Sunday, June 23, 2013

Readers Write: Christians Threatening Supremes, Catholic Bishops and Fortnight Nonsense, and UpStairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans

The comments here are routinely so brilliant, that I often think a whole book could be made out of them. Three from this week stand out for me, among many that are also absolutely wonderful. I'd like to share those three with all of you now:

In response to my posting today about the blather of the "Not on Our Watch" Christians to the Supreme Court, John Bijarney writes

Like lots of "conservative" meanderings a wealth of imagination combined with a poverty of knowledge suffuses their statements. Reminds me of my childhood imaginings when I could be in charge of everything as I rearranged the toy soldiers and their enemies in the endless games of attack and conquer on the terrain of the mountains created by my wrinkled up bedspread.

In response to my posting about the resumption of the Fortnight of Freedom nonsense by the U.S. Catholic bishops, Boltingmadonna observes

Oh dear. This is a time when even the Picard-Riker Double Facepalm meme will not cut it. I actually watched Mr. Lori. He is quite remarkably uninspiring. Like cold Cream of Wheat with no sugar. He makes hate seem insipid and boring. Alas, not so Mr. Wiles. Listening to him is like trying to eat a live rattlesnake without salt. And so, between the two of them, they served up dishes so unappetizing it is to be hoped that no one will make room for them between the solstice cakes and the Fourth of July fried chicken.

And in response to what I've written about the painful memories evoked by the first at the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans in 1973, Annika Halvari tells an equally painful story, a veritable short story:

This brought back a story from the history of my family…and that it is happened before the days of TV and internet has left the victims no voices…which is why stories like the Upstairs Lounge fire must be told by you and I. 
As a child I remember looking at blanck and white pictures/postcards of bodies of women and children laid out, as if they were sleeping. 
The only words: Italian Hall, Calumet, MI. 
Finns are notorious for their reluctance to speak about anything…and tradgedies even more so. I never found out from my family what these pictures were about…but they made my skin crawl…and I know it was more than a 'natural disaster'. 
Not until I was and adult did I learn the details of what is referred to in Michigan’s UP as the "1913 Massacre" when mostly striking mine workers and their families, were crushed to death in a stampede when someone falsely yelled "fire" at a crowded Christmas party; there was no fire. Seventy-three people (including fifty-nine children) were killed in the panic and rush for the exits. 
Investigations were poorly conductied as the questioners only spoke english while most of those involved spoke ony Finnish, but were required to answer in English….go figure. 
Eyewitness evidence exists that suggests this was a deliberate anti-union ally of mine management in order to disrupt the party…and the poor design of the building exits or even something more deliberate. 
Afters years of questioning all my relatives I got stories of poverty, mining corperations that would go to any length to prevent labor from organizing and how everyone was afraid of whisper campaigns and accusations of being “communist” and fearing deportation.
I only learned recently that Woody Guthrie wrote a song about the incident….and that it may have been the seed in the American myth about the conundrum about free speech and yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. 
As for the church, there was a split between "church Finns" and "hall Finns".  
Among the churchgoers it was believed God/church was good enough to guarentee social justice and the church saw labor unions as being uppity and lacking Sisu…the finn word for being able to make it in the world if you had enough faith, willingness to work, and the guts/will to do it…sound familiar and modern? 
When this Ayn Rand-ish utopia didn’t pan out, many Finns, including several of my relatives moved to the worker’s paradise in Russia; only to be killed in the bloody Stalinist purges.

There is brilliance in the world. And there are deep souls, tender hearts, far-seeing eyes. I feel privileged to "know" some such folks through this blog. 

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