Jan. 28th, 2004

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I just picked up an Alabama quarter today. It has a picture of Helen Keller on it.

(Some of you are already laughing. You're the ones who read your copies of Lies My Teacher Told Me like good little liberals.)

For those of you who don't know, Helen Keller was blind and deaf as a child, but through the patient tutelage of another blind woman learned how to use sign language and therefore to express herself through language. (Some of Keller's writings on the subject are a fascinating contrast to our recent Hum 210 discussions of language among native Americans, actually.) Her struggle against deafness, blindness, and social stigma was successful, in large part to her teacher Annie Sullivan, but also because of her own stamina and determination. She graduated college in a time when few women and no deafblind women had done so.

She was also a raging--and I mean RAGING--commie socialist wobbly liberal.

She campaigned for decades against worker abuse and the excesses of capitalism and wrote numerous articles and letters of support for socialist and communist parties in the US and abroad. She spoke out, and was ignored, her opponents taking the shameful tactic of convincing themselves that because she was deafblind, she was incapable of making her own conclusions about working conditions and economic policy.

It is typical that when I look up a school report on Helen Keller, the timeline jumps from "1900 - first day of college" to "1968 - Helen died" with NOTHING inbetween.

"Spirit of Courage" is the caption on Keller's picture on the coin. To this I'd like to add, "Advocate of Laws That Keep Big Business from Fucking the Poor," but I don't think there's enough room.


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