Friday, November 30, 2007


The Original Teddy Bear

Ok WHAT is the deal here?

I am simply beside myself over the fate of the poor teacher from the UK, Gillian Gibbons who was JAILED in Sudan for allowing her class to name a Teddy Bear Muhammad. Even more horrifying is the fact that thousands took the streets in Kharthoum to demand her EXECUTION.

Teddy Bears are a symbol of a cuddly kind of LOVE. HELLO!! I think this is scarier than 9/11, I really do! This poor woman. I can't imagine what she must be going through.

There is so much contempt towards the West following the Iraq war, these fundamentalists are looking for the tiniest offense against Islam to strike back in anger. That's what's really at the bottom of these ludicrous charges, of course.

It just makes me sick to my stomach, how the innocent suffer needlessly. I hate it. I just hate it.

Please pray for Gillian, or send her positive vibes, you choose.

On a LIGHTER note, I found this very interesting article on the origin of the Teddy Bear:

Rose and Morris Michtom
and the Invention of the Teddy Bear

Teddy bears are a symbol of cuddly gentleness and security the world over. It is well known that the teddy bear is named for President Theodore Roosevelt. Less well known are the inventors of the teddy bear, Rose and Morris Michtom, two Russian Jewish immigrants who lived in Brooklyn.

The American bear as a symbol of gentleness is filled with ironies. For generations, bears prompted fear, not affection. The teddy bear’s namesake, Theodore Roosevelt, was a ferocious warrior and big game hunter – a man who killed for sport. However, an unlikely alliance between the rugged, native-born American Protestant president and the inventive, immigrant Jewish couple from Brooklyn created one of the most lovable and enduring American icons.

The story begins in 1902. The states of Mississippi and Louisiana disagreed over the location of their common boundary, which bisected some of the least well-developed land in the United States. The governors of both states invited President Roosevelt to arbitrate the dispute. Roosevelt decided to combine his tour of the disputed territory with a five-day black bear hunt.

The president’s foray attracted a large contingent of journalists, who reported on Roosevelt’s every move. Even more compelling to the reporters than the boundary dispute was the president’s pursuit of a trophy bear. For four days, the press reported little about Roosevelt’s arbitration of the boundary dispute and harped on the ability of the area’s bears to elude his crosshairs. On the fifth and last day of the junket, apparently to redeem the president’s reputation, one of his hunting companions caught and tied a bear cub to a tree so that the president could shoot it. When he came upon the cub, Roosevelt refused to kill it, saying that he only took prey that had a sporting chance to defend itself.

Roosevelt’s demurrer took the nation by storm. The leading American cartoonist, Clifford Berryman, published a cartoon showing Roosevelt turning his back on the young bear, tied by its neck, and public response to the president’s self-restraint was overwhelmingly favorable. The next day, the Washington Post published a second cartoon, depicting the bear as a more placid beast, cementing the docile image of the young bear even more firmly in the public imagination.

Enter the Michtoms. Morris had arrived penniless in New York in 1887, when only in his teens, a refugee from pogroms. He married Rose and opened a small store that sold notions, candy and other penny items. In the evening, to help make ends meet, Rose sewed toys that they sold in the shop. Like millions of other Americans, the Michtoms avidly followed press accounts of Roosevelt’s journey into the Louisiana backcountry. Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the defenseless bear touched the Michtoms. Morris suggested to Rose that she sew a replica of the bear represented in Berryman’s cartoons.

That night, Rose cut and stuffed a piece of plush velvet into the shape of a bear, sewed on shoe button eyes and handed it to Morris to display in the shop window. He labeled it, "Teddy’s bear." To his surprise, not only did someone enter the store asking to buy the bear, but twelve other potential customers also asked to purchase it. Aware that he might offend the president by using his name without permission, the Michtoms mailed the original bear to the White House, offering it as a gift to the president’s children and asking Roosevelt for the use of his name. He told the Michtoms he doubted his name would help its sales but they were free to use it if they wanted.

The rest is an amazing – yet characteristic – American Jewish immigrant success story. The Michtoms sewed teddy bears and placed them in the window of their shop, but demand was so great they couldn’t keep up. The couple concluded that there was more profit in teddy bears than in penny candy and dedicated full time to producing them. Because of the doll’s popularity, Roosevelt and the Republican Party adopted it as their symbol in the election of 1904, and Michtom bears were placed on display at every public White House function.

The Michtoms’ labor grew into the Ideal Toy Company, which remained in family hands until the 1970s. Ideal Toys sold millions of teddies throughout the world; yet, their good fortune did not spoil the Michtoms. Ever mindful of their humble origins, supported the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish National Fund, the National Labor Campaign for Palestine and numerous other Jewish causes. While Ideal Toys could not secure a patent on the teddy bear and many imitators entered the market, the Michtoms created an American — and worldwide — icon. Their original teddy bear, treasured and saved by Teddy Roosevelt’s grandchildren, is now displayed at the Smithsonian.

Source: American Jewish Historical Society


Anonymous said...

Hey Sue,
I too am just completely flabbergasted over the horror that Ms. Gillian is experiencing. Thanks for posting about her. I mean, hey she didn't name the teddy bear! I heard about it on the radio today. Can the UK just go get her? I wonder if King George is planning to take any responsibility for this? It makes me so angry. But, what makes me ever more angry is that the majority seems to not be mad enough about it to do anything. Man, I bet I would be linched for some of the stuff I do in my classroom. I mean of course, about teaching about liberation, asking questions, and free thought. What can we do to help this teacher? Can we write letters to someone? Sue, help me here to know how to take action to assist Ms. Gillian.
Love, Chelice and Leo

Suesjoy said...

Hey Chelice-

I will try to find out where we can send letters.
Here is the latest update from the BBC:

"British teacher Gillian Gibbons has been sentenced to 15 days in jail and then deportation from Sudan for allowing her pupils to call a teddy bear Muhammad.

She was found guilty of insulting religion and inciting hatred after allowing her class of primary school pupils to name the teddy bear in September.

Crowds of people have marched in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to call for a tougher sentence.

Diplomatic efforts are being stepped up to secure her release with the arrival of two British Muslim members of the House of Lords in Sudan. Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi are expected to meet Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the chief justice.

Mrs Gibbons' 25-year-old son John said he did not want the verdict to lead to any anti feeling towards Muslims."

She is so brave and has a much better attitude than ME! Of course not all Muslims are this idiotic (sorry but the ones demanding that she be shot ARE).
I have close Muslim friends - Simon is Muslim Chelice! Well, he's more Hindu now...
Anyway, I'll keep praying for peace.
This could get really ugly...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts you radical woman you!

I have to CALL you SOON!!!


Anne-Marie said...

Hi Sue,
I went to a toy museum in Munich two summers ago and loved their old teddies.

Incidents like this one just make me hope for the day we get beyond the stupidity of religion. Not faith, mind you, just organised, idiotic examples like this where the brain gets filled with ridiculous notions of offense and the need for punishment.

Suesjoy said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Anne-Marie.

I have no need for organized religion, but in the past few months my FAITH has never been stronger.
I think religion should be very personal - it's a unique, precious relationship between an individual and G_d.
MAN is the beast who seems to screw everything up.

Thanks for popping by!

eyesite2theblind said...

Thanks Suesjoy for checking out my videos. Let me know your honest opinion. I know there are a lot of things to work on but I think this is a good start.