Tag Archives: Native Americans

FREEDOM WORE A REDCOAT

It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.

“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.

The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.

Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.

After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.

After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.

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LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN

Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America.   There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.

It all began in Jamestown.

The first English settlement in North America began in 1607.  (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)

Jamestown itself was almost wiped out.   It was a miracle that it survived.

I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003.   On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England.  One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.

There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.”   However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life,  but is a fictionalized account  of the English settlement.   However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.

The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first  women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley.   The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses).   A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure.   More for the 21st century audience than reality.

I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left.  On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans.   This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century.   The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.

It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years.   Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband.   He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing.   Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again.   He was eventually raised by his uncle.

In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.   Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims.   He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday).   “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports.   “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”

“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild.   At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches.   He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists.   On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.

“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.”   (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.”   (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)

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EU CHANGE OF LEADERS

It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.

The EU’s top officials are being replaced.   Not democratically, of course.   But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.

Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde.   They have won the top two posts.   Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister.   Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.

CNN reported 7/3:    “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.

“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.

“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament.    If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission.   Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.

“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)

 

 

 

 

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FERGUSON AND THE GREAT AMERICAN DIVIDE

Ferguson MO

Race is America’s Achilles heel.  It’s also the country’s biggest blind spot.

Both have been evident in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of an 18-year-old African-American male by a white policeman, in August. The decision by a Grand Jury not to send the policeman to trial led to serious rioting last night, which has continued into a second night.

Racial tension goes back to the very beginning of the nation’s modern history and not just between black and white.

The first British settlement on the shores of North America was at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.   Twelve years later, the first African slaves arrived and continued arriving for almost two centuries.

Later in the century, the first major conflict in American history took place. King Philip’s War lasted three years (1675-78) and was, proportionately, the worst conflict the country has ever experienced, surpassing the Revolutionary War of 1775-81 (the second worst) and the North-South conflict (1861-65). All three were civil wars.   The first war resulted in the deaths of 10% of the population of the fledgling colonies. It was a war between the white settlers and Native Americans. Over the next two centuries there would be a great deal of further conflict between whites and Native Americans.

The country would also see more conflict between African-Americans and whites.

Discrimination against non-whites was a root cause of the violence.

In the 1960’s a new approach was favored. The Civil Rights movement addressed discrimination and efforts were put in place to make some fundamental changes. The 1964 Civil Rights Act banned all forms of discrimination. One year later, the Voting Rights Act made it much easier for southern blacks to vote, ending decades of discrimination.   Ironically, race riots erupted in the Watts area of Los Angeles the following day.   One month later, President Lyndon Johnson issued an executive order that required government contractors to take Affirmative Action, granting favor to minorities in employment.

Riots were to continue throughout the decade, emphasizing the bad state of race relations.   Change was clearly necessary.

In 1971, a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism made some recommendations on assimilation in neighboring Canada. This is considered the origin of multiculturalism, the idea that all races, colors, religions and nationalities can live peacefully and successfully together.   The US picked up the ball and ran with it. Australia, New Zealand and the EU followed. Multiculturalism, sometimes called “diversity,” has been the guiding philosophy of western nations for the last four decades.   Perhaps its greatest achievement in the United States was the election of an African-American to the White House

However, what’s happened in Ferguson shows that diversity is not working as promised.

Not just Ferguson, of course.   America’s inner cities have experienced ethnic conflict for decades. New immigrant groups have battled African-Americans and other new immigrant groups in never-ending gang warfare.

This is where the “blind spot” comes in.

Americans like to think of themselves as a “melting pot,” a term that has been in common usage since 1908.   It’s a reference to how different ethnic groups have been assimilated and become one. However, the term was used to describe the various European ethnic groups that migrated to the country prior to the twentieth century. It is questionable that the melting pot concept is still working.   Some would say it never included African-Americans.

America is such a vast country that it’s easy for whites to escape big cities and move to isolated dormitory towns and suburbs, where they will rarely come into contact with other ethnic groups. So it is possible for people to believe that race relations are harmonious when others feel very differently. Ferguson is a classic example of this.

It’s not just white policemen shooting young black males. There are also frequent incidents of black males randomly killing whites. These are given far less attention by the liberal media. But both show continuing racial tension and conflict.

Trust is seriously lacking.

The United States is not the only country with racial problems.   Ethnic conflict between tribes is a daily occurrence across the continent of Africa; historic conflict between ethnic groups has been a primary cause of wars in Europe; and ancient animosities flare up regularly in Asia.   Is America worse?

Over twenty years ago, the Detroit Free Press sent one of its African-American reporters to South Africa to cover news there in the year leading up to the end of apartheid.   In his dispatches, he observed that race relations were better in apartheid South Africa than in the US, where he lived.   More recently, I viewed a discussion on British television on which a number of people of African descent who had lived in both the US and the UK were asked about their experiences. All agreed they felt race relations were better in Britain.   (It should be noted that Britain has had its share of race riots.)

Jesus Christ predicted rising ethnic tensions at the time of the end of the age. In Matthew 24:7, He said: “nation will rise against nation.” The Greek word used for nation is ethnos, a reference to ethnic groups.   Until a few decades ago, the lid was kept on much ethnic conflict by great powers that ruled over many ethnic groups.   Increasingly, those groups have splintered and now are turning on each other.

Perhaps we are about to find that diversity doesn’t work, that mistrust between the races is still very much a part of our culture and heritage, not just in the United States but elsewhere.   A serious rethink is needed on multiculturalism, as racial harmony cannot be achieved by legislation or coercion. There is a definite possibility that, as a consequence of Ferguson, more laws will be passed to force further integration, which could backfire.

Social programs should also be re-evaluated. LBJ’s War on Poverty, proclaimed fifty years ago this year, offered hope to all poor families, including African-American ones, by setting up a welfare system. However, it is now possible to look back and see that welfare has contributed to the breakdown of the family, a social trend that has been particularly devastating for black families. Nine out of ten African-American boys do not live with their father to the age of 16.   The lack of a significant male presence in their lives encourages criminal activity and is a reason why there is a disproportionate number of African-American males in the US prison system.

There will be more Fergusons. Sadly, more parents of young men, both black and white, will lose their loved ones in violent acts between the races.   More riots will result in more lives lost and more property damage, though there is no sense in driving businesses away.

Race remains America’s Achilles heel – ethnic conflict could bring the country down.   But there are also many examples of whites and blacks working well together. Clearly, more work is needed to improve race relations. The alternative is growing conflict in the years to come.