Every culture has its mythology, almost without exception, to explain why things happen the way that they do. Before the scientific method, mythology “explained” everything. Zeus threw down “thunderbolts” because he was displeased or to intervene with some human event. Poseidon caused tsunamis for the same reason, and so forth essentially forever.
Then the monotheistic folks got ahold of it, and Yahweh destroyed the Earth by water because he was unhappy. The same one destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in a rain of fire because only Lot and his family were godly. Of course, after their mum was transmogrified into into a pillar of salt, the daughters decided that the only way that their clan could survive was to have incestuous sex with their father, and did so, and “brought forth” offspring. Oddly, the deity did not punish them for incest, but killed their mum for looking at something. Go figure!
This post is about other myths that are current in our culture now. Some of them are extremely pernicious.
Those myths served political ends at their time, as well as “explaining” things that were hard to understand at the time. Myths STILL do the same things, in 2010! Here are several that have currency. Many of them involve the Framers, and are promulgated by the likes of the trinity of conservative blather that I have decided never to mention their names, because to do that just gives them attention on Google, and thus more hits. You know about whom I speak. The cigar smoking former(?) drug addict, recently married (again) on the radio three hours per day, five days per week (herein referred to as “The Overlord”); the sobbing, recovering(?) alcoholic with both a radio show and one on the FOX “News” Network (herein referred to as “The Sobber”), and the very fast talking liar with a radio show and a FOX “News” Network program as well, the one that essentially says “LA, LA, LA! If you say that this is from Bush, I will either overtalk you or cut your microphone!” (Herein referred to as “The New York Loudmouth). You know the folks, and this post will not give them even one website hit. Good on me!
As Tommy (you KNEW that I would have to put some reference to The Who here) said, “Now here we go!” Please follow and disregard my enthusiasm.
Two myths appear to be repeated about the Framers. The unfortunate and misguided niece of Dr. King voiced this one on Sobber’s TeeVee show, as I remember, last week, in sort of broken English. It had to do with the myth of the Framers requiring the words
IN GOD WE TRUST
on our money. This is patently false. That phrase first appeared on the copper/nickel two cent piece that was first struck in 1864. Fourscore and eight years after the Constitution was adopted, that hardly qualifies for something that the Framers required. In fact, the Mint had struck scores of different designs and hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of coins without that phase on them from 1793 until 1864. This is just mythology, but it serves Sobber well, and continues to discredit the wayward scion even more.
Actually, the use of that phrase has a very complicated past. As I said, it was first used on the two cent piece in 1864, but was not included on other coins for quite a while. Actually, except for the value of the coin and The United States of America, not much was required to be stamped onto coins. Larger coins from 1864 until 1907 often carried In God We Trust, but it was NOT required. The design of the coins was pretty much left up the engravers at the Mint (almost all of the engraving still to this day is done in Philadelphia), with approval of the final product before actual coins are struck by the administration.
In 1907 a firestorm was started with the introduction of the double eagle ($20) gold coin designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Most American numismatists regard this coin as the most beautiful one ever put into circulation by the United States. Because of some technical problems, I have not been able to post any pictures of it, but perhaps later I can.
President Roosevelt, (Theodore, not Franklin), a very religious person, at least in public, did not like the word “GOD” used on something as unholy as money, and he ordered that it be removed from the master dies for the 1907 strike, before the first strikes entered circulation. Thus, this beautiful coin was godless. That is, until the Congress got involved. The Congress passed a law, that Roosevelt allowed to come into force, in 1908 that REQUIRED the phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” to be impressed into ALL coins that in older designs included it, but did not require that old designs of other coins except for the double eagle to add it, since Roosevelt had not ordered the wording removed from any other coin, with the proviso that new designs would include when they became current.
Thus, the argument that the Framers, in Sobber’s (and his disturbed guest’s) were so moved by God to require His name on our money is completely debunked. The Sobber is a liar, and his guests are carefully chosen either to be liars as well, or to be so ignorant as to buy into the lies without doing an iota of research.
As I remember, and please correct me if I am wrong, his guest also referred to the Pledge of Allegiance in the same interview. At least Sobber does, at least implying that the Framers wrote the Pledge. Here is the original version of it, written just before the turn of the 20th century:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That was written by one Baptist preacher, Francis Bellamy, in 1892! As an aside, he was a self admitted socialist! So was his brother, Edward, who was a publisher. It caught on and is, with several amendments, still said from rote. Some schools still require it, and Eldest Son got detention for refusing to say the modern version when he was in high school. (By the way, on 20100901 he was awarded his MS in zoology, but that is a different story). The original one is pretty innocuous, but here is what happened to it. By the way, President Harrison, and old style Republican, by Presidential proclamation, had it read in Ohio for the first time in public on 12 October 1892, to celebrate Columbus Day??!!!! I guess that old Christopher is an American by default, now.
Well, the wingnuts would not have that. “My Flag?”, what if they had come from Italy, or (shudder) Ireland? So they lobbied and got what was already semi official to read thus, in 1923:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
But that was STILL not good enough. Wingnuts have always existed, and in 1942 added this (remember, this is our Congress, folks!)
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I guess that “of America” was used to distinguish it from the United States of Germany, or the United States of Japan?!!! Maybe the United States of the Soviet Union, I do not know. I DO know that a 15 second pledge for what is good and right was rapidly turning into an inferno of political and racial division.
By the way, in 1940 the Supreme Court decided that it could be COMPELLED that kids in school recite this pledge. Only in more recent years has that been overturned. So much for free speech. However, at the time there was no religious reference, just nationalistic ones.
But it got much, much worse. Now religion was swept into the originally innocuous pledge. It gets much worse when we look at the required “salutes”, but that is for a later installment.
It stands now as this:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Anyway, “under God” was added in 1954. That sort of makes sense because it was in 1954, around the tip of the top of the Cold War. The godless communists were our enemies, and our Pledge affirmed the deity. Big whoop, in my opinion. Eisenhower caved in and signed it, but he was sort of a religious fanatic anyway. This is not to disparage Ike. For a Republican, he was a pretty good President. We can thank him for the Interstate Highway system and the warning about the military-industrial complex. I do not give him bad marks, and he DID federalize the National Guard to enforce integration in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. He also ended the US involvement in the Korean Conflict. He was not a bad fellow, and might be the subject of a planned Doc’s Real History series to go heat to head with Sobber’s false history nonsense. Let me know in comments if you would be interested in such a series, please.
Anyway, those are two very demonstratively false myths that the wingnuts continue to promulgate. There are more.
The Sobber talked about why the Washington Monument was of different colored stone during his publicity stunt last Saturday. Note that I do not use the date to keep folks from hitting his site and making him even more money. We all know about whom I speak. The MSNBC crew did yeoman’s work in debunking what he said.
The Sobber said that the Washington Monument was made of cut rock of different colors around half way up because the Civil War interrupted construction. As almost all of the folks at MSNBC corrected, it was stopped in 1858, three years before the War, because the Know Nothings, a rabidly anti-Catholic faction, took over the construction contract. Congress cut off the funding for it that year, and it languished until decades after the War. It finally got started again in the 1870s, as I recall, and the inferior stone that the Know Nothings used had to be removed. The quarry that the original stone was for some reason not available, so a new quarry was enlisted to provide the rest of the rock for the monument. That is why it is a little darker towards the top than on the bottom. The Sobber just lied about this.
As an aside, since you can not take the Geek out of Translator, is that the Washington Monument is capped in aluminum. In the late 1800s, aluminum was already known to be quite resistant to weathering, but was extremely expensive, not like today. At the time, it was many dollars per pound (and those dollars were much bigger than the ones now, insofar as value goes), and rare. This has to do with the difficulty of refining it that persisted until mid 1910s. In the late 1800s, the best way to produce aluminum was to take aluminum chloride and react it (violently, by the way) with metallic potassium, producing aluminum and potassium chloride. Both aluminum chloride and metallic potassium were expensive, and the aluminum was, as well. Modern techniques make aluminum available for only a few cents per pound, but back then it cost many dollars per pound. At the time, it was a novel and very corrosion new metal.
Now there is the birther myth. I will not bore you very much with this except to say that is has been completely debunked. I posit this question: why would two newspapers in Hawaii publish a false birth report for a black (well, half black, and I am not being racist, but at the time blacks were pretty much ignored in the United States) birth in the early 1960s if it never happened? To make that birth appear to make him a legitimate US citizen over 40 years before he decided to try to the President of the United States? I think not, and the birthers are ludicrous, but folks believe that myth. As a matter of fact, more Republicans believe this myth than do not. The vile Orley Taitz and that disgrace to the uniform that he wore, retired Air Force LTG Thomas McInerney agrees. So do many wingnut Republicans in and out Congress, including Peter (Hate the Muslims) King, Richard (I voted against Bork to get reelected) Shelby, Roy (I hate Medicare) Blunt, Jean (give tax breaks to the rich) Schmidt, Sarah (idiot, nothing more need be said) Palin, David (Diaper Man) Vitter. I rest my case on this myth.
We have room for two more myths. Where to start? Let us start with the New York Loudmouth (remember, no name references to prop up their website hits). This guy goes all over the Nation promoting the myth that his “freedom gettogethers” (remember, not any way to capitalize with a hit) actually benefit the children of the veterans that he claims. Perhaps a little bit of it does, but after many years of these “concerts”, only $15 million has been contributed, according to his web site. The “talent” that he draws should comment ten times the amount, but, WAIT!
NONE of them perform for free, and contribute their gate intake to charity. No, this is a business and ONLY after all of the bills are paid, the performers compensated (including the New York Loudmouth, even though he claims that he pays his own airfare, and I am sure that he does, since the other perks compensate for that), and all of the overhead costs done, is any money given to the the fund. I am aghast that the otherwise respectable Bob Beckel holds his nose to appear with The New York Loudmouth, but I guess that Bob needs the money. I have absolutely no respect for Beckel because of his willingness to promote The New York Loudmouth, and I hope that he quits shilling for him. He does much more harm than good by being associated with the New York Loudmouth.
Finally, there is the myth that the drug addicted, by personal admission, Overlord knows anything. He has by far the most listened to radio talk show, and shuns the TeeVee because he, well, has a face for radio. This specimen of human dregs still commands a huge audience, but he is fading rapidly. The Sobber and the New York Loudmouth are overtaking him, mostly because they are less offensive to see on the TeeVee. However, never worry for the Overlord. He still is in command of the Republican party, and with a movement of his numb little finger can affect American politics.
Before we finish, just a defense for Arizona governor Jan Brewer. Anyone who has engaged in public speaking has, at least once, “frozen.” I have done it, and think of myself as a pretty good public speaker. At least the full Generals, House of Representative members, and Senators before whom I have spoken never had any complaints, but I have frozen before. So I cut her some slack for that. However, I do NOT cut her slack for using grammar that would have been corrected by an alert teacher in the third grade. Twice, after her freeze moment, she used the phase “… have did…”. The first time I can almost overlook, because it was just after the freeze, and she may well have had more than one thing on her mind. But the second time, she was not frozen, and used the exact same phrase again! I realize that not everyone knows the extreme nuances of English, like the subjunctive mood of the verb or the proper use of verbals, but to blow simple verb conjugation for which a third grader would be corrected is just unbelievable.
Well, that is enough for tonight. Please look for me Sunday night for Pique the Geek, when we shall examine something new, or at least interesting, about science. Please note that I am getting ready to start a new post on Wednesday evenings, also at nine Eastern, that has to do with history and how pundits get it wrong. I have not decided on a name for it yet, but it might have to do with my irregular series about despicable persons. Ideas about titles are welcome.
Featured at TheStarsHollowGazette.com. Crossposted at Dailykos.com