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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Schram: Washington’s sorry monument to Jackie Robinson

Even the Frank Howard monument makes more sense.

So today we’ll educate ourselves by taking a guided tour of Washington’s monument to Jackie Robinson. You never heard of it? Probably not. After all, it doesn’t tower above the capital skyline like George Washington’s, nor sit and gaze down at us like Abe Lincoln’s. Washington’s monument to Jackie Robinson stands just 131 pages tall, a monument originally made of paper and microfilm. It is the FBI’s file on Jack Roosevelt Robinson. Part of it is the FBI’s investigation of all those evil death threats. The rest mainly feeds FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s conviction that America’s civil rights movement was but a tool of Soviet Communism’s plan to subvert American democracy.

Read the FBI’s words for yourself. The FBI memos, originally stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” or “SECRET,” were declassified in 1984.

...The FBI files also contained this intelligence from the anti-communist sleuths of the House Un-American Activities Committee. They had come up with something in their search for communist links with Jack Roosevelt Robinson — but neither the committee nor the FBI checked further before writing this:

“ ‘Soviet Russia Today,’ for December 1938, page 29, reflected that one J. R. Robinson of N.Y.C. was a contributor.” Time out! Baseball’s future star, Jackie Robinson, was then a 19-year-old student at Pasadena Junior College, now Pasadena City College, in California.

To read the FBI files on Robinson today is to come away shaking our heads at how we could ever have let things get so out of control in that era of anti-commie witch-hunts.

What the FBI files purport to report in the rest of the Jackie Robinson story was so tame, so lame, that their sum total is, yet again, our shame.

Repoz Posted: April 18, 2013 at 05:21 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Bug Selig Posted: April 18, 2013 at 06:42 AM (#4417677)
So I should be ashamed because a paranoid lunatic compiled a file that apparently contains nothing before I was born? I'll get right on it.
   2. John Northey Posted: April 18, 2013 at 08:06 AM (#4417697)
I think the shame is how the US allowed it to happen again. This time for 'terrorists'. Since 9-11 you've had all kinds of anti-privacy laws passed getting Orwellian rules put in place while feeling safe by fighting for looser gun laws. Safe bet it will get worse again post-Boston Marathon bombing, regardless of who did it. Very bizarre, but the way it works right now down there.
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 18, 2013 at 08:25 AM (#4417704)
Very bizarre, but the way it works right now down there.


Yep, the State of NY is now issuing subpoenas to psychiatrists to hand over their supposedly confidential patient records so they can seize some more guns.

   4. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 18, 2013 at 08:31 AM (#4417707)
And now this thread is worthless. Goodnight, everybody!
   5. Charles S. storms out of Wrigley before walk-off Posted: April 18, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4417819)
So I should be ashamed because a paranoid lunatic compiled a file that apparently contains nothing before I was born? I'll get right on it.
You don't have to be ashamed, and personally it has nothing to do with you. But if as an American, I am going to be proud of the founding fathers who designed our constitution as a beacon for (evolving) freedom throughout the world, the heroes that liberated Europe in the 1940s, or the doctors, architects, inventors, and thinkers who helped make America what it is today, then I must be equally ashamed of the darker sides of our history, including slavery, the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, and the "paranoid lunacy" of Hoover's FBI.

You can't have one without the other.
   6. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: April 18, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4417866)
But if as an American, I am going to be proud of the founding fathers who designed our constitution as a beacon for (evolving) freedom throughout the world, the heroes that liberated Europe in the 1940s, or the doctors, architects, inventors, and thinkers who helped make America what it is today, then I must be equally ashamed of the darker sides of our history, including slavery, the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, and the "paranoid lunacy" of Hoover's FBI.

I don't do that, either. The accomplishments of others are their accomplishments, not mine. Even if I think it could be better, America's a pretty sweet place to live, but I'm under no illusion that I was given the privilege of being American out of merit.
   7. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 18, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4417874)
Even if one does let in the good while trying not to focus on the bad, I don't see anything wrong with it. Being perfectly rational 100% of the time means you're a sociopath. If being less than even-handed on such things helps you get out of bed in the morning and helps you associate with your fellow man, you shouldn't have to apologize for that.

Ironically enough, I think, for some, wallowing in things like 'guilt' or 'tragedy' is in some way also a 'self-esteem' boosting exercise. By being more empathetic to the suffering others go through, we might be able to better convince ourselves we're 'good people.' And this is also fine. As I said, "whatever gets you out of bed in the morning..."

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