American Revolution

Slavery, the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

Douglass' classic speech is an indictment of slavery, racism, and American hypocrisy - but also includes a great deal of praise of the American Revolution.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Frederick Douglass.

 

July 4 is an appropriate time to remember Frederick Douglass' famous 1852 speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" The speech is—for good reason—most famous for its powerful condemnation of slavery, racism, and American hypocrisy. But it also includes passages praising the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers.  Both are worth remembering.

Here is, perhaps, the best-known part of the speech:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

And there is much more material of the same kind in the speech, ranging from a denunciation of the internal slave trade, to an attack on the then-recent Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The key point is that slavery and racism made a mockery of America's professed ideals of liberty and equality. And, sadly, that legacy is far from fully overcome even today.

But Douglass' speech also includes passages like this one, praising the American Revolution:

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too — great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final;" not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times….

Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them!

Elsewhere in the speech, he also praises the revolutionaries' refusal to submit to oppression merely because it was backed by law. This is an obvious reference to the those who, in the 1850s, argued that abolitionists had a duty to submit to the Fugitive Slave Act and other unjust proslavery laws. It is also a rebuke to "just enforce the law" arguments backing submission to deeply unjust laws in our own day.

Douglass recognized that the American Revolution not only espoused high principles, but had actually made important progress in realizing them—even as he also condemned the failure to realize them more fully, and the hypocrisy of Americans for tolerating the massive injustice of slavery, which so blatantly contradicted those principles.

In other writings and speeches, Douglass also praised the antislavery potential of the Constitution(which, I think, he in some respects overstated). His purpose in the Fourth of July speech, was not to denounce the Founding Fathers, but rather the white Americans of his own time.

This raises the question of how we should think about slavery and the American Revolution today. Elsewhere, I have argued that, on balance, the Revolution gave an important boost to the antislavery cause, in both America and Europe—most notably by inspiring the "First Emancipation"—the abolition of slavery in the northern states, which was an essential prerequisite to eventual nationwide abolition.

I do not, believe, however, that this fact completely exempts the Founders from severe criticism on their record with respect to slavery. Most obviously, they still deserve condemnation for the fact that many of them were slaveowners themselves. People like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and George Mason all owned slaves throughout most of their lives, even though they well knew it was wrong and a violation of their own principles.

Jefferson famously denounced slavery as "a moral depravity" and "the most unremitting despotism."  Yet he kept right on owning slaves. The same goes for the others, though Washington did finally free his upon his death. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that they continued to perpetrate a grave injustice because they did not want to suffer the loss of wealth and social status resulting from manumission.

This isn't even a matter of "judging historical figures by modern standards." It is a matter of them failing to live up to their own standards.

In addition to failing to free their own slaves, most of the Founders also failed to prioritize the abolition of slavery as an institution. They did take some important steps, such as promoting abolition in the northern states, barring the spread of slavery to the "Old Northwest," and eventually banning the importation of new slaves from abroad. But they pretty clearly did not give abolishing the greatest moral evil in the new republic the priority it deserved.

Instead, they often prioritized less significant, but politically more advantageous issues. Alexander Hamilton (who was not a slaveowner) is often praised for his antislavery attitudes—in some ways justifiably so. But, throughout his political career, he repeatedly subordinated abolition to other priorities. Much the same can be said of most other political leaders of the day.

With great power, comes great responsibility. When it comes to slavery, most of the people who wielded great power in revolutionary America and the early republic failed to fully live up to theirs.

But the condemnation they deserve for that failure must be balanced against the very real progress they made possible—including on the issue of slavery. In addition, we should remember that we ourselves may not be free of the same types of faults.

It is far from unusual for people to set aside principles when they collide with self-interest. How many of us really prioritize doing what is right when doing so requires us to pay a high price? We like to think that, if we were in Jefferson's place, we would have freed our slaves and prioritized abolition. But it is far from clear we would actually have the courage and commitment to do so.

Modern politicians, too, rarely prioritize the most morally significant issues ahead of those that are most politically advantageous in the short run. Given that slaves could not vote—and neither could many free blacks—it is actually notable that the Founders did as much to curb slavery as they did, even if it was nowhere near as much as they should have done.

In sum, Frederick Douglass was right to praise the American Revolution, and right also to condemn the gross injustice and hypocrisy of the nation's failure to live up to its principles. In thinking about the Founders today, we too should praise the great good they did—which ultimately outweighed the harm. But we should also remember their greatest shortcoming. And we should be wary of too readily assuming that we ourselves would do better if faced with the same kinds of choices.

UPDATE: In previous posts, I have written about Douglass' underappreciated speeches on immigration and how we should remember the Civil War.

 

NEXT: Can Trump Really Lose the Election and Remain President?

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  1. Most of the slaveholding Founding Fathers were embarrassed by the contradiction and didn’t want to talk about it. To be fair they believed slavery would die out soon. By contrast by the time Douglass came along Calhoun and Stephens were unabashedly arguing that blacks were inferior and slavery was the natural order of things.

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    2. It wasn’t just Blacks who were inferior — they had a British sense of social class that Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian Democracy rebelled against, that would then be reflected in the fights between the Protestants & Catholics and then in the various waves of populism we have in the country.

      Remember that a poll tax didn’t *just* disenfranchise Blacks.

      1. Poor whites were allowed to be (literally) grandfathered in. An option obviously not open to blacks whose grandfathers had been slaves.

        1. Not really. Ever hear the term “white trash”?

          1. “No person shall be registered as an elector of this state or be allowed to vote in any election held herein, unless he be able to read and write any section of the Constitution of the state of Oklahoma; but no person who was, on January 1, 1866, or any time prior thereto, entitled to vote under any form of government, or who at that time resided in some foreign nation, and no lineal descendant of such person, shall be denied the right to register and vote because of his inability to so read and write sections of such Constitution. Precinct election inspectors having in charge the registration of electors shall enforce the provisions of this section at the time of registration, provided registration be required. Should registration be dispensed with, the provisions of this section shall be enforced by the precinct election officers when electors apply for ballots to vote.”

            One of many examples, this one being from a 1910 amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution.

    3. That is true, Washington elected to free his slaves upon his death, and so did Jefferson, if I’m not mistaken. Patrick Henry, though a slave owner, said “slavery was inconsistent with the Bible and destructive to morality.” Samuel Adams took a different approach, which you can read about in Ira Stoll’s book, Samuel Adams, A Life. His wife inherited a slave, and according to Samuel Adams’ niece, he told his wife: ” A slave cannot enter my house. If she comes, she must be free!” This is one reason among many Samuel Adams should be considered among the most consistent of the Founders.

      1. Free in name only, in that she would be working for room & board, as a slave would be.

      2. Thomas Jefferson freed some but not all of his slaves, on death. Over 100 of his slaves were sold by his estate, after his death, to fund the estate’s debts.

      1. That link is the “It’s unfair to criticize Jeffrey Dahmer; think about all the people he didn’t kill and eat” of punditry.

        1. The news media deceives instead of informs. They hide the news make up false stories to replace it. Every day they betray their mission. It’s clear to see, for people not as guided by hatred as they are.

          I hope you have something you care about more than your hatred someday.

          1. “I hate the media; therefore I’m not blinded by hatred.”

            1. Says the guy who compares a politician to Jeffrey Dahmer and calls me a “liar” for posting a link.

              Really, consider seeing a therapist or something. Obsessed, self-reinforcing hatred is bad. A therapist can help you. They have drugs that smooth that stuff out so it’s not central to your life any more.

              Life is not about hating people you never met.

              1. I did not compare a politician — or even Donald Trump — to Jeffrey Dahmer. Read more better.

    1. Yeah, prior to this I’d have said it was an exaggeration to say the news media were actual “enemies of the people”, but after watching that speech, and reading the news accounts of it, I’d have to say it’s the honest truth.

      And, they’re still doubling down on falling for that 4-Chan prank; Supposedly the woman introducing Trump used the notorious “white supremacist” symbol, the hated “OK”.

      1. Compare the President:

        “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. . . . Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. . . . The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions. . . .”

        Sure, really brings the country together. Compare Ronald Reagan:

        “My fellow Americans, it falls to us to keep faith with them and all the great Americans of our past. Believe me, if there’s one impression I carry with me after the privilege of holding for 5\1/2\ years the office held by Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln, it is this: that the things that unite us — America’s past of which we’re so proud, our hopes and aspirations for the future of the world and this much-loved country — these things far outweigh what little divides us. And so tonight we reaffirm that Jew and gentile, we are one nation under God; that black and white, we are one nation indivisible; that Republican and Democrat, we are all Americans. Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.”

        1. Your team vandalized a statue of Fredrick Douglass and killed an 8 year old girl in Atlanta over the weekend.

          1. An 8 year old black girl. Black Lives Matter…

            1. Yeah, she was one of the ones who matter.

              1. Yeah, that’s not on the protesters, you ghouls.

                1. GOP is always responsible for anything related to what they do. Dems are always powerless bystanders, helpless to prevent the tragic, predictable — but, of course, always entirely coincidental — results of what they do.

                  ‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party. — classic tweet, Adrian Bott

                  1. Explain your theory of causation.

                    1. It has antifa on blue team vandalizing statues and creating lawless protest/rioting no-go-zones in cities. And blue team mayors letting it happen.

                    2. And thus, broken windows lead to this child getting killed.

                      You going to make an accusation like that, you’d better come with more than that weak sauce.

          2. What “team” do you think I’m on that had anything to do with either tearing down the Frederick Douglass statute, or killing an 8 year old girl in Atlanta?

              1. I don’t know what you mean by “Blue team”. If you mean Democrats, I don’t think Nancy Pelosi pulled down the Frederick Douglass statue (in fact I don’t think anyone knows who did; the President said it was “anarchists”) or shot that little girl. But in any event, I’m not a member of the Democratic Party.

            1. Also, this was an example of someone (me in this case) changing the subject to hijack the discussion.

              The correct counter-move is not to take the bait and to stay on the original topic.

              Going on defense and letting the discussion turn into a discussion about you is the opposite of the correct move. No one is interested in you except you. You’re random internet guy to people in discussion forums (why is it not “fora”?). Defense is therefore totally a waste of time.

              Just FYI.

              1. “The correct counter-move is not to take the bait and to stay on the original topic.”

                Now that you’ve confessed that you aren’t a serious person, what would be the point of staying on topic? You just admitted that you are disinterested in discussing any topic. The correct counter-move is to ignore you completely. But I wouldn’t have known that without your confession, which I would not have gotten without “Going on defense”.

                1. It’s not about me either chief. Or your opinion of me. Or any individual. No one cares about any of that.

                  Just FYI.

          3. Yeah, I think it’s at least even odds it wasn’t Black Lives Matter folks who vandalized Freddy D’s statue.

            Also, ‘our team’ doesn’t include whoever shot that girl. What the hell is wrong with you?

          4. I think your team vandalized a statue of Frederick Douglas over the weekend.

        2. Here is Atlanta’s black mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms using divisive language, calling members of her community “the enemy within”.

          Atlanta mayor says ‘enough is enough’ after girl fatally shot near scene of Rayshard Brooks’ death:

          http://www.cnn.com/2020/07/05/us/atlanta-shootings-secoriea-turner-rayshard-brooks/index.html

          Quotes:
          Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is calling for change to fight “the enemy within” saying that enough is enough after an 8-year-old girl was fatally shot Saturday near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed.

          Secoriea Turner, 8, was shot in the area of University Ave and I-75/85 Saturday night while riding in a vehicle with her mother and an adult friend, according to police. The driver was attempting to enter a parking lot at 1238 Pryor Road where a group of individuals illegally placed barricades. Someone in the group opened fire on the vehicle, according to police, striking Turner.

          “We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets,” the mayor said. “You shot and killed a baby. And it wasn’t one shooter, there was at least two shooters,” she said.

          1. If you think the President should use divisive language, just say so. The argument above is that the media had manufactured the President’s use of divisive language. That’s a false claim, easily enough debunked by anyone reading the transcript from the speech.

            1. Maybe he didn’t think condemning violent rioters is divisive. Probably thinks almost all Americans are against violent rioting.

              1. Maybe read Trump’s quote again. It’s not about rioters.

                1. “… The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities….”

                  Must be about the weather.

                  1. Try again:

                    In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. . . . Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. . . . The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions. . . .”

                    That’s not about rioters, it’s about Democrats.

                    And you know that.

                    But I guess you’re ashamed?

              2. Do you think almost all Americans are against Democrats holding elected positions in cities?

  2. We already have Black History Month, Juneteenth, and MLK day and every other day of the year to whine about something that nobody alive today has experienced. At least not in the form people talk about. Okay so its important to remember but its not the only thing in the universe. Can we just have one day to think about and celebrate something else before we return to some people’s favorite obsession?

    1. Hard to talk about American independence without slavery. And Douglass? One helluva writer about American exceptionalism, if you’re not so full-up with white grievance to see it.

      You had the 3rd, the 5th, Christmas, Labor Day, Arbor Day and whatever else when you can live in your white safe space.


      1. Hard to talk about American independence without slavery.

        What role did slavery play in American independence?

        1. it tarnished the independence part.

        2. There was no independence without Southern participation and to get it slavery had to be guaranteed.

          1. The majority of White southerners did NOT own slaves.

            1. The delegates who had to be won over were all slave owners. So were Presidents for 48 of the 72 years before the Civil War and so were the majority of Supreme Court justices during all of that time.

              1. You truly don’t understand the Jacksonian Democracy, do you?

                1. I understand genocide, yes.

                  I have a Native American friend who, every time she gets a $20 bill, she draws an arrow through Jackson’s head before she passes it along.

                  1. I believe that’s a Federal Offense….

              2. You understand that Great Britain of the time was also a slave state, and remained that way until the 1830s, correct?

                And slavery existed to various degrees in most of the world at that time, correct?

                In fact, the very word slave comes from the Slav people, correct?

                1. That’s just not true. You’re stretching the definition of slavery to defend it in America.

                  You shouldn’t be so fragile about our history; it’s not healthy.

                  1. I’m not sure which of his claims you are objecting to.

                    I googled ‘when did britain outlaw slavery’ and was surprised to find this which had a number of tidbits that surprised me (as to how late they occurred):

                    1)”In May 1772, Lord Mansfield’s judgment in the Somersett’s Case emancipated a slave in England and thus helped launch the movement to abolish slavery.[1] The case ruled that slaves could not be transported out of England against their will, but did not actually abolish slavery in England”
                    2)”After France which abolished slavery in 1794…”

                    In 1833, the Brits did kinda sorta outlaw slavery in the empire, but see the ‘Exceptions’ section in the linked article, which has slavery in India, Ceylon, et al continuing into the 1840’s.

                    In any event, it persisted longer than I would have thought. Also, see the wiki article titled “Timeline of abolition of slavery and serfdom” – again, it was banned a lot later than I expected in a lot of places.

                    And, addressing the ‘slav’ part, I dunno if that is true, but even though Russia nominally banned slavery fairly early, the actual circumstances of Russian serfs was rather closer to slavery than free people.

                    1. Sure, and elsewhere I acknowledge that England was a human rights horrorshow through the 1960s.

                      But chattel slavery remains a system unique in it’s reliance on putting effort into mass dehumanization, and the peculiar fear it engendered in its upper class.

                    2. The reason legal historians say Somersett’s case did not abolish slavery in England is that it’s hard to say there ever was legal slavery in England and it was never widespread. This is complicated subject, but here are a few points:

                      1. Various dates are given as the abolition of medieval slavery in England such as the 1102 Council of Westminster and various 14th century statutes. As early modern English jurists understood the question, there had not been slavery in medieval England. Serfdom and villeinage they considered distinct.

                      2. The notion that “English air is free” is attested as early as 1569, in Cartwright’s case, in which a court held that no person in England could be held in slavery.

                      3. In the seventeenth century, Parliament authorized slavery in the colonies and a colonial slave trade.

                      4. The question emerged in the eighteenth century whether the colonial slave system at all extended to England. For example, if a slave ship called in England, were the slaves freed? If a slaveowner from the colonies brought a slave home to England, was the slave freed? Decisions were somewhat inconsistent, did not refer to each other, and advanced wildly different rationales. Somersett’s case removed any uncertainty and declared that there had never been slavery in England.

                  2. Sarcastr0 needs to learn world history.

                    1. There were plenty of slave systems throughout history. America’s was especially awful in many ways, from the breaking up of families, to the racial component, to the constant concern about how to break their spirits due to fear of rebellion.

                      Russia’s history of World War 2 is very sanitized.
                      It was even more so in the Soviet Era. This made for a strong pride in their Motherland. But it was also brittle. When Perestroika included revealing Russia’s cooperation with the Nazis in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, it wrecked a lot of higher-up in the Party, and their disillusionment paved the way for the fall of the Wall and later the USSR itself.

                      Quit propagandizing yourself; it feels good, but in the long run it makes you weaker.
                      America’s tarnished Founding doesn’t mean America isn’t a great country I’m proud to be a member of – just look at Mr. Douglass’ take on the issue!

                    2. Hey, Sarcastro, when Pelosi and friends wore Kente clothing and took a knee, did you know that Kente clothing comes from the Ashanti Empire, which practiced slavery on a large scale?

                    3. Yeah, that was cringe Kevin.

                      Also very off topic.

                  3. You’re stretching the definition of slavery to defend it in America.

                    I am a brown-skinned immigrant from a country where my direct ancestors were held in harsh and brutal slavery in the late 1800s.

                    But yes, dear White Savior, please continue to speak for me.

                    1. Your personal experience does not invalidate America’s history.

                      Neither does calling me a racist for pointing out America’s slavery was extra bad.

          2. There was no independence without Southern participation and to get it slavery had to be guaranteed.

            Citation? Can you produce this evidence of this guarantee?

            1. The South would not sign the Declaration until the condemnation of slavery clause was stricken.

              Later on, there was the three-fifths rule. Care to explain that?

              1. If you think that the three-fifth’s rule was a support for slavery, then you should demand a refund from whoever taught you about history.

                The three-fifth rule REDUCED representation in Congress for those states that permitted slavery. It was a direct disincentive to maintain slavery.

                1. “The three-fifth rule REDUCED representation in Congress for those states that permitted slavery. It was a direct disincentive to maintain slavery.”

                  Reduced it relative to what? The non-slave states didn’t want the slave states to count them at all. That’s why it was the 3/5ths compromise.

            2. It’s most of the second act of 1776.

              1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeuaTpH6Ck0

                Our northern brethren
                feeling a bit tender toward our slaves.
                They don’t keep slaves!
                Oh, no.
                But they’re willing to be considerable carriers of slaves
                to others
                Oh they’re willing
                for the shilling

            3. It’s in the Constitution. Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, the Fugitive Slave Clause, states:

              “No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.”

              Article V (amendments) also had a curious provision that prohibited until 1808 any amendment affecting “the first … Clause[] in the Ninth Section of the first Article”. Article I, Section 9, clause one concerned the migration and importation of slaves, and limited Congress’s authority to prohibit such migration and importation, until 1808. The southerners were weary of getting double-crossed by the North, so they secured this bargain to protect chattel slavery for decades. Of course they didn’t let the passing of 1808 stop them from continuing their tyranny, but the ruing elite in the south have been congenital liars throughout American history, so no surprise.

              1. The Fugitive Slave Clause can be plausibly read as a support for slavery.

                The 1808 clause ended the import slave trade, so it did the opposite.

                1. There are two 1808 clauses. Neither ends the import slave trade; the opposite. They constitutionally guarantee its survival from 1789 until at least 1808. Congress was not constitutionally required to end the import of slaves in 1808, that’s just the earliest it could act based on the constitutional bargain.

                  1. And Congress ended the import slave trade as soon as it was able to do so in 1808.

                    1. Right, which suggests they would have ended it sooner, but for the constitutional provision. In other words, the 1808 clause postponed the end of the international slave trade.

    2. You may want to try actually reading the speech.

    3. What better way to point out what an exceptional place America is than point out an exceptional American like Frederick Douglas?

      Also one of the very first Black Republicans.

  3. According to the commenters on this site the only laws motivated by racism are gun control measures. Outside of gun regulations racism has played no part in America’s history. 😉

    1. racism plays a huge role. Like antiwhite racism today for instance.

      1. The usual suspects. This place turns into a BLM rally when the 2A comes up.

        NO JUSTICE
        NO PEACE!

        Why do you think Confederate memorials are racist?? Poll taxes weren’t racist silly billy so no need for the Voting Rights Act. Al Gore senior was a RACIST but George HW Bush wasn’t a racist because he only opposed the CRA as a candidate and didn’t get to vote against it. 😉

        1. The best way to put lots of minorities into prison for victimless crimes is to pass more gun control laws.

          Slate: Is Brooklyn’s gun court getting weapons off the streets — or just locking up more young black men?

          Gun control advocates mostly talk about permit requirements and background checks. But that coin has another side: punishment for people accused of possessing guns without the state’s permission. In January 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio established a specialized gun court in Brooklyn to fast-track the city’s “remaining evildoers”—his words—to prison. Almost all of them faced the most serious possible charge for possession of an illegal loaded gun, a minimum sentence of 3½ years in prison and a maximum of 15 years.

          Two and a half years ago, I started visiting the Brooklyn gun court to see how it was working.

          I thought I’d find horrific stories of gun violence and hardened evildoers, like de Blasio said. Instead, over many months of my reporting, I found hundreds of teenagers and young people, almost all of them black, being marched to prison not for firing a gun, or even pointing one, but for having one. Many of them had minimal criminal records. To be precise, when I went through 200 case files, I found that 70 percent of the defendants in gun court had no previous felony convictions. Defendants in gun court often said they had guns for “protection,” a classic Second Amendment argument. They saw them as a means of defense.

    2. Not sure which strawmen commenters you are referring to, but you are certainly correct that historically, gun control laws first targeted people of color who could not be trusted to own guns:

      The Racist Roots of Gun Control by Clayton Cramer

      1. Racism was never a big problem in America except with respect to the one issue you care about…how convenient!

        1. Wow, you didn’t even set much of a trap but he went straight into it!

          1. LOL, what trap? Are you denying that gun control locks up minorities? Is that what you want to see? Don’t be coy… speak up!

            1. He said ‘you know when they care about civil rights? When guns come up’

              And then along you come, all fired up about civil rights…when guns come up.

              Sebastian Cremmington is kind of a nut, but your reflexive responses assured that he managed to get you to prove his point.

        2. The best way to imprison more minorities? Pass more gun laws!

          Washington Post: Shaneen Allen, race and gun control

          Quote:
          The nation’s top gun-enforcement agency overwhelmingly targeted racial and ethnic minorities as it expanded its use of controversial drug sting operations, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

          The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has more than quadrupled its use of those stings during the past decade, quietly making them a central part of its attempts to combat gun crime. The operations are designed to produce long prison sentences for suspects enticed by the promise of pocketing as much as $100,000 for robbing a drug stash house that does not actually exist.

          At least 91% of the people agents have locked up using those stings were racial or ethnic minorities, USA TODAY found after reviewing court files and prison records from across the United States. Nearly all were either black or Hispanic. That rate is far higher than among people arrested for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.

  4. So, the Union lost about 430,000 dead out of a population of about 22 million. That’s about 10% of all military age men. One dead Union soldier for about eight slaves freed. If the same ratio was lost ending slavery today, they would be about 4 million dead in 5 years.
    Doesn’t count for anything at all. To listen to critics of the US and ‘white privilege’ the death toll should be a lot higher. Caucasians are the only people with original sin. If you are asian living in your own home in the US, then you are living on land stolen by whites from native Americans. Find one and give it back.

    1. I can agree the original slaves got a raw deal but I think their descendants especially in modern times as a rule are better off than they would be back in the Homeland getting macheted to death in one of the countless civil wars.

      1. Would you rather be black in America right now or white?

        1. I’d rather be black in America than black in Africa.

        2. “Would you rather be black in America right now or white?”

          Black.

          It’s not even a question.

          1. There’s a whole evening’s amusement in trying to figure if Dr. Ed really believes this – the lush pampered life of Black people being so enticing & seductive – or he just decided he had to grit his teeth and type it out to elude Sarcastr0’s fiendish trap.

            I suspect the latter but can’t wholly discount the former. Funny either way….

            1. Blacks can have it pretty hard mostly because of problems inflicted mainly by leftists, selfpity, and their own dangerous communities and influences.

              But general larger society goes relatively easier on those who can make it past the former. If you’re halfway competent you’re set for cushy high placed jobs in big companies and organization desperate to fill out their diversity roster.

              1. ” If you’re halfway competent you’re set for cushy high placed jobs in big companies and organization desperate to fill out their diversity roster.

                Academia’s worse.

                1. As is so often the case, the comedians get it right. Chris Rock had a routine where he pointed out that none of the white men in the audience would willingly trade plaxes with him — and he’s rich.

                  1. But was it a question of race, or of other things?

                    1. You do know who Chris Rock is, don’t you? You’ve heard his routines, haven’t you? It’s easy enough to find this one on YouTube. Listen for yourself.

                  2. You openly admitted that you get your news from a comedy show, LOL.

                    1. He admitted a comedian made a good point.

            2. Yes, the people in Appalachia dying from opioid overdoses sure have tons and tons of privilege, don’t they?

              1. I notice you didn’t answer the question, just deflected.

              2. Rural Maine’s not much better…

                1. LBJ famously had some insight into how one gets the poor white man’s vote without the need to deliver anything that would ease his lot. “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

                  1. Also by LBJ:

                    “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”
                    ~ Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One

                    Source: Inside the White House, by Ronald Kessler

                    1. First, this has zero to do with what CJ wrote.

                      Second, the quote is likely false:
                      https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/lbj-voting-democratic/

                      Third, LBJ was racist. So what?

                    2. LOL, Snopes says it is UNPROVEN but you say it is LIKELY FALSE.

                      I posted my source above, by the way.

                      At this rate, you should work for the media.

                    3. You want to quibble about unproven.

                      The burden is on the dude offering the quote. So maybe do better next time.

                      It’s a well known disputed quote.

      2. Also a consequence of white colonialism. Without the fragmentation of the African continent by the European powers much of its dysfunction would not exist. And certainly the levels of destruction would be reduced if the developed countries would stop selling them weapons.

        1. Its not the US’s fault what Europe did to Africa. Also every nation screws over every other nation. Nowhere has Europe meddled and attacked more than in Europe.

        2. Yes, without European colonialism, Africa would be a sweet sweet land of plenty and peace.

          Mideast too.

          Somehow the South Pacific (Indonesia, Philippines, etc) escaped this barbarism. Thank God for the Japanese!

          1. If you’re interested, this is a good account of one tiny piece of the historical legacy. Fair warning tho : It’s ugly brutal stuff

            https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0618001905/reasonmagazinea-20/

          2. Asian ethnic hatreds long predate WWII, the mutual Japanese/Chinese hatred dates back thousands of years.

        3. “Without the fragmentation of the African continent by the European powers much of its dysfunction would not exist.”

          No. They were fighting racial wars (and selling each other into slavery) long before colonialism.

          1. Next you’re going to be telling us that American Indians were constantly warring in the New World long before Europeans ever arrived! I thought they were all peaceful, resourceful people who used every part of the buffalo!

            1. The reason the Indians helped the Pilgrims was that they wanted them to help fight the Narragansetts — they saw the European style of marching and wanted to learn it, as Indian warfare was “every man for himself” with no organization.

          2. Correct. Most Native American tribes invaded, raided, killed and displaced each other well before Europeans arrived. The Aztecs, for instance were so vicious that their Tlaxcaltec and other neighbors provided the Spanish with the bulk of the armies that defeated them.

    2. ” land stolen by whites from native Americans”

      The treaty that ended the Revolution promised to compensate the Loyalists for stolen property — and we never were.

    3. So was the Civil War about slavery or not? You may need to get your facts straight before you try and pretend it was some kind of trade deal.

      Ask Asians if they feel free from sin sometime.

      1. “Ask Asians if they feel free from sin sometime.”

        I have many Asian family members who fell zero sin over slavery.

      2. My direct ancestors were enslaved in a harsh and brutal way.

        The current generation does not hold any animus towards the current descendants of the slavers. My community moved on and looked forward, not backward.

        If you forget your history, you may be condemned to repeat it.

        But if you live mainly in the past, you may have no future.

        1. Apparently my post was too complicated for some of the more knee-jerk people out there.

          The post was about how white people are the only people who have an original sin.
          I pointed out that plenty of races have a troublesome past.

          I have no problem acknowledging America’s tarnished history and moving on to deal with improving it’s present. You, on the other hand, seem to constantly post about the Democratic Party of the long past. Maybe take some of your own advice.

          1. The Democratic Party of the long past? Like this Democratic Party?

            Chicago, which has not had a Republican mayor since 1931:

            NBC News: ‘Crook County’ Author: Judicial System Stacked Against Blacks, Latinos

            Quote:
            Van Cleve documents how minority defendants in Chicago were referred to as “Mopes,” a term with the same derogatory intent as the N-word. Fabricated police reports were overlooked.

            Rather than a case of rogue officers and “a few bad apples,” Van Cleve presents a searing picture of systemic and deeply entrenched racism – including among defense attorneys. Those within the system who try to fight its defects often risk retaliation and isolation.

            Minority defendants, she writes, were often viewed as objects with no humanity. Van Cleve shows how even members of the public, such as defendants’ family members, were routinely disrespected and subjected to humiliation and abuse.

          2. I keep a file of liberal Democrat Tolerance and Inclusiveness, to share with the Tolerant and Inclusive. Unfortunately, it is a long list of depressing items, enough to make you lose faith in government.

            Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed:
            Democratic Mayors since 1973.
            Almost 100% Democratic City Council.
            Democratic State Legislators.
            Democratic Governor.
            Democratic US Representatives and Senators.

            This power structure has enabled and is 100% responsible for the events that occurred. Nothing will change until the people of America stop blindly voting for Democrats, progressive grifters and racial agitators who preach tolerance and practice oppression.

            1. Yeah, you do love to blame the ills of cities on Dems.

              Which side is defending the police up and down these days? Which wants to change the power dynamic?
              Which side is fighting to end the carceral state and has successfully pushed for criminal justice reform?

              You yourself are defending America’s legacy of slavery over your own dark skin.
              You don’t get to blame the Dems for the things you yourself are defending.

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  5. How much will be enough?!?

    Two of my Great Great Grandfathers fought in that war, one came back without his foot and the other didn’t come home at all. You want to talk about lost earnings, yes there’s a bit there.

    All my life I have had to go to the back of the bus because of bad things that were done in the past — that I didn’t do. How much more will finally pay this purported debt?

    1. When did you ever have to go to the back of the bus, unless the front was full?

      1. Govt should not discriminate or pass laws forcing people/companies to discriminate. Focus on that not social outcomes…freedom of association and trade should trump equality of outcomes..

      2. Are you familiar with Affirmative Retribution?

    2. If you can’t live with America’s legacy not being pure, I guess you should move to a country with a pure legacy.

      Like Russia; I hear they keep their history spic and span of anything troubling.

      1. nah I’m fine with that. Just wish you guys could shut up about it for 1 minute.

        1. Open wider, AmosArch.

          The rest of your life will consist of having American progress shaped by your betters against your wishes and efforts. After that, you will be replaced when you take your stale, bigoted, right-wing thinking to your grave.

          No wonder you guys are cranky, desperate enough to latch onto Trump, and delusional enough to figure the Volokh Conspiracy can save you from the American mainstream.

      2. If you can’t live with America’s legacy not being pure, I guess you should move to a country with a pure legacy

        For one quick minute I thought I had slipped into a parallel universe where you finally had said something I resoundingly agreed with.

        Then I realized you probably weren’t talking about the statue vandals. Oh well.

        1. Statues are not history, ya dingbat.

          1. Michaelangelo’s David?

            Not history?

            1. …No.

              It’s art, but not history.

              1. Art history! The worst kind of history.

                1. Something about tiny wieners throughout time, I guess?

    3. Obviously it’s not about what’s enough. It’s about what can be taken. The only way to limit the amount is to say “no” and mount whatever defense is needed for “no” to be the answer that wins.

      Did the people who want to take from you ever help you? Do you owe them a favor? Are they kind and tolerant and understanding towards you or people like you?

      Do they build or tear down? Do their words and deeds lead to happiness? Do they divide or bring people together? Do they look to the future or only complain about the past?

      You can feel good saying “no” to them based on those and other answers. Or say “yes” and help if the answers are good.

      If you pay hostage-takers, they take more hostages. If you pay extortionists, they extort more people. If you reward bad behavior, you get more bad behavior. No more victims.

        1. No, I’m not watching video links

          1. The other thing that scares me is that I know how Reconstruction ended the last time…

    4. (1) I’ve been a white guy sixty-plus years. Why haven’t I ever felt this horrible burden of the civil rights movement like Dr. Ed? Where does his anguished trauma come from? Take the current unrest : I see were it originated, understand what needs to be addressed, agree with much of the protester’s actions but find some excessive. What I don’t do is curl up in a fetal position and wail in anguish. Or sputter in helpless rage. Why do Right-types like Ed react to civil rights issues with wild hysteria? There’s gotta be a psychological explanation.

      (2) You read about foreign countries who refuse to deal with their past. Turkey trying to bully people into burying the atrocities against Armenians. Some elements of Russia still venerating a monster like Stalin. Even today the Japanese government won’t fully admit all its actions against Koreans in WWII. You read accounts like this and it just seems like weakness on the part of those governments & peoples. I wonder what Dr. Ed thinks when he hears about something like that happening somewhere else….

      1. If you were 20-30 years younger, you’d understand.

        1. Well, I was 20-30 years younger 20-30 years ago, and I didn’t “understand” then, so there’s that.

        2. Good news, I’m younger and don’t feel a burden, Ed.

          1. Perhaps you should.

            1. Maybe you shouldn’t get bent out of shape about Frederick Douglass being a badass of liberty.

      2. Presumably because you have lots of personal advantages that others don’t: family that supports you, weren’t completely failed by the school system, someone offered you help, good health, an upbringing that taught you good values, etc.

        What about the people who don’t have that? Why is the poor white kid with no dad being told he’s privileged? Why is he being punished because someone owned slaves 150 years before he was born? When he needs an opportunity, why does he see doors open for everyone else who needs help but closed for him?

        Let him eat cake?

        1. “When he needs an opportunity, why does he see doors open for everyone else who needs help but closed for him?”

          And why is he supposed to quietly accept it?

          1. If he speaks up, totalitarians will cancel him. So his very small list of opportunities will get even smaller.

            He should be very careful saying anything to anyone, learn the game, and buy some guns.

            1. You have it right, Ben.

              He should not say anything about any aspect of the present social unrest. Even mimicking the party line is not without risk.

              If he is white he is complicit in oppression. Better that he not call attention to himself

  6. The Declaration of Independence put a stake in the ground that really is the dividing point in human history in terms of the idea of natural rights which exist outside the creation by govt of any sort. And they were trying to create a modern republic (the first one larger than a city state) since the fall of Rome. They were born with the institution of slavery and made compromises to get the whole enterprise off the ground. Are they perfect..of course not..but please show me anywhere else in Europe, Asia, Africa of what these men did in terms of changing the world for freedom and liberty for all men. And let’s not forget how well peoples of the “empire” who were not English or northern European fared under the Brits (India? Jamaica?) before you say the American Revolution was a mistake. And the idea of a firm constitution and Bill or Rights to this day differentiates America from everyone else in terms of our natural rights…should you point out the flaws fine..but to believe they are the counterpoint of the story is just marxist bs….funny how this stuff always seems to come from the same group of academics/media types who have been attacking America for decades..socialists, communists and bolsheviks…from Europe…ironic.

    1. Who is saying the American Revolution was a mistake? Certainly not Frederick Douglass.

  7. “About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”

    – Calvin Coolidge

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  9. I love the part where Douglass pays homage to our Founders, and to the country that produced such a crop of men at one time. The sentiment behind that portion of his speech is one we should all take to heart.

    I am blessed to live in these United States of America. We have something truly magical here. There is no country like it anywhere. And our people are good people. No other country gives as much, sacrifices as much, does as much for the general betterment of humanity than this country: The United States of America. I am so proud of my country.

    1. Twice we went to Europe and fought bloody wars there, taking neither territory nor tribute in victory, asking only not to have to go back and fight a THIRD war there.

      In 1948, three years after defeating Germany, we were flying food & fuel into Berlin at our own expense. No other country would have done that.

    2. That’s the thing about Douglass – he WAS proud of our country, and he expected so much more of us. Really an American exceptionalism through and through.

      It’s a damn shame so many here see citing him as an attack on them.
      We are not so fragile a country that the exhortation to do more will shatter us.

      1. If someone wanted to argue against doing more, Joe Biden’s “back in chains” speech would be why.

        If Mitt Romney can be called a slaver by the sitting Vice President, that’s justification enough to take everything off the table and give up on ever making peace or even discussing it. People spouting blood libels aren’t people you make peace with.

        1. Blood libel? That’s…not what that means.

          You have decided racial progress isn’t worth it because Biden is too mean.

          Yeah…something tells me that’s more of a weak excuse than actually what’s going on.

          1. Someone might decide that. It would be sound reasoning if they did. They should probably rise above the execrable Biden libels for the good of America though.

            No one should ever forget that quote from Biden. It’s the defining moment of the last 15 or so years of racial politics.

            1. Maybe your racial politics.

              Though, again, it sounds more like you have an outcome and are searching for a reason.

              1. It showed half of America that they would be attacked and shamelessly slandered, in one of the worst ways possible, no matter what. No chance it could ever not happen.

                Why don’t Trump supporters care when Trump says something dumb? This is why. What difference does it make? None.

                1. Yeah, I know that digging up old grievances is how Trump supporters rationalize their support.

                  It’s sad as hell.

                  1. Trump is doing a great job. That’s the reason to support him.

                    The reason not to support him is because of his communication style. But if Romney can be called a slaver by the Vice President, no complaint about anyone’s communication style should ever be taken seriously. Because there are no standards.

                    Want standards? Abide by some. Hold your team to some. Do it long enough to make it clear they genuinely mean something. (No one is even close to doing that, BTW.)

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  11. But there haven’t been slaves on the 4th of July for over 150 years. That’s well over half the life of our country. Slavery was abolished by a Constitutional amendment, so anti-slavery is enshrined in our national founding document.

    Maybe the people who think they are still slaves should take Ilya’s advice and “vote with their feet”, heading for somewhere they think will allow them the freedom they seek.

    1. It is baffling. What is this perfect system they seem to long for? They cannot explain what they want.

      They also seem fine with Marx, who was quite a racist and created a system that enslaves many, many time more people than slavery ever did.

      …and, as much as some hate to hear it, Europeans didn’t KIDNAP any slaves. They bought them. They’d have been slaves in Africa.

      1. Who is this ‘they’ you keep invoking?

        Citing Fredrick Douglass isn’t really an endorsement of Marxism.

        1. BLM Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors “We are Marxists, We are Ideological”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyhy4IvkENg

          Interviewer: Some people [are] concerned that there’s a lack of perhaps ideological direction in Black Lives Matter that would allow it to be, to fizzle out in… how do you respond to that particular critique?

          CULLORS:

          The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.

          1. Slightly longer Youtube video with fuller context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgEUbSzOTZ8

          2. Full transcript of the interview here:

            A Short History of Black Lives Matter: co-founder Patrisse Cullors discusses the history of BLM, its politics, goals and future.
            July 23, 2015

            https://therealnews.com/stories/pcullors0722blacklives

            1. Your quote of this one guy doesn’t say much about the BLM agenda. Unless you want to argue it’s a secret agenda…

              You just live in a land of confirmation bias, and think everyone else does as well.

              1. It’s a woman, not a man. You don’t even bother to read an opposing argument. You must make a fine lawyer.

                1. You kindly explained what it was. It’s not an argument, it’s an anecdote. As is your pattern.

    2. But there haven’t been slaves on the 4th of July for over 150 years.

      While I take your point in general, I think you overlook the fact that de facto slavery existed for decades after the Civil War.

      1. Indeed. The focus on slavery has always seemed a little odd to me – one can fairly say that the U.S. was a few decades late in abolishing slavery, but that seems excusable when changing practices that had been in place for millennia. After all, Wyoming gave women the vote in 1869, while e.g. New York didn’t until 1917, but we generally don’t blame New Yorkers for that today.

        Jim Crow, though, is another story. If in an alternate universe Lincoln hadn’t been killed and reconstruction had done in the 1870’s and 80’s what was eventually done in the 1960’s and 70’s, it would be a lot easier to look at slavery as bygone history.

        Jim Crow, though, is just inexcusable. I’d focus more on that than slavery.

        1. I get focusing on slavery when Douglass is being the focus.

          We talk about Jim Crow all the time around here – its the main argument against ‘freedom of association is sacred; the market will work it out.’

          Redlining is the thing I think needs a bit more of a focus; and it was happening through 1980 formally, and probably after that quietly.


          1. We talk about Jim Crow all the time around here – its the main argument against ‘freedom of association is sacred; the market will work it out.’

            Jim Crow would have had few teeth if it had not been actively supported by law and government enforcement and policy.

            In Plessy v. Ferguson, the railroad company opposed racial segregation in its cars because it made its operations more difficult.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plessy_v._Ferguson#Incident

            1. Jim Crow was both De Facto and De Jure.
              Plessy is a neat anecdote we all learn in law school; but it’s only an anecdote; it can’t bear the weight of your broad statement.

              Look up the protests to re-integrating the schools; look up the lunch counter sit-ins.

              Don’t be willfully dense.

              1. The schools were government schools, yes?

                Were the lunch counters engaged in private discrimination or were they obeying local Jim Crow laws (which would actually cost them customers)?

                Who is willfully dense? I can understand that you are struggling with the long shameful history of Democratic Party racial oppression. But the first step for you to heal is to acknowledge it.

                1. “Were the lunch counters engaged in private discrimination or were they obeying local Jim Crow laws …”

                  There was certainly private discrimination. For example, my father was an Army officer in the 50’s. The Army had been integrated. From time to time he would travel through the south with a small detachment of troops. Some restaurants would serve ‘colored’ (the term at the time) troops in uniform, some wouldn’t. Dad’s rule was they all got served, or they all went somewhere else. There was no law involved – it was each restaurant’s individual policy.

                  “(which would actually cost them customers)?”

                  Some restaurants apparently thought serving blacks would cost them more white customers than they would gain. Or they were just willing to absorb the loss.

                2. The lunch counters weren’t enforcing anything. The private citizens were abusing the people. https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Image/IM2381

                  The schools were integrated; the protesters were private citizens.

                  It sounds like you need to educate yourself about Jim Crow.

                  1. “The schools were integrated; the protesters were private citizens.”

                    ????

                    Can you clarify? The middle school I attended had been the ‘colored’ high school until a few years prior. There were still books in the library stamped with the old name.

                    1. It’s in response to Kevin’s The schools were government schools, yes?

                      The government schools were not segregated when those protests occurred (that was, indeed,the object of the protest).
                      The protesters were not doing so out of a legal obligation but because market bedamned they wanted them some discrimination.

                    2. “The government schools were not segregated when those protests occurred (that was, indeed,the object of the protest).”

                      That photo is dated 1963. I dunno about Mississippi in 1963, but I’m pretty sure there were still segregated public schools then. I know Brown v. Board was decided in 1954, but implementation was … not immediate, to put it mildly.

                      My public high school was having mandatory chapel services (as in, they invited in local ministers to preach sermons) in the 1970’s … more than a decade after the S.C. prohibited that.

  12. If there is anything the drooling, obsolete fans of a movement conservative blog can’t abide, it’s libertarian content.

    You deserve better playmates, Prof. Somin.

  13. There is very little that slavery contributed to the problems that Blacks face today. Slavery was ended over a hundred fifty years ago. But it was the slavery supporting, slave owning, freedom opposing, party that also gave us a century of Jim Crow, the KKK, and legal segregation. They then went onto destroy Black families, which is the root cause of the disjunction that is behind most of the problems faced by Black Americans today, with their “War on the Black Family” (aka “War on Poverty”). In the half century since that party enacted their “War on the Black Family”, the percentage of Black children raised without their father in the household has risen from 1/4 to 3/4. That is your systemic racism – a system that rewards women raising their children without the fathers of those children contributing to the raising of them on a day to day basis. It is worse for Blacks in this country than anyone else because of the century of Jim Crow and legal segregation preceded by a century or two of slavery. Those who are the most worried these days about systemic racism should look in a mirror, and ask themselves why they inevitably support the political party that is 100% responsible for that systemic racism, and continues to support, to this day, policies that keep Blacks subjugated by keeping them growing up in dysfunctional fatherless families.

    1. Is that a call for Black America to side with the party of half-educated bigots and superstitious rubes, Bruce?

      The party of the can’t-keep-up backwaters and science-disdaining yahoos?

      The party of disaffected clingers, stale-thinking culture war casualties, and movement conservative law professors?

      The party of Confederate flags and Confederate monuments?

      You are destined to hate the next half-century or so of American progress as much as you hate the most recent half-century or so of American progress. Reason, tolerance, science, modernity, progress, education — and diminution of superstition, backwardness, bigotry, insularity, ignorance, and dogma — will infuriate you for the rest of your life.

  14. Wish some people would spill as much ink about the Arab Slave Trade which is still ongoing but persisted quite legally and recognized by many Western countries well into the 20th century. Instead we talk about something that ended 150 years ago as if it were just yesterday when the slaves were freed.

  15. In other writings and speeches, Douglass also praised the antislavery potential of the Constitution(which, I think, he in some respects overstated).

    And you would, as per usual, be wrong.

    His purpose in the Fourth of July Speech, was not to denounce the Founding Fathers, but rather the white Americans of his own time.

    As you are wrong with this.

    His purpose, in this speech to a group of abolitionists, was to rouse them to greater, stronger and more purposeful action. To not give them time to rest on laurels, but to push towards freedom, towards the United States fulfilling it’s glorious promise.

    To goad, not denounce.

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