Lions and Tigers and Obama…..Oh My!

Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. Virginia, that bastion of the Confederacy, went blue for the first time in how many years…….40+ if I remember right.

And to top it off……Hoosier-ville (better known as Indiana to most of you) went blue too. For the first time since 1964.

As of this minute they still haven’t called North Carolina (even though with all the precincts reporting Barack is up by about 13,000 votes) and even though some have called Missouri, it is still close and all the provisional ballots haven’t been counted yet.

But I’m off to the Worship Committee meeting in a couple of minutes. I’ll get to see analysis afterwards.

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Lions and Tigers and Obama…..Oh My!

  1. “Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.”

    I expect that he and other “famous Unitarians” are positively spinning in their graves when it comes to what has become of classical Unitarianism. Indeed I have suggested that modern U*Us might want to hook up Thomas Jefferson and other deceased “famous U*Us” spinning in their graves as an ever so eco-friendly source of alternative energy. 😉 I am not sure that Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave as a result of the Democratic Party taking Virginia though. After all his Democratic-Republican Party later split and one of those offshoots evolved into today’s Democratic Party. I won’t speculate on how he would feel about a half-white half-African man becoming President of the United States of America. 😉

  2. I tend to think that if TJ were able to see the changes in context, he would be OK with all three in context. (UUism, Black president, Virginia voting Democratic.)

    After all, most people are OK with UUism existing, Obama being fairly elected and Virginians voting for Democratic candidates if they want to. My impression is that while Jefferson was a racist, he wasn’t more racist than most people of his time, so I tend to think that if he were fully informed, he wouldn’t be more prejudiced than a person living now.

    (Particularly given his love of science. The scientists of his day were racists, too, and their findings reflected their beliefs. If Jefferson had been told that African-Americans were inferior all his life and had been shown what looks like evidence to that effect, him accepting that isn’t a big surprise and doesn’t mean that giving him better research wouldn’t change his mind. He certainly wasn’t stupid, after all.)

    CC

  3. I agree with CC. Calling Jefferson (or for that matter, Lincoln) racist because their expressed attitudes about race don’t match up to contemporary understandings is simply wrong-headed. We see more clearly today because we stand on the shoulders of giants. So let’s be forgiving of their shortcomings, and also humble about our own.

  4. Ack. . .

    The results of the Google search that I created for –

    Was Abraham Lincoln a White Supremacist?

    that I provided a link to almost two years ago to show that Abraham Lincoln had made statements that were of a White Supremacist racist nature now has top level results going to the blog posts of a “Christian Zionist” who seems to be using the pertinent Abraham Lincoln quotes to justify and rationalize his own White Supremacist attitude. . .

    http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com/2008/01/abraham-lincoln-was-white-supremacist.html

    Oh well. . . I guess that actually serves very well to underline the validity of my point doesn’t it Eclectic Cleric?

    “I will say, then, that I AM NOT NOR HAVE EVER BEEN in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races—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 will ever 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.”

    — 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate, September 18th, 1858; COLLECTED WORKS Vol. 3, pp. 145-146

    WWBOT?

  5. I don’t think anybody is arguing that Lincoln or Jefferson weren’t racists from our modern perspective.

    I think the fallacy is the assumption “If a guy who lived in the 1800’s knew what was going on today, he would still have exactly the same beliefs he’d had in the 1800’s and none of the things we know today could possibly change his mind.”

    Jefferson and Lincoln were really, really smart guys. I think if they had known what we knew now, their views would have been different.

    This is more straightforward when you apply the idea to science. What you and Kim are saying is like saying “Aristotle would turn over in his grave if he knew that the schools were teaching children that the earth isn’t the center of the universe.”

    CC

  6. That’s correct CC. Kim and I are basing our comments on what Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln actually said (i.e. their “expressed attitudes”) during their actual lifetimes rather than if they had hypothetically evolved in their graves or something, as you seem to be suggesting.

    Eclectic Cleric said – Calling Jefferson (or for that matter, Lincoln) racist because their expressed attitudes about race don’t match up to contemporary understandings is simply wrong-headed.

    Sorry CC but Abraham Lincoln’s “expressed attitudes about race”, of which I have provided one example here, were definitely racist and White Supremacist. Indeed they could have and should have been considered racist and White Supremacist at the time his attitude was expressed. Who knows? Maybe some of his contemporaries did consider rather too honest Abe to be a racist and White Supremacist. . .

    I am not as familiar with Thomas Jefferson’s “expressed attitudes about race” but perhaps someone can enlighten me. I none-the-less have some reasonable grounds to believe that he might have been considerably less racist than “Honest Abe”. Feel free to prove me wrong in that reasonable assumption.

    If anyone is being simply wrong-headed here it is The Eclectic Cleric aka Rev. Tim Jensen for suggesting that people should not be calling Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln racist because their expressed attitudes about race don’t match up to contemporary understandings. Which historic figure’s “shortcomings” should we forgive next because their well documented expressed attitudes about race don’t match up to contemporary understandings? U*Us know who I am thinking of here. . .

  7. (((if they had hypothetically evolved in their graves or something, as you seem to be suggesting.)))

    Not evolving, just getting new information.

    If they can’t get the information that a black president has been elected, then they wouldn’t know to be shocked or spin in their graves or what have you?

    If they can get the information that a black president has been elected, who are we to say they couldn’t have gotten other information?

    A lot would come down to the way you asked the question. I’m not entirely sure that if you reanimated Thomas Jefferson at this moment and said “Mr. Jefferson, as of 2008, we do our best to treat black people about how white people are treated and there’s no more slavery and we educate them. In doing so, we’ve found out that black people are just as smart and capable as white people. Indeed, there’s a black man who is so smart that he graduated from the best universities and has been a professor. He was a senator for awhile and did a good job and we just elected him president” that he would object, though I don’t doubt that he would surprised.

    But then, he might well reason that if we were smart enough to reanimate the dead, we might know a few things he didn’t. And as one of his period’s biggest proponents of universal education, he himself had figured out in his own time that educated poor people were of value to society and not necessarily dumber than educated rich people, so he might well be able to apply the concept to african-americans.

    Again, he was a smart guy. Even his critics don’t deny that. Ditto for Lincoln.

    ((( Indeed they could have and should have been considered racist and White Supremacist at the time his attitude was expressed. ))

    I’m sure they were. The difference is that racism and white supremacism were considered correct.

    Aristotle’s peers no doubt thought of him as a geo-centrist. They didn’t think anything of it, though, because most of the world thought the word was geocentric until at least Copernicus in the 1540’s, and nobody really believed him until Kepler started predicting the transit of Venus 100 years later.

    Just as there are modern racists, there are modern geocentrists.

    Both are wrong.

    And I think it would be as obvious to someone from the past who was allowed to familiarise himself with the information we take for granted as it is to us.

    CC

  8. Alternate example.

    One day you wake up in a fancy hospital bed surrounded by scientists. They say:

    “Mr. Edgar, you may not know this, but you’ve been dead for three hundred years. In that time, we’ve figured out that dolphins are just as smart as people. Now dolphins go to school with humans. Indeed, there’s a dophin who is so smart he graduated from Harvard law and was a professor. Then he was a senator and he did a good job so we just elected him president.”

    Would you say:

    a. That’s impossible! There’s no way dolphins are as smart as people! The American people have made a terrible mistake! I know because that’s what I was taught in the 20th century and we were right!

    or

    b. Whoa. I wouldn’t have thought that, but wow. Tell me more!

    I would go for b. If you would go for b, then why do you think Jefferson or Lincoln are any less reasonable than you?

    CC
    who doesn’t think dolphins are as smart as people. But she’s been told her whole life they aren’t because scientists say they aren’t.

  9. You really know how to put your foot in it don’t you CC. . .

    “and we educate them.”

    Ouch.

    “Indeed, there’s a black man who is so smart that he graduated from the best universities and has been a professor.”

    What? Only one?

    For the record I was taught in the 20th century that dolphins are highly intelligent animals, so I actually would think that it just might be possible for dolphins to um “school with humans”. In fact they already do in a sense, but not at the Harvard level just yet.

    Flipper for President in 2072 is a bit of a stretch though.

  10. ((Ouch.))

    Indeed, but it would be the quickest way to explain it to Jefferson in a way he would understand.

    ((What? Only one?))

    I was only talking about one at that moment.

    (((For the record I was taught in the 20th century that dolphins are highly intelligent animals, so I actually would think that it just might be possible for dolphins to um “school with humans”. In fact they already do in a sense, but not at the Harvard level just yet. )))

    Know any dolphins that can read?

    Jefferson had slaves who could read, though likely not at the Harvard level. Eventually, there got to be a law against teaching slaves to read, which I would call proof that most people knew it was possible for them to learn.

    So why are you so sure Jefferson would have “spun in his grave” when a black man elected president in three hundred years if a dolphin president in 54 years is only “A bit of a stretch” for you?

    Are you that much smarter than Thomas Jefferson, Robin?

    CC

  11. Hi

    Good luck in this difficult debate. I was going to say something but it came out pure snark so I deleted it.

    best wishes

    ps how does your computer know who I am – email address, etc?

  12. ::((Ouch.))

    :Indeed, but it would be the quickest way to explain it to Jefferson in a way he would understand.

    I am not convinced that talking down to Thomas Jefferson would be the quickest way to explain “it” to him in a way he would understand. It certainly is far from the best way. “We educate them” insults the intelligence of both Thomas Jefferson and *them*. . .

    ::((What? Only one?))

    :I was only talking about one at that moment.

    I noticed. The whole point is that you should not have been talking about just one CC. Surely it would be more compelling to inform Thomas Jefferson that many African-Americans have graduated from America’s best universitioes and that there are a good number of African American professors, to say nothing of members of Congress.

    ::(((For the record I was taught in the 20th century that dolphins are highly intelligent animals, so I actually would think that it just might be possible for dolphins to um “school with humans”. In fact they already do in a sense, but not at the Harvard level just yet. )))

    :Know any dolphins that can read?

    I don’t personally know any dolphins that can read English text, but that just shows up one of the serious flaws in *your* rather ridiculous analogy. Right CC? It is not entirely out of the question that dolphins could be taught to read though. Certainly they can be taught to respond to various acoustic commands.

    :Jefferson had slaves who could read, though likely not at the Harvard level. Eventually, there got to be a law against teaching slaves to read, which I would call proof that most people knew it was possible for them to learn.

    No kidding. . . I am pretty sure that 19th century abolitionists were not the equivalent of today’s animal rights activists CC. I have a feeling that they considered African American slaves to be intelligent human beings worthy of equal rights.

    :So why are you so sure Jefferson would have “spun in his grave” when a black man elected president in three hundred years if a dolphin president in 54 years is only “A bit of a stretch” for you?

    You obviously did not properly interpret my words about Thomas Jefferson CC. I said, “I am not sure that Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave as a result of the Democratic Party taking Virginia though. After all his Democratic-Republican Party later split and one of those offshoots evolved into today’s Democratic Party.” I thus clearly expressing doubt about Thomas Jefferson being terribly surprised or even objecting to the Democratic Party winning in Virginia. In that context I don’t see how anyone can reasonably interpret my statement,

    “I won’t speculate on how he would feel about a half-white half-African man becoming President of the United States of America.”

    complete with a smiley wink 😉 emoticon as me being “so sure Jefferson would have “spun in his grave” when a black man (was) elected president in three hundred years.” I prudently chose not to speculate because I simply did not know enough about Thomas Jefferson’s “expressed attitudes about race” to comment one way or the other. The smiley wink emoticon fairly obviously referred to the fact that Thomas Jefferson is now believed to have fathered some half-white half-African children. In my ignorance of Thomas Jefferson’s “expressed attitudes about race”, and in light of his “expressed attitude” in drafting the Declaration of Independence, I felt that it was within possibility that Thomas Jefferson might not be “rolling over in his grave” in the knowledge that a half-white half-African man had just been elected President of the United States of America.

    As a result of this blog post, and the comments posted to it, I decided that it would be best all round to enter into an ever so U*U free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of whether or not Thomas Jefferson was a racist. The results of my initial research are not very uplifting. I had hoped that he might come out of it looking somewhat better than rather too “Honest Abe”. Quite regrettably, it now seems that Thomas Jefferson might have been an even worse racist and White Supremacist than Abraham Lincoln. . . It seems that Kim Hampton knew whereof she spoke when she suggested that Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave as a result of the results of this election.

    @ The Eclectic Cleric – You know it really might have been advisable to enter into a free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of whether or not Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were racists before so publicly pretending that “Calling (them) racist because their expressed attitudes about race don’t match up to contemporary understandings is simply wrong-headed.” I am very confident that most people of intelligence and conscience, to say nothing of anti-racist U*Us. . . will agree that your ridiculous assertion here is simply wrong-headed.

    :Are you that much smarter than Thomas Jefferson, Robin?

    Is any reasonably well educated person brought up in the latter part of the 20th century that much smarter than Thomas Jefferson, Suzyn? One thing that I am quite sure of CC is that I am a whole lot less racist than he was, and far from being a White Supremacist. Of course that might not be saying all that much in light of just how racist and White Supremacist Jefferson is looking right now.

    ::(((I actually would think that it just might be possible for dolphins to um “school with humans”. In fact they already do in a sense)))

    :What sense would that be?

    U*Us know sometimes words have two meanings. In a couple of senses CC. Dolphins aren’t exactly fish but in that there are “dolphin therapy” programs in which humans and dolphins swim together as a group they “school” together in that sense of the word. I was of course referencing attempts by humans to um “educate them” too however. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that some dolphins have graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy as it were.

  13. (((It would not be unreasonable to suggest that some dolphins have graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy as it were.)))

    It would be unreasonable for you to suggest it seriously.

    As for the rest, yes, almost all 20th century Americans are less racist than almost all people were several hundred years ago, so I will certainly agree that you were less racist than Jefferson.

    Much like almost all 20th centurey Americans are less geocentristic in their views of the universe than almost all the ancient greeks were.

    And where do your get your information about what dolphins can and cannot do? Have you personally ever really tried to get a dolphin to read or talked to one about economic policy?
    Or are you getting your information from scientists who have?

    If so, you’re relying on the scientists of your day much as Jefferson relied on the scientists of his and the idea of a dolphin president sounds ridiculous to you for much the same reason that a black president would have sounded ridiculous to him.

    CC

  14. It’s really quite amazing how you can not only put words in my mouth CC, but thoughts in my brain. . .

    :(((It would not be unreasonable to suggest that some dolphins have graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy as it were.)))

    :It would be unreasonable for you to suggest it seriously.

    Actually it is perfectly reasonable for me to somewhat waggishly allude to the fact that dolphins have been successfully trained to engage in mine-sweeping operations etc. for the U.S. Navy CC.

  15. (((I am not convinced that talking down to Thomas Jefferson would be the quickest way to explain “it” to him in a way he would understand.)))

    But it’s not talking down to him. It’s talking to him like we are both members of a ruling class.

    I don’t doubt that one could explain to him that (a) rich white people don’t particularly see themselves as a ruling class at this point and (b) that even if they do, they certainly don’t talk about themselves that way, but I didn’t see why we would take the time to do so when we were really only looking to ask him about Obama.

    (((Surely it would be more compelling to inform Thomas Jefferson that many African-Americans have graduated from America’s best universitioes and that there are a good number of African American professors, to say nothing of members of Congress.))

    Well, yeah, but I thought we were trying to ask him the question?

    (((Actually it is perfectly reasonable for me to somewhat waggishly allude to the fact that dolphins have been successfully trained to engage in mine-sweeping operations etc. for the U.S. Navy))

    Well, yeah, the Navy trains dolphins.

    But if you get a job as a janitor at Harvard and your boss trains you to run the vacuum cleaner, that’s not “graduating with top honors.”

    CC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s