My junior classes are currenly reading THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller. While researching both THE CRUCIBLE and the Salem Witch Trials, I came across this editorial written by Arthur Miller in 2000, five years before he died, and less than a year before the inheritors of the McCarthyesque ideology began tightening their grip on our government.
"Those who refuse to study history are doomed to relive it."
My basic need was to respond to a phenomenon which, with only small exaggeration, one could say paralysed a whole generation and in a short time dried up the habits of trust and toleration in public discourse.
I refer to the anti-communist rage that threatened to reach hysterical proportions and sometimes did. I can't remember anyone calling it an ideological war, but I think now that that is what it amounted to. I suppose we rapidly passed over anything like a discussion or debate, and into something quite different, a hunt not just for subversive people, but for ideas and even a suspect language. The object was to destroy the least credibility of any and all ideas associated with socialism and communism, whose proponents were assumed to be either knowing or unwitting agents of Soviet subversion.
An ideological war is like guerrilla war, since the enemy is an idea whose proponents are not in uniform but are disguised as ordinary citizens, a situation that can scare a lot of people to death. To call the atmosphere paranoid is not to say that there was nothing real in the American-Soviet stand-off. But if there was one element that lent the conflict a tone of the inauthentic and the invented, it was the swiftness with which all values were forced in months to reverse themselves. <snip>
In today's terms, the country had been delivered into the hands of the radical right, a ministry of free-floating apprehension toward anything that never happens in the middle of Missouri. It is always with us, this anxiety, sometimes directed towards foreigners, Jews, Catholics, fluoridated water, aliens in space, masturbation, homosexuality, or the Internal Revenue Department. But in the 50s any of these could be validated as real threats by rolling out a map of China. And if this seems crazy now, it seemed just as crazy then, but openly doubting it could cost you. <snip>
3. This is the pattern of the human race. Unfortunately humans are
greedy, and power-hungry. Throw in religion (or substitute politics for religion) and you have the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation (a unique combination of religion and politics), the crusades, the Roman Empire, the Jewish kingdom (for as long as it lasted), the rise of Islam, Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads, I think you get my point.
Throw humans together on one planet, mix in human nature and religion, toss in a teaspoon of arrogant extremism, splash in a dash of testosterone, and there you have it. A history filled of all of the above and more.
5. Wow! You just summed up the whole essay in three succinct sentences!
One of the discussion questions for the play is "Can you think of any modern day event that caused a similar reaction.
Most of my students are very concrete thinkers. Abstracts are a foreign lanuage to them, and they tend to be incredibly culturally ignorant. So I wasn't really expecting much from them on that question without a lot of prodding from me.
I was pleasantly surprised when one student immediately called out, "The school shootings." Upon considering afterward, it is not really surprising that the students would come up with that first. All these years later, students still have Columbine crammed down their throats. (And thereby hangs another tale for another time.)
Other students thought for a short time and came up with a couple more. The last event they mentioned was 9/11.
I think one of the problems we have today is that most people have not been taught how to put pieces of information together into a whole. Rather than being able to see things in a global manner, they see only bits and pieces of a situation individually and cannot see how it all fits together.
With a little gentle prodding, a lot of patience, and parables like Miller's play, many can be brought to see the big picture and how it affects all of us.
7. Always used History as a way of keeping my grade average up
when I was studying for my degree. (History and Algebra.)
Anyway, by paying attention you can't help but notice things like the constant competition for control and wealth in the human race. And the constant need to prove one's superiority over weaker peoples, or people who's skin color, or religion, or politics, or any way of thought or habit, is different than the hard-ass tough guys in question.
And what's weird is that subsequent civilizations revere that behavior. Take the Roman Empire for example. What did they give the world? Very damn little. A lot of misery, brutality, and grief. Oh, and concrete. (The arch, or as they call it the 'Roman Arch', had been used in city gateways and buildings in the east hundreds of years before the Romans 'invented' it. They may have made some improvements on the design, but they did not invent it.) Their 'native' religion and teachings came from Greece. What they had so crudely divised by way of worship they refined with the Greek pantheon.
And they did spread ideas and learning from/to other parts of the Empire. As they went into a country, killed it's citizens, occupied it, and took captives back to Rome (or where ever) so their intelligence (religion, medical knowledge, sstronomy, mathmethics, science, etc.) were spread.
So conquest is nothing new. And the human race has a way of looking at it and finding many reasons to admire the conqueror. (I won't give my Alexander the Great lecture. This thread is getting pretty long now.)
10. It's because out corporate masters only want a select few to see the big picture.
The Corporate Elite need to keep the average Joe stupidified to maintain thier power. High School history classes are tools to indoctrinate kids with the Corporatist "official" history, connecting the dots would cause people to question the Corporatist historical narrative.
6. bush** isn't running anything though. This little agenda is coming out
of the long delayed plans of a bunch of arrogant greedy powermad thugs who had enough patience to wait for the right conditions to come out from under their rocks. And the catalyst was a bunch of screaming hypocrites catching on to the sexual escapades of a sitting president and than televising the guy lying about it (in my opinion his only offense), and then play on the fake 'injured morality' of the citizens of this country. They made people believe that anyone with intelligence, a good education (that actually took), foreign policy experience, and the ability to work with other nations was bad while some buffoon that you could 'sit down and have a beer with' was just what this poor country needed. And they used that AWOL dry-drunk bastard to pull off not one, but TWO of the biggest crimes this nation has ever been faced with. STEALING TWO NATIONAL ELECTIONS.
bush** is expendable to these people. His 'glory' days are about over, and now they're flailing around trying to find the next puppet to put on the national stage to keep their dirty little criminal cabal in power. They have two years. In some ways I think that they're weeding out some of the guys they don't want to run themselves, like Allen. He was a rising star in the party. The powers that be seemed to let him be thrown to the wolves. They didn't muzzle the media like they have for Chimpy and Dead-Eye Dick. And I wonder if Hastert had any plans for higher office? Oh well, it will be an interesting two years.
9. * is expendable to these people. His 'glory' days are about over
On occasion, I think that the real powers will have him assasinated by some "left wing radical" with 3 names. This would create very practical reasons to install their next demon-president--ol George would instantly become a martyr, next demon-president would claim to carry out the good works began by * and liberals once again would be marginalized as wrong for the country. With luck this would carry them for the next 15-20 years.
Are you now, or have you ever... even thought about, much less been or done: ________________. If you haven't engaged, even in thought--you're still not safe, but at least you're essentially similar to somewhat more than 50% of all Americans. If you have engaged in thought and the associated thinking, beware the 'Conservative Thought Police' (CTP), for they are on the lookout for all people who engage in such subversive (to their mission of domination) activities, and they have the authority, vested in them, by themselves, for themselves, to oppress and/or destroy anything and anyone who either offends them, obstructs/opposes them, crosses their paths or who merely come to their attention. They are masters in the art of thoughtless destruction, mindless discrimination and selfish promotion, and they serve their own cause to the exclusion of all reason, rationality and fairness.
Those citizens who are enlightened must seek strength in numbers and share the art of critical thinking with as many others as may be possible. Thus organized it may be less dangerous (safety in numbers) to try to express support for such things as proper government and honest elections. Otherwise, the mob may continue it's rule, and that may set civilization back by decades and--given the power of this nation--even centuries.
We have nothing to fear but ignorance itself. Unfortunately, ignorance is on the rampage (or march, or increase, or...). ("Ignorance, a growth industry")
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