Civil War Monuments Dishonor the Soldiers that they are Commemorating.

By: Ben Nechmad

The amount of killing and death that occurred during the American Civil War was practically on an industrial scale. There were no graceful or peaceful deaths, soldiers lives were ripped from under them in a hail of bullets and shrapnel made exponentially worse by the new weapons of the time. The traditional views of a quiet death at home were completely disrupted and perverted. I believe that we as the American people were so severely traumatized by this abrupt exposure to death, that it has influenced our view of patriotism and war until today.

Killing and war are not natural human tendencies and can inflict horrible emotional and mental trauma on soldiers as well society as a whole. The Civil War caused soldiers to have no remorse for killing. Drew Faust Writes,

“Soldiers acted with as little concern as if it were not men but “hogs dying around them.” (59)

There was so much death going on that the only way to cope with it was to shut off any emotional response. People became mere objects of war. The only way that 19th Century Americans could come to terms with this inhumanity was to assign glory to the deaths themselves. Faust points out in the “Republic of Suffering” that understanding the way someone passed was a crucial step in the acceptance process of loved ones. Up until the war, it was normal for people to die at home surrounded by family. This was considered a “Good Death” and allowed the family to view their loved one in a positive light during their last moments on earth.  The thought of thousands of young American men dying on a field far away from loved ones completely contradicted this concept and death was seen as disgraceful and undignified.  Americans were deprived of the ability to process this vast amount of death so, in turn, they placed the very idea killing and war within a noble and patriotic context. Dying in war became the new “Good Death.” Abraham Lincoln turned the soldiers at Gettysburg into martyrs for the patriotic cause of democracy, He said,

that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

What was formerly disgraceful was now honorable. This concept replaced the older notion of death in order to alleviate the trauma that the American public was going through.  Civil War monuments were styled in a way that highlighted this honor and are usually overexaggerated symbols of bravery and dominance. While they may have been necessary to alleviate the trauma and pain of the time, I believe that these glorifications of war are not appropriate for public spaces.

We as well, live in an era of traumatizing death and destruction due to war and extremism. We may be farther removed from the killing on a geographical level but modern media has brought the trauma close to home and into our living rooms and palms. The graphic images of death that we are confronted with on a daily basis are enough of a reminder that violence is not something to be glorified or positively remembered, especially on public grounds. It is then, increasingly crucial to reevaluate what we place in our public spaces. Civil War monuments, in the exaggerated way that they are depicted, are no longer culturally relevant. I have the utmost respect for the veterans that have sacrificed their lives for the great democracy we now live in, but I have to acknowledge as an urban planning student and, more importantly, a human being, that glorification of violence and war, no matter how noble the cause is, does not belong in the public spaces meant for all of us to enjoy and grow from.

 

landscape-1450391925-jacksonstatueThis is a clear example of a Civil War monuments glorifiying the act of war and practically deifiing the solider. The rider can be seen in valiant clothing as well as on horseback, a traditional pose representing dominance.

image-korean_war_veterans_memorial-7146

The Korean War Memorial is a good example of a healthier and more appropriate remembrance of our soldiers. The men are depicted as ordinary people with even a slight look of fear and anxiety on their faces. This and other more modern war memorials convey the harshness and undesirable nature of war while still respecting the fallen soldiers. If we were to erect future civil war memorials of any kind, I believe they should be portrayed in a realistic and educational manner.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Comprehending how the Civil War can be studied rather than used for controversy

By Leonardo Reyes

America is well-renowned as one of the strongest military powers that the world has ever seen.  Considering that America always finds itself in foreign conflicts and wars.  However, throughout all its wars, the battles that took place on America’s own soil will always be remembered, as it was the most devastating war and it altered America significantly.  The Civil War saw heavy casualties, Americans killing Americans over states’ rights.  America today remembers through history books, reenactments, and most notably, statues.  As these statues allow many Americans to look back and commemorate the past, they also bring about racial issues to African Americans whose ancestors were enslaved by the same people who are celebrated by these statues.

As it may be easy for one to simply say, “let’s just remove these monuments that support the confederacy so it may no longer cause controversy”, every argument must have both sides considered.  These Confederate monuments and statues were erected in order to honor the men who gave their lives for a cause they believed was just.  In that sense, I understand how people in Charlottesville can defend these statues, as these statues are in honor of their ancestors who died in the war.  Furthermore, those same confederate soldiers whose dead bodies riddled battlefields were not given a proper burial, so their families and loved ones were unable to grief like families are able to today.  Faust speaks on further in “This Republic of Suffering”,

“The particular circumstances created by the Civil War often inhibited mourning, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, for many bereaved Americans to move through the stages of grief…Denial and numbness were, in fact, prominent means by which civilians-like soldiers-attempted to cope with war’s losses” (Faust 144-145).

Faust demonstrates how difficult it was for those who lost loved ones due to the war, as they were were unable to properly mourn and were left melancholia.  If the monuments that are seen today can allow people today to honor their ancestors, then that is fair.  

Although it is fine to use the statues and monuments to honor your confederate ancestors, it should be understood that your ancestors were fighting to keep African-Americans enslaved.  Many will argue that the Confederacy was fighting for their states’ rights, and that slavery was not the primary issue regarding the Civil War.  However, in actuality, the Confederacy was fighting for their states’ rights to keep the practice of slavery intact.  So must those who defend the Confederate statues must take in consideration the feelings of disgust and pain that black people feel for their ancestors that were beaten and killed by those same Confederates.  Just as John Oliver said on Last Week Tonight regarding the issue, 

“I honestly get wanting a more comfortable history for you family. But in doing so, you cannot invent a more comfortable history for your country”

It’s great that white southerners would like to show their children Confederate monuments and tell them about their ancestors who fought in the war.  But those same people have to consider the African Americans that have to walk by those monuments.  I honestly believe that these Confederate statues should either be taken down or there should more African American statues of soldiers in the war or slaves who suffered during the war.  If there are statues honoring Confederates which offend African Americans, it is only fair for African Americans to have their own statues to tell their children about.  At its core, these statues should solely be used to honor and remember those who fought in the war, something with educational purpose, and nothing more.

confederate-monuments-removed-1502914570389-facebookJumbo-v2

Here are Confederate statues that are causing controversy and issues in several communities.  These statues are in the process of being removed as many government officials have called to removed many Confederate statues from all over the country.  It is understandable that this happening considering the events that transpired involving a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, where one was killed and many more were injured.  If these monuments which celebrate the Confederacy are causing a lost of life and injuries, than there is without a doubt good reason to remove them.  Photos provide by the New York Times

Why the Civil War must be explained in greater depth rather than just removing statues

By Joao Cunha

At the heart of the debate of whether Confederate statues should stay or be taken down, there is a misunderstanding of what these statues actually signify. Those who want to maintain these statues argue that they are not only a part of American history, but that these statues celebrate the soldiers who died in the war. While there are some statues that were erected at the end of the war, the vast majority weren’t. In fact according to the Southern Poverty Law Center the majority of these statues were erected after 1900, peaking in 2 specific time periods. Between 1900 and 1920, when Jim Crow laws were implemented in the south, and 1950-1960 during the Civil Rights movement. Instead of honoring the fallen victims of the Civil War, these statues were created to intimidate African-Americans. These statues were not even thought of in the 1860’s as a way to honor the dead.

As Faust’s “This Republic of Suffering” highlights, the idea f a “good death” was prevent throughout North and South.  (22) The “Good Death” consisted of people dying with their bodies intact, so their spirit in their afterlife would reflect their physical bodies. However the sheer carnage of the war made the task of keeping the bodies intact bodies almost impossible. So many Americans mourned and were concerned with the fates of the fallen soldiers. To help the grieving process and use it for a patriotic purpose, the fallen soldiers became a symbol for making sure that their lives weren’t lost in vain. (269-270) :Lincoln even used the Gettysburg address as a way to rally mourning Americans to remember the noble cause of the war which was to free the enslaved. The commemoration in this sense should be to honor those who fought in the war but those who fought to free slaves. As the Civil War was a war, primarily about slavery. The war wasn’t as much about states’s rights as it was for the maintenance of the institution of slavery. However many Americans don’t know that slavery was the main reason for the Civil War, as many attribute the war to states’ rights. According to the Pew Research Center only about 38 percent of Americans think the Civil war is about while Slavery, while 48 percent believe the war was about States’s rights. Which is a problem because without this knowledge, it is hard to convince people that these statues aren’t appropriate ways to honor the lives lost during the war. So how do we solve this problem?

I think it starts with educating people about what really happened in the Civil War, that it isn’t a mere rivalry between the North and the South. That this a war that liberated millions of enslaved individuals into freedom and those brave people should be commentated just as much as the soldiers. There should be more statues of brave African-Americans who fought fir their freedom. There should be an acknowledgement that the enslaved played a crucial role in their own freedom and to teach people about that history. However I don’t think it’s practical to take down the monuments that are already in place. Instead there should be additional information or plaques put on those monuments to explain what those statues represent. It is vital to explain these confederate statues and what the men fighting for the South actually fought for. That the confederate soldiers even if they believed that they fought for states’s rights, the reality is that they fought for the preservation of slavery. This additional information would be a far more effective way to inform people about the Civil War. There are unintended consequences to removing the statues as some of the people who would disagree with the move would just be more entrenched in their beliefs.

GettyImages-837190108

This statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia caused so much furor when it was debated whether or not to take down the monument that far-right agitators caused mob violence and led to the eventually death of Heather Heyer. The resulting media firestorm did little to actually resolve the issue as both sides became entrenched in their beliefs. Based on this example I don’t think that merely taking down statues will actually be enough to change people’s minds about venerating the Confederacy.  Robert E :Lee monument in Charlottesville, Virginia courtesy of Newsweek

The goal should be teach as many people as possible about how to honor those who died in the war and for the cause that many of those men fought for. So in the future many of the people who commentate the memorials and statues of the confederates can understand that they should honor something else. That way they can properly honor the fallen and celebrate the freedom that this war gave to many millions of Americans.

Far From Numbers – The Civil War and How It Can Still Teach Americans Today

 

By Jelson Mendoza

In the complex history of the United States the thread of war has always been interwoven, intimately placed as a means of defending notions of democracy and republic. However, approximately one hundred and fifty years ago the Civil War threatened to tear apart the United States from within. For four long years, brothers, fathers, sons and neighbors marched into opposite sides of vicious combat the likes of which could not be anticipated. Yet, even today the conflict is reborn as debates flare up on the nature of Confederate statues and how, if at all, reverence should be given to such men who took up arms against the Union. To that end, individuals on both sides of the political debate seem to forget the scale of the conflict and the sheer loss of life choosing rather to look solely at the divergent reasoning of the politicians who sent men to the battlefield to labor, toil and fight. Likewise, the conversation continues to be bogged down in that political whirlpool of allegories, ideologies and political posturing instead of truly reflecting the time that has passed since the end of the Civil War and how we as Americans should have grown past the division that had marked it.

In order to start such a renewed conversation on the topic, I believe it’s important to look at Drew Gilpin Faust’s book This Republic of Suffering and in particular the chapter on killing as she states,

“As the intensity of this war and the size of its death tolls mounted in the months and years that followed, vengeance came to play an ever more important role, joining principles of duty and self-defense in legitimating violence.” (Faust 35)

Immediately, the notion of legitimate violence is itself a “gift” (that is to say, a curse) passed down from the Civil War to modern day America. Primarily, both sides of the political spectrum in approaching Confederate statues act in the same way as their forebears had in believing their cause to be truth and remain unyielding to change even going so far as to embrace violence. Explicitly, one would not have to look further then the tragedy at Charlottesville for an example of failure to take a step back and recognize we are all human beings and all legitimate Americans. The major difference is that in the context of the Civil War, this very same notion of legitimacy led to the horrors of Antietam (where 23,000 soldiers overall were killed or went missing) and Gettysburg. Even today, we as modern day Americans, fail to heed the lessons of avoiding such dehumanization as America faces groups like ISIS and in some individual cases proceed to generalize and dehumanize all Muslims.  The largest instance of “vengeance” as Faust had illustrated it, in modern times would most be the months and years following 9/11 as racist imagery and wrongly placed anger (which in some cases took on physical violence) were launched against innocent Muslim Americans and Muslims abroad.

“Many soldiers found that society’s powerful inhibitions against murder were all too easily overcome.” (Faust 38)

Faust again reminds us of the notion that in war, murder as it were becomes state sanctioned and when that occurs all bets are off. In contrast to that time period, there is a certain notion of bloodlust in today’s America that is not restricted to times of war or in the army alone, in fact the passion of belief is so strong that both anti-fascist organizations and the alt-right possess no inhibitions when it comes to a brutal fight.

arlington-cemetery1865

Yet another example of both the scope of conflict and its entrenched notions of difference past the Civil War itself can initially be seen in the case of Arlington National Cemetery where Confederate soldiers were buried with the same headstones as civilians and therefore not considered military veterans as their Union counterparts were. Yet, in death, the rows upon rows of headstones from both sides illustrates just how grave the war had been and how many had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

In the end, as I look back at the time period and pour over the human cost of a conflict such as the Civil War, it becomes even more difficult to see continued division on my television screen and sprawled all over the Internet. In some way, the answer to the question of what must be done with the statues lies in plain sight, meaning that as Americans we must finally separate their creation and continued existence as means to intimidate minorities and the real men on both sides who fought, bled and died regardless of their reasons. Similarly, learning about both sides equally as far from simply numbers and casualties and as  names it becomes apparent that no one can take away what had occurred (as many alt-right individuals believe and testify to as their casus belli for violence against democrats) whether in  the physical sense of battlefields all across the country or in its cultural memory and present. In that respect the conversation on Confederate statues is both necessary and can be renewed as a reexamination of the past and its human cost versus its current form as a push and pull of political agendas. Once that is done and only then, can the United States truly learn and grow from the violence of the Civil War and finally begin the process of truly healing and becoming stronger for it.

Commemorating and Memorializing the Civil War

By Andres Rodriguez

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history to date because since it was a Civil War within one country, no other country or nation took part in this war. The question many Americans ask today is why did the Civil War occur in the United States. Many people believe the war occurred because southern states wanted to keep the institution of slavery while others believe Southern States wanted to keep their state rights. According to the John Oliver video that was about the ongoing debate about controversial confederate monuments in public spaces, he brings a very interesting static that reads, “48% of people, in the U.S., believe that the main cause of the Civil War was over state rights and only 38% of people believe it was because of slavery.” (John Oliver Video) This static brings confusion because I personally thought that most Americans believed the Civil War occurred because of slavery. Going back to the controversial confederate monument debate, many people are arguing for the removal of Confederate Monuments because they are offensive to African Americans and their ancestors. In Drew Faust book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, she mentions various themes like “Dying,” “Killing,” “Burying,” “Realizing,” “Believing and Doubting,” “Numbering,” and “Surviving.” (Faust) The theme of “Killing” can help defend African Americans who find certain Confederate Monuments as offensive because of the treatment of African Americans who fought in the Civil War. For example, The Secretary of War James Seddon of the Confederate South is said to have “declared…that negros captured will not be regarded as prisoners of war.” The question that usually comes next is what are the “Negros” that are captured regarded as? They were executed with no mercy. On page 44 Faust mentions how W.D Rutherford of South Carolina wrote to his wife in which said these words, “the determination in our army is to kill them all and spare not” (44). The treatment of captured black troops and the overall perspective of black troops from the Confederate army is immoral and racist. The perspective of many Americans towards Confederate Monuments is mostly negative except for those few Americans whose ancestors fought on the Confederate side. Those certain individuals find it more disrespectful to take down such monuments because “it is history and you cannot erase history” as said by one of the individuals on the John Oliver show. I do understand the difficulty of accepting that your ancestor fought for the side that wanted to keep slavery going in America but I do think the removal of Confederate officers is disrespectful. These monuments should not be destroyed after they are taken down from public spaces but should be put in Museums where people can learn about the Civil War in a more private and optional space. I think the overall problem with having Confederate Monuments in public spaces is that it commemorates certain Confederate officers, even though they fought for the institution of slavery which is very offensive to African Americans. The history of Slavery can never be erased but it can be put in places where it can be option for people to view or read it like museums. Also, military cemeteries can also be an alternative way of commemorating and memorizing  the Civil War for both Union and Confederate Soldiers. In the Faust book, the “Burying” theme has similar burying rituals for both Union and Confederate soldiers. For example, the Gettysburg cemetery is considered to be the most equal and democratic of all grave sites from the Civil War because it has no private sections for officers, everyone is buried together regardless of rank or race. There are alternative ways to commemorating and memorizing the Civil War without offending Union/Confederate ancestors.

resized_250499-va_nationalists_rally_27_9-23446_t635

Robert E. Lee Sculpture, Charlottesville, VA, courtsey of the New York Times. Found on http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/aug/13/protest-over-lee-statue-in-virginia-tur-1/

This photo is displaying white nationalist who are commemorating a statue of Robert E. Lee who was the famous Confederate General during the Civil War. This photo is quite disturbing because there are clearly so many people who are commemorating a statue of a man who served for the side that wanted to keep the institution of slavery. This photo also brings the attention of the static I mentioned earlier that about 48 percent of Americans believe the main cause of the Civil War was over state rights. The people in this photo are the 48 percent. This statue should be taken down because the more people are clearly being offended by it being up than being taken down. Robert E. Lee should not be forgotten or erased from history but should not be in a public space where many African Americans walk by it. It is offensive to African Americans because of the mistreatment of slaves and statues that commemorate individuals who wanted to keep slavery alive should be taken down from public space and put in an Museum.

Memorializing without Memorials: Commemorating the Civil War without Controversial Monuments

By Kathryn Bauer

As Americans, remembering the Civil War is vital in understanding our mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.  However, we have immensely changed as a country from that time.  Now, it is even more important that we commemorate and memorialize the Civil War in a way that is accurate, but not offensive.

Currently, there is great debate over the public display of Confederacy monuments.  It is argued that the statues celebrate the regional pride and tradition of the Confederacy, while practicing the right to free speech.  Others argue that memorializing the Confederacy celebrates a group who did not believe in equality for all, and were simply racist.

Honoring individuals who are faces of America’s adverse racial past makes people uncomfortable, threatened, and upset.  It is easily understandable how one can feel targeted, walking by towering statues of these individuals everyday on routes to school or work.

I agree that these individuals should be memorialized.  It is necessary to remember the Civil Way, but not in a public showcase.  The monuments should be in a museum, where people who wish to learn about these individuals can go, and those who are offended by them can steer clear.

To improve the American public memory, Americans can memorialize without monuments.  In her novel, This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust showcases themes of “Dying”, “Killing”, “Burying”, “Realizing”, “Believing and Doubting”, “Numbering”, and “Surviving”, surrounding how Americans dealt with the great number of deaths of the Civil War, themes that both, the North and South could agree upon.  These same themes can successfully and effectively act as present replacements for commemorating this critical time in history.

Faust focuses on “Dying”, “Killing”, and “Burying”, in that both, the Union and the Confederacy fought and died for their tradition and heritage, therefore they should be commemorated today.  Respectfully burying bodies during the Civil War was challenging.  Soldiers had no self indicators such as dog tags and their deaths usually occurred far from home, leaving fallen bodies unmarked and disrespected.

As a result, the government constructed national grave sites honoring the fallen.  These national grave sites act as a great substitute to monuments for American public memory in present day.  They memorialize and acknowledge the individuals of the Confederacy and the Union with unity and equality.  Regardless of rank or color, the soldiers are memorialized and remembered in an area devoted to the Civil War, yet still easily accessible to the public.

 

 

civil war.JPG

Photograph by Kathryn Bauer  — This image captured at Elmwood Cemetery, highlights a respectful and quiet approach to memorializing the fallen.  The cemetery utilizes small markers pictured to the right, in combination with petite American flags at the graves of the soldiers.  This signifies, regardless of the size of the gravestone purchased by the family of the fallen, that the American individual is recognized as a one who fought, further memorialized without an aggressive, in your face approach.  Additionally, the gravestone featured in the left image belonging to a Union solider, shares the same commemorative marker as his brother, a Confederate soldier, buried across the country.  Regardless of what side they fought for, each solider, the faces of the Civil War, is remembered and acknowledged in a place of privacy, yet open to all.  This approach to memorializing and commemorating is respectful to the soldiers of the Civil War as well as to all Americans today.

Additionally, Faust illuminates the themes of “Realizing”, “Believing and Doubting”, “Numbering” and “Surviving”.  These themes emphasize awareness and transformative consciousness.  Presently Americans have to understand and acknowledge both sides of the controversial monuments and seek effective alternates.

It is essential we celebrate and address the immense number of fallen war individuals, additionally respectfully memorialize them.  Nevertheless, it is even more essential that in a country where everyone is equal, we do so in a way that ensures no person is felt they are not, due to a Civil War monument.

Remembering the bodies and memorializing them are left to those who are alive: the war survivors then, and all of us as Americans, now.  Remembering American history in a public manner is necessary to understand our past, thus understand our present as a country to come.

We need to move the conterversal monuments to museums, not destroy them and our negative history entirely, just have them at a place where they can be viewed at a place of learning, not a busy street corner.  Faust’s themes successfully serve as bases for commemorating and memorializing the Civil War without controversy.

As a country, America is always improving and growing.  We are not the same as we were during the Civil War, and in ten years changes will have taken place.  To keep up with our ever changing country, we must update how we remember the past, not simply destroy it, to ensure a better future.

 

 

Ongoing Issues of Race and Labor, A Century Apart: Who Do We Blame?

By Nadine Blank

There is no doubt that people of color are still being affected by the United States’ complicated racial history of enslavement, genocide, and imperialism—what many fail to realize, however, is that the effects still being felt are not only social but economic as well. The ends of centuries should be moments of progress, focused on improvements toward the future, and in recent centuries a myriad of technological advancements have been made in the last decade of a century. Nonetheless, current events and feelings do not always match up with the times for all people. In America, even progress tends to leave the disadvantaged out. Events of the early 1890s and 1990s provide evidence to suggest that America was and is not willing to allow people of color, especially African Americans, to catch up to white society. In these decades that should symbolize movement forward, white institutions such as the media and the white workforce stalled forward economic movement for African Americans, perpetuating the hierarchy of slavery even long after it had been abolished. Of course, a lot did progress for African Americans between the 1890s and 1990s, but we cannot properly appreciate what did change for the better if we do not examine what Black struggles went ignored by white American society.

By 1892, Black Americans were citizens with the right to vote, but this post-Civil War formality was far from a racial truce; in many places, even mere territories of the United States, white workers refused to work with black workers. This is the situation that prefaced a great controversy in Krebs, Oklahoma on January 7, which The New York Times calls “The Great Mine Disaster.” On that day, a mine in Krebs exploded, killing and injuring over 100 white miners. Amidst the aftermath, while black miners were helping to recover bodies from the mine, the United States Deputy Marshall and his men chased them away at gunpoint. In covering this story, The New York Times mentioned this injustice in passing, and immediately put the blame on the black miners, claiming that their efforts and aid were “in only a half-hearted way,” and that a black miner had provoked “indignation and fury” without providing sources for any of these allegations (“The Great Mine Disaster”). While it is understandable to mourn those lost, the scapegoating of the black miners minimalized their struggle after first being ousted from their workplace. The “newsworthy” part of the story, to readers, was the death of the white workers and the alleged reluctance of “negroes” in the recovery effort that followed. Meanwhile, the line “some time ago the white miners refused to work with the negroes” is the only explanation given in the article to explain why these laborers were not allowed to work; it is simply glazed over and regarded as the way things were. This is so deeply troubling because as a reputable news source, the New York Times and its reporters failed to critically report upon both sides of a complicated, racialized event.

 

Krebs Mine Disaster OKLA 1892 Photo of the mine in Krebs, OK, and the recent picture of the memorial for those lost in 1892, courtesy of Stu Beitler,  gendisasters.com.  When the mine exploded, thousands of family and community members crowded to the scene to find loved ones and attempt to save those trapped.

 

In 1993, twenty days shy of exactly 101 years later, on January 27, 1993 the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about the Urban League and its push for President Clinton to acknowledge the particular economic struggles of Black Americans. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Urban League “cited steep increases in black unemployment, at more than 14 percent… and warned of economic devastation for black Americans as jobs are cut in auto manufacturing, the military, defense, and service-oriented industries” (Ross). This article, unlike the one from 1892, delves into a specific issue that was brought to light by an event; in this case, the article noted the Los Angeles riots of the previous year as an effect of the economic turmoil to which late 1980s/early 90s America had subjected black Americans. The article not only placed agency on the black community in pointing out that Clinton could not have won his election without them; it also placed blame onto the American government, mentioning a need for federal investment in programs to help black communities and enforcement of discrimination laws. While these issues were most likely even worse in the 1890s than the 1990s, there was less of a national platform for black Americans that were passionate about it–by 1993, for example, Sonya Ross as a black American woman was able to write and publish this article in a major newspaper.

watermark

This cartoon by Carol Simpson draws a modern comparison between Krebs and the 1990s. Whether mining or business, those who participate in discrimination aim to exclude blacks from work altogether rather than work in a segregated or another unequal manner. President Clinton, with strong support from the black community, was expected to address and fix this issue.   

 

Now that we have examined how events were analyzed by the American media within the two centuries, it is important to consider how those who are not journalists feel about these issues and where they draw their conclusions. About a month after the mining disaster in Oklahoma, on February 24, 1982 the New York Times published an opinion piece titled “The Race Question,” in which the writer claims that “the negro is not so trustworthy a worker for an employer as he was in the old days” of slavery. This embedded thought process of the 1890s could be the foundation of modern-day worker discrimination, and it may very well have something to do with the reason black workers were kicked out of Krebs’ mine. The writer seems to suggest in his piece that the black population holds no importance politically because of its already historically suppressed vote. The attitudes that are presented in a piece published by a reputable news source suggests that many Americans felt this way. The unified opinion on the issue helped to solidify racial economic boundaries in many industries and geographic areas.

Similarly, in 1993, Rudolph A. Pyatt Jr. wrote a column for the Washington Post, “Racial Discrimination Has Become a Major Drain on the U.S. Economy.”  In this piece, Pyatt discussed the economic impact of racial discrimination rather than just the social impact that had frequently been discussed. Rather than simply convey his opinion, Pyatt gave ample evidence and date to suggest that “disparate treatment of blacks cost the U.S about $215 billion in 1991” (Pyatt). He also makes a point to talk about the “legacy” of discrimination, one that can be traced back to not only the 1890s, but the slavery that existed decades before. This is a big change, because according to the writer of “The Race Question,” “slavery has disappeared forever.” If that were truly the case, one hundred years later there wouldn’t be an equation for how much racism affected the economy. What does remain the same, however, is that whether people at the time recognized the economic legacy of slavery or not, the effects were playing out in the lives of black workers, due to their perceived “untrustworthiness” or other negative factors that gained white credibility following the Civil War. This discrimination has carried through time and through the workplace for the black population, and this history is often silent or told as an aside rather than its own significant event. These economic struggles in the workplace are merely the tip of the iceberg; even today we are still wary of discrimination, and the wage gap still exists, especially for black women. Only when we recognize the history of today’s struggles will we learn to correct the damage done by so many decades before us.

 

Works Cited

“THE GREAT MINE DISASTER.” New York Times (1857-1922), Jan 10, 1892, pp. 16, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times, https://search.proquest.com/docview/95040925?accountid=13626.

Sonya Ross, “Urban League urges job creation and rights enforcement Philadelphia Inquirer (1969-2010), Jan 27, 1993, pp. 7, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1843597934?accountid=13626.

“THE RACE QUESTION.” New York Times (1857-1922), Feb 24, 1892, pp. 4, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times, https://search.proquest.com/docview/95045303?accountid=13626

Rudolph A Pyatt Jr, “Racial Discrimination has Become a Major Drain on the U.S. Economy.” The Washington Post (1974-Current file), Jan 07, 1993, pp. 1, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post, https://search.proquest.com/docview/140811738?accountid=13626.

 

 

The Transcendence of Media as a Spectacle Culture

Introduction

 

The one hundred years that sandwiched the 1890s and 1990s was a century filled with technological innovation and a general boost in well-being for the individual. Factories were being built up at an astronomical rate, and as the decades went on, America was steadily moving into a postmodern society. Postmodernity created quite the distinct polarities between the two aforementioned eras. Apparent societal influences such as the technological revolution are to blame for these polarities, and some aspects of American life were altered due to this phenomenon. For example, American media had two completely different identities in the two decades. The 1990s had obvious advantages such as digital cameras and the internet, but these advantages actually changed the whole idea of the media as a whole. In the 1890s, the media was straight to the point, succinct. There wasn’t any fluff or color; it would tell you what you wanted to know, and that’s it. But as time went on, and technology was evolving, American media became more of a spectacle. Think of the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline, and that story didn’t even have pictures! American citizens were fixated on more of a story-telling media now, rather than a concise one. And as contemporary society was fastly approaching, the American media was becoming more reality series than a news source. Presidential candidates such as Bob Dole had  headlines on “becoming cool” rather than his plans to cut the department of education. All in all, it’s easy to say that American media was drastically modified by the technological innovation that postmodern and contemporary societies had to offer.  

9/6/1896

http://find.galegroup.com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/ncnp/newspaperRetrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=DateAscend&tabID=T003&prodId=NCNP&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchId=R1&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=3&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28tx%2CNone%2C8%29election%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28da%2CNone%2C10%2909%2F06%2F1896%24&retrieveFormat=MULTIPAGE_DOCUMENT&userGroupName=new67449&inPS=true&contentSet=LTO&&docId=&docLevel=FASCIMILE&workId=&relevancePageBatch=GT3005757678&contentSet=UDVIN&callistoContentSet=UDVIN&docPage=article&hilite=y

Comparing 1890s media to 1990s media can be deemed a bit unfair. The 1990s had all the technological advantages and better means of communication. But it is truly fascinating analyzing the dichotomous nature that becomes of American media due to this innovation. My article is a series of William Jennings Bryan speeches all the way from Chicago to Milwaukee. He begins in Chicago where he addresses his support for bimetallism. Bimetallism is the incorporation of silver as a legal tender. Bryan states. “Some believe the success of the free silver cause would be very detrimental to the country. They of course are earnestly opposed to us… But it is not for one man to say how another shall think or act or vote, but I believe we have a right to urge upon you the importance of studying the question for yourselves and not allowing any body to think for you” (1). Bryan is emphasizes that if you truly believe that bimetallism will help this country, you should be proud of that. It seems to me that his speeches are both a combination of policy and morale-boosters. He later states in the town of Racine,”If the people of this country would all recognize the power of the ballot and use the ballot as they should, they would see less complaint of injustice” (2). Bryan strictly emphasizes  the power of the vote, and really encourages everyone to go out there and cast their vote. But that is all this article has to offer. Besides brief introductions before the transcribed speeches, there is nothing flashy or eye-popping about this article. It’s strictly factual and straight to the point.

This same approach is used in Bryan’s famous cross of gold speech. In this speech, Bryan bashed the gold standard and told the people to stick up for bimetallism. Bryan states,”I reply that, if protection has slain its thousands, the gold standard has slain its tens of thousands… We go forth confident that we shall win. Why? Because upon the paramount issue of this campaign there is not a spot of ground upon which the enemy will dare to challenge battle”( Bryan 3). Bryan is very emotional and gets his supporters riled up. This approach is what ultimately got him the presidential nomination; before that he was a dark horse. Despite there being some sort of extra-curricular and unneeded comments, Bryan’s main focus was to promote his newfound policies and to abolish the gold standard.  

9/6/1996

file:///C:/Users/Dave%20Busch/Downloads/out.pdf

1990s news articles address similar concerns that the American people have, but they do it in a completely different way. For starters, 1990s media is dominated by pictures and headlines. These new “media innovations” attract the reader for a fun and fascinating read. The old way of media became too mundane for the fast-pace 1990s individual, so the media needed to adapt as well. This phenomenon is proven in articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer published on September 6th, 1996.

Page A47 starts off with an article about Republican policies on funding public education and affirmative action. They do explain their policies and attitudes towards Democratic policies, but they do it in such an “us vs them” mantra. Douglas Lederman, author of this Philadelphia Inquirer article dubbed “The Chronicle of Higher Education”, writes ,”The Republican platform rejects the use of affirmative action in higher education: ‘We scorn Bill Clinton’s notion that any person should be denied a job, promotion, contract, or a chance at higher education because of their race or gender” (A47).  In the 1890s article, there is little reference to the opposing party in Bryan’s speech. He states his policies strongly and then proceeds to the next topic. Further on in the article, they discuss more potential plans for the Republican platform. The Republicans don’t understand how colleges keep on raising their tuition, and they “suggest families to prepare for the financial strains of higher education” (A47). The article even goes on to express the conservative feelings toward the Department of Education. Bob Dole has plans to cut the DoE out of the cabinet all together in an attempt to “reform the government”. As this section of the paper is about to end, a new article begins titled “Democrats Vow to Make Education a Key in Their Drive to Keep the White House”.

This is where the difference of 1890s media and 1990s media is most prominent. After the conclusion of the conservative article, an article backing Bill Clinton and his policies follows. In the 1890s piece, the entirety of it is just Bryan’s policies and concerns. Nothing more. The 1990s now has adapted this story-telling ethos where it is “Democrats vs Republicans” in order to attract the reader. This article is also accompanied with a photo of Bill Clinton, looking more jovial than stern, at the Democratic National Convention. Image is also important in this era, due to the fact that the American reader is now infatuated with the storylines as opposed to one’s policies. This statement is true in the conservative article. In that article, Lederman states that the conservative party will be pledging their support to women’s health and AIDS, two foundations that they have ignored in the past. This is clearly a PR stunt to help attract more voter. Back to the Democratic article. Lederman then goes on to promote Clinton’s enamoration towards public education and how he plans to give every third grader the opportunity to read. Lederman writes, “Speaking before an enthusiastic crowd in Wyandotte, Michigan, during his four day train-journey to the convention, Mr. Clinton said that the plan would be part of a larger effort to insure that all American children are able to read by the time they enter the third grade” (A47). It’s obvious that education is of utmost importance to Clinton, and that’s what the American citizens needed.

Op/Ed

After analyzing both documents, it’s easy to say that American media is for the people, but different time periods express it in different ways. It is apparent that both citizens of the 1890s and 1990s are passionate about the wellbeing of America, and are intrigued by the governmental policies that are enacted. They want to get the most insight as possible in order to further their education. For example, in the William Jennings Bryan article, he stopped and made four speeches in the rain from Chicago to Milwaukee. Every speech was attended by thousands of people and all of his speeches were transcribed for the news the next day. It’s obvious that these citizens were hungry for any insight a political figure had. In this specific case, Bryan was discussing monetary policies to these midwesterners and they were ecstatic to be there. Bimetallism vs the gold standard was the central issue of most of Bryan’s speech. Bryan spearheaded the Populist movement and he was getting a humongous following, and it was his strong charisma that was paving the way of its success. At this time, Americans were fascinated by Bryan’s ability as an orator and his unprecedented wisdom. But this is not the case in the 1990s. Due to technological innovation, American appeal shifted towards a more flashy approach. Jack Barlow, author of Jack in, Young Poineer!, wrote ,”Absolutely nobody predicted the extent to which little beige bit-spitting boxes would become the substrate of civilization in the 90’s.”(Barlow 2). Barlow stated that this technological revolution was absolutely unprecedented and it will absolutely alter American life. The American media was one of those things that was altered.

For example, the 1990s article creates a narrative so the reader can read it like a story. There are two sides, and you forced by society to select one of them. Both of these sides are fighting over the same issue: education. Republicans in this case don’t understand why college is so expensive and have plans on cutting the department of education. Democrats have plans to invest in public education and applauds direct-lending programs. As this hollywood-esque media was taking over, another thing was becoming apparent. “Coolness” actually plays a factor in these contemporary elections.

Bill Clinton was the perfect candidate for the popularity contest that the 1990s was. Clinton was the personification of cool, and it was exemplified in his famous interview on the Arsenio Hall interview. Hall himself was a television icon and promoted his image through his popularity. Hall has his own swagger too; rocking the one dangling earring in the interview. This interview did wonders for Clinton’s campaign. Associating himself with Hall, an African-American comedian, Clinton was able to get the attention of a wide variety of audiences.Which was important in this decade, because your image is what will get you votes. The show started off with a saxophone solo by Clinton [in a pair of shades I might add] and a brief comedy sketch by Hall. Then the two got together to talk about business. Clinton and Hill cleared the air of the apparent racial tension in America and talked about how to fix it. This interview and the new approaches to media were known as a spectacle. Guy Debord, French Marxist theorist, describes spectacle as, “This is the principle of commodity fetishism, the domination of society by intangible thing, which reaches its absolute fulfillment in the spectacle, where the tangible world is replaced by a selection of images which exist above it, and which at the same time are recognized as the tangible par excellence”(Debord 110). Debord is saying that society is fascinated with the intangible; something that is just famous or popular. It doesn’t matter what or who it is, if there’s mainstream popularity towards it, society will most likely accept it.

With the media being more of a spectacle culture in the 1990s, other politicians needed to look out for their image. In that Philadelphia Inquirer article, there’s a headline titled “Republicans Try to Convince Students that Voting for Dole is “Way Cool”. Dole funded the first ever Young Voter Convention and preached to them how they’re our future. As innovative as you might think this is, you would never see that headline in the 1890s. Politicians weren’t as notionally covered nor was there the technology to support it. The radio wasn’t around in that time period.

In the 1990s, not only were the American people debating over governmental policies such as educational cuts, but the American people were also discussing the fame of each candidate. Never before was this a part of any election. The 1990s was seriously influenced by the rise of media, and the media was being transformed into a spectacle.

Pictures

Image result for cross of gold

This image came quickly after William Jennings Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech. Bryan is pictured a savior protection the nation from the evils of remaining on the gold standard. Bryan is also ready to take down anyone who opposes him and his team.

 

Image result for bill clinton catches football

Image result for bill clinton saxophone

These two images perfectly encapsulate the image Bill Clinton was aiming for. Clinton always had an innate appeal to the younger generation and that help him through his campaign. Bill wanted to be seen as a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky guy you could trust.

Sources

https://content.sakai.rutgers.edu/access/content/group/63080448-4421-4705-b3f2-8969ab84d36f/Course%20Readings/William%20Jennings%20Bryan%2C%20_Cross%20of%20Gold_%20Speech.pdf

 

https://content.sakai.rutgers.edu/access/content/group/dfc99017-e32c-4614-8c99-c382758f8fe4/DeBord.pdf

jeburdick. YouTube, YouTube, 30 Oct. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckHfgqK_hcU.

https://content.sakai.rutgers.edu/access/content/group/63080448-4421-4705-b3f2-8969ab84d36f/Course%20Readings/Jack%20In%2C%20Young%20Pioneer!.pdf

 

The American Perception of Death in the 1890s and 1990s.

By Colleen vonVorys-Norton

 

Between 1897 and 1997 the public perception of death and funerals switched. In the 1890s, grief was a public act. Women especially, would publicly show their grief with their clothes and veils. Even though the funerals would be reserved for family and loved ones, the view of grief was very public. But in the 1990s, grief and funerals took on a different form. Grieving was a private issue but funerals were the opposites. The amount of people at the funeral was a way to show how loved the deceased was. But once the funeral was over, the grief was seen as a burden to others. This shift is due to the public view on death. In the 1890s, grief was incredibly common due to not only the Civil War but also because child mortality was incredibly high. Greif was public but personal because the funerals were reserved for the family only. Everyone understood the pain. In the 1990s, there was no longer mass grieving. It became private, but the visual of funerals itself was public. Public grief was only acceptable for a few weeks. Then the loved ones have to go back to being productive members of society.

In the 1890s, the funeral itself was a very personal ceremony. Deaths were announced but not with the expectation that funerals would be attended.

5KUM-1897-SEP13-003-F

“Died.” Milwaukee Journal [Milwaukee, Wisconsin] [Sep. 13, 1897]: 2. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web. 17 Nov. 2017.

Since society was still in mourning of everyone who had passed in the war, the public acknowledged that grief was a long process. Women especially bore the brunt of the public grief. Since they are the symbol of the home and family, their public grief was especially important. Women would wear specific clothing and dressed to show how long it had been since their family member had died.

 

The_Hessian_children_with_their_grandmother,_Queen_Victoria

Queen Victoria with the five surviving children of her daughter, Princess Alice, dressed in mourning clothing for their mother and their sister Princess Marie in early 1879.

 

Then, death was not as compartmentalized. It was everywhere and a very common and open experience. The funeral itself was supposed to be quiet and a sacred religious service. In Christian burial, the need for funeral was seen as necessary for the deceased to receive their last rites. The services were short, just a pastor and a small musical accompaniment, if the estate was able to afford it. At this time in American history, grief was not a sign of weakness, but a natural part of living. It was understood that grief lasted for months and at most a year. It was accepted in that society.

Over the course of the century, the view on funerals and grief changes. Grief was more of a private issue. Funerals were very public. If someone knew the person, it was expected for them to go to the funeral to pay their respects. For the first few weeks after the death, the society around the family would support them but would quickly move on and expect the family to do so as well. Funerals were spectacles about not only the individual but also the other people that were around them. People would loudly cry and show their grief but then a few weeks later that was no longer accepted.

Something as simple as an obituary was something that showed the class symbol. Where in the 1890s it was common for all obituaries to be a few lines, in the 1990s, this expanded to including the surviving family members. Also if the estate had enough money they could add the deceased accomplishments. This was a form of a class symbol with how long the obituary was since lower income estates might not be able to afford a whole column.

Another motivating factor in the shift towards grief being private in the 1990s was due to the public no longer being faced with so much death. Infant mortality had decreased, especially in America with the increase in medicine. This also lead to infections and illnesses not leading to death at a young age for many people as well.

ourworldindata_life-expectancy-by-world-region-since-1770-1

In the graph above, there is a clear increase in the life expectancy across the board. Specifically looking at America, this increase lead to death being less prominent in society. Death was able to be compartmentalized and pushed to the side.

Funerals became a business. The average cost of a funeral was $5,000. Even though some funeral homes offered reduced pricing, most were still very expensive events. The reason it was so successful was because the estate and family felt that they needed to give their loved one a beautiful funeral because of all they deceased did for the family. The market understood this and monetize it.

The century split between the 1890s and 1990s had many difference, but one of the most prominent ones was the ways the public viewed death.

 


Works Consulted:

“September 13, 1997 (Page 10 of 63).” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1927-2008), Sep 13, 1997, pp. 10, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Singleton, S. (1994, Jun 18). The high cost of death–the funeral business. New York Amsterdam News Retrieved from

“Mr. Wyman’s Funeral.” Boston Journal, 1 Jan. 1897.

Brett, Mary. The Custom Of Mourning During The Victorian Era. 2011, https://www.nps.gov/jofl/learn/historyculture/upload/MourningArticle2011.rtf.

 

America on October 12th, 1897 and October 12th, 1997: Assessing the Impact of Economic Development on Vulnerable Populations

By Daria Martin

Primary sources such as articles and editorials can offer insight into the common concerns, issues, and attitudes of the 1890s and 1990s in American culture. Thematic commonalities between the two decades exists when looking at the same month and day one hundred years apart. The major issues documented in both The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times on October 12, 1897 and October 12, 1997 differed in context, but shared similarities regarding concerns about economic development and technological innovation. Feature articles from each decade coupled with opinion pieces reveal the underlying fears and anxieties of Americans that transcended the century gap. While the hundred years which separate the article publications demonstrates the shifts in focus of the respective decades, drawing upon the commonalities illuminates certain trends in American culture. Conducting this comparison makes apparent the ways in which economic change and technological innovation produced a sense of fear in the American psyche surrounding the impact of such changes on vulnerable and impoverished populations.

The October 12, 1897 feature article, “Debs and His Scheme” offers a harsh critique of Eugene V. Debs as an agitator promoting the dangerous concept of socialism. The unnamed author of this piece from The Philadelphia Inquirer details the gathering of socialists in the city. The article tells of Debs’ characterization of the 1890s as “an age of invention and of rapidly changing conditions” as well as his “violent den[unciation] the competitive system” (Philadelphia Inquirer). The author is fearful of Debs’ “scheme” to exploit the vulnerability of the desperate working class peoples by giving them false hope of the possibility of an overhaul of the economic system. Debs’ “tirade against against the system” of capitalism was rooted in what he saw as an economic system which increasingly harmed the poor and working classes. Socialist ideas as well as direct labor action fit into what Jane Addams understood as “the proletariat [learning] to say in many languages that ‘the injury of one is the concern of all’” (Addams, p.9). Debs rallied railroad workers in collective action through the American Railway Union, where he believed that “their persistent strivings were toward the ultimate freedom” from bad working conditions (Addams, p. 9). Many people, including Debs and Addams, were attempting to find solutions to and understand the ways in which the rise of monopoly power and poor labor conditions had produced vulnerable populations who felt anger towards their impoverished conditions.

sk94debs

Rogers, William A. “King Debs.” Harper’s Weekly. 14 July 1894.
This political cartoon from Harper’s Weekly condemned Eugene V. Debs for his role in leading railroad workers during the Pullman Strike in 1894. “King Debs” portrays Debs as the leader of the American Railway Union and instigator of the nationwide Pullman Strikes. This image depicts Debs as responsible for preventing food cars from reaching their destination. Rather than showing Debs as a heroic labor leader, Rogers paints Debs and the American Railway Union as destructive to American society. Debs’ socialist ideas and support of mass labor movements incited fear because they “challenged the code of social ethics” where workers obeyed their bosses and capitalism was revered (Addams). American social ethics in the 1890s were reinforced by the capitalist market economy. As a socialist, Debs was critiqued because it was feared that he his rhetoric would prompt a rebellion against the capitalist system by the working classes.

In the 1997 article, “The New (Old) Politics of the Millennium,” Kevin Phillips reflects on the historical impact of economic downturn on the perceived legitimacy and success of political and governmental institutions. While the context differs from Debs’ concerns in the 1890s, Phillips cites how “economic booms and downturns have been associated with a number of political upheavals–most vividly in the 1890s and 1930s” (Phillips). America witnessed economic downturns with the Panic of 1893 and a recession in early 1990s. The supposed recovery of the 1990s was “weak and unfair to working class Americans” because the government partook in “Wall Street socialism” by bailing out negligent banks and offering corporate subsidies rather than providing welfare to impoverished Americans (Phillips).  Progressive reforms in the 1890s were made possible only because “The Panic of 1893 crystallize[d] public dismay with the Robber Barons, trusts, and Wall Street’s ‘Cross of Gold’” (Phillips). In the new millennium, Phillips ponders whether another so called “popping of [the] speculative bubble” will finally prompt “political reform and electoral realignment” (Phillips). Phillips warns that the “record bull market in stocks” does not reflect prosperity for average working class Americans. Economist Godfrey Hodgson argues that in the new economy of the 1990s, “the biggest winners of all were the top 1%” while “for under average and average earners the experience had been short of catastrophic” (Hodgson, p. 92). Phillips ends his piece by pushing his audience to pay attention to the corruption of money politics which enables those “riding the highest” to prosper while impoverished Americans suffer.

Opinion pieces from each decade also reflect the concern for vulnerable Americans following economic and technological changes. A letter to the editor of The New York Times written by Robert Peele and published on October 12, 1897 entitled “To Make Elevators Safe,” addresses the dangers associated with passenger elevators in New York’s new high rises. Peele cites the possible causes for the accidents: “1. Faulty design. 2. Poor workmanship or lack of care in erection. Breakage or temporary derangement of the apparatus. 4. Careless running by cheap or incompetent attendants” (Peele). Peele is suspicious of the argument that these accidents were not preventable. He compares the safety of his experience working in mine shafts where “although speed and loads are much greater, accidents of any kind [were] of rare occurrence” (Peele). Peele argues that “the owner owes it to the occupants to assure their safety in every way in his power” (Peele).  The owners of the buildings could have prevented accidents by hiring competent builders and attendants, as well as funding the “rigid inspect of machinery, guides and ropes (Peele). Those who died or were injured in elevator accidents almost always included the elevator attendant, who was vulnerable not only to low wages but also victim to incompetence of the builders and lack of oversight by the owner. Peele’s opinion piece reflects how engineering passenger elevators within high rise buildings in New York City was not without danger. This editorial thus serves as evidence that anxieties surrounding technological innovation and economic development were rooted in concerns for those who would be vulnerable to safety oversights.

In the 1990s, a piece from the Soapbox section of the New York Times featured an opinion from an everyday New Yorker, Marka Margolies, who was concerned about how the city’s economic development not only impacted her personally but also harmed the increasing homeless population who had not been the benefactors of the new economic opportunities. Marka Margolies’s sunset view from her NYC apartment was taken away when Donald Trump decided to develop the land between her building and the Hudson River in Riverside South. While Margolies was saddened by the new high rises ruining her view of the sunset, she was also “keenly aware that not long ago, a group of people who had no other place to live had set up homes for themselves…directly underneath where construction was about to begin. They were forcibly removed by the city from their makeshift home” (Margolies). Margolies wonders what happened to the homeless people who were forcibly removed, and was doubtful there would be any apartments for them in Riverside South (Margolies). For Margolies, the Trump development of Riverside South is representative of a larger issue where economic disparity results in increased subjugation of impoverished people. In the 1990s, the trend of economic prosperity for the top 1% coincided with President Clinton blaming poor Americans for their circumstances and making “a systematic overhaul of federal policy that led to the criminalization of the welfare poor.” (Nadasen, p. 3). This Soapbox article reveals how the subjugation of the welfare poor and homeless populations was occurring in tandem with expensive real estate development in the city.

lead_960

Applewhite, Scott J. “Bill Clinton Signs Welfare Reform in 1996.” The Atlantic. 1 April 2016.
This photo shows President Bill Clinton smiling at the signing the The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which “ended traditional welfare by turning a federal entitlement, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), into block grant” (Nasadeen). Bill Clinton joined in a bipartisan effort to help reduce the supposed culture of poverty in America by limiting access to welfare all the while criminalizing the poor through acts such as the Crime Bill. The “culture of poverty” argument was “evidenced by [Clinton’s] racially coded language of dependency and people taking advantage of the system. Stereotypes about women were the foundation of the 1996 welfare reform debate” (Nasadeen). While the state increasingly participated in corporate welfare, or what writer Kevin Phillips describes as “Wall Street Socialism,” the most needy families were demonized and condemned for supposedly mooching off of the system (Phillips).

Works Cited:

Addams, Jane. “A Modern Lear,” Survey 29, no. 5 (November 2, 1912): 131-37.

Applewhite, Scott J. “Bill Clinton Signs Welfare Reform in 1996.”The Atlantic. 1 April 2016. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/the-end-of-welfare-as-we-know-it/476322/

“Debs and His Scheme.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. 12 Oct. 1897.

Hodgson, Godfrey. “New Economics,” in More Equal Than Others: America from Nixon to the New Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 87-111.

Peele, Robert. “To Make Elevator’s Safe.” The New York Times. 12 Oct. 1897.

Phillips, Kevin. “The New (Old) Politics of the Millenium: History Tells us Money and the Market Will Matter Most.” The New York Times. 12 Oct. 1997.

Nadasen, Premilla.  “How a Democrat Killed Welfare.” Jacobin. Feb 9, 2016.

Rogers, William A. “King Debs.” Harper’s Weekly. 1 July 1894.