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Like most children growing up in the Caribbean I was led to believe among other things that Abraham Lincoln really cared for Black people, and that he actually went to war to free the slaves. It was as simple and straight-forward as that without any hint of ambiguity about it. But when I later came across Lincoln's own words saying if he could save the union by freeing the slaves he would, and if he could save the union without freeing the slaves, he would do that too, I was totally flabbergasted.
In the 60's we Caribbean children were taught to believe that Patrice Lumumba and his Mau Mau followers were nothing more than crazy Africans who were notorious killers wanting to eat white people's flesh, especially women.
In his speech given a few days ago in Philadelphia, VP Pence could not find enough words to describe the high esteem he has for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In fact he asked his audience to join him in a moment of silence to show respect and admiration for the judge. In the legal arena, Judge Scalia was the Republicans' Ronald Reagan.
Now if I were a white man, Lincoln's words would not deter me from appreciating and continue to accept him as "the Great Emancipator." Not at all!! But once his own words were on record for all to see, how could any Black person continue to delude themselves into thinking that Lincoln's real interest was to emancipate Black people? Shouldn't our view of Lincoln be more realistic in recognizing him as the "Great Preserver" who went to war to prevent the United States from splitting into two nations, and in the process freed the slaves?
I cannot thank the Mighty Sparrow enough for his great calypso "Congo Man." Here was a fitting rebuttal, brilliantly done in satirical style, to the nonsense we were supposed to believe about Patrice Lumumba and his Mau Mau freedom fighters. Listen to it again to see the connection between it and "Dan is the Man." As Sparrow pointed out with such amazing clarity "If me head was bright, ah woulda be a damn fool."
How can any Black person share VP Pence's view about the very same Justice Antonin Scalia who expressed the view that the prestigious colleges were doing an injustice to Black students by accepting them to study on their campus? As far as the judge was concerned, Blacks would be far better served by attending schools whose courses were less demanding and concentrated. I can only assume that Scalia must have had no respect for his Black colleague, Judge Clarence Thomas, sitting on the same bench like Scalia, and who graduated from Yale Law school. Likewise he must have been disdainful of the POTUS, President Obama, who not only graduated but was the president of Harvard University Law Review.
All around us are those demeaning descriptions of who we are and what we are only worthy of, yet so many of our Black folks continue to subscribe to those precepts like Sir Francis Drake, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson among others were great figures and role models. When are we going to step back and recognize that those personalities were shaped by the philosophies of a Euro-American view of the world to make them look good and sanctimonious regardless of the evils they dumped on other peoples of the world?
Isn't it time that we begin to use the facts of history that's available for anyone to investigate, for us to interpret what happened and continuing to happen, from our own reference point? When we begin to do that we will at last be seeing things as they really were and are. We will also begin to have a far clearer understanding of world events, rather than seeing and believing them as we were conditioned to do.
Tony, talking about strange stuff and history in America something took me by surprise last week.
Last week MSNBC/NBC (The station that brags about being the most Liberal Values station in America) gave a popular The Today Show slot – the 9AM, held by Al Rocker and Tamron Hall – both African Americans, to former FOX-NEW Megyn Kelly. Tamron Hall was so humiliated she refused the millions offered to her to stay on the sidelines and instead left the show to maintain her dignity. Now how could something like that happen? Is MSNBC/NBC more about $$$$ than Liberal VALUES? Obviously. This is the station where Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow speak so much against the Right Wing values in America and how it continues to oppress African Americans and Americans of different sexual lifestyles. What are we to make of that? The contradictions are just shocking and no one in the African American liberal Establishment dare talk out against MSNBC/NBC because their jobs will be at stake. It is all about the dollar. I think we need to realize that and stop fooling ourselves into believing that we have champion Liberal systems out there fighting for our survival and wait till it become very oblivious like the Civil War – that it was all about the almighty dollar.
The MSNBC Executives saw the potential for Right Wing FOX-NEWS Megyn Kelly who got so much publicity from her controversial stand against Trump, to cash in on her popularity. Never mind that she was once one of FOX-NEWS shining star on selling conservative right wing values to America. How can we have any faith in anything after that with the ones like Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow who sits there quietly after this insult is done to one of the most promising black woman role model looked up to by so many promising African American Journalists who believe that the values that they bring to a popular show and the community is what matters, and not the almighty dollar? Can we learn something from this or just accept it as a wise business move in a system where the true trust is in the Almighty Dollar?
Peter, Peter, my friend, why does your post seem to be a condemnation of my support for and defense of MSNBC? Where have I ever defended that news network? Maybe you need to be reminded that Tamron Hall was just another in the number of Black faces that were simply eliminated from MSNBC's line up. I'm sure you remember the Tulane University professor, the dynamic Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, who was suddenly pulled like Ms. Hall from her MSNBC's Sunday morning show. And there was Toure and others.
Hey man, in the interest of fairness, and not just a one-sided dismissal, let's not forget that Keith Olbermann (as White as they come) was likewise summarily dismissed from MSNBC's nightly lineup. Who was a more fierce critic of President George W Bush and his puppeteer, Dick Cheney, than Olbermann? Yet despite his popularity and huge ratings, MSNBC kicked him too, to the curb. Btw, can you imagine if Keith was still at that network during Trump and these tumultuous times? His ratings would have gone through the roof!!
So Peter, money and race may not have been the sole determinants in the firing at MSNBC. However, that's not to say they may not have been huge factors.
Hey T, I am not passing judgement on you. My intention was to show up the hypocrisy in the Politics of everything today. Ms Hall did all the right things and in the end she was kicked aside by a network that claims to be the Flagship of liberal politics for someone who once represented the flagship network of ultra-right wing ideas. I did not see that one coming!
I have always known that some of the material (particularly History) that were being taught in school, up to the time that I left were always suspect hence it never interested me and I paid it no mind. I found some to be laced with ambiguities and devoid of any context whatsoever; two of the main ingredients necessary to advance information forward in a manner that would be of any significance to students. I do not blame some of the Teachers for their efforts but more so, the intrenched, regurgitative method in which information was disseminated and regurgitated back in the form of an exam without any open discussions on the matter.
My combative nature--for which our education system was ill prepared to handle added fuel to the fire, causing a friend of mine with tongue in cheek to tease me years later saying," boi! you shudda learn the schupidness; now so we woodah be calling you Doctor Louison"......Lol
This was one of the reasons why I had to make a mad dash in my latter years to salvage an opportunity to obtain a "so-called education" and spare myself from ending up eating ripe fig from Dust Bins.
In this regard, The Mighty Sparrow was wrong and my friend was right.
But more to your point on Lincoln,
Bro, you would get quite a lot of aguement from many History buffs for taking any position that deminishes Lincoln's direct involvement in the Slave emancipation initiative. The many documentaries I have seen painted different pictures of Lincoln and the precarious position he was placed in, trying to hold the union together while placating the South into divestiture of their Slave holdings. But there is no question that the more pressing issue of the day was in fact, the continuation or abolition of Slavery and Lincoln was the chief architect of that initiative.
You see, the Antebellum Southerners made it their central focus because Slavery was inextricably linked to their economic survival hence providing "the context" of the Civil War. I am sure you will agree that without Slavery there would be no civil war.
From an economic point of view, Slavery (free labor) was seen as the third and major ingredient of the economic formula of its time (land, capital and labor) that drove the Southern economy. Lincoln was brilliant enough not to make it the central focus of his argument and instead, advanced the cause of "saving the union" but the South held his feet to the fire on that one issue giving Lincoln no room for maneuvering. Therefore from a Southerner point of view, one can conclude that they did not go to war against saving the union but for protecting their property (slaves) rights; the union being a byproduct and bargaining chip of their efforts.
But here is one of Lincoln's quotes that may help unravel the complexity in handling the Slave issue. It is important to note the oxymoron in Lincoln words where on the one hand he said >>>>>"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided"<<<<<
Contrast this with the one you highlighted by paraphrasing >>>>>...... I later came across Lincoln's own words saying if he could save the union by freeing the slaves he would, and if he could save the union without freeing the slaves, he would do that too, I was totally flabbergasted.<<<<<<
But then you asked,
>>>>>......how could any Black person continue to delude themselves into thinking that Lincoln's real interest was to emancipate Black people? Shouldn't our view of Lincoln be more realistic in recognizing him as the "Great Preserver" who went to war to prevent the United States from splitting into two nations, and in the process freed the slaves?<<<<<
It is my opinion that Lincoln may have had several "real interests", the two more pressing; saving the union and freeing the slaves were paramount; one of conscionable morality and the other, of union preservation. To refer to him as the 'great preserver' implies that the result of his efforts had only preserved the union which he "could have" done through expediency or capitulation to the South thus saving thousands of lives. But his moral commitment to the Slave issue were so strong that it could not be deterred by the inevitability of a civil war.
Conversely, if you had concluded that Dr. Eric Williams sentiments in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" that it was the economic infesibility and not the conscience of the British Slave holders that was responsible for British Slavery eradication/emancipation you would be correct. The rationale here is there were no other driving force linked to the British decision other than economics.
But Lincoln's desire for a discontinuation of the Slave practice from "a conscionable point of view" is well documented. And I would give him full credit for its eradication regardless of the seemingly ambiguities in his statements.
Antonin Scalia (God rest his soul) is a horse of a different color. In my opinion he was just an overated windbag, echoing Founding Fathers garbiage. Another poor bloke seeking the interest of the Conservative Right at the expence of poor people.
We have to allow him to rest in peace.
>>It is my opinion that Lincoln may have had several "real interests", the two more pressing; saving the union and freeing the slaves were paramount; one of conscionable morality and the other, of union preservation. To refer to him as the 'great preserver' implies that the result of his efforts had only preserved the union which he "could have" done through expediency or capitulation to the South thus saving thousands of lives. But his moral commitment to the Slave issue were so strong that it could not be deterred by the inevitability of a civil war.<<
Folks will continue to have contrasting views of old Abe, but I will hold strongly to the view that if Lincoln's prime purpose was to abolish slavery, he would never have uttered if he could save the union without freeing the slaves he would. I do understand and appreciate the quandary in which Lincoln was, but whether we like it or not his prime focus was to SAVE the Union, NOT to FREE the slaves. He said so himself!!!!!!!
From my perspective, that's a more damning statement than whatever credits (rightly so) that you have given him. Here, let's be mindful of Maya Angelou's poignant observation that when a man is telling you who he is, never doubt him.
Can you imagine Nelson Mandela saying that if he could kill ALL white people to end apartheid in South Africa, he would so, but if he could achieve the same goal without killing White folks he would also do so?
A perfect combination during the Civil Rights struggle would have been for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to welcome Malcolm X with open arms and agreeing with him to use violence when you must, but try as best as you can to remain true to non-violence. Dr. King was pleasant enough, but remained steadfast to his cause of non-violence. Despite that Malcolm's I won't turn the other cheek made far more sense to me than MLK's non-violence.
The heroism and "worshipping" of MLK and Mandela, and let's also add Muhammed Ali to that list, lies in their unwavering and unambiguous commitment to what they truly believed and stood for. Remember Maya Angelou's piercing warning!
While reading your rebuttal (excellently done), I was beginning to view your portrayal of Lincoln as a combination of William Wilberforce on the one hand plus the economic forces that Dr. Eric Williams so brilliantly expounded, that led to the British ending slavery. Is that an accurate summation?
In the movie "Amistad" Cinque played by Djimon Hounsou, struck one of the most telling blows at the forked system of American justice and White people's logic. In a powerful and profound moment in the courthouse, he shouted out in a loud voice "Give us free" indicating his frustration with a legal system that freed him with a "not guilty" verdict but never affirmed the real and true nature of the crime against him and the other slaves. As fas as Cinque was concerned his freedom meant freedom for all, and not "not guilty" due to his particular case.
Verne, I do respect and do give credit to those who have, and those who are continuing to work realistically within a racist system to rescue some of its victims, but I'm far more respectful and admire those who were uncompromising and remained true to the real goal that they wanted us to believe they espoused. That's why I squirm when I am supposed to accept Winston Churchill, Judge Antoin Scalia among others as my heroes. That's why I questioningly wonder if Abe Lincoln really belongs there, again from a Black man's perspective. And that's why Nelson Mandella, Dr. Martin Luther King and the "greatest" himself, Muhammed Ali" will always be my REAL HEROES from my perspective as a Black man.
In summation I do respect and admire what outstanding personalities have tried to do, but really true hero worship belongs to the very selected few like Jesus (if the stories about him are true), Mandella, MLK and "the Greatest."
P.S: Wouldn't it be great if the posts on this Talkshop were mostly in this spirit so that we can all learn what we originally did not know?
A friend called me to ask why do my posts like this topic, appear to be unduly focused on race relations in America. My immediate response was why not?
After all, I live in America where my children and grand-children and succeeding generations are likely to call home. If we are supposed to leave the world a much better place than we found it, shouldn't it be our moral imperative to TRY working to achieve that goal?
But the interpretation of race relations is not my singular focus. I am just as interested in the things around me. I live in West Orange, a stone's throw from Montclair. Here is a small city of whose existence I had no clue even though my Jamaican college room-mate used to frequently visit there during vacation times. I guess it made absolutely no impression on me, period!
In fact while driving on I-95 through New Jersey, I could not resist feeling that the state was New York City's dumping ground. All along the highway, what was clearly visible were rows and rows of factories and abandoned buildings and a huge stadium in the Meadowlands where the New York Jets and Giants call home for their football home games.
How incorrectly would I have continued to be had my daughter not chose Montclair to raise her family and invited us to join her there to help with our Noah and later, Maya. To say the very least I'm overjoyed to be here, cold as it is in contrast to an almost Caribbean type of weather in Miami after 33 years living there.
That's another one of the reasons why I chose to ask "Whose interpretation? Ours or theirs?"
Those who know me in particular very well, could not believe that my wife and I would forego the warmth and comforts of Miami to return to the cold. Our reasoning was quite simple. Would we prefer warm Miami while barely seeing our grands grow, or a warm family while helping to grow our grands despite the cold?
The answer was self evident, and the surprises of West Orange and Montclair have added to the pleasantries of living here. Now even my other daughter has closed down her podiatric practice in the Bronx to live and work in West Orange.
How pleasing it is to see an all too familiar and definitely common sight of biracial children shepherded by their parents on their way to school, the library or restaurants. Even more interesting is that within the mixed parentage, there is a far greater frequency of White fathers as one would have less likely expected.
And that segues into the movies. We use the weekends to go wherever we choose. Going to the movies is among those choices. In this year's slew of highly rated Academy nominated movies, we first went to see FENCES. Denzel Washington ably supported by Viola Davis could not have set the standard any higher. Then we went to see the much highly touted LA LA LAND. Then MISSING FIGURES and finally last night we saw MANCHESTER by the SEA.
As I said before there are so much to love about this Montclair-West Orange area. After each of those movies, I deliberately sought the opinions of fellow-movie-goers. From them, Blacks as well Whites who were in the majority, unanimously agreed that La La Land fittingly deserved to be in la-la-land and could not comprehend why it was even rated much less competing for the Oscars.
MANCHESTER fared much better, but as one of the posters on which patrons were asked to write our opinion of the movie, noted, Manchester by the Sea was unfortunately competing for Oscar awards at the same time that FENCES and especially MISSING FIURES were also competing. Yes, Joe Frazier was an unbelievable boxer, but it was too bad that his nemesis Muhammed Ali was there competing at the same time for center stage.
Therefore when I chose this topic for discussion, I was not referring only to the prejudicial and corrupted views of those whose job it is to decide who our historical heroes plus those we should admire, ought to be, but just as important an appraisal of everyday things all around us.
Too often we express ideas that we assume are our very own without even realizing how swayed we are by the basic premise we choose to stand upon to give those opinions. Often times we rarely thoroughly think through what it is that make us say the things we say. That's why I will always ask >Whose interpretation? Ours or theirs?< Or put another way, "yours or theirs."
Hey y'all I'm really looking forward to hearing from you.