefly and wrote poems and prose pieces for publication in The Crisis the magazine of the NAACP.

Aided by his father, he arrived in New York in 1921 ostensibly to attend Columbia University but really it was to see Harlem. One of his greatest poems, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" had just been published in The Crisis. His talent was immediately spotted though he only lasted one year at Columbia where he did well but never felt comfortable.

On campus, he was subjected to bigotry. He was assigned the worst dormitory room because of his color. Classes in English literature were all he could endure. Instead of attending classes which he found boring he would frequent shows, lectures and readings sponsored by the American Socialist Society. It was then that he was first introduced to the laughter and pain, hunger and heartache of blues music. It was the night life and culture that lured him out of college. Those sweet sad blues songs captured for him the intense pain and yearning that he saw around him, and that he incorporated into such poems as "The Weary Blues".

To keep himself going as a poet and support his mother, Hughes served in turn as: a delivery boy for a florist; a vegetable farmer and a mess boy on a ship up the Hudson River. As part of a merchant steamer crew he sailed to Africa. He then traveled the same way to Europe, where he jumped Ship in Paris only to spend several months working in a night-club kitchen and then wandering off to Italy.

By 1924 his poetry which he had all along been working on showed the powerful influence of the blues and jazz. His poem "The Weary Blues" which best exemplifies this influence helped launch his career when it won first prize in the poetry section of the 1925 literary contest of Opportunity magazine and also won another literary prize in Crisis.

This landmark poem, the first of any poet to make use of that basic blues form is part of a volume of that same title whose entire collection reflects the frenzied atmosphere of Harlem nightlife. Most of its selections just as "The Weary Blues" approximate the phrasing and meter of blues music, a genre popularized in the early 1920s by rural and urban blacks. In it and such other pieces as "Jazzonia" Hughes evoked the frenzied hedonistic and glittering atmosphere of Harlem's famous night-clubs. Poetry of social commentary such as "Mother to Son" show how hardened the blacks have to be to face the innumerable hurdles that they have to battle through in life.

Hughes' earliest influences as a mature poet came interestingly from white poets. We have Walt Whitman the man who through his artistic violations of old conventions of poetry opened the boundaries of poetry to new forms like free verse. There is also the highly populist white German Émigré Carl Sandburg, who as Hughes' "guiding star," was decisive in leading him toward free verse and a radically democratic modernist aesthetic

But black poets Paul Laurence Dunbar, a master of both dialect and standard verse, and Claude McKay, the black radical socialist an emigre from Jamaica who also wrote accomplished lyric poetry, stood for him as the embodiment of the cosmopolitan and yet racially confident and committed black poet Hughes hoped to be. He was also indebted to older black literary figures such as WEB Dubois and James Weldon Johnson who admired his work and aided him. WEB Dubois' collection of Pan-Africanist essays Souls of Black Folks has markedly influenced many black writers like Hughes, Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

Such colour-affirmative images and sentiments as that in "people": The night is beautiful, / So the faces of my people and in 'Dream Variations: Night coming tenderly, / Black like me. endeared his work to a wide range of African Americans, for whom he delighted in writing ,.

Hughes had always shown his determination to experiment as a poet and not slavishly follow the tyranny of tight stanzaic forms and exact rhyme. He seemed, like Watt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, to prefer to write verse which captured the realities of American speech rather than "poetic diction", and with his ear especially attuned to the varieties of black American speech.

"Weary Blues" combines these various elements the common speech of ordinary people, jazz and blues music and the traditional forms of poetry adapted to the African American and American subjects. In his adaptation of traditional poetic forms first to jazz then to blues sometimes using dialect but in a way radically different from earlier writers, Hughes was well served by his early experimentation with a loose form of rhyme that frequently gave way to an inventively rhythmic free verse :

Ma an ma baby

Got two mo 'ways,

Two mo 'ways to do de buck!

Even more radical experimentation with the blues form led to his next collection, Fine Clothes to the Jew. Perhaps his finest single book of verse, including several ballads, Fine Clothes was also his least favourably welcomed.

Several reviewers in black newspapers and magazines were distressed by Hughes' fearless and, 'tasteless' evocation of elements of lower-class black culture, including its sometimes raw eroticism, never before treated in serious poetry.

Hughes expressing his determination to write about such people and to experiment with blues and jazz wrote in his essay "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain." Published in the Nation in 1926

'We younger artists … intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves Without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they Are not, it does not matter. We know we are beautiful, And ugly too. '

Hughes expressed his determination to write fearlessly, shamelessly and unrepentantly about low-class black life and people inspite of opposition to that. He also exercised much freedom in experimenting with blues as well as jazz.

The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If coloured people are pleased we are glad. If they are not their displeasure does not matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how and we stand on top of the mountains, free within ourselves.

With his espousal of such thoughts defending the freedom of the black writer Hughes became a beacon of light to younger writers who also wished to assert their right to explore and exploit allegedly degraded aspects of black people. He thus provided the movement with a manifesto by so skillfully arguing the need for both race pride and artistic independence in this his most memorable essay,

In 1926 Hughes returned to school in the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he continued publishing poetry, short stories and essays in mainstream and black-oriented periodicals

In 1927 together with Zora Neal Hurston and other writers he founded Fire a literary journal devoted to African -American culture and aimed at destroying the older forms of black literature. The venture itself was short-lived. It was engulfed in fire along with its editorial offices.

Then a 70 – year old wealthy white patron entered his life. Charlotte Osgood Mason, who started directing virtually every aspect of Hughes' life and art. Her passionate belief in parapsychology, intuition and folk culture was brought into supervising the writing of Hughes' novel: Not Without Lauqhter in which his boyhood in Kansas is drawn to depict the life of a sensitive black child, Sandy, growing up in a representative, middle-class.mid-western African-American home.

Hughes' relationship with Mason came to an explosive end in 1930. Hurt and baffled by Mason's rejection, Hughes used money from a prize to spend several weeks recovering in Haiti. From the intense personal unhappiness and depression into which the break had sunk him.

Back in the US, Hughes made a sharp turn to the political left. His verses and essays were now being published in New Masses, a journal controlled by the Communist Party. Later that year he began touring.

The renaissance which was long over was replaced for Hughes by a sense of the need for political struggle and for an art that reflected this radical approach. But his career, unlike others then, easily survived the end of that movement. He kept on producing his art in keeping with his sense of himself as a thoroughly professional writer. He then published his first collections, the often acerbic and even embittered The Ways of White Folks.

Hughes' main concern was now, the theatre. Mulatto, his drama of race-mixing and the South was the longest running play by an African American on Broadway until Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun appeared in the 1960's. His dramas – comedies and ramas of domestic black American life, largely – were also popular with black audiences. Using such innovations as theatre-in-the-round and invoking audience participation, Hughes anticipated the work of later avant-garde dramatists like Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez. In his drama Hughes combines urban dialogue, folk idioms, and a thematic emphasis on the dignity and strength of black Americans.

Hughes wrote other plays, including comedies such as Little Ham (1936) and a historical drama, Emperor of Haiti (1936) most of which were only moderate successes. In 1937 he spent several months in Europe, including a long stay in besieged Madrid. In 1938 he returned home to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater, which staged his agitprop drama Do not You Want to Be Free? employing several of his poems, vigorously blended black nationalism, the blues, and socialist exhortation. The same year, a socialist organization published a pamphlet of his radical verse, "A New Song."

With the start of World War II, Hughes returned to the political centre. The Big Sea, his first volume of his autobiography work with its memorable portrait of the renaissance and his African voyages written in an episodic, lightly comic style with virtually no mention of his leftist sympathies appeared.

In his book of verse Shakespeare in Harlem (1942) he once again sang the blues. On the other hand, this collection, as well as another, his Jim Crow's Last Stand (1943), strongly attacked racial segregation.

In poetry, he revived his interest in some of his old themes and forms, as in Shakespeare in Harlem (1942) .the South and West, taking poetry to the people. He read his poems in churches and in schools. He then sailed from New York for the Soviet Union. He was amongst a band of young African-Americans invited to take part in a film about American race relations.

This filmmaking venture, though unsuccessful, proved instrumental to enhancing his short story writing. For whilst in Moscow he was struck by the similarities between DH Lawrence's character in a title story from his collection The Lovely Lady and Mrs Osgood Mason. Overwhelmed by the power of Lawrence's stories, Hughes began writing short fiction of his. On his return to the US. by 1933 he had sold three stories and had begun compiling his first collection.

Perhaps his finest literary achievement during the war came in writing a weekly column in the Chicago Defender from 1942 to 1952. the highlight of which was an offbeat Harlem character called Jesse B. Semple, or Simple, and his exchanges with a staid narrator in a neighborhood bar, where Simple commented on a variety of matters but mainly about race and racism. Simple became Hughes's most celebrated and beloved fictional creation. and one of the freshest, most fascinating and enduring Negro characters in American fiction Jesse B Simple, is a Harlem Everyman, whose comic manner hardly obscured some of the serious themes raised by Hughes in relating Simple's exploits in the quintessential "wise-fool 'whose experience and uneducated insights capture the frustrations of being black in America .. his honest and unsophisticated eye sees through the shallowness, hypocrisy and phoniness of white and black Americans alike. From his stool at Paddy's Bar, in a delightful brand of English, Simple comments both wisely and hilariously on many things but principally on race and women.

His bebop-shaped poem Montage of a Dream Deferred (1991) projects a changing Harlem, fertile with humanity but in decline. In it, the drastically deteriorated state of Harlem in the 1950s is contrasted to the Harlem of the 20s. The exuberance of night-club life and the vitality of cultural renaissance has now gone. An urban ghetto plagued by poverty and crime has taken its place. A change in rhythm parallels the change in tone. The smooth patterns and gentle melancholy of blues music are replaced by the abrupt, fragmented structure of post-war jazz and bebop. Hughes was alert to what was happening in the African-American world and what was coming. This is why this volume of verse reflected so much the new and relatively new be-bop jazz rhythms that emphasized dissonance They thus reflected the new pressures that were straining the black communities in the cities of the North.

Hughes' living much of his life in basements and attics brought much realism and humanity to his writing especially his short stories. He thus remained close to his vast public as he kept moving figuratively through the basements of the world where his life is thickest and where common people struggle to make their way. At the same time, writing in attics, he rose to the long perspective that enabled him to radiate a humanizing, beautifying, but still truthful light on what he saw.

Hughes' short stories reflect his entire purpose as a writer. For his art was aimed at interpreting "the beauty of his own people," which he felt they were taught either not to see or not to take pride in. In all his stories, his humanity, his faithful and artistic presentations of both racial and national truth – his successful mediation between the beauties and the terrors of life around him all shine out. Certain themes, technical excellencies or social insights loom out.

"Slave in the Block" for example, a simple but vivid tale reveals the lack of respect and even human communication, between Negroes and those patronizing and cosmetic whites.

Hughes also took time to write for children producing the successful Popo and Fifina (1932), a tale set in Haiti with Arna Bontemps. He eventually published a dozen children's books, on subjects such as jazz, Africa, and the West Indies. Proud of his versatility, he also wrote a commissioned history of the NAACP and the text of a much praised pictorial history of black America The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), where he explicated photographs of Harlem by Roy DeCarava, which was judged masterful by reviewers, and confirmed Hughes's reputation for an unrivaled command of the nuances of black urban culture.

Hughes's suffered constant harassment about his ties to the Left. In vain he protested he had never been a Communist having severed all such links. In 1953 he was subjected to public humiliation at the hands of Senator Joseph McCarthy, when he was forced to appear in Washington, DC, and testify officially about his politics. Hughes denied that he had ever been a communist but conceded that some of his radical verse had been ill-advised.

Hughes's career hardly suffered from this. Within a short time McCarthy himself was discredited. Hughes now wrote at length in I Wonder as I Wander (1956), his much-admired second volume of autobiography. about his years in the Soviet Union. He became prosperous, although he always had to work hard for his measure of prosperity. In the 1950s he turned to the musical stage for success, as he sought to repeat his major success of the 1940s, when Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice had chosen him as the lyricist for their Street Scene (1947). This production was hailed as a breakthrough in the development of American opera; for Hughes, the apparently endless cycle of poverty into which he had been locked came to an end. He bought a home in Harlem.

By the end of his life Hughes was almost universally recognized as the most representative writer in the history of African American literature and also as probably the most original of all black American poets. He thus became the widely acknowledged "Poet Laureate" of the Negro Race!

According to Arnold Rampersad, an authority on Hughes:

Much of his work celebrated the beauty and dignity and Humanity of black Americans. Unlike other writers Hughes basked in the glow of the obviously high regard of his primary audience, African Americans. His poetry, with its original jazz and blues influence and its powerful democratic commitment, is almost certainly the most influential written by any person of African descent in this century. Certain of his poems; "Mother to Son" are virtual anthems of black American life and aspiration. His plays alone … could secure him a place in AfroAmerican literary history. His character Simple is the most memorable single figure to emerge from black journalism. 'The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain' is timeless, "it seems as a statement of constant dilemma facing the young black artist, caught between the contending forces of black and white culture '

Liberated by the examples of Carl Sandburg's free verse Hughes' poetry has always aimed for utter directness and simplicity. In this regard, is the notion that he almost never revised his work seeming like romantic poets who believe and demonstrate that poetry is a 'spontaneous overflow of emotions ".

Like Walt Whitman, Hughes's great poetic forefather in America's poetry …, Hughes did believe in the poetry of Emotion, in the power of ideas and feelings that went beyond matters of technical crafts. Hughes never wanted to be a writer who carefully sculpted rhyme and stanzas and in so doing lost the emotional heart of what he had set out to say.

His poems imbued with the distinctive diction and cadences of Negro idioms in simple stanza patterns and strict rhyme schemes derived from blues songs enabled him to capture the ambience of the setting as well as the rhythms of jazz music.

He wrote mostly in two modes / directions:

(I) lyrics about black life using rhythms and refrains from jazz and


(Ii) Poems of racial protest

exploring the boundaries between black and white America. thus contributing to the strengthening of black consciousness and racial pride than even the Harlem Renaissance's legacy for its most militant decades. While never militantly repudiating co-operation with the white community, the poems which protest against white racism are boldly direct.

In "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" the simple direct and free verse makes clear that Africa's dusky rivers run concurrently with the poet's soul as he draws spiritual strength as well as individual identity from the collective experience of his ancestors. The poem is according to Rampersad "reminding us that the syncopated beat which the captive Africans brought with them" that found its first expression here in "the hand clapping, feet stamping, drum-beating rhythms of the human heart (4 – 5), is as' ancient as the world. "

But what Hughes is better known for is his treatment of the possibilities of African-American experiences and identities. Like Walt Whitman, he created a persona that speaks for more than himself. His voice in "I too" for instance absorbs the depiction of a whole race into his central consciousness as he laments:

I, too, sing America

I am the darker brother.

I, too, am America.

The "darker brother" celebrating America is certain of a better future when he will no longer be shunted aside by "company". The poem is characteristic of Hughes's faith in the racial consciousness of African Americans, a consciousness that reflects their integrity and beauty while simultaneously demanding respect and acceptance from others as especially when: Nobody '/ I dare Say to me, Eat in the kitchen.

This dogged resistance and optimism in facing adversity is what Hughes' life centred on.thus enabling him to survive and achieve in spite of the obstacles facing him. as Rampersad affirms :.

'Toughness was a major characteristic of Hughes' life. For his life was hard. He certainly knew poverty and humiliation at the hands of people with far more power and money than he had and little respect for writers, especially poets. Through all his poverty and hurt, Hughes kept on a steady keel. He was a gentleman, a soft man in many ways, who was sympathetic and affectionate, but was tough to the core.

Hughes's poetry reveals his hearty appetite for all humanity, his insistence on justice for all, and his faith in the transcendent possibilities of joy and hope that make room as he aspires in 'I too', for everyone at America's table.

This deep love for all humanity is echoed in one of his poems: 'My People "some lines of which were earlier referred to:

The night is beautiful,

so the faces of my people,

the stars are beautiful,

so the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun

Beautiful also, are the souls of my people

Arnold Rampersad's last word on Hughes's humanity, is anchored on three essential attributes: his tenderness; generosity and his sense of humour.

Hughes was also tender. He was a man who lovse other people and was beloved. It was very hard to find anyone who had known him who would say a harsh thing about him. People who knew him could remember little that was not pleasant of him. Evidently, he radiated joy and humanity and this was how he was remembered after his death.

He loved the company of people. He needed to have people around him. He needed them perhaps to counter the essential loneliness instilled in his soul from early in his life and out of which he made his literary art.

Hughes was a man of great generosity. He was generous to the young and the poor, the needy; he was generous even to his rivals. He was generous to a fault, giving to those who did not always deserve his kindness. But he was prepared to risk ingratitude in order to help younger artists in particular and young people in general.

Hughes was a man of laughter, although his laughter almost always came in the presence of tears or the threat of the surge of tears. The titles of his first novel Not Without Laughter and a collection of stories Laughing to Keep from Crying. indicate this. This was essentially how he believed life must be faced – with the knowledge of its inescapable loneliness and pain but with an awareness, too, of the therapy of laughter by which we assert the human in the face of circumstances. We must reach out to people, and one should not only have an astounding tolerance of life's sufferings but should also exuberantly complete the happy aspect of life.

His sense of humour is again credited by a writer from Africa who was like Hughes also faced with fighting racial discrimination and deprivation, Ezekiel Mphahlele.

Here is a man with a boundless zest for life … He has an irrepressible sense of humour, and to meet him is to come face to face with the essence of human goodness. In spite of his literary success, he has earned himself the respect of young Negro writers, who never find him unwilling to help them along. And yet he is not condescending. Unlike most Negroes who become famous or prosperous and move to high-class residential areas, he has continued to live in Harlem, which is in sense a Negro ghetto, in a house which he purchased with money earned as lyricist for the Broadway musical Street Scene .

In explaining and illustrating the Negro condition in America as was his stated vocation, Hughes captured their joys, and the veiled weariness of their lives, the monotony of their jobs, and the veiled weariness of their songs. He accomplished this in poems remarkable not only for their directness and simplicity but for their economy, lucidity and wit. Whether he was writing poems of racial protest like "Harlem" and "Ballad of the Landlord" or poems of racial affirmation like 'Mother to Son' and 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers,' Hughes was able to find language and forms to express not only the pain of urban life but also its splendid vitality.

Further Reading:

Gates, Henry, Louis and Mc Kay Nellie, Y. (Gen. Ed) The Norton

Anthology of African American Literature, NW Norton & Co; New York & London 1997

Hughes, Langston, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" 1926. Rpt

in Nathan Huggins ed. Voices from the Harlem Renaissance Oxford

University Press, New York, 1976

Mphahlele, Ezekiel, "Langston Hughes," in Introduction to African

Literature (ed) Ulli Beier, Longman, London 1967

Rampersad, Arnold, The life of Langston Hughes Vol. 1 & 11 Oxford

University Press, N. York, 1986

Trotman, James, (ed), Langston Hughes: The Man, His Art and His

Continuing Influence Garland Publishing Inc. N.

York & London 1995

Black Literature Criticism

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature., Oxford University Press, .1997


Source by Arthur Smith

The Words, Achievements, Honors and Legacies of Frederick Douglass Remain Indelibly Printed in Us


Frederick Douglass was perhaps the first black man who had such a long and arduous climb which took him from slavery to some of the highest positions in the land wielding considerable influence on not only the minds of many ordinary folks but also having much influence on Presidents. His name and legacies remain unforgettable as is seen in the many quotes attributed to him, the books written on him especially for children as well as the monuments to his honor.

Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for blacks. He provided a powerful voice then that was championing human rights. He is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice

After the Civil War, Douglass held several important political positions such as President of the Reconstruction-era Freedman's Savings Bank; marshall of the District of Columbia, President of the Colored National Labor Union, Recorder of Deeds in Washington, minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti (1889-1891), and chargé d'affaires for the Dominican Republic.

In 1872, he moved to Washington, D..C after his house on South Avenue in Rochester, New York burned down with him losing among other items a complete issue of The North Star.

In 1868, Douglass supported the presidential campaign of Ulysses S. Grant who upon assuming power had the Klu Klux Klan Act and the second and third Enforcement Acts signed into law. President Grant. used their provisions vigorously, suspending provisions for habeas corpus in South Carolina and sending troops there and into other states; under his leadership. Over 5,000 arrests were made.The Ku Klux Klan was thus dealt a serious and devastating blow. Though Grant's vigor in disrupting the Klan made him unpopular among many whites, it won him Frederick Douglass' and other black's praise. An associate of Douglass wrote of Grant that African-Americans will have and cherish a grateful remembrance of his name, fame and great services.

Douglass' climb to greatness took a symbolical turn upwards when as a mark of the high esteem in which he is held in 1872, he became the first African American to receive a nomination for Vice President of the United States, having been nominated to be Victoria Woodhull's running mate on the Equal Rights Party ticket without his knowledge. He neither campaigned for the ticket nor even acknowledged that he had been nominated.

Douglass spoke at many schools around the country in the Reconstruction era, including at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1873.

In 1877, Douglass purchased his final home in Washington DC, on the banks of the Anacostia River and named it Cedar Hill. He expanded the house from 14 to 21 rooms and included a china closet. One year later, Douglass expanded it further to 15 acres, with the purchase of adjoining lots. The home is now the location of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

After the disappointments of Reconstruction, many African Americans, Exodusters, moved to Kansas to form all-black towns. Douglass spoke out against the movement, urging blacks to stick it out. But he was condemned and booed by black audiences.

In 1877, Douglass was appointed a United States Marshall and.then in 1881, he was appointed Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia.

His wife Anna Murray Douglas died in 1882, leaving him in a state of depression which was only assuaged with his association with the activist Ida B. Wells who brought meaning back into his life. In 1884, Douglass married Helen Pitts, a white feminist from Honeoye, New York, the daughter of Gideon Pitts, 1, an abolitionist colleague and friend. A graduate of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Pitts had worked on a radical feminist publication Alpha while living in Washington, DC. Frederick and Helen Pitts Douglass faced a storm of controversy as a result of their marriage, since she was white and nearly 20 years younger. Both families recoiled; hers stopped speaking to her; his was bruised, as they felt his marriage was a repudiation of their mother. But individualist feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton congratulated the two.

The new couple traveled to England, France, Italy, Egypt and Greece from 1886 to 1887. In later life, Douglass in a determination to ascertain his birthday adopted February 14th because his mother, Harriet Bailey, used to call him her "little valentine" . He was born in February of 1816 by his own calculations, but historians have found a record indicating his birth in February of 1818.

Douglass had five children; two of them, Charles and Rossetta, helped produce his newspapers. Douglass was an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

In 1892 the Haitian government appointed Douglass as its commissioner to the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. He spoke for Irish Home Rule and on the efforts of Charles Stewart Parnell. He briefly revisited Ireland in 1886.

Until his death a quarter of a century later, Douglass used his great abilities to help his people achieve "a higher, broader and nobler mankind." In a multitude of capacities, Douglass contributed his energies towards that main purpose. He fought always for the dignity of his people, always emphasizing that exploitation against colored people was not a Negro problem but was in fact an American problem, or as he told the nation, "No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man, without at last finding the other end of it fastened about his own neck. "

He once wrote warning the American People that "the lesson which they must learn or neglect to do so at their own peril, is that Equal Manhood means Equal Rights, and that they must stand each for all and all for each, without respect to color or race …. I expect to see the colored people of this country enjoying the same freedom, voting at the same ballot-box, using the same cartridge-box, going to the same schools, attending the same churches, traveling in the same street cars, in the same railroad cars, on the same steamboats, proud of the same country, fighting the same foe, and enjoying the same peace and all its advantages … "

But unfortunately Frederick Douglass did not live to see his hope realized.

On February 20, 1895, Douglass attended a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, DC during which he was brought to the platform and given a standing ovation by the audience, as if they knew that was his last public appearance. Shortly after returning home, he suffered a massive heart attack and died. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.

But today, even after more than a century of his death, the people have learnt and indeed are learning the lessons he taught. All over the world millions of people of all races, colors, creeds, and nationalities are moving forward together to achieve victory, enduring peace, security and freedom.

Frederick Douglass' words have never been as significant as they are today after the war had raised the question of Negro rights in the most acute form. Their vast contribution in the war effort have made it clearer everyday that victory, lasting peace and security can not be achieved without the Negro peoples and without satisfying their just demands.

Below are the emblems of his greatness and everlasting significance in the form of quotes, children's books and films on him as well as monuments:

Famous quotes from Douglass:

o "I am a Republican a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress."

o "Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters."

o "To make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken the moral and mental vision and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason."

o "I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find

o "Without struggle, there is no progress."

o "[Lincoln was] the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color."

o "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will."

o "Once let the Black man get upon his person the brass letters US let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States. "

Books on Douglass For Young Readers:

o Miller, William. Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery . Illus. by Cedric Lucas. Lee & Low Books, 1995.

o Weidt, Maryann N. Voice of Freedom : a Story about Frederick Douglass. Illus. by Jeni Reeves. Lerner Publications, 2001.

Documentary Films on Douglass:

o Frederick Douglass [videorecording] / produced by Greystone Communications, Inc. for A & E Network; executive producers, Craig Haffner and Donna E. Lusitana .; 1997

o Frederick Douglass: when the lion wrote history [videorecording] / a co-production of ROJA Productions and WETA-TV; produced and directed by Orlando Bagwell; narration written by Steve Fayer .; c1994

o Frederick Douglass, abolitionist editor [videorecording ] / a production of Schlessinger Video Productions, a division of Library Video Company; produced and directed by Rhonda Fabian, Jerry Baber; script, Amy A. Tiehel

o Race to freedom [videorecording]: the story of the underground railroad / an Atlantis Films Limited production in association with United Image Entertainment; produced in association with the Family Channel (US), Black Entertainment Television and CTV Television Network, Ltd. ; produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada, Ontario Film Development Corporation and with the assistance of Rogers Telefund; distributed by Xenon Pictures; executive producers, Seaton McLean, Tim Reid; co-executive producers, Peter Sussman, Anne Marie La Traverse; supervising producer, Mary Kahn; producers, Daphne Ballon, Brian Parker; directed by Don McBrearty; teleplay by Diana Braithwaite, Nancy Trites Botkin, Peter Mohan. Publisher Santa Monica, CA: Xenon Pictures, Inc., 2001. Tim Reid as Frederick Douglass.

Memorials to Frederick Douglass:

o Frederick Douglas National Historic Site The Washington, DC home of Frederick Douglass

o Frederick Douglass Gardens at Cedar Hill Frederick Douglass Gardens development & maintenance organization

o The Frederick Douglass Prize A national book prize sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition


Source by Arthur Smith

Hurricanes and Typhoons – The Differences Between Oriental and Occidental Thinking


America is the richest country in the world. I have no problem with people choosing to live in mobile homes, even in hurricane alley. But people should live with the consequences of their choices. Americans are richer than people in Hong Kong, yet there are no mobile homes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is in the South China Sea, dead in the middle of "Typhoon Alley." Almost every year typhoons hit Hong Kong. There are no flimsy houses or apartment buildings in Hong Kong because they would blow away. In order to have a safe and strong home, some poor people in Hong Kong must make many difficult sacrifices. They may not be able to afford a car, or afford to send their kids to school, or may not even be able to afford a pair of shoes for ten years while they save their money to buy a home. The poor people in Hong Kong may live without a home at all for years and work for years to save enough money to buy a home. Everybody has a choice. All people in the world's richest country have many choices. The problem is that far too often they choose the path of least resistance because it is easy and if they fail there is a safety net.

There is a large disconnect between behavior and consequences in America. If you buy a mobile home in hurricane alley, you can expect relief if a disaster hits. Time and time again I see the aftermath interviews where the distraught victims of the storm vow to rebuild. Post why? They love it there. Insurance (usually either government subsidized or mandated insurance) will pick up the tab. They will not rebuild to withstand hurricanes because construction costs would be too high. Also they would lose the natural beauty if their home looked like a bunker. If someone chooses to take the easy path so they can have what they want right now without suffering and sacrificing, then they should have to live with the consequences of their choices. In Hong Kong people realize that they will have to live with the consequences of their actions so they behave more responsibly and they make better choices when it comes to housing. Sometimes it takes them many years of saving, while four or five families live in a tiny cramped apartment with no privacy, but they must make the sacrifices so that they can have a safe home at some time in the future for the next generation. There is a big difference in character of people in America and Hong Kong.

The dearth of fire trucks in Asia.

I have never seen even one single fire truck in Hong Kong, Mainland China, or South Korea, yet few structures in these places burn down. Every town in America has a fire department and fire trucks. In spite of all the fire trucks and firefighters many buildings burn every year in America. Why the disparity? Wood is beautiful, natural, and easy to use in construction. Most Asians prefer construction materials that are less combustible than wood. Simply stated, Asian build using less combustible materials. Asians tend to be frugal and practical in most matters. They may spend a little more initially to use steel, rebar, concrete, and glass instead of wood but those materials go a long way in reducing fire hazards.

There are disastrous wildfires every year in America where many homes are burned. In the post disaster interviews, almost all the distraught victims of the wildfires pledge to rebuild, in the same location. Why not? Someone else will pick up the tab. It is beautiful there, and the price is right. In other words, it is easy. That sums it up. Americans like things easy.

If poor Asian nations can construct buildings that are not fire hazards, and will not blow away in storms, what can not the richest nation on earth do it? The answer is that of course we can, but we do not want to. The fundamental difference is in the American character. Wood is beautiful, concrete and steel are ugly. Americans do not have to settle for ugly because we can afford what is beautiful, even if it is temporary. In addition to the beauty of wood, it is cheaper to build from wood and cheaper to live in a mobile home rather than a conventional home. Americans want things quickly. Where Chinese families may save to two or three generations to buy a home and make tremendous personal sacrifices to be able to afford a home, Americans do not like to make personal sacrifices.

Rewarding poor choices has become part of the American fabric and most Americans these days think it is a good thing. I disagree. If a person in America is a smart, hard working, honest tax-paying citizen, that person can expect little or no help from the government. If a person makes many bad choices in life, that person can expect substantial assistance from the government. Rewarding poor choices results in more people making poor choices. This results in changing the character of the people in time. Herbert Spencer put it more lucidly when he said:

"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." – Herbert Spencer (English philosopher, 1820-1903)

Instead of heeding Spencer's warnings, the new American motto seems to be: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may lose the gravy train.

Anybody should have the right to choose to buy a mobile home, or live in an easily combustible wooden house if they want to. However, the home owner should have to live with whatever consequences arise from that decision. If the home is blown away or burned down, that should serve as an example to others. What lesson did you learn from the Three Little Pigs fairy tale? I believe that everyone should have the right to build their houses from straw or sticks if they choose to do so. However, I do not believe that I should pick up the tab for them.

Americans have been shielded from the effects of folly for a couple of generations now. If you want to see what the future likely holds for us, see the Mike Judge film "Idiocracy."


Source by Arthur Wyss

Some Reasons Why Incarceration Does Not Work Very Well


There is no satisfactory answer to why people become criminals. Theft crimes, for example, rise and fall with unemployment, but that's only one of many factors. Trouble sometimes begins with birth into environments of physical, sexual, or substance abuse, criminal activity, divorce, head injuries, poverty and ignorance. But none of those precursors causes crime. Most people with those disadvantages do not become criminals. Criminals also come from the better side of the tracks. In his book Inside the Criminal Mind, Dr. Stanton E. Samenow, a clinical psychologist, powerfully demolishes much of the conventional wisdom portraying criminals as victims of their parents, poverty, mental illnesses and life circumstances. Instead, Dr. Samenow found that criminals are defined by how they think; and they definitely think differently than law-abiding people. Most criminals are manipulative, use people as they please, fancy themselves in control, con others successfully, posture as tough guys and do not like to work hard at school or regular jobs. They thrive on intimidation and stealth. Crooks dish it out, but can not take criticism. A minority pity their victims. Most have little remorse until caught. Crime progresses when these profoundly selfish young people bully others, get high, sell drugs, steal, gamble, rob stores, join gangs, rape and participate in violence, thrill seeking, intimidation and depravity. Drugs, intoxicants, theft, gangs, sex, violence or some combination of them help create new age slaves. People decide to disobey the law for their own self-centered reasons.

Prisons are supposed to act as a deterrent to criminal activity. Being unpleasant, potential offenders should be so afraid of going to prison that they do not commit crimes. But it does not work that way. That's how law-abiding citizens think. The criminal mind works differently, with less foresight and conscience. Criminals enjoy the excitement and risks, do not anticipate capture, and instead focus on what they want. By one computation, only 1.2% of burglaries result in the burglar going to prison. A low risk of punishment increases crime. Successful burglars celebrate their accomplishments. Good deterrents are certain, severe and swift. Prison is not certain, probation or youthful offender status often being granted or crimes are not even prosecuted. Prison is not always perceived as severe. Many never see a prison until they arrive. Inmates often sleep or just sit in their cells. When Mike Tyson first went to juvenile detention, it was like a reunion for him, because so many of his friends and acquaintances were already there – of course he was one of the few who did not worry about being attacked. Confinement is definitely not swift, either in the judicial process or in the sentence itself. Prisons are usually very bad places to be , but the prospect of going there fails to deter massive numbers of crimes and criminals. Out of sight, out of mind. Criminals do not always know or compute the number of years they are likely to serve for a given crime. They do not usually believe they will be caught. When they arrive behind bars, offenders often think they are the victims, that they got a raw deal in life, that they would plan better next time, that prison is a mark of accomplishment for a gangster like them, etc.

Youth, gender, and lack of education, more than other factors, explain violent crime. Well over half of all prisoners in America are high school dropouts. The vast majority are males. Males between the ages of 16 and 28 commit an overwhelming percentage of violent crimes, including first-degree murder. The very basic leading cause of violent crime in America is young male aggression in one form or another. Younger offenders are more likely to fail at probation or parole than are older convicts. In 2008, 45% of all murder victims were 20 to 34 years old. Studies show the human brain does not fully develop until age 28.

Prisons are revolving doors for recidivists. The number released is about equal to the number imprisoned. Every year, a large and poorly disciplined American army of released prisoners – over 700,000 ex-cons – goes back to the streets, many to make the world worse. Released prisoners carry extremely high rates of communicable diseases, AIDS, HIV infection, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and tuberculosis, often undiagnosed, into their communities, families and neighborhoods. Released convicts face many re-entry obstacles, most do not make the transition successfully, and huge numbers are recycled back into prison. Instead of making people less prone to commit crimes, prisons increase the likelihood that convicts will commit more crimes upon the completion of their sentences. Prisons, especially overcrowded ones where different levels of offenders are mixed together, are "criminogenic," they cause more crime. Prisons are, as Jens Soering's 2004 book title reveals, An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse.

Possessions are removed, family excluded, sexual desire frustrated. The sex ratio is at its most forbidding for normal sex, 100% of one sex versus zero of the opposite sex. Sexual deviancy increases. Life is unpleasant. Sanity depends upon mental toughness. Worries remain. Most prisoners are unhappy, many all of the time. Pagan, satanic, racist and occult religious texts are much more popular in prison than outside. Many contemplate, attempt or commit suicide or self-mutilation. The suicide rate for American prisoners is five to 15 times greater than it is for the general American population. Fewer chaplains and programs for inmates exist than in prior years.

We take every prisoner away from spouses, friends and family, constantly replicating the awful fate of many antebellum slaves. The free world isolates and abandons prisoners with long sentences. Many prisoners do not receive any visits from friends or family. Solid barriers separate the prisoner and any visitors during visits. Social isolation harms the prisoner's self-esteem, as rejection often does, including the isolation we start with, suspending and expelling students from school. Gangs then successfully recruit members in prison from among the isolates, metastasizing their anti-social ideas and breeding virulent racism and religious bigotry. Prisonization occurs, which is the process whereby prisoners take on the penitentiary's sick underclass values, codes and dogma. The longer the prison sentence, the more prisonization affects the prisoner.

The closed environment of prison is kept from view because prisons severely restrict the media's access, routinely prohibit press interviews, and monitor and censor mail and telephone communications. Dreadful things often do not receive investigation or publicity. Through the centuries, lack of communication between prison and the outside world allowed abuses to grow undetected inside the closed prison environment.

Prisons harm people in several ways, but do not make enough of them "penitent." Incarceration teaches depravity, affects minds adversely, and then releases its damaged products into the free world on their mandatory release date or on parole. Prisons are warehouses for criminal minds. Criminals learn better how to commit crimes, but not how to be productive in the free world or how to abandon their selfishness. Solid evidence proves that returning parolees increase crime rates in their neighborhoods.

In the last 20 years, the use of segregation or solitary confinement has increased markedly, far more than the already skyrocketing prison population as a whole, worsening outcomes and significantly increasing expense to the prison system. Solitary confinement – known as isolation, punitive segregation, disciplinary segregation, segregated housing, and other names – causes psychiatric harm in manifold ways, especially to those with previous mental illnesses. Solitary confinement can cause psychotic disorganization, self-destructive behavior, delusions, panic attacks, paranoia and an inability to adapt to the general prison population. Hypersensitivity, rage, aggression, plus memory, concentration and impulse-control problems also can stem from segregated housing units. Intolerance of social interaction is one of the more common results. America's Super-Max Prisons improve safety for correctional staff and are essentially jails within prisons, increasingly concentrating dangerous inmates in solitary confinement instead of dispersing troublemakers throughout the system. Prisoners typically receive only one hour per day outside their Super-Max cell, often alone. Nelson Mandela knew men in prison who preferred half a dozen lashes with a whip to solitary confinement. Mandela wrote that the absence of human companionship is most dehumanizing. Modern psychiatrists agree with Charles Dickens and Nelson Mandela. Speaking of the ill effects of solitary confinement, Harvard psychiatrist Stuart Grassian, MD said our systems of solitary confinement, "deeply offend any sense of common human decency." When one reads the names of a few famous criminals housed in Super-Max, sympathy declines, which is probably why our society permits this clean version of hell.

Our society does a poor job of punishing someone's first few crimes. We most often opt for probation, juvenile court or youthful offender status. Very inconsistent aspects of the criminal justice system involve the decision whether to grant probation or send someone to prison at each of several junctures. Fines are meaningless for criminals without money or property, so only one hard punishment now exists. Convicted felons either go to the misery of prison or receive a very light punishment: probation. Probation often sets them up for a prison sentence. Many receive probation, do not learn their lesson, offend again, and eventually go to prison. The need for intermediate punishments was highlighted in Graham v. Florida, a recent Supreme Court decision, where a juvenile received probation for his first offense of armed burglary with assault or battery, and for his second offense of home invasion robbery, got life-without-parole. Juvenile court may shield their first few crimes from scrutiny, because juvenile records often do not count in adult courts. Young offenders sometimes have to rack up one or two felonies as an adult before they go to prison. Convicts regret committing that very last crime, the one that sends them to prison. Deciding whether to punish with a feather or a sledgehammer does not give criminal judges much flexibility.

We built massive corrections systems without any scientific proof they were effective as deterrence or rehabilitation and with no recent effort to make them profitable. It's as if we put a toxic chemical in consumer products without any toxicity studies. Modern researchers – along with the rest of us – tend to ignore and forget prisons and prisoners. Scientific research is still woefully lacking given the enormity of the current crisis. Incredibly, there are no rigorous studies or statistics about people who change their thought patterns, behavior and criminal lifestyle after soul-searching in prison. We do not know how to succeed. The architecture of prisons is impressive from the outside, but the way to successfully deal with their inhabitants has always been uncertain and unproven.

Idealists originally thought penitentiaries would make prisoners penitent, leading to religious conversions and rehabilitation. To accomplish this, they did the worst thing they could do: they isolated prisoners in a very bad environment. Sometimes prisoners had to keep silent, another form of solitary confinement. Cutting off prisoners from society made it difficult for inmates to keep their sanity or cope on the outside. Isolation from normal society made it that much easier to learn criminal ways inside the prison. Prisoners lost feelings of self-worth. While appropriate punishment promotes pro-social cooperation in normal human society, punishment that completely removes individuals from cooperative society also deprives normal society of any pro-social behavior brought about by that punishment.

Idealists and vindictive people who did not understand the effects of confinement wanted others, beneath themselves, to go there, just as non-drinkers obtained passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to initiate Prohibition: another failed social experiment. The public agreed to the idea of ​​prisons because it got rid of the problem temporarily and seemed better than capital and corporal punishment. Imprisonment was considered civilized and modern. Prisons were out of sight, so slumbering humanity could ignore them. Idealists gave birth to a monster, just as those who sought to create a workers' paradise had done. Few of the great ideals and theories about penitentiaries produced a system that worked as anticipated. Most reform efforts merely made an impractical institution better for several years in certain locations.

Abandonment of corporal punishment in favor of incarceration turned out to be a change from an emphasis on rehabilitation within normal society to one on incapacitation outside it. Reformers thought they would isolate prisoners and shape their behavior. They placed prisoners in the equivalent of Skinner boxes, but then provided very few rewards or punishments inside those cells. The all-powerful pro-social forces of school, family, church, employment and community were abandoned, subtracted from the process. Prisons rewarded inactivity with food, clothing and shelter, but pro-social activity was nearly impossible to have or reward inside the cell. Concentration on specific prisoner behavior became logistically and financially prohibitive. Altruistic punishment and the cooperation it supports work best in smaller groups, but those small groups were abandoned in favor of huge groups.

In addition to keeping prisoners in, prisons made it tough for free people to enter them for purposes of assistance or monitoring. Monitoring prison conditions over the course of many years became even more difficult for outsiders to accomplish. The inability to shape prisoner behavior was obvious well before we built a million cells. Regular attention to individual behavior only comes about when a financial incentive exists for those in control to monitor individuals.

Crime victims are not satisfied, society and taxpayers pay an enormous price, massive amounts of time and money are wasted, correctional professionals are frustrated and overworked, and prisoners come out of prison in worse shape after years of bullying, violence and isolation. In a land rightly concerned about the declining percentage of younger workers who have to support increasing numbers of retirees, we cage millions of young, able-bodied people and keep them inactive most of the time. When the Thirteenth Amendment specifically allowed involuntary servitude as punishment for crime, we halted almost all of it decades ago. Only a tiny fraction work hard behind bars. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger called for making prisons "factories behind fences," but special interests thwarted most attempts to expand prison labor.

By taking over two million workers out of the economy, we create labor shortages. Foreign workers, many of them illegal aliens, are then enticed to work in the United States. If we counted prisoners in the national unemployment calculations, the unemployment rate would rise significantly, because about 1.5% of the entire US civilian labor force is sitting behind bars. Every prisoner requires direct financial subsidy and we suffer lost production, a true cost of inactivity. Our current system preserves "often intolerably stupid and unjust practices," just as one prison historian noted early in the twentieth century. During incarceration, the social support network prisoners need to survive on the outside is destroyed or damaged. Mass imprisonment hurts the entire American economy and the families who are without family members at home. Prisons deprive American families of family members, and the American sex ratio is unbalanced as a result. Poorer communities and families suffer. Kids grow up without parents. Over half of male prisoners are fathers; many female inmates are mothers. Without doubt, children with parents in prison are far more likely to go there themselves.

By no means does this short article spell out all the reasons modern mass incarceration is a disaster. But you get the general idea: change is needed.


Source by John Gleissner