Friday, April 25, 2008

Harriet Beecher Stowe agreed with Jeremiah Wright

Republicans and their fellow travelers seem profoundly insulted that Rev. Jeremiah Wright would say "God damn America" for our treatment of blacks, but Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that arguably accelerated the movement against slavery and therefore helped put Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president in office, agreed with Wright.

These are the words she closes her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin with:

This is an age of the world when nations are trembling and convulsed. A mighty influence is abroad, surging and heaving the world, as with an earthquake. And is America safe? Every nation that carries in its bosom great and unredressed injustice has in it the elements of this last convulsion.

For what is this mighty influence thus rousing in all nations and languages those groanings that cannot be uttered, for man's freedom and equality?

O, Church of Christ, read the signs of the times! Is not this power the spirit of HIM whose kingdom is yet to come, and whose will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

But who may abide the day of his appearing? "For that day shall burn as an oven: and he shall appear as a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger in his right: and he shall break in pieces the oppressor."

Are not these dread words for a nation bearing in her bosom so mighty an injustice? Christians! every time that you pray that the kingdom of Christ may come, can you forget that prophecy associates, in dread fellowship, the day of vengeance with the year of his redeemed?

A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved,—but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Arguably, God did damn America for slavery. More Americans died in the Civil War than any war until World War II, and far more died as a percentage of the population than any war before or since.

Slavery may have ended 150 years ago, but the Jim Crow period of discrimination against blacks ended a mere 43 years ago when Rev. Wright was already an adult, and recently enough that nearly every politician in Washington can remember those days. Are we so certain that we are without sin that Wright's words are an indictment of him rather than of us and the injustices we allow to continue?

When a family goes bankrupt to pay the hospital bills that keep their child alive, or is turned out of their house because of the fine print in a mortgage, or can't afford to send their child to college so they send him to war, a war that takes the lives of a million people who had no means to be a threat to us, all so the wealthy could get wealthier, those are just the kind of injustices Stowe had in mind.

None of this will trouble those on the right because their religion has been carefully crafted to not interfere with making a buck.

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