Actions may be legal, or they may be illegal. Whether they are moral or not is a totally separate question. (When the law is wrong, lawbreaking is the right thing to do.) But while actions may be illegal, people are not. A person’s existence and life and worth aren’t reducible to the papers that they carry or the legal or political status that they have. If you’re talking about people that way, you ought to consider talking about them a different way. Referring to women or men or children or human beings by their legal status alone is dehumanizing and insulting to them; it is also coarsening and brutalizing for the person doing the referring. It encourages the worst in those who do it, and it justifies inhuman reactions toward those that it is done to. No human being is “illegal.”
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There’s nothing wrong with exploration, or with daring the unknown, or with intercultural exchange. Those are great, they’re inspiring, they’re one of the best, most exciting things that human beings do. It’s a wonderful tale, for those who survive to tell it.
But there is something wrong with wiping out entire cultures, enslaving and murdering millions of people. Which is what Christopher Columbus did, among other things, as governor of
Hispaniola. He recorded in his own diaries how he enslaved indigenous people and sent them to early deaths in the mines; he sold young girls into sexual slavery for his men; when indigenous Caribbeans fought back against his aggression he massacred them and paraded the rebels’ dismembered corpses through the streets as a demonstration. He inaugurated the most amazing and important intercultural exchange in the history of the planet Earth on terms that perverted everything about it into a centuries-long march of domination, slavery, conquest, genocide and death.
It’s not that he was
a man of his time. That’s not an excuse for anything. But even if it were,
men of his time, both American and Spanish, denounced what he was doing. A Spanish Catholic friar wrote a few decades after Columbus’s regime began in the Caribbean that
Yet into this sheepfold, into this land of meek outcasts there came some Spaniards who immediately behaved like ravening wild beasts, wolves, tigers, or lions that had been starved for many days. And Spaniards have behaved in no other way during the past forty years, down to the present time, for they are still acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola once so populous (having a population that I estimated to be more than three million), has now a population of barely two hundred persons.
It is the shame of the human race that there exist countries where this man’s deeds are still promoted as an inspiring example to schoolchildren or celebrated as a national holiday. His name ought to be remembered in infamy alongside those of Heinrich Himmler, Josef Stalin, and Genghis Khan.
Of course, this is a shameful move from Barack Obama. Immigrants’ lives and families are being sacrificed, yet again, over and over and again, to opportunism and to crass political calculation. The careers of Democratic politicians are not more important than people’s lives and livelihoods. What makes it worse is that this move is as completely predictable as it is morally grotesque.
Progressive electoral politics is like building a vast, extraordinarily expensive, Rouge River-scale machine plant to build cars. Then, after the ribbon is cut, the plant opens to great fanfare, billions of dollars are spent, and a couple of go-karts are rolled off the line as a test, the manager up tells you that there won’t be any more cars for the time being — because all the wear and tear on the machines would destroy their ability to make more cars, some day in the future. So until then you’ll have to wait. All the while the machine whirs along, drawing more power and costing more money all the time, but no more cars ever come off the line, because every time there might have been some output, it was sacrificed to make sure that the machine itself would keep idling smoothly. But it is so perfectly polished.
If you’re in Auburn, and you’ve been watching the police-state horror-show unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, you may be interested to know about this. TOMORROW (Friday, August 15) at 12pm, on Samford Lawn, Auburn University campus.
Announcement forwarded from AU Black Student Union follows
Attention auburn friends and family:
“Hands Up!” event tomorrow organized by BSU at 12pm on samford lawn to honor Michael Brown + raise awareness about police brutality directed at people of color
LET’S SHOW UP ! ! !
more info below from email sent by BSU’s president
Due to the recent events emerging in Ferguson, Missouri, in relation to the death of Michael Brown, Black Student Union would like to show its support in the fight for equality by joining in the “Hands Up!” Movement. This movement has been spreading rapidly around the country and we should all raise our voices in the fight for justice. We should raise our voices for those who cannot any longer, for Sean Bell, for Oscar Grant, for Amadou Diallo, for Michael Brown and for countless others. Meet us on Samford Lawn tomorrow, Friday, August 15th at noon to take a picture and let’s show the people of Ferguson, Missouri, that they have our support.
Hope to see you tomorrow at noon on Samford with your hands up.
Jasmine S. Pettaway
Your BSU President
From time to time I have mentioned my ongoing project of making full issues of William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator available at
fair-use.org. The Liberator is big (52-53 issues every year, for 35 years!) and the project has progressed at a slow pace. But I’m happy to announce that that should be picking up — thanks to a break from other obligations, a fundraiser to cover the costs through the Molinari Institute, and generous contributions from supporters all over the Internet the Liberator scanning project has added 105 new issues to the online archive, and should be able to proceed much more quickly and steadily from here on out — it’s on pace to get every issue of The Liberator available in full, online, for free, by the beginning of August 2014. Want to help make that happen?
Here’s the deal. When the fundraiser project started, thanks to occasional scanning when I had the time to volunteer,
fair-use.org had ten years’ worth of The Liberator online: Volumes I.-IX. (1830-1839) and Volume XXI. (Jan.-Dec. 1851). In order to finish the remaining 25 years’ worth of issues this summer — instead of sometime around 2019 — we’re raising funds through our fiscal sponsor, the Molinari Institute — in order to get the scans online and begin to prepare an extensive, open, free and researcher-friendly archive and index for anyone who wants to learn more about radical abolitionism and the history of American social movements. The fundraiser will cover the labor costs for the scanning and the increased web hosting costs for what’s likely to become a very widely used web resource.
Thanks to generous donations from 8 donors, the Liberator Scanning Project has already raised over 10% of the goal — $246 out of the projected $2,000 budget. And thanks to those donations, I’ve already been able to add two new volumes — Volume X. and Volume XI. of The Liberator (1840-1841) — to the online archive at fair-use.org/the-liberator. The project is on track to add the next two volumes (XII. and XIII.) by the end of this week.
About the project:
The goal is to make every issue of The Liberator, from 1831-1865, available in full, online, for free, and to add free tools to aid students and researchers in searching through the archives of the paper.
- Phase I. is to scan every issue from every year of The Liberator from microfilm sources and to make facsimile PDFs available online for free at fair-use.org/the-liberator. If the fundraiser is fully funded, we should be able to add about two new volumes’ worth of facsimile PDFs each week, and complete Phase I by August 2014.
- Phase II. is to prepare a free, online hypertext index of The Liberator, similar to the Individuals and Titles and Periodicals sections of Wendy McElroy’s indispensable Comprehensive Index to LIBERTY. The index will provide an easily searchable, easily browseable and interlinked complete table of contents for every issue of The Liberator and an index of names, book titles and periodical titles appearing in its pages. If we reach our stretch goals for the fundraiser, then the fundraiser will cover most of the labor cost for Phase II as well as for the scanning project. After Phase I is complete, I should be able to work out a plausible timeline for completing Phase II, but my guess at this point is that it could possibly be completed by the end of the year.
- Phase III. would be to begin to transcribe individual articles and columns from the PDF facsimiles into lightweight, standards-based, linkable searchable HTML. This will be an immense amount of work and systematic effort to complete it will be a bit down the road. We’ll do another round of fundraising to support the Phase III transcriptions once Phase I. is complete and Phase II. is in progress.
About The Liberator
… I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.
Together with the circle of black and white radicals that his paper attracted, Garrison’s Liberator helped to organize, and offered a forum for, the Abolitionist movement that spent the next 35 years working for the immediate emancipation of all slaves, condemning racial prejudice and “American Colorphobia,” and insisting that emancipation could only truly come about by inspiring a radical moral and social transformation. It urged a politics of radicalizing conscience, and denied that electoral gamesmanship, partisan politics, or political compromise would ever bring about liberation on their own. In the age of the Fugitive Slave Acts, the Garrisonians denounced the united states Constitution as a weapon of the slavers, “A Compromise with Death and an Agreement with Hell.” Rejecting the use of either political or military power as a means of overcoming the slave system, they argued for Disunion (“No Union with Slaveholders, religiously or politically”), holding that the Northern free states should secede from the Union, thus peacefully withdrawing the Federal economic, political and military support that the Slave Power depended on, and (they argued) driving the slave system to collapse, by kicking out the Constitutional compromises that propped it up. Garrison and his circle, in the face of condemnation from more conservative anti-slavery activists, also constantly drew parallels and connections between the struggle against slavery and other struggles for social liberation, taking early and courageous stances in defense of women’s rights and international peace.
What You Can Do To Help
If you enjoy this project or find the materials useful, you can help support the work and speed up the on-going progress with a contribution to the project, in any amount, through the Molinari Institute — the not-for-profit sponsor of the Fair Use Repository. They can accept credit card donations through GoFundMe.com and also Bitcoin donations to
Please share this notice far and wide! We can finish this project on a small budget, but we need your help in getting the word out. A link here will work fine; or you can link directly to the GoFundMe.com fundraiser page at www.gofundme.com/8tb288
If you have access to microfilm and scanning equipment, you could also help the project immensely by contacting us at fair-use.org about hosting any alternative page-scans of some issues — as with any 19th century periodical, many of the issues that I’m scanning already had blemishes, tears or folds on the pages when they were preserved in microfilm, and if any parts of the text are illegible in our edition (the American Periodical Series microfilm collection, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Mich., as found in the Auburn University Libraries in Auburn, Ala.) I’d love to have alternative page-scans of those issues from other sources.
Thanks for anything you can do. And as always, read, cite, and enjoy!