Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of November 23rd - November 29th,  2001

Parallel Universe

Columns Archive

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   Part of the beauty of history is its objectivity.
The US Flag

Momentary passions are siphoned dry through the sands of the hourglass. Where now is the rage against the English of colonial times, or of southern fury during the Civil War? Are these not our forebearers and brothers? Do they not now stand along side us in battle?
USAEagle and Athena Owl

What is the truth of time? Are they friend or foe? Where is the sting of the wasp long after its day has past?

   The same can also be said of the present, if one would but look at it objectively. The triggers we are experiencing to the US Moon, both this year and next, have happened before. In the Web we were examining these themes and anticipating their outbreak. In this way the stars truly illuminate the wisdom of learning from history, but with the objectivity of hindsight. Here are a few of the parallels we can draw between 1918-1920 and 2001-2002.

   War is the way Americans learn geography. Newspapers and the newly popular movies were enlisted to the aid of the government's will in 1917.
German General Molke

The face of the enemy:
German General Molke

Today, we are learning more about Islam than we ever have before. Shows in the paper, on the radio and TV are carrying stories about Muslim holidays, their religious rituals, and the Crusades. We are, in fact, learning who these people are. The government, on the other hand, must control this information, direct our feelings, and keep public sentiment focused with a minimum of controversy.

   Patriotism electrified the nation during 1917 and 1918, when flag waving was also everywhere. It soon became stridently anti-German and anti-immigrant. Anything German was suspect. Families Americanized German surnames. Cities banned music by German composers from concerts. Most schools banned the teaching of German as a "language that disseminates the ideals of autocracy, brutality and hatred." South Dakota prohibited German on the phone, while in Iowa one official announced, "If their language is disloyal, they should be imprisoned. If their acts are disloyal, they should be shot." In St Louis a mob seized Robert Prager, a young German-American, stripped his clothes, dressed him in an American flag, marched him through the streets and lynched him. The ringleaders were acquitted on the grounds that the lynching was a "patriotic murder." Patriotism can be a dangerous passion.
The Hun

Does this make you
feel patriotic?

Suspect were not only German-Americans but also radicals, pacifists, and anyone who raised doubts about the American war efforts or government policies. In New York, the black editors of The Messenger were given two and a half year jail sentences for the paper's article "Pro-Germanism Among Negros." After learning about the Zimmerman telegram (in which Germany offered Mexico certain territorial concessions if they would attack the US) Los Angeles police ignored complaints that Mexicans were being harassed because they believed all Mexicans to be pro-German.

   Seen from the vantage point of another century, this bias seems ridiculous in retrospect. The same will be true of this conflict. True, Osama bin Laden took out the trade center, but he isn't the Taliban. According to the US chart, financial factors were the underlying reason why we sided with the Allies in WWI. The same is true for the replacing of the Afghanistan government. What is the economic advantage, you may well ask? Future pipelines. What the US is doing is paving the way for the continued use of oil and coal interests in the future, huge areas of economic concern for this country. What they don't realize is it'll never happen as currently envisioned as the political landscape will shift long before they are able to obtain their objective.


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