– L. Arthalia Cravin
Once again, President Obama is “catching hell” from the Republicans for a remark that not only was true, but one that was twisted and taken out of context. When the President said that successful people have gotten “help” from somebody, somewhere along the line, the Republicans pounced. When the President referenced the collective community’s hidden contributions to products and services that may have been invented by an individual, again the Republicans pounced. The aim of their attacks of course is to portray the President as an “anti-American, anti-individualism.” It’s a bunch of hogwash.
I grew up watching The Lone Ranger television series. Each series opened with the announcer saying words to this effect: “In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver!”
Millions of Americans bought the “Lone Ranger” baloney. Even as kids we played the “Lone Ranger” wearing masks over our eyes as we whipped our broom stick horses. But what about Tonto? What about the “faithful Indian companion,” which translated into Spanish means, “stupid, or fool.” What about the Tonto? Long after Tonto has climbed trees to jump onto outlaw horses to save KemoSabee’s butt, it was still all about the “Lone Ranger” At the end of each episode, as the “Lone Ranger” AND Tonto galloped off together and someone asked “Who was that masked man?” no one gave Tonto any credit. The sidekick was just that—someone along for the ride. But why not give credit to the so-called side-kick who did his share of the work and often more discovering the bad guys, foiling their evil deeds, and too often saving the “Lone Ranger’s behind?”
Well, we know Hollywood. But Hollywood is not nor has it ever portrayed the true American story of unheralded heroes and heroines. But Hollywood is not alone. American History says that Betsy Ross created the American flag. Even disregarding the debate over whether it was in fact Mary Pickersgill a flag maker, there is ample evidence that American slaves helped to sew the 30 by 42 foot flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814—and upon seeing the flag Francis Scott Key penned the words to a poem called “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” that was later set to musical arrangement as The Star Spangled Banner—our national anthem. But does history make any reference to slaves helping to sew the gigantic flag that Francis Scott Key actually saw waving in the distance? Of course not. Americans do not like to acknowledge “the help” unless of course it’s a book written by a white woman describing black maids.
Even Henry Ford needed help. For all the accolades given to Henry Ford his biography is Exhibit A for other people’s help. Even after Ford finished his gas driven motor car in 1896, it took OPM (other people’s money) to get Ford’s idea off the ground. Ford’s first group of investors withdrew after Ford had spent $86,000 without producing a car that could be sold. Eventually he produced a car that appeared at the Grosse Pointe Blue Ribbon track at Detroit. Its performance helped him to sell 6,000 $10 dollar shares in his new company. This also ended in failure and in June, 1903, he found twelve more people willing to invest a total of $28,000 in another motor company. Ford now began production of the Model A car. The car sold well and the company flourished and by 1907 the profits reached $1,100,000. In 1909 Ford took the decision to manufacture only one type of car, the Model T. Initially it took 14 hours to assemble a Model T car. By improving his mass production methods, Ford reduced this to 1 hour 33 minutes. This lowered the overall cost of each car and enabled Ford to undercut the price of other cars on the market. Between 1908 and 1916 the selling price of the Model T fell from $1,000 to $360. But I ask you, did Henry Ford assemble one car all by himself?
Now does the story of Henry Ford fit what President Obama said with amazing clarity? But if the President had been reading from the most scholarly book ever written about “other people” helping Henry Ford, the Republicans still would have found reason to attack the President. Even Jesus Christ needed help—even He had twelve Disciples—and He walked on water. When I see the picture of Mitt Romney and his cohorts holding dollar bills, to me this suggest collective effort. This suggests “other people’s” help. Willard Mitt Romney was not a one-man band called Bain Capital. If he was then he most assuredly told a bold-faced lie when he said that he left the company in 1999 and that “other people” made critical investment decisions. Why not focus on Mitt’s bag of lies about what he did at Bain Capital rather than lambaste the President for stating an obvious truth? Hey Mitt’s let’s see what’s in those tax returns that you are refusing to release. Let’s see how “other people” helped you to avoid paying millions in taxes. Let’s find out who really helped you get rich—starting with your daddy’s money.
Copyright 2012 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.