On this day in history, May 14, 1857, former slave and abolitionist spokesman Frederick Douglass delivered a speech to the American Abolition Society about the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott Case.
The Supreme Court ruled that black people were actually property and they had no rights that white people were bound to respect. Chief Justice Roger Taney cited the founding fathers to support the decision.During his speech Douglass said, “Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Jay, and Franklin, and Rush, and Hamilton, and a host of others held no such degrading view on the subject of slavery imputed by Judge Taney. All looked for the gradual but certain abolition of slavery and shaped the Constitution with a view to this grand result.”
Douglass also said, “George Washington can never be claimed as the representative of slavery fanatics. The slaveholders use his name to give respectability to slavery. In a letter to Robert Morris, Washington uses language that would make him a terror of the slaveholders and a natural representative of the Republican Party.”
Update 2: Negative Liberties and Obama Newspeak
The 2001 audio tape of Barack Obama describing the Constitution as a document of “negative liberties” reveals an utterly Orwellian Obama. How can liberty be anything other than negative? Liberty is the absence of external control. Only in our age of collective thinking and untidy language could such a thing as “positive liberty” be 1984conceived. The state power to coerce is not liberty.
Notions like “positive liberty” are part of the web of thought control by language manipulation which Orwell described in 1984. If Obama cannot think of “positive liberty” as a contradiction in terms, then he simply cannot think. The conscious surrender of language to the needs of the party creates a self-made prison from which escape is, quite literally, inconceivable. These unguarded remarks by Obama display a mind trapped in a reality in which words are phantoms…