In case you were worried:
That appeared in the Lexington Dispatch, in Lexington, North Carolina. Wish they had that paper at my newsstand.
Is it an unprecedented coincidence? 206 years ago today, just minutes (probably hours) apart according to unconfirmed accounts, Abraham Lincoln was born in a rude log cabin on Nolin Creek, in Kentucky, and Charles Darwin was born into a wealthy family at the family home in Shrewsbury, England.
Lincoln would become one of our most endeared presidents, though endearment would come after his assassination. Lincoln’s bust rides the crest of Mt. Rushmore (next to two slaveholders), with George Washington, the Father of His Country, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and Theodore Roosevelt, the man who made the modern presidency, and the only man ever to have won both a Congressional Medal of Honor and a Nobel Prize, the only president to have won the Medal of Honor. In his effort to keep the Union together, Lincoln freed the slaves of the states in rebellion during the civil war, becoming an icon to freedom and human rights for all history. Upon his death the entire nation mourned; his funeral procession from Washington, D.C., to his tomb in Springfield, Illinois, stopped twelve times along the way for full funeral services. Lying in state in the Illinois House of Representatives, beneath a two-times lifesize portrait of George Washington, a banner proclaimed, “Washington the Father, Lincoln the Savior.”
Darwin would become one of the greatest scientists of all time. He would be credited with discovering the theory of evolution by natural and sexual selection. His meticulous footnoting and careful observations formed the data for ground-breaking papers in geology (the creation of coral atolls), zoology (barnacles, and the expression of emotions in animals and man), botany (climbing vines and insectivorous plants), ecology (worms and leaf mould), and travel (the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle). At his death he was honored with a state funeral, attended by the great scientists and statesmen of London in his day. Hymns were specially written for the occasion. Darwin is interred in Westminster Abbey near Sir Isaac Newton, England’s other great scientist, who knocked God out of the heavens.
Lincoln would be known as the man who saved the Union of the United States and set the standard for civil and human rights, vindicating the religious beliefs of many and challenging the beliefs of many more. Darwin’s theory would become one of the greatest ideas of western civilization, changing forever all the sciences, and especially agriculture, animal husbandry, and the rest of biology, while also provoking crises in religious sects.
Lincoln, the politician known for freeing the slaves, also was the first U.S. president to formally consult with scientists, calling on the National Science Foundation (whose creation he oversaw) to advise his administration. Darwin, the scientist, advocated that his family put the weight of its fortune behind the effort to abolish slavery in the British Empire. Each held an interest in the other’s disciplines.
Both men were catapulted to fame in 1858. Lincoln’s notoriety came from a series of debates on the nation’s dealing with slavery, in his losing campaign against Stephen A. Douglas to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. On the fame of that campaign, he won the nomination to the presidency of the fledgling Republican Party in 1860. Darwin was spurred to publicly reveal his ideas about the power of natural and sexual selection as the force behind evolution, in a paper co-authored by Alfred Russel Wallace, presented to the Linnean Society in London on July 1, 1858. On the strength of that paper, barely noticed at the time, Darwin published his most famous work, On the Origin of Species, in November 1859.
The two men might have got along well, but they never met.
What unusual coincidences.
Go celebrate human rights, good science, and the stories about these men.
A school kid could do much worse than to study the history of these two great men. We study them far too little, it seems to me.
Anybody know what hour of the day either of these men was born?
Yes, you may fly your flag today for Lincoln’s birthday, according to the Flag Code; the official holiday, Washington’s Birthday, is next Monday, February 16th — and yes, it’s usually called “President’s Day” by merchants and calendar makers. You want to fly your flag for Charles Darwin? Darwin never set foot in North America, remained a loyal subject of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, to the end of his days. But go ahead. Who would know?
As it came to me. Similar to a module we used to use in Orrin Hatch speeches back in the Pleistocene (probably would have gotten him voted out if he used the old module now, let alone this one).
Why do this usually come with no author, or “author unknown?” I’ve tracked it down to Crooks and Liars and a recitation by Thom Hartmann, who attributes it to a guy named John Gray in Cincinnati, in 2004. Is that right?
A Day In the Life of Joe Republican
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FDIC [FSLIC] because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.
The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have.”
Thom Hartmann recites:
If you follow my Tweets, or if you watch what I post on Facebook, you may have noticed I frequently credit editorial cartoonists with telling the truth. Cartoonists fill a critical need. I admire their work.
That’s not strong enough. I find that political cartoons offer truths, in quickly grokable form, that would remain hidden in news and commentary otherwise.
Perhaps more importantly, cartoons lampoon those who desperately, bitterly need lampooning.
Why is that important? Lampooning exposes crazy behaviors in our leaders, behaviors that if unchecked might lead a group to disaster. Or a community. Or a nation. Or a planet.
Ancient sayings, properly and improperly attributed to various sources, over a period of 500 to 1,000 years point to the importance of lampooning in correcting actions of leaders and governments. This version comes from a Sophocles play, Antigone (620-3):
For cunningly of old
was the celebrated saying revealed:
evil sometimes seems good
to a man whose mind
a god leads to destruction.
Lampooning helps, illustrating perhaps with laughter where the problem lies, though it also suggests that the chief perpetrators and promulgators of the craziness may be immune from such insights, whether through laughter or any other method.
If those lampooned genuinely cannot see the humor, a greater problem is exposed. That’s the point. Expose the madness, lay it bare for all to see. Sane people will work to help the insane, and avoid leading others into that madness. Lampooning provides us a great tool to avoid disasters, if we would only look. Laughter is optional, if the message gets through.
No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.*
We got a sharp and painful reminder of these facts yesterday, when a group of gunmen, stung by ridicule from a French satire magazine, stormed that magazine’s offices and brutally gunned down a score of people, a dozen of whom died. Their form of religious struggle appears insane to sane people, and when that is pointed out to them, they behave with more intense insanity.
To these gunman, whose existence alone is a blasphemous assault on the idea of peaceful religion, ridicule in publication was too much to take. Rather than answer with other cartoons or parody, or serious thought in print, they attempted to change the playing field’s fairness.
In doing they exposed their critics as accurate and true. Those already crazed by the gods probably have no sense of irony left, either.
This morning comes the word that Charlie Hebdo will publish next week as scheduled. Instead of the usual run of 113,000 copies, the first run will be more than a million, to meet greater demand. Stricken down by gunmen, Charlie Hebdo rises phoenix-like, with strength multiplied by more than ten.
We mourn the cartoonists and editors lost. They are martyrs in the cause of freedom and peace, and especially in the “jihad” they engage in for freedom of expression, something that we know now is not a uniquely American virtue or necessity.
Throughout history memorable phrases heralded periods of great change, when people took a stand against tyranny and violence, and stood for freedom and peace.
“Here I stand. I can do no other.”
“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
” . . . Freedom of speech and expression . . . Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way . . . Freedom from Want . . . Freedom from Fear. . .”
“I Am A Man.”
And now, “Je suis Charlie!”
Beyond Charlie Hebdo, the world’s cartoonists and editorialists storm traditional and electronic media with support for the cartoonists. Here below are some examples, in no particular order. What other cartoons or commentary have you seen that we all should see?
Andy Marlette, cartoonist for the Pensacola News-Journal borrowed the saying from the sticker that Woody Guthrie used on his guitar, “This Machine Kills Fascists”:
Pete Seeger borrowed Woody’s line, and painted on the drum head of his banjo, “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender.” Marlette also penned a piece for USA Today.
Cuban Angel Boligan (@AngelBoligan):
Nate Beeler in the Columbus Dispatch:
Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune:
Ricardo Sanabria in Venezuela:
Manjool, an Indian cartoonist:
Clay Bennett at the Chattanooga, Tennessee newspapers:
NOT by Banksy, but by Lucille Clerc:
John Cole, Scranton Times-Tribune:
Charlie Hebdo dead? I don’t think so.
* Twain also warned against taking ridicule too far, and spoke on the difficulty of knowing, if you’re the butt of the ridicule:
Quote of the moment (an encore post for the season, with a bit of context thrown in later):
Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave 1
I think of that line of Dickens’s often when I read of the celebrations of calumny that pass as discourse in Republican politics these days. Although, with the 2008 renewing of Limbaugh’s contract, it may no longer be true that his particular brand of darkness is cheap.
Cheap or not, darkness remains dark.
Drawing by John Leech (1809-1870), to illustrate Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Work in the public domain (available at WikiSource).
Here is the sentence Dickens put before the quote, to add a little context; Scrooge was climbing a very large, very dark staircase.
Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip.
Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.
Speaking of darkness, a longer excerpt from Dickens’s story:
‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,’ said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, ‘but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?’
‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’ was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. ‘Look here.’
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
‘Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!’ exclaimed the Ghost.
They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
‘Spirit! are they yours?’ Scrooge could say no more.
‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!’
‘Have they no refuge or resource?’ cried Scrooge.
‘Are there no prisons?’ said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses?’ The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.
Christmas is a festival to celebrate light, what many Christians call “the light of the world?” If so, let us work to stamp out the darkness which the unrepentant Scrooge so dearly loved.
Darkness may be cheap, but it is not good. Light a candle, and run into the darkness, spreading light. We need more light.
Someone, now I forget who, sent me this little ditty in the wake of Barack Obama’s election victory in 2012.
The election is over,
The talking is done.
Your party lost.
My party won.
So let us be friends,
Let arguments pass.
I’ll hug your elephant,
If you kiss my ass.
I wondered who wrote it. My handwritten note says whoever sent it to me said they got it off the internet.
Who needs plagiarism with the WorldWide Web? The usual tendencies to attribute witty or snarky sayings to famous people, and to strip actual authorship, get huge boosts from the internet. Mark Twain said a good lie could get around the Earth seven times before truth gets its boots on — with the internet, the lies, falsehoods and lack-of-appropriate attribution pieces fly at the speed of electronic interchange, near the speed of light but for the copper in the wires.
Here, a couple of years later, it could come into use again. Have learned any more about who wrote it? Not really. I looked, and didn’t find an authoritative version with an author’s name attached, which looks to be final.
This version claims to come from 1972, and the re-election of Richard Nixon:
The election is over, the results are now known,
The will of the people has clearly been shown.
Let’s all get together and show by our deeds,
That we will give Dick all the help that he needs.
Let bygones by bygones and all bitterness pass,
I’ll hug your elephant if you kiss my ass.
Still no author; from 2004:
The election is over, the results are now known.
The will of the people has clearly been shown.
We should show by our thoughts and our words and our deeds
That unity is just what our country now needs.
Let’s all get together. Let bitterness pass.
I’ll hug your elephant.
You kiss my ass.
We might assume it’s been around at least since Nixon’s second election then. I’ll wager it goes back farther into the recesses of history.
But does anyone know for sure? It’s been around long enough to have made the leap to bumperstickers, and other political paraphernalia.
Help us out in comments, if you have information.
Every polling place should be flying the U.S. flag today. You may fly yours, too. In any case, if you have not voted already, go vote today as if our future depends upon it, as if our nation expects every voter to do her or his duty.
Today the nation and world listen to the most humble of citizens. Speak up, at the ballot box.
Did you notice? In George Caleb Bingham’s picture, there are no U.S. flags. You may fly yours anyway.
The whole world is watching.