Page 20 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • January 21, 2009 tious comments, and a third of nothing at all. Some died under public torture in front of dozens or hundreds of witnesses, and in a few cases, special trains were advertised to take ladies and gentlemen to the lynchings, which were considered educational. James Byrnes, secretary of state under Roosevelt and Truman, built his political career by consistently blocking attempts to institute an anti-lynching law through an act of Congress. Hamilton Fish, who had commanded black troops in World War I, consistently advocated an anti-lynching law. He also opposed some of Roosevelt’s attempts to get the United States involved in World War II, which led the administration to call him a Nazi. Americans of the 1940s had many public health problems. Color blindness obviously was not one of them. The extreme hostility toward interracial sex came about after the Civil War and Emancipation made equal opportunity a theoretical possibility. Regardless of the era, when relationships involved white men and black women, nobody seemed to worry. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, produced (probably) five children with Sally Hemmings, a slave girl he owned. Hemmings was also Jefferson’s late wife’s half-sister because his father-in-law did the same thing with Sally’s mother, who also had no right of refusal. Tom and Sally started to get together when she was 14 years old. He denied everything when he was up North, but DNA tests a decade ago showed that at least four and maybe all five of Sally’s children were also Tom’s. Jefferson was a bright man, but not a very brave one. When he heard that Benedict Arnold, a human tiger of the battlefield before and after he turned traitor, had landed in Virginia and was looking for him, Jefferson got out of town. Facing the hero of Saratoga was clearly an idea that Jefferson’s intelligence precluded. A bolder man, though not a brighter one, was Richard Johnson, vice president of the United States under Martin van Buren. Johnson openly lived with a mixed-blood black woman named Julia Chinn, whom he had inherited from his father. He and Julia had two daughters. He insisted that the two girls be received as the elegant young ladies they were and treated with all respect. Johnson had run for office under the slogan “Bipsy bopsy, ripsy rumsy, I, Dick Johnson, killed Tecumsee.” He almost certainly didn’t kill Tecumseh, but he fought with great courage in the battle in 1813 where Tecumseh was killed, and people who knew him knew better than to mess with him. On the flip side, some of the most important black men of the 19th and early 20th centuries admitted to being part white, not always with a great deal of pride or satisfaction. Frederick Douglass, black journalist and diplomat, and George Washington Carver, author and educator, were both the sons of slave-owners and their slaves. W.E.B. Du Bois, scholar and educator, described his own background as “French, Dutch, Delaware, and African – thank God, no Anglo-Saxon.” These were all forceful and intelligent men, forced to swim upstream in a society far more racist than our own. Their courage and character were a hopeful portent for the future. Unfortunately for Obama, he is coming to the White House at a time even the greatest presidents in our history would have found a daunting challenge. America may well be the world’s only military superpower but we are no longer an economic superpower, as the growing rate of foreclosures and unemployment figures suggest rather forcefully. Tracing campaign donations shows that at least one member of his cabinet took a considerable amount of money from China, India, and the Arab states. One has to wonder how this will show up in terms of attempts to protect America’s market share in the world economy from unfair competition with laborers who are paid pennies to our dollars. Past eccentricities took place when the average white American was a small farmer or a skilled tradesman and the most dangerous weapons available to terrorists were Derringers and daggers. In the nuclear age, we can no longer afford a cavalier attitude toward people we do not happen to like, or those who have fallen afoul of special interest groups. Roosevelt probably felt Pearl Harbor, which he instigated, would be no big deal because he thought the Japanese were silly people who really did not know much about airplanes. About 2,400 Americans died proving him wrong, along with 20,000 others trapped in the Philippines while his advisors told him to concentrate on Hitler, an execrable man but one who bent over backwards to stay out of war with the United States, in part because the Germans had never experienced the kind of racism that the Japanese and other Asians had. First and foremost, we need to get serious about running our own foreign policy and not handing it over to brainiacs who see “weapons of mass destruction” where none exist -- or to crooks who take special-interest money under the table. Obama can do this, because nobody is going to be able to frame a black man as a bigot or a snob influenced by WASP-y prejudice. We also need to do a triage about which industries to bail out. Bush made a big mistake supporting a lot of bankers who messed up by handing over a dollop of the taxpayers’ money. What other industries we decide to save at the expense of the taxpayers should depend on whether the industries are merely impacted by panic, or whether they have become moribund by making things nobody wants to buy. Forestalling foreclosures is a no-brainer – and more sensible, and more humane, than expanding the shelters for the homeless. Perhaps the single most obvious decision it to explain that we are no longer the World’s Policeman, that we are not interested in eradicating Islam, and that people who leave us alone will be left alone: no more bombs, and, as a corollary, no more foreign aid handouts, particularly with hightech weapons systems. We do not need to export high-tech homicide so weapons makers can go on working and politicians can go on taking money under the table. If Obama can do that, or any significant part of it, he could be remembered as a truly great and important president. It has to be done – and the pressure on him has to be tremendous. Let us all keep an open mind and hope for the best. The inauguration of Barack Obama may dispel, once and for all, the image of America as the most racist of the world’s great industrial powers – and well it should. The fact that our nation was founded on the disruption and near-destruction of one race and the brutal importation and exploitation of another had left two very negative marks against us, and if Obama’s inauguration counteracts generations of Soviet propaganda and Scandinavian scorn, well and good. Two centuries of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow, terminated during the era that gave Dr. Martin Luther King his fame and led to his vicious murder, may finally be dissipating, at least in the public image. America’s racist image was quite palpable in previous centuries. The story of our double-think began long after Pocahontas became famous for saving John Smith and marrying John Rolfe. Pocahontas became perhaps America’s first well-known heroine. Pocahontas was received at court in England and her one son produced descendants linked to some of the first families of Virginia, including Edith Galt, the second Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately for the image of progress, what Rolfe and Pocahontas did in the early 1600s would have been known as “miscegenation” in the early 1900s. Many Southern states had passed laws against it. Wilson, husband of a Pocahontas descendent, is said to have made things worse. He thought “Birth of a Nation” told the true story of how the heroic Ku Klux Klan had saved white womanhood from black ravishers and white politics from black incompetents, and while every black man who owned a suit was demonstrating in front of the White House in 1915, Wilson let D.W. Griffith in through the back door of the executive mansion and told him what a masterpiece he had made. This surprised almost nobody in the black community. When James Weldon Johnson, a black scholar and superb poet, learned that Wilson had been elected president, he quit his job in the diplomatic corps because he knew he would be fired anyway and went back into academics. Black soldiers who married European women during World War I were told that they could not bring their wives back to the United States. They could stay with them in Europe or come back to America alone. For two generations afterwards, black men were lynched, sometimes for actual rapes or murders, sometimes for flirtatious comments or mutually voluntary relations with white women, and sometimes for mistaken identity that was never investigated. One poor man, a Civil War veteran and salesman hanged for murder and rape on purely circumstantial evidence, turned out to be found completely innocent within a few days of being strung up. His alibi story checked, reliable witnesses said he was in another place when the crime took place, and a scrap of cloth found in his possession did not come from one of the victims. (An African-American researcher, Ida B. Wells, estimated after considerable investigation that about a third of the lynching victims she studied were probably guilty of crimes, a third of were guilty of “miscegenation” or unwise flirta- Turning the tables under America’s house of cards Tax tips from the IRS (continued from page 18) Social Security numbers and math calculations are correct as these are the most common errors made by taxpayers. Taking care will reduce your chance of making an error. The error rate on paper filed returns is approximately 20 percent, one out of every five returns filed, compared to only about one percent with an e-filed tax return. Consider e-file. When you file electronically, the computer will handle the math calculations for you, and you will get your refund in about half the time it takes when you file a paper return. Over 2.5 million New Jerseyans e-filed their tax returns with the IRS last year. E-filing is available through the website. Taxpayers can also file for free and online at using the Free File Program. The Free File Program can be used by taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $56,000 or less. Over 60 percent of New Jersey filers qualify for the Free File Program. Think about Direct Deposit. If you elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, you will receive it faster than waiting for a check by mail. You can expect to receive your refund in as little as 10 days by filing your tax return electronically along with requesting your refund via direct deposit. In New Jersey, approximately 75 percent of all filers receive a refund. Visit often. The official IRS website is a great place to find everything you will need to file your tax return: tax forms, tax tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and updates on tax law changes. Check out the “1040 Central” feature at during the filing season. Relax. If you run into a problem, the IRS is there to help. 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