Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Questionable Morality of America, part 1

mo●ral●i●ty
noun
    • principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
"the matter boiled down to simple morality: innocent prisoners ought to be freed"
    • a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.
    • the extent to which an action is right or wrong.
"behind all the arguments lies the issue of the morality of the possession of nuclear weapons"




Have you ever wondered how the normal, regular people living in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century followed and supported both the Kaiser and Hitler into brutal, terrifying wars? I'm not talking about the zealots; I mean the average citizens living average lives. 

How could these people reconcile the atrocities done with their own moral code?

I wondered about this since I first learned about Hitler and the concentration camps through reading books by Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank. As a child, I assumed that everyone had roughly the same morals as I did, and I could not imagine standing by as people were herded into train cars. 

As a young adult, I traveled to Germany and stayed with friends of my grandmother. This couple was alive during World War 2, young adults during that time, but I never got the courage to ask them what happened. I can tell you that these people welcomed me into their home, showed me around West Germany, and were kind and caring individuals.


Sadly, I think I have an answer now. It's not that the German citizens were temporarily turned into monsters, or had secret brain surgery. They simply were faced with questionable morality of their society, and their own moral spines bent.

It's the same thing that is happening in America today.

I should not say "today" as if this is a new thing. America has never had a shiny moral spine.


It started with our Independence, when our Founding Fathers compromised and allowed slavery even though the majority of them did not feel that slavery was morally correct. 

Our Founding Fathers and Slavery

  • George Washington: Never made public statements about slavery, he freed all of his slaves in his will.
  • Benjamin Franklin: Founded the first abolitionist society
  • Thomas Jefferson: Said about slavery: “we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

Our entire country almost split into two with the Civil War, but even that did not stop discrimination against people who are not of European descent.


But racism isn't the only place where America's lack of morality shows. During Prohibition, the federal government poisoned whatever alcohol they could, with the pretense of "stopping people from drinking". But government officials knew that this would not stop anyone from drinking alcohol. They just did not care how many people died from their poisoning.


Then during World War 2, while the Nazis rounded up Jews and shipped them off to concentration camps, the American federal government rounded up people who had Japanese ancestry, and sent them off to concentration camps. To be honest, when I first heard about this, I. Was. Floored.

Why?

Because I never heard about this particular atrocity in any of my history classes.

Not. One.

After World War 2, McCarthyism took over during a time we now call the Second Red Scare.


McCarthyism
noun

the practice of making false or unfounded accusations of subversion and treason, especially when related to anarchism, communism and socialism, and especially when done in a public and attention-grabbing manner.



That's right, folks. Senator McCarthy used a campaign of fear to temporarily control the American public.


During the 1960s, black Americans finally got fed up with being treated like second class citizens, and pushed for equal civil rights. Instead of supporting what is (in hindsight) a righteous cause, many white Americans either sat by and did nothing to help, or put on white robes and tried to terrify black Americans into being quiet.


In 1964 we also learned about the "bystander effect" when no one intervened to help Kitty Genovese when she was raped and murdered in public. Some people did try to call the police, but no one physically helped out.


I assume I do not need to keep listing the ways in which the American government or the American public has shown immoral activities or beliefs from the 1960s until 2016.


So what happened in 2016?

In 2016 the world learned that a large segment of American society does not have working ethics. These people laugh when someone makes fun of a handicapped person. These people encourage below the belt comments in conversation, and accept having double standards as the norm.

The world learned to be dubious about any agreement with our country, because there is no guarantee that the US will uphold their end. 

The world learned that racism is still a problem here, as a police officer - who is tasked with public safety - knelt on the neck of a black man because he was black. 

George Floyd died. No amount of jail time or fines will bring him back to life.

And the American public stood there and watched.

Police officers lied to a judge to get an arrest warrant and then killed Breona Taylor.

And the American public did nothing.

A group of Americans, emboldened and encouraged by the sitting President, invaded Congress in an act of sedition.

And the American public stood there and watched.

A SWAT team in Albuquerque burned an innocent teenager alive in a house.

And the American public did nothing.



Okay, to be fair, the death of George Floyd and Breona Taylor did cause some uproar afterwards. And there are trials against the people involved in the attempted coup. But even with the uproar and the trials, there have been no substantial changes for the better.



It feels like America not only lost the "moral high ground" in world relations, we lost our morality. Yet if you ask people if they think they have morals, most (if not all) would answer "yes".

Read the next blog post for a discussion on why Americans seem to have lost their morality.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wordless Wednesday: Old Newspaper Article on Coal


 An Australian newspaper, The Rodney and Otamatea Times, reported about how coal consumption effects the climate back on August 14, 1912. The only error in the article is that it would take a few centuries for the temperature to rise.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Music Monday: Mercedes Benz

 Last month, my dear husband and I went to see Reina del Cid in concert here in Atlanta. One of the last songs she sang was a cover of Janis Joplin's "Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz", but with an extra verse asking the Lord for a new guitar.





This got me thinking about what that song would be if Janis wrote it today. These days, housing is hard to afford. So I wrote a new verse to this classic.

Lord won't you buy me a new mobile home
My old one is broken. It just will not roam
A new double wide one, with accents in chrome
So Lord won't you buy me a new mobile home.

You can listen to me singing it on SoundCloud.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Lost Children of COVID


 Recently, a research letter came out stating that approximately 10.5 million children lost a primary or secondary caregiver to COVID-19. These children lost parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other adults who watched out for them.  About 7.5 million of these children became orphans.

Many countries and organizations are currently working to identify and help these children and their families with money, food, and different childcare arrangements.

Do you know who's not helping these children?

The United States Federal government

(Probably none of the state governments either, but I have not done the research to verify this.)


We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. But we, as in the American society, are doing nothing to help these children deal with the grief of losing someone so close to them. We are doing nothing to help their families cope with the lose. We aren't even discussing the situation or widely acknowledging that this is a problem.

I grew up thinking of the U.S. as a humanitarian country.  We sent food to starving nations. We sent clothes, shoes, and books to people who needed them.

But that is a lie. The United States has, as far as I can tell, never been about helping people. Any humanitarian effort is window dressing, a way to appear good without actually being good.


Did you know that the U.S. federal government purposefully poisoned alcohol during Prohibition to kill anyone who drank it?

Dr. Charles Norris, Medical Examiner, New York City, 1918


In early 1927, Dr. Charles Norris (pictured above in 1918) made the following statement about the situation:

The government knows it is not stopping drinking by putting poison in alcohol. It knows what bootleggers are doing with it and yet it continues its poisoning processes, heedless of the fact that people determined to drink are daily absorbing that poison … Knowing this to be true, the United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes, although it cannot be held legally responsible. 

And don't even get me started about the Japanese internment camps the government set up during World War 2.  Or how the government uses up soldiers then cuts them loose with no real support from the Veterans Administration.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Music Monday: Fast Car

In 1988, the world celebrated Nelson Mandala's 70th Birthday with a huge concert at Wembley Stadium. Over 74,000 people showed up to hear good music and honor the South African. Early in the afternoon, a young unknown singer called Tracy Chapman performed a few songs. She didn't make a big splash, but did a good job. 

 Later on, Stevie Wonder was supposed to take the stage. Only, he misplaced some computer programs and needed time to get everything together. The people in charge called on Tracy Chapman to come out and entertain the audience to give Stevie time. 

 No one expected what happened next.



Wordless Wednesday: You Oughta Mow