|HOW MANY DAYS ? The Sequel
Zoila Meyer from California finds herself in a predicament.... She was born in Cuba but brought to
the U.S. at the age of one ... She is 40 years old and has children born in America,,,, She is a legal
resident of the U.S., but for some reason has not become a citizen ... Her crime is not that she is an
illegal alien. Her crime is that someone gave her bad advice or she was too stupid or too naive to
realize that she hadn't become a citizen because for her as a foreign born she needed to go
through the citizenship process and apparently didn't ... So she is in legal trouble and faces
deportation because she voted in an election in which she was voted in as City Councilperson of
her community .. Ultimately she resigned from that post when someone (for political reasons,
maybe) called her out on the subject.
What a tortured web do we weave here. The Government, headed by George W. Bush at the time
rather then Bill Clinton was pressured by problems related with illegal or undocumented
immigration. But this case was not related to illegal immigration. Rather the case involves a
non-citizen who has legal status to reside permanently in America. Yes indeed, if this women
would have crossed the borders , the frontiers of the U.S illegally and voted illegally then the book
should be thrown at her including deportation... But she was here as a one year old and was either
naive or stupid about the law... Obviously the correct decision would be for President Bush to
grant her a pardon and allow her to stay here with her children. Such an executive order would
have given Mrs. Meyer an opportunity to become an American citizen and thus correct to the
better her How Many Days to America status... If she refused to become an American citizen then in
good conscience we could have sent her away... I think it was an injustice for us to send her back
to Cuba... But Fidel Castro would have loved it... And the caretaker leaders of Cuba with Elian
Gonzales present would welcome Mrs. Meyers back to Cuba as a propaganda photo shot even
though she might not want to go there... But if she voiced this displeasure publicly, she may be on
the Cuban Most Watched list.
|Ivo Andric’s novel The Bridge on the Drina is a “frontier” novel?
A Response by Dennis L. Pearson
According to Leonard Thompson and Howard Lamar a frontier should not be deemed solely as
a boundary or line, but as a territory or zone of interpenetration between two previous distinct
societies. One of these societies is usually indigenous to the region or at least has occupied the
region for generations and the other is intrusive. The frontier opens in a given zone when the
first representatives of the intrusive society arrive and closes when a single political authority
has established hegemony over the zone. The possible scenarios in the high drama may be the
following: 1) The intruders exterminate the indigenous population; 2) The intruders expel the
indigenous population; 3) The intruders subject the indigenous population and incorporate
them in their own political and economic system; 4) The intruders may themselves be
incorporated by the indigenous people; Or 5) both societies become stalemated.
The Bridge on the Drina is a story by Ivo Andric of the famous Ottoman Drina river bridge, built
by the Turks in the second half of the sixteenth century by a Turkish Grand Vizier at Visegrad in
what is now eastern Bosnia; in 1914, during the First World War, it was destroyed by the
retreating Austrians. The story begins with the efforts to build at Visegrad, a bridge
commissioned by Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, the Bosnian native son who went on to become a
minister to the Ottoman sultan.
As indicated in the introduction by William H. McNeil, as long as Turkish power remained secure,
local Moslem dominance was assured. However, as Ottoman power diminished, and the might
of adjacent Christian empires proportionally increased, religious divisions in the Bosnian
Society made things less stable. Rebellion by the oppressed Christians populace won sympathy
from abroad from Orthodox Russia and Roman Catholic Austria. At the same time rising
population strains made it harder for the people to maintain their normal standard of living. Thus
it occurred in the early nineteenth century, a handful of intellectuals educated in Germany
accepted new ideas “that nationhood and language belonged together and could only attain full
perfection within the borders of a sovereign, independent states. Unfortunately, this idea of
linguistic national served only to cause more confusion in the old religiously structured and
divided society by offering individuals “alternate loyalties and principals of public identity.”
Thompson and Lamar maintain that the frontier process has a beginning and potentially an end.
In the opening phase, the intruders are generally not perceived to be a threat to the indigenous
culture as their numbers are too few. Yet in the second phase the indigenous society wakes up
to the fact that the intrusion presents a clear and present danger to their autonomy and identity.
The battle in many cases an open conflict for the use of the natural resources of the region -
land and water resources- and eventually for physical control over the entire territory and its
inhabitants. According to Thompson and Lamar the frontier ceases to exist when one group
establishes political control over the other. Nevertheless, Thomas and Lamar argue that as the
result of this happening it does not mean that relations between the two societies become static.
Instead, a new structural situation is created, but the ongoing historical process is no longer a
frontier process. Henceforth, relationships are dealings of ethnicity and class within a single
society, not frontier relationships between different societies.
Woven around the unifying subject of the famous Ottoman Drina river bridge, The Bridge on the
Drina is a story about the contrast between the enduring stone of the bridge and the transitory
lives of the people who lived by it, the continuities and the changes in human culture over a
span of centuries. It’s a story about a specific way of life. A way of life which does not hurry
anywhere, in which "parties" are held all day long, in which one walks over the bridge for hours,
casually glancing at the water beneath, exchanging few words, and gossip with people who do
the same. It’s a life of ordinary people in a "barren wasteland" of a borderland, a frontier, which
was never independent, but always under some other rule, whether it is the Ottoman Turks, or
the Habsburg Austrians, which impacted on its society, and changed its ways of life from its
roots. Using the bridge as an eyewitness to 500 years of history, we see the rise and fall of
empires as a community of Catholics, Moslems, Jews, and Orthodox Christians with deep
seated loyalties to their respective faiths, somehow manage to live, love and work side by side.
Indeed the famous Ottoman Drina river bridge, built by the Turks in the second half of the
sixteenth century by a Turkish Grand Vizier at Visegrad was meant to link the two parts of the
Ottoman Empire and make travel from West to East and East to West much easier. Before the
stone bridge was built, travelers had to depend on a ferry to cross the Drina that did not always
run on a regular schedule. Just the same many townspeople felt that a great and
incomprehensible disaster had fallen upon the town and the whole district that could not be
foreseen as construction activities for the bridge began. With Habsburg occupation, the
railroad connection to Sarajevo reduced the Bridge’s connection to the West. But its connection
with the East that built it remained intact until that fateful day when the Turkish frontier moved
back 600 miles with the collapse of the triangle between Austria, Turkey and Serbia. Andric in his
narrative said for three whole centuries the bridge had experienced everything and truly served
it purpose, but human needs had altered and world conditions changed; but unfortunately its
tasks betrayed it. By its size, its solidity and its beauty, armies might pass across it and caravans
follow one another for centuries to come. Yet vizier’s bequest suddenly found itself abandoned
outside the main stream of life. The bridge no longer linked anything save the two parts of the
town and those dozens or so villages one or the other side of the Drina. But this link also
ended when the Austrians left a calling card when they abandoned town in the midst of battle
and blew out the seventh pier of the bridge.
As stated by David Chappell, ethnocentric world views may regard frontiers as advances into a
blank wilderness; any frontier is really dual; that of the intruders and that of indigenous
peoples. The following narratives demonstrate this duality between intruded upon and the
intruders fascinate me. In the first narrative, the builders are unsuccessful in many attempts to
construct the bridge; after much tragedy, they are told that they need to wall up two Christian
babies in masonry of the bridge in order to appease the fairies. The story is later said by the
narrator to be merely a legend, yet as a symbol it contains the embodiment of Andric's views of
race and religion: the essence of the Slavic race is walled up within the fixtures of an alien
civilization. This theme of the Christian essence of the Slavic race being imprisoned within
Islam is further dramatized by the main character in the historical novel, Mehmed Pasha
Sokolovic, who was brought to Istanbul as part of a conscription system, whereby Ottomans
would select young Christian boys from around the empire, take them to Istanbul, train them,
and put them in key political, military, and administrative positions. Though rising to the heights
of power and influence, to the point that he could even establish a relative of his as Patriarch of
the Serb Church, Sokolovic is viewed by Andric's narrator as hopeless and doomed within the
alien religious world of Islam he must inhabit.
In the second narrative, a Serb worker who tries to sabotage the bridge is punished with
impalement. The description of the impaling is a graphic, passion story, modeled after
depictions of the crucificixion of Jesus. For religious nationalists, this crucifixion is not the
impalement of a single Serb revolutionary at the orders of a single, particular, cruel Ottoman
administrator. It is the eternal, always occurring impalement of the Serb nation by the Turks and
by those Slavs who, by converting to Islam, become "Turk."
To conclude, Serbia persuaded the Croats, Slovenes, Bosnian Muslims, and other Yugo Slavs to
unite to form Yugoslavia in 1917. This “synthetic” Yugoslavia identity was a response to past
domination by neighboring Austria and Turkey. But after World II and Tito, Serbian nationalism
alienated constituent members of its state who were more divided by religion and historical
experience than by language.
|Luttwak describes a “Grand Strategy” for the Roman frontier defensive
system. Issac doubts this existed. How do they make their cases? Whose
argument do you find more convincing? Why?
A Response by Dennis L. Pearson
Was there a joined "grand strategy" for the defense of the Roman Empire, a strategy dictated
from Rome? Did this strategy aim at defending and improving the security of the empire, and did
it evolve through a series of consistent responses by emperors who took thoughtful account of
the wide range of internal and external pressures upon their military establishment in the
centuries between Augustus and Constantine? Edward Luttwak answered these questions
affirmatively in his book, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to
the Third. Ben Isaac answered these questions negatively in his book ' The Limits of Empire: The
Roman Army in the East and thereby offering a formidable challenge to Luttwak.
· That the Romans designed and built large and complex security systems that “successfully
integrated troop deployments, fixed defenses, road networks, and signaling links” in a coherent
· That the Romans understood all the “subtleties of deterrence, and also its limitations;”
· And most important of all, the Romans clearly “realized the dominant dimension of power
was not physical but psychological – the product of others’ perception of Roman Strength rather
than the use of strength. 1)
As used by Luttwak the term system integrates diplomacy, military forces, road networks and
fortifications to serve a single set of objectives and additionally satisfy a distinct set of priorities,
which also was reflective of the changing needs of the Empire.
Luttwak divides these changing needs into three distinct chronological systems of imperial
security starting at the First Century A.D. and continuing to the Third Century A.D. In Part one of
his book Luttwak discusses the system under the early empire (or principate) from Augustus to
Nero. Around its core areas the Empire was hegemonic in nature, with client states automatically
responsible for implementing Roman “desiderata” by utilizing their own resources against the
enemies of Rome, and through their obedience, for the territorial security of the core areas.
Luttwak clearly praises this system for getting the most security at the lowest cost and resulting
in the greatest psychological perception of Roman strength. No Roman troops were ordinarily
deployed in the client states but the stability of the system required a constant diplomatic effort to
ensure that everyone is continually aware of the totality of Roman power. Part Two deals with the
system from Vespasian to Marcus Aurelius. Luttwak describes the system in this period as being
fundamentally different from that of the first. This system reflects the changed nature of the
Empire from a hegemonic power to a state power. The chief object was no longer to defend Rome
and Italy, but to provide complete security for every province of the Empire. Client states remain,
but they are must less useful as the task of maintaining territorial security is shifted from the
relatively weak client states to the widely distributed frontier forces. Part Three is focused on the
military (and general) crisis of the third century. In this section Luttwak looks at the cost of
maintaining a defensive system in relation to the benefits of doing so. Ultimately, he argues, the
Roman Empire had to collapse because the benefits the provinces associated with being a
member of a larger state were not worth the cost. Roman diplomacy could no longer impede their
enemies from finding common ground to fight together and the system of perimeter defense,
keyed to low-intensity threats was ineffective to meet the new challenges. 2)
Isaac bases his case upon the evidence from the Roman army's activities in Palestine, and he
moves on from this material to generalize about the activity on the eastern frontier, and, thus, by
implication, the empire as a whole. This argument is that there was no "grand strategy" of empire.
Questions of war and peace were decided by the emperor, most often to heighten his own glory
and to satisfy his soldiers, who would profit from foreign adventures. Consequently, preserving
the peace and prosperity of the periphery contributed relatively little to either of these interests, in
contrast to an even mildly successful war of expansion. This was the most important factor
because, in Isaac's view, "there was no powerful officer class in Rome, no central army
command." 3) Furthermore, he maintains that, "it is unlikely that most Roman frontier lines were
determined by choice and by a conscious decision to halt indefinitely all further advance." 4) In
his view, the Roman limes were not thought of as lines to cut off movements by outsiders, but
rather to facilitate communication among Roman forces. When the Romans thought about
expansion, they did not do so with the intention to acquire territory, but rather to control peoples,
and they really knew very little about lands beyond their borders. 5) The grand strategy of the
Roman army, insofar as it existed at all, was simply to control internal disorder and to be ready to
conquer other peoples
Isaac's propositions are thought provoking, and I think that there is much merit to what he says.
But I do not think that the evidence supports him at every point. Obviously, there was a good deal
more central direction to Roman policy than Isaac cares to admit, and that there were some major
changes of direction in Roman frontier policy that were thought out in a coherent way at Rome.
When Tacitus noted that Augustus had written in his will that the empire should be contained
within fixed boundaries he was noting an important change of policy that if carried out to the
dotted T and I would have been very significant.
Roman frontier policy plainly differed from place to place as the Romans responded to local
conditions, but this does not mean that they had no coherent idea about what they were doing.
The story of the birth of Jesus in the Gospels implies a well-established tax system in the Empire
that indicates that emperors recognized the need for a coherent tax policy tied to expenditures.
That the system did not always work out either through political pressures or imperial insanity
does not mean there was a lack of a plan. It is fair to say that, despite its ultimate failure in the
third century, the Roman system served the empire better than did the systems of taxation in
many early modern European states. The same can be said for the emperors' handling of their
foreign affairs. A veneer of inconsistency does not mean that the emperors (or most of them) did
not deploy the army in terms of some more coherent policies than Isaac suggests.
Indeed, the elusive goal of strategic statecraft is to provide security for any society or civilization
without prejudicing the vitality of the economic base and without compromising the stability of an
evolving political order.6) But the question here is whether in Roman society this was achieved
by an ad hoc basis (Issac) or a planned basis (Luttwak). Nevertheless, considering the weight of
the evidence given, I find Isaac’s arguments more convincing. The assumption being made that
any important evidence contained in the total volume of the readings assigned were not
deliberately edited by lack of inclusion in the portions of those readings assigned; that Isaac’s
assumptions derived mostly from one rebellious province of the Empire were not seriously
flawed. Isaac’s arguments a recognition that Roman Emperors and Roman Generals often
reacted to events then occurring for personal gain rather then staying the course. This is not to
say that in Rome’s bureaucratic society, that political precedent was not important.
1) Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to
the Third (Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1976) 3.
2) Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to
the Third (Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1976) 4 – 5.
3) Benjamin Issac, The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army to the East (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1992) 383.
4) Benjamin Issac, The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army to the East (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1992) 387-388.
5) Benjamin Issac, The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army to the East (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1992) 394-395.
6) Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman First Century A.D. to the Third
(Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1976) 1.
|A CONUNDRUM WHICH MAY NEVER BE FULLY UNDERSTOOD :
Solution in Poland by Christopher R. Browning
BY DENNIS L. PEARSON
. “In Mid march 1942, some seventy-five percent to eighty percent of the victims of the Holocaust
were still alive, while twenty to twenty-five percent had perished. A mere eleven months later, in
mid February 1943, the percentages were exactly reversed.” ******( Christopher R. Browning,
Ordinary Men : Reserve Police Battalion 101, pxv )
Like the National Guard in the United States, battalions in Nazi Germany were organized
regionally. Most of the soldiers in Battalion 101 came from working and lower-middle-class
neighborhoods in Hamburg, Germany. They were older than the men who fought in the front
lines. The average age was thirty-nine with over half between thirty-seven and forty-two. Most
were not well-educated. The majority had left school by the age of fifteen. Very few were Nazis
and none was openly antisemitic. Major Wilhelm Trapp, a 53-year-old career police officer who
rose through the ranks, headed the battalion. Although he became a Nazi in 1932, he was not a
member of the SS, although his two captains were. ***** (From "One Day in Jozefow: Initiation
to Mass Murder" in The Path To Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution (Cambridge
University Press, 1992).
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland,” by Christopher R.
Browning is the shocking account of how a unit of average age Germans became the cold-
blooded murders of tens of thousands of Jews. During sixteen months, Reserve Police Battalion
101, a unit of just over 450 men from Hamburg, was responsible in Poland for the shooting of
38,000 Jews and the deportation to Treblinka of 45,000 more. The horror began on July 13, 1942,
when the unit's commander, Major Wilhelm Trapp, ordered his men to round up 1,800 Jews from
the village of Jozefow, to select several hundred as “work Jews,” and to shoot the rest – men,
women and children.
For Reserve Police Battalion 101 the hellish road to genocide began with its rounding up Polish
Soldiers and military equipment behind German lines and guarding a Prisoner of War Camp. It
continued with its assignment to repatriate and resettle Ethnic Germans living in the Soviet
Union. Then continued with an interlude in Hamburg in which the unit involved itself with
various tasks related to the deportation of Hamburg Jews “to the east.”
Battalion 101 was comprised of men without any experience of German Occupation methods
when the twisted road to genocide advanced with the unit's redeployment to another tour of
duty in Poland. Police Battalion 101 despite their immersion in a variety of racist and anti-Semitic
propaganda was less likely to be Nazis, and less steeped in violence. In Poland, the path to
genocide ensued toward the destruction of Jewry in the General Government. The objective of
the Nazi Chain of Command was to seek a method that was “more efficient, less public,” and
less an emotional burden on the killer But delays in extermination camp deportations forced
reversion to an alternative method widely used in Russia in 1941, the mass execution through
firing squad, which Battalion 101 was given the roles of trapper, executor and transporter
Ordinary Men takes as its basis the detailed records of one Battalion from the Nazis’ Order Police
and explores in detail its composition, its actions, and the methods by which it was trained to
perform acts of genocide on a massive scale.
Brutalization, belligerency, violent performance, and chronic violent behavior are four stages
people go through when they commit violent acts. How were these Order Police transformed
from ordinary people into active participants in the most monstrous, notorious crime in human
history? How did mass murder and routine become one?
For Reserve Police Battalion 101 it started at Jozefow, continued at Lomazy, Serokomla.
Konskowola and other places. In pursuing the liquidation of the Jewish ghettos the Battalion
started at Miedzyrzec, continued at Lukow, Parczew and additional locations, deporting in the
progress a large number of people to the gas chambers at Treblinka. In the end the Battalion still
had the job to “track down and systematically eliminate all those who had escaped the previous
roundups inorder to make Northern Lublin Judenfrei.” (Browning) Its last massacre was the
infamous harvest festival (Erntefest) massacre in the Lublin district, the single largest German
killing operation against the Jews in the war. With a victim total of 43,000 Jews, Erntefest
surpassed even the notorious Babi Yar massacre of more than 33,000 Jews outside Kiev. Only
the Romanian massacres of more than 50,000 Odessan Jews in October 1941 exceeded what
occurred in the Lublin District.
Does Browning present credible evidence concerning how hard it was for these Order Police to
pair off with a victim face to face? Yes, even Heinrich Himmler became concerned that this type
of killing was difficult for his men, so he sought to refine the killing to shield his warriors from
their victims. Was it any easier if the personal tie between victim and killer was severed? Yes,
ghetto clearing and deportation operations relieved the policemen of the “immediate horror” of
the genocide process. What role did habituation play? Having killed once, did the men involved
experience greater or lesser trauma or pleasure over killing the second or third or each
successive time? Yes, once the killing began inhibitions were lifted, and the euphoria of the
killing process could have made additional killing easier for a number of the men
In the end, Browning maintains that the Reserve Policeman faced choices, “and most of them
committed terrible deeds.” Only a portion of the policemen who had taken part in the first
massacre at Jozefow were still with the battalion in November 1943, when its participation in the
Final Solution ended. Should those who killed be absolved by the notion that anyone in the
same situation would have done the same? Browning says no, for even among them, some
refused to kill and others stopped killing. To quote Browning: “Statistically eighty to ninety
percent of the men proceeded to kill, though almost all of them – at least initially – were horrified
and disgusted by what they were doing. “
Clearly, Browning lets no one off the moral hook nor fails to weigh any contributing factor:
cowardice, ideological indoctrination, loyalty to the battalion and reluctance to force the others
to bear more than their share of what each believed to be an agonizing unpleasant collective
obligation. Why did people shoot? Was it peer pressure? Browning argues that to “break ranks
and step out, to adopt overly nonconformist behavior, was simply beyond most men.”
Nevertheless, Browning has detractors who claim that peer pressure was not one of the factors
that drove Germans to engage in atrocities. (Richard Rhodes) Nevertheless, as Browning claims,
human responsibility must ultimately be an individual matter.” Which is as it should be for
individuals who engage in violence and brutality against others chose to do so and are therefore
responsible for their actions. Why did the Holocaust occur? Brown speculates that the
Holocaust took place “because at the basic level individual human beings killed other human
beings in large numbers over an extended period of time.” Truly, the work of Browning makes
an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the Holocaust – a conundrum which may
never be understand fully unless one was there and lived out the experience of bucolic comfort
today, death by firing squad, toxic gas, beatings, slave labor tomorrow.
According to Frederick Jackson Turner, what exactly is the :significance of the
frontier in American History?
A response by Dennis L. Pearson
When Frederick Jackson Turner lived (1861-1932), American history had been in a large degree the
history of the colonization of the Great West. However, as it occurred, a thesis offered by Turner
that the “existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American
settlement westward” while going a long way to explain American development and culture, also
led to an school of historians which explored the great frontier of global settlement opened to
Europe by the Age of exploration.
To quote Turner: “Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed into the waters of the New
World, America has been another name for opportunity, and the people of the United States have
taken their tone from the incessant expansion which has not only been open but has been forced
upon them. He would be a rash prophet who should assert that the expansive character of
American life has now entirely ceased. Movement has been its dominant fact, and, unless this
training has no effect upon a people, the American energy will continually demand a wider field for
its exercise. But never again will such gifts of free land offer themselves.” (Turner 1994, p.5)
As stated by Frederick Jackson Turner: ”…. American development has exhibited not merely
advance along a single line, but a return to primitive conditions on a continually advancing frontier
line, and a new development for that area. American social development has been continually
beginning over again on the frontier. This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this
expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of
primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character.” (Turner 1994, 32) In the words
of this observer, the original European settlers failed to recreate or duplicate the culture of their
European homelands on the Atlantic seaboard.; and what emerged from the ashes of society’s
failure to transplant society intact as it was as they moved westward was a new creation, which
evolved even further at each advancing frontier line. In comparison, while European society was
much more stratified, it representing a feudalistic society that showed huge respect for the
privileged classes; American society on the other hand became more democratic for its ideas were
imprinted by the settlers who came here.
For most of its history, the United States has prided itself that the borders between itself and its
neighbors, unlike Europe, have not been a fortified boundary line running through dense
populations. In the words of Turner: “The most significant thing about the American frontier is, that
it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that
settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile.” To Turner the term was an
“elastic one” and in his discussions he considered the whole frontier belt, including the Indian
Territory and the outer margin of the “settled area” of the census reports. (Turner 1994, 33
Those of us who watched America’s initial steps off the Earth have a mental picture of what Turner’
s statement in regard to density means. In watching the first television transmissions of Man’s first
visit to the Moon of Earth, we have the image of two astronauts romping freely in the austere and
plant less lunar frontier of the Sea of Tranquility. The unfortunate third man in the trio that left Cape
Kennedy was left alone to see the Moon of Earth from the heights of continuous orbit. At that point
the Moon had a density of two to less to the square mile. Eventually, ten other astronauts would
also put their footprints at additional sites on the Moon of Earth but never did this advance guard
of civilization, the trail blazers, have more then two individuals on the lunar frontier at one time; and
not since the early 1970’s has there been a manned landing on the Moon. Although one highly
motivated individual has allegedly acquired land rights under the 1967 UN Treaty for the Uses of
Space and has begun to sell the so-called free land of the Moon in acre lots for $29.95 an acre.
Turner declared in his first published essay: “Each age writes the history of the past anew with
reference to the conditions uppermost in its own time.” (Turner 1994, 4) Having an interest in
promoting a space faring society, this respondent has heard Dr. Robert Zubrin speak at a number
of International Space Development Conferences. In his book The Case for Mars he has spoken
how Turner presented “ a brilliant insight into the basis of American Society and the American
character; and ponders this question for our time: “Today, a century later, we face the question
that Turner himself posed – what if the frontier is truly gone? What happens to America and all it
stood for? Can a free, egalitarian, innovating society survive in the absence of room to grow?”
(Zubrin 1997, 295-296)
Indeed, Zubrin concerned himself whether Turner’s argument in regard to the apparent closing of
the American Frontier in 1890 was perhaps premature for his time. This, of course, was also a
concern of John Mack Faragher in his essay “ A Nation Thrown back Upon Itself” which explored
Turner’s views concerning the American Frontier. Faragher suggests that Turner’s argument has
not held up well. In fact, Faragher points to the fact that far more public land in “the Trans-
Mississippi West” was taken up in the years after 1890 than in the years before; and also cites the
fact that while Western settlements continued to expand decades after the 1890’s there is also a
curious reappearance of “frontier lines” in the census maps of 1900 and 1910 However, in our time
Zubrin is bit unsettled about the loss of vigor in our society represented by the increasing fixity of
the power structure and bureaucratization of all levels of life in addition to many more issues he
presents. Of course, his answer is to promote the idea that humanity’s new frontier can only be
found on Mars; and, in conjunction with his creation the Mars Society has created outposts in the
deserts of America and the artic environment of Canada to simulate conditions that humans might
find on Mars when they begin exploration there. (Zubrin 1997, 295-296)
Turner declares: “ To the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristic. That
coarseness of strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; the practical, inventive turn
of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but
powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism, working
for good and evil, and withal that buoyancy and exuberance that comes from freedom --- these are
the traits called out elsewhere because of the existence of the frontier.” (Turner 1994, 59)
The Broadway play Fiddler on the Roof raised the question of the importance of tradition in a
community. Turner in his presentation drove home the following: “For a moment at the frontier, the
bonds of custom are broken and unrestraint is triumphant. There is no tabula rasa ((note - a word
meaning nostalgia)). The stubborn American environment is there with its imperious summons to
accept its conditions; the inherited ways of doing things are also there; and yet in spite of the
environment, and in spite of custom, each frontier did indeed furnish a new opportunity. Agate of
escape from the bondage of the past; and freshness, and confidence, and scorn of older society,
impatience of its restraints and its ideas,, and indifference to its lessons, have accompanied the
frontier. (Turner 1994, 59
In today’s society the term safety belt implies societal protection for retirement, unemployment, and
health care; the before mentioned issues as political safety valves very much the subject of debate
between the political parties of this settler nation. Frederick Jackson Turner when he spoke of the
frontier as a safety valve, also meant, in part a political safety valve. That is, those people who were
troublemakers, who wanted to change society, who were frustrated they had lost their jobs or
gone bankrupt – In Turner’s time they had the option to move on to the new frontier line to start
over instead of trying to change things at home, make a revolution. Something that was more
difficult to do in other societies. So clearly, the frontier in America was a place that helped release
the pressure. The significance is, had there been no pressure release value our history would be
different. And of course, it is our history that differentiates our experience from the other settler
societies like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The frontier significant because people could
go there to relieve the pressures that built up in society and make a new beginning.
Turner, Fredrick Jackson; commentary by J.M. Faragher. 1994. Rereading
Frederick Jackson Turner. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Zubrin, Robert; with Richard Wagner; forward by A.C. Clarke. 1997. The Case
for Mars. New York: Touchtone.
|Venturing into the unknown future ---A future that may or may
Road to 2012
Copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis L. Pearson All Rights Reserved --- No part of this work
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying and recording or by any information storage or
retrieval system, without permission from the author.
In Romans Chapter 16 the Apostle Paul admonished early day Christians not to be
deceived by those who talk a smooth line
The following is the beginning of the future: The speech that Barrack Obama made
before a Chicago throng in Grant Park the night the America media conferred upon
him the American Presidency.... The night he became the anointed one....
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things
are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who
still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers
this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many
for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be
different; that their voices could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican,
black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not
disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been
just a collection of individuals or a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are,
and always will be, the United States of America!
It's the answer that -- that led those who have been told for so long by so many to
be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands
on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this
election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from
Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's
fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured
sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for
the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him; I
congratulate Governor Palin for all that they've achieved, and I look forward to
working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and
spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode
with on the train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States,
And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best
friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's
next First Lady: Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can
imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White
House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along
with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and I know that my debt
to them is beyond measure. To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers
and sisters -- thank you so much for the support that you've given me. I am grateful
And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe -- the unsung hero of this campaign,
who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United
States of America. To my chief strategist David Axelrod -- whose been a partner with
me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history
of politics -- you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've
sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you.
It belongs to you. I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start
with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the
halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms
of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and
women who dug into what little savings they had to give 5 dollars and 10 dollars and
20 dollars to the cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the
myth of their generation's apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs
that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people
who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect
strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and
proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the
people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth. This is your victory.
And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for
me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For
even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are
the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a
century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking
up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and
wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for
their child's college education. There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be
created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one
year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am
tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every
decision or policy I make as President. And we know the government can't solve
every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I
will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join
in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221
years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand. What
began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make
that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can't
happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let
us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves
to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. Let us
remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a
thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one
nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same
partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the
Republican Party to the White House, a Party founded on the values of self-reliance
and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And
while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure
of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours: "We are not enemies but
friends...." "Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of
And to those Americans who -- whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won
your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and
palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the
world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of
American leadership is at hand.
To those -- To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those
who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered
if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we've proved once more that the
true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our
wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity,
and unyielding hope.
That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be
perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But
one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a
lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this
election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the
road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons:
because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America --
the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told
that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived
to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot: Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a
nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common
purpose: Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there
to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved: Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in
Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "we shall overcome": Yes
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was
connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her
vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest
of hours, she knows how America can change: Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more
to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next
century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper,
what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put
our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore
prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and
reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one;² that while we
breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who
tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit
of a people: Yes, we can.
God bless you.
And may God bless the United States of America.
Obama, soon to be U.S. President # 44 received the following message from his
predecessor, George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States:
"Mr. President-elect, congratulations to you. What an awesome night for you, your
family and your supporters. Laura and I called to congratulate you and your good
"I promise to make this a smooth transition. You are about to go on one of the great
journeys of life. Congratulations and go enjoy yourself,"
The US president also reached out to John McCain:
"John, you gave it your all. I'm proud of you, and I'm sorry it didn't work out. You
didn't leave anything on the playing field."
Mr. Bush, to his great credit, did everything in his power to ensure a smooth
transition between his Presidency and that of Obama. Despite the fact that to the
Liberal/Progressive movement Bush was a subject of hate ... To them George Bush
should be greeted in the same manner as 1984 character Emmanuel Goldstein, the
enemy of the People with hisses , squeaks of mingled fear and disgust.
According to John Ibbitson of the Toronto Globe and Mail; “This is a far cry from the
1980 election, when outgoing president Jimmy Carter prepared a detailed briefing
for Ronald Reagan, only to find that his successor either didn't understand or didn't
care about what Mr. Carter had to say…. And in 1932, Herbert Hoover was ice itself
toward Franklin Roosevelt, who refused to co-operate with the lame-duck president
during the transition… Those are the last two instances in which a new president
took power dedicated to dismantling the legacy of his predecessor. Both Mr.
Reagan and Mr. Roosevelt were also supremely confident presidents who launched
revolutionary changes immediately upon taking office.
Both turned out to be great presidents. In regard to an immediate assessment of
President-Elect, Obama, Ibbitson took the attitude - well, we'll see.