My husband was away for an intense two-week business trip, so I was left to care for our two wonderful, but utterly demanding toddlers on my own. Needless to say, life has been hectic. In the midst of the craziness, I have been intending to write a piece on the Watergate Scandal and its implications for the Russian investigation that is entangling our current president. Yet, something tremendous has happened over the past week and its historical importance demands our attention. (I know, I know; I keep promising a Watergate post. I will get to it, I promise!) But, first, let’s discuss the 2017 release of the JFK records.
This past August my family and I traveled to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (HHI). It was an over ten-hour drive from where we live in Maryland. I will just add that such a long car ride with two toddlers is a form of hell that I hope most people will never, ever have to experience. Not to mention that my daughter came down with a horrible ear infection and a MRSA infection in her foot that then spread to my husband’s leg.
Sorry for the delay in posting. During my absence, I was working on a piece that has been published in New America Weekly. The article looks at the history of child care in America. It argues that we will not solve our child care problem until we recognize that women have always worked in ways that extend beyond their conventional roles as mothers. In the spring, I will be back with new posts on the history of fascism, the woman suffrage movement, and women’s wartime experiences in WWII. Until then, you can read my child care piece here.
Forty-four years ago, when Shirley Chisholm became the first woman, and the first African-American, to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, critics dismissed her campaign as quixotic. Today, Hillary Clinton could become the party’s flag bearer, surely a moment of triumphal progress. But, the journey from asterisk to possible nominee has not stopped male commentators in the media from criticizing Clinton for shouting too much and for smiling too little. As well, Clinton, a former First Lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, has had to face condemnation from media outlets for not being inspiring enough. Then there is last month’s attack ad from Republican presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, that reduced Clinton to an annoying barking dog who is too weak to protect America’s national security interests. The ad not only dehumanizes Clinton, but it also reinforces a discriminatory attitude that women are unfit for leadership positions. This mindset, moreover, has long played a principal role in the shaping of American society, as it is of a piece with earlier judicial and political opinions that limited women’s rights on the basis that women were too feeble to exercise civic independence. In Mackenzie v. Hare (1915), for example, the United States Supreme Court not only upheld the Expatriation Act of 1907, an act that made an American woman lose her nationality status if she married a foreigner, but it also proclaimed the centuries-old belief that women needed men as their protectors to be “an ancient principle of our jurisprudence.”
This past August marked exactly 70 years since American bombers dropped an uranium gun-type bomb (nicknamed Little Boy) on Hiroshima; this was an event that witnessed the obliteration of a large city in the blink of an eye. Hiroshima did have a military presence, since it contained a naval base and the home of the Second General Army Headquarters. Nonetheless, American strategic planners aimed the bomb not at the army base, but at the very center of the civilian part of the city in order to maximize the bomb’s devastation. On August 6, 1945, Little Boy exploded 1,900 feet above the courtyard of Shima Hospital with a yield equivalent to 12,500 TNT. The temperature at ground zero reached 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit, which immediately created a fireball within half a mile. The absolute devastation roasted many people alive; thousands of charred bundles were strew in the streets, sidewalks, and bridges. The instant destructive power of the bomb also vaporized many others. The bomb, for instance, left only the shadow of one man imprinted onto the granite steps of a bank; he had been waiting for the bank to open before the bomb hit. The blasts that followed the original explosion obliterated thousands of houses. Of 76,000 buildings in the industrial city, 70,000 were destroyed. Altogether, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima killed around 90,000 to 100,000 persons instantly; by the end of 1945, the number of those lost had risen to 145,000 (only about 20,000 of them soldiers).