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Independence Day Heroes

2009 July 3

founding_fathersIt’s been said that July 4, 1776 was an Independence Day only if you were a white, property-owning male. For the women, the black slaves, and the Native Americans all that changed was who controlled them. So while we spend a day blowing things up to commemorate white men (sorry, couldn’t resist the picture) who brought freedom to other white men (not that they don’t deserve freedom too), I thought I might highlight a few unsung freedom fighters. No, they didn’t kill anyone, blow things up, or wear a uniform – but they helped bring significant freedoms to the most oppressed in our country. These are my Independence Day heroes.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke – sisters born to an “aristocratic” Southern slaveholding family, who after converting to the Quaker faith became abolitionists and women’s rights advocates. They were among the first women to take a public stand against the oppression of women and slaves. Angelina lectured to legislative groups and Sarah wrote An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States (1836), urging abolition, and Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman (1838). Theirs was faith in action, bringing freedom to those denied a voice.

INTEGRATION RUBY BRIDGESRuby Bridges – for the sake of a better education for all this six year old became one of the first black kids to attend an all-white school. Even though she received threats, her father lost his job, U.S. Marshalls had to escort her to school, and she ended up being the only student in her class with the help of her family, her teacher, and psychiatrist Dr. Robert Coles, she stuck it out. And started our country down the path of freedom of (good) education for all.

Romeo Ramirez – the first American to be awarded (in 2003) the Robert F. Kennedy Human Right Award. Ramirez moved to Florida from Guatemala at age 15 in search of work. What he saw in the citrus groves and tomato farms — forced labor, armed guards in the fields, economic servitude — turned the slight, soft-spoken farmworker into an organizer and activist. He joined a group called the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, went undercover, testified in federal court, and helped put three labor crew bosses behind bars for the next decade. He is the face of those seeking freedom for the modern day slaves in our midst.

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to in the fight to free others from oppression?

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31 Responses leave one →
  1. July 4, 2009

    I’m too influenced by Hauerwas to really celebrate Independence Day past grilling out and hanging out with friends and family, but I do have some “Independence Day” heroes. The first one that comes to mind is Dorothy Day. Her fight for voting rights for women, the Catholic Worker movement, her pacifism, her advocacy for the poor, ect. And it is amazing to me that she never let empire capture her imagination – that even after fighting for voting she refused herself to vote.

  2. Pippin permalink
    July 4, 2009

    I guess this isn’t my place to speak since I’m not even American to begin with, heh– but sometimes I wonder why progressives always have to– without whitewashing the brutality and ignorance of those that came before them– always treat symbols and traditional spaces of celebration with such cynicism and scorn. I’m not saying don’t question, or be honest, but the tone always seems too reactionary– oh look here’s a sacred cow, let’s slaughter it. There often just doesn’t seem to be much of a “third way” approach here. Can we judge 18th century white men by 21st century principles? Nor should we let them off the hook– but can we judge them by the exact same standards? i.e. white man in 18th century owns slaves– not an abolitionist, but his own conscience tells him to treat his slaves well, far better than those around him. How do we judge him? Surely we can uphold the deeds of those who fought for freedom in more progressive ways while not heaping scorn upon the motives of those who fought for independence? Just my $0.02.

  3. July 4, 2009

    Pippin – it is because it is hardly ever a both/and that reminders need to be given to make it so.

  4. DAnderson permalink
    July 4, 2009

    I agree with Pippin. Perhaps abortion will be one day seen as the terrible evil it is, and our descendents will wonder how on earth it was legalized in the first place. As I get older, I’ve come to appreciate more and more what the founders sacrificed to give us the freedom to post blogs. I believe that God was with them, even if they were slave holders, just as God said that David was a man after His own heart, even when David murdered and committed adultery.

    As for my heroes, they are the anonymous people in developing countries who break their backs daily in an attempt to put food on the table for their children. I believe that God is holding a special place with Him in His Kingdom.

  5. July 5, 2009

    I’ve been mulling this over for a few days now, and I have to jump in with Pippin. I think the most remarkable thing about those 18th century while male slave owners is that they intentionally created a system of government that could and would develop with the times, and be a reflection of those it governed.

  6. July 6, 2009

    God didn’t create the world in one day, so we shouldn’t expect man to be perfect.

    An old Danish Philosopher said that “All development happens through correcting mistakes”.

    I came here after reading a text by you about searching for the feminine in God, and thought you might be interested in The Essene Gospel of Peace:
    http://kimgraaemunch.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/the-essene-gospel-of-peace/. It’s not the usual Gnostic literature about Sophia; it’s the first time I have seen writings about the Mother in normal biblical context.

    It has been a pleasure to read your blog, as you think with the heart, where most only can think with the brain, or at least try to;-)

    Kind Regards,
    Kim Graae Munch

  7. Karl permalink
    July 6, 2009

    I second Pippin.

  8. July 6, 2009

    Kim – thanks for stopping by and for the recommendation.

    To others – I find it interesting that I put out a suggestion to expand those we honor as heroes, and everyone seems to support fighting to keep that list limited. This post wasn’t about judging the founding fathers, the graphic is making fun of those that do – I was just asking for us to take a broader stance and acknowledge those who brought us freedom of all kinds. To call an abolitionist a hero isn’t to dismiss the fight for freedom of the slaveholder a century earlier, just to say that if we are celebrating independence from oppression, then we shouldn’t ignore those that worked just as hard to bring it to women or slaves.

  9. Pippin permalink
    July 6, 2009

    Hi Julie… I can’t speak for everyone else but I truly don’t think anyone who commented here is fighting to keep that list of who we honour as heroes limited at all. I very much agree that with you the “upward progression” of freedom, and those who worked to free women, slaves and others from oppression should *very much* be recognised in any celebration that upholds and celebrates freedom. However it was the tone you wrote it in that made it sound like you weren’t pointing out that we should rightly expand the list to include these equally (if not more!) worthy heroes; but rather that you were looking to diminish the intent/contributions of the original ‘white slaveowners’ and in so doing, suggesting a complete replacement in who ought to be remembered/celebrated. Of course in this day and age, those who champion a more progressive understanding of freedom provide a more relevant, better model of freedom for us to follow– but I guess I feel that however simplistic or primitive the conception of freedom was for those who fought for independence, the ideal was definitely there, and it’s up to others to continue it and improve on it. Which is why I said I felt it wasn’t enough of a “third way” approach. I apologise if that wasn’t the case and I misinterpreted what you were trying to say.

  10. Karl permalink
    July 6, 2009

    I second Pippin again. He says it better than I could.

    The people you mention certainly deserve to be celebrated for their contributions to freedom.

    Regardless of the original intent of the artist who created graphic accompanying the post, it’s hard to believe after reading this blog for a couple of years that your choice of that graphic and inability to resist it, came solely or even primarily as a result of your desire to poke fun at those who harshly judge America’s founding fathers and diminish America’s positive contributions to the world in their rush to point out its (very real) sins.

    It should be pointed out too, that while July 4th is secondarily a day to celebrate “Freedom” in a broader sense, it primarily commemorates the date the Declaration of Independence was signed and the USA came into existence. National Independence Day, not Individual Freedom Day. Yes the ideals espoused in the Declaration are a key part of the import of the day, and individual freedom from oppression is more important than America’s national independence from Great Britain. And heroes who fought for freedom for all in many times and places desreve to be celebrated. But the 4th of July is primarily about the birth of the country and it makes sense that those involved in that episode of history be the ones primarily remembered on that day, IMO.

    As far as a general pantheon of people who fought for human freedom though, I’m all in favor of making it as inclusive as possible.

  11. July 6, 2009

    Personally I don’t think the “Founding Fathers” need defending by you all. Hasn’t there been enough hagiography over the years? I’ve heard enough glowing, one-sided stories of all of those guys to last a lifetime. It’s about time we started recognizing some other heroes who fought for more than just their “right” not to pay taxes.

  12. Autumnal Harvest permalink
    July 7, 2009

    But the 4th of July is primarily about the birth of the country and it makes sense that those involved in that episode of history be the ones primarily remembered on that day, IMO.

    If the 4th of July is focused precisely on how the United States changed in 1776 alone due to the actions of the Founding Fathers, then I’m not sure why anyone except white males should get excited about it. Before I get accused of heaping scorn on our Founding Fathers (I probably will anyway), let me say that Thomas Jefferson, for example, was an amazing thinker, and great leader who developed and eloquently expressed important ideas about human liberty and freedom, even if he was a rapist (as best as modern categories can be applied anachronistically) who kept his own children as slaves. But if July 4 is primarily about the celebration of the world they created immediately after July 4, 1776, then why should a black American man, or an Asian American woman, get excited about that? The nation the Founding Fathers created immediately after July 4, 1776, was just as crappy for them as the one before. On the other hand, July 4 is about the nation the Founding Father created, and the structures and values they created, including how they evolved through time, then we can all celebrate the 4th of July, but then it seems reasonable to include the Grimkes on the list too.

    I’ll nominate Margaret Sanger for the list. Her passionate support of women’s rights to control their bodies, and strong opposition to abortion led her to promote women having information about, and access to, birth control. Also, a passionately racist supporter of eugenics.

    Oh, and John Rabe, a Nazi who saved a quarter of a million Chinese during the Rape of Nanking. Admittedly, not an American, so totally inappropriate, but at least he’s a white male. :)

  13. DAnderson permalink
    July 7, 2009

    “I’ve heard enough glowing, one-sided stories of all of those guys to last a lifetime. It’s about time we started recognizing some other heroes who fought for more than just their “right” not to pay taxes.”

    That sounds like a page taken out of a Howard Zinn book. I guess we should get down on David McCollough and the other historians who have been so “one-sided” in their viewpoints. It’s too bad and we can’t find a middle ground between adoration and repulsion of the founding fathers. Personally, I’m getting tired of all the anger toward Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the rest. Can’t we just learn to love the sinner and hate the sin?

  14. Karl permalink
    July 7, 2009

    “Personally I don’t think the “Founding Fathers” need defending by you all.”

    – Apparently in some quarters they do. I don’t see anyone here defending a blind adoration of them. What I see being defended is something altogether different – balance. Imbalance is still imbalance, whether it’s in the direction of hagiography or condescending distaste and scorn.

    “Hasn’t there been enough hagiography over the years? I’ve heard enough glowing, one-sided stories of all of those guys to last a lifetime.”

    – Do you think we should be equally intent on debunking the hagiography around the lives of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the heroes Julie points out? The were human, after all. I’m sure there is stuff in each of their lives – actions they took or injustices they participated in – that would cast them in a less than positive light. Should we always leap to mention those things whenever these people’s names come up, rather than focus on their good contributions? Besides, most of the recent biographies of the founding fathers treat them in a pretty balanced manner and don’t whitewash or ignore their participation in what we now realize (and probably they should have realized) were grave injustices. But they don’t just sneer or wag fingers at them either.

    “It’s about time we started recognizing some other heroes who fought for more than just their “right” not to pay taxes.”

    – I don’t see anyone in this thread suggesting that those other heroes shouldn’t be recognized, do you Mike? In fact, I see nearly everyone affirming that they deserve to be recognized and celebrated. My main contention was that on the day commemorating the signing of the declaration of independence, one shouldn’t be surprised that the signers of the declaration and those related to those historical events are the ones primarily celebrated. That is neither an injustice nor an outrage nor a slight to other freedom fighters – it’s just common sense. If secondarily one wants to use the day to celebrate not just the birth of a nation but those who fought have for human freedom generally, then by all means add in fighters against racism, sexism, and oppression of all types. I agree with that part of the original post – these people deserve to have their names and good deeds known and celebrated.

    The fact that Pippin, a non-American “neutral” third party, picked up something that he articulated in his initial post, seems to suggest the comments aren’t just the knee jerk reaction of a bunch of oversensitive rah-rah jingoists.

  15. July 7, 2009

    What I see in this thread Karl is that one can barely even begin to say anything less than positive about the Founding Fathers, or even mention other heroes without a whole bunch of people hollering that we’re being too “one sided” or “negative” or “unbalanced”. Must one always hedge ones comments if we ever dare to criticize such a sacred cow? To answer Pippin’s original question, I think part of the reason many of us are so quick to slaughter these sacred cows is because there is just SO MUCH on the hagiography side. If all we ever hear is the hagiography (and for those of us from conservative backgrounds, that is pretty much all we ever heard) allowing ourselves to be critical is being balanced, since there has already been more than enough said on the other side. We don’t need to hedge by saying how great they were, because that’s already been done, time and time again, ad nauseam.

    Do you think we should be equally intent on debunking the hagiography around the lives of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the heroes Julie points out?

    Yes, why not. I’m more interested in historical truth than in creating mythical heroes out of the past.

    DAnderson-

    That sounds like a page taken out of a Howard Zinn book.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    Personally, I’m getting tired of all the anger toward Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the rest.

    Well, you must run in different circles than I have, because it’s only been recently that I’ve heard any of the bad stuff about these guys. Usually it’s been the exact opposite. For instance, why did I have to wait till I was in my mid-twenties to learn that Washington ordered the genocide of the Iroquois peoples? Everything I was taught about these guys was so overwhelmingly positive, that any bit of criticism I can bring is just a drop in the pond by comparison. That’s why I really don’t feel the need to be more “balanced” towards them.

  16. Karl permalink
    July 7, 2009

    I guess I just prefer to look for a Third Way that acknowledges truth but extends grace, rather than try to even the scales by being equally imbalanced in the other direction.

    I’d have the same negative gut reaction I was reading a conservative blog posted on MLK Jr. Day that sneered at MLK, Jr. for his serial marital infidelity, threw him a backhanded semi-nod, and then gave a list of more “worthy” heroes that were more in line with conservative thinking, saying “I choose to celebrate THESE kinds of heroes today instead because they better represent the values that MLK Jr. is supposedly about.” That would bug me, too.

  17. July 7, 2009

    The problem lies in that as soon as anyone mention either the faults of the founding fathers or suggests that other people be recognized as well, they get jumped on for hating those guys. That is not balance. It just makes having a conversation impossible.

    I’m sick of hagiography in general. But I am also sick of those that throw a hissy fit if someone suggests presenting a balanced perspective or expanding textbooks to not just exclusively focus on the white guys. I think there needs to be a place to question if what these guys did were good deeds as well as be truthful about how the price freedom in our country, our happy birthday so to speak, was paid through the oppression of others. We are benefiting from that oppression, and it is irresponsible and unchristian to just pretend it never happened. While I don’t go this far, it should be acknowledged that to some people to insist on celebrating the names and good deeds of these guys is just the same as insisting on doing that for Hitler. (still wanna say love the sinner hate the sin?). Being forced to celebrate the trafficking, enslavement, imprisonment, rape, economic oppression, and genocide of their people because those guys are heroes to other people really doesn’t go over well. And to tell them to just get over it, that those guys didn’t know any better just avoids the issue.

    I can acknowledge what these guys did, I can learn from them, and I can appreciate the spirit of what they created, but to be told that I need to celebrate and not question those guys doesn’t go over well with me. Like I said, I started this as a way to expand the day of celebration in make it possible for others to celebrate freedom as well, I was trying to go for a both/and knowing that there are enough people on the extremes.

    (and btw, I understand about MLK jr. That said, I grew up in the South where all of his faults – how he destroyed our country, how he created on his wife, how having to celebrate his holiday is reverse racism… – figured far more prominently into what I learned about him that the hagiography I often see now. History is ALWAYS biased, trying to balance out and expand that bias for the good of all is worth it in my opinion.)

  18. Pippin permalink
    July 7, 2009

    Lol, reading through the comments from Karl, Mike and Julie etc , despite us going back and forth on the issue of balance, I think we all actually agree on this issue more than we think!

    “The problem lies in that as soon as anyone mention either the faults of the founding fathers or suggests that other people be recognized as well, they get jumped on for hating those guys. That is not balance. It just makes having a conversation impossible.”

    Julie, I’m not sure if you’re referring to your experiences in general or (/and) this specific conversation– if it’s the latter, again, like I said before, I don’t feel anyone is (althugh again, I can’t speak for everyone) asking for blind, uncritical celebration. I think we might be unwittingly talking past each other, but I think most of us at least are trying to create genuine dialogue on the whole issue of a third way approach to this. Also, in one of your previous responses “… it is because it is hardly ever a both/and that reminders need to be given to make it so.”– I’m not quite sure what you meant– that it is less of a both/and situation than we would like it to be?

    Mike– On the slaughtering of sacred cows.. that’s a good point that I guess I need to be more aware of. I guess we have very different vantage points based on our experiences. I noticed that the longer I was in a conservative environment, the more liberal I became, and the longer I was in a liberal environment, the more conservative I became, lol! Both camps were just intolerant in their own way. I guess while the conservative viewpoint was the dominant view you were force-fed– and thus that’s something you need to question and move beyond– some of us here are probably more moderate but for one reason or another immersed/participate in a very liberal environment, where anything other than “very liberal” is a minority– which I certainly was at uni– then our vantage point would be very different because we would be surrounded by the other extreme all the time. I guess, from my vantage point, I was kinda a bit tired of that– and I need to remember you must be just as equally tired of the dominant conservative view.

    Karl– thank you for your very kind words on my posts. Sometimes I feel like I have no business weighing in on this stuff as an outsider who hasn’t truly lived these issues, but thanks for making me feel that a “neutral” voice is welcome.

  19. Autumnal Harvest permalink
    July 7, 2009

    I guess I just prefer to look for a Third Way that acknowledges truth but extends grace, rather than try to even the scales by being equally imbalanced in the other direction.

    What is it about JC’s post that triggers these warning flags that the scales are “imbalanced”? I would understand your reaction if her post was a rant about how the Founding Fathers were worthless human beings. But the cartoon is clearly satirical. And the text itself just points out, in a fairly reasonable and non-vitriolic manner, some real deficiencies that the Founding Fathers have when you focus on them just as our only national heroes, and then nominates some additional heroes. I’m having trouble seeing why the response to this post is a call for a third way, or for respect for the Founding Fathers. I think the Founding Fathers were amazing people, who wrote amazing things, and accomplished amazing things, and I respect and admire them a ton for that. Expressing that respect is worthwhile, and I don’t think there’s a shortage of it in America today. Nevertheless, I agree with everything Julie says in her post, and think everything she says is worth saying too; I don’t see why it should trigger the criticisms that it has.

    As for the debate over whether the presentation of American History fall on the hagiographic side or the cynical, scornful side, I suggest the following test. Go ask a random American on the street to name three great, pre-WW2, American presidents, and the great things that they did. Then ask them to name three terrible, pre-WW2, American presidents, and the terrible things that they did. Unless they have a particular interest in history, they’ll almost certainly find the first one easy, but be unable to answer the second one.

  20. Karl permalink
    July 8, 2009

    AH, that’s a fair question. I hesitate to answer because my intent wasn’t to micro-analyze the post nor to bash Julie, but to react to what I’d read. But since you asked, I’ll try to articulate a couple of things that probably contributed to the gut level reaction that I had to the post.

    1. Timing. As I posted above, the choice of July 4th and wording of the post strike me the same way as if a conservative blogger did something similar on MLK Jr day. Posted a satirical cartoon showing MLK Jr boasting in a meeting of the SCLC that he was a communist, wife-cheating scoundrel who was planning to ruin America, and then blogged that he “couldn’t resist the picture”, gave a backhanded semi-nod to MLK, Jr. for having been a black man who did some good for other black men, but then went on to say that on this day he chooses to celebrate some other list of people who better represent the ideals that MLK, Jr “supposedly” stood for (but really didn’t very well). I wouldn’t like that. It would seem inappropriately timed at best – and maybe I could criticize it on more grounds than simply poor timing.

    2. Tone. Pippin articulated in his original post the question of why many progressives feel the need to be cynically scornful of traditions and symbols. That cynical tone comes across in the first paragraph of the post. Yes, it could be worse. But nobody could honestly read that paragraph as being celebratory of the events of July 4, 1776 or of the people who participated in them.

    I’m in agreement with adding heroes and symbols to the pantheon of American heroes and symbols. I just don’t think that in order to do so you need to be cynically scornful of the heroes and symbols that already exist – and if you want to make sure those aren’t uncritically adored, then there are better and more “third way” days and ways to go about that.

    I also find it anachronistic to expect that the primary people celebrated on July 4 would be anyone other than those who took part in the historical events commemorated on that day. That’s all. If secondarily we start celebrating people who fought for human freedom generally on that day, then yeah the people on Julie’s list deserve to be included. I’m not hugely offended or angry or looking to fight about it. Just offering my thoughts/reaction.

  21. July 8, 2009

    I’m having trouble seeing why the response to this post is a call for a third way, or for respect for the Founding Fathers.

    Thanks for saying this AH. This is what has bothered me the most about the responses here. If such a relatively innocuous post as Julie’s brings immediate calls for more “balance”, then how can we ever have a real conversation about what these guys actually did (good or bad)? Just sort of shuts down conversation before it even gets started IMHO. I mean, heaven forbid she had actually had the audacity to mention the really heinous (and totally true) things the Founding Fathers did. I can only imagine what the response would have been like then.

  22. DAnderson permalink
    July 8, 2009

    In my state, we celebrate MLK day in a big way. No school, governments closed down. A huge celebration at the State Capitol. Presidents’ day — nothing. Many schools have gone so far the other way that, even in the school where I teach, Abraham Lincoln Elem, Lincoln is despised by some. So, revisionist history is alive and well, at least in Madison, which some say is 77-square miles surrounded by reality. So, if you need a “progressive” fix, where about 80 percent of the populace voted for Obama, you could always spend a few days here.

    As for communication shutting down, that runs both ways.

  23. Karl permalink
    July 8, 2009

    Mike, if you are really at a loss I’d suggest reading a recent, quality biography of one of the founding fathers (or of MLK Jr. for that matter, or any other American public hero) to get an idea of what charitable balance looks like, and to see “how we can have a real conversation about what these guys actually did.” No biography is perfect but almost all of the recent good ones make a fair attempt to be even handed. It’s not hagiography but neither is it just iconoclastic snark.

    Pippin makes a good point that while there are real differences represented here, we may not be as far apart as we seem. It seems clear from Mike and Julie’s comments that they want “balance” as much as I do.

    Maybe the difference lies in how we think balance is best achieved. Mike and Julie, you recognize imbalance in American Myth/hagiography emphasizing only the positive about the country and its founders while turning a blind eye to their sins. You therefore seem to want to work a little bit toward *overall balance* by emphasizing the negative as a counterbalance to all that hagiography.

    Rather than work to *achieve* balance in that way, my sympathy lies with those who to try to *model* balance. That seems more third way to me.

    Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, have been trying to “balance” each other’s voices out in the public sphere for a long time by using loud voices to act as a counterweight to the voice of the “other” in the grand scheme of public opinion. How’s that working? Looks like just a bunch of polarized equal-but-opposite imbalance to me and like Pippin, I get bothered by it whether conservatives or progressives are doing it.

  24. July 8, 2009

    Maybe the difference lies in how we think balance is best achieved. Mike and Julie, you recognize imbalance in American Myth/hagiography emphasizing only the positive about the country and its founders while turning a blind eye to their sins. You therefore seem to want to work a little bit toward *overall balance* by emphasizing the negative as a counterbalance to all that hagiography.

    That’s the problem though Karl, she didn’t try to “emphasize the negative” in this post. That wasn’t even what this post was about. It was about inviting people to add to their pantheon of heroes and “freedom fighters”. It was the rest of y’all who freaked out because she dared to make one negative (yet accurate) comment about the Founding Fathers. If a person can’t even make one less-than favorable comment without being jumped all over, THAT is a little extreme IMHO.

    DAnderson – maybe I’m not understanding you. How is celebrating MLK Day “revisionist history”?

  25. Pippin permalink
    July 9, 2009

    Hi Mike, I don’t know if you read my last response ( Comment No. 18) which I had hoped addressed some of the issues– again I repeat, I think we all agree more than we actually think we do. I don’t know if it’s being “jumped all over”– I hope I was respectful, and I felt the others were. I guess it seems the majority of us just happened to disagree on the way Julie presented it, rather than trying to shut down an honest assessment on re-thinking Independence Day and broadening what we define as heroes of freedom– and I don’t think anyone took an absolutist stand on it either.
    Julie, I truly appreciate you opening up a conversation on this blog– even though you and I may often not come to the same conclusions on various issues, the process of thinking about and perhaps reframing these important issues is so important and I am very grateful you provide a space– a sounding board– for other sojourners to work these issues out. I understand a blog and its contents are often a strange mix of the private/public– your thoughts may be written to begin a conversation– or they are your thoughts, nothing more, nothing less– not something you should censor or ever have to apologise for. Please don’t take this the wrong way because this whole thing seems to be turning into a “majority trying to shut down honesty” thing– which it isn’t– but sometimes the tone– *not* the content– of your entries feel less ‘open’, more reactionary, defensive and less open to building bridges… again these are your honest thoughts and I don’t expect you to be anything less– I realise ‘tone’ is very subjective, difficult to quantify or qualify– or might just be our own projection of other people’s thoughts– and sometimes people react to that ‘vibe’ (real or imagined), and it colours the content– which I actually, as I’ve said, very much agree with… sigh I don’t know if i’ve probably just made this worse instead of moving it forward…. *sigh*…. can we start again please? 😉

  26. Karl permalink
    July 9, 2009

    No surprise, but again I agree with Pippin (25).

    Mike, I’m not just talking about one comment in the post. I’m talking about the entire 1st paragraph of the post – its overall tone including the “couldn’t resist it” satirical picture (c’mon, after two or three years following this blog do either of you really expect me to believe the reason Julie couldn’t resist that pic was because she wants to make fun of people who are critical of the founding fathers), the way it is phrased, and the timing of the whole thing. I wrote in an earlier post: “Imbalance is still imbalance, whether it’s in the direction of hagiography or condescending distaste and scorn.” That’s what comes across in the first paragraph. Backhanded stuff like “not that they don’t deserve freedom too” doesn’t mitigate the tone.

    See my response to AH in #20 and the example of how a similar post by a conservative blogger on MLK day would strike me much the same, even if it contained factually truthful statements about MLK. Tone. Attitude. Timing.

    To refer to questioning the tone, timing and emphasis of that first paragraph (but NOT questioning the list of other deserving heroes, as people bent over backwards to emphasize) as freaking out, jumping all over, seeking to shut down dialogue, and fighting to keep the list of American heroes limited (where did that one even come from?), etc. doesn’t seem to accurately reflect the tone or content of the comments in this thread.

    I still think it comes down to a difference in approach. Trying to *cause* balance vs. trying to *model* balance. Actually, rather than “balance” a better word to use might be “fairness.” I think that gets closer to my meaning.

  27. DAnderson permalink
    July 9, 2009

    To MClawson, I never said that celebrating MLK is in any way related to revisionist history. The point is that, in at least some states, more emphasis is put on celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. than Washington or Lincoln. My guess is that within a generation, Washington and those other white guys will continue their downward slide into oblivion.

    It’s your right to not appreciate certain groups of people. I don’t worship the founding fathers. I do appreciate what they did to make it possible for people to have their first amendment right to dis’ them.

    I already wrote who my heroes were in an earlier posting. I thought that the point of this all.

  28. July 10, 2009

    Thanks for clarifying DA. Personally I’m fine with celebrating MLK more than our past presidents anyway. Lincoln was a great man of course… Washington had his good points, but he also did some very evil things too. However, for the most part our presidents have simply been politicians, and honoring them with ritualized holidays just seems too much like syncretistic, idolatrous civil religion to me.

    Then again, when has Presidents Day ever been celebrated with anything more than a day off of school and tons of mattress and furniture store sales? Even when I was a kid I can’t remember anyone making that big of a deal about Presidents Day. It was mainly just a way to make that long stretch of school between Christmas and Spring Break a little more bearable. I don’t think MLK day had much to do with it, it was already a lame-duck holiday.

    As for MLK, I don’t like things that smack of worship, but if remembering someone who lived and died according to the path of non-violent resistance on behalf of the oppressed, can inspire us to go and do likewise, then I’m all for it.

  29. July 10, 2009

    Karl – not every single comment on every blog post can be hedged and qualified and balanced all the time. Sometimes it should be okay just to make a critical comment about someone without having to launch into a full discussion of their total merits or demerits as historical figures. Why is it such an awful thing to make an occasional snarky comment about the Founding Fathers anyway? Their legacy is a mixed one at best.

  30. Autumnal Harvest permalink
    July 11, 2009

    *sigh* … can we start again please? 😉

    Sounds good, Pippin. So, who are your heroes? (I think that was the point of the post, after all.)

    I like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who campaigned tirelessly for women’s rights and women’s suffrage. (And argued forcefully against the 14th and 15th Amendments, arguing that ignorant “Sambos” shouldn’t be granted rights over white women. Whoops. I like them anyway.)

    And Roger Williams, champion of religious liberty is pretty cool. (Sadly, I can’t think of anthing bad about Roger Williams to put here, but maybe one of you can fill me in. :) )

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