Tales Of The American Melting Pot
I. The Skids Are Greased
II. Rocket Sled To Hell
Once when I began to think about things that are and my thoughts soared exceedingly high, and my bodily senses were held down by sleep like people weighed down by overeating and weariness, I thought I saw a being of vast and boundless magnitude coming toward me, who called me by name and said, “What do you wish to hear and see, to learn and know?”
“Who are you?” I said.
“I am Poimandres,” he said, “the mind of absolute power. I know what you want and I am with you everywhere.”
“I want to learn about things as they are, their nature, and to know God.” I replied.
“I know what you wish, for I am with you everywhere. Keep in mind what you wish to learn and I will teach you.
The Meaning Of Bigotry In America
The summer of 1950 was one of those watershed years. I was to begin my apprenticeship to adult life. My childhood was behind me, I was entering youth. I had failed to make the transition from the Orphanage mentality to middle class mentality, although I was unaware of it. The Orphanage was behind me; I existed on the periphery of society like a sperm trying to bore into the ova. I would never be able to penetrate the shell.
Excluded from associations I became a voracious reader. I read the newspapers and magazines of the Warden household. I developed an interest in politics and the American social scene as presented by mass circulation periodicals. My world might properly be said to be constituted of their content rather than personal affiliations in the Valley.
A major portion of the content of these publications dealt with national identities and racial matters. The topic is central to what is laughingly known as American civilization. The attempt was to reconcile the great potpourri of peoples to one another in the hope of creating a unified whole. The object was to denounce bigotry. My mind was mystified, not so much by the term as by its application. All of the evils denounced as bigotry were precisely the evils suffered at the Children’s Home at the hands of Anglo-Americans and the very minorities the articles said were oppressed.
My name was Gresham. I had been and was being raised in Ango-American houses. I knew my mother had been Polish but I still thought like, acted like and considered myself an Anglo-American; one of the ‘privileged’ class. I was so thought of by my classmates. Yet when I read of the horrors endured by ‘minorities’ I found I had experienced as bad and worse at the Children’s Home. Yet I was expected to dismiss this treatment because I was, what later became known as a WASP.
The magazines recounted as horror stories the inhumanity of Europeans when, early in the nineteenth century during the Hep Hep riots in Germany Jews were stoned on the streets and compelled to use alleys and sidestreets. Yet only two or three years earlier, right here in the good old humane U.S.A., we orphans had been stoned and beaten off the streets into the alleys because those same peoples didn’t want to see us on ‘their’ streets. Some of those people were the very Jews descendents of those who had suffered so heinously in Germany.
Between the wars in Poland Jewish children had been forced to sit on separate benches along the wall. At the beginning of the twentieth century Japanese children in San Francisco were sent to a separate school from Whites. All this was depicted as the greatest of injustices inflicted by ignorant vicious bigots. As I read it on my hands and knees on the floor the shock of recognition was such that I straightened up in wonderment placing my hands on my hips while staring down at the magazine in stunned awe.
Why were these things terrible when they happened to Jews and Japanese and Negroes but dismissed when they happened to me? Why were the people who had done these things to me not bigots? I had stopped telling people about our having to sit along the wall at Longfellow or when we orphans had to sit on a bench at recess while the others played, for lack of sympathy. They said I probably deserved it. The Wardens just guffawed and said I had it coming, but they neither could nor would say why.
A sense of indignation welled up in me. I went to the dictionary to recheck the word bigotry. I reread and found my original understanding correct but as I sat pondering the meaning I thought to myself: Something is wrong here. This isn’t really what society means by the word bigotry. For society had turned the definition of bigot and bigotry around from a general term to a specific meaning that apparently applied to only one nationality in America- the Anglo-Americans.
I began to wonder how that definition of bigotry came into existence in America. the problem is one that is central to my character and for the proper understanding of my story and those involved with me. The peculiar nature of American socity can be traced by the interaction of the various belief systems as they entered the country layer by layer. Throughout, all the various interpretations of the Bible form the woof and warp of the fabric. The design impinted on the fabric comes from a different souce.
That source is the European Enlightenment. The Enlightenment took definite shape ater 1700. The principal streams of English immigration took place prior to that occurrence when the Bible was the strongest basis of socity. The early English immigration came from two sources. The Puritans emigrated from New England under pressure from the royalist side. After Cromwell and the Puritans deposed the crown the royalists, in their turn, emigrated to Virginia where they were known as the Cavaliers. Both were biblically oriented to the point of being theocracies. The two groups form conflicting strands of American consciousness although both are firmly rooted in the Bible.
Interposed between the Puritans of the North and the Cavaliers of the South was the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam which name, when the colony fell to the English was changed to New York. Thus the pivot state of New York developed differently than the purely English colonies.
The fact that America was founded by the English is more significant for subsequent historical development in the New World than might first appear, for a third interpreter of the Bible, the Jews, were and are a significant addition to the demographic stew of the potpourri of peoples that forms the United States.
On the European continent there had been perpetual enmity between Europeans and Jews for thousands of years. When Jews first landed in New York in 1654 govenor Peter Stuyvesant wanted to refuse them permission to stay because of this age old enmity but he was overruled by his board of governors which already had significant Jewish membership.
In England the Jews had been expelled three hundred sixty years before colonization began. English society had been the only place in Europe that was Judenrein- in other words had no Jewish population. Prior to 1066 there had been no Jewish community in England. Jews came to England only in the train of William the Conqueror. The first English encounter with the Jews was brief, violent and bloody. The English reaction to the continental people was one of repulsion. The rate of violence grew until the Jews, under physical attack, were expelled in 1290.
Thus the English, unlike Europeans, had no contact with Jews for hundreds of years before the Puritans fled England. During the first part of this long span, England, like the rest of Europe had been Catholic. Catholicism does not encourage Bible reading, nor does it encourage individual thought or opinion. Catholicism rules by dogmas. Then a national church arose in England. Coinciding with rise was the invention of the printing press with movable type. The first book printed was both testaments of the Bible. The Old Testament, some find it the actual world of God, became available to all who could or would read it.
The impact in England was immense. The attraction of the notion of a chosen people was as glittering as gold. Actually the notion of the English as a chose people extended back to the Arthurian epics but devoid of contact with or religious competition from the Jews, the English could fancy themselves as the actual Chosen People, the new Israelites, which they did. A legend developed that the English were the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel. While on the continent there was bitter warfare between Jews and Europeans, the English developed the notion of patriarchal Israelites. The ‘Jew’ as the European knew him did not exist in the English consciousness. The ‘Israelite’ took his place.
The Jews were offcially readmitted to England by the Puritan, Cromwell, but their influence was still but lightly felt during the period of colonization. The English took the romanticized notion of the Israelite to America. Thus the descendants of the settlers had had no experience with Jews from 1290 to approximately 1880.
During the first 150 years of colonization revolutionary forces were at work in England and on the continent. A tremendous social upheaval was brewing. The medieval world was about to disappear and modernity take its place. There were many strands to the revolutionary forces but they were led by a combination of Freemasons and Jews, as the various anti-social strands were too anarchic to organize to begin the revolution themselves. This was the beginning of the World Revolution of which the American and French Revolutions were only the opening volleys.
For obvious reasons the Jews wish to deny their participation in the World Revolution, for reasons that I cannot fathom, so do the Freemasons. The beginnings of the World Revolution were anti-Monarchical, anti-Biblical and anti-Civilization in character. Both Jews and Freemasons had reasons to destroy the ruling houses. Jews attributed their suffering to them while the Freemasons were democratic in philosophy. The hatred the Jews felt for Catholicism no human tongue can tell. They extended their animosity to Christianity in general. All of their hatreds coalesced into one overriding hatred of European society. Numerically inferior the Jews had known few triumphs in their two thousand year conflict within Europe.
The Freemasons were not only anti-Catholic in sentiment but anti-biblical. The Freemasons do not appear to have been active participants in the anti-Civilization aspect of the World Revolution, leaving that aspect to the Jews and other anti-Christian sects.
The intent of the Revolution was and is to destroy monarchies as institutions and Biblical authority in general while atempting a jejune return to a ‘natural’ hetaeric organization of society.
The pre-Revolution’s leading exponent, Voltaire, was anti-biblical, which is to say that it was impossible for him to be anti-Catholic without being anti-Jewish. The Jews, with their peculiar sensitivity, characterize Voltaire as an anti-Semite, but this is only because they are incapable of admitting the superstitious beliefs that characterize Catholocism and Judaism stem from the same biblical source and are equally nonsensical.
The European Enlightenment was anti-biblical not just anti-Christian. Its goal was tolerance of all humanity without the need for creeds. No reasonable man has ever been in favor of intolerant creeds.
An imitative Jewish enlightenment, breaking up medieval Jewish attitudes, existed side by side with the European Enlightenment. The European Enlightenment was led by the Freemasons. Both groups were significant contributors to the American as well as the French Revolution.
Freemasonic principles were the guiding philosophy of the American Revolution. The ideas of the European Enlightenment were enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. Thus the presence in America of the Freemason Lafayette and the other European Freemasons was less a simple desire to help ‘oppressed’ colonists than to hammer out the first rung of the World Revolution, the establishment of the first Enlightened State in the world. This they did. They also established the conditions that contributed to the meaning of Bigotry in America.
The Enlightenment was a reaction against biblical authority. It denied all creeds. Its notion was that all men were created equal with regard to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is Europeans were created without distinctions of caste. Aristocracy was a to be a thing of the past, all men were entitled to have a chance to share in the good things of the world. Or as the anti-Civilization Revolutionaries were to nonsensically put it: From each according to his ability; to each according to his need. The Constitution enshrined a tolerant all-embracing belief system. The belief system was conceived so equitably that the Americans believed that immigrants would abandon their own bigoted belief systems to embrace freedom and liberty.
But America had divorced itself from a realistic appreciation of European belief systems. All belief systems with the exception of the Freemasonic/American must of necessity be intolerant and bigoted. Each of the belief systems believes itself in possession of absolute truth, which means of necessity, that all other belief systems are false and pernicious. Thus there was no little irony when the invading European belief systems labeled the enlightened Americans as bigots for resisting their attempts to re-impose their belief systems in the New World.
In Europe the Freemasons had been anathematized by the Catholic Church. From Catholicism’s point of view, held with great accuracy, the Freemasons sought the destruction of the Catholic Church. Early immigration to America had come from the dissidents to Catholicism. Those Protestants came at a time when there was sharp discord between the two belief systems. Masonic ideals had subsequently permeated American Protestantism very thoroughly. The Masonic order in American was larger than any church, but, for some reason, semi-clandestine. It was a secret society.
After 1800, immigration to the new United States was largely from Catholic countries. Catholicism, directed from Rome, retained its anti-Masonic strictures. Thus incoming Catholics were forbidden to become Masons. The Masons were perfectly willing to accept Catholics, contrary to popular belief, but received no applications. Thus a dichotomy was created not by bigoted Americans but by bigoted Catholicism. Catholics formed their own Knights Of Columbus lodges.
The Catholic Irish came in their millions. In addition to their ardent Catholicism the Irish held a centuries old antagonism to the English and things English. They did not embrace Enlightened attitudes the moment they set foot on American shores; indeed they perpetuated both antagonisms in America. A conservative reaction sprang up which was overruled by the spirit of the Freemasonic Englightenment. In an absolutely stunning turnaround the dissident Americans were labeled bigots while the great oppressor of freedom in Europe, the Catholic church, was considered liberal.
Wow! Catholicism is not tolerant, nor can it ever afford to be. If it or any other belief system is to survive or conquer it must suppress all others. Catholicism is an international organization centered in Rome. It, in fact, was the counter-revolution incarnate. The incipient World Revolution, with its anti-religious bias, had no greater enemy. Catholicism could not be expected to be any more tolerant of Freemasonry in the New World than it was in the Old; nor could Freemasonry cease its antagonism to its arch-enemy Catholicism.
This fact was recognized by intelligent Americans and a resistance was put up to what was, in effect, the Catholic invasion of America when placed within the proper historical context.
In Europe the Enlightenment considered Catholicism the mother of bigotry. Voltaire’s cry had been to crush the monster- Ecrasez l’ infame. A casual reading of the literature of the nineteenth century America demonstrates that Catholicism’s intent was to impose its belief system, yet Catholicism was able to portray Americans as bigots.
The tolerance, or lack of separation into creeds, of the Masonic belief system was turned back on it as wave after wave of intolerant belief systems entered America to demand recognition of their creed in preference to all others. When Americans attempted to proffer their own Enlightened belief system they were pushed back as bigots. The Americans took their beliefs as granted. The immigrants knew what they believed while the Americans were hazy on their own. Americans began backpeddling and have continued to do so to this very day.
A faction of the anti-Social wing of the World Revolution had developed into Socialism and from thence through Karl Marx into Communism. After the abortive 1848 rising of the World Revolution Socialists and Communists fled Europe for the United States bringing their intolerant anti-Civilization creeds with them. Thus an antagonism was created that was to last for a hundred fifty years into the present as Socialists, Communists and Americans fought it out. The anti-Civilization creeds were so antagonistic to American beliefs that no accommodation was possible on the part of the Americans; they would not backpeddle for the anti-Civilization revolutionists. Communism was compelled to give way, yet even this most intolerant of belief systems continued to portray Americans as bigots.
The great fallacy of immigration is that the immigrants came to America in search of religious freedom. This notion was especially fostered by the examples of the Puritans and Quakers but has little application to subsequent immigration. I have little sympathy for political dissidents. Oppression is part of the human makeup; only weaklings flee. Almost all of the later immigration was made up of political dissidents or those seeking greater economic opportunity.
The country was sparsely inhabited. Economic resources appeared to be inexhaustible. In order to get at and turn these potential riches into money faster the finance capitalists actively recruited laborers overseas. These laborers were exploited ruthlessly although millions returned home with their savings to live among their nationals in comfort.
Foremost among the birds of passage were the Italians. Italy, which was and is a poor country, had been unable to support its population for some time. Throughout the nineteenth century Italian labor had migrated into Europe to work for the season while wintering in the South. With the advent of steamships, which provided speedy, reliable, safe ocean travel, the Italians extended their migratory routes to Argentina and South America and then to the United States and Canada toward the end of the nineteenth century. Of the Italian immigrants entering the United States about half as many returned each year as arrived. Many came and went on a seasonal basis.
It was not their intent to abandon either their Italian nationality or culture. Nor was it Italy’s intent to abandon them. The Italian governments made strong efforts to maintain the Italian identity of their migrants. Italian governments made efforts to interfere in American affairs to protect and guide their nationals. The ties were close; Italian men were drafted from American shores to serve in the Italian army during the Great War. Indeed, Mussolini attempted to return disabled Italian soldiers to the United States for medical care. The Fascist government of Mussolini itself attempted to preserve Italian citizenship and identity of the migrants through the twenties and thirties. Most Italians didn’t reconcile themselves to the United States until after the end of WWII, that is the late forties.
Generally speaking the North European immigrants were absorbed with less difficulty than the South and East Europeans but this too is much exaggerated. No serious attempt to Americanize the immigrants occurred until the Great War forced Americans to evaluate the nature of immigration. They were appalled to suddenly discover that the immigrants had not discarded their European beliefs and wholeheartedly embraced American ideals. The Irish and Germans came over in the millions. So many that great colonies could be established that not only allowed the preservation of the culture but retarded development along American lines. In 1920 Chicago had the sixth largest urban population of Germans in either Germany or America.
As the Germans arrived in large numbers during the 1840s, 50s and 60s there was talk of forming a German State somewhere in America, perhaps Missouri. Germans, with the pride of language, steadfastly refused to learn English and abandon German.
But the people who were to most profoundly change the basis of American society came from nowhere and everywhere. They were an international people who had interposed their creed wherever they settled while refusing to assimilate with anyone. They were the Jews. Their European background was very complex and must be examined in some detail because no other nationality is surrounded with such a halo of protective prejudices that prevents objective examination.
Their history and cuture developed in slightly different manners depending upon the culture in which it was embedded. At the time of the French Revolution they had only recently been readmitted into England while still being officially forbidden France, Spain and Portugal. Many of the German principalities excluded them also. Where they did live in Germany they existed on sufferance. Yet it was these German Jews that were to bring the Jews of the East from the Middle Ages.
The great body of Jewry resided in the East, in Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine and the Eastern provinces of the Austrian Empire. These were called Ostjuden by their fellows. The Eastern Jews or the Russian Jews of the Pale of the Settlement.
There was a basic incompatibility between the belief systems of the Jews and the Europeans. It is wrong to assume, as we have all been taught, that the Jews were the innocent victims of the Europeans. The Jews have never been innocent victims. The incompatibility does not mean that the Europeans were at fault. It means that both belief systems where strongly held and they were incompatible. However as the Jews were pitiably few in number they had been the chief sufferers, although not moreso than the general European populace. Jews were never Serfs, which is say slaves, as were the native Europeans. Western Europe had been very inhospitable to the Jews. The Jews had been expelled from England, France, Spain and Portugal. Their lot in Germany had been trying.
During the tribulationsof the Middle Ages large numbers had drifted East into the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom. They had been stopped at the door of Great Russia. Thus the main body of European Jewry lived in that vast relatively unpopulated area that would be institutionalized as the Pale of Settlement after the Russian conquest of the eighteenth century.
A semi-autonomous Jewish nation had grown up with the loosely administered state of the Poles. The Polish State at that time included Lithuania, White Russia and the Ukraine. The Jews were allied with, or under the tutelage of the Poles. Yet they had an independent existence with their own language, their own courts and their own religion. Many towns were wholly Jewish while others were predominantly so.
Jewish religion may be found developed in its purest state among the Ostjuden. There it developed and there it remained at or below the intellectual level of the Medieval Catholic Church even as the Ostjuden emigrated to the United States. As the German Jews abandoned the medieval concept of Judaism for the Jewish Enlightenment, the Ostjuden became a source of social embarrassment to them. Yet, the Ostjuden rose above the German Jews in the United States to become the guardians and propagators of the true Jewish spirit.
The Russian State coalesced only in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; but it came together with enormous expansive force. The Russians moved with amazing rapidity East across Siberia, into Alaska and even establishing an outpost in California above San Francisco on what is known as the Russian River. They conquered South into Central Asia and the shores of the Black Sea, West into Polish Europe, North to the White Sea. Just as the English had had an unfavorable encounter with the Jews, so had the Russians. Thus the Russians closed off their State to the Jews almost before the State was formed. They had rigidly enforced the ban. However, as they expanded Westward across White Russia into Poland the Russians acquired the largest body of Jews in the world.
The Jews had been semi-independent; they now became, along with the Poles and numerous other nations a conquered people. One must not confuse the Jewish conflict in Russia as solely a religious difference. The Jews are incapable of accepting the government of any other nation. Being the ‘Chosen People’ means that they are subject only to God and they contest that. They can never submit to any other government. The assertion is repeated over and over in Jewish historians from Josephus to the present. There is nothing more fundamental to the Jewish character. As the Poles were both Poles and Roman Catholics as opposed to the Russians and their Eastern Orthodox religion, so the Jews were a national group practicing Judaism. The Jews were thus a Stateless nation. The Russians wished to impose cultural uniformity on their newly acquired dominions. Among others the Poles and Jews rejected Russian cultural supremacy but the Poles had a national territory for security while the Jews were distributed throughout the Russian Empire, now including Great Russia, as an exclusive people.
The Russians were intolerantly of the Russian Orthodox system, the Poles were of the intolerant Roman Catholic belief system, and the Jews were intolerantly Jewish. None had any special claim, other than might, to assert the dignity of their belief system over the others; all wished to survive and rule. There was absolutely no room for discussion or compromise. One belief system or the other must prevail. The prospects of the Russians appeared best; the Poles might expect to recover their independence; the plight of the Jews appeared hopeless. Yet it is to be noted that by 1917 the Jews had wiped the name of Russia from the map.
The antagonism between the Russians and the Jews began slowly after the conquest until the warfare took definite form after the assassination of the Czar in 1881. The Jewish situation was somewhat analogous to that of the Huns in Euorpe after their leader Atilla died. The Huns could no longer hold their own against the Europeans. Unlike the Jews who were trapped with no apparent retreat open to them the Huns retreated back into the steppes to accept their fate there.
The Jews had no place to go in Europe where they were welcome. But, by the late nineteenth century, the developing nations of the New World, from Argentina to Canada, opened their areas to receive them so that a retreat opened to them in those countries.
Immense Jewish fortunes had been made in Europe in the wake of the French Revolution; these fortunes were now enlisted to assist the Ostjuden in their flight from the Pale of the Settlement.
Thus this essentially primitive people, steeped only in the inane knowledge of the Talmud, increasingly radicalized and made vicious by their war with Russia, which had been transmuted in their minds to a personal struggle between the Czar and themselves, were dumped on the United States where they formed numerous and large colonies.
Through the centuries, as a semi-autonomous people the Ostjuden had lived in constant friction with the surrounding peoples. The tradition of hositility combined with their own intolerant religious temperament had formed a character charged with resentment, hatred, fear and the need to assert the dignity promised them by their God of the Bible. They had acquired a curious mixture of arrogance and servility.
While the German Jews immigrating to America in the nineteenth century had been more cosmopolitan in outlook and had migrated throughout the United States the Ostjuden conditioned by fear of their neighbors tended to huddle as it were on the very beach on which they had landed. They initially huddled on the Lower East Side of New York City, a mere few steps from their landing.
Contrary to popular understanding, conditions in the New World did not create the Jewish mentality in New York. The Ostjuden brought thier own customs and habits from the Old Country and merely adapted them to their new environment until their appreciation of their new situation began to act as a solvent.
The crowding together in the New World was merely a duplication of the crowding of the old. In the Pale a room was often divided into corners. A family, that’s right, a family inhabited each corner, or quarter, of the room; hence the expression: He hasn’t got a corner to call his own. As the Ostjuden came in their millions they literally piled up in stacks in the few blocks of the Jewish quarter until their quarter had the highest population density in the world. The crowding was not imposed on them by conditions in America but was a mere continuation of Jewish customs in the Pale of the Settlement.
The Jews in the Pale had a very highly developed political organization which operated both openly and clandestinely. This organization was transported whole and entire to the United States. It should always be remembered that the Jews did not emigrate individually but as a nation. The efficiency of the national organization was further abetted by the German Jews, who, in effect, had been pioneers for the Ostjuden. The German Jews had been in the United States long enough to have acquired considerable fortunes, although nothing like the Jewish fortunes in Europe; these fortunes were now turned to assist the Ostjuden in establishing themselves in America.
The readymade clothing industry that developed after the advent of the sewing machine had been the province of the German Jews. From 1880 to 1920 the industry was a fabulous growth industry as people switched from homemade to store bought clothing. The Ostjuden were now absorbed into this huge and growing industry to the exclusion of other peoples; the industry became an autonomous Jewish national economic system.
America, regardless of the condition of unskilled laborers, was a very prosperous country. Money was to be made easily by anyone with a will. The Ostjuden quickly acquired the means to oust their erstwhile advisors, the German Jews, from the garment trades. They bought the tenements the Ostjuden lived in; they developed Brooklyn. At no time were the Jews exploited by Anglo-Americans, as is commonly supposed, the Jews were only exploited by each other from their entry into the United States.
Because of their experiences with the Russians, the Jews in America were both aggressive and very sensitive to conflict with others. Always bear in mind that the Jews consider themselves subject only to their God. They can never nor will they ever give allegiance to any other government. As God, or Jehovah, does not exist, this is tantamount to saying that the Jews consider themselves an Imperial people superior to all others. They could not conceive of the American government in any other terms than the ones in which they conceived the Russian government. The American government was unconcerned with Jewish nationality hence Jewish autonomy was established immediately on arrival. Hence a host of ‘defense’ organizations, analogous to the Jewish Brotherhoods of Russia, sprang into existence as soon as their numbers justified them. The Jews believe that a good offense is the best defense, hence they tend to confuse aggression and defense. They consider an unprovoked attack on a potential enemy as a pre-emptive measure. In other words, if you treat a neighbor as a potiential enemy and eliminate him before he realizes that you are his enemy and has a chance to defend himself, that is a pre-emptive strike.
As they put it, one must build a fence around Torah. In the defense of the Law the fence is pushed further away from Torah to provide greater security. During the approach of the European War, for instance, Franklin Delano Roosevelt first pushed the three mile ocean limit to twelve miles, then a thousand miles. Next American territorial waters were pushed out to Iceland; then Roosevelt issued orders to shoot at German vessels on sight. All this was during peacetime without a declaration of war. It was even said that America’s frontier with Germany was on the Rhine, definitely Jewish influence in the White House. This frontier might have created some problems as it incorporated England, France, Holland and part of Germany. but the example gives the nature of what Jews mean by defense. Offense and defense become blurred; the one becomes indistinguishable from the other.
Henry Ford objected to this very attitude. Many Americans feared and claimed that the Jews were unassimilable. They were vague in the reasons for their opinion but they were absolutely correct. The Star of David rises over all other governments in the Jewish mind.
The first truly successful Jewish Brotherhood in the United States was the Order of B’nai B’rith. Freemasonry had fallen into temporary disrepute about 1828. The Order was under great pressure. Membership declined. Bereft of the Masons, Jews formed B’nai B’rith in 1843 to fill the void or to keep the Jewish spirit intact. The Order prospered and grew, by the time of the great influx of Ostjuden it was an international organization. In 1913 it developed further when the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith was formed.
The American Jewish Committee, which took on Henry Ford, was actually the first of the ‘defense’ organizations. Founded in 1906, it was autocratic formed along German lines by the American German Jews.
As the Ostjuden arrived in numbers an attempt was made to f0rm an international government centered in New York. When the Kehilla was formed along the lines of the Russo-Polish model, American soil was either not propitious or events had antiquated the model. The Kehilla had to be abandoned. The American Jewish Committee did however function as part of an America wide and international Jewish government.
The very strong Jewish reaction to criticism combined with their very active projection of Jewish desires gave definite form to the notion of bigotry in America. Jewish writers immediately set about revising American history in a Jewish Biblical cast. They cleverly grouped all immigrants into a coalition which combined with American Biblical elements achieved power when F.D. Roosevelt was elected.
The American public was not only ill-informed about Jewish antecedents, Americans have never understood the Jewish role in history. Jewish propaganda characterized the Russian experience as one of religious persecution to fit in with American prejudices. This characterization went unchallenged until Henry Ford began his exposes in 1920.
But as the old Americans were of English extraction their attitude toward Jews was mostly one of awe and wonderment at Israelites. Having had no experience with Jews for centuries they could only interpret them through the pages of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament the Jews refer to themselves as a nation of priests. They attribute to themselves a character of purity which cannot be found in the annals of their history. Americans, then, tended to defer to Jews as a holy people, as the descendants of the Patriarchs who were considered the epitome of the Holy Man. Americans not only believed the Bible to be the very breath of God but there is, further, something distasteful to Americans in even mentioning the word ‘Jew.’ They prefer Israelites. It is a sensitive area. The word Jew can only be uttered with a twinge of embarrassment and apprehension lest the holy people be offended and even that God might take direct action against you, such as a lightning bolt.
Thus the horror when Henry Ford tackled the issue head on in the pages of his newspaper. Thus his crushing defeat by his own fellows as opposed to the Jews. Ford’s efforts even supported Jewish contentions that ‘anti-Semitism’ was rife in America.
Prior to 1920 the Jews had had to invent anti-Semitic issues. After the anti-Defamation League was formed its officers issued a plea to movie producers to cease making anti-Semitic films. Now, the movie industry was in Jewish hands. If any anti-Semitic films were being made they were being made by Jews. Carl Laemmle, the Jewish head of Universal Studios, obligingly issued a statement that Universal would no longer make anti-Semitic films. Ford was a blessing in disguise.
By 1920 the bulk of the European immigration was completed. The panicked Old Americans had slammed the door but a group of self-assertive intolerant bigoted belief systems were already opposed to the liberal Freemasonic conception of society. The theocratic Biblical underpinnings of American society now formed an alliance with those forces in oppostion to ‘bigotry.’ The official position of ‘minorities’ on bigory in American was formulated by the Jewish writer Gustavus Myers in his ‘History Of Bigotry In The United States.’, which carefully attributes all conflict as the bigoted behavior of Americans against immigrants. In a curious reversal of attitudes the liberal comprehensive views of Freemasonry were depicted as bigoted while the narrow parochial tenets of the the opposing Biblical systems were characterized as liberal. Strange world, strange thinking people.
The immigrants from East and Southern Europe with their first or second generation offspring now represented half of the American population. Due to language and cultural differences they had been unable to assert themselves in the first decades of the twentieth century. During the twenties and thirties they began to acquire the skills to make their presence felt. They deeply resented the indignities they had suffered as new immigrants. In lesser numbers their complaints would have been but the grumbling of those unable to adjust to their new chosen environment but in their great numbers they could vent their wrath on their hosts; they could beard the lion in his own den.
The Russians tried to impose their culture on indigenous peoples and failed. The indegenous were too strong on their home ground. The immigrants had attempted to retain their languages and customs but the extablished American culture had prevented it being too strong on its home ground to permit the immigrants unadulterated retention of national customs and religions. The benefits conferred on them by the United States compared to their expectations in the their native lands had been incomparably great. Yet they converted the unavoidable pain of imigration into an unreasonable resentment of their hosts. Unable to retain their individual cultures, in combination they were able to exact punishment on the Anglo-Americans.
The Great War had done much to dissolve the European nations’ attitude that their nations were merely overseas citizens. Yet the Italians attempted to maintain national identity while after the victory of the Nazis in Germany, an attempt was made to rouse Germans into a Pan-Germanic sympathy. Both failed. However the Jews had succeeded in maintaining an international Jewish indentity. They could and did think in terms of French Israelites. English Israelites and Israelites resident in America, as well as Jews of the developing Jewish state in Palestine. They were still attempting to achieve an international government functioning on a parity with or, superior to their host States. There is absolutely no evidence to deny that the Jews could or did influence the foreign affairs of each nation with the exception of Germany. This influence was accomplished through a number of fronts, chief of which was the Communist Party. The Jews of all nations always aided and never attacked Communist efforts; any dissenting Jewish voices were ineffective. However the Jews failed to detect the change of direction in Russia under Stalin. They remained sympathetic to the Soviet Union throughout the war and immediately after until the truth hit them.
Thus they believed, and Hitler certainly thought, that they had Germany isolated and surrounded. After Germany began the war, they, the British and the Roosevelt administration were eager to bring the United States into the war on the side of the Soviet Union.
The United States had absolutely no interests or anything to be gained by inerfering in the war in Europe. As Charles Lindhberg pointed out, the war was merely another stage in the evolution of European society. the Europeans, he thought, should be left to work out their own destiny. The majority of Americans were opposed to the entry of America into the war. The opposition to entry was vocal. The foremost advocate against intervention was the America First Committee. A terrific smear campaign led by the Roosevelt administration and the Jews defaming the non-interventionists was undertaken.
The Jews through the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League maintained an espionage unit independent of those of the United States to spy on, hinder and discredit anyone who was vocally opposed to the entry of the United States into the war even though they were guilty of no offense but a different opinion. The Jews published a book containing the purported results of their investigations called ‘Undercover’ written under the pseudonym of John Roy Carlson. The book denounced men and women innocent of anything but Patriotism as Fascists or Nazi sympathizers. The book made no mention of Communists, nor were Communist denouncers spared. Martin Dies of HUAC, who had been forbidden by Roosevelt to let the committee investigate Communists, wrote a book called ‘The Trojan Horse In America’ which denounced Fascists and Communists alike as un-American. The book sold through its first printing. Its publisher was notified that if he reprinted it he would begin to have great difficulties. Dies himself was deprived of his seat in Congress as punishment for pursuing Communists. ‘Undercover’, the Jewish book, was permitted to go through dozens of printings.
To be opposed to the war made one, in Jewish eyes, not only Fascist but Nazi. The line of reasoning was thus: In September 1941 Charles Lindhberg, the pilot, and chief speaker of America First made a speech in Des Moines. The speech was described as ‘frankly isolationist’ by the Jews as though that were a crime. Because the speech was isolationist and opposed to American entry into the war it therefore furthered Nazi interests and thus was pro-Nazi and hence, anti-Semitic. Lindhberg thereby became an actual Nazi in Jewish thinking. In other words any policies contrary to Jewish interests were ipso facto pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic. Any individual advocating such policies became an enemy to be destroyed.
These dissidents to Semitist interests were pursued to the ground. Their careers were destroyed, they were denied jobs and where possible turned out of office. The definition of bigotry in America was given definitive form. To lack sympathy for the Jewish program was bigotry. The American patriots were treated worse than the Communists in the fifties but no voice was raised in their defense. The origins of Political Correctness were based on acceptance of Jewish dogma.
The wars had done much to mix, if not homogenize, heterogeneous national attitudes. One language emerged from the Wars, there were no longer accents. The pre-War culture and humor as depicted in the movies had disappeared. Specifically Irish tenors, Jewish self-parody and ethnic humor were disappearing fast. We youths did not approve of what we couldn’t understand. The market had evaporated as the types disappeared from the streets. Young people could no longer identify the sources of the humor.
Curiously, at the same time, different nationalities began to romanticize national cultures that were generalizations of the past. No such national cultures had ever been universal. But, as the Fourth of July became a festival of fireworks and national diversity rather than a glorification of the War for Independence and the Civil War, ethnic celebrations sprang up. Italian day, Greek days and whatever else. The participants wore colorful ‘national’ costumes that were nowhere evident among the drab suits in the photographs of the incoming immigrants. Pretty phony I thought.
English culture began to be displaced. Ethnic food and restaurants began to replace the wood paneled, beef oriented restaurants that had been the standard. When I first first heard the Dean Martin song ‘That’s Amore’ I thought he was saying: ‘When the moon hits your eye like a big piece of pie…’ instead of pizza pie. I hadn’t yet been introduced to that dish. The English way was becoming anathema in America. ‘Minorities’ began skirmishes of persecution against English America. The Anglo-Americans became ‘bigots’ when they flaunted their culture. It began to be demanded that they abandon their culture in favor of the immigrant’s. The immigrants began to demand that Anglo-Americans adjust to them, to abandon their culture for the immigrants’. Failure to do so was politically incorrect. those who knew their Anglo identity were labeled bigots and became beneath human consideration. They, we, became strangers in our own land.
The Italians, the Slavs, the Jews had never heard of King Arthur; the cycle was not part of their culture. He was part of the ethnic heritage of the English. He had been the model of American ideals since the foundation of the colonies. Camelot was now removed to the periphery to make room for other traditions.
None of us, or at most very few of us, had any idea of what was happening, but this was part of the social environment which was forming my character. Thus my ancestors had abandoned the playing field.
Camptown Race Track Five Miles Long
The conditions of the twentieth century in America made for a terrifically exciting environment. Not only was the social enivironment stimulating, to say the least, but scientific and technological innovation kept us open mouthed and wondering. The electric light, phonographs, movies, cars, planes and trains were fantastic. Just as fantastic and as all enveloping was the develpment of radio in the twenties; make that Radio. Radio as much as anything else formed my generation.
The auxiliary to Radio that made it so important to us was the phonograph record. The auxiliaryto the phonograph record was the spectacular assortment of song writers, singers and musicians that made the sides that made our day.
Radio developed further along in the twenties as a commercial reality; by the thirties the great networks of radio stations had come to maturity. NBC, CBS and the Mutual Network ruled the airwaves. Prior to television radio competed with the newspapers, hence the rise of the Radio Commentator. The news was delivered through distinctive voices and how, even eccentric voices, voices that no one had ever used before, or since. Radio was also viable on its own as an entertainment medium. Comedy, mystery, and drama shows saturated the airwaves. Plus the programmers, ever anxious to shove culture down the throats of Americans, filled hours with classical music and opera. The fact that few people wanted to hear it did not deter them. Little time was devoted to popular music and that at the least listened hours. This was radio prior to the its metamorphosis after the introduction of television.
The record industry began as the voice of the people and remained so. You can program music no one will listen to on the Radio but if you want to make money with records you have to give them what they want. The industry would always subsidize classical and opera but it would always produce what sold regardless of style. Of course there were always the professional songwriters. There was a lot of money to be made turning out ephemeral hit tunes. The royalties were only in pennies but every a piece of sheet music sold, a record sold or was played on the radion or featured in movies the pennies rained down. Tin Pan Alley in New York where the music publishers were centered even commemorated the phenomenon in a little ditty that became quite popular: ‘It isn’t raining rain you know, it’s raining pennies from heaven.’ There was gold on the streets of America. There was money in the air. Yes, indeed, a man with song in his heart could make a fortune- a penny at a time.
Making records was cheap. A company could break even on a few hundred copies and make money on a thousand. Now, when immigration was cut off in 1920-24 the industrial cities still had a voracious apetite for laborers. Thus internal migration began. The biggest untapped labor pool was in the agricultural South. Recruiters went South after them. It was at this time that Negroes were induced to migrate North. In addition to the Blacks, White Hillbillies and poor whites, or as they were uncharitably known in the South, Poor White Trash, moved North in numbers also.
The movies, music and the stage were all controlled and dominated by immigrant Jews. Thus, with the exception of Cole Porter and a few others, commercial American culture was filtered through the minds of Ostjuden immigrants. The South was as old American as any section could be. There were few Jews in the section. The musical tradition of the North had always been influenced by the musical traditions of the latest immigrants. Thus German oom pah, Irish tenors, and Black jazz had preceded the Jewish interpreters. An entirely indigenous musical tradition existed in the South, derived from the musical traditions of the Scotch-Irish settlers. Two strands developed; The hill music of the Whites and the blues music of the Blacks. Just as the European immigrants had brought their traditions with them to America, so the Southerners took their traditions North. Southern music began its evolution under Northern influences. The Black Country Blues began its metamorphosis into Big City Urban Blues while Hillbilly Music formed an alliance with a distinctive Western Music influence to become ‘Country Music.’
These musical forms produced tunes that were more expressive of the cultural identity of their composers and hence were less ephemeral than Tin Pan Alley tunes. They also were of what became know as ‘subcultures.’ Records to fill the subcultural tastes were required also. Thus, what were known as ‘race’ records came into existence. Records tailored strictly for the limited markets of Blacks and Hill Folk. They didn’t sell tremendously well, but they didn’t have to, they were cheap to produce and they made money even in limited quantities.
A great body of little known tunes developed beneath the mass culture. In the thirties under the Roosevelt administration Federally employed researches plodded through the Southern hinterlands with tape recorders to obtain evidences of Southern or Negro culture. A large number of names and tunes, shouts, rags and hollers was added to the body of unheard music and ignored musicians.
The Depression and the Dust Bowl also added much folk music inspired by those tragedies. After the Wars Tin Pan Alley went into decline; its musical wellsprings, largely plundered from classical composers were exhausted. But race music continued to evolve among the Blacks and Hill people in the North. This was to evolve into Rhythm and Blues and Country and Western.
At the same time Folk Music, as opposed to Tin Pan Alley commercial ditties, began to evolve on a popular basis. Folk Music included various international strands was well as selected songwriters and tunes from Blues and Hillbilly Music. Thus Black artists like Charley Patton, Robert Johnson and the greatest of the blues singers, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbettor became formative influences in American culture.
Television, in addition to reshaping print publishing had a devastating effect on Radio. Sight and sound ws so much more effective for the presentation of entertainment that Radio soon found itself unlistened to and began to flail around for different programming before it had to cease transmitting. There was little of it to turn to but broadcasting records twenty-four hour a day. To its complete surprise this programming was marvelously successful.
The creation of musical attitudes and a body of songs was the precondition for the great change in music during the fifities. The technological side was just as important. Disregarding the early cylinders on which music was first recorded, records had always been ten inches. Seventy-eight revolutions per minute, shellac discs. The maximum time per side was three minutes. Thus all popular music composed was of three minutes duration or less. Multi-record albums were sold for classical music and some popular artists. The steel needle used as a pickup was huge and wore out after only a few plays. Sound reproduction was horrible by current standards while the shellac records broke or shattered easily. Seventy-eights disregarding all their disadvantages still sold well but they were frequently broken before one got them home.
By 1948 modern record pressing had been perfected. A tiny saphiere or diamond tipped stylus that lasted from three hundred to one thousand hours had been perfected. With a smaller needle the grooves could be pushed closer together and micro-groove recordings were born. Improved technology allowed the records to be played at slower speeds. Sound quality on 45 RPM records was better than on 33 RPM records but the 33s played longer. At the same time producers switched form shellac to vinyl. Vinly was more durable and for the truly gullible could be advertised as unbreakable.
The 45s used for popular music were so durable that the improvement over the seventy-eights was as the difference between the Wright Brothers and a jumbo jet. Now, as 33s retained the ten inch size they could only contain four songs per side, and the sound quality was still primitive.
By 1954 the manufacturers improved the sound quality with the introduction of High Fidelity while simultaneously increasing the size of the album to twelve inches or six songs and up to twenty minutes per side. Home entertainment had taken a step into the future.
The country had feared the return of the depression, but the depression hadn’t come back. The country was very prosperous. For the first time kids- teenagers- had money. They, we, I couldn’t get enough of popular music. At the same time the various strands of Race and Folk Music under the tremendous pressure of urban realities evolved into one form of popular music called Rock and Roll or another term- the Devil’s Music. The post-war world had arrived.
In 1950 the fusion into Rock and Roll was still a few years away. but Michigan is part of a great flat area of the Middle West. Radio waves travel for immense distances unimpeded by any natural obstructions like mountains. Thus late at night the more powerful stations from Texas, Shreveport, Waterloo and Cincinatti could be picked up on our little radio receivers. These stations transmitted Hillbilly music that sounded like it came from another galaxy. Plus there were more powerful stations transmitting across the Rio Grande from unregulated Mexico. Blues, Rhythm And Blues and horrible Jazz muic could be picked up from the great Black populations of Detroit and Chicago.
I spent many a night when Skippy was out, twisting the dial of his radio to see what station, with what weird music I could pick up. Meanwhile the racial situation in the Valley was developing.
Blacks and Hillbillies were present in numbers. Blacks, who had been first brought up during the Wars, were increasing in numbers rapidly. They had been compelled to live in the oldest, and, I think most beautiful part of the Valley, the First Ward. By 1950 they were bursting the Ward seams. Their attempts to spread out had been resisted. Population density in the Ward had increased to spectacular levels. Centrifugal forces pushed them from the Ward. They were refused permission to cross the River which held for some time. They had therefore no choice but to expand East and South-East. The North was blocked by the huge Chevy Grey Iron plant and beyond that were swamps that loggers had apparently forgot to fill in with sawdust, or perhaps they ran out of sawdust.
Thus the Blacks were all on the East Side. As they spread East and South-East toward downtown they drove the Whites out. The areas adjacent to the First Ward were inhabited by poor Whites. As they were driven out some of the older well-to-do areas fell to both Blacks and poor or improvident Whites.
At that time there were two high schools in the Valley. Valley High on the East Side and Melville on the West. Valley High and the East Side Junior Highs thus had a very high proportion of Black students. Many parents, even if their neighborhood had not yet fallen to Blacks refused to have their children attend mixed schools. Thus there was a major exodus of Whites to the East Side opening new areas to Blacks..
Had this not happened my old enemies, Michael and David Hirsh and the Eloy would not have come West to cause me trouble. In Junior High, as most of them were from affluent families, they moved out into the new developments in the Southwest Side from which they were funneled to Masters. I was in the Lindsay district on the North Side. The dividing line between the two districts often ran down the middle of the street. Thus, if David Hirsh had bought a house on the other side of his street Michael would have attended Masters rather than Lindsay.
Masters was the newer school with a magnificent campus on the South end of town near Wigwam Rd. Lindsay was the older school on the North Side of town. It had been built about 1890 in the institutional style of the Children’s Home only much larger. It had the identical floor plan. A grim brick front faced Huxley Ave. while two end wings trailed back to Spencer. The central portion of the building contained the furnaces and gyms.
Linday had formerly been Gotthold Lessing Junior High, reflecting the very large German population of the Valley. In the aftermath of the Great War coupled with the rise of Hitler its German namesake had been repudiated and the more Anglo-American one of Vachel Lindsay substituted. While Masters had a terrific campus with playing fields, Lindsay sat on a square block of concrete. We played no field sports. Our recreation was in the gym.
During the fifth and sixth grades at Robinson I had been free of direct pressure form David and Michael Hirsh and the Eloy. This was now to change.
My life had been completely compartmentalized. There was no continuity, merely a series of fragments. Not even a series, only a jumble of incident, with the key incidents suppressed into my subconscious of which I could make no sense. From birth to my mother’s divorce, life at my grandmother’s, the Smith’s, the Johnson’s , the Children’s Home and now the Warden’s had been one jarring dislocation after another. As I had been taken from one environment and placed in the next, that segment became a sealed psychological unit. Most of my memories were so painful that I just blacked out the other people. I could recall events but names and persons meant nothing to me. Thus while the Eloy remembered me very well I could not recall them, nor did I want to.
But as they remembered me, they expected, not unnaturally, some acknowledgment of themselves. Because they thought themselves my superior, they thought of me as their ‘nigger’, they expected or demanded that I speak to them first. When I didn’t they interpreted this as sheer arrogance on my part. The more so because I was of the Orphanage whose members had been driven off the streets and compelled to skulk down alleys. I had no rights in their minds, I wasn’t even really a person; I was a charity case existing at their sufferance.
The two or three Eloy from the East Side quickly formed an alliance with the boys from Robinson into whose company of the first study class I had thrust myself. They returned what they considered my obstinance with a steady glowing hatred. Still, because I wouldn’t speak first, the warfare was conducted at arm’s length.
Seventh grade had been in session for a month when the Hirshes moved to the West Side. It was in gym that Michael Hirsh and I recognized each other although my recognition was as though by an alter ego emanating from my subconscious.
Nor were the Hirshes any longer in control of their faculties. Our confrontation in Flint had had a very disturbing effect on the mind of both David and Michael Hirsh. The promise of David’s early life was fast vanishing. The notion of the eighty black years fastened on his mind. As he traced the decline of his fortunes his mind dwelt on my confrontation with Michael in kindergarten in 1943. I was the cause of all his misfortunes. Prior to Flint he had felt in control and thought he had been tormenting me. Now his mind reevaluated the matter, he fumbled mentally to adjust his behavior and it seemed to him that I had been pursuing and tormenting him. The cause of his actions switched from the thought of a justified revenge to one of self defense. By some perverse mental contortion he managed to reverse the roles and so maintain his purity.
All of the intolerant belief systems are so convinced of their rectitude that they believe that all opposition is pernicious, based on a willfully perverse wrongheadedness and therefore is evil. Since they think they represent God’s own, or the ultimate truth, they believe that they are entitled to win and never lose. When their will is thwarted they never attribute the loss to tactical or strategical errors of the their or superior skill of their adversaries but to the criminal, evil or diabolical means of their opponents. David Hirsh attributed means to, what was now, a twelve year old boy that would revolt you. I was no longer an adversary but a potent enemy. True, I was young but apprarently I was aided by occult forces. I must be stopped before I assumed adult powers. His and Michael’s injuries must be avenged, not only on me but on the evil anti-Semitic powers emanating from the fringes of the universe.
On Michael’s part the events in Flint had crushed him. I had, as far as he was concerned, triumphed over him. I had blunted his manly force. He was no longer game to confront me. He was beaten.
Amongst the Eloy the notion was propagated that I had willfully ravaged Michael. As an orphan I had committed an offense way out of my social caste. Lazarus had assaulted Dives at his own door. This was turned into an affront that I could never be forgiven. I must be put in my place.
As I now saw Michael, his former splendor had departed him. As our outer appearance reflects our inner raiment, Michael depicted a despairing disheveled appearance. His countenance was no longer clear and confident. The colors of his clothing had changed from bright to dark. He no longer wore them with the crips aplomb of former years. He put them on carelessly, his buckle was not centered exactly. He proclaimed to the world that he was forlorn.
When our eyes met, a glimmer of hope that I would finally capitulate died aborning. I spoke first and with an unwonted insolence, but through the veil, as it were, my eyes did not exactly see him. There was a sharpness to my voice that I was not aware of, for Michael recoiled slightly as I spoke to him, as though he had seen a ghost. Indeed, he had every reason to have a guilty conscience. He relaxed somewhat before my apparent familiarity but remained apprehensive, or perhaps resentfull.
Live is full of funny coincidences. Acton Burnell, who had witnessed my rape in the fourth grade and subsequently rescued me from oblivion with his good advice, chose this moment to avenge himself on the Hirshes. I have no idea from when or from whom the offence came, whether it was committed against him, his father, some member of his family or whether he just thought that the Hirshes deserved it. David Hirshe’s affairs were unsettled, any injury Burnell could give him would be doubly effective. As so often happens prominent men are assailed through their offspring rather than directly. As the Bible puts it, the sins of the father shall be visited on the son.
Acton Burnell was a bit of a busybody, what he hadn’t seen himself he had learned from others. Burnell, who had been instrumental in making sure I went to the West Side was very familiar with my whole history with the Hirshes. I had been defenseless before them, the details filtered through his mind and the result came out.
Burnell was as Christian as anyone. He too knew that the Bible says that the sins of the father shall be visited on the son, he knew David Hirsh believed it. Burnell chose Michael as his victim to make David feel his wrath. Burnell strained the point a bit but t his method was meant to convey to David that someone knew of Michael and Eloy’s crime against me. His simile was probably too labored for David to apprehend it.
One day, shortly after Michael had transferred to Lindsay he showed up at scholl with every bit of head and face swollen to immense dimensions. He had obviously been beaten very badly. We wondering boys gathered around him to demand the story.
He had been walking down Melmoth Ave. Just as he was in front of Rivers Of Blood a car sqealed to a stop beside him. Six high school boys emerged from the car. They pushed Michael up onto the grass, surrounded him and began punching him. Each punch turned him enough for another boy to punch his fact and head. This treatment continued fast and furious for two or three minutes. Michael was constantly pummeled. Confused by the suddenness of the attack, disoriented by the pain and overwhelmed by numbers Michael could put up no defense or even offer a verbal protest.
As he was hit on one side of the head he put his hand there to cover himself. It again he put his other hand up, then moved them from place to place as he was hit.
Uknown to Michael, Acton Burnell was standing before a basement window in River Of Blood popping raisins into his mouth as he quietly watched.
The beating was a terrifying experience and he had been thoroughly terrified. Completely dazed and when he had given up all hope of the beating ever ending, one of the boys soothingly said: ‘Oh gosh, o hey, guy that looks like it really hurts. Here, fella, let me see that.’
When Michael obligingly and thankfully removed his hands the boy treacherously punched him as hard as he could, knocking him down. Michael’s fall broke the spell. The boys leaped into their car letting loose a peal of demonic laughter as they drove off.
Acton Burnell popped his last raisin into his mouth. Chuckling with satisfaction he turned and walked out of the church to where Michael lay sobbing.
‘You aren’t hurt too bad, are you son? Six on one is pretty tough odds. I think you did the best you could though. It wasn’t much, but I think it was your best.’
Then he helped Michael up and turned him down Melmoth in the direction he had been heading, giving him a little shove to start him on his way.
As Michael told his story, the horror of his experience sank further into his consciousness. It wasn’t so much that his voice actually quivered as his mind constantly recoiling from his painful memories projected a quiver; he didn’t actually shake, het I could feel a quiver in my stomach muscles as I watched his tension grow. The memory glowed vividly in his mind and would for some time. Had he been in the second grade he would have been able to suppress the memory, but at twelve he had to deal with it directly.
His mind had turned inward as he related the details of his story. As he finished he once again looked out into the world; as he did, his glance fell on me.
I don’t know what he saw, perhaps Acton Burnell had triggered the memory of the fourth grade and his guilt overwhelmed him, but when he saw me he inadvertantly turned stiffened and turned quickly away. I though my expression reflected wonderment and sympathy but, perhaps, Michael perceived a hint of pleasure and satisfaction. Perhaps my own feelings had inadvertantly risen to the surface; if so, I wasn’t aware of it.
Perhaps Michael did subconsciously connect the similarity between his rape of me in the fourth grade and his beating because from that day forward he avoided me. Whether he made an association or whether he resented being beaten while I wasn’t, a remarkably similar circumstance occurred to me shortly thereafter.
I was sitting in the bleachers in gym when six boys came up behind me, one hitting me in the back of the head with the flat of his palm. He accused me of beating up his fourth grade brother while he was on the way home from school. It wasn’t true and I stoutly denied it.
‘Oh yeah? Well, my brother said: ‘Take that from Far Gresham.’
‘Don’t be stupid.’ I said. ‘If I were going around beating up little kids I wouldn’t identify myself.’
The guy blinked at me once or twice, then, apparently satisfied with my reply, surlily said: ‘Yeah? Well, make sure you don’t.’
Michael had been tormented by his beating. the humiliation dwelt in his mind and threatened to destroy his equanimity. He didn’t have the mental resources to rationalize the incident. His father was no help to him, David blamed the incident on anti-Semites. Thrashing about in his agony Michael did what most people do in the same situation; he tried to pass it on. Following the princible of the turkey shoot he picked a younger boy who couldn’t defend himself. Having thrashed the kid he then avenged himself on me for Flint by using my name. Thus I got hit in the back of the head by the boy’s misinformed brother. If hadn’t been able to justify myself I would have been severely beaten by the brother and his five friends.
Michael would then have been able to smile at me as I described how I got my bruises, enjoying the extra pleasure of knowing that he caused them without my knowing it.
Whether Michael was disappointed or not is not within my power to tell, although from that time forward Michael never acknowledged my existence.
The more one ages the greater the burden of the past one must carry along one’s path. As with everyone, I had to ingest a voluminous amount of experience and information to digest as well as I could based on my past which past became my notion of reality. My youth, inexperience and lack of amilial guidance interfered not only with my understanding but my ability to make right decision unaided. I was saved from the most egregious errors by a strong sense of right and wrong. Ironically this sense of right and wrong had been acquired in Sunday school. I had had no difficulty accepting the justness of this morality. In doing so I became a bit of a fool, for none of my contemporaries heeded that morality at all.
My past had become not only my burden but part of the past and burden of toehrs as well where they shared it. The onerous and vile experience of my past combined with my present and visible future prospects naturally colored my interpretation of matters; yet I was singularly free from many vices which besotted my contemporaries minds. Envy and viciousness were completely foreign to me. I was content with my own, I neither lied nor stole. It was not necessary for me to disturb another’s happiness out of resentment of their good fortune. I wqas also free from the guilt of having consciously done someone wrong.
The members of the elite at Robinson as well as those members of my old Scout troop, which overlapped, had meant by their blindfold fight to beat me into submission. They thought I would beg for mercy and accept admission to their circle on the most disreputable terms. However I had given them the lie. By storming away and never returning I had left them holding a bag of guilt.
They had tried to rationalize their guilt but to no avail. no matter what they told themselves a gnawing anxiety remained. Still they felt the need to expiate their quilt. They refused the honorable method of apologizing to me as this would elevate me in their minds to their level. They would never be able to endure this, as they believed I was of a much lower class then themselves.
Up to this point no opportunity to expiate their guilt on a level proper to their self-esteem had presented itself. But in gym they thought they had found a way out. They formed a plan; it was a good plan; there was only one flaw, it was based on fair play. Besides they had so neurotically distorted my character that they had completely miscualculated their chance of success.
Shortly after school began and after Hirsh’s beating, perhaps his peating inspired their choice, some mats were thrown down on the floor and a series of wrestling matches took place. John Cahallan, who had been my adversary in the boxing match, was in the gym class. A match was oardered between Cahallan and I. My hatred and loathing of Cahallan, who I blamed for the toxing episode, was such that I refuse because I didn’t want any physical contact with him. From my point of view wrestling was merely homosexual love making.
Mr. Pennydreamer, the gym teacher was summoned. He ordered me to wrestle or fail gym. How many people do you know who ever failed gym? I had no choice. I was still very small, only four eight and under ninety pounds. As luck would have it Cahallan was just my size. the match was as fair as a match could be.
During all the other matches all we boys had sat around and watched. Now the other boys went off to other games with exception of six or so ofhte Eloy, Robinson and Cub Scout boys. They stood with their backs to Cahallan and I discussing, perhaps, their navels. It was a pointed insult and I got it.
I was reluctant to wrestle, while Cahallan was wrestling with a very troubled conscience. He had wronged me and he knew it. I wasn’t worried but I still hung back reluctant to begin. I had recieved their insult and I wasn’t anxius to accommodate them. Boner Law, who had been selected as referee, finally shoved me against Cahallan and we engaged. I didn’t have any experience wrestling so I knew no holds. Fortunately neither did Cahallan. We rolled and tumbled in loathsome physical contact without leading to any resolution when I got the idea and opportunity to seize his legs which I proceeded to do. Thus I got between his legs, wrapped my arms around his knees and stuood up thus immobilizing Chahallan. I claimed victory.