I love quotes.
They are one of the most common and effective ways we have of portraying a frame of mind, thought, or basic belief with very few words. Their impact can be profound and can drive a point home like little else.
Colin Kaepernick recently quoted from a speech by Frederick Douglass on the 5th of July 1852,“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, given to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Association.
Read the full text here.
“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine ... There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”
I hate quotes.
Though they are as I mentioned above a great way to make a point, they can also be used to push or sustain negative emotional responses. Like outrage, anger, and hatred.
This quote sounds very negative towards the United States and if we put things into context, it is exactly what we should expect. At the time Douglass made this speech, slavery was still legal and at the time it was most certainly shocking and bloody as Douglas says. Definitely NOT one of our nations finer moments.
But on October 20, 1854, men who agreed with what this quote by Douglass says created the Republican party for the specific purpose of ending the Democrats plans to make slavery a nation wide industry. On November 6, 1860 Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president and swore to end the practice of slavery in the United States. On the morning of April 12, 1861, Lincoln kept his word and with a skirmish at Charleston South Carolina's Fort Sumter , then one of only two forts in the Southern states that had seceded still under federal jurisdiction, the American civil war began.
And with the conclusion of the bloodiest war in American history on May 9th, 1865 at the cost of an estimated 620,000 American lives, legal slavery was outlawed in this country. Then came the reconstruction. The 13th Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, followed by the 14th amendment ratified on July 9, 1868 and 15th Amendment ratified February 3, 1870. These three Reconstruction Period amendments replaced The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 that only freed slaves in the 11 Confederate states outlawing slavery nationwide.
They also granted former slaves all constitutional rights including the right to vote. Of course the Democrats tried to side step these rights with the implementation of their Jim Crow laws and poll taxes. But that's a whole other story in itself
Douglass gave this speech around 2 years before any of this began to happen. Its also important to note for context that of the 246 years (up for debate) that slavery was legal in modern day United states, 157 years of that was while we were under British rule. Slavery was NOT legalized by the government of the United States and It only took us 89 years after declaring our independence from England to outlaw it entirely. We recognized that slavery was wrong and we corrected it.
So to use this quote as being somehow applicable to the United States today is a gross injustice and insult to all of the men and women of all races who gave their lives to end slavery in this country, slavery everywhere. Kaepernick has essentially spit in the faces of his ancestors saviors simply to get some attention for himself.
I just can not help but wonder what Frederick Douglass would think of ole Colin Kaepernick using his words to spread hatred and division through anti American rhetoric. What would he think of Kaepernick himself?
Man this is one time I wish we really could speak with the dead.
So given this cherry picked quote that makes it sound like Douglass hated America and the men who founded it, as Kaepernick apparently does, we should look at what else Frederick Douglass said in his 16 page speech. Lets pull some other quotes from the first part of the speech that no one ever talks about.
"Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost."
"Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too — great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.
"They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final;” not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times."
It does not sound to me like Douglass hated the founding fathers, or the principles that this great nation was founded on. By his own words he held both in high esteem and respect. He supported President Lincoln who he worked closely with, and Later President Ulysses S Grant in his efforts to eliminate the Democrats militant arm, the Ku Klux Klan, both Republicans. But he also supported abolitionist Radical Democracy Party candidate John C. Frémont in 1864 when he felt Lincoln had not gone far enough in his emancipation act. The two are reported to have later reconciled. Douglass makes it very clear however where his loyalties lie.
"I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress."
~ Frederick Douglass
This would certainly explain why the first part of this mans speech is so often left out. It absolutely does not fit the narrative being pushed by leftist anti American activists like Colin Kaepernick.
Here is a great example of what I mean. This YouTube video has Actor James Earl Jones reading Frederick Douglass' "speech". Jones begins the speech where Douglass expresses his feelings from the view point of a slave and completely leaves out the first half where he praises the principles and actions of the founding fathers declaring and winning independence from England. Which is after all what our independence day is about is it not?
The title of this video does not say that this is an EXCERPT from Douglass' speech, it says "James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass' 1852 4th of July Speech. It was actually his 5th of July speech that was about the 4th of July but lets not quibble. The publisher of this video Black Junction also does not clarify that this is only an excerpt from a much longer speech. If you read the full text of the speech on the link above, you can see just how far into this speech Jones starts his reading. No matter by who or how it is done this is very deceptive and misleading. His words are being manipulated to push a hateful narrative. I do not think Douglass would approve.
At this point, AFTER Douglass praises the founding fathers and the principles that this country was founded on is when most people choose to begin this speech. Where Douglas leaves behind his belief in Americas greatness and moves into his perspective of the July fourth celebration as a former slave. A person who at the time of this speech had no rights which meant he was not an American citizen by definition. It would be incredibly naïve to expect him to see things any other way than as himself being separate and apart from these celebrations. Because at the time, he and every other black person was.
This did not necessarily mean he felt separate and apart from the nation as a whole. His words show that he was able to compartmentalize the two things as being although related, in no way synonymous. In other words he was able to "love the sinner, and hate the sin." A concept Democrats to this very day still do not seem to grasp.
For a final quote from this speech we go to the beginning where Douglass expresses his hope for the United States as a young nation. I believe that he knew that change was coming and that as a young nation we would be able to right the wrongs that we had committed and learn from them. And that is exactly what we did starting about 2 years after this speech. I think he also held hope that one day we as a nation would learn to heal and move past those dark times truly becoming one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Unfortunately 167 years later we can see by the actions of leftist radicals like Kaepernick that this did not ever happen. Having studied the civil war and everything leading up to and after, I believe that this dream was never going to become reality because the Democrats made sure that it would never happen. Jim Crow, the Klan, fighting the civil rights act, the implementation of a welfare state in the black community that drove the father out of the home, fighting an end to segregation and even today when the Democrats only seem to care about the black community when they are running for office. But they will endlessly blame everything they are not doing on the republicans. The primary group in government meant to speak for the black community is the Black Caucus, and they would not even clap for the lowest black unemployment in history, or the millions of black families working and off of welfare, or a 400% increase in black owned businesses. They did not consider these things to warrant celebration and one should ask themselves why?
I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. You lose your power when you lose the people you oppress. The Democrats lost the people they oppressed in 1865 and they are losing them again today as they wake up and see the truth, once again causing the Democrats to lose their power. They have a back up plan this time though. Illegal immigrants.
I personally find Kaepernick's use of a great mans words to incite and spread division and hatred for a nation that this man loved by his own words, to be the epitome of insulting to his memory. I also see it as no surprise. I have come to expect such irreverence and disrespect from those on the left. It is their nature.
As with everything we are going to see what we choose to see. At least make those choices based on all of the information and not what someone else wants you to know or think. The greatest freedom we have is the freedom to think for ourselves and we should utilize it more often. Personally, what I think Douglass is saying in this last passage is that like changing a rivers course, those who seek the oppression of others will always bring the flow back to its original path, even if it destroys the country in the process. But if we build a dam so to speak and cut off the access to the old path entirely, racism will die a natural death because it no longer has anything to sustain it.
Much like the words of Morgan Freeman during an interview with 60 minutes concerning black history month where he was asked how do we stop racism?
Freeman: "Stop talking about it."
This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young. Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.
Trust no future, however pleasant! Let the dead past bury its dead! Act -- act in the living Present! Heart within and God overhead. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow