Comment Of The Day: “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 1… Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald Trump”

Adding international and historical perspective  to yesterday’s post regarding President Trump’s “dark and divisive” speech at Mt. Rushmore ( the mainstream media narrative has been so remarkably consistent that it has been credibly suggested that a memo went out. I could believe it…), E2 gives us this Comment of the Day on “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 1… Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald Trump”:

Re the media’s race/Trump racism false commentary:

Doesn’t anyone know any history? As an amateur historian of British history, Churchill, the Holocaust, and WWII, I understand the horrors of British imperialism in the 18th-19th century (Africa, the Near and Far East, and on and on), but…

Queen Victoria (against the South’s fond hopes) refused to support the Confederacy for one reason: slavery. Despite England’s need for cotton, she wouldn’t put her stamp of approval on slavery in the interest of their economy. Of course one could argue that British imperialism was almost as bad as slavery, but it really was not, and unlike the French, who conquered African nations, hunted with chieftains, slept with their women, stole their resources, then left when it seemed appropriate or necessary, the British, in their unique fashion, created whole government structures (e.g. India) that survived as useful bureaucracies after WWII and the end of British imperialism. Smart they were, though, creating the British Commonwealth, which their conquered countries could join if they chose. An amazing number did.

But slavery of a particular race was not in the British ethic. (Or the Romans either, who enslaved everyone they conquered, regardless of race/origin/culture…) The result — especially after WWII — is that Britain became populated by traditional Englishmen, Indians, African blacks, Asians — all with the hope and most always the realization of good, safe, respected, lives. (The European Union, Brexit, etc., is changing that, I’m sure. It’s been a decade since I’ve been to England.) But to the point:

Slavery is our country’s original sin. Our treatment of Native Americans also. Somehow we have to get over that. But erasing our history — demeaning Founders who were slaveholders when they were men of their culture then — will not solve the problem, will it? We have to face it. And we have to stop assigning blame to those — from the 17th century and onward — who were part of this original sin. An example (ignoring Washington for the moment): In retrospect, in our 21st century “wisdom,” we should now remove the Jefferson Memorial because Jefferson — author of the Declaration of Independence, a genius, a thinker and inventor, and a high water mark in the group of Founders who put their very lives on the line to break from Britain — was a slaveholder in 1776?

I am very concerned about this. Re-writing, erasing our history will not fix the problem. Erasing people from our history will not fix the problem. When I was a kid we lived next door to a USSR diplomat, who was our friend; he was highly placed — a general — and his wife and daughter were our friends as well. We knew them for about four years. Then he was suddenly sent back with one day’s notice to Russia. A few years later, when my mother was on some womens’ group tour of Russia, she asked about him, said they had been neighbors and friends, and would love to see him. Several days later, her tour guide told her that she must be mistaken about his name: there never was a general by that name, and none who served in the diplomatic corps. So clearly and horrifyingly for us, our old Russian friend had made it to the Gulag. He was erased. But not for my family. They were our neighbors, for God’s sake…

What’s going on here is a new American version of the Gulag: the ones that are dead are simply erased; the ones that are not are hounded with false accusations and media hatred.

It is not enough — will never be — to simply apologize for our sin of slavery, and the concomitant bias and prejudice that followed. But pretending that it’s my and recent generations’ fault is not the answer either. Right now, I see this all as only an opportunity to create chaos: no one really wants to engage and try to heal wounds.

Trump’s speech was a unifying one. And I am not a Trump fan. I don’t know who wrote it, but it was exactly right for a President of the United States. For Trump-bashers to somehow find a way to make it racist and divisive does not serve the country, their ’cause,’ or their own integrity.

Just don’t know what’s next, and frankly, I am afraid.

 

15 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 1… Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald Trump”

  1. Nope. Time to flip the script. The White Man is the best friend the negro has ever had. Better than the Arab, better even than other Africans. Fed, clothed and housed from cradle to grave. So he had to do some work for his bread. Most people do. Taught to read and write, made equal citizens in a republic light years beyond their means to create. The White Man has bent over backwards for him, even lowered academic and employment standards. Let them skate on petty gun and drug crimes until they finally kill someone(most likely another negro). All they had to do was quit talking so loud throughout the movie.

    • Is this sarcasm? If not I’d say be very, VERY careful where you post this. This is the kind of statement that could cost you your job and any prospects, and make you a target for activist violence.

  2. Well done E2.

    I wonder though when people talk about the original sin of slavery if they have any understanding of conditions under which so many lived in the cities of New York and so many other debarcation points for those arriving from Europe, Russia and the far East.

    Life in 19th century America for most urban dwellers was a Hobbesian nightmare. You might have been ac”free man” but you were indentured to the politicians and the bosses that controlled the streets.

    If nothing else, the fact that so many would choose to endure the harsh life of an impoverished free man than have a relatively safer life as human chattle is proof of the real value of liberty.

    • Agree, but I was focusing on slavery, not indentured servants or poor immigrants. That’s a good topic for further discussion, but as you note there is one huge difference: regardless of the hardships they faced, these immigrants were here by choice, not kidnapped and bought and sold like horses or cattle. You must admit this difference.

      • Loads of White English children were snatched off the streets and sold across the ocean like horses or cattle. Why aren’t their descendants whining about it? Because they were worked to death with no opportunity for reproduction.

        And a lot of so-called’indentured servitude’ wasn’t a voluntary arrangement. It was something you woke up into after getting hit on the head.

  3. My theory is that Trump Derangement Syndrome has metastasized into something more virulent and it’s now endemic. Everything is Trump’s fault: Police screw-ups, a virus, the reaction to the virus including the unprecedented economic suppression, the BLM protests and riots, the response to the BLM protests and riots, etc. Everything is used to end Trump’s presidency. Forget impeachment and all the previous lettered attempts at ending Trump’s presidency. Now, anything that happens is Trump’s fault and it’s weaponized to get him out in November. It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. I also think he’s not going to lose to a demented Joe Biden. What’s going to happen then and for the following four years?

    • My continuing question is: why and how is Joe Biden the best the Democrats can offer up in opposition to Trump? Are there no Democrats who are intelligent, informed, and not suffering an incipient dementia? That party is in tatters, but the ‘resistors’ won’t admit it. Considering what has gone on over the past four years, I’m afraid if either wins: A moron or a hot point for hate? I read that John Kerry (just wants back in the news?) subscribes to a “violent response” to a Trump win. Maybe we’re really doomed, and not by viruses…

    • Admit to being an Anglophile, but not sure which of these countries were actually British controlled when apartheid (note: a Dutch/German word) was implemented. I do know that Cecil Rhodes was considered both a miscreant and more than an embarrassment in England. A little research and I’ll be back to you. Good comment, to get me thinking further. Thanks.

  4. E2 said:

    It is not enough — will never be — to simply apologize for our sin of slavery, and the concomitant bias and prejudice that followed. But pretending that it’s my and recent generations’ fault is not the answer either. Right now, I see this all as only an opportunity to create chaos: no one really wants to engage and try to heal wounds.

    How is it even possible for anyone, especially the entire country, to “apologize” for slavery, since no person extant has every owned a chattel slave, and no person has legally owned a slave in America for over 150 years? It is legally, logically, and morally impossible for an apology to be meaningfully extended, since an apology must needs be done by the perpetrators. To be meaningful, it must be done contemporaneously. How meaningful would a letter of apology left by a dead man be?

    I suppose people who feel they have shown bias against black people could apologize to the persons against whom they were biased. That would be morally and ethically right and just. But there is no way that a society can meaningfully apologize for the actions of its forbears, or even on behalf of part of its population. Even if one were extended, does anyone really believe the blacks that are demanding it would accept it in the name of their enslaved ancestors, or such an acceptance would be meaningful even if offered?

    No, and no. The demand is made because they know it will never be offered, and if somehow it was, it would never be accepted as authentic. The demand is a fraud, intended to pave the way for vengeance.

    Just don’t know what’s next, and frankly, I am afraid.

    Neither do I. I am afraid, too. I am afraid of war, of killing, and of endless strife that rips our country to pieces and demonstrates the tragic prescience of Ben Franklin’s apocryphal rejoinder to an inquisitive woman, “A republic if you can keep it.” My dreams are full of the Star Trek episode, “Let that be your last battlefield.”

    • You’re right: apologies of any kind and even reparations won’t do the trick and are just plain stupid. Didn’t mean to imply that either was a feasible action. But some understanding and acceptance of the anger — though I don’t think for a quick minute that thoughts of slavery fill the minds of Black Lives Matter, e.g. — do in fact stem from the long ugly history of black Americans, something which, as I have been told (and Clarence Darrow said) is a part of every black person’s waking life.

      Perhaps it was not well expressed, but the (I think, opportunistic now) movement to tear down statues, and riot, and rewrite history is based on a basic understanding that our official ‘history’ downplays the issue of slavery and its results. Police reform might help here short term, but it’s become an excuse, not necessarily a reason, for violence.

      Don’t know where it’s all going, but do think that there are those who have no real experience of racism or specific complaint, but just love to create the chaos…

      • Actually, I wasn’t criticizing or even challenging your comment, I was really asking a rhetorical question it inspired. Your comment was perfectly comprehensible and well done.

  5. Slavery is our country’s original sin. Our treatment of Native Americans also. Somehow we have to get over that. But erasing our history — demeaning Founders who were slaveholders when they were men of their culture then — will not solve the problem, will it? We have to face it. And we have to stop assigning blame to those — from the 17th century and onward — who were part of this original sin. An example (ignoring Washington for the moment): In retrospect, in our 21st century “wisdom,” we should now remove the Jefferson Memorial because Jefferson — author of the Declaration of Independence, a genius, a thinker and inventor, and a high water mark in the group of Founders who put their very lives on the line to break from Britain — was a slaveholder in 1776?

    You will never be able to *get over* the destruction of whole peoples and the taking over of their land. You will never be able to undo it. Even if you could, somehow, you couldn’t. You will never be able to reverse nor even to make amends for those early years of American history. And you will never succeed in eliminating the sort of antipathy that exists in Blacks generally — the historical anger that exists at a somatic level, a rage within the body and within the soul of Black people — against the white man, his face, the faces of his children, his cultural structures, his civilisation. It is this — ressentiment — that must be understood.

    Ressentiment is a profound sense of resentment, frustration, and hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, generated by a sense of weakness/inferiority and feelings of jealousy/envy in the face of the ’cause’, that ultimately generates a rejecting/justifying ‘value system’ or morality that exists as a means of attacking or denying the perceived source of one’s own sense of inferiority.

    Ressentiment (as a term imported by many languages for its philosophical and psychological meaning only) is not to be considered interchangeable with the normal English word ‘resentment’, or the normal French word ‘ressentiment’. While the normal words both speak to a feeling of frustration directed at a perceived source, neither speaks to the special relationship between a sense of inferiority and the creation of morality. Thus, the term ‘Ressentiment’ as used here always maintains a distinction.

    The sense of *morality* that is being acted on in our present is one that is directed against *you* in the most profound and extensive sense of the word.

    Repeat: Ressentiment is such that there is no currency which can be used to pay it back. It is non-payback-able. When you have so profoundly wounded someone — a people in this case, or peoples — there is no acceptable payback except perhaps your death. Or to supersede you. That is why revenge is so glorious. If a similar level of destruction can be wrought against the one who did this to me, well, that can help. But let’s face the truth: to allow the enraged victim to move among you is suicide.

    What is the solution? Having thought this through I think the solution would have been to have given that enslaved people their nation. I guess you could say that it would have been best to return them, or set them up somewhere else (Lincoln had this plan) but since that didn’t happen the alternative would have been to grant them their own lands. But to incorporate them into your social body? To incorporate the victim of such tragic harm filled with murderous rage? Come now! I’ve said this before (I think it is true) African Americans did not fight for their liberty. It was granted to them by the Federal government. And it is the Federal government that is most responsible to them and for them.

    The other aspect of this is — and I ask you to think about this — what is the Destiny of the Black race in America? And what is the Historical Project? The English as Anglo-Saxons had a sense of mission and this was reanimated in the American project — Version 2.0 as it were. It is certainly true that Judea has a sense of Historical Mission. Every people has (or should have) a historical mission. But what is the Historical Project of the Black Americans? Can you recognize that they do not have one? How might they gain one?

    Ressentiment is such that what it will ask of you is quite literally the ‘toppling of the monuments’. That is to say, everything that you desire to value. You have to be seen on the ground really suffering. The roles must reverse. Why should they not utterly hate all of it? What if you and your people had been enslaved for 300 years? What if all of your land had been overtaken? What would go on inside of you? Do you expect an American Indian with any historical consciousness to ‘love you like a brother’?

    We have a marvellous ‘living metaphor’ for the entire problem: the whole episode, a strange postmodern tragic theatre of the incident of the Covington Catholic kids juxtaposed to the angry African Americans and the angry Native Americans.

  6. Alizia:

    Give freed slaves their own nation? Really? There was a movement to return freed slaves to Liberia, but it was determined that — considering the conditions there — that this was only additional punishment. There was also a strong feeling among many that freed slaves (see WEB DuBois) had much to offer this relatively new nation.

    Give them a US state? What state? This would only create a Palestine/Israel problem that hasn’t been solved for over 50 years.

    There are better answers than yours; but no one has found them yet, and probably never will.

    PS Your long academic posts reflect an impressive amount of knowledge, but too often are misapplied.

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