Good Guy/Bad Guy – Who Needs ’em?


The good guy/bad guy narrative is a literary classic. It seems rooted in religious beliefs of good and evil and non-religious esoteric beliefs of Yin & Yang. For every good guy there seems to be a universal need for a counterbalancing bad guy. Is this realistic? Is this necessary? The gringa would like to believe that bad guys and evil are simply obsolete. I mean, haven’t we reached that point yet in the evolution of humanity that we don’t need the contrast of the bad in order to recognize and appreciate what is good? And if we are basing our good guy/bad guy theory on ancient teachings that use real world examples of good and evil, what if those past histories are incorrect? After all, aren’t historical records always skewed according to the perspective of the author, whether they be the victor or the vanquished?

Take, for example, one of the earliest examples of good guy/bad guy: Egypt and the ancient Israelites. According to the religious teachings of Judaism and Christianity, it is widely accepted that the Egyptians were the “bad guys”, enslaving the Hebrew people who were eventually chosen by God to be the “good guys”. However, historians and archaeologists who specialize in Egyptian history, not to mention Egyptians themselves, argue that this is an unfair depiction of the relationship between the ancient Egyptian empires and the surrounding less powerful nations and peoples. Can science and historians reveal the truth?

David Wolpe is a rabbinical scholar who argues that archaeological evidence simply does not support the biblical notion that ancient Egypt practiced widespread enslavement of the Hebrew people, or any people for that matter. But just because evidence hasn’t been found doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. So let’s look at the historical facts that are known and the science of archaeology to understand these facts.

1700 B.C.

Before their enslavement, the Hebrew people migrated to Egypt to survive a famine. The biblical record maintains that they were there for several generations. There is basically a 300 year gap between the appearance of the Joseph story and Moses.

1400 B.C.

The earliest possible date suggested by the Jewish and Christian religious texts for the enslavement of the Hebrew people by Egypt would have been 1400 B.C., in other words, about 300 years after the era of the pyramids.

So what was going on in Egypt from 1700 B.C. to 1400 B.C.? Why would Egypt need widespread enslavement if the grand monuments had already been constructed?

14th Dynasty

Egypt’s 14th Dynasty ruled anywhere from 1725-1650 B.C. or 1805-1650 B.C. depending on which historian you talk to. Regardless, this would have been the dynasty in power when Jewish and Christian texts claim that Joseph took his family to Egypt in order to survive the region’s famine. His family would grow to become the Hebrew people. Does the known history and archaeological science support that a famine occurred in the region during this time? What kind of science might be used to find out?

Interestingly enough, an examination of pollen buried deeply in Egyptian soil around the Nile reveals that a devastating drought occurred at this time in history. This region was dependent upon the annual floods of the Nile Delta to enrich their agricultural lands. A drought would have, indeed, resulted in a famine.

So what would life have been like as an immigrant in an ancient Egyptian kingdom?

Archaeology reveals that rulers during the 14th dynasty had names that indicated Canaanite or Western Semitic origins, with one king and queen with Nubian names. So, it seems that at this time Egypt was an ethnically mixed bag. These kings and queens would be involved in conflicts with neighboring rivals to control the strategic area of the fertile Nile Delta. Control the agriculture, control the food. Eventually a prolonged period of famine and disease weakened the kingdom which then fell to a takeover by the Hyksos. The Hyksos takeover would have occurred after the suggested time of the Hebrew Exodus story.

So, pre-Hyksos Egypt was noted by industrious multi-ethnic rulers who jealously defended the Nile Delta with military might and concentrated on building extravagant monuments to demonstrate their success as rulers. Rulers during the time period 1800 B.C. to 1650 B.C. contain a series of non-contested figures as well as controversial names:

  • Yakbim Sekhaenre (contested): 1805 B.C. – 1780 B.C.
  • Ya’ammu Nubwoserre (contested): 1780 B.C. – 1770 B.C.
  • Qareh Khawoserre (contested): 1770 B.C. – 1760 B.C.
  • Ammu Ahotepre (contested): 1760 B.C. – 1745 B.C.
  • Sheshi Maaibre (contested): 1745 B.C. – 1705 B.C.
  • Nehesy Aasehre (uncontested): 1705 B.C., name means “The Nubian” inscribed on 2 known monuments.
  • Khakherewre (uncontested): 1705 B.C.
  • Nebefawre (uncontested): 1704 B.C.
  • Sehebre (uncontested): 1702-1699 B.C.
  • Merdjefare (uncontested): 1699 B.C.
  • Sewadjkare III (uncontested): 1698 B.C.
  • Nebdjefare (uncontested): 1697-1694 B.C.
  • After this there is a list of names established as Egyptian kings of the 14th Dynasty but without designated dates for their reigns.

What do we know about these kings and the conditions of their kingdoms that might have any affect on the good guy/bad guy designations in the Jewish and Christian religious texts?

  • Majority of the cartouches excavated refer to each reigning king as “son of Ra” in addition to whatever the king’s individual name was.
  • During Sheshi’s reign 1745-1705 B.C., seals with his provenance have been discovered in archaeological digs in Egypt, Nubia and Canaan suggesting that his kingdom enjoyed widespread trade and relations outside the immediate borders of Egypt. Some scholars believe this to be the Sheshai mentioned in Jewish and Christian religious texts as being of the Anakim of Hebron when the Hebrews conquered the land of Canaan.
  • If Sheshi had good trade relations with the people of Canaan and was the ruler of Egypt when the Hebrew people conquered Canaan, it would only be natural that Egypt might then take a posture of hostility toward the Hebrew people.

It is then possible that the ancient Hebrew people were not victims of the ancient Egyptians. They may have been viewed as nomadic invaders who disrupted trade with allies. It reminds the gringa of European history and stories of Viking raiders. The Hebrew people also practiced a foreign religion that was monotheistic. It is easy to see even today how religion can play a big part in hostilities between cultures that can lead up to oppression and even war.

I mean, think about it. The Hebrew people first show up needing a place to survive a famine. Egypt graciously takes them in. Then, after weathering the storm, growing fat and happy as well as increasing in population and herds who need grazing land, the Hebrews, within one generation, rise up and attack a trade ally, Canaan, a rich land for Hebrew herds of sheep and goats. The Hebrew people take over the nation by slaughtering, according to the biblical account, every man, woman and child because God “told them so”. The gringa can imagine the horror of Egypt at these actions. I can also understand how the polytheistic Egyptians would decide that the single God of the Hebrews was a backstabbing baby-killer. No suprise then, that there would be no love loss between Egyptians and Hebrews that continued to live together in Egypt. Hebrews were probably eyed suspiciously and discriminated against, though probably not enslaved.

These resentments, deep in the heart of the Egyptians who saw their trade allies vanquished by people they considered to be dangerous heretics, would have most likely been an attitude that would have been passed down for generations. Just as politicians have used such emotions and history to stir up support for their cause throughout my own country’s history, the gringa thinks it is very possible the same type of politics were at play when it came time for the Hebrew people to rise up, claim oppression, revolt and march out of town. They just seemed to forget that they started it all.

The natural result would be for the Hebrew people to villainize Egypt, victimize themselves, then paint a heroic picture of their escape to inspire their own people and motivate them for noble purposes. On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians would have historians creating records for the pleasure of their rulers. They would depict their nation as benevolent and tolerant. Factions such as the immigrant, nomadic, heretical Hebrews would be painted as radical rebels stirring up unrest and not wanting to work.

So, in the end, the gringa does believe that, much as I would like to think that humanity has evolved to the point where we no longer need the good guy/bad guy narrative because people know better now, that’s simply not the case. As long as we have politicians who have something to gain by exploiting the differences in groups of people, we will always have the good guy/bad guy narrative. But it is a human creation, not a spiritual reality. And for kids who adore science as much as they adore truth, the science involved in archaeology can help resolve many divisive differences that exist today because of politicized religious teachings of yesterday. Become an archaeologist and change the world.

Sources:

www.biblicalarchaeology.org

www.ancientegypt.co.uk

wikipedia.org

Image Credit:  flashtrafficblog.files.wordpress.com

 

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Guests & Gods


The gringa was recently requested by a fellow blogger for permission to re-post some of my material. I was flattered at the interest and apparent seal of approval. In appreciative reciprocation I also wanted to re-post an item of this blogger’s choosing. The gringa’s “guest” blogger, Octavian D. Curpas, YouTube video blogger from Arizona, forwarded a transcript of a German Christian singer he recently interviewed, Florence Joy Enns. Lacking a URL link to a video of this interview, the best the gringa can do is provide a link to his YouTube channel, Octavian D. Curpas and a link to the video that inspired the interview, Florence performing “Mein Ziel”. From a Christian perspective, Octavian advocates for reunification of Norwegian children separated from their families through Norway’s version of the U.S.’s Child Protective Services. The gringa will not even attempt to delve into those delicate waters and stick to what she knows. But, dear reader, expect this post to be a bit more personal.

So, returning to his interview of Florence, the gringa then wonders how she can get the subject of a German Christian singer to relate to anything science or fantastical. The intrigue begins with the first quote Octavian cites from Florence, “God answered my prayer when I was 5 years old.” Florence prayed for a baby brother and, despite her parents’ intentions to have no more children, Florence’s prayers were answered and she got a baby brother.

This takes the gringa back to when her eldest son was only three-years-old. We were driving over a bridge and a little dog was running through traffic, perilously close to becoming flattened road kill. Zachary began praying very loudly for God to send a rescuer to the dog. Within moments traffic stopped behind us, a car opened its door and the dog jumped in. My son became a believer.

Now, my son’s independent action of unprompted prayer came as a surprise. The gringa is Jewish. The caveman is Catholic. We are both non-practicers of our respective religions where ritual and temple attendance is concerned. We believe our faiths are based on love and compassion and that is the lifestyle we live, following the easy rule of thumb delivered by Jesus to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It seems simple enough. As a homeschooling mom, the gringa did include religious studies as part of my son’s curriculum, but it included instruction and history on every major religion in the world: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and much more. So, although we have never forced any formal religious training upon our children, they have all grown up and adopted their own religious beliefs and lifestyles. They learned the best way, by our example and explanations for their questions.

A few years after our eldest son’s first prayer was answered, he asked me how he would know that God is real. The gringa adopted, of course, a Jewish perspective for such a question. I explained to him that in the religious texts I rely on for wisdom an example is given in which the person asks God for a demonstration. There is nothing wrong with such a thing. I told him that Jews call it “asking God for a sign”. I told him the story of Gideon who asked God to give him a sign by “putting out the fleece”. God responded. That night, before Zachary went to bed, he looked upward and said, “God, if you’re real there will be a cat at the front door tomorrow.” Now, the gringa chuckled to herself then tucked her precocious six-year-old boy into bed and thought nothing more of it. The next morning, while preparing breakfast, I saw my little boy tear through the apartment and open the door, immediately screaming, “YES!” Low and behold there was a darn cat sitting on our welcome mat. I thought I might faint. How strong the faith of the child. How pure the heart that asks for a sign. How kind and benevolent for a god to respond.

The reality is that such stories are not uncommon. They cannot be explained. Regardless of whether a person believes in God as creative cosmic energy or a divine old man with a beard, there are simply things that happen in which science can only shrug, hold up its hands and say, “Hey, we don’t have a clue.” The gringa adores science and all its fascinations. I also believe that there is a kernel of truth to all of the world’s diverse religions. They all share commonalities where kindness, compassion and forgiveness are concerned. I try to not sweat the details that are controversial points of doctrine and stick to those key elements that maintain a single thread throughout them. I don’t believe religious faith and belief in science are mutually exclusive. I believe they are inextricably linked together. I believe that science will eventually reveal what exactly the greatest architect, scientist and artist the world has ever known is. So, in a way, science is also my religion.

Image Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com

 

Suicide Forest


Every weekday the gringa looks forward to 4pm.  That’s when my oldest son calls me as he drives home from work. He is a bit of a political revolutionary, young, passionate, ready to change the world. Although he loves to talk politics, current events and debate solutions, the very first thing he asks me is, “How was your day?” I usually tell him boring, just the way I like it since I am a “no drama mama”.

Although he doesn’t read my blog, he always asks me what I’ve been writing about. In a recent conversation, when I told him about my underwater Japanese mystery city post, he said, “You should write about the Suicide Forest.” I had never heard of such a thing so, of course, it totally piqued the gringa’s interest. Although I usually like to keep my stuff focused on science, mysteries and the interestingly inane, a dark, macabre cultural piece has begun a creative itch that simply must be scratched.

In Japan there is Aokigahara which, roughly translated, means “Sea of Trees”. Sounds romantic, right? Well, it is more commonly known as the Suicide Forest and is situated near the northwest base of Mount Fuji, covering almost 14 square miles of raw woodland. Thick with foliage and set against the backdrop of a majestic volcano, it would seem to be the perfect spot for a picturesque photo safari for a tourist until you realize what the locals do here, the hike of no return.

Why is Aokigahara such a select place for suicide? Perhaps it is because the undergrowth is so dense a corpse can go undiscovered and undisturbed. Local officials estimate that roughly 100 persons kill themselves in this forest annually. However, because many go undetected, the suicide victim count could be much higher. Despite instituting prevention methods such as surveillance cameras  and posting encouraging signs throughout the paths that have messages reminding folks how precious their life is to loved ones, Japanese people determined to take their own lives still succeed in their mission.

The favorite method of self-inflicted death is hanging. However, ingesting poison runs a close second and then there’s option number three, a drug overdose.  But why here? Officials point to a popular romantic tragedy written by Japanese author Seicho Matsumoto. His 1960 novel  depicts a failed love story. The heroine ultimately ends her life in the Sea of Trees. She chose the Sea of Trees, according to the story, because, referenced within the tale by the author, she reads the book The Complete Suicide Manual which describes the forest as the “perfect place to die”. This novel has been found with many of the victims.

Every year volunteers gather to roam the thick stands of old trees and deep undergrowth to search for human remains. Officials have ceased to publicize the results of these grisly corpse hunts. Curious people like the gringa can only refer to earlier published reports that clearly indicate an average of 75-100 bodies returned to families for burial annually.

In the West, suicide is stigmatized. This is greatly due to our religious conditioning. Even if a person is not a practicing Jew or Christian, Western culture still considers suicide as anything but honorable. Some consider it self-murder. In fact, that is how it is considered by much of Western law. It is against the law to kill a human being, including yourself. Many religious sects believe a suicide victim’s remains have been desecrated by the act. Such bodies are not allowed to be buried in hallowed church cemeteries. But suicide is considered very differently in Japan.

In the Japan of old, ubasute was considered an honorable solution to ignoble suffering. In other words, desperate times called for desperate measures. If years of famine or drought rolled around, a head of a household would have to consider the effect it was having on his family. How many mouths were there to feed? How much food was there to go around? In order to survive, the least productive family member with no future, basically the old folks, would be led up into the mountains and abandoned to their natural fate of a slow death by exposure. Whether or not ubasute was ever widely practiced is irrelevant. All that matters is that it is a strong feature of Japanese historical myths and legends which has helped to shape their cultural practices and beliefs. Suicide is noble if it preserves the honor, integrity and prosperity of the family.

Although ubasute may be the stuff of legends, noble Samurai suicides are well documented throughout Japan’s feudal history.  It was the honorable way to go out. Seppuku culture views it as a way of taking responsibility of a situation that has gone bad.

Because suicide is considered a virtuous solution and is not stigmatized the way it is in Western culture, Japan ranks the world’s leader in suicide. When the entire world became mired in an economic crisis in 2008, over 2,000 Japanese chose suicide over living a life of financial ruin.

Should you, like the gringa, find the disturbing allure of Aokigahara irresistible and mark it as a place to visit and satisfy your own curiosity, or perhaps meditate in an effort to bring peace to a place that must be saturated with anguish, there are a few things you may want to know before you arrive:

  • Hauntings – It is said that the Sea of Trees is filled with yurei, or, ghosts. And these are not your average ghosts. They are mourning and vengeful. They desire company, your company. Legends go that they attempt to lure you off the beaten path so that you become lost in the wilderness and die like the ubasute victims of old.
  • Camping – Overnight camping is allowed. Be aware that local forest patrols are trained to consider tents as a sign that someone is taking their time about contemplating suicide. Don’t be surprised if a ranger shows up and begins conversing with gentle words of affirmation and encouragement. If he suspects you are engaged in a mental suicide debate, he will probably urge you to pack up and leave.
  • Tape – As you explore the forest on nature hikes, you may see tape looped in the branches of trees and bushes. These are the signs left behind to mark the path of corpse searchers in their attempt to not become lost.
  • Demons – What is attributed to demonic interference by local legend is more likely the result of geology. The area is rich in iron which affects magnetics. GPS systems, ye olde compasses and cellphone are pretty much useless. If you can’t navigate by the stars, for heaven’s sake don’t get off the trail!
  • Be Prepared – Like a good boy scout who is prepared for anything, mentally brace yourself for the very real possibility that you could stumble across a decomposing body, skeletal remains or personal effects of a victim of the forest.
  • More Than Death – Despite the ghastliness of the Sea of Trees being called Suicide Forest, there is still much more to be appreciated. Don’t let a macabre history put you off as a tourist. There is, of course, the fantastic opportunity to be near Mount Fuji. Great photo opportunities also await on the lava plateau, ancient centuries-old trees and the bewitching ice-scape of the Narusawa Ice Cave.

The gringa would love to go there and contemplate respectfully. Although I am a bit of a prankster and once staged a tragic fall down a rocky cliff when the caveman and I hiked about the Smoky Mountains, I’m certain this knowledge of Aokigahara will keep me in a more subdued state of mind.

Source:  www.mentalfloss.com

image: www.jennyjinya.deviantart.com

 

 

From a Jewish Mother to Her Muslim Daughter


My Beautiful, Dear, Muslim Daughter,

We both knew after what happened in Paris what would come. We knew that, although you and I don’t need to have this conversation, many other people do.  As I hear the opinions, almost all based in ignorance and fear, I realize that I may very well become hated by people who once loved me because I will stand up in defense of Muslims simply because I happen to love a few Muslims and know that what happened in Paris was not caused by Islam.

You and I know this is true. Unfortunately there are many who are ignorant and don’t know this is true. Most Westerners who are Christian don’t have any close friends or loved ones that are Muslim. Often, their only knowledge of what Islam is about is what they hear in media reports, pounded from their preacher’s pulpits or discussed around the water cooler at work in hushed tones so the Muslim co-workers won’t hear.

As for this Jew, I happen to love a couple of Muslims and soon, any day now, there will be one more little Muslim for me to love. That is why I don’t listen to what others say about Muslims. I ask you and your husband when I have a question. I am incredibly curious and you are so eager to share.

As people are screaming, “No more refugees!” I can’t help but think about this little granddaughter that will soon be welcomed into this world. I think about your plans to travel to Saudi Arabia so your wonderful husband’s family can meet her and bless her. I think of your lovely mother-in-law who has been so good and kind and generous to you. I think about the possibility of you never being able to return here because you and your husband are Muslim and he is Saudi. I can imagine the interview in a holding cell at the airport and how your beautiful mother-in-law would wait, so fearful, and then be the one to embrace and comfort you when they deny you entry into your own homeland because you are Muslim and married to a Saudi. Perhaps they might let you come home, just not with your husband. And I know that because of the deep love the two of you have for one another, you would choose to stay.

When people look at me with shocked and judgmental eyes as this Jewish mother mentions that her daughter has converted to Islam, they automatically react as if I need to be comforted. It makes me mad. I return the shocked look wondering why they would assume you would be such an idiot as to make a choice of free will that would somehow make you miserable. I then tell them that you met a wonderful man, a Saudi, and he loved you with such a sweet love inspired by his faith that one way you returned his love was with the act of religious conversion.

I then get the eye-rolls as if they think I am a deluded mother grasping at straws because I just don’t want to believe an uncomfortable truth about a daughter I love. Then I get madder. Still, I try to have patience with such ignorance and use it as an opportunity to gently explain the facts. I explain to them how your faith has transformed your life for the better. How all the sweetness that was always within you is now cultivated and channeled through generosity and service to the poor. I tell them that your life that before was so unstable and without direction has coalesced into a loving marriage, stable home, and baby on the way.

When they see that it is pointless to try to get me to see the big mistake that my daughter has made, they home in on criticizing my son-in-law. I mean, really, what mother-in-law really likes her son-in-law, right? They think this is an argument they can win. As they recap all the stereotypes western media and religion has brainwashed them into believing about Muslim men, I sit quietly with a polite smile plastered on my face because by now I have a very strong urge to clap them upside the head. But I don’t.

When they finally are satisfied and smug that they have had their say about what a religious Neanderthal my son-in-law must be, with extreme self-control I then set them straight, dear daughter. I explain to them that, no, he doesn’t beat you. In fact, he doesn’t even raise his voice as far as I can tell. That he’s just about the gentlest creature that passes for a man that I’ve ever met.

I also have to reassure them that he doesn’t “force” you to wear a veil. I tell the truth that, yes, there are times when you do wear a veil but that it is one hundred percent your choice and often for the purpose of respecting the feelings of others who are more conservative in their beliefs than you and your husband. That, in fact, you have as much freedom as any other wife, are a college graduate partly in fact because of his loving support and encouragement, and are continuing your education even further. You work when you please and you leisure when you please. Good grief. Such ignorance drives me crazy!

When the well-meaning ignoramus finally accepts that you and your husband do not line up with their imaginary Muslim guidelines, rather than admit they are wrong about Islam, the well-meaning ignoramus chooses to believe that you two are the exception to the rule and the proof is that these “other” Muslims pressure you to wear a veil against your will and personal convictions. I then ask them if they have not done the same thing, such as, “Well, you don’t wear a bikini to church do you? A strapless gown? A tube top? Hooker heels?” I mean, why is it so hard to understand an action motivated by a charitable spirit and desire to respect another’s feelings simply because it is performed by a Muslim?

We cannot use a broad brush to sweep across great swathes of humanity and say they cannot be trusted and are to be feared and suspected and rejected because they are Muslim. Do people not understand that these terrorists are not really Muslim? Do they not understand that they use a label but do not practice a faith? Do they not understand that the strategy behind using this label is to continue to divide two distinct groups of people? Do they not understand that if these two distinct groups of people actually come to realize this truth and become true allies in spirit, not just politically correct words, these murderers would then have no hiding place or pool of young people to recruit from? Do they not realize that by rejecting refugees who are running for their lives, have lost everything and are crying out for the charity of others to offer them a safe haven where they can rebuild a life for their families they are condemning generations of children to a non-future, no hope, and nothingness? Do they not realize that such an injustice will eventually, within the hearts of many, coalesce into anger and resentment creating the perfect condition to be recruited by murderers and thus perpetuate the cycle?

Wake up world! True Muslims are also the victims of the slaughter perpetrated by murderers who falsely use the label Islam. Many face not so much a physical slaughter but a slaughter of their hopes, dreams and futures. To truly help is to embrace these terrorized people with no homeland, love them, accept them, support them, encourage them and live beside them proudly and protectively.

Dear daughter, you and I have nothing to fear from one another. The only people we have to fear are the murderers who use the label of Islam in order to stir up trouble between folks like you and I and the ignoramuses who fall for it. This Jewish mother loves you, her Muslim daughter, and your husband, my Muslim son-in-law and our little Muslim princess granddaughter that is expected to arrive any day now. I love you with all my heart, the rest of the ignorant world be damned.

Forever, your loving Jewish Mother

Displaced Persons Act of 1948


As World War II ended in 1945, it was estimated that there were up to 11 million displaced survivors in German, Italy and Austria. A displaced person is someone who is expelled, deported or forced to flee from his country of residence as a consequence of war or oppression. Earl Harrison, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School, was commissioned by President Truman to evaluate conditions of these people who were living in displaced persons camps throughout the U.S. occupation zone in Germany. He recommended to the President a massive transfer of population from Europe. He advised that these displaced persons should be resettled in British-controlled Palestine or the United States because anti-Semitism throughout Germany made conditions impossible for these people to return home. Upon reporting his findings to the President, it became Truman’s desire to offer many of these people a safe haven in the United States and delegated to Congress the task of enacting legislation for this purpose.

Truman’s Presidential statement of June 25, 1948 declares: “It is with very great reluctance that I have signed S. 2242, the Displaced Persons Act of 1948.” So, Truman really didn’t want this legislation. Why? He wanted a “fairer, more humane bill”. The bill he signed was “flagrantly discriminatory”. He claimed that it mocked America’s tradition of “fair play”. Well, to be honest, the gringa hadn’t seen much fairness in many of the immigration bills that passed except for, perhaps, the War Bride’s Act that had just passed in the same year. So, why, then did he demean himself to sign something he really didn’t want to put his name to? I mean, after all, he WAS the President, wasn’t he? So, is this just lip service or did he actually find himself in a position where he felt compelled to put his pen to a paper he reviled? Well, if he didn’t sign the bill, it would be another year such persons would have to wait for relief because the Act was delivered for his signature on the last day of the legislative session. These poor folk would have to wait until American Congressmen went back to work the next year. Truman decided it would be unfair to punish those who would benefit from the bill on behalf of those who had been left out. He signed it with the expressed intent that the resulting injustice would be “rectified by the Congress at the first opportunity”.

Truman then chastises the Eightieth Congress for their failure in producing a satisfactory bill, considering that they had ample time to get their act together. At Truman’s State of the Union Address a year and a half earlier he had instructed Congress that such legislation was needed.  Six months later, seeing that Congress had not responded to his direction, he reminded legislators, “We are dealing with a human problem, a world tragedy…” Eventually Congress would adjourn with nothing done. The following year on January 7, 1948, Truman once again reminded Congress that legislation was necessary so “that this Nation may do its share in caring for homeless and suffering refugees of all faiths. I believe that the admission of these persons will add to the strength and energy of the Nation.” After Truman’s third reminder within twelve months for Congress to get off their asses and do something to help relieve the suffering of the survivors of World War II, Congress once again thumbed their noses at their President and did nothing. Scheduled to deliver a report on their progress by January 10, 1948, three days after this reminder, instead they delivered a request for an extension until February 10. February 10 rolled around and these nincompoops sat on their hands, finally delivering a report in March.

Through various sundry methods, the Senate managed to delay any debate on the subject until the end of May. When the Senate finally got around to passing the bill on June 2, it was then up to the House to put in their two cents worth. Well, they delayed until June 11, which led to Senate and House members meeting in the very last days of the session to hammer out a compromise. So, the lives of European war survivors and their recovery are at stake and American politicians are playing American political games. The gringa is disgusted beyond measure with all of them except for good, ol’ Truman. The final product was what he was faced with which he said “consisted largely of combining the worst features of both the Senate and House bills.”

The only good thing Truman had to say about the bill was that it stated that “displaced persons should be admitted to the United States. Two hundred thousand displaced persons may be admitted in the next two years, as well as 2,000 recent Czech refugees and 3,000 orphans.” Well bless their little hearts. The Congressmen were being so generous and charitable to the world. The gringa hopes they didn’t break their arms when they went around patting themselves on their arrogant little backs.

Truman was the inspired leader of two of America’s most significant humanitarian actions, this bill and the War Brides Act of 1948. Unfortunately he was dealing with legislators that had been indoctrinated by centuries of race based agendas and, whether consciously or subconsciously, supported the superiority of Caucasians and habitually considered immigration legislation from the capitalist utopian perspective or for national security reasons. Truman’s perspective simply made no sense to these old establishment Congressmen. Truman was introducing a revolutionary point of view. These stiff old men in suits had been willing to bend a little bit on immigration legislation with regard to the War Bride’s Act but letting people into the country simply because the nation felt sorry for their destitute condition as the condition of war, and without religious prejudice, was unheard of. I’m sure the Congressmen could only wonder, “Will these beggars be in my district?” These immigrants would arrive broke and broken. They would not be citizens. As far as the Congressmen were concerned, they would contribute nothing, not even a potential vote. They would only be a burden. What was the motivation to write the legislation Truman wanted if these men did not have a humanitarian bone in their body?

Truman went on to mention that the bill was chock full of bad stuff. He said all this bad stuff created a “pattern of discrimination and intolerance”. Hmmm. And we wonder why we live in a society full of people that are in denial that discrimination, tolerance and racism still exists. Ummm, it’s been designed into the very fabric of American society from the moment the first pilgrim set foot on the continent of North America. The reason denyers cannot accept this is because of a very special tool, propaganda. This tool was used when the first capitalists convinced the world they were being religiously persecuted and had to flee to the New World. However, the reality was they just didn’t want to worship alongside Catholics under a king who desired to blend Catholicism, Presbyterianism and Anglicanism in order to create a religiously united kingdom.

The Puritans were the intolerant persecutors of Catholics who convinced their king to let them take all of their wealth across the pond and build him some new colonies that would deliver up to him enormous wealth. Actually, they wanted to escape with their wealth, build a capitalist utopia then, when enough wealth was amassed, revolt and establish their own country so that all their wealth would be their own and not subject to the king. And yet, so many of us thought they were high-minded, equality enlightened, poor little persecuted folk. That was the propaganda.

America was settled by white capitalists who designed a nation to be a capitalist utopia. Wealth is reserved for the white capitalists provided by the labor of other ethnicities or lower class whites. These classes were originally designed to remain a politically unrepresented, oppressed labor class. This same propaganda machine has never stopped churning out the subtle rhetoric that continues to reinforce these race and class based ideals. Now Truman came along and wanted to change the rules of the game and let people into the country simply because the nation cared about their welfare. The old white guys were threatened. The status quo was a good thing for them. This monkey wrench could really spoil their good times and ruin their America.

Truman minced no words as he criticized the bill as discriminating “in callous fashion against displaced persons of the Jewish faith.” Congress was well aware that more than ninety percent of the remaining Jews in need of relief were “definitely excluded.” Truman also points out that the Jews are not alone as subjects of religious discrimination. Catholics who deserved to be allowed entry were barred because of the imposed date deadline that also affected the Jews. It was the President’s sincerest “hope that the Congress will remedy this gross discrimination at its earliest opportunity.”

After raking Congress over the coals for their shameful discriminatory actions, he went on to criticize the bill because it applies the displaced persons who enter toward fifty percent of the quota allowed for other immigrants of respective countries. Truman found this deplorable because this would then affect immigration opportunities for certain ethnicities for generations. He believed this method was unacceptable because it would “deprive many other worthy people of an opportunity to come to the United States”. He believed the displaced persons should be recognized as a different classification of immigrants than the typical immigrant arriving as part of the established quota system.

Truman accused Congress of insulting the American people with this bill by treating the population as if they did not have the “capacity and willingness… to extend a welcoming hand to the prospective immigrants.” He felt there were unreasonable conditions contained within the bill. For example, these survivors of war would be required,  before entering the U.S., to have secured an employment prospect as well as “safe and sanitary housing”. Now, that’s just ridiculous considering many of these war survivors had lost everything except the clothes they arrived in and probably knew no one here as they had lost all of their family in the war. Fortunately, the American people lived up to Truman’s belief in their generosity. Relief organizations such as the National Catholic Welfare Council, the National Lutheran Council, the ChurchWorld Service, as well as the United Service for New Americans sponsored many of these immigrants, assuring Congress that such people would not become public liabilities. Congress may not have had generous hearts, but they obviously did not represent the American people who were willing to step up.

At the time of the bill’s passage, 15,000 displaced persons had already been welcomed into the United States and offered permanent residence which the bill revoked. Truman was absolutely disgusted with this prospect and the resulting special action that would be required to “adjust the status of individual aliens.” 15,000 individuals would have to bog down immigration courts with the necessary paperwork and hearings to change their status because the bigots in Washington wanted to undo the generous gift that Truman had given them. These Congressmen were not just Jew and Catholic haters, the gringa’s pretty sure they hated Truman, too.

Truman closed his statement calling the bill a “bitter disappointment”. His heart was truly in the right place because it was his desire to open up this rich nation for the “many displaced victims of persecution who looked to the United States for hope; to the millions of our citizens who wanted to help them in the finest American spirit, to the many Members of the Congress who fought hard but unsuccessfully for a decent displaced persons bill. I hope that this bitter disappointment will not turn to despair.”

The gringa also considers how insulting the behavior of Congress must have been to our surviving soldiers. The men who were part of liberating the concentration camps and witnessed first-hand the inhuman suffering that was meted out to these victims must have been filled with pride that they represented a country that not only rescued these survivors, but would also receive them and help them rebuild their lives in safety and acceptance. The gringa can only imagine how incensed and deeply hurt and disappointed the noble servicemen of America must have felt when Congress behaved in such a petty fashion with absolutely no honor.

This epic immigration battle placed Truman and the American people on one side and Congress on the other. The gringa thinks this struggle exposed the nation’s historical non-humanitarian immigration policy. The well-established pattern of U.S. history proves that immigration policies were driven by economics. When the nation needed cheap labor, it relaxed immigration in order to import a group of people that were easy to exploit because, as non-citizens, they had no political representation for their best interests. When economic times were bad, it was easy to target and blame the immigrants. If the politicians targeted any voting class, they could lose votes, so, again, the non-represented immigrant class was the safest scapegoat. They would be demonized and eventually immigration policy would be amended so that the scapegoats could be deported or, at least, have their entry into the country limited or even banned. This was the America the Congressman of 1948 had been trained up in. President Truman was a social revolutionary who wanted to bring the country forward towards a new era of diversity where immigration was humanitarian driven rather than determined by economic or political conditions. The people of the nation seemed to be forward thinkers falling in line with their President. This bit of history makes the gringa proud, even if the Congressmen did act like big dunderheads. Why? Because the gringa can smell hope in the air in 1948.

The gringa predicts that for today’s America, during the remaining time until the next Presidential election, certain political groups will demonize the un-documented immigrant class in America and blame them for high unemployment, low wages, and crime. It’s actually already begun. I ask my dear readers to believe nothing claimed by politicians or political interest groups. Go to a reliable source for facts to prove or disprove any claim they make. If you want crime statistics, go to www.FBI.gov. Any information under the sun can be found and validated by multiple sources with just the click of your mouse. Truth and truth alone is what will solve the real issues troubling our nation. Do not blindly follow a political party agenda because none of them have cornered the market on truth. If we simply pick the most popular scapegoat, and deceive ourselves that, “Hey, look! We just solved the problem!” we, too, have then become denyers and the problem is not only unsolved, but we have also created another problem by enacting a social policy on false information. And, if you’re unsure of what to believe, just ask the gringa!

Sources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/displaced%20person

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1948_displaced_persons_act.html

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=12942

http://immigrationinamerica.org/464-displaced-persons-act-of-1948.html

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005462

Photo credit: www.uhaweb.hartford.edu

1940 Nationality Act – Hypocrisy and Double Standards


In the late 1930’s the United States was once again scratching away at the parchment writing out the legal parameters of the Nationality Act of 1940. The problematic parts of the legislation are certiain conditions that, if not met, a person’s citizenship “automatically expires”, with no due process.

What was going on in the country that had lawmakers going to such efforts as to write new laws? With the country in the throes of the Great Depression, its economic effects rippled throughout the world. People from other countries did not have the means to emigrate. Also, because of the restrictive immigrant laws of 1924, many immigrants had been deported. As the threat of a second World War intensified throughout Europe, refugees began to challenge America’s restrictive immigration policies, although rarely successful. The gringa wants to know the facts. Digging a little deeper is required.

By the 1930’s, the religious landscape of the nation had changed. America has been historically viewed as a nation founded by, created by and governed by Christians. By the year 1930, however, the population of Jews outnumbered the ranks of the Episcopalians and Presbyterians combined. Eastern European Judaism was the predominant Jewish culture in the U.S. They assimilated into American culture but designed community programs in order to maintain their distinctly Jewish heritage. Despite their “Americanism”, many schools and colleges blatantly discriminated against Jews. With public figures like Henry Ford openly criticizing the patriotism and character of America’s Jewish population, it’s no surprise that violence was commonly visited upon Jews during this period of U.S. history.

America was becoming infatuated with it’s own national identity. Folk culture became popularized with the Library of Congress even beginning to collect American folk songs. American intellectuals churned out thoughtful manifestos such as “I’ll Take My Stand”, by the Southern Agrarians who desired a return to the simple way of life of agriculture. In direct contrast was Lewis Mumford’s “Technics and Civilization” which was more forward focused on developing technology to advance U.S. capitalism through a new age of modernism.

Such modernist ideas were reflected in the architecture and art of the 1930’s. The 1939 World’s Fair in New York made it clear to the world that America wanted to leave behind the anorexic economy of the Great Depression and this would happen through the development of “the world of tomorrow”. This “world of tomorrow” was pictorialized in America cinema and television shows of the era. This was the birth of the superhero, like Superman and the Lone Ranger. Hollywood also played a critical role in producing forms of entertainment that also served as propaganda to lift American spirits out of the defeatist spirit of the Great Depression. This was when the world was introduced to an American original comedy genre, slapstick and screwball. The financial disaster of the Great Depression gave way to fantasy and longings for a modern, futuristic world.

The nation’s economic solution for the people’s relief from the suffering of the Great Depression was the New Deal. This was not specifically a cure, but more of a stabilizing plan. This would enable people to get their feet back under them so they could focus on what Americans do best, make money. Because social and economic salvation came through the government, American perspective toward the government began to change. Americans who previously were suspicious of too much government control and power were now more inclined to believe that the intentions of Big Brother had the citizens’ best interest at heart.

As people in the United States are looking forward, the Japanese are looking back. After years of chafing at the political insults America meted out to Japan through immigration policies, on December 29, 1934, Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty it had entered into with America in 1922.

Five years later, 1939, Germany invades Poland. After a year of appeasement fails, aggression by Nazi Germany begins the Second World War. September 5th of that same year, the United States declares its neutrality. The U.S. had complete confidence in its isolationist position because by that time we already had the A-bomb thanks to refugee Albert Einstein that America welcomed to its shores in 1933 as he fled from the Nazis. And thus begins a flood of European immigrants seeking to escape the horrors of war which inspired the nation, known as the great hope of the hopeless, to once again reveal its true capitalist colors and reform the nation’s immigration and citizenship policies with the 1940 Nationality Act.

Section 201 of this act declares citizenship at birth for any child born outside the U.S. of at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen. This parent must have lived within the U.S. or any of its territories for a minimum of ten years, with at least five of those years being after the age of sixteen years. In order for the child to maintain U.S. citizenship status the child must live within the U.S. or any of its territories for five years between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one years. These, of course, being the formative years of primary education and higher education. The nation wanted assurance that during those critical years the child was in the U.S. being indoctrinated with educational propaganda in the public schools in order to shape the mind of the child into a good patriot. If these residential conditions are not met, the child’s U.S. citizenship automatically expires without due process.

Section 401 contains wording that provides for the revocation of U.S. citizenship if a person votes in a political election of another country. This particular requirement created legal challenges that resulted in inconsistent action by the U.S.

In 1958, U.S. district courts ruled in Perez v. Brownell. Clement Martinez Perez was a U.S. citizen born in El Paso, Texas who traveled back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, residing in either country for extended periods of time. At some point he voted in a Mexican election. Perez lost his U.S. citizenship based on the court’s finding that Congress can revoke citizenship regardless if the action qualifying for the loss of citizenship is intentional or unintentional. The Supreme Court upheld the decision based on the Necessary and Proper Clause of Art. 1, 8, clause 18 of the Federal Constitution which states that voting in a foreign political election means a withdrawal of U.S. citizenship. The purpose of this clause is so that the U.S. can avoid international embarrassment by Americans getting involved in foreign affairs.

Nine years later the United States reverses its position. Beys Afroyim, who arrived in the U.S. in 1912, a Polish immigrant, and was naturalized in 1926, also became an Israeli citizen in 1950. He voted in six separate Israeli elections. He applied with the U.S. Consulate in Israel for an American passport. At first he was refused based on the same legal position attached to Perez in 1958. Taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court, the judge determined that Afroyim had not shown intent to lose his citizenship when he participated in Israeli elections. However, this was a direct contradiction to the published court opinion of the Perez case.

Due to the country’s special relationship with the nation of Israel, Americans can hold dual citizenship here and in Israel. That is not the case with Mexico. The gringa suspects the reasoning behind the special relationship with Israel is founded in religion and guilt.

Proof of the nation’s guilty conscience resonates in the words of President Truman after the war, “I urge the Congress to turn its attention to this world problem in an effort to find ways whereby we can fulfill our responsibilities to these thousands of homeless and suffering refugees of all faiths.” Now, if guilt is the reason for the special relationship between Israel and America, the gringa is okay with that. After all the United States should have a guilty conscience for not opening the immigration gates for the lambs who were trying to escape the slaughter.

However, if religion is the basis for this international special relationship, the gringa says, “We gots us a problem.” According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” If religion is the basis for a special relationship between the United States and Israel, resulting in laws being applied in a prejudicial fashion between Americans of different ethnicities, I believe that is some pretty clear evidence of racism as well as a violation of the spirit of the Constitution.

The gringa thinks the District Court of 1958 and the Supreme Court of 1967 has got some splainin’ to do because it seems America’s “world of tomorrow” was one of racial double standards.

Sources:

https://americansabroad.org/files/3013/3478/0295/18-04-2012_1318_971.pdf

http://www.prothink.org/2008/03/27/the-1940-nationality-act/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perez_v._Brownell

http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/immigration-timeline#1930

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/twenty/tkeyinfo/jewishexp.htm

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3452

http://americasbesthistory.com/abhtimeline1930.html

Photo credit: www.designarchives.aiga.org