Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communist

Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communist


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In an example of the lengths to which the “Red Scare” in America is going, Mrs. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission calls for the removal of references to the book Robin Hood from textbooks used by the state’s schools. Mrs. Young claimed that there was “a communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the communist line. It’s just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat.”

WATCH: The Red Scare Started Before the McCarthy Era

She went on to attack Quakers because they “don’t believe in fighting wars.” This philosophy, she argued, played into communist hands. Though she later stated that she never argued for the removal of texts mentioning the story from school textbooks, she continued to claim that the “take from the rich and give to the poor” theme was the “Communist’s favorite policy.” Reacting to criticisms of her stance, she countered that, “Because I’m trying to get communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I’m drawing blood or they wouldn’t make such an issue out of it.” The response to Mrs. White’s charges was mixed.

Indiana Governor George Craig came to the defense of Quakers, but backed away from getting involved in the textbook issue. The state superintendent of education went so far as to reread the book before deciding that it should not be banned. However, he did feel that “Communists have gone to work twisting the meaning of the Robin Hood legend.” The Indianapolis superintendent of schools also did not want the book banned, claiming that he could not find anything particularly subversive about the story.

In the Soviet Union, commentators had a field day with the story. One joked that the “enrollment of Robin Hood in the Communist Party can only make sensible people laugh.” The current sheriff of Nottingham was appalled, crying, “Robin Hood was no communist.”

As silly as the episode seems in retrospect, the attacks on freedom of expression during the Red Scare in the United States resulted in a number of books being banned from public libraries and schools during the 1950s and 1960s because of their supposedly subversive content. Such well known books as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo, were just some often pulled from shelves. Hollywood films also felt the pressure to conform to more suitably “all-American” themes and stories, and rock and roll music was decried by some as communist-inspired.

READ MORE: How Eisenhower Secretly Pushed Back Against McCarthyism


On this day in history, November 06, 1860 – Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, [&hellip]

Since I whined about performance on 08/25/20, I’ve had a pleasant bout of outperformance. In early September I had nearly hedged out all of my long exposure. I ended September with a 4.75% return, compared with -3.92% for the Standard & Poor 500. While I am happy I stuck to my guns, I think the [&hellip]


The State of Indiana versus Robin Hood

Robin Hood is a mythical hero dating back to the 13th or 14th century. As the story goes — at least in a modern retelling — Robin Hood is an outlaw, a talented archer dressed in emerald green garb who robs from the rich and gives most of his takings to the poor. Despite the fact that he’s a criminal, he’s almost always seen as one of the good guys: not only are Robin’s intentions good, but also the local authorities, led by the Sheriff of Nottingham and in some adaptations, Prince John, are corrupt officials who seize land wantonly and otherwise oppress the people under their rule. Robin and his band of “Merry Men” — basically, his outlaw buddies — wage war on the Sheriff and his cronies in the name of justice.

That’s the basic story, at least. But not everyone saw Robin Hood as a hero. In one instance, in the 1950s, the state of Indiana tried to kick him out of their schools.

The close of World War II ushered in the Cold War, and almost immediately, a wave of anti-Communism spread across the United States. In some cases, most famously those led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, fear of a Communist takeover became a danger unto itself. McCarthyism, as it would later become known, looked to root out any and all Communist influence in the United States, even in some of the most ridiculous, far-fetched situations.

In 1953, the Indiana school textbook commission provided one such example. That November, a commission member known as Mrs. Thomas White proposed that Robin Hood be removed from the bookshelves of the state’s classrooms. Her reasoning? It wasn’t solely because Robin Hood was a criminal. According to History, Mrs. White objected to his efforts to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, asserting “that’s the communist line. It’s just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat.”

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. The state superintendent, according to History, declined to remove the book from the curriculum (although he did re-read it first, to make sure it wasn’t actually Red dressed up in green) and the governor similarly declined to intervene. But those who supported Robin Hood weren’t going to take any chances. Mrs. White’s pronouncement sparked a movement among those who disagreed with her, inspiring them to fight back against McCarthyism.

These critics described themselves as the ‘Green Feather Movement,” aligning themselves with Robin Hood even down to their organization name. The movement originated at Indiana University in direct response to Mrs. White’s overreach and it expanded rapidly. In May of 1954, the Harvard Crimson reported that the Movement had chapters at the Universities of Michigan, Illinois, and Purdue, and was about to expand into Harvard itself. The message, across all of these schools, was one and the same — a desire to end censorship and, ultimately, McCarthyism itself. (Wearing a green cloak or tights was optional.)

Their goals were achieved. Robin Hood remained unbanned and, more importantly (although hardly solely by their efforts) by the end of 1954, the Senate censured McCarthy, massively curtailing his efforts in the process. Merry Men everywhere continued to be merry.

Bonus fact : While there almost certainly never was a real Robin Hood, there most definitely his a real-life sheriff of Nottingham, even today. Nottingham is a real place in England and it has a sheriff, although the job has no real duties. At this point, it mostly exists as a PR stunt in an effort to draw tourists to the area.

From the Archives : Lighting Up the Switchboards: How Communists voted for their favorite contestants in a televised singing competition.


Communist in tights: the ever-changing politics of Robin Hood

Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1937) Credit: alamy

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I n November 1953, Mrs Ada White of Indianapolis fired an arrow into the air of McCarthyite America. She had been reading Robin Hood and the Knight, a tale rewritten from a 15th-century source by Mary McLeod Banks, president of the English Folklore Society, and reprinted in a popular anthology of children’s literature.

As she turned the pages, Mrs White saw red. Maybe a little yellow hammer and sickle, too. And as Republican member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission, she felt moved to speak her mind. “There is a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood,” she declared. “They want to stress it because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the Communist line.”

Mrs White took aim at Indiana’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who - rather wearily, I suspect - began combing grade school textbooks for evidence of Robin Hood’s un-American activities. Press interest, however, sent her projectile ricocheting around the world. A knot of student radicals scattered the campus of Indiana University with symbolic green feathers.

In England, the actual sheriff of Nottingham, William Cox, asserted that Robin Hood was more properly described as a gangster. Then Radio Moscow joined in, trolling Mrs White by announcing that Nikolaj Gribachev, a Soviet poet distinguished only by his ideological reliability, had written ‘A New Ballad of Robin Hood’ for the pages of Pravda.

This week, a new Robin Hood adds another few verses to the song – offering us an opportunity to consider just how long it has echoed through our culture. This latest incarnation is on the big screen, his surest place of refuge since Douglas Fairbanks Snr first flashed his teeth and scaled the Sheriff of Nottingham’s high escarpments.

I n Otto Bathurst’s new comic strip of a movie, Taron Egerton’s Robin is a British soldier who returns from the Holy Land to take revenge upon the corrupt English authorities. (“This is my crusade!” he announces, as identical black hoods are distributed amongst his followers like Guido Fawkes masks at a demo against the G7.)

The prologue, set in the war-torn Middle East, makes the Third Crusade look so much like the Second Gulf War – ruined streets, arrow-proof vests, snipers firing bolts from medieval machine guns – that you half expect the hero to return to England in order to give evidence to the Chilcott Enquiry. He even delivers a verdict: this, he declares, was “a liar’s war”.

When Robin first emerged from the thicket of English folklore, he had no merry men or Maid Marian. His title, the Earl of Huntington, was conferred on him in 1598 by the playwright Anthony Munday. His green tights – filled so bigly by Errol Flynn, and firmly declined by Russell Crowe – were an inheritance from Victorian pantomime, where a principal boy took the part.

T he familiar details of the Hood biography are also mostly 19th-century. It was Sir Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe (1819) that gave Robin his Saxon heritage, his opposition to Bad King John, his Loxley pseudonym and his famous arrow-splitting trick. It also made him decent, honest and cheerful. Earlier Robins, whose principal animus was against clerical authority, were given to beheading corrupt monks and bishops. Castrating them, if they’d done something really bad.

Ivanhoe also set the template for Robin’s screen career – particularly once Douglas Fairbanks had used it as a source. His Robin Hood (1922) broke all kinds of records. A $1.4 million budget made it the most expensive film to date. Its castle set, complete with 450-foot banqueting hall, was the largest yet constructed for a movie. Its gala opening at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre established the rules of the Hollywood movie premiere.

Its success was not limited to America. In Moscow, Robin Hood was a bigger hit than Battleship Potemkin, perhaps because Fairbanks’s incarnation of the English outlaw – athletic, muscular, optimistic – wasn’t so very different from the worker heroes of Russian revolutionary pop culture.

In the last century, Sherwood Forest has provided cover for any number of rebel sensibilities. In The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) Errol Flynn’s protagonist has principles that go far beyond Saxon nationalism. (“It’s injustice I hate,” he says, “not the Normans.”)

I n Ridley Scott’s 2010 film, Russell Crowe’s Robin defuses a civil war, repels the French and cajoles the king into commissioning Magna Carta. On television in the 1980s, Michael Praed’s Robin of Sherwood presented himself as a fragment of a mystic English past. (Clannad’s music set the tone.)

Jonas Armstrong’s hero of the 2006 BBC series was a Manc lad in an Oasis hoodie, with a character modelled on Tim Collins, the British Army colonel known for the speech he gave on the eve of the Iraq War. The story is hard to insulate from politics. Even Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), a film remembered mainly for Alan Rickman’s cherishable scenery-chewing, attaches a message to its arrow by giving Robin a Moorish sidekick.

The most strongly political version of the story, however, is one with the cosiest reputation - ITV’s late-1950steatime drama The Adventures of Robin Hood, which put the avuncular matinee idol Richard Greene into Robin’s jerkin, and sent him into battle against Alan Wheatley’s silky Sheriff of Nottingham.

T he series was produced by Hannah Weinstein, a New York-born journalist and former speechwriter for Franklin D Roosevelt, and Sid Cole, an LSE graduate who had gone to Catalonia in the 1930s to make documentaries sympathetic to the anti-Franco forces.

Together, they recruited Hollywood writers who had been blacklisted by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, instructing the office staff never to accept registered post in case it contained a subpoena to appear at a HUAC hearing.

Had Ada White known this, she might have felt vindicated. At the time, one of the few who came to her defence was a leader writer of the Indianapolis Star. Her remarks, he suggested, had been over-exploited by a liberal press keen to mock Midwestern bigotry. And he produced a counter-reading of the Robin Hood legend.

T he rich he robbed were like the commissars of the Soviet Union. The merry men were like resistance groups behind the Iron Curtain. The freedom brought by the return of King Richard, he reasoned, would one day be enjoyed in a post-Soviet Europe. “It might be a good idea,” he wrote, “for us all to read Robin Hood again, in the original.” Except, of course, there isn’t one.

Some of the earliest accounts of Robin Hood describe him as a presence in amateur plays performed at Whitsun festivals in the 15th and 16th centuries. These plays are mostly lost. They show up on the record because they often ended in uproar and were closed down by the authorities.

Robin remains subtly allied to this folk tradition. More than a literary or historical character, he is a game we play, one that takes on significance from our circumstances, not his. “Forget history!” declares Friar Tuck, in the narration that begins the new retelling of the tale. It’s the wisest line in the script. You won’t find Robin there. He’s a man whose story has no beginning, and no end.


Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communist - HISTORY

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Robin Hood! A Villain! Banned! The Red Dinner!

On this day in 1953, Mrs. Thomas J. (Ada) White of Indiana made a name for herself and made history. She made a few names for herself that day, mostly unflattering, and three names that have already gotten my mouth washed out with soap. Mrs. White was a member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission, and she charged that Robin Hood is Communistic. And for that reason, Mrs. White demanded that Robin Hood must be expelled and banned from from all books, from all Indiana schools.

Yeah. Let that sink in. Work that over for a moment. Mrs. White was only just getting started.

Mrs. White didn't know about Robin Hood or Quakers - but really, how much does an Indiana Textbook Commissioner ever need to know? - and it seems that she did not know what a news wire service was. She seemed genuinely gobsmacked to learn that she was instantly famous - or infamous - and to learn she was a Hot Topic of the Day on radio broadcasts and in all the newspapers, and discussed all across America, from sea to shining sea. And further than just our borders. Over in England, the actual Sheriff of Nottingham denounced Mrs. White’s charges as nonsense. “Robin Hood was no Communist… The Communists may claim a lot of things but they can’t claim Robin Hood. We’re really proud of him.” Mrs. White became an international " figure of fun." The French joked about Little Red Riding Hood being next for the book-burning.

And in a promising moment for the USA, some Americans began sending letters to Mrs. White and to the entire Indiana Textbook Commission. Lots of terse letters that called out Mrs. White for her horseshit, and told the Textbook Commission to knock it off. Mrs. White stirred up such controversy and drew so much fire from so many Americans that she was forced to walk back from her claims. Soon she was saying she had never called for a ban on Robin Hood – though yes indeed she had done exactly that. Mrs. White then tried to portray herself as the persecuted heroine of her fairy tale, to turn criticism of her false allegation into proof of her patriotism and virtue – which was a crafty rhetorical trick. Though now, that is standard-issue in The Age of Truthiness. “Because I’m trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I’m drawing blood or they wouldn’t make such an issue out of it.”

One result of Mrs. White’s attempts to ban Robin Hood was The Green Feather Movement at Indiana University (IU), which then spread to other colleges and universities. IU students who had tagged themselves Robin Hood’s Merry Men had gone to a local slaughterhouse, got six sacks of feathers, and dyed them green. On March 1, 1954, green feathers appeared tacked to all the bulletin boards all over campus, and flyers were being handed out explaining the feathers. The Indiana students were prompted into action by Mrs. White’s nutball accusations and attempts at book-banning and deletion of Quakers from American history - but their targets were the worsening Red Scare slanders and defamations, and McCarthyism itself. Therefore those students were promptly investigated by Hoover's FBI. The FBI did not believe Mrs. White's allegations. But the FBI did believe that any American students who would call her out for her bullshit would likely have been prompted to do so by covert Communist agents. The local newspaper described the students as Commie “dupes” and “long hairs.” But they were not dupes and long hairs. They were pious American Baptists. It was the students' own Roger Williams Fellowship at the First Baptist Church that inspired their Green Feather Movement. News of the IU Green Feather Movement made it into college newspapers all around the US, and Green Feather Buttons began to appear on students on many other campuses.

It was not yet the 1960s. But the 1950s would not be so quiet after all. Some young Americans were rousing, were rubbing the sleep from their eyes and were noticing that, while everyone slept, simple basic truthfulness had been taking a terrible beating.

  • Russian Rye topped w/ Sardines in Tomato Sauce w/ Chili
  • St. Elmo Steakhouse Shrimp Cocktail
  • Redskin Peanuts

It's been a month at least, Comrade Mrs. White, since we all sang the Soviet anthem, and that was in a Quaker Meeting House where we fought no wars and did not shoot anyone at all. We all just practiced putting our hands up and surrendering. But the Cocktail Hour tunes we really really want are the best of Indiana rockers David Lee Roth (w/ Van Halen), and John Mellencamp. Think about this - if you stand Indiana's David Lee Roth side by side with Indiana's Mrs. White, the out-of-control and notoriously bonkers David Lee Roth who is chugging Jack Daniel's is the grownup in the room, the reality-based, rational and sensible individual. And he is the least likely of the two to just start making shit up.

Our starter at the table is some steaming hot bowls of borscht. Make no mistake, Comrade Mrs. White, it is Russian Borscht . Our salad is not the weak and fragile greens of the decadent West, with its “Russian Dressing” which is unknown in The Great Russian People’s Cuisine. Nyet! We are having Ensalada Rusa , the salad of Red October! Our main plate is red, Fish Baked w/ The People’s Tomatoes & Onions . Deep red!

Out of consideration for Comrade Mrs. White, dessert tonight should probably just be a fool. Or perhaps some little marzipan donkeys. Chocolate-covered goobers & numbnuts. But we’ll have fresh fruit and Russian Tea Cakes (cookies).

Russian Borscht, from Taste of Home

Ingredients
2 cups chopped fresh beets
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef or vegetable broth
1 can (16 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Sour cream, optional

Directions
In a large saucepan, combine the beets, carrots, onion and broth bring to a boil. Reduce heat cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cabbage cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Stir in salt, dill and pepper. Top each serving with sour cream if desired.


Robin Hood Communist Book Burning

In our age of political correctness in classrooms, where certain books (Whittaker Chambers’ Witness—which no one on my thesis committee sought to read despite my subject matter pertaining to the Alger Hiss trial), are verboten, it is hard to remember that once upon a time there was a right-wing variant of it.

Sixty three years ago this week, Mrs. Thomas J. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission, demanded that the textbook references to the book Robin Hood be removed from state schools. The rationale for this was that this figure “who robbed from the rich to give to the poor” represented a “a Communist directive.”

Mrs. White was no anomaly in this era. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s right hand Roy Cohn and his assistant—some said lover–G. David Schine took an expensive tax-payer funded jaunt through seven nations in Europe seeking to ascertain whether State Department-sponsored libraries contained books by Communists. This was exceeding their brief as the purpose of their visit was to make sure there were pro-American books that could influence Europeans about the American Way of Life. Instead they recommended the libraries yank books off the shelf by Dashiell Hammett (who, in point of fact, was an ardent Stalinist) and Ernest Hemingway (revealing their ignorance as Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls was critical of communist behavior during the Spanish Civil War), and even Henry David Thoreau.

Although historian David Oshinsky admitted there were some books promoting the Communist message, such as one by the wife of Stalinist Paul Robeson, Eslanda Roberston, who praised the Soviet Union as the height of the Great Terror. But Oshinsky noted that the presence of such works was not “very large” (a House Committee listed only thirty-nine by eight authors”).

Nevertheless, Cohn and Schine treated authors such as Mark Twain as akin to communist-sympathizer John Reed, author of a book (Ten Days That Shook The World) that was a hugely sympathetic account of the Bolshevik seizure of power.

Such was the power of McCarthy in that era, that some in the overseas’ libraries burned books. Worse still, the pair damaged international relations. As books went up in smoke, the US attempt to persuade the French to remove Communists from their government failed. Cohn and Schine also lent credence to the Kremlin’s propaganda that the US was either already fascist or going that way by emulating the Nazi book burnings.
But not all Republicans bowed before McCarthy. President Dwight Eisenhower, usually silent up to then about McCarthy, ordered the books back on the shelf, and mirrored the sentiment that the torching of books was reminiscent of Hitler.

This is not to say, however, that the Left was exempt from censorship. The American Communist Party forbid members to even read their own brand of verboten authors. Communist director Edward Dymtryk got into trouble with Party head John Howard Lawson for reading anti-communist author Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. Stalinist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo bragged of keeping “such untrue and reactionary works” such as Leon Trotsky’s “so-called biography of Stalin” from being adapted to the screen. Screenwriter Albert Maltz, considered one of the “liberal” faction of the Party, was nearly excommunicated for praising writers such as the “Trotskyite” writer James Farrell as an example of creativity over hewing to suffocating political propaganda.

Conservative icon Whittaker Chambers, who refused to and urged William Buckley not to support Joseph McCarthy, found the Hitler comparison valid. And he prophetically noted that supporting such undemocratic measures could one day be turned against them.


Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communist - HISTORY

1894 Birth: Arthur Nebe: SS General and head the criminal police (KRIPO) from 1933 to 1945. Nebe will be a professional policeman with the rank of Police Commissioner by 1924. Even before Hitler comes to power, he will have close connections to the SS group led by Kurt Daluege, and in April 1933, will be recommended by Daluege for the position of Chief Executive of the State Police. Nebe will quickly set about reorganizing the criminal police in the Third Reich and play a major role in establishing the totalitarian police system. In June 1941, he will be given command of Einsatzgruppe B, which is headquartered in Minsk, and during the next five months will be responsible for 46,000 executions in White Russia. Nebe will disappear in early 1945, but according to official records was executed in Berlin on March 21, 1945. Yet, several sightings and rumors of his activities will continue into the late 1960's. Shortly after the war an amateur film showing a gas chamber supplied with gas from the exhaust of a truck will allegedly be found in his former Berlin apartment.

1914 List Regiment (Nov 10-15): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler serves as a regimental orderly (Ordonnanz) and one of eight dispatch runners (Meldegaenger) in a line of trenches before Messines. [For further details, Click here.]

1915 World War I (Oct 4, 1915 - Feb 29, 1916): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's serves with 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment at Fromelles. [For further details, Click here.]

1916 World War I: British statesman expresses criticism of war effort:

On November 13, 1916, the British statesman Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, better known as the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne, writes a memorandum to the British cabinet questioning the direction of the Allied war effort in World War I. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 World War I: General Allenby, closely pursuing the Turks, strikes again, driving them back to the north. Turning then toward Jerusalem, Allenby is detained by the appearance of Turkish reserves and the arrival of General von Falkenhayn, who reestablishes a front from the sea to Jerusalem.

1919 Weimar: Adolf Hitler after only a little over a month in the Party, becomes one of the DAP's principal speakers and its chief propagandist. (Maser)

1924 Italy: Mussolini introduces a bill to give women the vote in national elections. The Duce is not a feminist, however. His assumption is that once Italian woman are allowed to vote, his supremely masculine self will never lose an election.

1933 Poland: In a meeting with Josef Lipski, the Polish Ambassador in Berlin, Hitler tells him that "any war could bring Communism to Europe. Poland is at the forefront of the fight against Asia. Poland's destruction therefore would be a universal misfortune. The other European governments," Hitler says, "ought to recognize Poland's position."

1934 Mussolini meets with Nahum Goldman:

A long process which goes back to the time when the World Jewish Congress was led by Nahum Goldman. You had one predominant policy in terms of Israel, but you also had another element there which was very dangerous, and which Goldman had to fight. And that was the danger of Jabotinsky, and what Jabotinsky represented. So, as Jabotinsky took over, or his heirs took over, such as Netanyahu, Sharon, Shamir. As they took over, Israel became an instrument of a certain Anglo-American interest. Remember, Jabotinsky was both a Russian Okhrana agent and also a British agent. He was also a Mussolini agent. He also declared himself a fascist, not only for Mussolini, but he appealed twice to Hitler, when Hitler was in power, to say, give up your anti-Semitism and we'll work with you, form an alliance.

1936 Holocaust: The Research Department for the Jewish Question (Forschungsabteilung Judenfrage) opens in Munich. (THP)

The laws that, theoretically, apply to all German citizens, whether Gentile or Jew, in practice give the Gentile every possible advantage and the Jew every disadvantage. They protect the Gentile from the Jew, but not the Jew from the Gentile. Thus a Gentile may libel a Jew with impunity, but not a Jew a Gentile--at least, not if the Gentile is a Nazi. Brown shirts have committed innumerable thefts in Jewish shops--they have habitually asked for cigarettes and other articles at the counter and have received them without payment--while the shopkeeper has had no means of redress. It is easy for a Gentile to recover a debt from a Jew, but very difficult or even impossible for a Jew to recover a debt from a Gentile. In disputes between Jew and Gentile, the law tends very strongly to work against the Jew. [For further details, Click here.]

1939 World War II: Start of the ZWZ (Union for Armed Struggle): It had no equivalent in the Polish Army before the war, but it nevertheless played a very important role in raising morale and influencing attitudes among the soldiers of the underground movement as well as those of the Polish community. Through the introduction of propaganda the soldiers of the ZWZ-AK could be integrated into a single underground army.

1940 World War II: President Roosevelt announces the arming of American merchant vessels carrying Lend-Lease cargo to Britain:

The Kaiser's blank check to Austria-Hungary in the First World War was a piker compared to the Roosevelt blank check of World War II. It warranted my worst fears for the future of America, and it definitely stamps the President as war-minded. The lend-lease-give program is the New Deal's triple-A foreign policy it will plow under every fourth American boy. Never before have the American people been asked or compelled to give so bounteously and so completely of their tax dollars to any foreign nation. Never before has the Congress of the United States been asked by any President to violate international law. Never before has this nation resorted to duplicity in the conduct of its foreign affairs. Never before has the United States given to one man the power to strip this nation of its defenses. [For further details, Click here.]

1941 World War II: Various:

The British aircraft carrier Ark Royal is hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat, the U-81, off Gibraltar:

At 15.41 hours, just after the penultimate, the 13th machine had landed, the ship, cutting through the water at 18 knots was struck by a torpedo on the starboard side and began to list heavily. The Captain realized he had no choice but to give the order to abandon ship and retain only the essential crew required to get her back to the safety of Gibraltar Harbour.

In a matter of hours, the sea water flooded into the boiler-room and with key crew members evacuated, when the water level reached the main switchboard all power was lost to the pumps, the lights went out and the engines stopped. In a vain attempt to salvage the ship, at 19.30 hours a line was cast and, at two knots, a tug began to tow the stricken ship towards the visible sanctuary of Gibraltar Harbour. The crew worked all though the night, but by 03.00 hours, after 14 hours, on 14th November the list had reached 35 degrees and the crew who remained were eventually evacuated, the operation futile.

There was nothing else for the survivors to do than to watch the final moments of this once fine ship. Majestically, she dipped another 10 degrees and, as water lapped over her flight deck, turned over and slowly sank.

Congress revises the Neutrality Act:

On this day in 1941, the United States Congress amends the Neutrality Act of 1935 to allow American merchant ships access to war zones, thereby putting U.S. vessels in the line of fire.

In anticipation of another European war, and in pursuit of an isolationist foreign policy, Congress passed the Neutrality Act in August 1935, forbidding the sale of munitions by U.S. firms to any and all belligerents in any future war. This was a not-so-subtle signal to all governments and private industries, domestic and foreign, that the United States would play no part in foreign wars. Less than two years later, a second Neutrality Act was passed, forbidding the export of arms to either side in the Spanish Civil War.

The original 1935 act was made even more restrictive in May 1937, forbidding not only arms and loans to warring nations, but giving the president of the United States the authority to forbid Americans from traveling on ships of any warring nation, to forbid any U.S. ship from carrying U.S. goods, even nonmilitary, to a belligerent, and to demand that a belligerent nation pay for U.S. nonmilitary goods before shipment&mdasha "cash and carry" plan.

But such notions of strict neutrality changed quickly once World War II began. The first amendment to the act came as early as September 1939 President Roosevelt, never happy with the extreme nature of the act, fought with Congress to revise it, allowing for the sale of munitions to those nations under siege by Nazi Germany. After heated debate in a special session, Congress finally passed legislation permitting such sales. Addressing the prospect of direct U.S. intervention in the war, President Roosevelt proclaimed, also in September 1939, that U.S. territorial waters were a neutral zone, and any hostile power that used those waters for the prosecution of the war would be considered "unfriendly" and "offensive."

Finally, when the U.S. destroyer Reuben James was sunk by a German sub in October 1941, the Neutrality Act was destined for the dustbin of history. By November, not only would merchant ships be allowed to arm themselves for self-defense, but they would also be allowed to enter European territorial waters. America would no longer stand aloof from the hostilities. ( History.com)

1942 World War II: Various:

War in the Pacific: The most furious sea battle of the Solomon Islands begins. Led by two battleships, a Japanese force steams down 'the Slot,' the passage between the adjacent islands of Rabaul and Guadalcanal, and deliver a heavy shelling attack on a much smaller American task force. The clash rages through the night, when smaller, more maneuverable American ships take advantage of the thick blanket of darkness. At times, the American ships draw so close to the enemy fleet that they have trouble depressing their guns. When the battle finally simmers down on the fifteenth, the Americans claim a moral victory. The Japanese battleship Hiei is heavily damaged and is scuttled by its crew the first Japanese battleship lost in the war. However, the US loses two cruisers, including the torpedoed Juneau, the sinking of which takes the lives of five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, the Sullivans. American journalists devour the Sullivan brothers story, and a destroyer being built at that time in a San Francisco shipyard is named The Sullivans in their honor. Also, after their deaths, US Navy regulations are changed so that close relatives cannot serve on board the same ship.

Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower flies to Algeria to conclude an agreement with French Admiral Jean Darlan, a French traitor and collaborator. He had been captured in Algiers while visiting his son.

Without seeking approval from higher authorities, Eisenhower flew to Algiers and met with Darlan. He struck a deal: Darlan became commander of all French military personnel and was given control of all civil authorities. In return, Darlan agreed to an immediate cease fire and unlimited permission for the allied forces to establish and operate air bases, supply depots, and troop facilities. The fighting between French and Allied forces stopped.

Newspapers in both the United States and Britain expressed outrage at Eisenhower for collaboration with the enemy. Banner headlines denounced his incompetence and political naivete. Ike ignored the press.

As became apparent later both Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, fully understood that large numbers of lives had been saved and the huge cost of occupation avoided. They backed Eisenhower's deal. Ike's head didn't roll, as he had half-expected. He had absorbed the heat that otherwise might have been directed at his political superiors, and he and his Allied command were able to get on with the job of defeating the Axis forces in Africa. [For further details, Click here.]

USA: The minimum draft age in the US is lowered from 21 to 18.

1943 World War II: Germans execute 1,360 prisoners in Rowne, including a hundred members of the AK.

General Charles De Gaulle is elected president of the French provisional government with the vote of all 555 deputies.

As president de Gaulle fought every plan to involve France deeply in alliances. He opposed the formation of a United States of Europe and British entry into the Common Market. He stopped paying part of France's dues to the United Nations, forced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters to leave France, and pulled French forces out of the Atlantic Alliance integrated armies. De Gaulle had an early success in stimulating (to make excitable) pride in Frenchmen and in increasing French gold reserves and strengthening the economy. By the end of his reign, however, France was almost friendless. [For further details, Click here.]

Truman announces inquiry into Jewish settlement in Palestine:

On this day in 1945, President Harry Truman announces the establishment of a panel of inquiry to look into the settlement of Jews in Palestine.

In the last weeks of World War II, the Allies liberated one death camp after another in which the German Nazi regime had held and slaughtered millions of Jews. Surviving Jews in the formerly Nazi-occupied territories were left without family, homes, jobs or savings.

In August 1945, Truman received the Harrison report, which detailed the plight of Jews in post-war Germany, and it became clear to him that something had to be done to speed up the process of finding Jewish refugees a safe place to live.

In late August, Truman contacted British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to propose that Jewish refugees be allowed to immigrate to Palestine, which at the time was occupied by Britain. Attlee responded that he would look into the matter and asked for a joint Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry to examine the complicated issue of integrating Jewish settlers into territory that was home to an Arab majority. Meanwhile, two U.S. senators introduced a resolution in Congress demanding the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

In April 1946, the committee issued its report, which recommended the immigration of 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine. Truman wrote to Attlee for his help in moving the repatriation process forward. However, by mid-1946, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had weighed in, bringing up the question of who would control the lucrative oil fields in a region that had the potential for unstable political and cultural relations between Jews and Arabs. Since the threat of communist expansion into politically unstable regions then dictated most of U.S. foreign policy, Truman and Attlee became convinced by their respective military advisors that Jewish communist sympathizers in a new Jewish state might jeopardize the west's access to Middle Eastern oil. The settlement plans were put on hold.

Truman was again inundated with requests for help from the Jewish community. The issue of the establishment of a Jewish state was debated and delayed for another two years even though the newly formed United Nations, which had no enforcement power without the participation of the United States and Great Britain, had decided in favor of a Jewish state by 1946. ( History.com)

Yugoslavia: German troops evacuate Skopje.

1953 Red Scare: Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communistic:

In an example of the absurd lengths to which the "Red Scare" in America is going, Mrs. Thomas J. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission, calls for the removal of references to the book Robin Hood from textbooks used by the state's schools. Mrs. Young claimed that there was "a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That's the Communist line. It's just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat." She went on to attack Quakers because they "don't believe in fighting wars." This philosophy, she argued, played into communist hands. Though she later stated that she never argued for the removal of texts mentioning the story from school textbooks, she continued to claim that the "take from the rich and give to the poor" theme was the "Communist's favorite policy." Reacting to criticisms of her stance, she countered that, "Because I'm trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I'm drawing blood or they wouldn't make such an issue out of it." The response to Mrs. White's charges was mixed.

Indiana Governor George Craig came to the defense of Quakers, but backed away from getting involved in the textbook issue. The state superintendent of education went so far as to reread the book before deciding that it should not be banned. However, he did feel that "Communists have gone to work twisting the meaning of the Robin Hood legend." The Indianapolis superintendent of schools also did not want the book banned, claiming that he could not find anything particularly subversive about the story. In the Soviet Union, commentators had a field day with the story. One joked that the "enrollment of Robin Hood in the Communist Party can only make sensible people laugh." The current sheriff of Nottingham was appalled, crying, "Robin Hood was no communist."

As silly as the episode seems in retrospect, the attacks on freedom of expression during the Red Scare in the United States resulted in a number of books being banned from public libraries and schools during the 1950s and 1960s because of their supposedly subversive content. Such well known books as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo, were just some of the books often pulled from shelves. Hollywood films also felt the pressure to conform to more suitably "all-American" themes and stories, and rock and roll music was decried by some as communist-inspired. ( History.com)

1956 USA: Racism: Supreme Court strikes down laws calling for racial segregation on public buses.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)
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Student Protest Then and Now

On October 13, 2014, hundreds of protesters, both students and non-students, gathered around a clock tower on Saint Louis University’s campus in Missouri to protest the police shooting of VonDerrit Myers Jr., the 18-year-old son of a university employee.[1] VonDerrit’s death occurred just months after the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, and it reignited frustrations with police officers’ treatment of racial minorities. The protest transformed into a week-long sit-in where students and outside community members held discussions about race, equality, and poverty. The demonstration culminated in an agreement between the students and the university’s administration to commit to various initiatives, such as recruiting more students and faculty of color to the campus and increasing funding for African-American studies programs.

In recent years, we have seen students organize around racial justice, sexual assault, climate change, the Second Amendment, and student loan debt, among other issues. Today’s activism builds on the work of past generations of students who used their First Amendment freedoms to hold power accountable. Some of the most influential examples of student protest took place in the 20th century. During this period, students stood up to political orthodoxy, challenged unjust laws, and spoke out against restrictive speech codes. In doing so, they often had to fight for the basic right to protest in the face of restrictions on speech imposed by their universities or the government.[2]

While student protests have occasionally crossed into unprotected conduct and speech, you as students should understand that, within the bounds of the First Amendment, you have a great deal of freedom to engage in protest and demonstrations. By doing so, you can raise awareness of problems and bring about change.

Protests Against McCarthyism

Take, for example, the period after World War II when a senator named Joseph McCarthy led a national campaign to rid the United States of communism. Taking advantage of the public’s fears of Soviet influence, McCarthy used the federal government to investigate private and public institutions across the country for signs of communist propaganda. Many state and local governments followed suit, firing public employees who were suspected to be affiliated with the communist party and encouraging others in their community to do the same.

Though McCarthy’s actions threatened a variety of institutions, they posed a specific kind of existential threat for universities, which had traditionally enjoyed intellectual and academic autonomy from the government. And so, when the Indiana Textbook Commission announced in 1953 that it was banning the story Robin Hood from all public K-12 schools due to themes they thought supported communism, a group of college students decided they had to act decisively. Using a sack of chicken feathers from a local farm and green dye, the students pinned the feathers to their shirts, in symbolic protest of the book ban.[3] News of the “Green Feather Movement” spread across local and college newspapers throughout the country and spurred similar demonstrations at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, Purdue University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. It even inspired an opposing “Red Feather Movement” at Harvard and the University of Indiana made up of pro-McCarthy students, though their efforts were short-lived.[4]

Private colleges were also susceptible to government scrutiny during the McCarthy Era. At Sarah Lawrence College, a private liberal arts school in New York, a total of 18 faculty members were targeted by the government. Students published statements in the New York Times in support of their professors, while the student newspaper tracked and published information regarding the attacks on their academic freedom.[5]

In an era defined by collective silence and ideological conformity, these students chose to openly criticize government censorship. To break through the hush, the students during the McCarthy Era had to believe in the value of their ideas. In other words, they had to fear the consequences of silence more than the consequences of speaking out. Few other students in American history understood this more than a group of black students in 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina, whose protest ignited the Civil Rights movement.[6]

Civil Rights Era Protests

When four black students from North Carolina A&T University sat down at a “whites only” lunch counter in a department store in Greensboro, North Carolina to protest racial segregation, the waitress didn’t know what to do. She knew that they knew that they weren’t supposed to be there. Why had they sat there? What were they thinking? In fact, Ezell, David, Franklin, and Joseph had been planning the demonstration against the city’s segregation laws for weeks.

All across the South, laws separated where black and white people could eat, shop, live, and work. It was not uncommon for protesting black Americans to be arrested for resisting the status quo. In their training, the students had practiced being shoved and thrown to the ground. The plan was to remain calm, to not respond to physical aggression. This strategy assured that the content of their message was not tainted by violence.[7]

Though we might now remember many of these protests in a less controversial light, it is easy to forget how intensely radical the ideas of Civil Rights protesters were at the time they demonstrated. Many states sent black Americans to jail for protesting segregation using outdated statutes restricting where and when people could assemble. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself was arrested in Albany, Georgia for praying outside a government building to end racial segregation.[8] Even though police did not always respect his First Amendment rights, King recognized the value free speech offered Civil Rights protesters who challenged the status quo.

Vietnam Protests and the Free Speech Movement

Around the same time as the Civil Rights movement, students also began protesting the United States’ war with Vietnam. Using similar non-violent strategies, college students around the country held teach-ins, passed out fliers, and organized massive rallies both on- and off-campus. However, not all college administrations were welcoming of this kind of political activity, and they looked for ways to limit student expression. At the University of California, Berkeley, the president of the university announced a policy prohibiting advocacy of political causes or candidates as well as outside political speakers. In response, a group of students started a campaign against the administration’s speech codes in what became known as the Free Speech Movement.

The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley was a widely successful student campaign dedicated to ensuring students’ right to discuss ideas freely on and off campus without fear of administrative censorship. As Arthur Goldberg, one of the protest leaders, put it, “the most important thing is to make this campus a marketplace for ideas.”

For Goldberg and other activists, the university’s policies restricting student political activity denied students the opportunity to deliberate new and creative political solutions to public issues, a role he and others eagerly desired.[9] Though the movement involved more than free speech, the student’s emphasis on the First Amendment and participatory democracy had a lasting impact on higher education.

Conclusion

Over the course of American history, students and faculty at colleges and universities have fought to protect their right to think and speak freely. They have played an important role in upholding First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petition. These individuals understood intimately that a healthy democracy rested on the ability and willingness of its citizens to hold power accountable. As you begin your first year of college, we want you to see yourself as part of this long tradition of student protest.

Instructions for a Student-Led Discussion

Consider using this module as a lead-in to a seminar-like discussion on the tradition of student protest. Have your student orientation leaders talk to small groups of students about their experiences with protest and their thoughts about the history of student demonstrations. Think about inviting student leaders from political and ideological student groups or your student senate to participate in the discussions.


9 Shocking Events You Had No Idea Happened In Indiana

These shocking events in Indiana reveal a darker side of Hoosier history. Big stories get the big press, but you might be surprised by some of these lesser known things that happened in Indiana…even though they involve some big names.

We’ve organized this list from oldest to most recent events there is no ranking other than when it occurred.

Most of us don’t spend our days pondering the inner mechanisms of the Government, but the process of electing US Senators by popular vote began after a shockingly violent day in the Indiana General Assembly. Governor Isaac P. Gray, a former Republican elected as a Democratic candidate, had his eye on the Senator seat, but neither party favored his plans.

Gray became a catalyst for action on both sides of party lines, leading to an attack on the newly elected Republican Lieutenant Governor, Robert S. Robertson, as he attempted to enter the chamber. A full-out riot commenced in the Indiana Statehouse, which ended after four hours of fist fighting and death threats that required the Governor to call in the police to control the situation.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic Senate refused to communicate, creating a deadlock so strong that it eventually led to the US Constitutional Amendment to make Senators elected by popular vote rather than General Assembly.

Typically “World’s First” is an exciting title to win, but in this one is truly horrific. Michigan almost saved the Hoosier State from this horrific “first” by proposing a bill in 1897 and Pennsylvania tried 8 years later, but both were shot down before becoming law.

Several states followed Indiana’s misguided lead and, by the time these compulsory sterilization laws were determined unconstitutional at the Federal level, more than 65,000 people in 33 states had been forcibly or unknowingly sterilized. The eugenics laws focused on controlling genetically passed traits, “therapeutically” treating sexual behavior, and as punishment for criminals in prisons.

At the peak of the McCarthy Era, Robin Hood was nearly banished from Indiana schools after Mrs. Thomas J. White, a member of the Indiana Textbook Commission spoke out against the children’s storybook hero over his secretly political intentions. In defense of her attack on the “Merry Men,” White claimed, “There is a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood. They want to stress it because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the Communist line.”

In response to the call for censorship, a group of Indiana University students collected chicken feathers and dyed them green (to match the one worn by Robin Hood) and spread them across campus in protest. Now known as the Green Feather Movement, the event inspired other similar protests across the country. Luckily, the push for censorship failed…but also proved the power of student activism.

Due to the incomprehensible actions of Jones’ religious movement and the resulting Jonestown mass suicide, most people don’t know of Jim Jones’ history as a Civil Rights leader and outspoken desegregation advocate. In 1960, Jones became director of the Human Rights Commission in Indianapolis and helped to integrate many churches and businesses, which received much criticism and several death threats.

Jim and his wife Marceline adopted several children, including three Korean-American children, a Native American child and, in 1961, became the first Indiana couple to adopt a black son. The Joneses often referred to themselves as a “rainbow family.” Despite his positive impact on numerous social communities in Indiana, Jones’ cyanide Kool-Aid plan for “revolutionary suicide” is unforgivable.

Hobart Freeman formed his own congregation in 1963 after being asked to leave the World of Faith Movement for his oppositional viewpoints and cultish dedication to the power of prayer. His sermons convinced his followers to forego any medical treatments, as they interfered with God’s authority to heal sickness, which he believed was based on how strongly genuine one’s faith is.

Controversy was raised in 1974 in Kosciusko County when the Board of Health reported that diabetic community members had stopped taking insulin treatments and local hospital statistics showed that women from the congregation who chose home births (without midwives or medical assistance) over hospital births were 60 times more likely to die in childbirth, and most were refusing post-natal care. A Chicago Tribune article revealed at least 90 plausible deaths, many of them newborn children, linked to Freeman’s ministry.

Freeman practiced what he preached in 1984, he died of complications from pneumonia and congestive heart failure after he refused to remove or clean bandages covering ulcers produced by a gangrene infection.

There are too many events to ever fit into one list. Do you know other shocking Indiana events throughout history that should have made this list? Let us know in the Comments section below–you may see them in pop up a future follow-up list!


Cartoon conspiracies: 7 cartoons that may have a hidden political agenda

It may seem ridiculous, but kids' cartoons get accused of harboring hidden political agendas all the time. Here's a look at some of the strangest accusations lobbed at cartoons over the years:

Even though communism and Nazism are considered opposite ends of the political spectrum, the Smurfs have been accused of both.

Most commonly, the blue critters are called reds.

"In a textbook communist society, all citizens are equal," explained Washington Times writer Patrick Hurby in a 2011 piece on the little hat-wearing commies. "They labor for the common good. Money is unnecessary. Individual liberty takes a back seat to the needs of the collective. There is no God but the state."

In the Smurf village, everyone dresses the same and lives in mushroom houses that look the same. They have no money and Papa Smurf actually quotes Karl Marx when he says, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

There's also some basis for the competing theory that they're Nazis, though.

Antoine Bueno, a French sociologist, wrote a book theorizing that the Smurfs are anti-Semitic because Gargamel, the bad guy, has a hooked nose and is always hunting gold. Also, the only female in the village is a blond-haired Aryan beauty. (Well, except for the fact that she's blue instead of white.)

Added ammo for this theory comes from the fact that the Smurfs live in a totalitarian world — kind of like where the Smurfs' creator grew up.

Comic artist Pierre Culliford — better known as Peyo — was born in Belgium in 1928 and grew up during the rise of Nazism, which Bueno thinks may have smurfed his worldview.

In a 1996 essay, Matt Roth argued that the 1940 animated feature is blatantly pro-Hitler.

The film's bad guys, Roth says, all embody types the Third Reich despised: There's an effeminate fox that Roth labels as gay, an evil gypsy named Stromboli and a businessman who could be seen as stereotypically Jewish.

In the end, Pinocchio has to rescue Geppetto from inside a whale, which Roth speculates could represent the international Jewish banking system.

"The ideal society of 'Pinocchio,' as of the Nazis, is a disciplined, all male, warrior culture nurtured by idealized feminine domestics," he writes, adding that the film could "very well have served as a Hitler Youth training."

Although a number of early Disney movies have since been critiqued for their racist stereotypes, it's worth noting that Disney also made anti-German propaganda during World War II.

In addition to positing that "Pinocchio" is Nazi propaganda, Roth also holds that "The Lion King" is more generally pro-fascist.

"Fifty years after 'Pinocchio' … 'The Lion King' echoes all of its fascist themes: hatred of gays, communists, and minorities, and the glorification of violent male initiation and feminine domesticity — all set in a bucolic suburban environment under the strong leadership of an all-male state," he writes.

Songs like "I Can't Wait to Be King" are supposed evidence of a totalitarian/monarchist agenda. The bad guy — Scar — has effeminate manners and is not producing heirs, so theoretically could be gay. Also, he forges an alliance with the "ghettoized" hyenas.

"Taken as a whole, he represents that bête-noir of contemporary right-wingers, the Liberal Politician," Roth writes.

The 2004 Pixar film is, according to some theorists, celebrating social Darwinism, a belief in "survival of the fittest" that was once used to justify racism and laissez-faire capitalism.

Throughout the movie, the titular family derides mediocrity, which Maryland Institute College of Art's Mikita Brottman categorized as almost Nietzsche-like.

"The movie salutes Superman," Brottman told the Christian Science Monitor. "Not the 'superman' in comic books but the one [DESPOTS]believe in. Its idea seems to be that even in a democracy some people are 'more equal' than others, and the rest of us shouldn't be so presumptuous as to get in their way."

In 1953, the Indiana Textbook Commission actually tried to mandate the removal of Robin Hood references from all textbooks used in state schools.

One commission member claimed that the story was "a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor."

Despite that — and the accusation that the tale was "just a smearing of law and order" — the textbook in question was not banned, according to History.com.

Ever since the 2011 film's release, right-wingers have been unhappy about the perceived implication that big oil is bad — which is an easy reading of the film's plot. The movie pits Mater and McQueen against a bunch of evil, oil reserve-owning lemons.

Adding fuel to the fire, director John Lasseter told The Wall Street Journal, "I thought, well, that could be really cool in that you could have big oil versus alternative fuel. That's when we kind of crafted the bad guy's story."

In response, Glenn Beck ran a post on his site complaining that the "nice 'green energy'" messages shows old cars as "evil villains."


Why we hunt witches: India’s illiberal impulses may not prove as durable as some fear

As she read through the story of the outlaw in green and his band of merry men, Ada White began to see red: the black-and-white evidence on the pages of the primary-school literature reader left no doubt whatsoever that American children were being taught insurrection.

“There is a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood," the Indiana Textbook Commission member raged in November 1953.

“They want to stress it because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the Communist line. It’s just a smearing of law and order”.

Through the prism of the present, White’s terror appears to be clinically-delusional. As the Cold War descended upon the world, anti-Communist paranoia shaped America’s political life. Filmmakers, academics and journalists were persecuted even John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun were swept off the bookshelves.

As the world struggles to make sense of the discourse around the Disha Ravi case — which comes on the back of new laws around inter-religious marriage, and a growing tide of religious-offence prosecutions — scholars like Ashutosh Varshney have been raising concerns about the survival of Indian democracy.

The genesis and the eventual collapse of America’s anti-communist witch-hunt, though, gives reason to ask if Indian illiberalism will prove as durable as some fear.

White’s America was one of historically-unprecedented prosperity. Following the end of the Second World War, the United States’ gargantuan industrial base shifted from producing weapons and ordnance to consumer goods. Americans proved eager to spend their wartime savings on fridges, dishwashers, cars and clothing.

Large-scale government expenditure on ensuring American military supremacy, too, fuelled the boom. The US Gross National Product grew from $200 billion in 1940 to $300 billion in 1950 and would rise over $500 billion in 1960.

Americans had, quite simply, never had it so good.

Yet, this new America was also characterised by unprecedented anxiety. In 1950, just five years after the end of the Second World War, the United States found itself at war in Korea, and staring out at the Soviet Union’s menacing forces in Europe. The fear of a nuclear apocalypse hovered over the minds of an entire generation — fuelled by revelations of Soviet espionage at the highest levels of the United States’ strategic institutions.

“Low-Blow Joe” — the anti-communist populist political Joseph McCarthy — weaponised these fears, claiming the United States was being corroded from within by communists. In 1950, McCarthy gained national attention by claiming to have a list of 205 communist sympathisers — a non-existent list, it turned out, but one he adroitly used to bludgeon ideological opponents. More than 100 university professors lost their jobs in the ensuing witch-hunt, scholar Ellen Schrecker has recorded countless others censored themselves. Actors and writers in Hollywood were ruined.

A kind of political theatre of the absurd emerged from the congealing anti-Communist paranoia. In Illinois, officials warned that subversives were being indoctrinated in the Girl Scouts a town in New York demanded loyalty oaths from applicants seeking fishing licences the Cincinnati Reds baseball team sought to change their name. Librarians evicted even National Geographic, Time, and Life from their shelves.

Legitimacy for the anti-communist witch-hunt of the 1950s didn’t, however, simply rest on nationalism. Following the end of the Second World War, African-American soldiers returned home and began demanding that the democratic principles they had died for in Europe also be applied inside the United States. The resentments were crystallised by the 1946 lynching of four African-Americans in Georgia’s Walton County, Georgia, one of them a war veteran. The urban Black working-class, which had dramatically expanded by the demand for industrial labour in 1939-1945, provided a robust social base for these mobilisations.

The murder of teenager Emmett Till, his eyes gouged out and shot for allegedly having wolf-whistled at a white woman Rosa Parks’ incarceration for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger Ezell Blair Jr, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil refusing to leave a Whites-Only lunch counter until served: through the 1950s, savage racist violence met a new and stubborn defiance.

For millions of middle-class White Americans, these events were a source of terror: a social order which guaranteed their privilege was being dismantled as they watched.

Little in this story, the work of the scholar Albert Bergesen teaches us, is exceptionally American. Great witch-hunts have erupted whenever nation-states or societies have found themselves confronted with challenges they could neither fully comprehend, nor resolve.

Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and Joseph Stalin’s show-trials far exceeded, in their savagery and scale, the American witch-hunt of the 1950s. European witch-hunts in the medieval era, Nachman Ben-Yehuda has shown, were similarly driven by fundamental challenges to the feudal order.

Faced with “a feeling that society had lost its norms and boundaries and that uncontrollable forces of change were destroying all order and moral tradition”, Ben-Yehuda notes, contemporary thinkers were led “to overstep the boundaries of reality and enter the realm of magic, fancy, and make-believe”.

These witch-hunts rarely ended because of reason. There is a body of compelling evidence that President Dwight Eisenhower, despite his silence in the face of McCarthyism, adroitly plotted to undermine it. Yet, though McCarthy was politically discredited by 1954 — to die, inside three years, of alcohol abuse — the paranoiac impulses he represented lived on. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, declassified records show, surveilled and actively conspired against the civil rights movement’s leadership.

Even America’s spies, though, proved unable to turn back the social forces unleashed in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the magisterial work of Damon Rich shows, a new youth cohort emerged which found itself repulsed by the values and practices of their parents. The young of the 1960s, Rich notes, embraced “libertarianism over authoritarianism, liberation over repression, egalitarianism over inequality, cooperation over competition, the bizarre over the conventional”.

This new generation was not founded on a close reading of radicals like Allen Ginsburg rather, it emerged from a generational search to find new values that helped negotiate their circumstances. Their parents’ obsessions on race and nationhood were, simply, no longer relevant. Racism did not, as the durable impact of former US president Donald Trump makes clear, disappear. Instead, powerful new cosmopolitan classes emerged in opposition to White Nationalism, struggling with it for control of America’s political destiny.

In some important ways, modern India’s identity movements — Hindu nationalist, Islamist, ethnic — are the products of a similar contestation. The late-1980s saw new social groups fighting for a share of the opportunities that began emerging with liberalisation. Even though these groups had education and capital, they found real power continued to be held by a thin élite. Nativist identity politics was a means to challenge liberal cosmopolitanism, the ideology through which this élite legitimised its power.

Like McCarthyism, these nativist currents drew on popular fears about the future of the social order. The unfolding debates over religious conversion, for example, began with the mass conversion of Dalits in Meenakshipuram in 1981. The discourse around nationhood and treason, similarly, is rooted in the threats posed by the religious insurgencies in Kashmir and Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s.

Yet, the India that emerged from these crises is, by objective measures, more secure than any time since independence. Insurgencies have degraded to levels trivial by the standards of the 1990s though no less poisonous, communal violence is less lethal nuclear weapons ensure the country will never again face an existential threat of the kind it did in 1962.

The lived experiences of young Indians, thus, give them few reasons to fear the future. This youth cohort has, moreover, grown up with global mass culture, as a consequence internalising many cosmopolitan values.

In 1953, when White sought to ban Robin Hood, a handful of students protested by wearing green feathers they were powerless, though, to resist the McCarthyite tide. Inside a decade, the generation represented by the Green Feathers generation reshaped their country.

That so many of the angriest debates in Indian politics involve young people pitted against the values of their parents’ generation — marriage, sexual choices, religious observance, political activism — suggest an upheaval in values and attitudes lies ahead. Little but the hazy contours of this change might yet be visible, but its impact will be lasting and profound.


Watch the video: Hurley Goodall- Indiana Governors Arts Award


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