Today we need to reflect history what it meant to all of us. History is what we live, learn, and suffer from the founder of the National Geographic Society (NGS) that was founded on this day today 130 years ago on January 27, 1888 in Washington, D.C; If history was never existed, what would it be like if NGS did not exist in the first place? Warning: The essay will be bit long to read. Open your eyes to the readership what NGS had an agreement with the Volta Review that may have severely hit Deaf community hard that time.
It is invisible that they share with the common interests of hate speech the goal of a tolerant society, in which Deaf people are judged by “the content of their character”—the term, “tolerant society” I learned as a sociology major, and had asked the class to read a book, The Tolerant Society by Lee C. Bollinger. The question, how much tolerance can Deaf community live with the fact that the pain with hate speeches that targets Deaf people from National Geographic Society that has strong ties with Alexander Graham Bell Association For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing?
The formation of National Geographic Society’s idea was the brainchild of Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Alexander Graham Bell’s father in law. Hubbard’s daughter, Mabel Hubbard was Deaf. Ten years after it was opened in 1888, Alexander Graham Bell became the second president of NGS.
Did National Geographic Society ever hire a writer to do a biased story about Deaf people in a magazine? The leadership of Alexander Graham Bell has not forgotten for his legacy to run NGS.
If there was a story written about Deaf people, then how come The Volta Review writes in 1910, written by Alexander Graham Bell, Chairman of the Advisory Council, “The New Departure Explained” in The Volta Review, Volume 12, Number 1 with the opening statement: “The American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf came into existence in 1890. “
In a paragraph called The Example of the National Geographic Society, Bell writes: “The Board of Directors have been much impressed by the great success that has attended the introduction of a new policy by the National Geographic Society, and have considered favorably the expediency of trying this policy with our own Association.”
Whose Association? The American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf. It is now known as Alexander Graham Bell Association For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
In that same paragraph Bell writes in Application to the Association, the quote in his words, “The Board of Directors have thought the experiment at least worthy of trial. If we meet with success at all comparable to that attained by the National Geographic Society, we can advance the work of teaching speech to the deaf in a way that has never hitherto been possible. If we fail, we are no worse off than before and can return to our present practice of supporting our publication from our endowment funds.
Of course, is considering such a proposition, the fear will very naturally be felt that in popularizing the Review we will lessen the technical value of our journal and diminish its usefulness to teachers of the deaf. Here again the experience of the National Geographic Society is decidedly encouraging. In that Society the feeling was very generally entertained by the geographical experts, who largely composed the membership of the Society before the adoption of the new policy, that the technical value of the National Geographic Magazine would be impaired by its popular features. That fear has proven groundless, and the Society publishes today as many technical articles as it did when its magazine was exclusively a technical journal.”
Alexander Graham Bell was a fear-monger leader. He was a master manipulator. When I first read this article, the way he writes, it is about culture of fear towards Deaf people, in encouraging Oralism and hatred because in his words, “….we can advance the work of teaching speech to the deaf in a way that has never hitherto been possible.” And that reeks of a red flag that with the goal of diminishing teachers of the Deaf, it may been point out to the image of Deaf teachers being as usefulness.
It was mind-boggling to read this article this morning and had promoted me to write this post because what it has bothered me the most that he encouraged the culture of fear and many technical articles had been biased towards Deaf people. “That fear has proven groundless….”
Why did NGS allow hate speech, deficit thinkers, and the formation of hate mongers that targets Deaf people today? The history exactly 130 years ago, the formation of hate speech in a popular magazine was invented and approved by the board including Alexander Graham Bell’s father in law and Bell himself. It has increased the culture of fear in higher friction by a factor of a million readers. The number was 40 million readers each month that time. Think about it.
When Alexander Graham Bell was chosen as second president of NGS in 1898, what was Deaf community like in that time? One year before he was appointed as president, Volta Bureau known as Alexander Graham Bell headquarters today was founded as a center to begin lab experiments on Deaf children.
Bell writes in his 1898, a 26-page paper called, The Question of Sign Language and the Utility of Signs—unbelievable. He said, “I say this from personal knowledge; for long before I became an instructor of the deaf, I was myself a teacher of elocution, as my father was before me, and my grandfather before him.” The legacy of Bell family continues. Notice his paper title? The questioning of sign language bears the authority and the culture of fear in Bell’s power.
Robert McGregor, the first president of National Association of the Deaf, two years before AGBell was chosen to run NGS, McGregor answers with strong message that we need to see:
“By whom then are signs proscribed? By a few educators of the deaf whose boast is that they do not understand signs and do not want to; by a few philanthropists who are otherwise ignorant of the language; by the parents who do not understand the requisites to the happiness of their deaf children and are inspired with false fears by the educators and philanthropists.” that can be found in the book, The Deaf Mute Howls by Albert Ballin. The key words: Philanthropists and false fears.
In that picture Bell said, “The world and all that is in it is our theme, and if we can’t find anything to interest ordinary people in that subject we better shut up shop”
That quote really ticks, no? AGBell and his father in law were huge philanthropists for NGS. No wonder why AGBell writes in Volta Review: “the review will be naturally be felt that in popularizing…” in the same theme above to shut up and dominate Deaf people.
The popularizing of Deaf people has been AGBell’s favorite target and the tolerant society of false fears continues in the name of NGS. The pursuit of happiness for Deaf children has also been targeted for cochlear implant industries, Oralism, mainstreaming and the laundry list of colonization and oppression. To face this betrayal of Deaf people dealing with hatred, it is urgent that we as Deaf community needs to realize that the reality that the language of crisis, is seriously needed to be examined and discussed.
Will we ever see an apology letter from National Geographic Society for encouraging hate speech towards Deaf children? Unchecked hate speech is expensive and we as Deaf community who are survivors of Alexander Graham Bell’s hateful ideologies, we cannot afford ignorance anymore. The exchange value of fear becomes dominant, and this has been recognized and reflected in language hegemony against sign languages and the culture of the Deaf. Time is spent, saved, invested, and wasted.
When I was a kid, I used to collect lots of magazines from National Geographic Society to educate myself to be aware and appreciate the “geographical experts” that later became the scarlet letter and hidden message just like da Vinci Code, and then I did not realize that I had been exploited to Alexander Graham Bell’s dark secrets within geographical borders. He was the master manipulator. As for the survivors of Alexander Graham Bell, in the past and present tense, I feel the pain. So much for Bell’s words, “In that Society the feeling was very generally entertained by the geographical experts, who largely composed the membership of the Society.”
40 million readers that time in 1888, eight years after notorious Milan Resolution, became the geographic experts to follow Alexander Graham Bell’s practice to teach Oralism and fire 90 percent of Deaf teachers has been dominated by hearing supremacy including hearing teachers taking their jobs away.
We see the word, “education” every day in our eyes, Is it one of the most complex noun of all? Education means “to train someone for what?” and AGBell believes in teacher-centered, not student-student. If a hearing teacher thinks a Deaf pupil is better off speaking, then the pupil is really struck more than we actually think.
Look at the image on above left side: imagine with Deaf people were being targeted in 1898, the loss of jobs, shamed, shunned, exploited, and ridiculed thanks to AGBell’s doing. What happened with the American democracy for Deaf Americans, Deaf immigrants from all walks of life who came to America for the quality of Deaf Education thanks to Clerc’s vision?
That came to all sense when I first found out about the history date this morning and lead me to do a lot of reading and felt the importance that we must boycott NGS and challenge AGBell’s lies for exposing media manipulation about Deaf children, signed languages and the “success” stories about Oralism.
It was also mind-boggling for me to write this, too. Looking back as a Deaf kid remembering my first time reading National Geographic Society, I felt violated. I even subscribed NGS with my hard-working money where I would chop a lot of woods and build chords getting ready for winter time. Do you feel the same way that you were being violated and exploited by AGBell later when you found out the truth in your adult life?
Today, in Deaf community, we need to focus on civil and human rights, social justice, and challenge the misconducts of Alexander Graham Bell. We have to stop any form of hate. By the way, you see Washington Monument when you visit in the nation’s capital. It was completed in 1888, that time it became the world’s tallest structure and let’s give Alexander Graham Bell the 555 feet middle finger. Do not be surprised that he witnessed the completion of Washington Monument.
What was he doing on October 9, 1888? Did he get the invitation to join the celebration? Get this, upon my research this morning, exactly four years on same date on October 9, 1884, he writes a paper in Washington, D.C., “The Deaf Audiometer”—Editorial copied from the “Deaf-Mute” Journal. In the opening statement: “Prof. Alexander Graham Bell is certainly laboring hard and faithfully in the interests of of the deaf and dumb” and here comes the statement we may not seen this before, “One of his newest devices is called the Audiometer, and is intended to test and register the hearing capacity of those who suffer partial or supposed total deafness”
What does it mean to you? To me, I have my thoughts what it means to me. Registering the hearing capacity is a form of bigotry. Is it also language hegemony? Language deprivation? Was it the beginning of the rise of cochlear implant industries and give AGBell as the champion of listening and speaking to wipe out the image of Deaf people that includes “partial or supposed total deafness”?
The highest goal is to hear completely again even with failed cochlear implant attempts, stem cells at the University of Bristol in England with hopes to cure Deaf people and many biased ideas is all about to register the hearing capacity again. The state of being Deaf is natural and biological. It is not pathological.
National Geographic Society was only nine months baby when the Washington Monument was completed that year. It’s the same idea when a mother carry a Deaf healthy baby in the womb for nine months. It is a biological condition. AGBell found a way to build that idea in his head for long time and used to trick Deaf people, the parents of Deaf children, and the society for his brilliance.
AGBell saw the idea of NGS as a baby step to remind the society that Deaf babies needs to forget themselves as the quote below but first, Alexander Graham Bell found a way to promote The Volta Review with the membership of NGS readers to expose Deaf children and the practice of Oralism. Did AGBell ever re-printed his most famous hate speech in 1884, “We should try ourselves to forget that they are deaf. We should try to teach them to forget that they are deaf “even after NGS was founded with the idea of adding the Volta Review to the readers? No way we can forget AGBell’s ideas in 1910 that we must repeat ourselves to remember this quote:
“If we meet with success at all comparable to that attained by the National Geographic Society, we can advance the work of teaching speech to the deaf in a way that has never hitherto been possible. If we fail, we are no worse off than before and can return to our present practice of supporting our publication from our endowment funds.”
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
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Ladd, Paddy. Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood. Page 129.