Saturday, October 09, 2004

A July 5th Liberty Comment by Frederick Douglass

I don't recall where I picked this up, but I thought it was strangely applicable to our political situation of today...

In 1852, the great former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was asked by the Rochester Anti-Slavery Society to speak on the Fourth. He declined, delivering a speech instead the next day to a hall of 1600 people. He spoke for two hours, from a 41-page text. He left the audience stunned. A little excerpt:

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July I answer, a day
that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross
injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him
your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license;
your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing
are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted
impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your
prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your
religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud,
deception, impiety, and hypocrisy's thin veil to cover up crimes
which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of
the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the
people of these United States at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the
monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South
America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last,
lay your facts by the side of the every-day practices of this
nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and
shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.


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