Not Me

…the problem is everyone else…

“[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.”

— James Madison, Records of the Convention, 25 August 1787

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If the Founding Fathers had realized how divisive and deeply unsettling the legacy of slavery and race relations would be in this nation, they probably would have handled it in the first place.  Of course they realized that the idea of slavery went against pretty much every last word they uttered on liberty and universal rights everywhere else.  Unfortunately for us today, they kicked the can down the road.  They thought society would mature in its understanding of freedom and liberty for all, and that we would be better at repairing the damage done later rather than sooner.  How wrong they were.  In fact if anything, the wounds have only gotten deeper and seem situated to poison the very heart of our nation.  And it does so today for the same reasons that they left slavery intact then- its easier.  When we have an idea or a person to blame, we don’t have to take responsibility and fix things.

It is still easier to lay blame for things at the door of race.  When faced with the pervasive problem of inner-city poverty and crime, we blame “welfare mothers” and out of the sides of our mouths attribute it to the “laziness” of those who live in those areas.  It is their fault that they cannot rise from the dregs they live in, and in the back of our heads, we attribute this failing to who they are-racially and other wise.  They are not like “us” which is why they fail and do not deserve support.  Law enforcement officers are frustrated and beleaguered and putting their lives in jeopardy constantly for very little pay.  And they have extremely high expectations on them to enforce order in our communities, they are “abusive”, “aggressive”, and “pigs” when they have a bad day or they react other than with the perfect serenity to adversity that we want from them.  We blame them for their “racism” or their “abuse of power.”  The problems and threats plaguing many communities in the nation are their problem, not ours, and it is their fault when they aren’t as calm as the Buddha after just being punched or sparred with or verbally accosted by someone who doesn’t want to go quietly.  It is their fault that the laws of this nation and their communities dictate their actions, and we blame them that the laws aren’t better.  And we blame them based on the idea that they might be “racist” and they might be suspect as not being nearly as enlightened as we are.  Everyone is to blame.  Everyone but ourselves.  Everyone but us as a culture and nation and community as a whole.

Res Publica

Documentation without Representation: 

James Madison, Records of the Convention, 25 August 1787

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/quotes/slavery.html

Electronic Text Courtesy of George Mason University

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