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A great many of our social ills are caused, or at least intensified, by a lack of historical imagination. Imagination looks ahead to what might be, but is always informed, whether we realize it or not, by what we think has happened up to this point. Any image of what’s to come will necessarily trace a line that extends the vector of history — or history as it is perceived: which is where the problem lies. Text Patterns

Outrage Over Obamacare Is Nothing Compared With FDR’s New Deal

  • Joshua Holland: What was the Bankers Putsch?
  • Sally Denton: The Bankers Putsch was an ill-fated plot, sometimes called the Business Plot or the Wall Street Putsch. There was a famous, heroic marine general named Smedley Butler, who was kind of the soldier’s soldier, the veteran’s veteran. He had great influence with the veterans, and this was at a moment when there were a half million veterans who were trying to get their bonuses from World War I. The bonuses weren’t supposed to be released until 1945, but because so many of the veterans were starving, there was a great movement afoot in 1932 to get those bonuses released early.
  • And Smedley Butler claimed that he was approached by a couple of veterans who had connections to Wall Street financiers who were planning a nonviolent coup, a takeover of the Roosevelt Administration. They claimed to have $3 million that they were willing to spend toward this end, and they said that they had some armaments ready. And their theory was that Roosevelt was in over his head — again, we see a lot of the same rhetoric that we hear with Obama. And they thought FDR would welcome somebody coming in and taking charge because he didn’t know what to do. That was the theory, that they would go in and, because these men who were supplying the money were of Roosevelt’s class, Roosevelt would agree to their demands and become kind of a ceremonial figurehead. He would let these stronger, more military types control the White House.
  • Butler blew the whistle on it, so it never got very far at all. There were congressional investigations and there was an FBI investigation, and the media reported various aspects of it. But both the plot and the investigation were stopped before they got very far. So it’s unclear how much of it was a form of insanity on the part of the plotters and how much they really had any legitimate financial and military support. But it’s a fascinating story of that year.
  • Holland: Smedley Butler wrote a book called, War is a Racket, which is a damning criticism of what would later be called the “military industrial complex.” It’s strange that they would’ve seen him as a potential ally. He was also a Roosevelt supporter, no?
  • Denton: Well, he was a Republican and had run for Congress as a Republican. But he was not a huge FDR fan. Although I think he became one down the road.
  • But, yes, he’s the one who said that the marines were just racketeers for the capitalists. And he probably aligned himself more with Roosevelt after Roosevelt made clear that he thought that the US military should not be acting as enforcers for United Fruit throughout the world.
  • I think the impetus for selecting him was that there was no other military figure whom this half million-strong potential army of veterans would follow, and there must’ve been an assumption that Butler was malleable enough to stand up for the veterans above all else. And it backfired. He became the whistleblower and told the government what was going on.

We would prefer to imagine the founding of this country in a more mythological way, where everyone held to excelsior moral standards. Yet in fact the history of the War for American Independence is shrouded in a lot of darkness. Concepts that we take for granted today as purely American ideals (specifically founding ideals)–freedom of religion, gun ownership, personal liberty, defense of property–were not set in stone during the war. And frequently, Patriots and Loyalists alike breached those ideals without much need or excuse. People’s homes were destroyed, property burned, firearms confiscated, faced persecution for their religious beliefs, were jailed unjustly, were fined exorbitantly, were stripped of dignity, and were dealt with sinisterly. The First Civil War: The Revolution for America’s Soul

Why would Luke want his audience to know that God publicly confirmed Jesus to be king through the flight of a dove, when the normative avian sign was the flight of an eagle? The dove narrative likely functioned in the same manner as the account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Each depicts Jesus’ kingship in contradistinction to imperial expectations. The flight of the dove is a confirming sign that Jesus is God’s king, whose rule stands contrary to the Roman notion of power as confirmed by an eagle. Throughout his gospel, Luke consistently portrays God’s kingdom as the antithesis of the Roman Empire (Luke 6:20; 13:29–30; 18:16; 22:25–27). Jesus is a different kind of king than Caesar. He is a king who brings peace not at the expense and suffering of others but through his own service and suffering. This is symbolized by the descent of a dove rather than an eagle, the national emblem of Rome. Subversive Meals

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Nowhere in the world as of 4 January 1861 was the Bible freer and more open to the public than in the United States of America; nowhere did less authority from tyrants, prelates, or priests constrict the meanings that ordinary men and women took from the Bible; and nowhere in the world did more pious believers hold that the Holy Scriptures sanctioned the institution of slavery. Mark Noll

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By failing to recognize the anti-imperial nature of first-century Christian meals, the modern church has eviscerated the Lord’s Supper of its political significance. As a result, the Lord’s Supper rarely serves the same function as it did at the time of Peter and Paul but has devolved into a symbolic act that offers spiritual solace to the partakers but does little to contest the policies of modern-day tyrants who rule their empires for the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the oppressed masses. Subversive Meals

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White supremacy does not contradict American democracy—it birthed it, nurtured it, and financed it. That is our heritage. It was reinforced during 250 years of bondage. It was further reinforced during another century of Jim Crow. It was reinforced again when progressives erected an entire welfare state on the basis of black exclusion. It was reinforced again when the intellectual progeny of the same people who excluded black women from welfare turned around and inveighed against it through caricaturization of black women. Other People’s Pathologies

The United States of America did not save black people; black people saved the United States of America. With that task complete, our “ally” proceeded to repay its debt to its black citizens by pretending they did not exist. In 1875, Mississippi’s provisional governor, Adelbert Ames, watched as the majority-black state’s nascent democracy “progressed” from terrorism to anarchy and then apartheid. Taking in regular reports of blacks being murdered, whipped, and intimidated by the Ku Klux Klan, Ames wrote the administration of President Ulysses Grant begging for aid. The Grant Administration declined… Ta-Nehisi Coates

New Deal denialism, much like creationism, entails blotting out whole swaths of contradictory evidence—not merely the bulk of FDR’s contemporaneous record, but also the decades of growth and comparative stability that succeeded it, Chris Lehmann

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