By Jay Feldman
A important, attractive, and occasionally troubling tale of contemporary America’s fight to reside as much as its ideals.
In this bold and wide-ranging heritage, Jay Feldman takes us from the run-up to global struggle I and its anti-German hysteria throughout the September eleven assaults and Arizona’s present anti-immigration flow. What we see is a amazing trend of elected officers and personal voters alike utilizing the yankee people’s fears and prejudices to isolate minorities (ethnic, racial, political, spiritual, or sexual), silence dissent, and stem the expansion of civil rights and liberties.
Whether it’s the post–World conflict I persecution of radicals; the Depression-era deportations of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans; the area conflict II internment of 112,000 ethnic eastern besides millions of German and Italian extraterrestrial beings; the chilly warfare campaigns opposed to Communists, gays, and civil-rights activists; or the Vietnam-era COINTELPRO operations, we see how fiscal, army, and political crises were used to curtail the rights of supposedly subversive minorities.
Much of the tale may be laid on the ft of J. Edgar Hoover, yet Feldman is going deeper to teach how those traits were a part of a continuing vein that runs via American lifestyles. instead of treating this historical past as a chain of discrete moments, Feldman considers the total programmatic sweep on a scale nobody has but approached. In doing so, he offers us a effective reminder of ways, even in the United States, democracy and civil liberties are by no means guaranteed.
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The problem ramifies when the machine itself and the surrounding space come into play. Who has the prerogative to touch the machine? Who has the right to speak while a program airs? The host or hostess, owners of the property, of course, but in the 1950s, and again when color televisions appeared in the 1960s, regular tuning adjustment was likely to be necessary, and ownership and tuning skill were not synonymous. The TV Jeebies suggests several orders of violations and of resentment, first of the "amateur engineer" visitor with his blitz of technical terms and compulsive adjustment of the picture (his "expertise" presumably unearned because he owns no receiver himself).
The reader proceeds immmediately to the parody: April is the crudest month, breeding Cowboys out of the dead land, mixing pilot films, stirring Tonight Show with Today. Introduction—Phasing In 39 Winter kept us warm, covering Sullivan with Walt Disney, feeding Lawrence Welk with Mister Ed. Summer surprised us, coming over the coaxial With a shower of Talent Scouts; we stopped on Mitch Miller, And went on to midnight, into the Paargarten, And drank coffee, and watched for an hour. The verse continues through parodic versions of the best-known passages of Eliot's poem, the basis of complaint about this April TV wasteland being that the seasonal reruns have begun.
The hearth may seem politically neutral, a primitive heating system long superseded by closed stoves and furnaces and, in the age of central heat, sustained in architectural decorative arts. But, in fact, the American open fireplace is freighted with carefully inculcated meanings adhering through the processes of history and strategically deployed by corporate and media interests in the TV receiver. We err if we fail to disclose them and to consider why it is that TV viewers have been encouraged to experience the cathode tube as an electronic hearth.