Patriotism

There was a celebration of the 125th anniversary of the origin of the Pledge of Allegiance today in Malden:

James Bailey Upham (1845-1905) resided on Lincoln Street in Malden and was an active member of the First Baptist Church. As a partner at the popular children’s magazine, The Youth’s Companion, Upham devised a promotion to distribute an American flag to every public school in the country and to have students recite an oath to the flag in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.

There’s more to the story here with this interesting bit:

What is uncontested is this: The pledge — in an early form — was first published in the magazine Youth Companion on Sept. 8, 1892. YouthCompanion was, in the words of the early publishers Nathanial Willis and Ada Rand, aimed at  encouraging  “virtue and piety, and … warn against the ways of transgression.”  Both Upham and Francis Bellamy, a minister,  then worked for the magazine. In 1888, one of the departments in the magazine launched the School Flag Movement. This was a campaign to sell flags to public schools. In the guise of patriotism, a genius marketing boom was born.

Yes, the idea of the Pledge was originated to sell flags. Now that’s American patriotism.

You see the same thing in the NFL:

In 2015, a Senate report released by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake poured cold water on some of the more heartwarming moments of patriotism seen in professional sports.

The report found the Department of Defense had spent $6.8 million on what they called “paid patriotism” between 2012 and 2015. This money was spread out among 50 pro teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, MLS and others.

In exchange for the money, teams organized displays of national pride including flag presentations, the honoring of military members, reenlistment ceremonies, and even the most unassailable and uplifting of patriotic moments: surprise military homecomings. To be clear, plenty of teams also do, and have done, such things with no compensation.

and it wasn’t until 2009 that players were mandated to be on the field for the Anthem–before that they usually stayed in the locker room until after the Anthem.

It sure seems like one of the main reasons for displays of patriotism in the US is to make money.

Oh, there’s also religious freedom involved:

On Monday, June 3, 1935, Watch Tower Society president J. F. Rutherford, was interviewed at a Witness convention about “the flag salute by children in school”. He told the convention audience that to salute an earthly emblem, ascribing salvation to it, was unfaithfulness to God. Rutherford said that he would not do it.” While the matter was not yet established doctrine or written policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses, at least some Witness families quickly made a personal conscientious decision on the matter.

Well, I’m sure everyone realized they had a right to their beliefs. Ha ha, I kid:

In September in Lynn, Massachusetts, a third-grader and Jehovah’s Witness named Carleton Nichols refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and was expelled from school. The Nichols incident received widespread media attention, and other Witness students soon followed suit. Rutherford gave a radio address praising Nichols, and schools around the country began expelling Witness students and firing Witness teachers.

and it gets worse:

Minersville, Pennsylvania was predominantly Roman Catholic and there was significant animosity towards the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tensions were already high before this case arose and many viewed this as one way to get back at the Witnesses. As a result, his children were subjected to teasing, taunting, and attacks from the other kids. For Lillian, this meant giving up her status as class president and losing most of her friends. “When I’d come to school,” she said, “they would throw a hail of pebbles and yell things like, ‘Here comes Jehovah!’ Billy’s fifth grade teacher attempted to physically force his arm out of his pocket to make the requisite salute.

A local Catholic church started a boycott of the family store and its business dropped off.

and even worse:

On June 9, a mob of 2,500 burned the Kingdom Hall in Kennebunkport, Maine. On June 16, Litchfield, Illinois police jailed all of that town’s sixty Witnesses, ostensibly protecting them from their neighbors. On June 18, townspeople in Rawlins, Wyoming brutally beat five Witnesses; on June 22, the people of Parco, Wyoming tarred and feathered another.

The American Civil Liberties Union reported to the Justice Department that nearly 1,500 Witnesses were physically attacked in more than 300 communities nationwide. One Southern sheriff told a reporter why Witnesses were being run out of town: “They’re traitors; the Supreme Court says so. Ain’t you heard?”

Remember this the next time the conservatives cry about religious freedom.

How discrimination disadvantaged blacks

Via here, here’s an explainer of how segregation worked and how it has lead to racial inequality:

The term “redlining” … comes from the development by the New Deal, by the federal government of maps of every metropolitan area in the country. And those maps were color-coded by first the Home Owners Loan Corp. and then the Federal Housing Administration and then adopted by the Veterans Administration, and these color codes were designed to indicate where it was safe to insure mortgages. And anywhere where African-Americans lived, anywhere where African-Americans lived nearby were colored red to indicate to appraisers that these neighborhoods were too risky to insure mortgages.

In one development … in Detroit … the FHA would not go ahead, during World War II, with this development unless the developer built a 6-foot-high wall, cement wall, separating his development from a nearby African-American neighborhood to make sure that no African-Americans could even walk into that neighborhood.

The Underwriting Manual of the Federal Housing Administration recommended that highways be a good way to separate African-American from white neighborhoods. So this was not a matter of law, it was a matter of government regulation, but it also wasn’t hidden, so it can’t be claimed that this was some kind of “de facto” situation. Regulations that are written in law and published … in the Underwriting Manual are as much a de jure unconstitutional expression of government policy as something written in law.

African-American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ’50s and even into the ’60s, by the Federal Housing Administration, gained none of the equity appreciation that whites gained. So … the Daly City development south of San Francisco or Levittown or any of the others in between across the country, those homes in the late 1940s and 1950s sold for about twice national median income. They were affordable to working-class families with an FHA or VA mortgage. African-Americans were equally able to afford those homes as whites but were prohibited from buying them. Today those homes sell for $300,000 [or] $400,000 at the minimum, six, eight times national median income. …

So in 1968 we passed the Fair Housing Act that said, in effect, “OK, African-Americans, you’re now free to buy homes in Daly City or Levittown” … but it’s an empty promise because those homes are no longer affordable to the families that could’ve afforded them when whites were buying into those suburbs and gaining the equity and the wealth that followed from that.

The white families sent their children to college with their home equities; they were able to take care of their parents in old age and not depend on their children. They’re able to bequeath wealth to their children. None of those advantages accrued to African-Americans, who for the most part were prohibited from buying homes in those suburbs.

The vacancies in the white projects were created primarily by the Federal Housing Administration program to suburbanize America, and the Federal Housing Administration subsidized mass production builders to create subdivisions that were “white-only” and they subsidized the families who were living in the white housing projects as well as whites who were living elsewhere in the central city to move out of the central cities and into these white-only suburbs.

So the government instituted policies that made it much harder for African-Americans to buy houses which made it so their children were less likely to be able to afford to go to college (even ignoring the discrimination at colleges of the time) and less likely to have an inheritance that they could use to build wealth or help their children. That’s why we have this thing called Affirmative Action. Official government policy kept African-Americans out of better schools and colleges, and made it very difficult to buy homes in most better neighborhoods well into the 1960s; this directly meant that they would have less wealth that they could use for their children which meant the children were disadvantaged by government action. If a government action hurts a group, a government action should try to fix it.

New Hampshire, motto: Live or Die

New Hampshire has a motto that it puts on its license plates, Live Free or Die. Let’s see how strongly they believe in that:

United States Border Patrol agents set up a checkpoint on a New Hampshire highway over the weekend that resulted in 25 illegal immigrants being detained, as well as drugs being seized.

The checkpoint was established on Interstate 93 in Woodstock from Friday to Sunday, and 25 people were arrested “who did not possess valid immigration status, 14 of whom were visa overstays from Colombia,” US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. “Agents also arrested other illegal aliens from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.”

In addition, agents recovered drugs and drug paraphernalia including 2 pounds of marijuana and smaller amounts of cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms, and hash oil, according to the statement.

The drugs were turned over to Woodstock cops for further investigation.

The press release by the Border Patrol talks about the Woodstock police a bit more explicitly:

U.S. Border Patrol agents based out of the Beecher Falls Border Patrol Station, had a busy weekend August 25 – 27, including arresting 25 illegal aliens and seizing various narcotics and drug paraphernalia. The sector established the checkpoint with the support of the Woodstock Police Department, on Interstate 93 in New Hampshire.

And the Woodstock Police Chief talked about the operation here:

He said federal agents used three dogs and walked them alongside cars as they waited in the checkpoint. If the dog signaled the possible presence of drugs, the driver was asked to park. Occupants of the car exited the car, and a dog went through the interior.

“Those dogs were highly trained and impressive to watch,” Oleson said. Border patrol agents would locate the drugs, field-test them, weigh them, and then turn them over to Woodstock police.

Oleson said border patrol agents have “a lot more leeway,” and he could not use a dog to search a car unless he has a suspicion of drug possession that he can articulate. He said no arrests were made for driving under the influence of drugs.

Hmm, so it would be unconstitutional if he did it but he has no problem bypassing the Constitution with the help of the feds. It still might be unconstitutional though:

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a 100-mile border zone exists along the country’s borders and shores. The Supreme Court has upheld the use of immigration checkpoints, but only for a brief and limited inquiry into residence status, the ACLU said. Checkpoints cannot be primarily used for drug-search or general law enforcement efforts, the civil rights group said.

Well, what’s the big deal about freedom anyway? Luckily some very dangerous people were taken:

At least three of the undocumented immigrants arrested during the checkpoint were minors, including two 11th graders and a 7th grader.

The students, who are among the detainees originating from Colombia, all attended Excel Academy Charter Schools in the Boston-area.

I feel safer already.

The police are never wrong

This would seem cut and dried to me:

Here is my best distillation (based on detailed findings made by the district judge after a five-day bench trial):

In October 2010, officers were searching for a “parolee-at-large” who allegedly had been spotted bicycling in front of a suspected drug-trafficking house in suburban Los Angeles. Officers, who had no warrant to search or arrest, went to the house, announced themselves to the owner, and gained entry by threatening to force their way in. (The parolee was not there.)

Meanwhile, officers Christopher Conley and Jennifer Pederson went to “clear the backyard.” After entering the yard and checking some small metal storage boxes, the two officers came to a dilapidated wooden “shack” that (as the district court found) they could not “reasonably” have believed to be unoccupied. The shack had various signs of occupancy, and a lead officer testified that he had advised the deputies that a man named Angel lived in a shed in the yard with his pregnant girlfriend. (The district judge found that both deputies had heard this advisement, and that if they had not then they had “unreasonably failed to pay attention.”) With his gun drawn, Conley pulled open the door of the shack.

The Mendezes were resting on a futon; Angel kept a BB gun next to his bed to shoot pests. When he heard the deputies’ entry, he picked up the BB gun to move it so he could get up. (Whether the gun was “pointed at” the deputies remains disputed, but the trial judge found Mendez was moving it innocently, merely “to help him sit up.”) Conley shouted “gun,” and the deputies fired 15 bullets at the two occupants. Mendez, severely injured, exclaimed, “I didn’t know it was you guys. It was a BB gun….”

No criminal case was filed against the officers, but the courts did award the Mendezes $4 million in damages in a civil suit. The case is now at the Supreme Court to review that award. I wonder what would have happened if Angel had had a real gun and killed one of the officers?

Jeff Sessions shows his critics were right

Jeff Sessions isn’t a racist it’s just that his policies seem to be … or something. Let’s see what Jeff did the last two days of Black History Month:

  • He dropped an objection to a voter ID law in Texas:

The Republican-led Texas Legislature passed one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country in 2011, requiring voters to show a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

The Obama administration’s Justice Department sued Texas to block the law in 2013 and scored a major victory last year after a federal appeals court ruled that the law needed to be softened because it discriminated against minority voters who lacked the required IDs.

Opponents of the law said Republican lawmakers selected IDs that were most advantageous for Republican-leaning white voters and discarded IDs that were beneficial to Democratic-leaning minority voters. For example, legislators included licenses to carry concealed handguns, which are predominantly carried by whites, and excluded government employee IDs and public university IDs, which are more likely to be used by blacks, Hispanics and Democratic-leaning younger voters.

But the Justice Department under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a judge on Monday that it was withdrawing its claim that Texas enacted the law with a discriminatory intent.

Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the day that we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. And so we should remember what he said and what he stood for (from his letter from a Birmingham jail cell):

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

from one of his last speeches:

We are coming to ask America to be true to the huge promissory note that it signed years ago. And we are coming to engage in dramatic nonviolent action, to call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment; to make the invisible visible.

Why do we do it this way? We do it this way because it is our experience that the nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.

If you want to honor his memory, you could do worse than go to the Women’s March next Saturday in Washington or one of the hundreds of others around the country.

and more from the previous speech:

In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. It was something like keeping a person in prison for a number of years and suddenly discovering that that person is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. And you just go up to him and say, “Now you are free,” but you don’t give him any bus fare to get to town. You don’t give him any money to get some clothes to put on his back or to get on his feet again in life.

Every court of jurisprudence would rise up against this, and yet this is the very thing that our nation did to the black man. It simply said, “You’re free,” and it left him there penniless, illiterate, not knowing what to do. And the irony of it all is that at the same time the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor.

But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every years not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.

We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.

You could also honor him by trying to help the immigrants (from his speech in Memphis):

One day a man came to Jesus and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base.  Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from midair and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho.  And he talked about a certain man who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side; they didn’t stop to help him. Finally, a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying this was the good man, this was the great man because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now, you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that one who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony. And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association.  That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road.  I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho.  And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road.  It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about twelve hundred miles, or rather, twelve hundred feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about twenty-two feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road.  In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around.  Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking , and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight.

You could also help out a union:

Negroes in the United States read the history of labor and find it mirrors their own experience. We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the goodwill and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us. They deplore our discontent, they resent our will to organize, so that we may guarantee that humanity will prevail and equality will be exacted. They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table.

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. It is supported by Southern segregationists who are trying to keep us from achieving our civil rights and our right of equal job opportunity. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.

What you shouldn’t do is denigrate one of the leaders in Civil Rights:

Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!

Donald Trump is too politically correct

Donald Trump makes a big deal about being politically correct but:

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

For the idiots out there, like one Donald Trump, not only is that unconstitutional, it’s political correctness. Of course it’s not what they mean, when they complain about political correctness, they’re complaining that they don’t get to call certain groups names anymore. If someone says something that offends them, they’re the first to complain.

By the way, what will Trump do with this (part of the US Flag code):

When a flag is so tattered that it no longer fits to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.

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