Category Archives: racism

A Baptismal Proclamation following Charlottesville

Yesterday, at the 10:30 liturgy, we baptized five children, four babies and one toddler. The sacrament of baptism is one of the most powerful liturgies of our church. In the language of the liturgy, we make a powerful declaration of our belief/faith (Credo– “I believe . . . “) in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. Such a declaration of belief of faith is an important public proclamation of our understanding of God and God’s saving message to us. But for me, while the declaration of belief/faith is hugely important, it is the series of questions in the baptismal covenant portion of the liturgy that is most profoundly important to me. In essence, this collection of questions asks us, “If we truly believe this, what will we do to make this real in our lives and in our world?” The questions of the liturgy guide us to consider elements of the Christian life and faith that call us to action or, as I so often say, call us to declare publicly we will live our baptism/faith in the world. Those questions are as follows:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the
prayers?

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?

Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
being?

Notice the action words contained in these questions: continue, persevere, resisting, proclaim, seek, serve, loving, strive, and respect. Our baptismal covenant is not a passive proposition! We are not baptized to sit quietly in our private prayer closet and blissfully ignore the challenges of a broken and sinful world. We are not called into isolated solitude, unconcerned about the challenges and attacks visited upon the least or marginalized among us. We are called, in baptism, to be the Body of Living Christ in the world.

Beyond the action words, these questions of the baptismal covenant call us into the moral and ethical community of the apostles. Baptism calls us to be a living community of grace and love in the world, making the sacrament of our faith, bread and prayers, real and available to all. Baptism calls us to reject evil and confess our failings. Baptism challenges us to evangelism, to make the Gospel, real and palpable in the world. Baptism requires we reach out to all people, standing for justice, peace, and dignity for every human being.

To each of these questions, we respond, “I will with God’s help.”

I will–This is the declaration to action we affirm every time we celebrate a baptism. I will . . .

On Sunday, five young children were welcomed into the Body of Christ. As we presented them, I asked the congregation, on behalf of Christians everywhere, “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these children in their life in Christ?”. We replied, “We will.”

On Friday and Saturday, in Charlottesville, VA, our nation and our faith was shattered by unfettered evil, wickedness, and malevolence. The organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the neo-Nazis, the alt-Right, White Nationalists, and other related hate groups, must understand they are completely and totally rejected by the moral and ethical beliefs held by the Body of Christ—the Church. Such rejection must be clear, emphatic, and powerful. In moments like this, the faithful must be unrelenting in their public rejection of such manifestations of hate and evil. The Church has failed this challenge at historic moments in the past. We must not fail in the challenge we face in this present moment.

Five young children baptized on Sunday, with long and full lives before them, should expect us to live the faith we confessed as we presented them for baptism. God heard us when we confessed our belief/faith and responded to each question, “I will.” Each of us affirmed we will “do all in our power to support these children in their life in Christ.”

When my first daughter was born, as I reflected on the broken history into which she was born–of slavery, of the Nazi Holocaust, of the violent rejection by too many of the Civil Rights movement–I committed to never stand passively and allow such evil to progress unchallenged in her world. For each of my daughters, for all the children I have presented for baptism, and for my Lord and my God, I commit to unreserved and active rejection of those who promulgate hate, intolerance, racism, or any form of malignant, vile, and perverted evil.

The Charlottesville event and the rising, unfettered hate-movement reviving in our country is a challenge to the Body of Christ–the Church. Let us with courage, faith, and decisiveness reject the darkness of evil and hate in all its forms. Let us be the light of Christ in the world that overwhelms this present darkness. Let us make our baptismal covenant and our faith real and alive in the world.

Amen.

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Filed under Alt-right, Baptism, Confederate flag, episcopal, Episcopal priest, faithfulness, God's love, Holocaust, Justice, Nazi, racism, terrorism

Henry A. Wallace, Tell the People Who We Are

img_0502The last in my Wallace series: After losing the vice presidency to Truman in the 1944 election, Wallace served FDR as Secrectary of Commerce until his death.  He continued under Truman until their wildly parting policy positions, especially regarding Russia, finally resulted in Truman firing him from this position.  By 1948, the Progressive Party was ready to make a run for the White House and Wallace was their presidential candidate.  The speech below is from that 1948 campaign.  Tell Them Who We Are, Henry A. Wallace.  Speech delivered at Progressive Party Rally, New York, N. Y., September 10, 1948.  From Vital Speeches of the Day (October 1, 1948), v. 14, n. 24, p. 743.

Tell the People Who We Are:  Just two years ago I spoke to many thousands of you who are here tonight. I said then as I say tonight that peace is the basic issue of the 1948 election campaign. I say now that the first job of national defense: the most important job in maintaining the peace is the job of conquering hate here at home, the job of protecting the civil rights of all Americans.
This is a great American meeting.
It is a meeting in the best American tradition—a meeting of men and women of all races, of all creeds.

Last week—in smaller gatherings—we proved that such meetings can be held in the much-maligned Southern states. We proved that such meetings—meetings of all the people—can be held wherever men respect the Constitution of the United States; and wherever they respect the Christian principles of brotherhood on which so much of our modern civilization has been built.  The news reported from the South last week was news of eggs and tomatoes. It was news of violence and threats of violence.
And there were eggs. And there were tomatoes. And there was violence and there were threats of violence.  Yes, and there were the ugly spewings of hate and prejudice; and the sad sight of men and women and children whose faces were contorted with hate.

TRIP SOUTH–But the significance of our trip south was not the dramatic proof that there are seeds of violence and fascism and deep prejudice in the Southern states. The significance was not in proving what is known.  No. The significance of our Southern trip lies in the two dozen completely unsegregated, peaceful meetings which we were able to hold.
The significance lies in those meetings in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee which were held—even as this meeting tonight—in the best American tradition.  We held such meetings by insisting on our American rights to freely assemble and freely speak.  And if there is one message above all other messages which bring you as a result of that Southern trip, it is this: Fear is a product of inactivity and the greatest remedy for fear is to stand up and fight for your rights.  In the course of private and public life I have traveled many places. I have experienced many fields. I have had a wide variety of emotional experiences. But I have never had such deeply moving experiences as those of the first week of September, 1948, when I traveled South to campaign for peace.

I had seen the victims of mass prejudice in a DP camp.
I had seen and felt—as any decent human being must feel—for the Jewish orphans interned in Italy.
I had visited foreign lands—Latin America, China and many parts of Europe, and had my heart go out to victims of oppression.
I have deplored and felt that I truly understood the plight of workers who have faced picket line violence.

FOUND FASCISM –I had been South before—many times—and I thought I understood the plight of our Negro citizens.  But I discovered last week that my understanding was only the limited understanding; the sympathetic feeling of a friend for a man who is afflicted.  To me fascism is no longer a second-hand experience—a motion picture, a photograph or the deeply moving words of a great writer.  It is no longer a mere definition of an economic and political system in which freedom is stifled by private power; in which prejudices are bred and nourished; in which man is set against man for the profit of powerful and greedy forces.  No, fascism has become an ugly reality—a reality which I have tasted.  I have tasted it neither so fully nor so bitterly as millions of others. But I have tasted it.  And in tasting it I have reinforced my solemn resolution to fight it wherever and whenever it appears so long as I live.
Last week—when I had a chance to live—to live very briefly and relatively mildly—the kind of life which millions of Americans live every waking hour, last week I learned what prejudice and hatred can mean. I learned to know the face of violence, although I was spared the full force of violence. I saw the ugly reality of how hate and prejudice can warp good men and women; turn Christian gentlemen into raving beasts; turn good mothers and wives into jezebels.  I didn’t like that part of what I saw. I didn’t like to see men and women fall victims to the catchwords of prejudice and the slogans of hate, even as the poor people of Germany were victimized by the catchwords and slogans of Hitler and Streicher.

HATE MONGERS IN ACTION–I saw how a few hate mongers carefully placed in a crowd of decent folks can set off a dangerous spark.  I saw a young college student—a Progressive party worker—who was severely cut across his chest and arms by the agents of hate.  I was a passenger in the car of a prominent businessman in a Southern city as he raced down dark streets and alleys to elude all who might be following us so that he could take me, unknown to anyone else, to his home for dinner.  He was a courageous man. The precautions he took were necessary. His business in that Southern town would have been ruined, if it were known that a candidate for the Presidency, a former Vice President, was having dinner at his home.  I saw an irate landlord rouse a quiet neighborhood where I had gone quietly to rest and work on a radio speech at the apartment of a young couple.  I saw how fear is bred and perpetuated and capitalized—and I didn’t like it.

MET COURAGE THAT BRINGS HOPE–But I also saw the kind of courage; the kind of real, deep human fighting spirit which promises a new day for the South and for the world.  I saw men and women, white and Negro, who have been leading the fight against hate and prejudice and intolerance in the South.  I saw them standing up and fighting for the very foundations of our American way of life—standing up to all kinds of intimidation. And from them radiates a contagious spirit; the same kind of spirit of resistance which stopped the armies of Adolf Hitler in half a dozen European countries.  I heard Clark Foreman say so truthfully that “Down here, to believe in the Constitution means you are automatically called a Communist”; and I heard a young college student, a veteran, add: “It’s like General Carlson said, ‘To be called a Red here is a badge of honor.’ ”  I am confident that their spirit—the spirit of the progressive Southerners—will triumph in the South. I am hopeful that our trip helped to build their forces; helped rally new strength; helped along the movement which will free the South. Rich in resources—proud and courageous, the South must be—and will be—freed from the shackles in which it has been held by huge corporations with headquarters only four miles south of here—not in Virginia, not in Tennessee, but in Wall Street.
STEEL KEEPS PEOPLE DIVIDED –The free South and the feudal South live side by side in the State of Alabama. In one day we received courteous receptions and held free meetings in the best American tradition in Decatur and Huntsville and Gunthersville in the great TVA area; and on the same day we could not hold meetings in Gadsden and Birmingham and Bessemer, cities which are dominated by Northern-owned steel corporations. We did not hold meetings because the police insisted on dividing Americans by the color of their skins. We did not hold meetings because the constitutional right to freely assemble and speak was denied by the police authorities of those company towns.
Here—in Alabama—in a single day, we saw the economic basis of hate and segregation.  In the steel towns it is profitable to keep labor divided.
North against South, race against race, farmer against worker—the profits of the men who own the South are multiplied by keeping the people divided.  But their days are numbered.  The good people of the South have learned their scriptures. They know the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. They know that “God hath made of one blood all the nations to dwell upon the face of the earth.” They know that we are all members, one of another. Just as surely as men everywhere, they want the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth; and they are not going to be stopped any longer by those who spew hate.  It is the owners of the mines and mills, the great plantations, and newspapers who incite violence.
OWNERS DON’T FIGHT, BUT INFLAME–They don’t personally engage in lynching either free speech or human beings, just as they don’t personally engage in fighting the wars from which they profit.  But they inflame the passions of others. They have had others do their dirty work. But the ranks of new recruits for their dirty work are narrowing as more and more men and women of the South see how they have been victimized by prejudice—as they see how it has profited the few, and brought misery for themselves and their neighbors.  And the workers and farmers and independent businessmen of the South are turning from the false leadership of those who have been styled “Southern liberals”—they are turning from those who have preached the tolerance of intolerance, tolerance of segregation; tolerance of murderous Jim Crow. They are learning that such men are only slightly to the left of Hitler and Rankin.
They are learning that no man can believe in both segregation and democracy.
In a radio interview the editor of an Arkansas paper asked me about FEPC. He wanted to know if I would interfere with the right of men to choose their own associates. And I replied that I considered that a most Important right. I replied that it was precisely my devotion to that right that leads me to fight segregation—segregation which deprives both white and Negro from freely choosing their own associates.  I told this same man; this same champion of segregation that while I knew we couldn’t legislate love, we most certainly could and will legislate against the acts of hate.
PLEDGE TO CUT CONGRESS–Throughout the South we spoke for the full protection of all citizens under the Constitution of the United States. Tonight, I want to call upon the candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties to pledge with me that whosoever shall be elected, he will enforce the second section of the Fourteenth Amendment no less than the other provisions of the Constitution. That section of our Constitution calls for the reduction of the number of Congressmen for each state where the right to vote is abridged.
In 1946 the votes cast to elect fourteen Congressmen. from Louisiana and Mississippi were less than the votes cast in the Twenty-fifth Congressional District here in New York.  John Rankin and thirteen others, all together, received less votes than are cast here in the Twenty-fifth District.  That is not only unfair to the people of New York’s Twenty-fifth District; it is grossly unfair to the people of the Southern states whose freedom has been limited by the failure of the Congress to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.
If every Congressional candidate, if each of the Presidential candidates will take a pledge to secure constitutional reapportionment on the basis of the next census, I predict that we shall see an end to the many hindrances to free suffrage in the South.
We pledge ourselves to enforce this constitutional right.

PROUD OF OUR ENEMIES–In pledging to live by the Constitution, we have earned enemies. And we are proud of our enemies.
The men who stand for Jim Crow.
The men who stand for Taft-Hartley.
The men who support fascists in Greece and China.
The men who prefer an atmosphere of war, because they profit by it.
The men who hated Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal and who now find their unity in hatred for the Progressive party.
These men, Republicans and Democrats bound together by hate, are using every mechanism which bipartisan fear can suggest to defeat congressional candidates who stand for peace.
The Democrats, the Republicans, and the self-styled Liberals have joined hands to support single candidates against the candidates of the Progressive party; against candidates of the American Labor party.  They have joined hands in their bipartisan wrath against two men with the best liberal and labor voting records in the Congress of the United, States.  They have honored—these corrupt and dangerous men—they have honored two real servants of the people, Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson. They have honored Leo Isacson with a single opponent. They have honored Vito Marcantonio with a joint campaign of vituperation and hate.  They are afraid of our strength. They saw what the people could do last February when they sent Leo Isacson to the Congress.  They have seen, time and again, the devotion of Vito Marcantonio’s constituents to that dynamic champion of progressive principles. They have reason for their fear—and though they have combined their resources and efforts, we shall lick them on election day and return Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson to the Congress.
BIPARTISANS’ NEW ALLIES–It is with great sadness that I note that the bipartisans have some new allies; fearful men who call themselves liberals and leaders of labor; men who cry out against Wall Street running the country and then ask workers to give dollar bills to keep President Truman and his Wall Street gang in Washington.
I say such action, such double talk, such duplicity is shameful, immoral, and corrupt.
These illiberal liberals; these labor leaders who fight monopoly with words, but whose actions support the candidates of monopoly, these men make possible the Truman double talk. They make it possible for Truman to condemn Taft-Hartley while using it to destroy unions and the Wagner Act; to call for civil rights, while maintaining segregation in the Armed Forces and conducting loyalty purges; to call for price controls after killing them; to call for peace, while preparing for war.
The surest proof that we of the Progressive party are not impractical in our politics is in the alliances of hate which have been formed against us.
Some of the liberals, some of the Pied Pipers of labor will tell us that they have compromised because Roosevelt compromised; but they slander a great man when they draw that comparison.  Roosevelt, by the deftest political maneuvering in all history, made many a political deal, but always advancing the cause of the common man.

NOT FOR SALE–The men who are bargaining with corruption today hope for no gains, no advancements. They are bargaining to minimize losses. They are fearful men. They are men who might well heed the lesson that the only cure for fear is to stand up and fight for right.
The bipartisans have learned that the Progressives are not for sale. They have found out—through their leading agent in New York City, Mayor O’Dwyer, that the party in which Fiorello LaGuardia was proud to enroll himself is not for sale.
Bill O’Dwyer found it out when he tried with his fanciest offers to get John Rogge to quit the race for the surrogate’s bench. Bill O’Dwyer heard Vito Marcantonio say “no.” He heard John Rogge say “no.” And he knows that John Rogge will conduct the kind of dynamic, fighting campaign against corruption which he himself should have fought against Tammany.
O’Dwyer, who has Trumanized his local administration by serving the same interests as the Republicans, by pitting police against strikers, by fighting inflation with increased subway fares, by invoking local loyalty orders; Bill O’Dwyer has found that Progressives know double-talk when they hear it.
As President Truman has demonstrated that he could not fill the shoes of Roosevelt; so Mayor O’Dwyer has shown that he cannot fill the shoes of LaGuardia.

NAME CALLING DISCOUNTED–Yes, our “no sale” sign has earned us many names. But it does not matter if they call us red or black, if they lie about us or egg us or stone us. We will not join the Republican-Democratic poker match which governs out of the backroom—from the bottom of the deck.
The shop-worn, the discredited, the cheap political tricksters have joined with those who all their lives have practiced black reaction. They have set up one camp, though there are many banners.
And what are they joined against? What are we that they should forget old feuds to fight against us?
We are those who stand against the course which leads to war.
We are those who would take from the hands of monopoly the power to say who shall starve and who shall feast. We are those who protest a policy toward minority groups that is administered by a policeman’s nightstick. We are those who feel attacked whenever the color of man’s skin or the color of his political beliefs is the official excuse for brutality, whether in Mississippi or in Harlem, whether at home or abroad.
We must go now into every building of this city, into every suburban home; onto every street corner. We must tell the people who we are. We will stand up and take the jeers of hirelings.
We must work—we will work, so that on Nov. 2, Americans can clearly choose.

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Filed under Fascism, freedom, Henry A. Wallace, history, Justice, labor movement, labor unions, patriotism, police violence, racism, US Constitution, US History

Henry A. Wallace, America Tomorrow

Henry Wallace speeches on the possibilities for America. Again, if you find any part particularly relevant, make a comment.

America Tomorrow, Henry A. Wallace.  A speech delivered in Detroit on July 25, 1943.
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 238.

img_0502Three months ago in South America I found that the lowliest peon looked on President Roosevelt as the symbol of his dearest aspirations in the peace to come. So it is also in China and occupied Europe. I have known the President intimately for ten years and in the final showdown he has always put human rights first. There are powerful groups who hope to take advantage of the President’s concentration on the war effort to destroy everything he has accomplished on the domestic front over the last ten years. Some people call these powerful groups “isolationists,” others call them “reactionaries” and still others, seeing them following in European footsteps, call them “American fascists.” Sooner or later the machinations of these small but powerful groups which put money and power first and people last will inevitably be exposed to the public eye.
My purpose today is to talk about the America of tomorrow. There are some who want to stick to what they would have us believe are the realities of the present. Their quick comeback to any question on our peace objectives is, “We must not discuss anything except the war.” There are others who want to stick to what they hold are the realities of the past. They have a stock reply when asked about the peace: “Let us wait and see what England and Russia do before we make our plans.”
Both opinions are fighting delaying actions against our destiny in the peace—a destiny that calls us to world leadership. When we as victors lay down our arms in this struggle against the enslavement of the mind and soul of the human family, we take up arms immediately in the great war against starvation, unemployment and the rigging of the markets of the world.
We seek a peace that is more than just a breathing space between the death of an old tyranny and the birth of a new one. We will not be satisfied with a peace which will merely lead us from the concentration camps and mass murder of Fascism into an international jungle of gangster governments operated behind the scenes by power-crazed, money-mad imperialists. Starvation has no Bill of Rights nor slavery a Magna Carta. Wherever the hopes of the human family are throttled, there we find the makings of revolt.
The world was waiting for us to take the initiative in leading the way to a people’s peace after World War I, but we decided to live apart and work our own way. Hunger and unemployment spawned the criminal free-booters of Fascism, Their only remedy for insecurity was war. Their only answer to poverty and the denial of opportunity became the First Commandment of the Nazis: “Loot Thy Neighbor.”
Much of our propaganda after the First World War proclaimed the ingratitude of our Allies. We had given of our best blood and our separate fortunes only to be labeled the land of Uncle Shylock. We changed it to Uncle Sap and said, “Never again.” How many of us after this second worldwide scourge of suffering and death will say; “Never again”? Shall it be “Never again” to joining in seeking world peace? Shall it be “Never again” to living alone on an island of false security? Shall it be our second retreat from our responsibility in world co-operation?
Ours must be a generation that will distill the stamina and provide the skills to create a warproof world. We must not bequeath a second bloodbath to our children.
World leadership must be more concerned with welfare politics and less with power politics, more attentive to equalizing the use of raw materials of nations than condoning the policies of grab and barter that freeze international markets, more interested in opening channels of commerce than closing them by prohibitive tariffs, more mindful of the need for a stable currency among all countries than in high interest rates on loans. World leadership must be more occupied with preventing the political house burners from setting oil the fires of revolt than stopping them after they start.
But world co-operation cannot enforce such standards of international justice and security by paper diplomacy and remote control. Our choice is not between a Hitler slave world and an out-of-date holiday of “normalcy.” The defeatists who talk about going hack to the good old days of Americanism mean the time when there was plenty for the few and scarcity for the many.
Nor is our choice between an Americanized Fascism and the restoration of prewar scarcity and unemployment. Too many millions of our people have come out of the dark cellars and squalor of unemployment ever to go back.
Our choice is between democracy for everybody or for the few—between the spreading of social safeguards and economic opportunity to all the people—or the concentration of our abundant resources in the hands of selfishness and greed. The American people have brought a brave and clear conscience to this crisis of all mankind. Every family, every community, feeling the denials and restraints of war, has been forced to search for a bed-rock of faith. And in that tomorrow when peace comes, education for tolerance will be just as important as the production of television. The creation of a decent diet for every family will take as much planning as the building of new cars and refrigerators and washing machines.
Along with Britain, Russia and China our nation will exert a tremendous economic and moral persuasion in the peace. But many of our most patriotic and forward-looking citizens are asking, “Why not start now practicing these Four Freedoms in our own backyard?”
They are right! A fuller democracy for all is the lasting preventive of war. A lesser or part-time democracy breeds the dissension and class conflicts that seek their solution in guns and slaughter.
We cannot fight to crush Nazi brutality abroad and condone race riots at home. Those who fan the fires of racial clashes for the purpose of making political capital here at home are taking the first step toward Nazism.
We cannot plead for equality of opportunity for peoples everywhere and overlook the denial of the right to vote for millions of our own people. Every citizen of the United States without regard to color or creed, whether he resides where he was born or whether he has moved to a great defense center or to a fighting front, is entitled to cast his vote.
We cannot offer the blueprints and the skills to rebuild the bombed-out cities of other lands and stymie the rebuilding of our own cities. Slums have no place in America.
We cannot assist in binding the wounds of a war-stricken world and fail to safeguard the health of our own people. We cannot hope to raise the literacy of other nations and fail to roll back the ignorance that clouds many communities in many sectors of our own nation. Democracy can work successfully for that future which is its predestined heritage only when all people have the opportunity for the fullest education. The world is a neighborhood. We have learned that starvation in China affects our own security—that the jobless in India are related to the unemployed here. The Post War Problems Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers (businessmen all) has wisely declared that increased production in other countries will not reduce living standards in the United States. Those twisters of fact who shriek that your Vice-President is a wild-eyed dreamer trying to set up T.V.A.’s on the Danube and deliver a bottle of milk to every Hottentot every morning should read that report. No business prospers without prosperous customers. That is plain common sense.
The average American may not be an expert on all phases of our economic and political life. He may not understand completely the complexities of money and markets. He may never feel completely at, home in the intricacies of world trade as they are affected by tariffs and cartels. He may not know too much about parity farm prices and subsidies. But the average American does know what happens when inflation comes—when prices rise faster than wages, and he knows that the worst lie of all is that the way to make money is to produce scarcity. The common man in America, and every American soldier overseas, wants free enterprise and full employment. He wants to see the great new war plants converted into plants producing peacetime goods. He knows that he and others have acquired new skills and they should be put to use. The average man of America knows that we can make and consume all goods which make for a higher standard of living. He wants and he must have a job, enough to eat and wear, decent shelter, his own home and automobile, and a chance to educate his children.
He knows that high tariff protection for our markets leads only to retaliation and boycotts by other countries. He knows that no coalition of nations can weather the innumerable impacts of money and trade monopolies. He witnessed the collapse of sanctions under the League of Nations and the growth of dictatorships that appealed to their. peoples by promising to free them from economic slavery. He is convinced that nations must be organized by something more, than trade pacts and non-aggression treaties. The peace-makers must have more daring and vision than the war-makers.
A year ago I cited the four duties of the people’s revolution as I saw them. They were:
The duty to produce to the limit.
The duty to transport as rapidly as possible to the field of battle.
The duty to fight with all that is in us.
The duty to build a peace—just, charitable and enduring.
Millions of our people from offices and factories, from farms, mines, oil fields and timber lands, have accepted those duties with typical American courage and fortitude. They are making heroic sacrifices to speed the victory. But if war has its duties, peace has its responsibilities. Three outstanding peacetime responsibilities as I see them today are these:
The responsibility for enlightenment of the people.
The responsibility for mobilizing peacetime production for full employment.
The responsibility for planning world co-operation.
The American press, radio, school and church, free from domination by either government or corporate interest, can hold up to our people the vision of the freedom and abundance of the America that is to be. These great agencies of enlightenment can educate us with regard to the fundamental decencies and understandings which are essential if our power is to be a blessing to the world and not a curse.
Labor is beginning to do its part in enlightening the public. It is beginning to make crystal clear that 97 percent of labor has co-operated 100 percent with our government in the war effort. More and more in the future labor will demonstrate that it can co-operate with both employers and with agriculture in those measures which lead to increased employment, increased production and a higher standard of living. The people of America know that the second step toward Nazism is the destruction of labor unions. There are midget Hitlers here who continually attack labor. There are other demagogues, blind to the errors of every other group, who shout, “We love labor, but. . .” Both the midget Hitlers and the demagogues are enemies of America. Both would destroy labor unions if they could. Labor should be fully aware of its friends and of its enemies.
The second responsibility, that of mobilizing the peace for full production and full employment will challenge the best brains and imagination of our industries large and small, our trade associations, our labor unions and our financial institutions.
When the guns stop; America will find itself with the following assets:

Manpower by the million; skilled workers from war industries, military manpower and young people coming of working age.
The largest industrial plant capacity in the world.
The greatest resources both natural and artificial to make peacetime products-and thousands of new inventions waiting to be converted to peacetime use.
The largest scientific farm plant in the world.
The biggest backlog of requirements for housing, transportation, communications and living comforts.
The greatest reserve of accumulated savings by individuals that any nation has ever known.
With such wealth, who says this nation is now bankrupt?
If industrial management can bring the same wisdom in producing for peace that it has shown on many production fronts in the supply, program for war, the horizons we face are bright. We have witnessed many evidences of industrial statesmanship, of co-operation with labor to increase production and cut costs. In hundreds of industries the war has demonstrated that management and labor can be friends in the service of the nation.

Our industries, trade associations and lending institutions will open wider the gates of labor’s participation. They have the choice of approaching the new world of greatly expanded production with new energies and foresight—or they can hold back and fearfully await the stimulus of their government to expand production and consumption.

Whichever choice they consciously or unconsciously make, I believe they want to do their part in keeping this nation on solid ground when peace comes.
If we are to mobilize peace production in the service of all the people we must completely turn away from scarcity economics. Too many corporations have made money by holding inventions out of use, by holding up prices and by cutting down production.

I believe in our democratic, capitalistic system, but it must be a capitalism of abundance and full employment. If we return to a capitalism of scarcity such as that which produced both 1929 and 1932, we must anticipate that the returning soldiers and displaced war workers will speak in no uncertain terms.

The third responsibility—that of planning world co-operation—will stem from the open and full partnership between the people and their government.
We will face combustible realities when this struggle has passed. Even now there are millions in Europe and Asia who have only one thought, one question: “When do we eat?” Peace does not come where starvation stays. Peace is a mockery where millions of homeless and diseased are given only the freedom to die. America will have to fill many breadbaskets, help to restore homes and provide medical care here and in other lands before our own peace will be secure.

We know that a combination of countries seeking to limit our air commerce could shut off our international skyways. We know that a ganging-up by a group of international cartels at odds with us could wipe out our markets and sow the seeds of war. We know that we cannot close the doors on other nations and not expect them to close their doors on us. We know that imperialistic freebooters using the United States as a base can make another war inevitable.

In that knowledge we can create co-operation or conflict; unity of purpose or under-the-table dealing.

We must continue our teamwork with the British. We must become better acquainted with our new friends, the Russians. We can live peacefully in the same world with the Russians if we demonstrate to ourselves and the world after the war that we have gone in for all-out peace production and total consumer use of our products to bring about the maximum of human welfare.

Shouldering our responsibilities for enlightenment, abundant production and world co-operation, we can begin now our apprenticeship to world peace. There will be heartbreaking delays—there will be prejudices creeping in, and the fainthearted will spread their whispers of doubt. Some blueprints and many programs will be tested and found unworkable. Some men with selfish motives will use the propaganda of protest and the sabotage of delay to promote disunity in peace as they have in war.
But the day of victory for humanity will come just as this night of terror and desolation will pass. Nothing will prevail against the common man’s peace in a common man’s world as he fights both for free enterprise and full employment. The world is one family with one future—a future which will bind our brotherhood with heart and mind and not with chains, which will save and share the culture past and now aborning, which will work out the peace on a level of high and open cooperation, which will make democracy work for mankind by giving everyone a chance to build his own stake in it.

The challenge and the opportunity to win the battle of the peace has joined mankind. Victory demands our best thought, our best energies and our everlasting faith.

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Filed under Henry A. Wallace, history, Justice, labor movement, labor unions, New Deal, patriotism, racism, US History

A great and noble experiment

john-tylerOn July 3, 1843, Mr. Joseph Simpson of Baltimore, a US citizen and a member of the Jewish faith, wrote President John Tyler a letter complaining of General of the Army Winfield Scott, in full military regalia, participating is some sort of Christian religious event in Baltimore.   Mr. Simpson believed it was never the intention of the Founders to advantage any single religious confession over another, and the participation of General Scott and other officers in this Christian event in the official regalia of the US military may be misunderstood to suggest otherwise.  Mr. Simpson wrote President Tyler, believing it his duty to report to the President this violation of the great tradition of the United States and its Constitution.

On July 10, 1843, President Tyler responded.  Tyler expressed no knowledge of the event involving Scott, but suggested it must be him participating only as a private citizen.  To that end, Tyler assured Mr. Simpson Scott must “lay aside his sword and epaulets” and appear “as a distinguished citizen but in no other light . . .”  Tyler continues,

“. . . The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent—that of total separation of Church and State.  No religious establishment by law exists among us.  The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment.  The offices of the Government are open alike to all.  No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible cored of faith.  The Mahomedan, if he will to come among us, would have the privilege guaranteed to them by the Constitution, to worship according to the Koran, and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him.  Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.  The fruits are visible in the universal contentment which everywhere prevails.  Christians are broken up into various sects, but we have no persecution, no stake or rack-no compulsion or force, no furious or bigoted zeal; but each and all move on in their selected sphere, and worship the Great Creator according to their own forms and ceremonies.  The Hebrew persecuted and down-trodden in other regions, takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid . . . he may worship God of his fathers after the manner that worship was conducted by Aaron . . . and the aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him.  Such is the great experiment which we have tried and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.  The body may be oppressed and manacled and yet survive; but if the mind of man be fettered, its energies and faculties perish, and what remains is of the earth, earthly.  Minds should be free as the light or as the air.  While I remain connected with the Government, be assured, Sir, that so far as the Executive action is concerned, the guarantees of the Constitution in this great particular will know no diminution . . .”

 Even more interesting, Tyler, imagining permutations of Scott as a non-Christian, stated, “Was he a Hebrew and of the same tribe with yourself . . . (it) would in no manner affect him in his military character; nor would it make him obnoxious to the censure of the Government for so doing.”  Tyler is clear, a person’s religious, cultural, ethnic, etc. nature is of no consequence to a person’s full participation in the rights of citizenship in these United States.

A mere fifty five years after the ratification of the Constitution, President Tyler, describes not only the separation of church and state, an essential construction of our noble experiment, but he also provides insight into the expectation of cultural and ethnic diversity as a true and present reality of the great and noble experiment undertaken by our Founders.  In the time of the Founders, in the time of Tyler, and in our time, religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity was and remains a core value upheld and protected by our great and noble experiment.  As Tyler wrote, “Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.”  Any action by any branch of the US government intended to alter or diminish this spirit of toleration is inconsistent and antithetical to the intent of the Founders.  Tragically, we find ourselves living in a time when some actively encourage and support ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, LGBTQ, and racial intolerance.  It is left to us, those who embrace the great and noble experiment of our Founders, to resist this assault on the values and aspirations of our Constitution and our nation.  In this season of Thanksgiving, a holiday of our nation, I give thanks for the vision of our Founders and the vision of diversity and toleration they imagined, however flawed and limited in their own time.  Perhaps it is left to us, the future, to protect and perfect more completely the fullness of their imaginations.

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Filed under episcopal, freedom, immigration, Justice, patriotism, racism, US Constitution

Wind my clock

angel in despair

It is bleak mourning,

gloomy despair.

Is it real or a terrible, awful nightmare?

Is it the valley of the shadow death

into which we thoughtlessly stumble, guns drawn;

killing innocence,

killing black, killing blue,

killing me, killing you?

Alton, dead.

Philando, dead.

Patrick, dead.

Brent, dead.

Michael K, dead.

Michael S, dead.

Lorne, dead

. . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . .

Racism?  Yes.

Prejudice?  Yes.

Privilege?  Yes.

Injustice?  Yes.

Anger?  Yes.

Mistrust?  Yes.

Revenge?  Yes.

. . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . .

I am hopeless,

worn with sorrow,

aching with sin, the mark is missed.

This wicked racist culture–

Are we white enough, Mr. Duke?

This pernicious gun culture–

Are we safe enough, Mr. LaPierre?

Numb my soul, break my heart.

Stick me with a needle,

see if I feel,

see if I bleed.

It is a deadly, deadly web we weave.

********

In March of 1973, E. B. White wrote to a Mr. Nadeau, who sought White’s opinion on what he saw as a bleak future for the human race.

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

********

John 12.46:  I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

********

I will wind my clock . . .

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Filed under episcopal, gun violence, Justice, police violence, racism, sorrow, terrorism