Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lincoln, the resolute white supremacist -- the Changeling's "homeboy"?

Back, when I was younger, "homeboy" didn't only refer to someone who came from the same place as you.  It was someone of that place, someone with whom you shared a collection of innate life experiences, or, as Baldwin put it below -- a "system of reality":

Whether one wants to own the "system" Baldwin described, or not (and there are many who do not), most of us cannot disown the skin color by which white supremacy judges, attacks and devalues our worth.

During the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debates on slavery, The Changeling's "homeboy" made quite clear there was a different "system of reality" at play between Blacks and himself.  In an excerpt from the first debate held in Ottowa, IL (interesting name, given so many slaves escaped American terrorism via the Underground Railroad to Canada, only to "meet the enemy" there as well), he said:
"Now, gentlemen...This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. [Laughter.] I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.  I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. [Loud cheers.] I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man. [Great applause.] (emphasis mine)
I guess if you consider him your "homeboy" -- you just ignore the lasting, soul-murdering effects of Lincoln's positioning us as socially, politically, morally, intellectually and physically unequal to white men,in favor of praising his pragmatic arguments against "the institution" (which itself, was fully formed as a result of all those things you ignore).

Was he clear in his white supremacist beliefs?  I sure think so. Was he consistent in those beliefs?  Here's an excerpt from the fourth debate held in Charleston, IL -- you be the judge:
While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. (emphasis mine)
Seems pretty consistent and mighty white of him to me.  I might've even said, "At least he was honest!" -- except for the level of manipulation, guilt-tripping and dishonesty described in Rick Beard's recent New York Times piece, Lincoln's Panama Plan; a plan devised to get as many of our Black asses out of their, United States as he could (as if Sierra Leone and Liberia weren't enough).

I went back and forth on whether to link to, or post in its entirety, Lincoln's address, whose arguments were, according to Beard -- " audacious that they,retain the ability to shock a reader 150 years later."  After reading it, I thought its "homeboy" impact would be much better felt if readers saw it all at once, in his own words (with my own commentary interspersed, of course). So, here it is:

"Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes"
Abraham Lincoln
August 14, 1862

This afternoon the President of the United States gave audience to a Committee of colored men at the White House. They were introduced by the Rev. J. Mitchell, Commissioner of Emigration. E. M. Thomas, the Chairman, remarked that they were there by invitation to hear what the Executive had to say to them. Having all been seated, the President, after a few preliminary observations, informed them that a sum of money had been appropriated by Congress, and placed at his disposition for the purpose of aiding the colonization in some country of the people, or a portion of them, of African descent, thereby making it his duty, as it had for a long time been his inclination, to favor that cause; and why, he asked, should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. You here are freemen I suppose.

A VOICE: Yes, sir. (emphasis mine)
Per Beard's piece, "It was the first time African Americans had been invited to the White House on a policy matter." That in itself, in 1862 was enough to impress them I'm sure (all we need do is consider the behavior of some Black folk who today, were first-time invitees to the Big House after the Changeling was selected).  And Lincoln wasted no time in flashing some cash in return for their complicity in his colonization "scheme" (hm-m-m-m, sounds like reparations if we'd just get the hell out of Dodge, right?  See footnote 1 of the address for how much they were willing to pay in 1862 dollarsShe-e-e-t, back then, I might've been inclined to take that damned cash!).

But in his never-wavering white supremacy, he made sure to keep them "in their place" by reminding them of our "physical difference" (which I think disguises their mortal fear of us) and the fact that our mere presence caused suffering among the white race (like we asked to come here via the Black Holocaust of slavery). Hell, how much could they have been "suffering" or "disadvantaged, given they'd worked us like the animals they felt we were, to -- clear land; farm, in order to feed them and make profits; build roads, homes and striking edifices in which they still "govern" (and I use that word loosely); be wet nurses to their damned children; clean their houses; wash and iron their clothes; cook their meals; milk their cows; raise their chickens and gather their eggs, etc., etc.?  Suffering?  Please!
The President---Perhaps you have long been free, or all your lives. Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoy. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. (emphasis mine)
So-o-o, he sees "the greatest wrong inflicted," but still can't see Blacks as equal to whites.  Then, he uses his faux-give-a-shit to try to convince them that it was best for us to get the hell out. Clearly our existence among "those particular angels, angels who, nevertheless, are always willing to give you a helping hand" -- had to come second. The Doctrine of "Divine Right" said so. {smdh}
I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as a fact with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would. It is a fact, about which we all think and feel alike, I and you. We look to our condition, owing to the existence of the two races on this continent. I need not recount to you the effects upon white men, growing out of the institution of Slavery. I believe in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present condition---the country engaged in war!---our white men cutting one another's throats, none knowing how far it will extend; and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of Slavery and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence. (emphasis mine)
The Changeling's "homeboy" is pretty patriarchal with his "I'm not discussing this" attitude.  Doesn't  seem to matter much to him what they might be thinking.  And, "I cannot alter it if I would" sounds like pretty resolute, white supremacy to me.  And then, the guilt-tripping begins in earnest, blaming slavery (the capitalist enterprise into which white men willfully and gleefully plunged for profit) -- not only for "white men cutting one another's throats," but for the war as well (for all you deniers out there).  Way to take NO agency at all in white folks's absolute barbarity against us, AND one another there Abe.  Yeah, this institution y'all needed so badly caused white folk to act like, horror of horrors -- savages!
It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. I know that there are free men among you, who even if they could better their condition are not as much inclined to go out of the country as those, who being slaves could obtain their freedom on this condition. I suppose one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is that the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it. You may believe you can live in Washington or elsewhere in the United States the remainder of your life [as easily], perhaps more so than you can in any foreign country, and hence you may come to the conclusion that you have nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign country. This is (I speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the case.

But you ought to do something to help those who are not so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us. Now, if you could give a start to white people, you would open a wide door for many to be made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the beginning, and whose intellects are clouded by Slavery, we have very poor materials to start with. If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed. (emphasis mine)
His "...we should be separated" grand solution is funny.  What would America have looked like had we all left back then?  Accusing them (in no unkind sense, mind you) of being extremely selfish is guilting.  And so is his paternalistically telling these men what they ought to do (all the while keeping at the forefront, how much white folk don't want to deal with Black folk).

Among the many egregious statements made by the "Great Emancipator" in this address, I find these to be among the rankest:  1) Black men, "should give a start" to these barbarians in order for the rest of us to be free?  What kind of shit is that?  The onus should be put on US, to make them act like human beings??  2) Those minds, "clouded by Slavery," are "poor materials to start with?"  Pitting the House Negro's alleged superior thinking against the Field Negro's alleged inferior thinking is so par for white supremacy's course.  3) And this, especially, is the pinnacle of that course, which is still working like a champ to this day -- "It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed."

O-h-h-h, given the Changeling's craven idolatry of the guy, were he around today, he would certainly give his little, brown-faced "homeboy" a hearty pat on the head for his performance to date!  I have no particular love for Rev. Jesse Jackson but, the predominantly white, MSM's heyday notwithstanding, he certainly should have stood by his open-mike comment about the Changeling back in 2008 (Okay, maybe not the "nuts" part) -- because he was right about him "talking down to Black folk," mirroring Lincoln's encouragement to these Black men.
There is much to encourage you. For the sake of your race you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white people. It is a cheering thought throughout life that something can be done to ameliorate the condition of those who have been subject to the hard usage of the world. It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself, and claims kindred to the great God who made him. In the American Revolutionary war sacrifices were made by men engaged in it; but they were cheered by the future. Gen. Washington himself endured greater physical hardships than if he had remained a British subject. Yet he was a happy man, because he was engaged in benefiting his race---something for the children of his neighbors, having none of his own. (emphasis mine)
"For the sake of your race..."  Okay,  I'm getting plenty weary of the guilt-tripping, aren't you?  And even more, I'm sick of him telling Black folk to be, "as grand in that respect as the white people."  And what exactly does Washington's "commitment" have to do with anything?  He was considered white, just like them.
The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time.  In a certain sense it is a success. The old President of Liberia, Roberts, has just been with me---the first time I ever saw him. He says they have within the bounds of that colony between 300,000 and 400,000 people, or more than in some of our old States, such as Rhode Island or Delaware, or in some of our newer States, and less than in some of our larger ones. They are not all American colonists, or their descendants. Something less than 12,000 have been sent thither from this country. Many of the original settlers have died, yet, like people elsewhere, their offspring outnumber those deceased.

The question is if the colored people are persuaded to go anywhere, why not there? One reason for an unwillingness to do so is that some of you would rather remain within reach of the country of your nativity. I do not know how much attachment you may have toward our race. It does not strike me that you have the greatest reason to love them. But still you are attached to them at all events. (emphasis mine)
First, he tells these men, "in a certain sense," that Liberia is a success.  Yet, he talks about meeting the "old president of Liberia" for the first time.  In a certain sense,  I don't think he knew a damned thing about the successfulness of Liberia (or didn't want to admit how much success had been made as relayed during that first-time visit).
The place I am thinking about having for a colony is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia---not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven days' run by steamers. Unlike Liberia it is on a great line of travel---it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land---thus being suited to your physical condition.

The particular place I have in view is to be a great highway from the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and this particular place has all the advantages for a colony. On both sides there are harbors among the finest in the world. Again, there is evidence of very rich coal mines. A certain amount of coal is valuable in any country, and there may be more than enough for the wants of the country. Why I attach so much importance to coal is, it will afford an opportunity to the inhabitants for immediate employment till they get ready to settle permanently in their homes.

If you take colonists where there is no good landing, there is a bad show; and so where there is nothing to cultivate, and of which to make a farm. But if something is started so that you can get your daily bread as soon as you reach there, it is a great advantage. Coal land is the best thing I know of with which to commence an enterprise.

To return, you have been talked to upon this subject, and told that a speculation is intended by gentlemen, who have an interest in the country, including the coal mines. We have been mistaken all our lives if we do not know whites as well as blacks look to their self-interest. Unless among those deficient of intellect everybody you trade with makes something. You meet with these things here as elsewhere.

If such persons have what will be an advantage to them, the question is whether it cannot be made of advantage to you. You are intelligent, and know that success does not as much depend on external help as on self-reliance. Much, therefore, depends upon yourselves. As to the coal mines, I think I see the means available for your self-reliance.

I shall, if I get a sufficient number of you engaged, have provisions made that you shall not be wronged. If you will engage in the enterprise I will spend some of the money intrusted to me. I am not sure you will succeed. The Government may lose the money, but we cannot succeed unless we try; but we think, with care, we can succeed. (emphasis mine)
Now did he think the "similarity of climate" to our "native land" thing was a deal-maker?  Hell, all of the Deep South has that kind of climate (one of the main reasons they brought us here to clear land, prepare fields and grow cotton and rice, among other cash crops)!  And ole Abe was just being totally dishonest about the whole, "rich coal mines" nonsense.  As it turns out, it was merely another, flashing-of-cash-to-come, setting-folk-up-to-fail exercise.  According to Beard's piece, "The Chiriquí venture was, in retrospect, doomed from the start. Ambrose Thompson’s title to the coal lands proved questionable, and a report by the Smithsonian Institution’s Joseph Henry found that the Chiriquí coal was almost worthless as fuel."
The political affairs in Central America are not in quite as satisfactory condition as I wish. There are contending factions in that quarter; but it is true all the factions are agreed alike on the subject of colonization, and want it, and are more generous than we are here. To your colored race they have no objection. Besides, I would endeavor to have you made equals, and have the best assurance that you should be the equals of the best. (emphasis mine)
Another outright lie, as indicated in the last paragraph of footnote 1:  "A letter of authority from Lincoln to Pomeroy was prepared for Lincoln's signature, probably by the State Department, under date of September 10, 1862, but remains unsigned in duplicate copies in the Lincoln Papers. The project was abandoned when first Honduras and later Nicaragua and Costa Rica protested the scheme and hinted that force might be used to prevent the settlement."

Besides lying on Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, can somebody please tell me how he could have us made equals -- in Central America?  By throwing some money around to foment rebellion between the "contending factions "like his "homeboy" does today?  And even if that would have worked, it wouldn't have made us "equal" -- just gone (which is all he wanted anyway).
The practical thing I want to ascertain is whether I can get a number of able-bodied men, with their wives and children, who are willing to go, when I present evidence of encouragement and protection. Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, to ``cut their own fodder,'' so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could find twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and children, good things in the family relation, I think I could make a successful commencement. (emphasis mine)
Sounds like an auctioneer doesn't he?
I want you to let me know whether this can be done or not. This is the practical part of my wish to see you. These are subjects of very great importance, worthy of a month's study, [instead] of a speech delivered in an hour. I ask you then to consider seriously not pertaining to yourselves merely, nor for your race, and ours, for the present time, but as one of the things, if successfully managed, for the good of mankind---not confined to the present generation, but as

"From age to age descends the lay,

To millions yet to be,

Till far its echoes roll away,

Into eternity."

The above is merely given as the substance of the President's remarks.

The Chairman of the delegation briefly replied that "they would hold a consultation and in a short time give an answer." The President said: "Take your full time---no hurry at all."

The delegation then withdrew. (emphasis mine)

"For the good of mankind." Now that just warrants nothin' but this: Glitter Graphics |  And, going back to Beard's piece, there were better men than Lincoln who agree:

Nevertheless, the publication of Lincoln’s remarks at the meeting generated a furious response from all corners of the anti-slavery world. To Senator John P. Hale, a Radical Republican from New Hampshire, “The idea of removing the whole colored population from this country is one of the most absurd ideas that ever entered into the head of man or woman.” Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase, wrote in his diary, “How much better would be a manly protest against prejudice against color! — and a wise effort to give freemen homes in America!” On Aug. 22 William Lloyd Garrison editorialized that “the nation’s four million slaves are as much the natives of this country as any of their oppressors,” and two weeks later The Pacific Appeal noted that Lincoln’s words “made it evident that he, his cabinet, and most of the people, care but little for justice to the negro.” And Frederick Douglass said that “the President of the United States seems to possess an ever increasing passion for making himself appear silly and ridiculous, if nothing worse.” (emphasis mine)

Unlike Mr. Beard, I experienced no "shock" at all in reading Lincoln's machinations toward these free Black men.  Maybe because, I long ago abandoned the whole "Lincoln-freed-the-slaves" meme as some humanitarian gesture on his part (h-m-m-m-m, his "homeboy," uses that word, "humanitarian" a lot too -- right before he joins the "usual suspects" in some land-grabbing, imperialist, regime changing inhumanity) -- because it was not.  It was merely a focused military strategy to "save the Union," which didn't even apply to those slaves in border states or those in southern states already under Union control.

So let's just be clear -- Lincoln's concern was neither for us, nor our well-being.  His aim was to keep this country as white as he possibly could, which is why he's no "homeboy" of mine.  And while I agree with William Lloyd Garrison above, there are days when this comment I read and saved long ago, makes more and more sense to me:
"Stay where you are celebrated, reconsider where you are tolerated, and flee where you are persecuted."

-- commenter Alex Raventhorne on "....and yet they wonder why POC emigrate"

-"Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream"/ Lerone Bennett, Jr. (video)
- A Separate Peace
- Emancipation’s Price
- Thomas concedes that ‘we the people’ didn’t include blacks
-Was the Civil War actually about Slavery?
- I'm Black Really. Just Read My Book
- The incredible nothingness of "whiteness"... (you can listen to the entire October 26, 1965, Baldwin v Buckley debate at Cambridge from which the first video was taken here)
- Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man from His Native Land (Randall Robinson interview begins at the 28:27 click)


Asabagna said...

Glad you're back blogging! Insightful and educational commentary!


Deb said...

Asa...Thanks Man, I always appreciate your feedback!

Sis. Carolyn inspired me the other day when she said on your last post, "Sis Deb..we must continue to be the 'town criers' and chip away at this 'enormous' challenge in the spirit of those ancestors who fought the good fight!" And a big part of the challenge is to try to ensure, as much as I can, that we live in the light of truth. I want our babies to know what really happened (and continues to happen) so that they are armed with some tools to help them critically think, instead of being, as Alisha said on that same post, "so mesmerized by the illusions of western values that we see no need to be liberated and unified" -- because we cannot, as a people, continue on like this.

Lofty goals I know, but worth a try, no?

Blessings Brother, and thanks for providing a space where folk can be inspired! Greetings to the family.

P.S. Sucks that Barber's "A Past Denied " project folded in your neck of the woods. That was some history I knew very little about!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...