Two-fer – Iran and the Wages of Slavery

Iran – June 22, 2019

Yesterdays banner headline in our local paper, Minneapolis StarTribune, blared “Trump orders, cancels Iran Strike”.  Already, of course, Trump is about the business of evading responsibility.  The only safe way to deal with Trumps communiques, of any kind, is to believe nothing he says, rather than gamble on the random “truth”.

Here’s how the CIA  Factbook describes Iran today.  Iran is about 2 1/2 times the size of Texas and has about one-third of the U.S. population.  It is not an insignificant place (as if any places really are, especially in today’s world.  I personally know Iranians, and have for years. )

Iran and environs, 1987 Readers Digest Atlas of the World

Here’s a pdf of the same map: Iran and environs001

My personal base line in this particular case (Iran):  Early on, it was essential to Trump to kill the Iran nuclear deal, laboriously negotiated by the Obama administration and involving many countries.  Thus, the path to potential peace, was traded for the certainty of potential war.

Everyone knows exactly what Trump is by now: a liar who rules by threat and desires domination, and whose goal is always humiliation of the losers.  He may dupe enough of us to continue to rule, even a second term; but foreign leaders, including Irans, are not fools, and have long been on to his game (and it is a game, albeit a very dangerous one).  Sooner or later Trump – and ourselves – will reap the furor.

Just Above Sunset catches the current situation well.  Here is today’s edition, What Those Two Said”.  Take the time.

Yesterday I wrote a brief note to our Marine grandson, in part: We think of you all, of course, with what is going on in the Middle East  We are no fan of Donald Trump, fyi.  I think back to 1962 when I was in the Amy & we watched President Kennedy on a tiny television in an Army barracks when he talked about the Cuban Missile Crisis, then at its most crucial point.  We were at Ft. Carson, at Colorado Springs, but we were in the bullseye as there are many military facilities there, & were, then, as well.  War is not a game & we are no longer in a superior position in the world.  We need to learn that lesson.  Folks like you are really necessary and I respect you all a great deal.  But keep it in its proper perspective.”  Grandpa.

War has always been a lethal weapon for warriors, with, unfortunately, the willing accomplices the people who will end up as victims in the long run.

My all-time favorite, not fake news, is this quotation by Hitler’s second in command, Hermann Goering, as he awaited trial and likely execution at Nuremberg in 1946.

Of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?

Naturally, the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor England, nor for that matter, Germany. That is understood, but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simpler matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

(Goering was long time Nazi, Reichmarshall, and heir-apparent to Hitler, His statement on history was recorded while imprisoned at Nuremberg after WWII. Goering was sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes, but committed suicide first.

Quoted in the book Nuremberg Diary, p. 278, Gustave Gilbert, Farrar, Straus & Co., 1947. Gilbert was psychologist assigned to the Nazi prisoners on trial at Nuremberg.   Initially I was skeptical about the quote, until I found the actual book, and read it till I found this exact quotation within.)

POSTNOTE June 23:  This mornings Washington Post sends an excellent opinion column by David Ignatius. Ignatius is a veteran of the pundit scene.  I don’t know his ideology.  What he includes in his column is important; what he misses, intentionally or not, is at least as important as the rest of his story.  Few Americans know (or care) about how Iran became an item of interest: few know about the American sponsored coup that led to American puppet Shah of Iran between the early 1950s and late 1970s, culminating with the hostages in 1979.  Etc.  There is a huge amount of hidden history left out of the Ignatius story.  Take this on as a personal history lesson.  Quietly absent today are the 83,000,000 Iranians who are, like it or not, pawns of the conflict.  Trump in effect declared on Tuesday that he saved 150 Iranian lives by calling off the drone strike, but the bigger story is holding an entire country hostage for “regime change”.  Friends this morning also noted the presence of Israel in this conflict: Apparently John Bolton was in Israel strategizing about next steps.  Bolton is a high level operative in the Trump administration and is the one most famously remembered as being ambassador to the United Nations who quipped about taking off the top stories of the UN Building.

The Wages of Slavery

Separate but related, a very interesting letter – from 1869 – arrived in my in-box yesterday, from Carol.  It is on a different but very current topic, and relevant as a stand-alone about another war in which we engaged whose issue in large part was dominance and control of one race over another.  It is sent exactly as received without further comment.

In 1825, at the approximate age of 8, Jordan Anderson (sometimes spelled “Jordon”) was sold into slavery and would live as a servant of the Anderson family for 39 years. In 1864, the Union Army camped out on the Anderson plantation and he and his wife, Amanda, were liberated. The couple eventually made it safely to Dayton, Ohio, where, in July 1865, Jordan received a letter from his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson. The letter kindly asked Jordan to return to work on the plantation because it had fallen into disarray during the war.

On Aug.  7, 1865, Jordan dictated his response through his new boss, Valentine Winters, and it was published in the ​Cincinnati Commercial. The letter, entitled “Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master,” was not only hilarious, but it showed compassion, defiance, and dignity. That year, the letter would be republished in theNew York Daily Tribune and Lydia Marie Child’s “The Freedman’s Book.”

The letter mentions a “Miss Mary” (Col. Anderson’s Wife), “Martha” (Col. Anderson’s daughter), Henry (most likely Col. Anderson’s son), and George Carter (a local carpenter).

Dayton, Ohio,
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jordon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy, — the folks call her Mrs. Anderson, — and the children — Milly, Jane, and Grundy — go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve — and die, if it come to that — than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jordon Anderson

from Lois: Jordan’s letter to his former “employer” Mr. Andersen touched a heartstring.   No one can change time, or get back to the “good ole days” that were not good for many; there is a lot of naivety by people with regard to political leadership and it behooves us to read and listen to all sides for opinions, not just go with one promise or another as justification to follow and/or promote an idea.   So keep the blogs coming!

5 replies
  1. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    Yes, Trump will be hard to beat in 2020 given how hard he works at creating crisis and then appearing to come riding in on a white horse to save the day…and getting most of the press coverage for the day as a result. Democrats will have to nominate a candidate that they can all generally agree on without the silly poor us ain’t awful crap that so many Democrats did in 2016. because Sanders did not get the Golden Ring. We cannot nominate a dumb ass like the guy the other night when asked to talk about his big idea if he were elected POTUS. He said that he would give every American a Freedom bonus of $1,000 per month for life. Just another dumb ass pie in the sky advocate. Another loser!

    Reply
    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      Yes. But what cannot be forgotten, for a moment, is that every candidate in this country’s election process is trying to fashion a program that will attract one more vote than his or her opponent, beginning with the primaries. That is the fatal flaw in our system. People can, and very willingly do, elect losers and in the process, it might be argued, freely choose to become victims of their own free choice, including whether to vote at all, or to vote with even a tiny bit of knowledge of the candidate they’re voting for. When Trump speaks, he is talking to his ‘base’, period. It is a reality, albeit very, frustrating…and dangerous reality.

      Reply
  2. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    True, Dick, and, of course, people can vote for whomever they want to and that has to be interpreted as the actions of informed voters, nothing more and nothing less than that. My on-going concern in 2020 let alone when looking at the 2016 is that too many Democrats put Trump in office by either not voting due to being miffed that their Independent candidate, Sanders, was not given the Golden Ring by the Democratic Party. Some stayed home on election day while others skipped the presidential race on their ballot…thereby effectively voting for Trump and/or voted for Trump out of whining spite think that Clinton could not lose. The Democrats saved GM and all of its high paying/good benefit jobs and the Democrats in Michigan were so happy about that they voted for Trump. Why?

    Reply
  3. Lili Habashi
    Lili Habashi says:

    I’ll jump in the conversation by bringing up the Macarthy era as another decisive time in our history. Because of different influences Trump won, and became a reality. 2016 was a time when Americans were distracted and took their freedom and democracy for
    granted!

    Reply
    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      Thank you. The McCarthy era – I was about to enter my teen years then – was a catastrophic time for this country.

      Reply

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