Re: "I agree, slavery is an abomination but no matter how they got here, blacks should be grateful for being an American. Do you know why they call Africa the "Dark Continent'?Ellen1 wrote:
We did not invent slavery, to be sure. But what we certainly did was to ignore our own principles in the Declaration, which had said that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." and that all men had the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
While slavery is evil in all countries, it is exceptionally evil for a country that held that "all men are created equal" and that all men had the right to liberty, to hold people in slavery.
To do so required a kind of magical thinking, that black people were not human, and hence did not have the rights specified by the Declaration. But, since even well before the Civil War it was obvious that blacks were performing complex tasks and tending to the children of whites, it was obvious that they were human. So the institution of slavery in the USA was obviously something entirely different from that in Roman times etc, when the losers in wars became slaves and that was that.
We are not specially evil. But we ought to be specially embarrassed and shocked by our history, and to do in the future everything that we can to make sure that all men are treated equally.
I agree, slavery is an abomination but no matter how they got here, blacks should be grateful for being an American. Do you know why they call Africa the "Dark Continent'?
My God, Africa has gone nowhere for two thousand years. If it were not for Europeans, Africa would be even darker!!!
I think it is likely that virtually all blacks are indeed happy to be Americans, but that does not excuse the fact that Americans who believed "that ALL men are created equal" and that all men are entitled to liberty had held blacks as slaves for nearly 100 years after the words "ALL men are created equal" were written.
Nor does explain the fact that in order to hold those people as slaves, some Americans must have believed that they were not human, since if they were human they would have been entitled to be treated as equals and to have the right of liberty, specified in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The rationalization that by taking blacks from Africa and civilizing them and teaching them the Christian religions was a benefit that we conferred was used by the slaveholders as their rationalization. Gradually it dawned on the anti-slave part of America that if you could hold people as slaves, then it was legal and proper to rape their women. But, oddly, that fact was not noticed by the slave-holders.
Like you, I do not believe that America must carry a burden of guilt forever. However, there is a special way of looking at "American exceptionalism." Since we had the special honor of recognizing that all men are created equal and that all men are entitled to liberty, and since we violated that ideal, then we carry an exceptional responsibility.