"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Imagine feeling like you have to downplay slavery just because Michelle Obama made reference to it?

Bill O'Reilly, one of the supposedly " sane" Republicans, felt the need to defend the use of slave labor by the US Federal Government during the construction of the White House. This was precipitated by First Lady Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic Convention Monday night when she said  "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."
According to O'Reilly "Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz."

O'Reilly has made assumptions that since these slaves were hired by the Federal government, they were well treated. There is little evidence of how they were treated since the voice of slaves were silenced. Remember of course that they were considered " property" not people. The facts are that 9 of the first 12 US Presidents, our founding fathers, owned slaves. Many of the people contracted to work on the White House used slave labor and no one can say how they treated their slaves.

None of that really gets to the point though. Is it so hard to accept the premise that an African American  woman, herself a descendant of slaves and living in a building slaves help construct as the First Lady, would be moved emotionally by that achievement? Not very long ago the idea that the US would ever elect  a black man as President would have been unthinkable. Yet it happened.
What America should be doing is celebrating the fact that we have indeed come a long way. A person of color can aspire to be President. Young women can dream of becoming President.

Instead, O'Reilly and others feel the need to downplay the significance of the First Lady's statement, simply because of who said it. Very sad Bill.


Not a honky! said...

O'Reilly wasn't downplaying Michelle Obama's statement, he was confirming it. Some SLAVES, some freedmen, some white men, probably some Red men, maybe some women, helped build that building, before the British burnt it down in the war of 1812. Why aren't Orientals complaining about railroads! How about the Redman! Enough already! Not all Blacks complain, but have moved on.

My ancestors are from Canada, stop blaming my generation and other generations for past U.S. slavery! It wasn't me, nor my ancestors!

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Seems O'Reilly is upset with the " smear merchants" who dare criticize his remarks on well fed and clothed slaves. Bill, they are still slaves and historians do not back up your claims that they were well treated. ANd what does that matter? You continue to miss the point of why people are angry at your stupid commentary: A black First lady lives in a house built by slaves. Read my lips O'Reilly: THEY WERE SLAVES.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Reily's comments may have been accurate with respect to the food and clothing but.... Me thinks he missed (or wanted to miss) the point of the comment. AS I heard it this is a nation which has evolved not only over time but with the times and few thinks may speak to this but the change in circumstance of those who have lived in/worked on the White House and its grounds. Whatever one thinks of Ms. Clinton, the election of a woman president will be one of (if not the next) quantum leap in our social history.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that it my require a bit of integrity and humility, but I agree that we should all be able to recognize our country's accomplishments, including the first woman presidential candidate. That's Huuuge!