The Raven

The Raven

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Handicaped by History"

"[Helen] Keller, who struggled so vaiantly to learn to speak, has been made mute by history."

-James W. Lowen

Helen Keller was a "radical socialist." She was born in 1880, and grew up in upper class home in Alabama. It seems her communist comminment came from her empathy for handicaped people, many whom made up the working class, injured from factory and other laborious work. She said, "I have visited sweatshops, factories and crowded slums. If I could not see it, I could smell it."

Before she became a socialist, she was beloved because of her endearing struggle as a blind, deaf and mute child. As soon as she became an outspoken communist and rebelled against President Wilson's ant-democratic policies, such as racially segregatiing the federal government, militarily intervening in foreign countries, she became not so adored. Newspaers constantly wrote negatively about her handicaps, saying that because of her "limitations of her development," she had no "independent sensory" and was prone to error. I cannot iunderstand this idea when she was born deaf, blind and mute and overcame these things, graduating from Radcliffe in 1904, founding the American Civil Liberties Union and supporting the NAACP financially and through an essay in The Crisis; she also was on the forefront of the women's rights movement... ofcourse she had independent, and very acute, mental abilities and empathy for the world around her, more empathy and understanding than those who can see and hear the world around them.

In a letter to a a fellow communist, Elizabeth Flynn, then leader of the American Communist party, Helen Keller wrote, "May the sense of serving mmankind bring strength and peace into your brave heart!"

*the title is taken from a chapter in Lies my Teacher Told Me written by James W. Lowen 1995

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