Saturday, June 25, 2005

Greatest American: The Rocket's Red Glare

So, who do you think is the Greatest American to ever live?...I found it odd that our post American Top 40 attention deficited society would have allowed for a show like the one on the Discovery Channel (click header for link) to even get aired -- just in time for the Fourth of July, no less...I was at a friend's house a couple of weeks ago and he was watching this Greatest American show hosted by Matt Lauer and while the concept got my attention initially...my eyes started to glaze over when I looked at the usual suspects on the list...nothing controversial to be certain but still I asked myself aloud..."is Madonna really a viable candidate in this capacity?" I got no answers from the TV so I thought I'd look elsewhere...


Let's see Franklin contributed to our society by brainstorming a grip of inventions that we still use to this day like the concept of a national postal service, yo. Abraham Lincoln, who really wasn't the forward thinking abolitionist that he's been made out to be in Lippincott books and other sundry grade school texts -- he was an opportunist who managed to slip through the political cracks because of a rivalry between free soilers and pro-slavery factions in Kansas. I recall being taught as a kid that "honest Abe" always intended to free the slaves but that shite ain't the truth; he'd realized that he'd lost political favor in the south altogether anyway but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth...I'm just saying, son. Not the "greatest" American, in my book.

As far as Ronald Reagan's concerned, I'm surprised that he's even still in the running...who are the ass-clowns who think that the man who brought the U.S. crack cocaine ( Iran-Contra ), used the myth of the "welfare queen" as a political football while firing tens of thousands of air traffic controllers in order to cowtow to corporate airlines -- that doddering apple-cheeked figurehead's administration not only plumped up the unemployement lines like no other before him, he paved the way for what we have right now...but that's hindsight 20/20. In my book, he's the man who'd shake the hand of the devil, himself, if it would show him a better visage of hell -- the Grecian formula bald eagle personified. Now the powers that be are trying to re-write history by painting an eternal white hat on this guy...this does not bode well for those of us who don't feel the necessity to burrow into books and seek the truth for themselves...a friend of mine once wrote: "propaganda is."


As a native of the Old Dominion, Virginia, I've always found swallowing that tripe about the cherry tree and father of our country crap a Conastoga wagonload of hooey...dude owned slaves...black people were his "property" and the only reason he allowed his manacled, sepia-toned charges to be emancipated was because...he didn't...That's not a typo. His wife Martha signed the papers to have their "properties" released after dude was six feet deep in the tombstone commode...long gone...he'd already shuffled off the mortal coil and onto that big plantation in the sky, so to speak...After reading books about slave life on Mt. Vernon, I've found that after Georgie kicked, his widow became gripped in a pall of paranoia thinking that the "field hands" would seek reprisal (like Nat Turner and his posse did a couple of counties over) and throttle her in her sleep. I was quite happy to read about one that got away ...So white fear of black retribution is why the Washingtons freed their slaves...that's just lovely...I'm about to bust out crying into my keyboard...As I mentioned above, I grew up with those "I cannot tell a lie" type stories but had to dig deeper on my own to find out about the black patriots that served under old "yankee doodle" to help the colonies get free from the British crown...even the Marquis de Lafayette had to ask what's up with you, kid? the real story of the American Revolution remains to be learned by many of those you'll see waving flags in a week or so on the fourth; when the rocket's red glare light up the night skies...and the stink of hypocrisy creeps across the nation's landscape like red, white and blue fog...Greatest American? To quote Fred Willard: " I don't theenk so!"

Growing up where I did, I was availed of a lot of the colonial history that most people who reside in other states across the union tend to forget about because they don't have shite like Monticello, Williamsburg, Patrick Henry's church or Harper's Ferry nearby to remind them of our country's sordid past -- and that it wasn't so long ago -- the courderoy rows of Fredricksburg take on a whole new meaning when you can actually see where it is with your own eyes. D.C., Philly, New York and Boston have lots of great historic sites that really help one seperate the hyperbole from the history. I felt the latter on a cellular level when I went on a school trip to Massachussetts which included a stop off at Concord which is also where Walden Pond is -- this is where forward thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau used to repair to in order to "get away from it all" -- during this trip I began to piece together that even from the beginning, the "Greatest Americans" were the average Joes who did extraordinary things...not because the were impelled to do so to further their class standing (at least not all the time) but because they just did what had to be done.


Most of the Greatest Americans, you'll never see on primetime TV shows. The teachers who put up their own scrilla to help a kid get books in a public school, the nurse who voluteers to visit with the old and infirm...folks like that are the angels in our midst that don't get no play betwixt the cathode rays. These are people you never hear about until the shit hits the fan or a twister touches down in your part of the planet...These people are not flaccid figureheads of domestic/ international policy, actors, media moguls, inventors, musicians, computer entrepranuers, doctors, lawyers or super-rich patricians with too much time on their hands which belies the descriptions of 75% of the lot on the Discovery Channel's "Greatest" list...it reminds me of this Stevie Wonder tune he wrote back in the day called "Black Man" -- as a kid I loved that schoolroom ending where the teacher asks the questions and the kids shout out the names in unison...maybe if more classes were like the one on this song, the people in the TV might've gotten a more thought-provoking list to pick from than the one they've given...maybe that was by design though...Laters




Black Man (by Stevie Wonder)


First man to die. For the flag we now hold high, was a black man (Crispus Attucks)

The ground were we standWith the flag held in our handWas first the redman’s

Guide of a ship, on the first columbus trip. Was a brown man Pedro Alonzo Nino)

The railroads for trains, came on tracking that was laidBy the yellow man

We pledge allegiance all our lives to the magic colors red, blue and white
But we all must be given the liberty that we defend; for with justice not for all men,
History will repeat againIt’s time we learned -- this world was made for all men

Heart surgery was first done successfullyBy a black man (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams)

Friendly man who died. But helped the pilgrims to survive was a redman (Squanto)


Farm workers rights were lifted to new heights. By a brown man. (Cesar Chavez)

Incandescent light was invented to give sight by the white man. (Thomas Edison)


We pledge allegiance all our lives to the magic colors red, blue and white
But we all must be given the liberty that we defend; for with justice not for all men,
History will repeat againIt’s time we learned -- this world was made for all men

Here me out...

Now I know the birthday of a nation. Is a time when a country celebrates.
But as your hand touches your heart.
Remember: We all played a part in America to help that banner wave

First clock to be made in America was created
By a black man (Benjamin Banneker)

Scout who used no chart; helped to lead Lewis and Clark
Was a red woman (Sacagawea)


Use of martial arts in our country got it’s start
By a yellow man (Bruce Lee)

And the leader with a pen who signed his name to free all men
Was a white man (Lincoln)

We pledge allegiance all our lives to the magic colors red, blue and white
But we all must be given the liberty that we defend; for with justice not for all men,
History will repeat againIt’s time we learned -- this world was made for all men

This world was made for all men, This world was made for all men.
This world was made for all men -- God saved his world for all men.
All people.
All babies.
All children.
All colors.
All races.
This world’s for you.
And me
This world. My world. Your world.
Everybody’s world.
This world. Their world. Our world.
This world was made for all men

Here me out...

Who was the first man to set foot on the North Pole?
Matthew Henson - a black man

Who was the first american to show the pilgrims at Plymouth the secrets of survival in the new world?
Squanto - a redman

Who was the soldier of Company G who won high honors for his courage and heroism in World War I?
Sing Lee - a yellow man

Who was the leader of united farm workers and helped farm workersMaintain dignity and respect?
Caesar Chavez - a brown man

Who was the founder of blood plasma and the director of the red crossBlood bank?
Dr. Charles Drew - a black man

Who was the first american heroine who aided the Lewis and Clark Expedition?
Sacagawea - a red woman

Who was the famous educator and semanticist who made outstanding contributions to education in america? Hayakawa - a yellow man

Who invented the world’s first stop light and the gas mask?
Garrett Morgan - a black man

Who was the american surgeon who was one of the founders of Neurosurgery?
Harvey William Cushing - a white man

Who was the man who helped design the nation’s capitol, made the first clock to give time in america and wrote the first almanac? Benjamin Banneker - a black man

Who was the legendary hero who helped establish The League of Iroquois?
Hiawatha - a redman

Who was the leader of the first microbiotic center in america? - a yellow man

Who was the founder of the city of Chicago in 1772?
Jean Baptiste - a black man

Who was one of the organizers of the American Indian Movement?
Dennis Banks - a redman

Who was the jewish financier who raised founds to sponsor Cristopher Columbus’ voyage to America?
Lewis D. Santangol - a white man

Who was the woman who led countless slaves to freedom on the Underground rairoad?
Harriet Tubman - a black woman


I wasn't too certain about that financier for the Columbus "expedition" for obvious reasons but hey, ...one man's cookie is another man's cake...Edison and Lincoln where already on the "Greatest" list...Lates...

1 Comments:

Blogger mj said...

i'll vote for martin luther king jr. (a black man.)

2:18 PM, June 27, 2005  

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