You’ve got to be carefully taught – one more time for emphasis

On this day in 1965, 56 years ago, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson sent federal troops to Alabama to protect the planned Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery. This was the third time the march had been attempted and thanks to LBJ was successful, leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in August of that year. 56 years later, we haven’t come very far in that quest to end racism. Please read Keith’s thoughtful post on the topic of racism and where it starts, where the solution must begin. Thank you, Keith

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With yet one more racially motivated mass shooting, this time toward Asian-Americans, the need to bring out this old reference to carefully teaching bigotry seems sadly, still appropriate. Fear of the unknown has been a powerfully seductive and horrific teacher. We need to call it out and teach the opposite, the stuff that Jesus fellow taught.

For those of you who have seen the play or movie “South Pacific” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, you may recognize part of the title as a pivotal song in the story –“You’ve Got to be CarefullyTaught.” The play involves a woman who falls in love with someone and then realizes his children are half islanders. She has a hard time coming to grips with her bigotry as according to the song, we are not born hating; hatred has to be carefully taught. A sample of Hammerstein’s lyrics follow:

“You’ve got to be…

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56 thoughts on “You’ve got to be carefully taught – one more time for emphasis

  1. Selma to Montgomery rings a particular bell. I went to Grad school in “Tuscalooser, Alabamer”, only a dozen years later. We celebrated the opening of the “Univershity” to blacks 15 years before. I thought then, we were good. But nope. Hatred is a weed. A bit like kudzu. Tear it away, and it comes back. 🙏🏻

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          • Thank you ever so much. I must have heard sometime. A Pete Seeger song. Very him, very them. A lovely song. Reminded me of a very old French poem (15th century) by François Villon: “Mais où sont les neiges d’antan? Oh, but were are the snows of yesteryear. Thank you again.

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            • Ah yes … how could I have forgotten the Pete Seeger version??? My mind is a sieve these days … a few days ago, I couldn’t remember the word “conversation” and had to Google “words meaning people talking to each other”. Indeed, my friend, where ARE the snows of yesteryear? Gone forever, I fear. Hey … I rhymed! Poet Laureate here I come!!!

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              • Well, I had to llok up ‘sieve’. I might call it a colander I think. No worry. So is my mind.
                And yes it rhymed. It is a beautiful poem in Aulde Frenche. One of the first 2 or 3 that got to us. Almost illegible in the original text.
                Now it does rhyme in American, not so in British English. I had a facetime with a cousin of mine in Capetown. Really a Brit disguised as a “Sudafrican.” He says year as ‘yurr’, I do too sometimes, whilst Americans say ‘yeer’.
                I watched the PPM version. I will have to look for the pete Seeger version. I’m sure there is one on U tyube. Cheers Friend.

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                • Ah yes … a sieve can be a colander or any sort of strainer, really. Ah yes … having a number of friends in the UK, I am frequently reminded that while we both speak English, it is not necessarily even the same language! If you haven’t found one yet, try this one:

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                    • Oh, I’m so sorry … it was the best video I could find of Pete Seeger’s version of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” After today’s mass shooting, the second in just over a week, I feel like I need to play this one again. S … oops, I almost “sighed”!

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                    • Yeah, I heard about that. You guys are gonna have to do sthg about weapons. Second amendment is it? It’s being abused. But not my place to say more. Just a thought for the victims.
                      Don’t worry about Pete S. I’ll find him.

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                    • Well, since we’re all on this planet together, it is everyone’s place to weigh in, the way I see it. Yes, we must do something about it, but we won’t. The gun nuts far outnumber the sane among us. Do you know there are more guns in the hands of civilians than there are people in this nation? I would love to see the Constitution amended and the 2nd Amendment taken out altogether, but it will never happen. Power, money and greed rule this nation, not humanity.

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                    • I told about this Scot called Paul, who had a coffee shop in Covent garden in London? Great coffe, great pies, wonderful vintage deco. We got talking about stuff or the other, and he said with a thick Scot accent: “Grrreed is the major prrroblem in the world now, man.” I didn’t take him that seriously then. It was a few years ago. But he was totally rrright.

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                    • He was absolutely rrrrright! It took me a few years to catch on, but grrrrrrrreed and arrrrrrrrrrrrogance and a lust for powerrrrrrrrrr are all-consuming and will bring about the downfall of human civilization … if one can still call it that. I do love the Scottish brogue!

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        • Oh! I’m sorry … I meant to say it was “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”! Okay, my friend … I will try to remember that ‘sadly’ and sighs are to be left out of our conversations. Forgive me, please, if an occasional ‘sigh’ slips through, though … I do so much of that lately that it’s rather become habit. 😊

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          • Do not worry about our conversations. Those are meant to be spontaneous, and I share the sighs. Now that America seems to be getting back on the right track, any time I read French news, I wanna cry.
            But then we must try to find solutions, hence “goal” to not sigh. 😉 Now if we do sigh, we do. Have a great week.
            And thanks for the song, Barry led me to it. Such a beautiful song. Pete Seeger of course. So perfect for those. “Where have all the Pete Seegers gone”? 😉🙏🏻

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            • I tend, these days, to sigh far too much and it would behoove me to do less sighing and more … um … getting outside and seeing the crocuses bloom. It seems, Brian, that no matter how much progress we make, we are still on a backward trajectory. I cannot abide the racism, the xenophobia, the other forms of bigotry, and now they have even penetrated our government. But you are right … rather than sit back and sigh endlessly, it is time to DO something about it all! Time to fight, whether with our votes, our words, or whatever other tools are at our disposal!

              Yes, I saw that Barry had answered the question as I was catching up on comments. Teamwork, yes? Where, indeed, have all the Pete Seegers, the Martin Luther Kings gone?

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              • We are on a backward trajectory. An aficionado of History as I am, i can only tell you it means war. The endless cycle of never more, well it could have been worse, it wasn’t so bad, the world is full of ennemies, we have to teach them a lesson, we will win the war this time…etc. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but I am concerned.
                “How many times will a cannon ball fly?…”

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                • I have long thought the same, my friend, that this can only be ended with a major, all-out war. Of course, the problem this time ’round, if it comes to that, is the nations that have nukes and can wipe out an entire civilization if they so choose. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail, that our nations’ leaders learn the art of diplomacy and compromise. But, at the core, it is We the People, the average people in this world, who must make a difference.

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                  • Indeed. WWII casulaties were about 60 millions. I calculate WWIII casualties would reach billions. Do we really want that?
                    Problem is “we the people” have grow lax an lazy, and have abandoned all our decisions to the politicos. Who will never change… (I will not sigh!)

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                    • I doubt anybody wants that … I certainly don’t. The human species seems determined to annihilate itself, either by destroying the environment, nuking itself off the face of the planet, or just killing each other with guns. The worst past is that the first two of those would also annihilate most every other species.

                      You’re right … we HAVE grown lax ‘n lazy, expecting our governments to see to everything that needs to be done, forgetting that they are bought and paid for by those with more money than anybody needs. (I will not sigh, either)

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                    • LOL. I wouldn’t want to interfere with your “Right to sigh.” I am tempted to ten times a day myself. But maybe we can all go one step up and change things? I don’t have the faintest how to, but wishing it might be a start. Then raising our voices. Collectively. I am very impressed by the young people in Burma. (I will call it so forever) They’re standing up to bullets.

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                    • Some days it feels as if every breath is a sigh. Today, every sigh brings tears. I don’t know how, either, my friend. I’ve been trying with my writing, but … I’m basically “preaching to the choir”, or as my friend Hugh says, “spitting in the wind”. The situation in Burma is heartbreaking, but like you, I’m very proud of the young people there who aren’t taking this lying down. I thought for a time that the young people here, after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, would do much the same, but largely they seem to have moved on from it. A few are still actively seeking change, but too few.

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                    • I understand perfectly. “Preaching in the desert.” One of the reasons I don’t “start” with some of the themes (and data) I have in mind. Example: France is literally dying of stupidity. Mismanagement. Incompetent politicos. etc. But the other day I was mentioning that to very old and dear friends there, and the answer was “Well, it’s difficult to make decisions.” Speaking of the Government. I almost blew my top. My “American” reaction would have been: “If they can’t do the job, resign!”. I just shut up and we moved on.
                      And, yes, the young are rather apathetic…
                      But we will not sigh… (When you are tempted, remember the eraser… and bonked!) (That has made my day.
                      Stay safe.

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                    • And you have made MY day … I actually laughed at your last sentence! Thank you!

                      I haven’t kept up as I once used to, so I wasn’t aware of what’s happening in France. I’ll have to do a bit of research. Is Macron not working out well? I was so happy to see him elected rather than Marine LePen, that I rather thought they were in good hands and didn’t pay much attention thereafter (plus, I had my hands full with you-know who here on this side of the pond.) Keep smiling, my friend!

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                    • 🤣😉.
                      I do have a few mantras to use in dire straits. yes, I know who you mean. Alas Macron has proven to be a huge disappointment. He seems himslef as so intelligent he doesn’t see the obvious. A pitiful team recruiter and builder, he also very ignorant of History which in a country like France you cannot ignore.
                      The eraser comes to mind. 😉

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                    • I’m sorry to hear that … I was hoping he would work out well for France so they would forget all thoughts of the populist LePen, for I see her as evil. The world seems to be crumbling some days.

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