Author Topic: Oil Spills, Coal Disasters, Immigration Hysteria: Unlearned Lessons from 1924  (Read 1027 times)

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Offline bigron

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Oil Spills, Coal Disasters, Immigration Hysteria: Unlearned Lessons from 1924

Posted By jeffbiggers On May 27, 2010 @ 6:41 am

Here are the news headlines in 1924: Oil spills, coal mining disasters and immigration hysteria.

On the orders of President Obama, the 1,200 National Guard troops en route to the US-Mexico border will arrive just in time for the May 28th anniversary of the official establishment of the Border Patrol in 1924.

As this seemingly ridiculous photo from a 1928 Popular Mechanics article on the Border Patrol points out, President Obama’s stop-gap measures simply repeat a reactionary historical cycle that have as much chance at inflaming the militarization of the borderlands amid Mexico’s drug war, and our own $1 trillion dollar “War on Drugs” failure, as any hope to block the forever porous borders, despite the nearly $6.7 billion “virtual” wall:

Incidentally, the Border Patrol was established in 1924, as part of the wider Immigration Act of 1924, to mainly patrol the Mexican and Canadian borders for bootleggers and “undesirable” Europeans and Asians, not Mexican immigrants.

The heated immigration debate of the time would have warmed the hearts of the carpetbaggers in Arizona and their new draconian immigration law. Senator Ellison DuRant Smith of South Carolina called on the nation to “to shut the door and to breed up a pure, unadulterated American citizenship.”

Meanwhile, in a haunting parallel to the Upper Big Branch coal mining disaster last month in West Virginia, 119 coal miners in Benwood, West Virginia lost their lives to an explosion on April 28, 1924.

The Benwood disaster, like Upper Big Branch, was a reminder of the continual state of violations and oversights for workplace safety in the coal industry.

On the eastern seaboard that year, communities were also up in arms over the reckless dumping of oil into offshore waters. Two years prior, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities had written the Army Corps of Engineers: “Oil pollution is one of the gravest economic questions confronting the Atlantic Coast navigable waterways.” At the National Coast Anti-Pollution League conference, a representative of the U.S. Bureau of the Biological Survey concluded: “Millions of birds winter along the coast from Long Island to Florida, but now many million drift ashore dead. It has been found that oil soaks their feathers and irritates their skin, leaving bare spots on their breasts and causing them to die of pneumonia. If something is not done to stop the increased pollution, a very heavy percentage will perish.”

The response from Congress was tepid, overwhelmed by the Big Oil lobby….in the 1920s! A watered-down bill, the Oil Pollution Act of 1924, outlawed the dumping of fuel oil into American coastal waters, but failed to penalize ships for any accidental spills, and provided little funds for enforcement.

Sound familiar?

Soon to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, playwright George Bernard Shaw’s declaration that “Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history,” has never seemed so true.

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Offline Dig

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Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America but also in London, Paris and Berlin. The phrase was meant to emphasize the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. 'Normalcy' returned to politics in the wake of World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco peaked, and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 served to punctuate the end of the era, as The Great Depression set in. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching importance, unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle.

The social and societal upheaval known as the Roaring Twenties began in North America and spread to Europe in the aftermath of World War I. Europe spent these years rebuilding and coming to terms with the vast human cost of the conflict. The economy of the United States became increasingly intertwined with that of Europe. When Germany could no longer afford war payments, Wall Street invested heavily in European debts to keep the European economy afloat as a large consumer market for American mass produced goods. By the middle of the decade, economic development soared in Europe, and the Roaring Twenties broke out in Germany (the Weimar Republic), Britain and France, the second half of the decade becoming known as the "Golden Twenties". In France and francophone Canada, they were also called the "années folles" ("Crazy Years").[1]

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated 'modernity' to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality in both daily life and architecture. At the same time, jazz and dancing rose in popularity, in opposition to the mood of the specter of World War I. As such, the period is also often referred to as the Jazz Age.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline chris jones

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History repeats!