Thursday, July 2, 2015

Skip Gates has Flunked the Test of Conscience

So Skip Gates says he is working with PBS to achieve new guidelines to insure transparency.


What you need is someone with an old conscience. Gates must go.

Controlling Marriage--One of the Evils the Patriots Rebelled Against in 1775

I have been brooding about this since yesterday. The Anglicans controlled marriage in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in ways that hurt many of my ancestors. (I am not sure if any in PA or DE or MD were similarly hurt.) Several of my Quaker ancestors were taxed to support the Anglican Church and were fined for fornication because they were not married in the Anglican Church. Many of my Presbyterian ancestors were also taxed to support the Anglican Church and forced to find ways to have marriages performed outside that church. One of the grievances that the Scotch-Irish had against the English was that the Anglican Church controlled marriage. The reason one of my ancestors voted in the VA Burgess for freedom of religion a few months after the Declaration of Independence was not the high honorable reason of really having freedom of religion for everyone, it was to stop having to pay taxes to support the Anglican Church  in Virginia.

Many of the Patriots had a religious reason for fighting England--to get the Anglicans out of controlling marriage.

Now, getting rid of Anglican control solved things? Oh, no, states could still control marriage. White guy and black girl want to get married? (Don't even think of black guy and white girl!) NOT IN MY VIRGINIA! Well, Loving v. Virginia settled that in 1967.  What a horror! We can't control inter-racial marriages by law anymore! Well, let's control what we can . . . . In Texas, we can control some sexual acts in the privacy of people's homes into the 21st century, can't we!

Now, look at the governors of states and look at the clerks in city offices in the South. Do they never learn?
All they want to do is to 


Skip Gates: Consummate Insider--With a Hollow Where Integrity Should have Grown

Here is something in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE which I wrote around 2011.

          After complex negotiations in which Hayford egged me on to tell the full story, whatever the length, in August 1995 I abrogated the contract with Norton and proposed to return the advances (although I was not legally obligated to). The new Norton editor advised me on the phone that I should “shit can” my letter. If I approached another press, he muttered darkly, I was “in a bad way.” In fact, when word got out that I was writing a biography, I had begun receiving inquiries. When I received one from Eric Halperin at that Deconstructionist haven Johns Hopkins University Press, I was amused enough to reply tersely, “Do you know what kind of work I do?” On August 18, 1995, just as I broke with Norton, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) asked me to recommend Skip Gates (whom John Benedict had adored) for still yet another million-dollar-plus NEH grant. Stuck for several days with no publisher for my near-decade’s worth of a privately financed do-it-yourself Politically Incorrect Unfit-for-NEH-Funding biography of a dead white man, I reveled in an hour of miserable jealousy before running the megrims off in White Clay Creek. That was a low point. Running that day, in one or another of three states on my route, I remembered Eric Halperin. He was away and by design unreachable. Lindsay Waters at Harvard University Press, his priorities in good order, kept a weekend play-date at the Cape, as I understood it, instead of seizing the chance to read my sample chapters. Monday? Too late. Other presses offered contracts sight unseen. Halperin returned, leaving Johns Hopkins but replaced by Willis G. Regier, who drove up to my house, contract and cash at hand (the cash to pay off Norton). The Johns Hopkins book was beautiful—a new drawing by Maurice Sendak on the cover. The critics, of course, would be as happy as I was.

The jealousy was real--and only someone who had been on NEH panels in the 1980s or 1990s would understand how skewed the grants were toward politically correctness.  The postscript to this is that NEH demanded that I (and all reviewers) sign a paper saying we were white, black, red, yellow, or whatever. We were not allowed to say we were of mixed race.  (This is decades before Gates found he was more than half white!). I wrote an angry letter to NEH saying this was not racial, it was racist--because it demanded that we suppress one race or another if we had ancestors of more than one race. This was half a dozen years before figures from sports and music made being bi-racial or multi racial OK. I resigned from the NEH panel rather than deny being part Choctaw and part Cherokee. 

But, to say what I did not say in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY, what lay behind my comment about still yet another million dollar grant was my knowledge that no human being could do the work Gates was getting money to do. Now, with the embarrassing emails from Gates out on the Internet, showing him deciding to trash the integrity of FINDING YOUR ROOTS, showing him begging to be made a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, we see him as master of ceremonies for an entertaining TV show, not as scholar. Now someone could look at how much the NEH got from its grants over the years. How much was self-promotion?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why waste a morning rant on Facebook about the Founding Fathers and Scotch-Irish rage and Controlling Marriage?

I share a lot of DNA with Guy and Robbie, so I pay attention to what they post, and get wound up over the false claim that this was founded as a Christian country.

  • I say this with sincere love to my many friends who are passionate fundamentalist Christians who believe that the SCOTUS’s decision yesterday on marriage equality is an abomination to themselves and to God: As a lawyer, I need to attempt to set the record straight.
    Our country was created by our founding fathers very deliberately to prevent the establishment of a national religion from our governance. The Church - Catholic or Anglican - was central to almost every other country in the world historically, especially England from which our founding fathers separated. It was critical to our founding fathers that one central religion NOT be declared and NOT be incorporated into our Constitution or governance. They understood that an establishment of a national religion would ultimately abridge the very rights they believed were fundamental and were meant to be recognized and protected by the Bill of Rights and ultimately the Constitution.
    Religion-based loss of basic rights had been their experience in England and they wanted to prevent that here.
    The fact is that this decision yesterday was a LEGAL decision about the scope of our Constitutional rights as humans and US citizens. It was not about religion, religious beliefs or religious freedom. It is about equal rights, just as the decision in this country to give women the vote and the decision to abolish slavery were about equal rights. Any decision regarding the scope of a constitutional right (whether passed by Congress or interpreted by the SCOTUS) is a legal decision, not one based in religion or morality.
    Rights are not and should not be up for a popular vote or up to the states to determine. Rights are absolute and cannot be dependent upon anything other than the fact that the person is a human being and is a citizen of the US. If those two conditions are met, YOUR belief system about what is MORALLY or spiritually right or wrong does not matter and should not. You should be glad that is the case, because it would be just as easy for another religion to take over and curtail your rights as a Christian (something that has happened throughout history).
    In fact, one religious party believing they know the truth for all humans is how terrible oppression starts - that is how Naziism started, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the Klu Klux Klan, Al-Qaeda and now ISIS - the most destructive, hateful, murderous periods of human history have arisen directly out of one religious group (ironically, most of these examples were lead by Christians) believing their religion and religious beliefs were THE truth, and therefore they had the right to take away the rights (and lives) of those who lived or believed differently than them.
    Our founding fathers wanted to prevent that outcome. So does our current Supreme Court. THAT is the law of the land and I could not be more grateful to be an American than when human rights are protected. I don’t have to agree with you to believe with all my heart and soul that YOUR rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be protected against oppression or prejudice. LGBT US citizens deserve exactly the same treatment. God Bless America.
    p.s. Those railing against the decision of marriage equality as a basic constitutional right are confusing the idea of constitutional (i.e human) rights with certain types of behavior (the stuff they call "sin"). But human rights are inherent in all human beings and US citizens - not doled out based on who is behaving "well" and who isn't. All US citizens should have the equal right to pursue life, liberty and happiness, regardless of the "sins" they commit. The only behavior that should curtail your constitutional rights is if you commit a crime (a felony) and are convicted. But even then, criminals can still marry, have kids, own property, work and live in our communities. The only things they can't do is vote and carry firearms. If committing a sin was a barrier to receiving basic constitutional rights in this country, we would all be in big trouble, not just the LGBT community.
  • Robbie Head while not disagreeing with the sentiments, I don't believe any study of history would give credence to the statement that the most destructive, hateful, murderous periods in human history have arisen out of one religious group... The Klan was not motivated by religion anymore than Adolph Hitler was. Religion has been used as a fig leaf by certain groups to further their own agenda, but no one can truthfully say that the major blood shed in history was motivated by religion. the mass murderers of the 20th century were definitely not religious; most were amoral stone cold atheists. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, those responsible for the killing fields in Cambodia, and the list goes on and on.
  • Hershel Parker Robbie, I don't know who Mathews is, but I agree with most of what she says. Most important, I know that this was not founded as a Christian country but as a country that would have a separation of church and state. For the last couple of years I have been reading documents about my ancestors, including many of yours, and seeing how strong a part religion played before the Revolution. The Massachusetts Puritans founded a theocracy and actually tortured and killed Quakers. That experiment worked well for the Calvinists but not anyone else. One group of Quaker ancestors lived successfully on the eastern shore of Maryland under the Catholics (who were careful not to rock the boat by being too oppressive) but when the Anglicans came to power they fled to Onslow, SC. Quaker ancestors in Virginia were fined for fornication because they could not be married in the Anglican Church. An ancestor in Virginia a few months after the Declaration of Independence voted in the Burgess for freedom of religion because he had been taxed to support the state church, Anglican. Anglican landlords ground down the Scots in Ireland so that as late as 1772 a Presbyterian minister organized 5 shiploads of refugees to sail to Charleston. In the passenger list for the last ship, the Free Mason, are our Copelands, and they were given free bounty land far out west so they could be a buffer to the Indians (who cared if they got scalped while taking the land?), but their hatred of the established church was that they all were Patriots in the Revolution. The SC church of the minister who had brought they here was burned by the British. The Quakers were not interested in establishing a state church, but I think the Presbyterians would have been very happy to have control in each colony. The Founding Fathers knew better than to declare this to be a specifically Christian country and knew that the way to keep it from becoming a theocracy was to say that there would be no laws about the establishment of religion. Under W that separation of church and state got eroded by "faith based initiatives." I joke (seriously) that I am so old that I remember when the Baptists believed in Original Sin and even in separation of Church and State. [If I hit return for a paragraph this gets posted.]..................................................... I wanted to add something about anger that a lot of us Scotch-Irish feel. There is a terrific book by David Hackett Fischer, ALBION'S SEED: FOUR BRITISH FOLKWAYS IN AMERICA, which explains it in terms of the economic exploitation of the Scots in Scotland and the Borders and then in Northern Ireland so that when they came to a colony they came angry and resentful and ready to fight. He traces a straight line down to our cousins in the pickup trucks with rifles and the Confederate flag. I internalized that rage in the late 1930s before I knew particular instances of economic abuse (like making such improvements to a farm in 1934 that the owner raised the rent the next year and drove us out). Former Senator Webb (the only out of state candidate I ever sent money to) says we are BORN FIGHTING. Yes, and the anger makes it hard for us to remember that this was not set up as a Presbyterian country (which is what a lot of the Scotch-Irish would have wanted) but as a country in which an established church would not grind down all other churches with taxes and humiliation and actual torture, in the case of Quakers. The Anglican control over marriage meant many of our ancestors could not have state-sanctioned marriages and would be penalized because they were not legally married. Now--well, my rant has to stop--we have governors and clerks who want to do what? Oh, the governors and clerks want to control marriage.Oh, now I get it. Round and round we go.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

1835 Bureaucracy Gone Mad--Uncle Brasher Henderson Swears for Peden and McDaniel swears for Brasher

Alexander Peden S21417 was born in Ireland in 1756 and was living in the Spartanburg District of SC when the Revolution broke out. He served five tours the Patriot cause and was injured more than once. He waited until 1835 to apply for a pension. When he did, James Alexander vouched for him and Brasher Henderson vouched that it was the real James Alexander who had done the couching. Then J. McDaniel vouched that Brasher Henderson really was an acting Justice of the Peace in and for the District of Greenville and that his signature was genuine.

The process at worst allowed for fraud, venality, and display of personal arrogance on a massive scale, and at best it allowed for this sort of identifying the identifier.

I noticed this because Brasher Henderson was one of my uncles, son of my GGGG Grandfather Ezekiel Henderson S6994, who in 1835 still had a decade to live.

Brasher was the maiden name of his mother, Elizabeth Brasher Henderson, whose father was a Tory and whose brothers were Tories. Her older sister Sarah was the wife of Dr. John Pyle, Jr., who with several Brasher families fled to Greenville, SC, after the war, Ezekiel accompanying them out of love for Elizabeth. One-eyed, one hand messed up, Uncle John Pyle soon moved on to KY and then Illinois, pursued by his reputation as one of the Tory leaders at Pyle's Hacking Party in 1781. The name "Brasher" seems not to have held this uncle back in his life in Greenville.

No one swore for McDaniel, so we know there are limits to Bureaucracy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cousin John Lakin Brasher, who preached an hour-long Methodist sermon for his 100th Birthday Celebration

P. S. Got the last cheap copy of the book by the grandson, Cousin J. Lawrence Brasher, The Sanctified South. Notice that Find a Grave has John Lakin Brasher dying in 1961, contrary to the 100th birthday celebration below. Click on the tombstone and you see that the year is 1971. Some of us lived a long time.

  • Name: Rev. Dr. John Lakin BRASHER
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 20 JUL 1868 in Etowah County, Alabama
  • Death: 25 JAN 1971 in Etowah County, Alabama
  • Burial: Brasher Church Cemetery, Brasher Spring, Etowah County, Alabama
  • Note:
    Dr. John L. Brasher was a famous Methodist minister, who lived at Attalla, Alabama, where at his 100th birthday celebration, he preached an hour-long sermon. He owned a Methodist boook, printed in 1818, and inscribed "James Brasher, Sr., his book." According to his obituary, he was survived by three sons and four daughters, but the 1910 Census of Marshall Co., AL names a boy not listed in the obituary.

    In one news article about his 100th birthday: "Dr. Brasher has lived long enough to see his son, the Rev. James Hendricks Brasher, reach retirement age. He retired at the annual meeting of the Philadelphis Conference earlier this year."
    At Birmingham Southern College, shortly before his 101st birthday, he preached a memorial service for conference members who had died during the previous twelve months.

    In his sermon, he recalled the history of the Chrisian Church from the death of Jesus to the present, placing special emphasis on the spiritual side of the faith. His profound sincerity and quick wit frequently stirred the audience of several thousand delegates from near tears to outbursts of laughter. It left little doubt that heis not only the oldest member of the conference, but one of the most aware. "It's not the wrinkles on the face that makes folks old. It's the wrinkles on their spiritual life," proclaimed Dr. Brasher, who limits his sermons to "whenever I feel up to one." He lives on the family's old home place at Brasher's Springs, some seven miles west of Attalla. (from B'ham News, Wed, Jun 11, 1969)
  • A Miracle? A Tory Ancestor of the Holiness Preacher John Lakin Brasher Transformed into a Patriot?

    I don't find evidence that James Brasher, son of Tory Thomas Brazier, was a Patriot. Thomas certainly was a Tory, along with his neighbor Dr. John Pyle, the father of Thomas's son-in-law Dr. John Pyle, Jr. (the brother-in-law after the War of my GGGG Grandfather Henderson). The shamed Brasher men migrated as a group with young Dr. Pyle and young Private Henderson to Greenville, SC (the Patriot who must truly have loved Elizabeth Brasher), after the war, and then some of the Brashers went on to Shelby County after Alabama was taken from the Creeks. Anyone see that any of old Thomas's sons was a Whig? Did the family sanctify history? I ask as a descendant of old Thomas and a cousin of John Lakin Brasher.