Archive for the ‘Frederick Douglass’ Category

“American Press has Turned Into a Joke” Comparing Obama To FDR, Lincoln

November 19, 2008

“Barack Obama is just like Lincoln,” a youthful and eager fan reported to me.

And I thought: except for the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the preservation of the Union and his record as President of the United States.

Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner said, “The American press has turned into a joke by comparing Barack Obama to FDR and Abraham Lincoln.  They do him no favor by raising expectations to a level that is not achievable.”

Barack Obama, the first ever black man elected to America’s highest office, should be honored for sure; but we should also put our regard for him in proper perspective and watch how the next four years transpire.

Barack Obama is still, to me, a potential agent of manifest change: and not yet a historically overpowering figure we honor for his many accomplishments.

Oh I agree with others that the election of a Black American is historic and memorable; but while it says a lot about our new President-elect it says more to me about the American people.

The notion that Barack Obama is, in many ways, “Linconesque,” is at least premature and could seem a tad bizarre, especially to historians seeking meaning, accomplishments and proven character.

Obama has not yet managed through his Cuban Missile Crisis, his Vietnam War, his Great Depression or whatever real crises we can anticipate — and even whatever nobody could ever anticipate like George W. Bush’s “Nine Eleven.”

Yet both Lincoln and Obama certainly share Illinois and a place in history.  Lincoln’s place in history is “writ large.”  We do not yet know if Barack Obama is a chapter or two of history; or just a paragraph or two. 

President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist's question ... 
President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist’s question during his first press conference following his election victory in Chicago, November 7, 2008.(John Gress/Reuters)

Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. He graduated from  Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.

Obama is an “indoorsman,” who wrote two books about himself and arguably became addicted to his BlackBerry.

Lincoln was an outdoorsman who grew up in a log cabin in the rough “west” of the United States in his time, including Kentucky and Illinois.

Wikipedia says “Lincoln struck out on his own, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem in Sangamon County. Later that year, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods from New Salem to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers.”

Lincoln’s formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling, but he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. He was also a talented local wrestler and skilled with an axe.

Barack Obama is skilled with a computer keyboard, a teleprompter, and as a very eloquent public speaker and, though I myself have been moved by the style of many Obama speeches, the next day I have found something sometimes lacking. Yet like some of Mister Lincoln’s orations and remarks, Mr. Obama’s speeches are filled with “hope” and “change.”

Obama's speech earned him praise from politicians on the left and right. But not everyone was impressed.

Above: Barack Obama before a crowd in Germany. Photo: Getty Images
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Lincoln participated in the most studied and recalled political debates ever held in America.

Barack Obama’s debates with John McCain will be recalled for one thing only: Obama became the elected president.

“I don’t think we need any big media-run productions, no processed questions from reporters, no spin rooms, just two Americans running for the highest office in the greatest nation on earth responding to the concerns of the people who’s trust that we must earn,” John McCain said well before the debates with Barack Obama.

Famously, McCain said he wanted ten “Lincoln-Douglas” style debates with Barack Obama.

The nation ended up with far fewer than ten debates and not one came close to resembling the famed and historic Lincoln-Douglas debates.

But the world is a different place now and our national attention span and will to concentrate is short for good reasons, even though we are multitasking…

Creators Syndicate

Oprah Already Has Dress For Obama's Inauguration
WireImage
Access Hollywood

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are pretty much comfortable everywhere — from public speaking in Germany to Bill Ayers house and onward to Oprah’s TV show and to Hollywood.

Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, which many historians believe was at least “on the edge” and probably crazy, were famously uncomfortable in most settings.  Many Hollywood and TV people today say that Lincoln’s looks would probably make him unelectable today.

Lincoln mourned the loss of one of his own children: and he watched in horror as Civil War casualties bled the nation white.  He even took the time to pen a letter to a grieving mother who lost five sons in “Lincoln’s war.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s most famous oration, the Gettysburg Address, took just two minutes to deliver.  For more than a century, American school children memorized this magnificent piece of writing and oration, one of the finest speeches ever given in America, some say, and all in less than 280 words.

On the day of that address, Lincoln was not the featured speaker, who droned on for some time.  But nobody without a deep history education can even recall the man who delivered his remarks before Lincoln on Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the cemetery in Gettysburg.


Soldiers National Cemetery, Gettysburg

Lincoln freed the slaves and preserved the Union.  So far, Obama freed the media and the electorate of the feeling and belief that racism kept good men of color from key posts.

Lincoln was unafraid of firing his top generals — and then while U.S. Grant was gaining ground and winning battles and his staff said the man was a drunk, Lincoln issued an order to send Grant a case of his favorite spirits, or so the story is told.


Lincoln in the field during the Civil War

Lincoln had to sneak into Washington DC for his inauguration.  Obama will be greeted by a throng of millions.

Lincoln assembled a cabinet that was a train wreck of disagreement to the point of dysfunction.  Some in the media today say that Obama is emulating Lincoln’s ability to be “inclusive” in his cabinet selections.

But Lincoln did famously “reach out” to all great leaders who could help him including the Catholic Archbishop of New York, “Dagger” John Hughes.

Linoln also gave a seemingly open door to the White House to Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who pushed President Lincoln to create and issue the Emancipation Proclamation — against the advice of many including his top military commanders.


Above: Frederick Douglass, in about 1879.

Above:  Lincoln met with his cabinet on July 22, 1862 for the first reading of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Barack Obama’s challenges have yet to unfold.

Lincoln’s challenges were manifest.

History has judged Lincoln.  Obama’s first full chapter, now, at least in part, well chronicled by eager contemporary media scribes, is mostly still a way off for historians to evaluate.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
November 19, 2008

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The Topeka Capitol Journal began an article on November 9, 2008 with, “Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama, who will become the nation’s 44th president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.”

My Vietnamese American relatives say, “We seem to have the Easter before the Palm….”

Lincoln’s Day, once celebrated on his birthday, is now largely forgotten and squeezed out by the celebration of other great Americans like Martin Luther King.  Frederick Douglass has no day at all. It might be prudent to hold off on the “Barack Obama Day” just a tad….

Related:
Barack Obama Needs To Know: Lincoln’s Dysfuncional Cabinet Was Not Your Mother’s A-Team
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 Frederick Douglass: Turning Points
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“Most Famous” Lincoln Letter of Civil War Found?

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Harry Potter: More Worthless Pop Culture

July 22, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 23, 2007

I may be the only one in America that isn’t fond of Harry Potter. In fact, I find the book series a time wasting distraction that leads kids towards fantasy and novels and away from much greater reading learning experiences and challenges: like world or American history.

On February 28, 2004, American historian Daniel Boorstin died. On that same day, local high school students on the TV quiz show “It’s Academic,” in Washington D.C., failed to even make a guess at the answer to a simple question about the American Civil War and Fort Sumter.

So you may say, “why is the Civil War so important?” The saving of one continental nation? The emancipation of the slaves? Are there no lessons here about determination, dedication and perseverance for our children to learn?

Boorstin: lawyer, head of the Library of Congress for 12 years, faculty member of the University of Chicago for 25 years, and writer more than 20 books was a spectacular American worth “knowing” though his works. His famous trilogy on the American experience, U.S.A., gave us deep lessons into who we are as Americans.

Boorstin was a man of depth and merit who left us a legacy.

I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but Harry Potter is not the best use of a child’s time or brain.

Harry Potter is just one more waste of time on top of so many video games, T.V. shows and other horrible uses of wonderful tools like the human mind, the imagination, the intellect and the computers that makes us tick: ourselves and our fellow Americans.

Since there are only 24 hours in each day, and many of those hours are already packed full of clutter and entertainment, I am generally not in favor of more that disassociates people from reality.  Especially those masters of the future universe, our children, should be encouraged to take a bite out of real life a little more often.  The current diet of pop culture is too heavy in what clogs the veins and mind.

Ever wonder why American history, values and society are no longer a mainstay of American schools and media? Because many of the Founders were unusually talented super-achievers and every single one was a firm believer in The Almighty.

Today: your kids’ teachers want them talking about abortion, sex education and gay marriage but certainly not God or the values, traditions and history that made America great. In fact, most of our corps of teachers are liberal and not conservative and don’t really believe that America is great (if it ever was, they say).

And there is another subliminal message: YOU CANNOT EVER be a super-achiever yourself.

We are treating our children to a brainwashing of mediocrity.
Photo
Chinese students take an exam en-masse.

History is filled with super-achievers, inventors, military leaders, scientists and researchers. History teaches that money is not always the most valuable commodity or goal.

American history teaches us the values, rights and responsibilities of our citizenship. History makes us a nation: a race of people and not just a collision of different peoples from many lands.

You can be born French, but when you move in from another land you don’t necessarily become French. When you move to America and become a citizen, you are embraced as an American.

People come here to share in the values and rights of all Americans. Yet we, as parents and teachers, neglect them or even undermine them.

Understanding who gained those American rights and how they achieved them is important because those rights bind us together as a people.

Our history is “Ich bin ein Berliner,” the Boston Tea Party, Ellis Island, Posk Chop Hill, Gettysburg, and “I have a dream.” Our history is the Emancipation Proclamation, Bill of Rights, and Constitution.

Our history is our culture. Our focus upon Paris Hilton, Janet Jackson, “Lord of the Rings,” and, yes, Harry Potter himself, is fleeting, largely meaningless debris. The liberties gained by our history are lasting and binding and allow us a free Hollywood entertainment machine. But you can’t learn history from Michael Moore and Oliver Stone.

How many kids in your child’s classroom know that George Washington was an accomplished horticulturist who created hybrid plants and made his own wine? How many can appreciate the architectural genius of Thomas Jefferson? How many know that Benjamin Franklin charted the ocean’s currents on his way to Europe to serve as an Ambassador?

Do your children know that a Black Man and former slave named Frederick Douglass was instrumental in freeing the slaves and became one of the finest orators of his time? And how many can discuss Mark Twain: another world renown orator? How many know what an orator IS?

How many of your children know that Black Men like Christian Fleetwood were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War? How many know what the Medal of Honor is and what it means?

How many of your children can articulate even one story of an American immigrant super-achiever like Henry Villard: a German speaking immigrant who became one of the finest English language journalists of his day and then rose to become an American Tycoon?

In fact: our American story is filled with super-achievers. Real men and women who were super achievers. Who needs novels and stories of fantasy when the facts of our predecessors from all races and all places is tremendously enlightening and challenging?

Our history teaches us toughness and serenity. Through history we learn the dichotomies of man and the strange bedfellows life brings. We learn that Great Britain, George Bush’s greatest ally in Iraq, is also the nation that burned the White House and the U.S. Capitol in 1814. And yet the Republic survived. So what really did the nation have to fear on September 11, 2001? Fear itself? And who coined that phrase?

And the history of man, world history, teaches us how tribes became cultures and nations.

Madam Curie, Robert Fulton, Robert Peary, Jonas Salk, George Washington Carver, Charles Lindbergh, Albert Einstein and so many more through history offer all of us, and especially our children, lessons in life.

And the stories of these people may inspire future greatness among our children.

History makes us appreciate what it means to be an American and our history compels us read. But don’t read your kids’ history textbooks. They are often politically correct collections of facts and misinterpretation not worth reading. Understanding history, like mining, requires one to dig deep into the writings of and about great men, at least occasionally.

Ignoring our history belittles the greatness of our nation. It also insults the intelligence of our children. By building a national generation of pop culture worshipers instead of a generation of dedicated super-achievers we send the message that Michael Vick and Paris Hilton are really valuable and important.

Is this what we really want?

I don’t like Harry Potter one bit. It is another piece of pop culture trash that detracts from reality instead of embracing it.

Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade but if we as a nation and a culture continue to loudly applaud the stuff that makes the barn floor slippery we can expect a lot more slippery stuff in our society.

Related:
Kids reading fewer books despite Harry Potter hoopla

Priest Says Harry Potter Helps Devil, Evil

Reading American history about the early years of America and the Founders is enlightening…..
Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction

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An open letter to Free Republic readers and others linking to this article:

Here are a few ideas to consider as you attack my ideas.

–I do not believe that money equals value. In other words, Pet Rocks made a lot of money for someone but we are still a ways from curing cancer. Paris Hilton and Michael Vick have made a lot of money, but in many places they would not be welcome near children…..

–I very much do agree that reading is important (as the essay clearly says). But reading garbage is a waste of time. Harry Potter is 5 books. Those have been blockbusters. Great. But that has not translated into more readership overall. Despite Harry Potter, readership, especially teen readership, is in a steep decline.

Kids reading fewer books despite Harry Potter hoopla

–My recommendation for parent younger than …well, my age…is that they start to attack their schools. If teachers think the learning/reading dilemma is solved with Sir Harry they are wildly off the mark. In fact, off the reservation.

Finally, I hope people will read Part II of this essay which deals with our national well being and understanding America’s Founders and roots.

Part II:
Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction

All the best to everyone.