Monday, 7 July 2014

"Comment is free but facts are sacred" (C.P.Scott 1846-1932) (1)

A Facebook friend of mine recently  posted these words about the American Declaration of Independence.

He said:
 
"Wonderful words that started the most free and progressive nation in history."
The words of the Declaration of Independence are indeed  mostly wonderful, except that they describe the noble original inhabitants of this sub-continent as "Savages", and that they take slavery for granted. There is nothing wonderful about that.
 
But to say that America is "the most free and progressive nation in history" is sheer nonsense. Such words ignore the historical record.
 
1. The Indians who were banished to reservations were hardly free.
2. Nor were the millions of Africans who were enslaved.
3. The Supreme Court ruling that slaves counted as 3/5 of a human being was hardly progressive.
4. Nor was the Supreme Court ruling which affirmed racial segregation in that infamous "separate but equal" ruling which paved the way for the horrendous "Jim Crow" laws.
5. We were hardly "progressive" in the wide spread nativist  and "know nothing" movements which were anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish, and anti-immigrant.
6. Nor was it progressive to intern loyal Japanese-Americans during World War II
7. Was the Red Scare nonsense (promulgated by Joe McCarthy and supported by Richard Millhouse Nixon) progressive?
8. Regressive forces ensued that we could not pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
 My list could go on. But my points are simple:
(a) None but the most ignorant or determinedly nativist Americans could assert that we are amongst the most free of nations.
(b) The record of history belies the notion that we have been progressive.
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I'll grant my friend his patriotism.  But his assertion that America is "the most free and progressive nation in history"  is built on shaky ground.
True patriotism is rooted in an honest assessment of the historical record.  That record in America is far less than progressive. We are not the most free peoples in history.
 
Would that the opposite were true.

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