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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 60,941

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How old were you when you "heard this myth"? Also, the "greatest generation" wasn't...

An old journalist wrote a worshipful tribute to his dad and the hard times his dad & mom lived through, and called it The Greatest Generation. Nobody called them that before then, no disrespect intended.

When the young men of my generation were being sent off to war in Southeast Asia we were accustomed to thinking of ourselves (the USA) as the good guys, the guys who won wars, the guys who fought on the right side of history. I was raised to believe that. Ending two World Wars and liberating the concentration camps ought to count for something, one would think.

Instead the politicians in Washington DC (all of them part of the so-called greatest gen) sent our men off to fight an unwinnable war for all the wrong reasons, and because they could not admit it was a god-damned mistake, they kept on drafting and sending soldiers until the revulsion back home tore the country apart.

Excuse me for some of us having had the youthful idealism to believe that we could do better than that. And by gods some of us did -- though power creates its own vortex, and while we rejoiced at unseating Nixon, Newt Gingrich was getting his start.

Also excuse me if we got old. The children we begot are in their 40s and 50s, and those of us who are still alive are trying to eke out a retirement from pensions that vanished while providing at-home elder care for their own parents. Some of those people are DUers.

It wasn't us who "pulled the ladder up" after themselves. Go to the rich and powerful GOPers for that -- only what they did was knock the ladder out from under us and everyone else.

Which brings me to this: STOP DIVIDING US BY GENERATION, AND GET A GRIP ON THE REALITY OF CLASS WARFARE. Class warfare crosses generations and seeks to perpetuate itself at the nexus of money and power.

The Irish in my family came at different times in the 1800s...

There were two sisters that were the sole survivors in their family of a journey on a "coffin ship" during the Famine. There was a tailor who left his apprenticeship in Ireland and stowed away on a ship because of the cruelty of his master. I can't remember the rest just now, and of course never met them.

Before I took a tour of Ireland in my 60s I had only met two people from Ireland in my life. LOL I've mentioned how I was born in California and raised in Hawai'i, and now live in California again. I look like my immediate family, as expected, but really had no idea that there were a whole nation of people who look like they could be my actual cousins.

The history of the Irish in America makes for some interesting reading -- and I learned some startling and even sad things from the PBS series on the Irish in America. (PBS documentaries have just about all the ethnicities covered. Recommended.)

One of the things I learned along the way was the reason the Irish dug the Erie Canal. It seems the original idea was to rent slaves from Southern plantation owners, but as it happened the Southerners were well aware that the job was going to be a man-killer, so they declined. Slaves, after all, were valuable property. Enter the immigrant Irish.

Many of the early Irish immigrants arrived completely illiterate. The British, who had ruled Ireland for centuries, tried to stamp out Roman Catholicism in all of Britain, Scotland, and Ireland, after King Henry VIII broke with the Pope. It was brutal and violent. Religion became an emblem of identity for the Irish that they refused to give up, and since they'd been fighting the British for centuries already, it was just one more grievance. One tool of oppression was to close all the schools run by the Church, and since public secular education was a completely alien concept, this meant no education for anyone who refused to convert. I don't know when education became a thing again.

They farmed potatoes for themselves; the land was fertile, and a diet based on potatoes, buttermilk, and (I think) cabbages was nourishing enough. A pig was wealth. The rest of their energies went to the English landlords who sold their crops away. Then the potatoes failed, and rotted to black goo. The landlords still sold the crops grown for their estates out of the country, even during the Famine.

Half the people either died or left. The population never recovered its original numbers until just about the time I went on tour there. For generations after the Famine their biggest export was people. Even today there are more sheep than people.

Thinking on this is depressing. Their manner of living had been quite primitive, compared to what the US had become by that time. They arrived in a largely Protestant country that was mighty suspicious of their supposed allegiance to Rome. Some spoke no English, and nearly all had an accent that was hard to understand. Their behavior was not polished. They brawled, seemingly for entertainment. They lacked skills. They arrived at the bottom of the social ladder. I think I heard the quote, "They will never assimilate," in that PBS documentary.

I think the stories of some of the single women were inspiring. A fair number went to work in the mills -- and sent money home. Many became cooks and maids, and thought themselves fortunate to be living in a grand house instead of a thatched cottage with a peat fire and no running water -- and they sent money home, too. These women discovered independence.

In any case, your grandparents were of a more fortunate generation -- and even they were part of Ireland's human exports looking for a better life.

I think about the Irish who came in the 1800s not so much because they are exceptional in either achievements or suffering or sheer numbers, but because for me they typify the way immigrants both change America and are changed by it. The Italians, the Irish, the Eastern European Jews, all came in waves and all changed America and made it (us) a richer culture. What do we have to fear from what some call "the browning of America"? In my mind, nothing. The only thing we have to fear is white nationalists losing their freaking minds over the prospect -- and until Trump came along I naively believed we had mostly grown out of that poison.

Sorry this is too long, but your post provoked a thread of thought I had to untangle, and now it's way past midnight.


Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

I remember the controversy for a couple of reasons. One is my ancestry is Irish, and popular prejudice at one time said the Irish were no better than apes and could never assimilate. (Yet somehow we did.) But mostly I remembered it because it seemed to confirm my personal experience of growing up in Hawai'i: that race and culture are malleable and fluid.

Interesting man, and an interesting obit.


Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78



Ignatiev’s best-known book, “How the Irish Became White,” was immediately influential and controversial upon its publication in 1995. It touched off a firestorm of debate at the time at academic conferences and in the pages of newspapers. In time his view that whiteness is a social and political construction — and not a phenomenon with a biological basis — has become mainstream. The resurgence of white identity politics and white nationalism in recent years made Ignatiev’s arguments relevant to a new generation of readers who argued the notion that race is more about power and privilege rather than about ancestry, or even identity.

The book detailed how the Irish, who had first come to North America as indentured servants and were reviled by the more settled populations of English and Dutch Americans, became, by the mid-19th century, accepted as white. Sadly, Ignatiev argued, the Irish became incorporated into whiteness just before the Civil War, through support for slavery and violence against free African Americans. To become white, Ignatiev wrote, did not mean to be middle class, much less rich, but rather to be accepted as equal citizens and to have access to the same neighborhoods, schools and jobs as others.

“To Irish laborers, to become white meant at first that they could sell themselves piecemeal instead of being sold for life, and later that they could compete for jobs in all spheres instead of being confined to certain work; to Irish entrepreneurs, it meant that they could function outside of a segregated market,” Ignatiev wrote. “To both of these groups it meant that they were citizens of a democratic republic, with the right to elect and be elected, to be tried by a jury of their peers, to live wherever they could afford, and to spend, without racially imposed restrictions, whatever money they managed to acquire. In becoming white, the Irish ceased to be Green.”

Ignatiev’s argument touched off fierce debates; critics argued that he went too far in conflating racial and class privilege. He went on to found and co-edit a journal, known as Race Traitor, whose motto was “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” His ideas seemed extreme for the time; critics called Ignatiev — who was Jewish — divisive, even self-hating.

At a 1997 conference at UC Berkeley, on “The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness,” Ignatiev argued that “whiteness is not a culture but a privilege and exists for no reason other than to defend it.”


"A popular cordless household tool costing as little as $100" This is a phrase meant to live forever

...in the annals of political comedy.

Vote suppression is such a big issue we might need more than an umbrella group here...

I don't know how to highlight just the electronic voting issues when so much else is going on.

The GOP historically takes a multi-pronged, Hydra-headed approach, and has been at this since Reconstruction. Doesn't matter the party name at the time -- it's the white-sheet bunch wearing business suits. They seriously do not want anyone who is not white (and preferably male) to vote at all. The old Jim Crow laws were ugly and in-your-face -- and guess what? They are all back in new guise.

Take Gerrymandering, for instance. "All On the Line" the joint project of AG Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, is working on that issue, but they need our help.

But wait -- there's more. Bush/Cheney jumped at the chance to cash in on those troublesome hanging chads. Why be explicitly racist when there's money to be made (Neal Bush invested) -- with the bonus of controlling the outcome?

The early days were hair-raising if you paid attention, and DU was paying attention. There was one place where the final count started to roll backwards. There was another in Riverside, CA where a "technician" strolled in and changed out the mother-boards. There was a Democratic Senator, triple-amputee war hero Max Cleland, who lost his seat with results in several counties reading 88,888 in favor of his opponent. The equipment has proven hackable from the beginning. Recently it's been pointed out that in the interest of immediate results, the tabs from each precinct are wirelessly transmitted to a computer that collects all the data and then decides what the results are.

As Stalin said, it doesn't matter who gets the votes; all that matters is who counts them. And right now, computers are counting them.

DU needs to step up again to educate our members. The other night, when my brain was too befogged with heat (Santa Ana winds out here in the fire zone) to respond coherently, one of our good people started an OP rejoicing that his experience with the new electronic voting machines was easy and pleasant. Help!

So whatever we do, I want an opportunity to share info as multi-pronged as is being deployed against democracy. Maybe a Forum with several Groups within it. Ideally, the forum should have a spot on the home page, same as the Primaries forum.

That's all I've got for now. As you can tell, it has been on my mind a very long time.

DU is not "fundamentally the same" as FB, which has a billion users. Anarchy doesn't work ...

...anywhere online, as you should well know.

Here at DU we have the TOS and a self-policing system that keeps the trolls in check, but we are a relatively small group, especially when compared to FB.

"Under what power of government?" Well, since common decency and a sense of the social contract are not working for Mr Zuckerberg, he needs laws to regulate his business.

So do oil companies that spill their crap all over my beach. The oil companies (to extend the comparison) may think my unusable beach and its dead and stinking sea life are not their problem, and that their only responsibility is to their shareholders, but there are in fact a body of laws that say otherwise.

When he allows and even encourages political actors to flood the cyberverse with lies, he is causing immeasurable harm to this country. He shrugs. Cambridge Analytica paid their bills on time and he thinks this is not his responsibility. "My God how the money rolls in" says the old song about a whorehouse.

Listen to the tale, Grasshopper. This is a professionally-run site with lots of safeguards, and...

...someone tried to murder us. Members logged in and were met with Pepe the Frog, statements that Trump is the God-King, and worse. The whole site was offline for weeks.

All we know for sure is that the Admins, who own the site, sought legal counsel -- lawyer and FBI type legal counsel -- and apparently have been advised to not discuss whatever they were told. I respect that. They also worked like dogs to repair the vandalism. Who was it -- 4chan? Who could do this and why?

I was among those loath to say the Russians had anything to do with it, because I don't go for and after all we're not that important in the scheme of things, right? But so much was being revealed ...and something really odd happened on CSpan during a committee meeting of Congressional Representatives on the interference with our elections. People were discussing and giving testimony, and as soon as one of them said the word "Russia" the feed was abruptly switched away from the US Capitol and onto a Russia Today broadcast.

Make of it what you will, but I think someone was making an example of us, and of the participants in that meeting: "See what we can do?"

Actually, we need to discuss her and her friends: Tucker Carlson, Trey Gowdy, the Howdi Modi event

...that was a campaign rally for Trump. Then there's the awesome support for her from RT and other Russian outlets, and the many Russian bots that are now known to be fluffing up her numbers. Oh, and the ever-popular question of where does her money come from and where is her money going?

Hillary Clinton never says a careless word, and Hillary is still friends with the Intelligence community. Who are you going to trust?

To all those who still want to pound on Warren for her family history that turned out to be legend--

I am so very sorry you were raised by wolves and had no family to tell you entertaining bedtime stories to give you something to live up to -- or even to live down.

Mythology is not the same as "lies," though we may believe a myth as long as we need to.

Trump lies -- he lies to build himself up, to conceal crimes, to tear others down, to destroy others. I don't see any of our Dems doing that, do you?

The myth of the Native American ancestor is very common among white Americans. It's a badge of belonging to the land, I think. As long as the believer isn't trying to access some set-aside reserved for tribal members (and tribes decide who belongs, by the way) where is the harm?

I have a Native American ancestor. She's listed in the family genealogy I copied out at 13 when I stayed with my grandma. It was compiled from family Bibles. No one ever mentioned that ancestor -- she was listed as "part-Pequot Indian," and would have married into the original English branch of the family around 1700, possibly earlier. My grandma was much more interested in the Irish, who came a lot later and some of whom she remembered personally. We have, as it happens, a lot of family lore (mythology?) about them, the Irish that is.

The point is -- at this remove in time, what is the likelihood that this lady's DNA would show up in my DNA sample as even a minute trace? If I mentioned my connection as a point of interest, would I be lying? She existed, right enough. (Later on, my mom did 4 books of serious research, much more than that list of begats.) If I mention her, am I bragging about something I have no right to? If I fail to mention her, would I be accused of being ashamed if someone found out?

Damned if you do and damned if you don't. What a country.

One final point, DUers: stop letting goddammed Trump set the goddam narrative about our candidates. Just stop it.

Edited to add: this is my 57,000th post. Happy to defend a Dem.

My 6-month old granddaughter died of SIDS 10 years ago. The trauma was unspeakable...

But my daughter has been hooked into the anti-vaxxer movement and is now a crusader whose devotion to this cause is, sadly, fanatic. She is a local spokeswoman for the cause. The things she states as fact about California's efforts to vaccinate kids would curl your hair.

There is nothing I can do -- nothing. I try to talk about our family medical history -- which I can recite back for a century, before routine childhood vaccinations. No, no -- it's all due to vaccinations. (Part of that history involves one of my grandmother's sisters, who tragically never raised a living child. All her babies were born live, apparently healthy, and all died in infancy. There were no vaccines involved -- her generation was born in the 1880s for gods' sake.) The latest thing she threw at me, two days ago, was that she thinks I blame her for her child's death.

Grieving mothers are being victimized, and in their pain they go to war against science and against others.
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