Thursday, July 15, 2010

Slavery And Racism – Is The United States To Blame?

There is a lot of antagonism toward the United States in certain segments of the African American community. People such as Louis Farrakhan have made hatred of the United States “fashionable” and “cool”. President Obama has been a part of this community, much of it originating in Chicago, where Jessie Jackson, Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright, Williams Ayers and Reverend Michael Pfleger have spouted this anti-Americanism in the name of both real and perceived past wrongs.

Barack Obama’s pastor of over 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, has said the following things about America:
“Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!…We (in the U.S.) believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America!”

Recently, the US Justice Department dropped a case against members of the New Black Panther party for “lack of evidence”. Members of the New Black Panthers were accused of intimidating voters at a polling place in Philadelphia. There was clear video evidence of the incident. J. Christian Adams, who was involved in the prosecution of the case, quit the justice department alleging that people in the justice department were told to ignore cases where the defendants were black and the victims were white.

Last summer, Barack Obama criticized the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts saying that the police acted “stupidly” in arresting black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. He made this accusation in a prime time speech after he just admitted in the previous sentence that he didn’t know all the facts of the case.

Does Obama’s view of the US differ from that of Jeremiah Wright or the New Black Panther party? Obama’s policies are often prefaced with the phrase “an even playing field”. In reality, however, it amounts to “Getting even”.

Of course there has been slavery and discrimination in the United States. Slavery is a stain on humanity but it didn’t start with the US. Physical Evidence of slavery dates to around 11,000 years ago in southern Africa. Western slavery goes back 10,000 years to Mesopotamia. Egyptian hieroglyphics show that they practiced slavery. Where is the hatred of Egypt for originating such a vile practice? Where is the demand of Egypt for reparations?

In ancient times, conquering armies in Europe and Asia found it more profitable to enslave captives than to massacre them. Black slavery between antagonistic tribes existed in Africa long before the advent of the Portuguese in the 1400s. Portuguese slave trading began in 1442, particularly on the west coast of Africa in an area that became known as the ‘Slave Coast’. Soon the Spanish entered the slave trade in 1517, followed by the English (1553), the French (1624), and then by Holland, Denmark and the American colonies.

Once the United States was formed as an independent nation, it inherited the mess of slavery. Obama should be familiar and sympathetic to the idea of inheriting messes since he reminds us each day that he inherited a mess and that it takes time to solve such things (whether he inherited or caused the mess is another question for a different day). Slavery was a mess that was created over 10,000 years ago so solving it while trying to create and unify a new nation was no easy task.

The United States was a nation built on compromise and yes, there were many people in the new country that owned slaves. Yet the people who wrote the constitution did recognize the inconsistency of creating a nation based on equal rights and opportunities while allowing an evil such as slavery to exist. Unfortunately, in order to unify the Unites States as one nation, they had to compromise on the issue. Yet written into the constitution in Article 1, Section 9 is a mandate that slavery would be outlawed by the year 1808.

So slavery existed for over 10,000 years and this new nation, while trying to fend off foreign threats, unify disparate views and create a constitution to live by, did as one of its first priorities, write into the new constitution that slavery would be outlawed within 32 years of its founding. In fact it was the United States and England, the two nations most accused of practicing slavery, that were the most involved in ending it!

They were not completely successful but their intentions were clear. John Jay wrote in 1786:
"It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused."
Patrick Henry wrote:
"I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot and an abhorrence of slavery."

It of course is true that the founding fathers owned slaves and this has caused many in the African American community to have contempt for these “dead white men”. The founding fathers were not perfect people but they inherited slavery, they didn’t cause it. They knew it was wrong, and were the first in over 10,000 years history to take real steps to end it. For this they deserve praise, not criticism.

There are those who will say that the wealth of America was built on the backs of slavery. If this is the case, why didn’t all the other countries who practiced slavery achieve wealth and success? Why didn’t Egypt, which had thousands of years of a head start on slavery, not become the world’s foremost economic power? Portugal was the first country to be involved in the African slave trade to the new world so why didn’t that country produce the wealth and innovation that later came out of the United States? Spain and Portugal brought slavery to South America so why didn’t any countries on that continent generate success comparable to the United States?

The wealth and success of the United States is due to a system that recognizes the rights of the individual. It is due to a unique idea that says the government governs only by the CONSENT of the people. Thomas Jefferson once said:
“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

The reason why so many major inventions and patents have come out of the United States is because people know they can invest their own time and money in an idea and if successful, reap the rewards from it. People have been able to feel confident that the success or failure of their idea is up to them and not on some arbitrary person in government who may decide on a whim to change the rules. There is a reason why people risk their lives to come to the United States. It is amazing that people would call this a racist country while at the same time fighting in every way possible to come here and enjoy the opportunities it provides.

Like every country on earth, the United States has done shameful things. While the United States didn’t create slavery, segregation existed in this country well into the 1960s. That is a stain on this country that can’t be ignored. And yet, while imperfect, it is a country with a conscience. It eventually ended slavery and while far too late, eventually ended segregation as well.

The “Get even” battle being fought against America by the likes of the New Black Panther party, Louis Farrakhan and Reverend Wright is not a battle against the forces of racism. That battle has already been fought and won. Ironically, the battle being fought by this “Get Even” crowd is a battle against all that is GOOD about America. They are actually fighting against the very forces that were able to eliminate the evils of slavery.

Barack Obama seems to be a part of this “Get Even” crowd. He demonstrates this by his actions, his words, and by who is friends are. His vision of “change” would be to remove the principles that ended slavery and replace them with the ideas that tolerated and caused slavery. Skin color, social rank, and class all play prominent roles in Obama’s agenda. These are the evils that were behind slavery and what the constitution put in place to eliminate. It took almost 200 years to finally get it all working properly and now Obama and his “Get Even” crowd would have us go backwards again.

5 comments:

  1. 真正仁慈的人,會忘記他們做過的善行,他們全心投入現在的工作,過去的事已被遺忘。..................................................

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  2. I first read this article in another area of the internet.

    Your passions are quite simple. Your conclusions regarding Obama is based on a presumption and your presumption is clouded by a lack of knowledge of world history. If the Get even crowd wanted to get even America would be like Israel/Palestine.
    In America today Obama is not seen as a legitimate president by a minority. The reason he is not a legitimate American.

    Finally if Europeans had been the victims of slavery in todays world we know who would be blamed.

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