Biblically speaking, slavery was condoned and had rules regarding. Abraham, considered the father of two religions, owned slaves. His wife, Sarah, had a handmaiden (i.e. slave), with whom she encouraged her husband to have sex so he'd have an heir since she had been unable to conceive. The Bible said that at 90, Sarah then conceived a child and eventually mistreated Hagar, after she feared the handmaiden's child would take away the heritage of her son. The two resulting religions have been at war with each other through history.
The founders of the United States owned slaves. Although George Washington freed his, it was only in his will. Jefferson freed some of his in his will-- but not all. Worse, for him, is he had children by a slave, who he never freed. Jefferson, who favored gradual emancipation, still had slaves at the time of his death, who were sold to others in order to pay his debts. [For Jefferson, clearly complexity thy name was slavery].
The North turned from slavery but many believe because the practice was less economical in manufacturing. As with Jefferson, economic reasons, were why some felt they could not free their slaves, the situation with Robert E. Lee. He is one of the current subjects for vilification calling him a terrorist by some on the left. Was he or just a complex man in a complicated time-- one of transition from one thing to another. I found this a good article on him-- [Making Sense of Robert E. Lee].
The Civil War was not fought just about slavery, although it certainly was the underlying cause. Southern states would not have agreed to break from Britain if slavery had been put into the Constitution. The South feared eventually the North would try to emancipate all the slaves and wanted to form their own nation-- the official reason for the war.
While some saw slavery as always an evil, eventually it was deemed such by all. Nobody today in the United States is defending the practice or claiming it was innocent. Again and again, the United States beats itself up over it and here we go again.
I wrote about it awhile back in a different blog and said a lot of what I still feel is true.
In the raging rhetoric of today, it's not about slavery, although you'd think it was. Because of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, we are back arguing the whole thing. I've commented on it a few different places and usually regretted doing so as some talk in righteous terms about something they can condemn someone else over-- and that they ill understand themselves. Currently, it's mostly about Trump saying what he did and the hatred many on the left feel for him.
For those who haven't been following this, here's some of what he said:
"I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you have -- you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group -- you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent."
"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.""So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you all -- you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"
And so it went. Some believe what he said will bring down his Presidency. I have no idea but was he defending slavery or owning slaves? Was he defending using violence to gain a political goal? The one who used an automobile as a weapon was clearly radicalized by the flaming rhetoric but maybe also mentally ill, as has happened before.
The irony is one journalist claimed the attack in Barcelona was inspired by Charlottesville. Seriously, that is where we've come to ignore history and use each tragedy only to make political points-- so Barcelona was about white supremacists not Muslim radicals. That writer must have not remembered the London Bridge attack or others in Europe-- a lot of others.
Is there a solution to this kind of situation. I can't see us actually heading for another Civil War because this difference isn't geographical. It's inflamed by those who often have goals very different from what they are espousing. I worry a lot about where we are heading.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets are now saying they will ban hate speech. The question is who decides what that is? If it's using violence to attain an end, then that might help. What if it's about different political views like defending a wall or concern over what is taught in schools? What if it is not allowing a conservative to speak on a campus?
Is Lee on those sculptures, as a defense of slavery, or is it because of what Theodore Roosevelt said about him (another who is condemned today regarding Native Americans).
In 1907, on the 100th anniversary of Lee’s birth, President Theodore Roosevelt expressed mainstream American sentiment, praising Lee’s “extraordinary skill as a General, his dauntless courage and high leadership,” adding, “He stood that hardest of all strains, the strain of bearing himself well through the gray evening of failure; and therefore out of what seemed failure he helped to build the wonderful and mighty triumph of our national life, in which all his countrymen, north and south, share.”
So here's where we are, with Vice (a left wing news outlet) suggesting we blow up Mt. Rushmore (then retracting it). Is this time really about determining right from wrong or is it instead about winning? The left currently is condemning the right but what are they saying they want to do? Issues are lost when emotions go wild. Worse, for me, is being in a time when the mood is so inflamed that we can only say what is deemed acceptable by each side-- no ability to discuss issues without accusations. It's a sad time.