Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Brotherhood Week

In 1927, the four time Governor of the state of New York, Al Smith, ran for President.  A Progressive Democrat, Smith was anti-prohibition, improved worker's rights, women's rights, worked to improve the lot of children in the workforce, was anti-lynching, and so on and so forth. He was also the first Catholic to run for the office. His opponents stirred up fears in the Southern States that he would follow the bidding of the Pope, not the American People. He was, as was pointed out at the time, defeated by ""the three P's: Prohibition, Prejudice, and Prosperity". Republican Herbert Hoover won the election; the Prosperity part would vanish with the Wall Street crash, Prohibition would be ended about four years later. You can guess what remained.

Religious leaders at the time were concerned by these events and formed the National Conference of Christians and Jews to discuss ways to improve the situation. In 1934, they hit upon the idea of Brotherhood Week. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had become President the year before, liked the idea; Brotherhood Week was declared as the third week of every February. It was still around when I was in grade school in the 1950's, and class discussions centered on people living and working together. The week began to fade somewhat in the social foment of the 1960's. It seems to have died out in the early 1980's after Ronald Regan became President.

This year, during what had been Brotherhood Week, the lead candidate seeking the Republican Party nomination for President repeated an historical fiction about a Muslim insurgency being stopped by killing the insurgents (except one to tell the story) using bullets dipped in pigs blood, and burying their bodies with the carcasses of pigs. (The pigs being an unclean animal which would result in the deceased's inability to enter Heaven.) The implication was that the United States should be doing such things today. The same candidate just yesterday stated that we wanted to punch a protestor in the face. (He previously suggested another protestor be "roughed up".) Oh, yeah, he also had a dustup with the Pope. 

This week's radio show listened in to February 1946, and some of the music in the airwaves, on the juke boxes, and for sale on popular 78rpm records, that would have been heard during that year's Brotherhood Week. The War was over, our men and women were returning home. Along this week's journey, were excerpts from radio shows with the Incomparable Hildegarde, Cowboy Slim Reinhart, and for the finale an entire broadcast of "Songs By Sinatra" originally heard on February 20th, 1946. Listening to the show, I discovered that I had a 'senior moment' at the very end when I credited the woman singing "Be-Baba-Leba" as Helen Hayes instead of Helen Humes. I also seem to have failed to mention the date of the 'Songs By Sinatra' broadcast - which had occurred exactly 70 years before on that very evening. As always, I hope any listeners enjoy the show.

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