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Helen Keller: Not Blind to War Crimes

By Mickey Z.  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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In a textbook example of whitewashing, if today's America knows Helen Keller
(1880-1968) at all, it's the easy-to-digest image portrayed in the 1962 film, "The Miracle Worker." Brave deaf and blind girl "overcomes" all obstacles to inspire everyone she meets. "The Helen Keller with whom most people are familiar is a stereotypical sexless paragon who was able to overcome deaf-blindness and work tirelessly to promote charities and organizations associated with other blind and deaf-blind individuals,"
writes Sally Rosenthal in Ragged Edge.

But, in 1909, Helen Keller became a socialist. Soon after, she emerged as a vocal supporter of the working class and traveled the nation to voice her opposition to war. "How can our rulers claim they are fighting to make the world safe for democracy," she asked, "while here in the U.S. Negroes may be massacred and their property burned?" Of course, as a woman with disabilities, she was patronized by the same mainstream media that previously championed her as a heroine. The editors of the Brooklyn Eagle
wrote: "Her mistakes spring out of the manifest limitations of her development."

Keller minced no words in her responses...one of which appeared in newspapers across America: "So long as I confine my activities to social services and the blind, the newspapers compliment me extravagantly, calling me an 'arch-priest of the sightless' and 'wonder woman'. But when I discuss poverty and the industrial system under which we live that is a different matter."

As the militaristic frenzy spread across America, Keller appeared at New York City's Carnegie Hall on January 5, 1916. "I have a word to say to my good friends, the editors, and others who are moved to pity me," she said.
"Some people are grieved because they imagine I am in the hands of unscrupulous persons who lead me astray and persuade me to espouse unpopular causes and make me the mouthpiece of their propaganda. Now, let it be understood once and for all that I do not want their pity; I would not change places with one of them. I know what I am talking about. My sources of information are as good and reliable as anybody else's. I have papers and magazines from England, France, Germany and Austria that I can read myself.
Not all the editors I have met can do that. Quite a number of them have to take their French and German second hand. No, I will not disparage the editors. They are an overworked, misunderstood class. Let them remember, though, that if I cannot see the fire at the end of their cigarettes, neither can they thread a needle in the dark. All I ask, gentlemen, is a fair field and no favor. I have entered the fight against preparedness and against the economic system under which we live. It is to be a fight to the finish, and I ask no quarter."

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Keller's critique of the government propaganda campaign to stir up Americans to support U.S. intervention in the war remains more germane than ever.
"Every modern war has had its root in exploitation" Keller said. "The Civil War was fought to decide whether the slaveholders of the South or the capitalists of the North should exploit the West. The Spanish-American War decided that the United States should exploit Cuba and the Philippines. The South African War decided that the British should exploit the diamond mines.
The Russo-Japanese War decided that Japan should exploit Korea. The present war is to decide who shall exploit the Balkans, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, India, China, Africa. And we are whetting our sword to scare the victors into sharing the spoils with us. Now, the workers are not interested in the spoils; they will not get any of them anyway."

She urged workers-the ones who do the fighting and dying-to strike at the heart of America's drive toward war. "Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought," she declared. "Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction."

(In solidarity with Cindy Sheehan)

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Excerpted from the soon-to-be-released "50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism." Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at: http://www.mickeyz.net.

 

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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