Skip to comments.Farrakhan and the Founders
Posted on 09/05/2002 7:40:03 AM PDT by Sir Gawain
On Saturday August 17 in Washington, D.C. this year, thousands showed up for the Millions for Reparations Mass Rally. As the name suggests, the attendees were trying to provoke a transfer of wealth in their favor. But one of the leaders threw them a curve.
"We're not asking white people [for reparations]," said Louis Farrakhan, who headlined the event. "We are demanding what is justly ours."  What Farrakhan believes is justly theirs is massive amounts of land, which the government should hand over to him and his followers. "As a nation within a nation, we need land as a basis of economic and political independence," Farrakhan said. "We cannot settle for some little jive token we need millions of acres of land that black people can build and use for ourselves."
He said blacks need "payment for the destruction of our minds; the robbery of our language, our culture, our history, our religion, our God, our self-dignity, and our self-worth." But, he added, in the most telling moment of his 15-minute speech, "we cannot accept a cash payment because a fool and his money will soon part."
Farrakhan's followers should be worried. Not only does their leader consider them dupes, he knows he can tell them so to their faces without eliciting offense.
In a speech made for a different march seven years ago, Farrakhan identified what he believes is the real problem with the country: white supremacy. According to Farrakhan, this is what our founders really founded. "The [original Seal of the United States] and the Constitution reflect the thinking of the founding fathers, that this was to be a nation by White people and for White people. Native Americans, Blacks, and all other non-White people were to be the burden bearers for the real citizens of this nation." 
The focus of his 1995 speech was a phrase he borrowed from the Constitution's preamble. "When Jefferson said, 'toward a more perfect union,' he was admitting that the union was not perfect," Farrakhan declared, attributing authorship to the wrong founder. "[W]e are gathered here to collect ourselves for a responsibility that God is placing on our shoulders to move this nation toward a more perfect union."
Farrakhan believes the union will move closer to perfection if it hands over a country's worth of land to his gang. And the reason it has fallen short of perfection is because our founders were racists who wanted to rule with an aristocracy of white slaveowning males.
Let's see what happens to this argument when we burden it with facts.
We know many of the founders owned slaves. Does it follow they were seeking to perpetuate the "peculiar institution" or establish an elitist white plutocracy? On the contrary, in spite of their inconsistency, the founders created the legal system necessary to demolish slavery and every other wrong that stood opposed to man's rights. No one on earth had ever done this before.
The Declaration of Independence (the document Jefferson did write) proclaimed that all men possess rights by virtue of being alive, that the purpose of government was to secure these rights. It was unanimously approved by the Second Continental Congress, not carelessly, but after three days of debate. Jefferson's original draft included an antislavery passage that congress deleted because it misleadingly charged the king with maintaining the colonial slave trade. Since it couldn't be included with the litany of the king's "repeated injuries and usurpations," the opening statement about man's rights served as congress's implied position on slavery. In support of this Declaration, it forcefully concluded, all members pledged to one another their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
According to delegate John Adams, the mood of congress was somber and quiet as each man came forward to sign the Declaration. They had no illusions about what they were doing. Smiles broke out only once, when the rotund Colonel Harrison of Virginia remarked to Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body, you will dance in the air for an hour or two before you are dead." 
The fifty-six delegates believed they were signing their own death warrants. This is not what we would expect of men engaged in political subterfuge. White supremacists with much to lose don't put their lives on the line for the rights of man.
Many people then and since have claimed neither Jefferson nor Congress included blacks in the phrase "all men are created equal." Was Jefferson thinking of all men when he wrote that phrase? In the excised passage against slavery in his first draft, Jefferson wrote that the king was determined "to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold."  (Jefferson's emphasis) If Jefferson believed blacks were not men, his indictment would have been pointless.
But regardless of his view, the Declaration emerged from the Pennsylvania State House with unanimous approval of "all men" possessing inalienable rights. And "all men," not surprisingly, was taken by most people to mean everyone. And their rights were inalienable not a loan from the state. This interpretation fueled the abolitionist and women's rights movements. Why would a delegation of educated men bind themselves to such wording if they were seeking a society of white male supremacy?
And why would another assembly of men approve a constitution and bill of rights that limited the power of the rulers, if these men were bigots, as Farrakhan charges? If you're going to subjugate others, you want the sanction of legitimacy you want legal control of the police, courts, military, and especially the press. Abolitionists were seething, and under the Constitution they could continue their crusade and did.
What went wrong? The election of 1860.
After a 3,000-year run, slavery was disappearing from the face of the earth during the first half of the 19th century, thanks mostly to the Enlightenment philosophy of man's rights. The free market, a product of the Enlightenment, accelerated its demise. "[C]apital-intensive agriculture and industry began to render labor-intensive production, including slave labor, uncompetitive," notes economic historian Thomas J. DiLorenzo. "As the economist Ludwig von Mises wrote, 'Servile labor disappeared because it could not stand the competition of free labor; its profitability sealed its doom in the market economy.'" 
In most countries slavery died with little or no violence. But when a new American president took office in 1860, rather than fight for peaceful emancipation, he baited the South into a long and devastating war in what could be described as an anti-American Revolution. When the war ended, states rights and the Constitution were among the seriously injured. Reconstruction, far from healing the wounds of the war, inflamed the animosity between the races.
"The one unequivocal good that came of Lincoln's war was the abolition of slavery," DiLorenzo writes. "But the way in which Lincoln chose to end slavery could not possibly have been more divisive." 
Today's student of history will certainly feel strong indignation over the treatment accorded to politically dispossessed groups in our past. But the past is gone, along with the guilty parties and the victims. In creating political freedom for all men in principle, our founders provided the moral and legal foundation for freeing all men in fact.
What is destroying us today is not slave-owning planters or Jim Crow segregationists, but a government that claims disposal rights to our lives, liberty, and property. It robs us of all the things Farrakhan laments having lost and just about everything else.* When one considers that intrusive government was what our founders attempted to extirpate, Farrakhan should be among the fathers' meanest bulldogs.
* I urge people to savor the near-extinct feeling of independence by growing their own tax-free, regulation-free, mouth-watering tomatoes.
1. Farrakhan Rails Against 'White Supremacy', Michael L. Betsch, http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=\\Politics\\archive\\200208\\POL20020818a.html
2. Minister Farrakhan challenges black men, CNN.com, October 17, 1995, http://www-cgi.cnn.com/US/9510/megamarch/10-16/transcript/
3. Rosenfeld, Richard N. 1997. American Aurora: A Democratic-Republican Returns. New York: St. Martin¹s Griffin. p. 282.
4. Jefferson's Draft of the Declaration of Independence, http://www.duke.edu/eng169s2/group1/lex3/roughpl.htm
5. DiLorenzo, Thomas J. 2002. The Real Lincoln: A New Look At Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Roseville, California: Prima Publishing. p. 47.
6. Ibid. p. 275.
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Loui and all in attendance need to look at the "brotha" and "sista" standing next to them and ask for this payment....
How are you today, Khepera?
The slave trade started when the Muslims took slaves out of Africa East to the then existing Muslim countries. The school system in United States gives the perception that all the slaves were transported to the United States. 430,000 slaves actually entered the US, 3,500,000 ended up in Brazil alone.
The blacks in the US won the lottery.
To hear Farrakhan, you'd think the founders invented slavery. Yet he doesn't rant about Africa and the slavery that still exists there.
Hi, Jedediah. Bye, Jedediah.
Let's examine slavery. Some anthropologists in the past claim slavery originated in a desire to do something with one's enemies other than to kill them -- in other words, it was an act of mercy. The Bible does not decry slavery; it does set certain rules for the manner in which one may treat a slave. Until the late 18th century no one really gave any thought to the right or wrong of slavery -- it was simply part of every day life. So, instead of being so flippant, would it not be more educational to explore the question? Why is slavery so wrong? Depriving someone of the fruits of his work is wrong, but then again, that is what an income tax does.
What do you mean?
Hmmm, maybe they are dupes.