History Final Paper
HIST 1302 Assignment
In situations of war, patriotism is of paramount importance. To maintain peace, not only military preparedness but also social preparedness is important. Therefore the question of identity became crucial during and after World War One. President Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Smith both endeavor to define Americans in the wake of threats posed by World War One. These threats were sensed because of the diverse society of America with immigrants from many European countries.
Roosevelt believes that despite being kin in blood with the Europeans, the American culture is unique and distinct. He considers the Irish, English, French, and Italians as Americans provided their allegiance is with the US, and rejects hyphenated Americans as Americans who would never fight for America if their allegiance is with another country. Roosevelt supports naturalization. But consider it a duty of the aliens to learn English, in order to protect America's distinct culture. A disloyal person cannot work in country's railways, industrial plants, and state institutions. There will be labor disturbances. Therefore one nation should be built in line with the democratic ideals of America.
Smith like Roosevelt supports naturalization of existing aliens in America to protect the country’s resources and institutions but suggests closing of the doors for immigrants. He argues that the existing population is enough to exploit and put to use the resources. Moreover, he argues that the US inhabits the highest percentage of Anglo-Saxon Stock that must be protected. The collective genius of this nation is adequate for the further growth of the country.
While Roosevelt saw English and allegiance as a precondition for naturalization, Smith suggests closing of doors on immigrants. Both, however, agree on the naturalization of existing aliens. Smith reference to Anglo-Saxons and his tone reeks of racism. Not only Anglo-Saxons but also the black people, including the slaves, contributed towards the prosperity of America.
Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" exposed the economic inequalities in the US. Guthrie's song sounds clairvoyant and patriotic at face value. But it also has elements of radicalism which inspired the political left of America. It tells that socialism caters for the problems of the exploited and poor in a better way. Although Roosevelt believed that rights of labor force should be preserved, those exploited at the hands of big businessmen could relate to this song.
Both document 4 and Document 6 explain how the early years of the Cold War were marked by anti-Communist hysteria. The fears that existed in World War One of hyphenated Americans were transformed into the fear of Communist Americans in the Cold War. Perhaps being an American now meant being anti-Communist. Now the Americans saw the Western Christian world similar to them, and the Communist world, being atheistic, as different from both Western Europe and the US. Leo Cherne in “How to spot a Communist” delineates the characteristics of Communists and the modus operandi of Communist groups, to help Americans identify them, and therefore avoid supporting them inadvertently. Calling the war waged by Great Britain before USSR war invaded by German Imperialistic move, being supportive of pro-USSR policies, having a stance that aligns with USSR's, getting published in Communist media, appearance in Communist groups and being critical of capitalism and democracy. He also explains how to avoid strengthening the Communist Party by identifying the sources of Communists’ strength. To avoid Communist groups he suggests to check credentials before joining a group and be cautious during signing petitions, contributing money, supporting resolutions.
Joseph R. McCarthy's Speech also focuses on identifying Enemies from within. He sees the conflict between the democratic Christian West and the atheistic Communist USSR as ideological, not material. He calls for action and warns that the war is on already. He highlights how the world is being engulfed by the wave of Communism. His disclosure of Communists working in the State Department highlights the fears and anxiety that marked the post-World War Two America.
Herb Block cartoon portrays the threats to liberty posed by the anti-Communist hysteria, particularly in the wake of the Soviet Union's test of the atomic bomb. The scene is of Anti-subversive Committee raiding a school’s classroom, asking the teacher terrorizing questions, with a man intending to cut USSR of the map and another looking suspicious at a math problem.
Similar fear exists in America even today. Trump rhetoric against Mexicans, Muslims, and immigrants won him elections. He capitalized on Islamophobia and anti-migrant sentiments. Moreover, post-election America debated the possibility of manipulation of elections by Russia.
Port Huron’s Statement (1962) suggests participatory democracy as a solution to the problems faced by American society. He sees general human degradation and the fear of nuclear annihilation as two major problems facing Americans. The society, he thinks, has lost hope and idealistic outlook that our predecessors had. Students have shallow aims with a materialistic outlook. Americans are moving towards a hermetic mode of life. To Port Huron, the solution, therefore, is a participatory democracy. The goal is to achieve human freedom. Along with that, human relationships should be based on interdependence. The economic sphere should encourage independence and promote dignity. All social institutions should strive to improve wellbeing. Universities are social institutions and should be used to inculcate the spirit of participation. It can help launch a social movement. To support this movement, civil society and community should extend help. Faculty should also join hands with them.
Black Panther's Ten-Point Program (1966) discusses the problems faced by black people. It identified lack of freedom and power as major problems and demanded employment, housing, appropriate income, rewriting of textbooks telling true stories about the black people, exemption from military service, and an end to police brutality. It also suggested that the means of production be taken from those businessmen who aimed at the exploitation of the black. It saw the government as racist and compared injustices faced by the black people with the German genocide of Jews. It demanded that the jury should be constituted by men from the black community to fulfill the 14th Amendment and avoid unfair trials. Lastly, it asked for a United Nations-supervised plebiscite for the black to decide their national destiny.
Caesar Chavez, an activist for Mexican Americans and leader of the United Farm Workers, launched a nationwide consumer boycott of non-union grapes in the 1960s. In his letter to the President of California Grape League, he reiterated the right of his people to have a union and dignity of bargaining with their business employers. Mentioning Gandhi's and Martin Luther King’s struggles, he advocated for a non-violent struggle against the discrimination, lack of education and exclusion from the democratic process of his people.
Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in the wake of 19th amendment's ratification, which granted women the right to vote. The proposed amendment, which could never be ratified, demanded equal rights for men and women and their enforcement by the Congress. Title IX of the Education Amendments (1972) reflects the shift in focus of the women rights advocates. Its introduction and ratification coincided with the Second Wave of feminism in the United States of America. It was against discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program funded by the federal government. In this 1960s, with the beginning of the Second Wave of feminism, many legislations related to women were introduced. John. F. Kennedy set up a commission on the status of women. Equal Act was passed by the Congress in 1963 CITATION his \l 1033 (history.house.gov). Civil Rights Act, introduced in 1964, protected women against discrimination at the workplace CITATION his \l 1033 (history.house.gov). A series of legislation was introduced to enable women to become an active part of the economic machinery of the country on equal footing with men. The modern American woman envisaged her role similar to men in the workplace. Title IX enabled women to acquire education without discrimination and therefore compete on equal footing with men in practical life.
The story of America is a story of recognizing and protecting the rights of the citizens of the United States of America. The comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) were the world's first legislation of its kind. It was a perfect manifestation of the belief articulated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and are entitled to certain unalienable rights. Perhaps there were so many pressing issues ever since independence that it took almost two centuries to recognize the rights of people with disabilities. The constitutional crisis, the Civil War, the feminists struggle for rights, the Civil Rights Movement all narrate the journey towards a better America.
When President Bush delivered his address at the signing of the Act, there were 43 million Americans with disabilities. Women and African American had already secured their rights, and now was the time to make history by passing the most comprehensive legislation on the rights of disables. Moreover, there were innovations in work which made available new avenues where disables could work.
Maya Angelou in her poem looks back into darker times and presents hope for a better future. Focusing on similarities among human beings, the poem carries a universal message of sharing and inclusivity. Clinton's invitation to Maya Angelou reflected one of the themes of his vision: an inclusive America. Her poem talks about the beginning of an effort to fulfill the dream of an America that is pluralistic and inclusive of Native Americans, African American, and other minority groups.
In his victory speech, President Barack Obama addresses the question of American identity and suggests that his winning the election reflects the true spirit of democracy and the unity of all Americans: black, white, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, etc. When Obama said that he would be the president of those Americans too who didn’t vote for him, he showed his own vision of unity and sense of responsibility towards the whole America. In its political nature, America had since long remained an advocate for a free world, and Obama in his inauguration pledged to continue the struggle for a peaceful and democratic world. Obama’s ascendency to the presidency of America may be regarded as the culmination of America’s journey towards an inclusive America where democracy demonstrated its power to elect an African American who started his career from a very humble background.
Despite the 9-11 Attack, the subsequent launching of War of Terror and the fear of the "others", Americans voted for Obama. This proved that Americans were defined by the values and ideals they stood for. They would vote for anyone who supports and stand by the same ideals, no matter where he comes from and what his background.
However, it is yet to be seen for how long will the present reversal, reflected by the last Presidential Election and the recent changes in international as well as domestic policies remains a feature of the American society and politics.
BIBLIOGRAPHY history.house.gov. "Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts of Congress Referenced in Black Americans in Congress." n.d.
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