29 September 2010

Voices and Soul

28 September 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor

Being the son of a professional Historian, having a degree in History myself; I am both, amazed and appalled, by the blatant historical revisions and ignorance that is on display by the TeaBirchers© and their fellow travelers. From outright editing and distribution of Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists as a whole document, so as to support their dubious claims of the Founders being against the existence of a Wall between Church and State; to Fox News editing Obama's public exchanges so his presidency is diminished and marginalized.

Surely, if one has to lie to support an argument, the argument must not be very sound. What if we "edit" the lie out these discourses? What do we get? How about an honest assessment of where we came from:

What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one's heroic ancestors. It's astounding to me, for example, that so many people really seem to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free. That happens not to be true. What happened was that some people left Europe because they couldn't stay there any longer and had to go someplace else to make it. They were hungry, they were poor, they were convicts.
-- James Baldwin
"A Talk to Teachers," Oct. 16, 1963

It is true that a Dream arose out of the disaffection experienced by those hungry, and poor, and convicted. It is true that tragedies and dangerous compromises occurred to make that Dream of America a possibility. Just let us not lie about where it was we came from and how it is we came to be who we are; let us look honestly to where our present is and where our future could be; let us not lie to make the Dream true. It is said, Knowledge is Power; and that is a sad truism when taking account of the axiom's terrible permutations. Ignorance though, masking itself as Knowledge, is not real Power; but real Ruination.

The only real course to stem this ruination then, is to embrace Knowledge and not Ignorance; to arm our minds and soul and activism against those corporate armies of propaganda, against those mobs of malice and hate; who in either, ignorance or guile, or both, would go to any means necessary than...

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

-- Langston Hughes

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