Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Jefferson’

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” ~Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt

First, to those who may be offended by the title of this post: please accept my deepest apologies, particularly to those fellow-Americans who have awakened to the realities of our Country’s greatest achievements and deepest faults. As both attributes are destined to follow us with every step we take. While our virtues can easily inspire us, it is the facing down of our deepest faults that ultimately make us strong. Do keep up the good work; your strength unites us all.

Though kept from the public at his insistence, when President Roosevelt uttered his famous words about a fear that can paralyze needed efforts, he was physically paralyzed from a bout with polio in 1921.  Sadly, he was unable to stand or walk without support, or excruciating pain. According to his son, his own arm would be in pain as his father grasped it tightly while resisting severe pain as he stood addressing large audiences.

Yet, despite his debilitating illness, FDR would go on to become one of our country’s greatest presidents that ushered it through the Great Depression, WWII, and back to prosperity with his “New Deal” programs. Though spoken nearly a Century ago, these enduring words from FDR’s 1933 Inaugural Address still speaks to us:

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Currently, with a President Trump in the Oval Office who is the antithesis of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt  in extraordinary courage, resilience, and a genuine respect for humanity, we Americans now have plenty to fear. Yet, we can’t afford to let fear stop us, which is FDR’s immortal message to us.

A few days ago, I get an email from a local candidate on Independence Day. I was okay with it until I read the following, and I quote:

“What I love most about this day, however, is the reminder that, from its very start, our country has been moving ever closer towards fulfilling the founders’ extraordinary claim that all of us are created equal. Our country’s history, which started as a bold experiment, has gone in fits and starts. Progress has never been a straight line, but with each generation we get closer to meeting that promise.”

Then I got pissed off.  First, I hate that stupid, baseless claim (often repeated) that our country started as a “bold experiment.”  What a bunch of crap!  Did not the early patriots fight and die for a greater vision of a happier life, as artfully expressed by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin?  Seems this person, a longtime member of our state legislature, was way too willy-nilly about all the pain and suffering, and terrible deaths, which many activists have endured in our country since its inception.

Sadly, the intense fight for both civil and equal rights continues. Many Americans still live in fear and poverty, simply because way too many of our elected representatives are too damn greedy, selfish, and down-right too stupid to really care about others, or their own country.

Yet, these backward individuals are the first to campaign claiming to help. But, once in office, they don’t!  And it really pisses me off.  After all, we Americans have a life to run, and thus don’t have the time to keep fighting the good fight, but we must.

That said, I decide to give Lady Candidate the benefit of the doubt. So, I took my precious time to write and share my perspective. I wanted to be helpful and not hurtful. Well, several days have passed, and I have yet to hear a peep from this candidate re my email to her. I even gave her references to my FaceBook posts and website, titled “Reading ‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’ by Frederick Douglass”.  Hmm, now this makes you wonder.

So, is this person real, or is she a closet racist, or is she still bound by historic commands to keep the races separate lest she also be mistreated? Hence, the above title is really asking if America’s White folks still consider themselves privileged, considering all the suffering that the ill-begotten dreams of New World opportunists created so long ago, followed by the protests and the freedom marches still ongoing.

If so, then it’s time to wake up from the illusion of being privileged my little munchkins, albeit difficult. Otherwise my fellow White Americans, you are indeed slaves to a special fear, a fear inherited from birth that needs to be overcome rather than falsely cherished, a fear that was successfully exploited by presidential candidate Donald Trump (and Russia) in 2016!  Think about it.

Meanwhile, lest we not forget that behind the horrors of American slavery was fear, which sadly represents a severe state of lack for both the slave and the slave owner. Yet, today, we see a different kind of slave, though a slave nonetheless! Abundantly wealthy, usually wears a designer suit and likely a silk shirt and tie (made in China), he is both mentally poor and spiritually unawares.

Meet President Donald Trump, the New American Slave, a slave to his own fears. Wake up Donald and remember who you are, God loves you.

(11 July 2017: Added a few words)

President Donald Trump/ Fox News

President Donald Trump / Fox News

© 2017 by Delores L Adams and The Aunt Jemimah Post. All rights reserved.

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“Nothing remains great without a capacity to change and to accommodate the conditions of a changing world.”  ~John Ashcroft, 79th U. S. Attorney General

Immigrants from distant lands longing for freedom, prosperity and human rights found the United States of America and established a mandate of freedom and justice for all. Thus, guaranteeing, among others things, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yet, at the same time, America would deny freedom and justice to a certain race of people unintentionally brought here as captives. By permitting the buying and selling of such people as human slaves, America soon betrayed its original mandate. 

Where was the love, the humanity?  Yet America can change.

While, in many ways, America has become a great country despite its history of racial abuses in the extreme, America has yet to fully repent for these past grievous mistakes. 

Thus, America has failed to change in a changing world, which today has seemly put all Americans in harm’s way.  Do we really want fear to remain an American way of life?

Before 9-11, such fear was unthinkable on American soil.  Yet, we do not have to live in fear. In fact, choosing to live in fear is a big mistake, a sin in Christian terms. So, there must be another way, a way in which peace and justice for all is realized in daily life.

Exactly What Is Racism

Racism, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, is a doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that asserts the superiority of one race over another or others, and that seeks to maintain the supposed purity of a race or the races; as well as, any program or practice of racial discrimination, segregation, etc., based on such beliefs.

God did not create racism, humankind created racism! Therefore, it is humankind’s responsibility to undo this perpetual wrong done to itself. And we can do this immediately, because God gave us the power to change our mind immediately. Such is the true meaning of freedom.

The Seeds of American Racism

In April 1607, about 120 colonists arrive on the shores of “the New World” in search of material wealth and establish the first permanent English settlement in America, named Jamestown, Virginia. During the next three years, nine hundred settlers arrive. Unable to live off the land, war with the Indians, famine, disease, and fatalities nearly wipe out the entire settlement.

By the spring of 1610, only sixty settlers are left alive. These survivors determine to find a cash crop in the new land. Around this time, Sir Francis Bacon writes that tobacco use is increasing and that it is a custom hard to quit. And so, the remaining settlers strive to meet the demand for this new commodity. By 1617, the first shipment of tobacco arrives in England from Jamestown.

In August 1619, twenty African captives arrive in Jamestown, eventually becoming the first African slaves to arrive in America. Sadly, with their arrival, the seeds of American Racism also arrive on its virgin shores. As the historic practice of human slavery will sink to its lowest level in America’s effort to mass-produce tobacco, cotton and sugar cane, the bedrock of its emerging economy built on the backs of slaves.

In 1620, nearly 55,000 pounds of Virginian tobacco arrive in England. Tobacco becomes America’s first cash crop. Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, tobacco is a monetary standard, lasting twice as long as the gold standard. In 1776, tobacco helps finance the American Revolutionary War, also known as “The Tobacco War.”

Beginning in the 1950s, the truth about tobacco use emerges, and tobacco is ultimately deemed addictive and harmful to human health.

Today, the world uses cotton more than any other fiber, and it is still one of the leading cash crops in the United States. Thankfully, human slavery has been replaced by modern technology truly advancement for all humankind.

The Birth of American Racism

Three significant rulings of law fertilized the seeds of American racism, which would impregnate the unsuspecting mind of Americans for generations to come.  Where was the love, where was the humanity?  Sadly, it can be said that American Racism was born right here in America and is, therefore, a homegrown institution:

1.) In the mid 1600s, the Maryland Colony passed a law that mandated the Africans “slaves for life.”  Other colonies would later pass such laws.

2.) In 1789, the United States Constitution is ratified and indirectly declares the African slave as three fifths of a person, thus not a whole person.

3.) The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 virtually involves all whites in the perpetuation of slavery. Under this law, any person could be deputized to capture and return runaway slaves; thus, in effect, giving whites authority over most blacks.

Though Congress amended the U.S. Constitution in 1865, thereby banning the existence of slavery in our country, American racism was virtually unaffected by this historical act and continues, though now losing its grip.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Our founding fathers knew slavery was wrong, but many, being wealthy slaveholders, refused to give up their affluent lifestyle wrought by slaves. Likely driven by guilt, many deceived themselves into believing that blacks had no soul, were not whole persons, and therefore inferior to whites. Which did not always work for them. In his highly offensive book titled, Notes on Virginia, c. 1782, where he cruelly maligns his Negro slaves, the intellectually gifted Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd U.S. President, who allegedly owned over 600 slaves in his lifetime (mostly inherited), also wrote:

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that justice cannot sleep forever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events, that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.”

Yet, not all of our founding fathers acquired their fortunes on the backs of slaves. Some, like the edifying Benjamin Franklin, who sought only to elevate human life, allegedly owned a few slaves (or perhaps hired Philadelphia’s free blacks) as household or shop workers while ultimately earning fame and fortune via his prolific publications of the very popular, Poor Richards Almanac.

Though Dr. Franklin wrote of being “partial to the complexion of my country” and envisioned America populated with “the lovely White and Red” owing to the disparity of “purely” white people in the world (c. 1751), he was far too advanced for racism’s dark choices! In time, Ben joined the Abolitionist Movement and petitioned for the restoration of his freed “fellow-creatures” to his final days.  

An indisputable all-around genius, Benjamin Franklin was a great soul in Colonial America who channeled many of America’s high ideals. Therefore, we owe Dr. Franklin a debt of gratitude for his enormous contributions toward the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, the adoption of our U.S. Constitution, the founding of the public library, the post office, our knowledge of electricity, his invention of the Franklin Heating Stove and bifocals, just to name a few. Today, the Old Wizard would be quite pleased with the “lovely” multi-cultural society that America has become.

I Also Tremble For My Country

Much like President Thomas Jefferson over 200 years ago, today I also tremble for My Country. I tremble whenever I hear our esteemed leaders shouting from the hilltops that the “terrorists” are uncivilized, barbaric and a threat to “our” civilization. I tremble when our leaders condemn “terrorism” after retaliating with equal or greater violence (remember Iraq). I tremble because I know where this was and is coming from, and where it ultimately leads without definitive change in our hearts. 

I trembled during the 2000 Presidential Election Debates when both Al Gore and George W. Bush vowed that they stood for Israel, and Bush vowed to “build up the military.” I trembled when America walked out on the United Nations’ World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

And on September 11, 2001, I cried upon reflection.

The irony is, the tragic events of 9-11 occurred less than three days after the close of the UN’s World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), here and here. Today, my heart still grows heavy when I think of what might have been had America’s leaders been compassionate enough to stay, listen and negotiate.

Update 2009 and 2011, in protest of alleged anti-Semitism, yet again, the U.S. decides to boycott the UN’s subsequent WCAR, here, here and here.  Wow!  It’s like a slap in the face, which is beyond my understanding.  After all, we can’t properly listen, reason or negotiate with anyone if not present! Where was the love, where was the humanity?  Where was the sanity?  Are we missing something here? Go figure. 

While we may be partial to our American lifestyle, our race or our ethnicity, which is normal, we do not live in a vacuum.  Thus, we cannot continue to isolate our self, disrespect the world and expect to remain prosperous. We need the world as much as it needs us. Though America has many weapons of mass destruction, it cannot control natural law! 

Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you have finished changing, you’re finished.”

If America is to realize its true destiny, America must change its present course. It must summon the courage to confront and root out the disease of racism worldwide, which reflects the real war on terrorism.

So We Must Change

Much like Atlanta Georgia of the “New South” after the successful Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, together we must resolve to be a country “too busy to hate”.  Too much work is needed toward world peace and prosperity to continue wasting time on the destructive rhetoric of mass distraction by way too many of our current lawmakers.  So, we must change, post-haste!

First, we must rid our self of the oft-learned hatreds and bad manners within us.

Then we must seek to heal America’s legacy of racism, not extend it.

Finally, we must heal the disease of war, as war is no longer the way of honor, valor, and triumph.

Someday in America, war, like tobacco use, will be deemed addictive and harmful to human health. Why not today?

Originally written June 26, 2002 and updated June 23, 2013.

© 2002, 2012-2013 by Delores L Adams and The Aunt Jemimah Post. All rights reserved.

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