Something to think about

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  john-russell  •  2 weeks ago  •  54 comments

By:   Smithsonian

Something to think about

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



We often hear that the racism and slavery , and the mistreatment of the American Indians, was so long ago as to not really have any bearing on what happens today. Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell , or even white cops today, never owned slaves and never stole any land from the Indians, so why should today's generation of whites be subjected to complaints that belong in the past? Or so this "argument" goes. 

What does what some slaveowner did in 1776 or 1789 or 1850 have to do with today? 

Ok, if the past has no present meaning, why do we hear , rather endlessly,  about what the founding fathers would do or say about some current problem. There are people who regularly reference the founding fathers every time a complicated or controversial current issue surfaces. We want to know what Thomas Jefferson thought about this or that, and hold him up as an example for all Americans to emulate, unless and until it is a topic such as the mistreatment of racial minorities, then or now. When that topic comes up we are told what the founders did (own slaves and harbor beliefs that whites are superior) is not important because they died two hundred years ago. 

Is what one of the founders thought about freedom of religion really more important than what they thought about non- whites?   On what basis? 

We have a constitution and we have a framework that we should follow to the best of our current judges and legislators ability, but we dont need to constantly reference the thoughts of Jefferson and Washington and Benjamin Franklin in order to know how to conduct America in 2020. 

If they cant be held responsible for their mistakes and wrong beliefs,  in todays world we dont need then to take their advice on anything else either. 

The historian Stephen Ambrose wrote about Thomas Jefferson


Jefferson owned slaves. He did not believe that all were created equal. He was a racist, incapable of rising above the thought of his time and place, and willing to profit from slave labor.

Few of us entirely escape our times and places. Thomas Jefferson did not achieve greatness in his personal life. He had a slave as mistress. He lied about it. He once tried to bribe a hostile reporter. His war record was not good. He spent much of his life in intellectual pursuits in which he excelled and not enough in leading his fellow Americans toward great goals by example. Jefferson surely knew slavery was wrong, but he didn’t have the courage to lead the way to emancipation. If you hate slavery and the terrible things it did to human beings, it is difficult to regard Jefferson as great. He was a spendthrift, always deeply in debt. He never freed his slaves. Thus the sting in Dr. Samuel Johnson’s mortifying question, "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of Negroes?"

Jefferson knew slavery was wrong and that he was wrong in profiting from the institution, but apparently could see no way to relinquish it in his lifetime. He thought abolition of slavery might be accomplished by the young men of the next generation. They were qualified to bring the American Revolution to its idealistic conclusion because, he said, these young Virginians had "sucked in the principles of liberty as if it were their mother’s milk."

Of all the contradictions in Jefferson’s contradictory life, none is greater. Of all the contradictions in America’s history, none surpasses its toleration first of slavery and then of segregation. Jefferson hoped and expected that Virginians of Meriwether Lewis’ and William Clark’s generation would abolish slavery. His writing showed that he had a great mind and a limited character.

Jefferson, like all slaveholders and many other white members of American society, regarded Negroes as inferior, childlike, untrustworthy and, of course, as property. Jefferson, the genius of politics, could see no way for African-Americans to live in society as free people. He embraced the worst forms of racism to justify slavery.

In   Notes on the State of Virginia , Jefferson describes the institution of slavery as forcing tyranny and depravity on master and slave alike. To be a slaveholder meant one had to believe that the worst white man was better than the best black man. If you did not believe these things, you could not justify yourself to yourself. So Jefferson could condemn slavery in words, but not in deeds.

At his magnificent estate, Monticello, Jefferson had slaves who were superb artisans, shoemakers, masons, carpenters, cooks. But like every bigot, he never said, after seeing a skilled African craftsman at work or enjoying the fruits of his labor, "Maybe I’m wrong." He ignored the words of his fellow revolutionary John Adams, who said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Jefferson left another racial and moral problem for his successors, the treatment of Native Americans. He had no positive idea what to do with or about the Indians. He handed that problem over to his grandchildren, and theirs.

The author of the Declaration of Independence threw up his hands at the question of women’s rights. It is not as if the subject never came up. Abigail Adams, at one time Jefferson’s close friend, raised it. But Jefferson’s attitude toward women was at one with that of the white men of his age. He wrote about almost everything, but almost never about women, not about his wife nor his mother and certainly not about Sally Hemings.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/founding-fathers-and-slaveholders-72262393/#:~:text=There%20are%20others%20who%20believe%20that%20some%20of,freed%20his%20slaves.%20But%20history%20abounds%20with%20ironies.


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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

George Washington is often given credit for freeing his slaves, but he didnt do it until he died ( some of the slaves at Mt Vernon were freed on Washington's death and the rest (the majority) were to have been freed when his wife died. She did free them prior to her own death though). 

The founding fathers had no urgency to free their own slaves. In general they were satisfied to let slavery linger into an indefinite future, even though all of them knew in  their hearts it was wrong. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago
The founding fathers had no urgency to free their own slaves.

According to the Ambrose piece which your article is pinned to: "He ignored the words of his fellow revolutionary John Adams, who said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free."  That indicates that not all of the founding fathers were of the same mind even then! Can we expect the mob to one day declare John Adams as no different than Jefferson?.

We as a nation have grappled and discussed this issue for most of our history. Enormous pains have been taken, beginning with the tremendous loss of life during the Civil War, and culminating right now in the incredible amount of patience & understanding given to violent protests, all in the name of correcting the injustices of long ago. A radical element with tremendous power has driven the narrative that America is "racist" to the core and irredeemable. This narrative was born & nourished in American universities. Today the demand is for a radical erasure of much of America's past history, traditions and customs. Tomorrow it may be to create a new constitution. The day after it may be for racial reparations and/or retribution. What these radicals don't seem to realize is that there are many who have watched from the sidelines, some scared, others seething in anger. They needed the education. I'm certain that we will eventually hear from them too!

 
 
 
Krishna
1.1.1  Krishna  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1    2 weeks ago
A radical element with tremendous power has driven the narrative that America is "racist" to the core and irredeemable

WTF???
If they think its "irredeemable"-- then why are they trying so hard to change it?

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Krishna @1.1.1    2 weeks ago

That is why

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.2  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

John,

I would suggest you read, "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson" by Joseph J. Ellis. Jefferson is one of the toughest American figures to understand. To put that in context, he actually included a clause in out Declaration of Independence that would have abolished slavery, that he had to remove or the South would not sign. In fact, Franklin, who started the first abolishing society in the US begged him to remove it, stating "Independence first". Only Adams stood fast on it not being removed. 

This is what Jefferson wrote that was later removed:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.

Does that sound like a racist to you?

The "Peculiar Institution" that slavery was, was already well bred into American southern society. One man alone, was never going to remove it. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
1.2.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2    2 weeks ago
As historian Henry Wiencek chronicles in  Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves , the third president’s view of  slavery  seems to have “evolved” through time, to use the parlance of today. For one thing, Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles, was a slave trader, and six of his wife’s half-siblings were slaves, and the two frequently discussed the occupational and moral hazards of his profession. Before the Revolutionary War, Jefferson submitted an emancipation bill (under a different name) to the Virginia state legislature, and in a deleted part of the Declaration of Independence he even argued that “this execrable commerce” was a “cruel war against human nature itself.”

Then something seemed to change. During the 1780s and early ’90s, Jefferson’s abolitionist efforts ceased and for the next few decades he continued to be not only a buyer and seller of human beings, but an apologist for it. A number of theories for this shift exist, but Wiencek argues that it could be as simple as a growing recognition on Jefferson’s part of the commercial benefits of such an arrangement. “He realized the immense profits to be made from owning slaves,” says Wiencek. “He referred to the births of enslaved children as additions to his capital and urged neighbors to invest in slaves.” He also sold slaves to settle debts and took out the equivalent of a “slave equity” to rebuild Monticello. As Wiencek puts it, “Why would he part with such an extremely valuable asset?” 

In justifying his commercial holdings, Jefferson expressed some views about whites and Blacks having differences “fixed in nature” that would have made Jimmy the Greek cringe. One of the clearest statements of Jefferson’s perspective is found in his   Notes on the State of Virginia , detailed answers he compiled in the early 1780s to a questionnaire from a visiting French diplomat, or, as Wiencek calls it, “the dismal swamp that every Jefferson biographer must sooner or later attempt to cross.”

The questionnaire did not address slavery but Jefferson felt compelled, in defending a young nation with an inferiority complex vis-a-vis France and Europe, to address the shackled elephant in the room and explain how such a practice persisted in a country allegedly founded on freedom, equality and natural rights. As Samuel Johnson once quipped regarding the Americans’ hypocrisy, “How is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

Jefferson does not portray slavery, or slaveholders, in a particularly positive light, observing how the practice harms both the manners and industry of whites: “No man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him.” But in the tract’s most infamous passages, he puts on his amateur anthropologist hat to make some startling observations. Citing skin color as the most obvious distinguishing feature, Jefferson argues that a slave’s darker skin pigment makes them less transparent, noting that an “immoveable veil of black … covers all the emotions.” As for the appearance of whites, he argues that their features, including hair, make them more sexually appealing, claiming that Black people are sexually attracted to white people “as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan (Orangutan) for the black women over those of his own species.”   

You read that right. Not exactly as high-minded a sentiment as the Declaration’s stirring opening — and based on one dubious anecdotal account of apes raping African women — but Jefferson goes on to propound some further truths about Blacks that are neither true nor self-evident. The catalog of slaves’ biological inferiorities also includes observations like “a very strong and disagreeable odor,” “they require less sleep,” “their griefs are transient” and not only “in imagination they are dull, tasteless and anomalous” but also “in reason much inferior.”

Jefferson acknowledges that “further observation” is needed to verify his “conjecture” and that “to achieve certainty” slaves would have to be submitted to scientific analysis, including the “Anatomical knife.” But the conclusion he draws — one that justifies American slavery — is unmistakably clear: “It is not their condition then, but nature,” he concludes, “which has produced the distinction.” 

https://www.ozy.com/true-and-stories/thomas-jefferson-founding-father-white-supremacist/79574/
 
 
 
Krishna
1.2.2  Krishna  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2    2 weeks ago

The "Peculiar Institution" that slavery was, was already well bred into American southern society.

Actually I know Southerners who still yearn for the "glorious" days before the Civil War!

(More than one has explained to me that anyway the slaves were well treated and happy. After all there was no possibility for death by starvation as they were regularly fed.!They were guaranteed a roof over their head. And no chance of being killed by wild animals like they might have been in Africa. Yessiree-- the slaves had it good-- they were well taken care of and always quite happy!)

 
 
 
1stwarrior
1.3  1stwarrior  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

Getting old - try some new material.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago
"In general they were satisfied to let slavery linger into an indefinite future, even though all of them knew in  their hearts it was wrong."

I've noted that a number of Republican lawmakers "know in their hearts" that Trump is the wrong choice to linger as POTUS for another 4 years. I'll bet there are Trumpster NT members who "know in their hearts" that Trump should not linger as POTUS for another 4 years, but they won't admit it, and will go no further than to say "What alternative do we have?"

Just as a person can "change horses in midstream" if they know how to swim, a person can change their mind about whether Trump is a good POTUS if they know how to think.  

 
 
 
Krishna
2.1  Krishna  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    2 weeks ago

 if they know how to think.  

And therein  problem!

 
 
 
Tacos!
3  Tacos!    2 weeks ago
We want to know what Thomas Jefferson thought about this or that, and hold him up as an example for all Americans to emulate, unless and until it is a topic such as the mistreatment of racial minorities, then or now. When that topic comes up we are told what the founders did (own slaves and harbor beliefs that whites are superior) is not important because they died two hundred years ago.

I have a hard time believing anyone has ever made this argument to you because it makes no sense. It's apples and oranges. We cite the founders because they had a vision for this country and our entire system of laws is based on their design. Therefore, their vision is relevant to discussions of law in modern times.

Would it be relevant to such a discussion that one of them drank too much, cheated at cards, picked his nose, or had any other personal failing? No. Of course not!

Therefore why would their ownership of slaves matter? No one in America owns slaves now. No one is even trying to own slaves. The practice has been illegal for 155 years. The founders' ownership of slaves had nothing whatsoever to do with governing concepts like Separation of Powers, checks and balances, federalism, enumerated powers, judicial review, and so on. It also has nothing to do with any modern issue of controversy because the elimination of slavery is thoroughly non-controversial.

And anyway, none of this answers your question: 

why should today's generation of whites be subjected to complaints that belong in the past?

As far as I can see, there is no justification for it. Nobody alive today had any connection to slavery, so it would seem to be pretty ridiculous to bring it up as somehow relevant to a modern problem. I certainly can't think of any reason why all modern white people have to answer for it.

Should we subscribe to the idea that a person is somehow responsible for the acts of his ancestors? We don't do that for anything else. Why should we do it for this issue? As for me, one half of my family wasn't even in this country until well after the elimination of slavery. The other half was in the North and never had any connection to slaves. Even if they had, I couldn't undo that and would have had no part in it. Are modern Germans responsible for the Nazis? Are modern Russians responsible for Stalin?

Many black Africans sold other black Africans into slavery. I don't see anyone complaining to them about it. And why just American whites? Why not the English? The Portuguese? The Spanish? What about the Ottoman states that traded in both black and white slaves? If you're going to complain, you should be complaining to all responsible parties, not just some of them. That's fair.

Whites also, were subject to all sorts of slavery - including in America - around the world, for centuries. You don't hear complaints about it today, though. That's not because it was some fun white version of slavery. The reason is because it's over.

Modern injustices are their own thing. They aren't the fault of the "white race" whatever that means, and they don't happen because slavery existed. They are also not insurmountable. We live in a country where those injustices can be challenged under the law. In fact, in no other place on Earth can a person so readily seek justice for almost anything as they can in the United States. There's a reason we lead the world in lawyers.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Tacos! @3    2 weeks ago

We have a member or two or three here who regularly tout the founding fathers as the greatest examples of Americans . If you dont see that then you are looking away. 

We have the constitution and our fully formed government, we don't need advice from the founding fathers anymore, nor do we need guidance on the "original" intention of the founders ideas, as I said we dont need governing advice from people who owned slaves. 

We have the Constitution to follow as we see fit in the 21st century, the idea that we MUST follow the founders is illogical and can even be considered offensive in some cases. 

 
 
 
Freewill
3.1.1  Freewill  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    2 weeks ago
nor do we need guidance on the "original" intention of the founders ideas,

Huh, so no need for the Supreme Court then?  How does one go about deciding what is or is not constitutional without considering the intent of those who drafted it?

 
 
 
Texan1211
3.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    2 weeks ago
We have the constitution and our fully formed government, we don't need advice from the founding fathers anymore, nor do we need guidance on the "original" intention of the founders ideas, as I said we dont need governing advice from people who owned slaves.

How myopic!

That is akin to saying ignore Einstein because he was a crappy speller.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Tacos! @3    2 weeks ago
Many black Africans sold other black Africans into slavery. I don't see anyone complaining to them about it. And why just American whites? Why not the English? The Portuguese? The Spanish? What about the Ottoman states that traded in both black and white slaves? If you're going to complain, you should be complaining to all responsible parties, not just some of them. That's fair.

This comment, common as it is, is not worth responding to.  Its like you or someone else complaining about Black Lives Matter , and me then saying " why are you singling out Black Lives Matter, there are protest groups all over the world that destroy property and even injure people  and there have been for hundreds of years. I dont hear you complaining about those international groups"

Get it? 

 
 
 
Tacos!
3.2.1  Tacos!  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    2 weeks ago
This comment, common as it is, is not worth responding to. 

And yet you did anyway, which is weird. I guess it was worth responding to. 

Its like you or someone else complaining about Black Lives Matter , and me then saying " why are you singling out Black Lives Matter, there are protest groups all over the world that destroy property and even injure people  and there have been for hundreds of years. I dont hear you complaining about those international groups"

No it's not the same. People in other parts of the world aren't impacting what goes on here. The people I mentioned were all part of the same slave trade that the US was involved with. Furthermore, the conversation today is about holding people accountable somehow. So if you want to hold people accountable, why not hold all relevant parties accountable? It's not whataboutism at all. It's about basic fairness.

What I am really doing is calling the bluff. If people cared about real justice, they'd demand it from every quarter. Instead, let's be honest and admit that no one in 21st century is truly suffering from slavery. They might be suffering at the hands of actual, living racists, to be sure. They might be victims of the basic inequities of life. But we're not talking about people who would be living some upper class existence but for slavery.

What goes on today is simple scapegoating. America's racist past is a real thing that people should learn about it, but it is being used now as a bogeyman with white people as its avatar. Every day "systemic racism" is declared without evidence, and all white people are declared to be racists; and all of this is accepted uncritically because it excuses every failing.

Attacking the founders is just another symptom of this.

The modern-day racists should be condemned, but the idea that all white people are part of that is racist and should be condemned just as much.

Condemning the founders is narrow-minded. No, that gives the notion too much credit. There's no "mind" behind it all. It's just part of the lashing out in all directions at "all things whitey." That's how scapegoating works.

 
 
 
Krishna
3.3  Krishna  replied to  Tacos! @3    2 weeks ago
No one in America owns slaves now.

Actually you are very misinformed!

There have been cases where people have. (You only find out about it when their caught-- makes big headlines for a brief time.

Those are slaves who do various kinds of "conventional; work".

But there are a much, much larger number of slaves who do "sex work". And they are often treated just as badly (in some cases worse) than some original African slaves in the South.

Some of the  read about are horrendous. (Many of them are immigrants who speak little English and wouldm't know how to go to the police anyway. Plus they are kept in houses and apartments wherethey are watched-- if they try to escape they are beaten severely-- often seriously injured. Deprived of food, etc. Forced to have sex with one client after another for hours. And some of the clients aren't looking so much for "straight sex" as much as extreme sadism....etc.

So yes-- you are very poorly informed about these matters of which you speak! :-(

 
 
 
Tacos!
3.3.1  Tacos!  replied to  Krishna @3.3    2 weeks ago
There have been cases

Every thing you are talking about is a crime, correct? You really think that's what I was talking about? 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
4  Drakkonis    2 weeks ago
Is what one of the founders thought about freedom of religion really more important than what they thought about non- whites?   On what basis?

This is a rigged question. It assumes that the answerer of the question has the position that one is more important than the other. They are both important. However, they are different thoughts. The founders were a basket of ideas. Some good, some bad. Because they had some bad ones does not mean the good ones should be ignored or discounted because of the bad ideas. That would be insane. 

But even in the cases where the ideas were bad, they are still important if for nothing else than to examine why they were bad so that we can move forward, which this country has done quite well. Anyone who has any sense at all knows this. The difference between this country today and the country at it's founding are worlds apart concerning race and equality. 

Unfortunately, organizations like BLM and things such as critical race theory are doing everything in their power to undo all that we have achieved in these areas. They are not only hurting the country, they are hurting themselves. 

If they cant be held responsible for their mistakes and wrong beliefs,  in todays world we dont need then to take their advice on anything else either. 

That has to be one of the most infantile arguments I've ever heard. It is astoundingly thoughtless. According to this thinking, unless someone has the right thinking about everything, then nothing that person says should be paid attention to. Suppose for the sake of making a point, Jonas Salk hated black people. Apparently, we should pay no attention to what he had to say about vaccines. We should have ignored him.  

Point being, just because someone was wrong in one thing doesn't mean he wasn't right in another and had something we should pay attention to. But I'm not surprised by this. In my opinion, the writer wants the reader to go no farther than to point out that Jefferson was a slaveholder and claim no further thought is necessary. So, when you meet one of his readers who does exactly that, you won't be able to have any sort of conversation with such a person about it because they can't get any farther than "Jefferson owned slaves!" and probably quite loudly. 

The historian Stephen Ambrose wrote about Thomas Jefferson...

The excerpt provided gives a good reason for not thinking more of Jefferson than he actually warrants. Like all men (except one), he wasn't perfect. What the excerpt doesn't do is provide a good reason for why Jefferson's ideas about freedom and government shouldn't be listened to. What the founding fathers worked out were good ideas. That some owned slaves or didn't like Indians doesn't negate that. The biggest problem was that they didn't apply what they created widely enough. When they thought of the principles which they wrote into the constitution, the problem wasn't that those principles were wrong, for the most part, but that they thought it only applied to the people they had in mind, not all people everywhere. 

Over time, however, the principles enshrined in the Constitution had to create change, else we would have had to abandon it long ago, as the south attempted to do. And we have changed and changed because of the ideas about freedom and rights our founding fathers, flawed as they were, had about those things.  This is because those ideas were good ideas and that they weren't perfect doesn't diminish that. Only a fool will reject a good idea simply because they don't like the person it came from.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Drakkonis @4    2 weeks ago
That has to be one of the most infantile arguments I've ever heard. It is astoundingly thoughtless. According to this thinking, unless someone has the right thinking about everything, then nothing that person says should be paid attention to. Suppose for the sake of making a point, Jonas Salk hated black people. Apparently, we should pay no attention to what he had to say about vaccines. We should have ignored him.  

We have the work product of the founding fathers, the Constitution. And the form of government they created and particularly the Bill of Rights have served America well for 240 years, but I don't see any reason to continue with the mythologizing of the founding fathers as the sort of "on high" figures whose thoughts must guide public policy and our laws in the 21st century. 

There is a member here who is pretty typical of a certain type of conservative who is an "originalist", meaning  that the guidance given to the country through the writings of the founding fathers should be an everlasting standard for the country to adhere to. And they are considered by these people, and "super patriots" of the lets say Sean Hannity ilk, to be beyond criticism. 

There is an argument, going on for a while now, about the value of "dead white men" in modern times. Should we base our decisions now on what people who lived 250 years ago thought about various things ?  No.   Should we take what they did into consideration? Yes. 

They were just people. Accomplished people, true, but just people, and the fact that they "founded" the country is more of a historical consideration than a compelling one concerning current issues. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
4.1.1  Drakkonis  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1    2 weeks ago

Not the argument being made in the seed. Sorry. The the argument the seed makes is basically, that if the left shouldn't be allowed to constantly drag forward ancient wrongs, then the right shouldn't get to talk about founding fathers intent behind the Constitution. But that's not really an argument. It's more like a kid saying "Well, if you get to ride the bike then I get to have all the ice cream." There really isn't a relevant connection. Same with the seed.

As for originalists, they are right to be so. There isn't much point having a Constitution if we change what the meaning behind it consists of. The left, in my opinion, wants to make play dough out of the Constitution. That is, they want it to mean whatever they need it to mean. That has to be my biggest problem with the left. They think their convictions are all they need in order to justify taking the freedom of the rest of us.

A good example is, these days, if you express your honest opinion about something, BLM for instance, and what you post isn't in line with leftist propaganda, you could lose your job. It's already happened. Undoubtedly, worse is to come. I expect that if the Democrats get all three branches of government, people will start going to prison for not using someone's preferred pronouns. 

 
 
 
MUVA
4.1.2  MUVA  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1    2 weeks ago

Some on left the would wipe their ass with constitution then throw every one they disagree in a re-education camp or put them in jail take their property and wealth is that what you want?

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.3  TᵢG  replied to  Drakkonis @4.1.1    2 weeks ago

As is common in political discourse, the opposing positions are often extreme (and thus irrational).   The sensible position, as you have noted and as JR has implicated, is to view our founders as extraordinary but fallible men of their times.   We should consider their wisdom rather than toss it due to the fact that they were as contradictory as modern politicians.

Regarding the CotUS, we should hold it as the current definition for how our (mostly federal) government is to work.   The CotUS is itself flawed and dated, but it is up to us to remedy that through amendments and sensible adjudication (applying modern situations to the philosophical intent of the founders) rather than play semantic games with its content (or flat out ignore it).

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.4  TᵢG  replied to  MUVA @4.1.2    2 weeks ago

I do not think JR is arguing in favor of absurd extremes.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.5  Vic Eldred  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.3    2 weeks ago
The CotUS is itself flawed and dated

Example please.


but it is up to us to remedy that through amendments

That is the built in mechanism for updating our laws. The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.6  Vic Eldred  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.4    2 weeks ago
I do not think JR is arguing in favor of absurd extremes.

In Post # 3.1 John says "We have the Constitution to follow as we see fit in the 21st century,"

As we see fit?  That could be construed as SCOTUS legislating from the bench. Which is an extreme and has already taken place.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.7  Vic Eldred  replied to  MUVA @4.1.2    2 weeks ago
Some on left the would wipe their ass with constitution

That is becoming more evident by the day. They haven't even accepted the results of the last election, nor do progressive governors follow federal law.

 
 
 
Freewill
4.1.8  Freewill  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.7    2 weeks ago
nor do progressive governors follow federal law.

Nobody follows or enforces federal law, including the last several administrations, when it comes to immigration law.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.9  Vic Eldred  replied to  Freewill @4.1.8    2 weeks ago

Thank you sir. 

 
 
 
Freewill
4.1.10  Freewill  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.4    2 weeks ago
I do not think JR is arguing in favor of absurd extremes

Well I'd certainly question:

nor do we need guidance on the "original" intention of the founders ideas,

The SCOTUS does not function as designed without considering the intent of those who wrote the Constitution.  There is no deciding on constitutionality without that.  So JR's statement sounds at least somewhat absurd/extreme to me.

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.11  TᵢG  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.5    2 weeks ago
Example please.

By challenging me on this, you apparently have no example of a flawed, dated construct in the CotUS.   Is that true?   Nothing at all comes to mind?

An obvious example, to me, is the electoral college.   The idea of using electors to serve as a buffer / safeguard for electorate ignorance, tyranny of the majority and potential populism was a compromise and clearly flawed.   It was never seen as the ideal system, but this compromise provided the means to get the CotUS ratified and thus was deemed acceptable.

Today, the electoral college is outdated.   It makes no sense to use human electors.   Instead, we should simply tally the votes per district and determine the won electors with a simple calculation.   Each elector for a district is based on who won the district.   The two electors representing the state are determined by the state-wide tally.    Done.   No human beings required.   No potential for faithless electors either.

The above is a simple way to address part of the outdated nature of the system.   If all states were to do that (how to get this agreement is a good question) then this would be a step towards a more finely-tuned election of the PotUS which preserves the sanctity of the states (an important historical objective).

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.12  TᵢG  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.6    2 weeks ago
As we see fit?  That could be construed as SCOTUS legislating from the bench. Which is an extreme and has already taken place.

I have noticed that some members are capable of construing all sorts of things.   I prefer to ask the author when there is ambiguity.   Also, my comment was on JR's comments in general — not on a single sentence.

Do you think JR, here in this seed, is arguing in favor of absurd extremes;  that his position as a whole is extreme and absurd?

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.13  TᵢG  replied to  Freewill @4.1.10    2 weeks ago
The SCOTUS does not function as designed without considering the intent of those who wrote the Constitution.  There is no deciding on constitutionality without that.  So JR's statement sounds at least somewhat absurd/extreme to me.

Expanding the context from a portion of a sentence to the entire comment:

JR @3.1 ☞ We have a member or two or three here who regularly tout the founding fathers as the greatest examples of Americans . If you dont see that then you are looking away.  We have the constitution and our fully formed government, we don't need advice from the founding fathers anymore, nor do we need guidance on the "original" intention of the founders ideas, as I said we dont need governing advice from people who owned slaves.  We have the Constitution to follow as we see fit in the 21st century, the idea that we MUST follow the founders is illogical and can even be considered offensive in some cases. 

Seems to me JR was arguing against the other extreme — that of literally taking the founders specific positions (from men who were products of their time and were dealing with the politics thereof) verbatim today.    He seems to be arguing that we should not look at the founding fathers as infallible men whose wisdom and words continue undeterred by changes over time.

I do not know if JR holds that the SCotUS should no longer consider original intent.   For that I suggest you ask him directly.   That is not, however, how I interpreted that sentence given the immediate context in which it was written (which I supplied) and the broader context established by the seed itself.


Simply stated:   our founders were influenced by their times and the politics therein.    Our Constitution is the backbone of our federal (and state to some degree) government structure and the foundation of our system of law.   We should change it using the amendment process (and through the flexibility of legislation), but we should not simply defer to the positions of our founders without question because they operated in very different times.

This, by the way, is akin to the argument for not holding true to Mosaic law in modern times.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.14  Vic Eldred  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.11    2 weeks ago
By challenging me on this, you apparently have no example of a flawed, dated construct in the CotUS.

You made the claim and I merely asked for an example.

An obvious example, to me, is the electoral college.   The idea of using electors to serve as a buffer / safeguard for electorate ignorance, tyranny of the majority and potential populism was a compromise and clearly flawed.   It was never seen as the ideal system, but this compromise provided the means to get the CotUS ratified and thus was deemed acceptable.

It did have it's origins in an expanding nation and it was never ideal but still, though it has suddenly become controversial - to this day it's preferable to having heavily populated inner city precincts determine elections. If enough people disagree with me, you know the Constitution provides a remedy, which I have already described.


Today, the electoral college is outdated.   It makes no sense to use human electors.   Instead, we should simply tally the votes per district and determine the won electors with a simple calculation.   Each elector for a district is based on who won the district.   The two electors representing the state are determined by the state-wide tally.    Done.   No human beings required.   No potential for faithless electors either.

And the Constitution provides an ingenious way to change it to the way you want - by a two thirds (a decisive) majority vote!

TiG, I don't know if you represent a majority of the people, but It's time to write to your representatives and get the ball rolling!


If all states were to do that (how to get this agreement is a good question) then this would be a step towards a more finely-tuned election of the PotUS which preserves the sanctity of the states (an important historical objective).

I don't agree with that sentiment, but I do believe in the law and if you get an amendment from congress ending the electoral college I'll have no complaints.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.15  Vic Eldred  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.12    2 weeks ago
Do you think JR, here in this seed, is arguing in favor of absurd extremes;  that his position as a whole is extreme and absurd?

I do. I think he is asking us to see the Founders as slave owners who founded a nation, rather than courageous men who broke away from being a colony of Britain and wrote an incredible document to govern their new nation. The footnote is that some were slave owners. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.16  TᵢG  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.14    2 weeks ago
You made the claim and I merely asked for an example.

I agree.   But asking for an example implies that you disagreed with my observation that the CotUS is flawed and dated.   That is what I find surprising because being fond of the CotUS does not necessarily lead to one thinking the document is perfect and timely.

And the Constitution provides an ingenious way to change it to the way you want - by a two thirds (a decisive) majority vote!

I noted the amendment process in my comment.

I don't agree with that sentiment, ...

Which sentiment:  the importance of the sanctity of the states, the more fine-tuning of the PotUS election, the difficulty in getting an amendment passed?

 
 
 
TᵢG
4.1.17  TᵢG  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.15    2 weeks ago
I think he is asking us to see the Founders as slave owners who founded a nation, rather than courageous men who broke away from being a colony of Britain and wrote an incredible document to govern their new nation.

I would ask JR.   I truly doubt he is saying that the founders were merely slave owners while disregarding their brilliance and courage.   I would be quite surprised if that was his position.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.18  Vic Eldred  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.16    2 weeks ago
the more fine-tuning of the PotUS election

That would be the only place I strongly disagree.


the difficulty in getting an amendment passed?

It must be that way. You need more than a simple majority, as it should be, to alter the Constitution. The reason must be of considerable importance, not just the whim of a temporary majority.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.19  Vic Eldred  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.17    2 weeks ago
I would ask JR.   I truly doubt he is saying that the founders were merely slave owners while disregarding their brilliance and courage.   I would be quite surprised if that was his position.

I talked to him enough on this matter to know where he places the emphasis - precisely where Howard Zinn put it!

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.20  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.13    2 weeks ago

When we talk about original intent in the Constitution , it is not always clear, the most well known case of that perhaps being the 2008 decision which affirmed the constitutionality of private ownership of firearms, the famous Heller decision.  Because the second amendment is only one sentence,

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

of course, the 2008 Supreme Court HAD TO interpret that sentence.  The conservative majority, (and Heller was a 5 -4 ideologically split vote) used material from outside the constitution , and even outside the writings of the authors of the constitution in forming their decision. Mainly, the English Bill Of Rights of 1689. So now we're not only going back 220 years we're going back an additional hundred to 1689 and using the laws of a different country in US Supreme Court decisions. 

Why? Because the conservative majority could not find what they needed within the writings of our founding fathers.  In other words, they interpreted other material, in this case from 319 years before the Heller decision was given. I think they were still burning witches in 1689, werent they? 

Every Supreme Court decision is an interpretation of the text of the constitution. Many of the "original" conclusions of the framers can apply to the modern world, but what if they don't? Are we still going to go by the words and conclusions of people who died 220 years ago ? 

Let's say Biden wins and over the next 8 years he is able to appoint 3 or 4 justices to the Supreme Court, and the court becomes "liberal". It is highly likely that such a court will not be as "originalist" as the one we have now. But you know what? Every one of their decisions will be a definitive update on the constitutionality of the issues they decide. A liberal court's decisions based on a "living constitution" will carry just as much weight as the "originalist" decisions of the conservative courts. 

As far as the founding fathers go, we have people on forums like this saying that the FF created the US as a Christian nation, THEREFORE it should always be thus because that is what they (the founders)  wanted and intended. Those same founders also owned slaves and denied rights to women. We are under zero requirement to honor the wishes of the founders UNLESS they coincide with what is best for the people today. What are we supposed to do, go another 300 years relying solely on the thoughts of people who thought the proper way to cure illness was to apply leeches to suck out the poisoned blood? 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.21  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.20    2 weeks ago

It's truly amazing that you or anyone else would have any trouble understanding the clear cut Second Amendment!

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.22  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.21    2 weeks ago

If it is so clear cut why was it a 5-4 ideologically driven decision?   It was anything but clear cut, and many legal experts thought the minority opinion written by Justice Stevens was superior constitutional reasoning. 

 
 
 
MUVA
4.1.23  MUVA  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.22    2 weeks ago

Because there are 4 leftist on the court any one can see that.Name those legal experts.

 
 
 
MUVA
4.1.24  MUVA  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.18    2 weeks ago

A whim is what we are operating on nowadays I think it is getting worse.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.25  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.22    2 weeks ago
If it is so clear cut why was it a 5-4 ideologically driven decision?   

You kind of answered your own question. The 4 justices who almost always vote together are voting not on what it says, but on what they think it should say. They really don't have that right. It belongs to the people through their elected representatives in the congress to change existing law regardless of the ideological bent of judges or the moderation of Justice Roberts.

Thanks for confirming my interpretation of your comments in post # 4.1.6


BTW the 2nd Amendment was ratified way back in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. Look how pertinent & relevant it turned out to be as we are now losing our police protection due to mob intimidation.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
4.1.26  Vic Eldred  replied to  MUVA @4.1.24    2 weeks ago
I think it is getting worse.

Yes it is getting worse. There are those who believe there are two Constitutions. The written one and the one in the hearts & minds of certain ideologues.

 
 
 
Freewill
4.1.27  Freewill  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.13    one week ago
I do not know if JR holds that the SCotUS should no longer consider original intent.   For that I suggest you ask him directly.

Sorry for long delay, lost my tracking on this thread.  In response, I did ask him at 3.1.1 above.  No response.

Other than that, I follow your point, I was simply considering the possibility that the part of his statement where he said, "...nor do we need guidance on the "original" intention of the founders ideas.." might be tipping it toward an extreme.  But your interpretation of that among the rest of his post seems reasonable.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
5  Sean Treacy    2 weeks ago

do we have slaves today? Because if we did, an opinion by a slaveowner from 1776 might possibly be relevant to some topic about owning slaves. But since we don't, they aren't.

We do, however, have a Constitution designed by people who left numerous writings about it.  It should be obvious why the founders thoughts are relevant to a document they designed that is  still in use today.  

 
 
 
TᵢG
5.1  TᵢG  replied to  Sean Treacy @5    2 weeks ago

I agree with you.

Now, go to an example that is not an extreme.   I suggested the electoral college and in particular the idea of having human electors.   We should consider the reasons why our founders came to this system and we should then question the appropriateness of same given today's conditions.

This is an example of respecting the brilliance of our founders while recognizing that they were men of their times and we must deal appropriately with the conditions of our times.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
6  Ed-NavDoc    2 weeks ago

We have good history and we have bad history in this country, but it is our history nonetheless. Some people try to learn from the good parts and do something better while others try to ignore it or bury it. It is sad but it is a fact. We as a nation learn to learn from all our history.

 
 
 
badfish
7  badfish    2 weeks ago

I think we've made some real progress here. I mean we cancelled Eskimo pies. That was so racist. The guilt of handing an E***** pie to my children brings tears to my eyes. Now we've broken the cycle of hate.

Smash the patriarchy!

 
 
 
loki12
7.1  loki12  replied to  badfish @7    2 weeks ago

256

So the left has managed to put all the people of color out of work but the old white gets to keep his job?  Good job morons!

 
 
 
Tacos!
7.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  loki12 @7.1    2 weeks ago

For people that worry about this stuff, the priority is just being outraged, not addressing real problems.

To illustrate the confusion, we had a seed here insisting that more stuff be named after minorities - i.e. states, cities, streets, neighborhoods and so on be given names reflecting native, hispanic, African cultures.

America’s Survival Hangs In The Balance

The very next day, I read a piece in the Wall Street Journal complaining about Jeep naming so many of its models after native Americans, and how racist, cringy, and otherwise inappropriate it is to be naming things after minority cultures.

Why Jeep Should Change Its Problematic Monikers

So, they can't make up their minds. Is it offensive to celebrate our diverse culture in naming things or is it offensive not to?

 
 
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