Jan 12 2017
Frederick Douglass delivered a speech on ‘West India Emancipation’ in 1857. In the beginning he referred to the Fugitive Act, which allowed for ‘fugitive’ slaves caught in the north to be returned to the south. He said,
“It came upon us like a wolf upon the fold, and left our ranks thinned and trembling. The first six months after this whirlwind and pestilence set in, were six of the gloomiest months I ever experienced. It did seem that the infernal regions were broken up, and that devils, not men, had taken possession of our government and our church.”
It is always striking to read historical speeches and see the parallels that they hold still today. Today our under-caste is growing in numbers and in desperation while the rich and powerful lessen proportionately yet grow in power and arrogance. Standard services to the people even since the prairie days and multiplied in the New Deal and the Great Society, accomplishments recently such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, the foundations laid toward winning a war on poverty and the right to an excellent education; all these things now seem to be indefinitely stalled and crumbling before our very eyes, with precious few guardians in Congress to keep the other members, the wolves in sheep’s clothing that occupy our so-called Houses of Representation from picking off the defenders of these accomplishments one by one. It’s like we stand in front of the gate of a great mansion, that mansion being the nation, and instead of being served by it employees to whom it is their duty to serve us and protect our rights, we are intimidated instead by fang-bearing, growling guard dogs while our government continues to be looted by bankers and corporate thieves who are even tearing out the sinks. How long are we going to robbed blind? “Devil?” Perhaps. What do you call someone who wants to privatize- for profit- public schools? Who allows the worst of corporate junk food to be sold in our public school cafeterias and calls that nutrition? Who has privatized prisons, in heinous, cynical fashion, for profit? Who sticks prisoners in solitary confinement no longer for discipline, but simply as routine protocol to cut expenses? Or houses prisoners eight to a cell? Is the ‘devil’ the one that decided that the mentally should now go to prisons instead being cared for as sick people? We have lost our workers’ unions, the minimum wage puts people at risk in housing, utilities and medical care, and even supermarkets have opted to zone out of inner cities rather than provide security, if need be, to ensure people a fresh supply of good food other than the fast foods that make us obese while we’re young and lower our life expectancy. The list goes on and on, but it is hard not to conclude that the people who allow this intolerable situation to worsen in this country, who have brought back slavery, and where just by being a young black man in the inner cities makes you a ‘fugitive’ by default, could be nothing other than the handwork of the devil or an ignorance and an indifference to human welfare of a magnitude that I should have neither experienced nor encountered in my lifetime. But we have gone backwards.
Are you represented? Do you feel represented? My feeling is this: the people in Washington, D.C., do not represent me, my family, or my friends. They work for themselves, for power, and they are the lackeys and henchmen of the bankers and corporate leaders. They need the kicking boot- they need to be kicked out of Washington and sent back to Greensville or wherever they come from and find a new occupation, retire, or be indicted. They have committed, blatantly and openly for all to see, many crimes and the severity of their crimes is becoming worse over time. It is not what I want for our children and I don’t believe it is what you want. And so we need to replace these people who do not serve us. We must remember that it is the duty of government, its raison d’etre is to serve us and protect us, not for us to continue on like this in bondage to them and the corporation that they have obliged themselves to. They must be replaced by those who will fight for us and defend our cause. How that shall be done remains to be seen. If it is by peaceful transition then that is preferable; but if it is by secession resulting in the geographical division of our cherished nation (as two or three nations that protect liberty is better than one giant nation that does not), then that is the price the tyranny in Washington demands of us in our non-negotiable fight for freedom and civil rights. May history judge our undertakings as the inevitable consequences of oppression, and judge that we added to the good in this world.