Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Revise And Extend My Remarks

Holy crap, did I ever hit you with the loading times yesterday. Or at least, I hit me with the loading times yesterday.

This won't be nearly as bandwidth-intensive. Lucas Reilly of Mental Floss came up yesterday with a particularly interesting list: 12 historical speeches nobody ever heard. These are speeches that were written and prepared, but then for one reason or another were never given. First on the list concerns Apollo 11; nobody knew for sure if the mission would end up being a success, and as a precaution, an in-case-of-emergency speech was drawn up in the event that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin found themselves stuck on the moon and unable to return to Earth. Thankfully, it never had to be used. Other items on the list include an in-case-of-failure D-Day speech from Dwight Eisenhower, a speech drawn up alongside Nixon's resignation speech in which Nixon intended to fight to retain his office (a speech that became impossible to give after the 'smoking gun' tapes came out), the speech John F. Kennedy was going to give in Dallas the day he was assassinated, some Mitt Romney 47-percent damage control, and Sarah Palin's victory and concession speeches, which the McCain campaign forbid her from giving because she'd done enough damage already.

What I'm going to do is add a few items to the list that Reilly left out.

*Paul Robeson was a black singer popular in the 1920's and 30's, who had an ideological awakening watching the Spanish Civil War, which drifted him towards Communist sensibilities. This proved to be not exactly advantageous when McCarthyism came into vogue. He was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956, blacklisted him, and denied a travel visa that would have allowed him to continue his career in Europe. If you've never heard of Robeson, this is why. The committee didn't want you to, and it became increasingly hard over the years to hear him even if you went out of your way to do so. Robeson had a speech he intended to present to the committee; he was refused permission to give it. Here it is.

*Another entry from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Here's German playwright Bertolt Brecht's statement, also unread. Brecht fled Germany in 1931 to get away from the Nazis, then fled back to Germany in 1947, the day after he gave the testimony he did give. Brecht almost didn't show up, and as such narrowly avoided turning the Hollywood Ten- the ten people blacklisted for refusing to testify- into the Hollywood Eleven.

*In 1963, John Lewis, member of the House (D-GA) since 1987, was invited to speak at the March On Washington, which you will know as the venue in which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his 'I Have A Dream' speech. Lewis's planned remarks were rather confrontational, and he was asked to say something more comfortable to hear. Here's what Lewis said, and here's what he wanted to say.

*Joe Paterno was fired rather abruptly by Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He didn't speak much publicly about it, but there was something he had written up. Paterno died with the statement ungiven; after his death, it was released to the players and, eventually, it found its way to the media. That statement is here.

*Finally, in 1987, Budd Dwyer, Pennsylvania state treasurer, shot himself in the middle of a press conference. Dwyer had been convicted the previous year of taking a bribe from a computer company in exchange for a government contract. The day after he shot himself was supposed to be the day of his sentencing hearing. The unread statement, available on his Wikipedia page along with the portion he did read, gives the impression that he intended to read the whole thing, but lost his nerve at some point- perhaps realizing that reading the unread portion might make someone try to stop him- and decided to just get it over with. When he did, he handed three aides three manila envelopes, containing his organ donor card, a suicide note to his wife, and a letter to Bob Casey, who had taken office as governor just two days prior.

Not exactly a housewarming present.

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