Sunday, June 18, 2006

Lucas' week two blog post

Web Assignment 5:

The "push" and "pull" factors are what eventually caused this Lithuanian, like so many other immigrants, to emigrate from their native countries. The "push factors," according to this memoir, were manly comprised in the oppression that Lithuanians were receiving from Russia. The shoemaker said "You have only poor things, for rich Russians get our good things, and yet you will not kick up against them" (Kaztauskis, 4). Apparently Russia was overcharging them for goods, underpaying them for their products they sold, and did many other things; including but not restricted to forcing military service and providing substandard education. The pull factors were more universal for the immigrants all around. America was a place where one could go to "change all these troubles" (Kaztauskis, 15). There was allegedly ample work, the right to "life, liberty and the getting of happiness" (Kaztauskis, 18), and plenty of people from the same origins to socialize with. For most, it had the lure of a sort of "promised land," whether it was or not. Kaztauskis stays in Lithuania till his mother dies. This event transforms the family. His mother was the only family member with any real opposition to him going, but it is interesting to see that her opinion was well respected. Apparently women in that culture, particularly mothers, have some say about family matters. It was mentioned that "in Lithuania a father can command his son till he dies" (Kaztauskis, 19). Women were definitely a factor in immigration. Family is the only reason that is really mentioned for the young man to not pick up and leave. He respects his mother's wishes and also is reluctant to leave his own love.

The narrator was basically a fish out of water when he first arrived in the United States. He was almost entirely dependent on his "friends" to show him around and help him find work. "The next morning my friends woke me up at five o'clock and said, ""Now, if you want life, liberty and happiness," they laughed, "you must push for yourself. You must get a job. Come with us"" (Kaztauskis, 36). He then shows how finding work is no easy matter. To get a job, he is forced to pay off a policeman. He later believes, like many other immigrants that " this union was the best combine for [them]" (Kaztauskis, 43). America is a totally different nation from what most of these immigrants are used to. His friends warn him "here you want a hundred things. Whenever you walk out you see new things you want, and you must have money to buy everything" (Kaztauskis, 30). He was not used to a consumer society where there were so many goods that could be bought all around him. Neither were they used to labor unions, which most seemed to become a part of. They discovered that to make money, they were almost required to join a union. American politics were introduced to them in the form of machine politics, such as this "Jonidas" whom provided them with jobs. They eventually "elect him president" of their union (Kaztauskis, 45).

Voelker's arguments are somewhat convincing in terms of Poole's story being "too good to be true" (Voelker). Voelker asserts that the portrayal of the unions and the evil businessmen of America could likely be more of Poole's own feelings than the actual testimony provided by Kaztuaskis. I think this is more than likely. What is often referred to as "author's privilege" is the loose interpretation of a story, which can mean adding or subtracting things and ideas that they wish from it. Even if Poole truly wished this story to be a completely unbiased anecdote, it is not uncommon for an author's personal feelings to be manifested unintentionally in their works.

Most immigrants were painted a picture of America as being "the land of equality" where everyone was given the same opportunities and respected equally. Needless to say, this was an unrealistic picture. A strong nativist movement had a grip on the majority of the country and often did away with any warm receptions that these immigrants would have received. The AFL was an example of a huge labor union that did not allow immigrants. Legislation in 1921 and 1924 almost did away with legal immigration entirely.

This is a very interesting story. It gives the setup to a lot of reasons for immigration. Often we think of immigrants being poor and needing work, but in this case oppression from Russia was a definite factor.

Web Assignment 6:

“The meaning of America, the nature of our free institutions, our war aims” are portrayed by these artists (Creel, 8). These posters portray Uncle Sam and American symbols that any American would hold dear. Servicemen appear to be happy as if their role is serving some sort of purpose. America needed the support of all of its citizens to support it in the war. This World War was a new kind in that the Germans mobilized completely in terms of their national effort. If America was to stand a chance against them, they would need the same sort of unanimous support in the war effort.
Germans are portrayed just as the typical attitude during the era portrayed them; as “Hun” villains (Constructing, 133). Women are shown as being a crucial part in the war effort. They are encouraged to “buy war savings stamps” (Constructing, 140). They are used as a lure to encourage men to join the service, and even join themselves. The Government at this point really saw how important it was for the nation to be unified and strong.
The government did not uphold freedom of speech in all cases during the war. In 1918, the Sedition Act was passed which “outlawed “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language intended to cause contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute” (Out of the Many, 438).This legislation would be used to arrest Eugene Debs, who was exercising his first amendment right in opposing the war. He was held for a few years in prison. It was a time where the government saw the consequences of allowing free speech as a worse alternative than its infringement.
The posters of that era were much more focused on appealing to one’s patriotism. One reads “Don’t read American history- make it!” (Constructing, 134). The whole emphasis was being a soldier for Uncle Sam and getting the privilege to serve one’s country; soldier and civilian alike. Today’s recruiting is far more individualized. “Be all that you can be” is the army’s slogan. ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is a program that appeals to many youths because it allows them to pay for college. Perhaps it was discovered that this was more effective for recruiting, or perhaps it is a general shift in American attitudes towards patriotism.
The most closely related theme to this would have to be “visions and collisions.” Obviously the Germans had a totally different vision of what they wanted than the Americans; hence the war. Internally, the country was somewhat apathetic towards the war, but it was quickly seen that mass rallying had to be done to stand a chance. This meant appealing to people’s values and altering their perceptions.

Web Assignment 7:

These are the type of things that have to be seen to be believed. As Ms. Mclure mentioned in class, Americans were used to seeing Black people in these sorts of conditions, but when it was their brethren it was a lot more emotionally disturbing to them. The Depression was something that was enough trouble in and of itself, but throw on top a huge hit to the farming industry and it just made people feel even worse about the situation.
Most of the government’s attempts to deal with this problem were futile. The New Deal instituted programs meant to deal with this problem, but they could not deal with the weather in the area or the damage that had already been done. This was probably worse in terms of making the government look worse than anything.
I had heard about the dust bowl, but never dreamed that it was as severe as it apparently was. The dust storms look like something that would be witnessed in the Sahara desert, not here in the American Midwest. The picture that shows the man and his boys in the midst of all the flying dust and debris is incredible.
“I voted as I was told, and then they got me back into the yards to work, because one big politician owns stock in one of those houses” (Kaztauskis, 41). Power and participation during this era was very shady, particularly amongst immigrants in the large urban areas. This is why the Progressive movement to reform the Political machines was pushed for. This type of dealing undermined the whole democratic system and was very effective. “Okies” that had to migrate to California were a prime example of people and the land affecting history. Since there were problems with these “dust bowl refugees” assimilating directly into California land and culture, “A program to construct camps for the Okies and Arkies who streamed into California was begun and abandoned by the state government in 1935, and quickly taken over by the Resettlement Administration” (Rothstein, 1). World War I was the most notable example of “Visions and collisions.” George Creel called it “The trial of strength was not only between massed bodies of armed men, but between opposed ideals, and moral conflicts.” As mentioned earlier, there was the difference in ideas between the Germans and the Americans, but also within the United States itself.

I have thought about the above historical evidence, and I have come to the following conclusions. America was truly empowered and united for the first time as a nation. At the time of the American Revolution, there was unification, but the country was still under confederate type unification. World War 1 marked the country uniting for a common cause. After the war, however, Americans saw that they needed this same mentality to get them through the tragedy of the Great Depression. This era was a very hard time for America to go through, but it was probably responsible for uniting the nation.


At 5:30 PM, Blogger abby said...

Comment #2
Lucas’ conclusion for his web assignment gave a great overview of this weeks reading and really helped me to understand the unity among the country at the time. I felt that his blurb in general was very good and easy to read but the conclusion did an exceptional job at this. I thought it was very logical when he said, “This era was a very hard time for America to go through, but it was probably responsible for uniting the nation” (Lucas’ Blog). He talks about how the country was united for the first time. I had never really thought about this before. I agree that for the first time the country was united even though it was over World War I and the Great Depression. In the end I have to say that Lucas really did a great job of simplify a very complex issue to make it very clear.

At 12:46 AM, Blogger H. McLure said...

Another excellent entry, Lucas -- I just wanted to add my own comments.

I thought your discussion of #5 and the push and pull factors and Antanas' adjustment to life in the U.S. was especially good, with a deft use of quotations from the narrative to support your points. You also mentioned nativism, the anti-immigrant position of the AFL, and the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 -- very well done!

You do another excellent job of providing specific examples and quotes in your analysis of Creel and the recruitment posters. Your examination of the differences between WWI recruitment methods and those of the modern military is thoughtful and persuasive. Do you think social changes such as the shift to a consumer society after World War 2 have shaped modern recruiting techniques?

I would have liked you to dig just a bit deeper into the Great Depression and New Deal material. What did the images of the Dust Bowl indicate about the role of farming methods, commercial agriculture, and mechanization in the creation of this ecological disaster? What did the photos and essay about Rothstein tell us about the federal government's response to the human disaster of the Depression, as well as the opposition to those responses?

I agree with Abby that you make a thoughtful observation about World War I and the Great Depression as unifying forces. Now that we have discussed World War 2, do you see it or the Great Depression and New Deal as more important in shaping the U.S.?


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