Once Upon A Time In America Quotes

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I was in the winter of my life- and the men I met along the road were my only summer. At night I fell sleep with vision of myself dancing and laughing and crying with them. Three year down the line of being on an endless world tour and memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times. I was a singer, not very popular one, who once has dreams of becoming a beautiful poet- but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again- sparkling and broken. But I really didn’t mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is. When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I had been living- they asked me why. But there’s no use in talking to people who have a home, they have no idea what its like to seek safety in other people, for home to be wherever you lied you head. I was always an unusual girl, my mother told me that I had a chameleon soul. No moral compass pointing me due north, no fixed personality. Just an inner indecisiviness that was as wide as wavering as the ocean. And if I said that I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying- because I was born to be the other woman. I belonged to no one- who belonged to everyone, who had nothing- who wanted everything with a fire for every experience and an obssesion for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about- and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me. Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people- and finally I did- on the open road. We have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore- except to make our lives into a work of art. LIVE FAST. DIE YOUNG. BE WILD. AND HAVE FUN. I believe in the country America used to be. I belive in the person I want to become, I believe in the freedom of the open road. And my motto is the same as ever- *I believe in the kindness of strangers. And when I’m at war with myself- I Ride. I Just Ride.* Who are you? Are you in touch with all your darkest fantasies? Have you created a life for yourself where you’re free to experience them? I Have. I Am Fucking Crazy. But I Am Free.
Lana Del Rey
On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded. The Aleph's diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror's face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I'd seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand; I saw a woman in Inverness whom I shall never forget; I saw her tangled hair, her tall figure, I saw the cancer in her breast; I saw a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree; I saw a summer house in Adrogué and a copy of the first English translation of Pliny -- Philemon Holland's -- and all at the same time saw each letter on each page (as a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight); I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal; I saw my empty bedroom; I saw in a closet in Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between two mirrors that multiplied it endlessly; I saw horses with flowing manes on a shore of the Caspian Sea at dawn; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw the slanting shadows of ferns on a greenhouse floor; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino; I saw a monument I worshipped in the Chacarita cemetery; I saw the rotted dust and bones that had once deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon -- the unimaginable universe. I felt infinite wonder, infinite pity.
Jorge Luis Borges
Tom Paine has almost no influence on present-day thinking in the United States because he is unknown to the average citizen. Perhaps I might say right here that this is a national loss and a deplorable lack of understanding concerning the man who first proposed and first wrote those impressive words, 'the United States of America.' But it is hardly strange. Paine's teachings have been debarred from schools everywhere and his views of life misrepresented until his memory is hidden in shadows, or he is looked upon as of unsound mind. We never had a sounder intelligence in this Republic. He was the equal of Washington in making American liberty possible. Where Washington performed Paine devised and wrote. The deeds of one in the Weld were matched by the deeds of the other with his pen. Washington himself appreciated Paine at his true worth. Franklin knew him for a great patriot and clear thinker. He was a friend and confidant of Jefferson, and the two must often have debated the academic and practical phases of liberty. I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles. Although the present generation knows little of Paine's writings, and although he has almost no influence upon contemporary thought, Americans of the future will justly appraise his work. I am certain of it. Truth is governed by natural laws and cannot be denied. Paine spoke truth with a peculiarly clear and forceful ring. Therefore time must balance the scales. The Declaration and the Constitution expressed in form Paine's theory of political rights. He worked in Philadelphia at the time that the first document was written, and occupied a position of intimate contact with the nation's leaders when they framed the Constitution. Certainly we may believe that Washington had a considerable voice in the Constitution. We know that Jefferson had much to do with the document. Franklin also had a hand and probably was responsible in even larger measure for the Declaration. But all of these men had communed with Paine. Their views were intimately understood and closely correlated. There is no doubt whatever that the two great documents of American liberty reflect the philosophy of Paine. ...Then Paine wrote 'Common Sense,' an anonymous tract which immediately stirred the fires of liberty. It flashed from hand to hand throughout the Colonies. One copy reached the New York Assembly, in session at Albany, and a night meeting was voted to answer this unknown writer with his clarion call to liberty. The Assembly met, but could find no suitable answer. Tom Paine had inscribed a document which never has been answered adversely, and never can be, so long as man esteems his priceless possession. In 'Common Sense' Paine flared forth with a document so powerful that the Revolution became inevitable. Washington recognized the difference, and in his calm way said that matters never could be the same again. It must be remembered that 'Common Sense' preceded the declaration and affirmed the very principles that went into the national doctrine of liberty. But that affirmation was made with more vigor, more of the fire of the patriot and was exactly suited to the hour... Certainly [the Revolution] could not be forestalled, once he had spoken. {The Philosophy of Paine, June 7, 1925}
Thomas A. Edison (Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison)
Once upon a time, there was a Zen sign at every small railway crossing in America Stop. Look. And listen.
Dick Allen (Zen Master Poems)
Cliff never wondered what Americans would do if the Russians, or the Nazis, or the Japanese, or the Mexicans, or the Vikings, or Alexander the Great ever occupied America by force. He knew what Americans would do. They’d shit their pants and call the fucking cops.
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Something that once had importance might be forgotten by most people but because millions of people once knew it, a force is present that can be harnessed. There might be so much significance attached to a song, for example, or a fact, that it can’t die but only lies dormant, like a vampire in his coffin, waiting to be called forth from the grave once again. There is more magic in the fact that the first mass worldwide photo of the Church of Satan was taken by Joe Rosenthal – the same man who took the most famous news photo in history – the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. There’s real occult significance to that – much more than in memorizing grimoires and witches’ alphabets. People ask me about what music to use in rituals – what is the best occult music. I’ve instructed people to go to the most uncrowded section of the music store and it’s a guarantee what you’ll find there will be occult music. That’s the power of long-lost trivia. I get irritated by people who turn up their noses and whine ‘Why would anyone want to know that?’ Because once upon a time, everyone in America knew it. Suppose there’s a repository of neglected energy, that’s been generated and forgotten. Maybe it’s like a pressure cooker all this time, just waiting for someone to trigger its release. ‘Here I am,’ it beckons, ‘I have all this energy stored up just waiting for you – all you have to do is unlock the door. Because of man’s stupidity, he’s neglected me to this state of somnambulism – dreaming the ancient dreams – even though I was once so important to him.’ Think about that. A song that was once on millions of lips now is only on your lips. Now what does that contain? Those vibrations of that particular tune, what do they evoke, call up? What do they unlock? The old gods lie dormant, waiting.
Anton Szandor LaVey (The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey)
Once upon a time, automobiles were central to romantic life. It was once estimated that almost 40 percent of marriages in America were proposed in automobiles. Today, a third of marriages result from meeting up online and through dating apps.
Daniel Yergin (The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations)
Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer's love. Look at it now, plump and glossy, floating across Idaho as if it were a mammoth, mutated seed pod. Hear how it backfires as it passes the silver mines, perhaps in tribute to the origin of the knives and forks of splendid sterling that a roast turkey and a roast turkey alone possesses the charisma to draw forth into festivity from dark cupboards. See how it glides through the potato fields, familiarly at home among potatoes but with an air of expectation, as if waiting for the flood of gravy. The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion of our primitive and pagan luggage. Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of the Union Theological Seminary and Time magazine? Of course. At least twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony that takes place around a large dead bird? And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed, and to petition for blessings coveted? The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our tribe together. And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs, two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the gathering. Consider that the legs of this bird are called 'drumsticks,' after the ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and sacred of instruments. Our ancestors, kept their drums in public, but the sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, of the Wise Old Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with the drumstick is evoked the best of the pulse of the heart of the universe. Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys, flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill, achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause, great young hungers from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to the table, where we, pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder. Was Boomer Petaway aware of the totemic implications when, to impress his beloved, he fabricated an outsize Thanksgiving centerpiece? No, not consciously. If and when the last veil dropped, he might comprehend what he had wrought. For the present, however, he was as ignorant as Can o' Beans, Spoon, and Dirty Sock were, before Painted Stick and Conch Shell drew their attention to similar affairs. Nevertheless, it was Boomer who piloted the gobble-stilled butterball across Idaho, who negotiated it through the natural carving knives of the Sawtooth Mountains, who once or twice parked it in wilderness rest stops, causing adjacent flora to assume the appearance of parsley.
Tom Robbins (Skinny Legs and All)
We are dealing, then, with an absurdity that is not a quirk or an accident, but is fundamental to our character as people. The split between what we think and what we do is profound. It is not just possible, it is altogether to be expected, that our society would produce conservationists who invest in strip-mining companies, just as it must inevitably produce asthmatic executives whose industries pollute the air and vice-presidents of pesticide corporations whose children are dying of cancer. And these people will tell you that this is the way the "real world" works. The will pride themselves on their sacrifices for "our standard of living." They will call themselves "practical men" and "hardheaded realists." And they will have their justifications in abundance from intellectuals, college professors, clergymen, politicians. The viciousness of a mentality that can look complacently upon disease as "part of the cost" would be obvious to any child. But this is the "realism" of millions of modern adults. There is no use pretending that the contradiction between what we think or say and what we do is a limited phenomenon. There is no group of the extra-intelligent or extra-concerned or extra-virtuous that is exempt. I cannot think of any American whom I know or have heard of, who is not contributing in some way to destruction. The reason is simple: to live undestructively in an economy that is overwhelmingly destructive would require of any one of us, or of any small group of us, a great deal more work than we have yet been able to do. How could we divorce ourselves completely and yet responsibly from the technologies and powers that are destroying our planet? The answer is not yet thinkable, and it will not be thinkable for some time -- even though there are now groups and families and persons everywhere in the country who have begun the labor of thinking it. And so we are by no means divided, or readily divisible, into environmental saints and sinners. But there are legitimate distinctions that need to be made. These are distinctions of degree and of consciousness. Some people are less destructive than others, and some are more conscious of their destructiveness than others. For some, their involvement in pollution, soil depletion, strip-mining, deforestation, industrial and commercial waste is simply a "practical" compromise, a necessary "reality," the price of modern comfort and convenience. For others, this list of involvements is an agenda for thought and work that will produce remedies. People who thus set their lives against destruction have necessarily confronted in themselves the absurdity that they have recognized in their society. They have first observed the tendency of modern organizations to perform in opposition to their stated purposes. They have seen governments that exploit and oppress the people they are sworn to serve and protect, medical procedures that produce ill health, schools that preserve ignorance, methods of transportation that, as Ivan Illich says, have 'created more distances than they... bridge.' And they have seen that these public absurdities are, and can be, no more than the aggregate result of private absurdities; the corruption of community has its source in the corruption of character. This realization has become the typical moral crisis of our time. Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.
Wendell Berry (The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture)
I draw myself up next to her and look at her profile, making no effort to disguise my attention, here, where there is only Puck to see me. The evening sun loves her throat and her cheekbones. Her hair the color of cliff grass rises and falls over her face in the breeze. Her expression is less ferocious than usual, less guarded. I say, “Are you afraid?” Her eyes are far away on the horizon line, out to the west where the sun has gone but the glow remains. Somewhere out there are my capaill uisce, George Holly’s America, every gallon of water that every ship rides on. Puck doesn’t look away from the orange glow at the end of the world. “Tell me what it’s like. The race.” What it’s like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood. The fastest and strongest of what is left from two weeks of preparation on the sand. It’s the surf in your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin, the Scorpio drums in the place of your heartbeat. It’s speed, if you’re lucky. It’s life and it’s death or it’s both and there’s nothing like it. Once upon a time, this moment — this last light of evening the day before the race — was the best moment of the year for me. The anticipation of the game to come. But that was when all I had to lose was my life. “There’s no one braver than you on that beach.” Her voice is dismissive. “That doesn’t matter.” “It does. I meant what I said at the festival. This island cares nothing for love but it favors the brave.” Now she looks at me. She’s fierce and red, indestructible and changeable, everything that makes Thisby what it is. She asks, “Do you feel brave?” The mare goddess had told me to make another wish. It feels thin as a thread to me now, that gift of a wish. I remember the years when it felt like a promise. “I don’t know what I feel, Puck.” Puck unfolds her arms just enough to keep her balance as she leans to me, and when we kiss, she closes her eyes. She draws back and looks into my face. I have not moved, and she barely has, but the world feels strange beneath me. “Tell me what to wish for,” I say. “Tell me what to ask the sea for.” “To be happy. Happiness.” I close my eyes. My mind is full of Corr, of the ocean, of Puck Connolly’s lips on mine. “I don’t think such a thing is had on Thisby. And if it is, I don’t know how you would keep it.” The breeze blows across my closed eyelids, scented with brine and rain and winter. I can hear the ocean rocking against the island, a constant lullaby. Puck’s voice is in my ear; her breath warms my neck inside my jacket collar. “You whisper to it. What it needs to hear. Isn’t that what you said?” I tilt my head so that her mouth is on my skin. The kiss is cold where the wind blows across my cheek. Her forehead rests against my hair. I open my eyes, and the sun has gone. I feel as if the ocean is inside me, wild and uncertain. “That’s what I said. What do I need to hear?” Puck whispers, “That tomorrow we’ll rule the Scorpio Races as king and queen of Skarmouth and I’ll save the house and you’ll have your stallion. Dove will eat golden oats for the rest of her days and you will terrorize the races each year and people will come from every island in the world to find out how it is you get horses to listen to you. The piebald will carry Mutt Malvern into the sea and Gabriel will decide to stay on the island. I will have a farm and you will bring me bread for dinner.” I say, “That is what I needed to hear.” “Do you know what to wish for now?” I swallow. I have no wishing-shell to throw into the sea when I say it, but I know that the ocean hears me nonetheless. “To get what I need.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races)
So, having at last met a foe I could not defeat, I fled,” he said in disgust. “Rather than face you in my weakness, I thought to leave you behind, to forget about you, which I thought was surely possible. After all, how could one human overwhelm me with feelings in such a short period of time?” He smiled bitterly, shaking his head at his own foolishness. “You told me once I haunted your dreams,” he said softly. “With you gone, I have lived for those moments stolen from your sleep. I wanted you to remember me so that no other man could touch you the way I had. The very possibility drove me mad. When I learned you’d gone to Texas, my first thought was to destroy Jabril Karim before his eyes could so much as look upon you, lest he even think to take you for his own.” A cloud covered the moon high above, hiding his face until only the silver gleam of his eyes was visible as he met her gaze. “I have been mastered at last, sweet Cyn, helpless in the face of that most human of failings. I love you.
D.B. Reynolds (Jabril (Vampires in America, #2))
Colonization would make of Germany a continental empire fit to rival the United States, another hardy frontier state based upon exterminatory colonialism and slave labor. The East was the Nazi Manifest Destiny. In Hitler’s view, “in the East a similar process will repeat itself for a second time as in the conquest of America.” As Hitler imagined the future, Germany would deal with the Slavs much as the North Americans had dealt with the Indians. The Volga River in Russia, he once proclaimed, will be Germany’s Mississippi.9
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
The existence of the corporation, as we have it with us today, was never dreamed of by the fathers . . .The corporation of today has invaded every department of business, and it’s powerful but invisible hand is felt in almost all activities of life . . . The effect of this change upon the American people is radical and rapid. The individual is fast disappearing as a business factor and in his stead is this new device, the modern corporation . . . The influence of this change upon character cannot be overestimated. The businessman at one time gave his individuality, stamped his mental and moral characteristics upon the business he conducted . . . Today the business once transacted by individuals in every community is in the control of corporations, and many of the men who once conducted an independent business are gathered into the organization, and all personal identity, and all individualities lost.
Robert Marion La Follette
Violent anti-communist fears by the military and munition makers justified the transformation of a once democratic nation into the fascist state we have today. Members of the Nazi Party now hold key positions in our universities, factories, aircraft and aerospace programs.14 When the Nazi empire collapsed in 1945, General Reinhard Gehlen joined forces with our OSS. Gehlen was placed in charge of wartime intelligence for Foreign Armies East. “It was not long before Gehlen was back in business, this time for the United States. Gehlen named his price and terms.”15 A series of meetings was arranged at the Pentagon with Nazi Gehlen, Allen Dulles, J. Edgar Hoover and others.16 The Gehlen organization combined forces and agents with the OSS, which was soon to become known as the CIA. Experts in clandestine and illegal control of Germany through political assassinations and reversal of judicial processes became the teachers of Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. They helped form the new CIA in 1947, based upon clandestine activities in Nazi Germany.17
Mae Brussell (The Essential Mae Brussell: Investigations of Fascism in America)
Claude didn’t sound every note. He must’ve been playing from memory. There is an unguarded quality in musicians unaware of listening ears. Intimate, hearing the piece like that, played for no one, played from far away, the sound escaping onto a stairwell presumed empty. Sheherazade spun out her tales over a thousand and one Arabian nights. Her tales were her demand for life: I deserve to live so long as I can unravel such intrigue into the world. do not kill me now. Do not strangle me at dawn. I wondered if that trapped animal of a boy had left off rocking to listen. That pitiful youth, did he understand rapture? There was a terrible pain across my chest. It was the old pain, the old loss. This paper room at the top of the stairs in which, yesterday, my father had been, and now this unassuming beauty welling out of it, unbidden. Sunlight was spilling through the glass door on to the landing; the dust motes might have been there since time began. It was all immensely delicate and just beyond my reach. There were pockets of wonder all over the earth, I knew, like wild animals in glades, and I happened upon them now and then. Less so in America, because it was not my home, but there were pockets in America too, and I prized them all the more for their rarity. Once I blundered into them, the wonder took flight; it evaporated like dew. It was a matter of not blundering into them, of letting them be, of trying to live on the brink of them without intruding.
Claire Kilroy
How had she ended up like this, imprisoned in the role of harridan? Once upon a time, her brash manner had been a mere posture - a convenient and amusing way for an insecure teenage bride, newly arrived in America, to disguise her crippling shyness. People had actually enjoyed her vituperation back then, encouraged it and celebrated it. She had carved out a minor distinction for herself as a 'character': the cute little English girl with the chutzpah and the longshoreman's mouth. 'Get Audrey in here,' they used to cry whenever someone was being an ass. 'Audrey'll take him down a peg or two.' But somewhere along the way, when she hadn't been paying attention, her temper had ceased to be a beguiling party at that could be switched on and off at will. It had begun to express authentic resentments: boredom with motherhood, fury at her husband's philandering, despair at the pettiness of her domestic fate. She hadn't noticed the change at first. Like an old lady who persists in wearing the Jungle Red lipstick of her glory days, she had gone on for a long time, fondly believing that the stratagems of her youth were just as appealing as they had ever been. By the time she woke up and discovered that people had taken to making faces at her behind her back - that she was no longer a sexy young woman with a charmingly short fuse but a middle-aged termagant - it was too late. Her anger had become a part of her. It was a knotted thicket in her gut, too dense to be cut down and too deeply entrenched in the loamy soil of her disappointments to be uprooted.
Zoë Heller (The Believers)
The feelings of powerlessness are an adaptive function. The child adopts behavior that sets himself or herself up for more of the same. He or she becomes antisocial and stops evoking a feeling of warmth in other people, thus reinforcing the notion of powerlessness. Children then stay on the same pathway. These courses are not set in stone, but the longer a child stays on one course, the harder it is to move on to another. By studying the behavior of adults in later life who had shared this experience of learning powerlessness during infancy, the psychologists who specialize in attachment theory have found that an assumption of powerlessness, once lodged in the brains of infants, turns out to be difficult—though not impossible—to unlearn. Those who grow into adulthood carrying this existential assumption of powerlessness were found to be quick to assume in later life that impulsive and hostile reactions to unmet needs were the only sensible response. Indeed, longitudinal studies conducted by the University of Minnesota over more than thirty years have found that America’s prison population is heavily overrepresented by people who fell into this category as infants. The key difference determining which lesson is learned and which posture is adopted rests with the pattern of communication between the infant and his or her primary caregiver or caregivers, not with the specific information conveyed by the caregiver. What matters is the openness, responsiveness, and reliability, and two-way nature of the communication environment. I believe that the viability of democracy depends upon the openness, reliability, appropriateness, responsiveness, and two-way nature of the communication environment. After all, democracy depends upon the regular sending and receiving of signals—not only between the people and those who aspire to be their elected representatives but also among the people themselves. It is the connection of each individual to the national conversation that is the key. I believe that the citizens of any democracy learn, over time, to adopt a basic posture toward the possibilities of self-government.
Al Gore (The Assault on Reason)
The Juneteenth Sonnet Once upon a time but not long ago, They brought us to America in chains. Thinking of themselves as superior race, White barbarians kept us as slaves. But the sapling of humanity found a way, To break those chains causing ascension. Whites and blacks all stood up together, And lighted the torch of emancipation. Juneteenth is now declared holiday, Yet to some it feels like a critical dishonor. The human race comes from a black mother, Yet they treat people of color as inferior. The America handed to us is far from civilized. But together we'll make our home humanized.
Abhijit Naskar (Hometown Human: To Live for Soil and Society)
Your mother will die some day, and you and I will have to die some day, too. Yet My God has never died. Perhaps you haven’t heard clearly the story that tells how He goes on living for ever and ever. In appearance only did He die. But three days after He had died He came to life again and with great pomp He rose up to heaven.” “How often?” the chief asked in a dry tone. Astonished at this unexpected question, the monk answered, “Why . . . why . . . eh . . . once only, quite naturally once only.” “Once only? And has he, your great god, ever returned to earth?” “No, of course not,” Padre Balmojado answered, his voice burdened with irritation. “He has not returned yet, but He has promised mankind that He will return to earth in His own good time, so as to judge and to . . .” “. . . and to condemn poor mankind,” the chief finished the sentence. “Yes, and to condemn!” the monk said in a loud and threatening tone. Confronted with such inhuman stubbornness he lost control of himself. Louder still he continued: “Yes, to judge and to condemn all those who deny Him and refuse to believe in Him, and who criticize His sacred words, and who ignore Him, and who maliciously refuse to accept the true and only God even if He is brought to them with brotherly love and a heart overflowing with compassion for the poor ignorant brethren living in sin and utter darkness, and who can obtain salvation for nothing more than having belief in Him and having the true faith.” Not in the least was the chieftain affected by this sudden outburst of the monk, who had been thrown off routine by these true sons of America who had learned to think long and carefully before speaking. The chieftain remained very calm and serene. With a quiet, soft voice he said: “Here, my holy white father, is what our god had put into our hearts and souls, and it will be the last word I have to say to you before we return to our beautiful and tranquil tierra: Our god dies every evening for us who are his children. He dies every evening to bring us cool winds and freshness of nature, to bring us peace and quiet for the night so that we may rest well, man and animal. Our god dies every evening in a deep golden glory, not insulted, not spat upon, not spattered with stinking mud. He dies beautifully and glori¬ously, as every real god will die. Yet he does not die forever. In the morning he returns to life, refreshed and more beautiful than ever, his body still trailing the veils and wrappings of the dead. But soon his golden spears dart across the blue firmament as a sign that he is ready to fight the gods of darkness who threaten the peoples on earth. And before you have time to realize what happens, there he stands before wondering human eyes, and there he stays, great, mighty, powerful, golden, and in ever-growing beauty, dominating the universe. “He, our god, is a spendthrift in light, warmth, beauty, and fertility, enriching the flowers with perfumes and colors, teaching the birds to sing, filling the corn with strength and health, playing with the clouds in an ocean of gold and blue. As my beloved mother does, so does he give and give and never cease giving; never does he ask for prayers, not expect¬ing adoration or worship, not commanding obedience or faith, and never, never condemning anybody or thing on earth. And when evening comes, again he passes away in beauty and glory, a smile all over his face, and with his last glimmer blesses his Indian children. Again the next morning he is the eternal giver; he is the eternally young, the eternally beautiful, the eternally new-born, the ever and ever returning great and golden god of the Indians. “And this is what our god has put into our hearts and souls and what I am bound to tell you, holy white father: ‘Do not, not ever, beloved Indian sons of these your beautiful lands, give away your own great god for any other god.’ ” ("Conversion Of Some Indians")
B. Traven (The Night Visitor and Other Stories)
On several occasions, I have met and spoken to retired men that once worked inside government facilities whose job was “tracking and storing” data. In every case, the higher they were, the more apt they were (upon retiring) to have no electronics such as iPhones, laptops, or smart televisions. They communicated the old school way, on a landline. Most were living in the country, far from cities where they grew their own food, drilled wells, raise cattle and chickens. At times, they will use special equipment and do “sweeps” of each room in their house or office to detect electronic listening devices. They are not hyper, but they are knowledgeable.
Perry Stone (America's Apocalyptic Reset: Unmasking the Radical's Blueprints to Silence Christians, Patriots, and Conservatives)
had delivered them flawlessly. After showing a quick excerpt from the Declaration of Independence about America pledging its sacred honor to help the victims and their families, the cameras would fade to the presidential seal and that would be it. Though the circumstances were horrible, the press secretary had always hoped he’d be given a chance to write a speech that would be remembered for eternity. He felt pretty confident this was going to be one of those speeches. What he didn’t know was that why it would be so well remembered was still yet to come. As the president came to the end of his remarks, he abandoned his script. “And to the terrorists responsible for this revolting act of cowardice, I say this. America will never stop until we have hunted every last one of you down. We will go to the far corners of the earth, draining every swamp and turning over every rock along the way. And when we find you—and we will find you—we shall use every means at our disposal to visit upon you a death one thousand times more hideous than that which you have delivered to our doorstep today. “America has defeated the greatest evils of the modern world and it will defeat the scourge of radical Islamic fanaticism as well. “Thank you and God bless America.” The red light atop the main camera switched off, but no one spoke. Not even the floor director, whose job it was to inform the president that they were safely off the air. “Am I clear?” asked Rutledge. The irony was not lost upon the director, who replied, “I’d say you were crystal clear, sir.” Knowing it would take several minutes for the technical people to pack up their equipment from the Oval Office, Chuck Anderson asked, “Mr. President, may I have a word, please, in my office?” Pointing at the press secretary, he added, “You too, Geoff.” Once they had gone through the adjoining door and it had closed firmly behind them, the chief of staff said, “Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?” “We’re not going to hide behind politically correct labels anymore, Chuck.” “I’d say you made that abundantly clear. Along with the fact that the Christian West is now officially
Brad Thor (Takedown (Scot Harvath, #5))
I was witness to events of a less peaceful character. One day when I went out to my wood-pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long, and black, fiercely contending with one another. Having once got hold they never let go, but struggled and wrestled and rolled on the chips incessantly. Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a duellum, but a bellum, a war between two races of ants, the red always pitted against the black, and frequently two red ones to one black. The legions of these Myrmidons covered all the hills and vales in my wood-yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black. It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other. On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely. I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other’s embraces, in a little sunny valley amid the chips, now at noonday prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out. The smaller red champion had fastened himself like a vice to his adversary’s front, and through all the tumblings on that field never for an instant ceased to gnaw at one of his feelers near the root, having already caused the other to go by the board; while the stronger black one dashed him from side to side, and, as I saw on looking nearer, had already divested him of several of his members. They fought with more pertinacity than bulldogs. Neither manifested the least disposition to retreat. It was evident that their battle-cry was “Conquer or die.” In the meanwhile there came along a single red ant on the hillside of this valley, evidently full of excitement, who either had despatched his foe, or had not yet taken part in the battle; probably the latter, for he had lost none of his limbs; whose mother had charged him to return with his shield or upon it. Or perchance he was some Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or rescue his Patroclus. He saw this unequal combat from afar—for the blacks were nearly twice the size of the red—he drew near with rapid pace till he stood on his guard within half an inch of the combatants; then, watching his opportunity, he sprang upon the black warrior, and commenced his operations near the root of his right fore leg, leaving the foe to select among his own members; and so there were three united for life, as if a new kind of attraction had been invented which put all other locks and cements to shame. I should not have wondered by this time to find that they had their respective musical bands stationed on some eminent chip, and playing their national airs the while, to excite the slow and cheer the dying combatants. I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference. And certainly there is not the fight recorded in Concord history, at least, if in the history of America, that will bear a moment’s comparison with this, whether for the numbers engaged in it, or for the patriotism and heroism displayed.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
To date, some 108 billion people have lived and died on Earth. Yet, we still think our individual lives are so fabulous that we celebrate them daily on social media. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. Not anymore. It’s the un-promoted life that’s not worth living. Know thyself has morphed into flaunt thyself. Once upon a time, fame was tangentially related to talent, hard work, and accomplishment. Now the metric for evaluating a life is who’s got more Facebook friends, Twitter, or Instagram followers. We
Ian Gurvitz (WELCOME TO DUMBFUCKISTAN: The Dumbed-Down, Disinformed, Dysfunctional, Disunited States of America)
I was witness to events of a less peaceful character. One day when I went out to my wood-pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long, and black, fiercely contending with one another. Having once got hold they never let go, but struggled and wrestled and rolled on the chips incessantly. Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a duellum, but a bellum, a war between two races of ants, the red always pitted against the black, and frequently two red ones to one black. The legions of these Myrmidons covered all the hills and vales in my wood-yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black. It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other. On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely. I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other's embraces, in a little sunny valley amid the chips, now at noonday prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out. The smaller red champion had fastened himself like a vice to his adversary's front, and through all the tumblings on that field never for an instant ceased to gnaw at one of his feelers near the root, having already caused the other to go by the board; while the stronger black one dashed him from side to side, and, as I saw on looking nearer, had already divested him of several of his members. They fought with more pertinacity than bulldogs. Neither manifested the least disposition to retreat. It was evident that their battle-cry was "Conquer or die." In the meanwhile there came along a single red ant on the hillside of this valley, evidently full of excitement, who either had despatched his foe, or had not yet taken part in the battle; probably the latter, for he had lost none of his limbs; whose mother had charged him to return with his shield or upon it. Or perchance he was some Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or rescue his Patroclus. He saw this unequal combat from afar—for the blacks were nearly twice the size of the red—he drew near with rapid pace till he stood on his guard within half an inch of the combatants; then, watching his opportunity, he sprang upon the black warrior, and commenced his operations near the root of his right fore leg, leaving the foe to select among his own members; and so there were three united for life, as if a new kind of attraction had been invented which put all other locks and cements to shame. I should not have wondered by this time to find that they had their respective musical bands stationed on some eminent chip, and playing their national airs the while, to excite the slow and cheer the dying combatants. I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference. And certainly there is not the fight recorded in Concord history, at least, if in the history of America, that will bear a moment's comparison with this, whether for the numbers engaged in it, or for the patriotism and heroism displayed. For numbers and for carnage it was an Austerlitz or Dresden. Concord Fight! Two killed on the patriots' side, and Luther Blanchard wounded! Why here every ant was a Buttrick—"Fire! for God's sake fire!"—and thousands shared the fate of Davis and Hosmer. There was not one hireling there. I have no doubt that it was a principle they fought for, as much as our ancestors, and not to avoid a three-penny tax on their tea; and the results of this battle will be as important and memorable to those whom it concerns as those of the battle of Bunker Hill, at least.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
Over the next few years, the number of African Americans seeking jobs and homes in and near Palo Alto grew, but no developer who depended on federal government loan insurance would sell to them, and no California state-licensed real estate agent would show them houses. But then, in 1954, one resident of a whites-only area in East Palo Alto, across a highway from the Stanford campus, sold his house to a black family. Almost immediately Floyd Lowe, president of the California Real Estate Association, set up an office in East Palo Alto to panic white families into listing their homes for sale, a practice known as blockbusting. He and other agents warned that a 'Negro invasion' was imminent and that it would result in collapsing property values. Soon, growing numbers of white owners succumbed to the scaremongering and sold at discounted prices to the agents and their speculators. The agents, including Lowe himself, then designed display ads with banner headlines-"Colored Buyers!"-which they ran in San Francisco newspapers. African Americans desperate for housing, purchased the homes at inflated prices. Within a three-month period, one agent alone sold sixty previously white-owned properties to African Americans. The California real estate commissioner refused to take any action, asserting that while regulations prohibited licensed agents from engaging in 'unethical practices,' the exploitation of racial fear was not within the real estate commission's jurisdiction. Although the local real estate board would ordinarily 'blackball' any agent who sold to a nonwhite buyer in the city's white neighborhoods (thereby denying the agent access to the multiple listing service upon which his or her business depended), once wholesale blockbusting began, the board was unconcerned, even supportive. At the time, the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration not only refused to insure mortgages for African Americans in designated white neighborhoods like Ladera; they also would not insure mortgages for whites in a neighborhood where African Americans were present. So once East Palo Alto was integrated, whites wanting to move into the area could no longer obtain government-insured mortgages. State-regulated insurance companies, like the Equitable Life Insurance Company and the Prudential Life Insurance Company, also declared that their policy was not to issue mortgages to whites in integrated neighborhoods. State insurance regulators had no objection to this stance. The Bank of America and other leading California banks had similar policies, also with the consent of federal banking regulators. Within six years the population of East Palo Alto was 82 percent black. Conditions deteriorated as African Americans who had been excluded from other neighborhoods doubled up in single-family homes. Their East Palo Alto houses had been priced so much higher than similar properties for whites that the owners had difficulty making payments without additional rental income. Federal and state hosing policy had created a slum in East Palo Alto. With the increased density of the area, the school district could no longer accommodate all Palo Alto students, so in 1958 it proposed to create a second high school to accommodate teh expanding student population. The district decided to construct the new school in the heart of what had become the East Palo Alto ghetto, so black students in Palo Alto's existing integrated building would have to withdraw, creating a segregated African American school in the eastern section and a white one to the west. the board ignored pleas of African American and liberal white activists that it draw an east-west school boundary to establish two integrated secondary schools. In ways like these, federal, state, and local governments purposely created segregation in every metropolitan area of the nation.
Richard Rothstein (The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America)
The traditional reluctance in this country to confront the real nature of racism is once again illustrated by the manner in which the majority of American whites interpreted what the Kerner Commission had to say about white racism. It seems that they have taken the Kerner Report as a call merely to examine their individual attitudes. The examination of individual attitudes is, of course, an indispensable requirement if the influence of racism is to be neutralized, but it is neither the only nor the basic requirement. The Kerner Report took great pains to make a distinction between racist attitudes and racist behavior. In doing so, it was trying to point out that the fundamental problem lies in the racist behavior of American institutions toward Negroes, and that the behavior of these institutions is influenced more by overt racist actions of people than by their private attitudes. If so, then the basic requirement is for white Americans, while not ignoring the necessity for a revision of their private beliefs, to concentrate on actions that can lead to the ultimate democratization of American institutions. By focusing upon private attitudes alone, white Americans may come to rely on token individual gestures as a way of absolving themselves personally of racism, while ignoring the work that needs to be done within public institutions to eradicate social and economic problems and redistribute wealth and opportunity. I mean by this that there are many whites sitting around in drawing rooms and board rooms discussing their consciences and even donating a few dollars to honor the memory of Dr. King. But they are not prepared to fight politically for the kind of liberal Congress the country needs to eradicate some of the evils of racism, or for the massive programs needed for the social and economic reconstruction of the black and white poor, or for a revision of the tax structure whereby the real burden will be lifted from the shoulders of those who don't have it and placed on the shoulders of those who can afford it. Our time offers enough evidence to show that racism and intolerance are not unique American phenomena. The relationship between the upper and lower classes in India is in some ways more brutal than the operation of racism in America. And in Nigeria black tribes have recently been killing other black tribes in behalf of social and political privilege. But it is the nature of the society which determines whether such conflicts will last, whether racism and intolerance will remain as proper issues to be socially and politically organized. If the society is a just society, if it is one which places a premium on social justice and human rights, then racism and intolerance cannot survive —will, at least, be reduced to a minimum. While working with the NAACP some years ago to integrate the University of Texas, I was assailed with a battery of arguments as to why Negroes should not be let in. They would be raping white girls as soon as they came in; they were dirty and did not wash; they were dumb and could not learn; they were uncouth and ate with their fingers. These attitudes were not destroyed because the NAACP psychoanalyzed white students or held seminars to teach them about black people. They were destroyed because Thurgood Marshall got the Supreme Court to rule against and destroy the institution of segregated education. At that point, the private views of white students became irrelevant. So while there can be no argument that progress depends both on the revision of private attitudes and a change in institutions, the onus must be placed on institutional change. If the institutions of this society are altered to work for black people, to respond to their needs and legitimate aspirations, then it will ultimately be a matter of supreme indifference to them whether white people like them, or what white people whisper about them in the privacy of their drawing rooms.
Bayard Rustin (Down The Line)
Is the cause of America the cause of all mankind? And what is that cause after all? From distant glimmerings of “America” (the Waldseemüller map of 1507) to “City upon a Hill” and “Magnalia Christi Americana,” into the nineteenth century with “American Scholar” and the “[slaves’] fourth of July,” and continued throughout the twentieth century with “double-consciousness,” “Trans-national America,” “settlement ideal,” “American Dream,” “I have a dream,” “Postethnic America,” “Achieving . . . America,” and the “heyday of the fuzzies,” Americans have been trying to figure this out for quite some time. Over the course of the centuries, Americans learned and self-taught, native born and immigrant, religious and secular, and left and right have contributed to this long conversation by offering new arguments and key terms for Americans to think about the world, themselves, their truth, and their America. No one, so far, has been successful in answering these questions once and for all. They only came up with provisional explanations and then posed new questions. Perhaps we should not want it any other way. And so the conversation of American thought continues.
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History)
There can be no liberal politics without a sense of we—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, actually share. And that is citizenship. We must relearn how to speak to citizens as citizens and to frame our appeals—including ones to benefit particular groups—in terms of principles that everyone can affirm. Ours must become a civic liberalism.* This does not mean a return to the New Deal. Future liberals cannot be like the liberals of yore; too much has changed. But it will require that the spell of identity politics that has held two generations in its thrall be broken so that we can focus on what we share as citizens. I hope to convince my fellow liberals that their current way of looking at the country, speaking to it, teaching the young, and engaging in practical politics has been misguided and counterproductive. Their abdication must end and a new approach must be embraced.   It is a bittersweet truth that there has never been a better opportunity in half a century for liberals to start winning the country back. Republicans since Trump’s election are in disarray and intellectually bankrupt. Most Americans now recognize that Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” has turned into rust belt towns with long-shuttered shops, abandoned factories invaded by local grasses, cities where the water is undrinkable and guns are everywhere, and homes across the country where families are scraping by with part-time minimum-wage jobs and no health insurance. It is an America where Democrats, independents, and many Republican voters feel themselves abandoned by their country. They want America to be America again. But there is no again in politics, just the future. And there is no reason why the American future should not be a liberal one. Our message can and should be simple: we are a republic, not a campsite. Citizens are not roadkill. They are not collateral damage. They are not the tail of the distribution. A citizen, simply by virtue of being a citizen, is one of us. We have stood together to defend the country against foreign adversaries in the past. Now we must stand together at home to make sure that none of us faces the risk of being left behind. We’re all Americans and we owe that to each other. That’s what liberalism means.
Mark Lilla (The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics)
Once upon a time in America there was a scholar who conducted a one-man revolution and won it. There
Sinclair Lewis (It Can't Happen Here)