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The Real War on Black Men…By Other Black Men

Writes Glenn Garvin at MiamiHerald.com

There is no war on black men, at least not by white men. Last year, the Scripps-Howard News Service studied half a million homicide reports and found that killings of black victims by white attackers have actually dropped over the past 30 years, from 4,745 during the 1980s to 4,380 during the first decade of the 2000s. There were nearly twice as many white victims killed by black assailants: 8,503 in the 1980s, and 8,530 in the 2000s. [Zimmerman Trial: Trayvon Martin was not Emmett Till]

According to findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National CrimeVictimization Survey (NCVS) and the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), Supplementary Homicide Reports:

Blacks were victims of an estimated 805,000 nonfatalviolent crimes and of about 8,000 homicides in 2005. While blacks accounted for 13% of the U.S. population in 2005, they were victims in 15% of all nonfatal violent crimes and nearly half of all homicides. […]

In 2005 nearly half of all homicide victims were black Blacks accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in 2005, according to the FBI’s UCR.Black males accounted for about 52% (or 6,800) of the nearly 13,000 male homicide victims in 2005. Black females made up 35% (or 1,200) of the nearly 3,500 female homicide victims.[…] In 2005 most homicides involving one victim and one offender were intraracial. About 93% of black homicide victims and 85% of white victims in single victim and single offender homicides were murdered by someone of their race. [Black Victims of Violent Crime]

You got that? In the United States, 93% of the black people who were murdered in 2005 were murdered by other people in their beloved “Black community.”

Perhaps this is what prompted Jesse Jackson to say:

“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.” [Remarks at a meeting of Operation PUSH in Chicago (27 November 1993). Quoted in “Crime: New Frontier – Jesse Jackson Calls It Top Civil-Rights Issue” by Mary A. Johnson, 29 November 1993, Chicago Sun-Times (ellipsis in original).]

So much for “racial profiling.” From an editorial in the Baltimore Sun:

Jesse Jackson has been taking an unusual amount of heat from his fellow African-Americans recently because he has identified black-on-black crime as a major problem in poor communities. The reaction reminds us of the incredulity that greeted the little boy’s observations concerning the emperor’s new clothes. Isn’t it obvious that blacks are the primary victims of crime in poor neighborhoods, and that the brunt of the suffering inflicted by black criminals is borne by other blacks?

In a society with a less troubled racial history than ours, these would be self-evident statements. Because criminality has so often been used in the past to paint all blacks in a negative light, however, frank discussion of the problem has always been an extremely touchy subject. Mr. Jackson has been accused of fueling racist stereotypes.

Yet one of Mr. Jackson’s roles is that of iconoclast. And [Jackson] has performed valuable service by jettisoning the taboo against black leaders talking about black-on-black crime. He knows that the “root causes” of much crime are to be found in poverty, broken families, hopelessness. And his audiences, who are overwhelmingly black, know he is not talking about them when he speaks of the “bad black brothers” who deal drugs, rob and kill. They just want help getting criminals off their streets.

Critics have lambasted Mr. Jackson’s claim that black-on-black violence is the nation’s “number one civil rights problem.” They point out that black criminals don’t target their victims because of their color but because they are vulnerable and close at hand. So how can such crimes possibly be considered a “civil rights” matter? Yet when services — including police protection — in poor black neighborhoods are stretched to the breaking point, when good schools, businesses and jobs are virtually non-existent, when all the elements that make a community viable are lacking, surely that is a human rights issue.

Apparently it is OK to rob, rape and murder someone — just so long as you don’t do it because of their skin color? This is context-dropping “compartmentalization” on steroids. This the result of so-called “civil rights” advocates who deny individual rights.

Ironically, many of Mr. Jackson’s detractors are the same people who subscribe to various theories of a massive white conspiracy to keep blacks down. Perhaps they fear his ideas may deprive them of a convenient scapegoat. Mr. Jackson, however, speaks to the concerns of all decent people, black and white, when he suggests the same moral force that sustained the civil rights movement of the 1960s must now be applied to task of ridding poor communities of lawlessness and terror. If that seems like a revolutionary message in the 1990s, it is only because it has the ring of truth. [Jesse Jackson On Black Crime | Jesse Jackson on crime – Baltimore Sun]

The above was written in 1993. My how have things changed today under the Presidential “leadership” of the great divider.

Founding Fathers on Religion and The State

 

1. “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
~George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

2. “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792

3. “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
~George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793

4. “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

6. “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

7. “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for
honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
~John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785

8. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802

9. “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
~Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814

10. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

11. “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

12. “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
-Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

13. “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”
~Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists, 1808

14. “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814,

15. “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
~James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

16. “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
~James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

17. “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
~James Madison, letter, 1822

18. “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”
~James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical
Endowments

19. “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
~James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817

20. “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

21. “Manufacturers, who listening to the powerful invitations of a better price for their fabrics, or their labor, of greater cheapness of provisions and raw materials, of an exemption from the chief part of the taxes burdens and restraints, which they endure in the old world, of greater personal independence and consequence, under the operation of a more equal government, and of what is far more precious than mere religious toleration–a perfect equality of religious privileges; would probably flock from Europe to the United States to pursue their own trades or professions, if they were once made sensible of the advantages they would enjoy, and were inspired with an assurance of encouragement and employment, will, with difficulty, be induced to transplant themselves, with a view to becoming cultivators of the land.”
~Alexander Hamilton: Report on the Subject of Manufacturers December 5,
1791

22. “In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.”
~Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

23. “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
~George Mason, Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776

24. “It is contrary to the principles of reason and justice that any should be compelled to contribute to the maintenance of a church with which their consciences will not permit them to join, and from which they can derive no benefit; for remedy whereof, and that equal liberty as well religious as civil, may be universally extended to all the good people of this commonwealth.”
~George Mason, Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

25. “A man of abilities and character, of any sect whatever, may be admitted to any office or public trust under the United States. I am a friend to a variety of sects, because they keep one another in order. How many different sects are we composed of throughout the United States? How many different sects will be in congress? We cannot enumerate the sects that may be in congress. And there are so many now in the United States that they will prevent the establishment of any one sect in prejudice to the rest, and will forever oppose all attempts to infringe religious liberty. If such an attempt be made, will not the alarm be sounded throughout America? If congress be as wicked as we are foretold they will, they would not run the risk of exciting the resentment of all, or most of the religious sects in America.”
~Edmund Randolph, address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June
10, 1788

26. “I never liked the Hierarchy of the Church — an equality in the teacher of Religion, and a dependence on the people, are republican sentiments — but if the Clergy combine, they will have their influence on Government”
~Rufus King, Rufus King: American Federalist, pp. 56-57

27. A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country… The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho’ Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).”
~Patrick Henry, observing that immigrants flock to places where there is no established religion, Religious Tolerance, 1766

28. “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”
~Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress 1:729-731

29. “Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.”
~Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 9 January 1788

30. “Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause in the constitution
which provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious
liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is not subject to persecution. But in other parts of the world, it has been, and still is, far different. Systems of religious error have been adopted, in times of ignorance. It has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates, to maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish, and the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in error, but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout Europe.”
~Oliver Ellsworth, Philip B Kurland and Ralph Lerner (eds.), The Founder’s Constitution, University of Chicago Press, 1987, Vol. 4, p.
638

31. “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

32. “God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
~Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773

33. “Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”
~Roger Sherman, Congress, August 19, 1789

34. “The American states have gone far in assisting the progress of truth; but they have stopped short of perfection. They ought to have given every honest citizen an equal right to enjoy his religion and an equal title to all civil emoluments, without obliging him to tell his religion. Every interference of the civil power in regulating opinion, is an impious attempt to take the business of the Deity out of his own hands; and every preference given to any religious denomination, is so far slavery and bigotry.”
~Noah Webster, calling for no religious tests to serve in public office, Sketches of American Policy, 1785

35. “The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.”
~Charles Pinckney, Constitutional Convention, 1787

These are hardly the words of men who allegedly believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible as conservatives constantly claim. On the contrary, the great majority of the Founders believed strongly in separation of church and state. So keep in mind that this country has survived for over two centuries under the principle of separation and it is only now when conservatives are attempting to destroy that very cornerstone that we find America becoming ever more divided and more politically charged than ever before. If this right-wing faction has their way, America as we know it will cease to exist and the freedoms we have enjoyed because of the Constitution will erode. The Founding Fathers had a vision of this
nation and trusted that the people would protect that vision and improve upon it. Now is not the time to fail them. Because the day the people fail, so does America.

[Source]

Trayvon Martin is not Emmett Till

From Zimmerman Trial: Trayvon Martin was not Emmett Till – Glenn Garvin – MiamiHerald.com

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3530067/zimmerman-trial-trayvon-martin.html#storylink=cpy

[…] The most nauseatingly overheated rhetoric has been the comparisons of Martin to Emmett Till. Till was a 14-year-old black kid from Chicago who, in the summer of 1955, went to visit relatives in a tiny Mississippi Delta town called Money. He either whistled at or flirted with (accounts vary) a white woman at the counter of a grocery store.

A few nights later, her husband and brother-in-law (and perhaps some of their neighbors, though that’s uncertain) dragged Till from his home, beat him to an unholy pulp, shot him in the head, tied a 70-pount weight to him with barbed wire and dumped him in a river.

When his body was fished out of the water three days later, the photos — published in Ebony magazine — made America vomit. Well, that part of America outside Money, Mississippi, where the men who killed Till were acquitted by jurors who deliberated just over an hour and confessed it wouldn’t have taken that long if they hadn’t paused to have a soda.

The murderers, once they were safely protected by the constitutional sanction against double jeopardy, boasted of their own guilt. And several jurors admitted they voted for acquittal because they didn’t believe killing black people was a jailable offense.

In what conceivable way does that story resemble the Trayvon Martin case? Zimmerman didn’t know Martin, has no history of racism and, when he called police to report what he thought was a suspicious character in his neighborhood, wasn’t even sure the person was black. Martin wasn’t dragged from his home by a mob but was killed during an altercation in which Zimmerman says he feared for his life and there was little evidence to contradict him.

And in post-verdict interviews, the Zimmerman jurors have come across not as flippant racists but thoughtful citizens who were agonized by their decision but did their best to enforce the law as they understood it. You may think they got it wrong. But that doesn’t mean they were a lynch mob, or that 2013 America is 1955 Mississippi.

Climate Change: It’s Happened Before

The remarkable Roy Spencer, PhD comments on “Climate Change”:

From the opening remarks made by the Democrats on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, apparently you can see climate change yourself just by looking in your backyard, or seeing how far from shore fishermen must go now to catch fish, or even (help me with the logic on this one) the fact that smoking causes cancer.

I just submitted my updated written testimony (Spencer_EPW_Written_Testimony_7_18_2013_updated) to include the following chart (Click for full size):

This chart illustrates that, yes, we are currently warm, but not significantly warmer than the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or the Roman Warm Period (RWP). So how is it we know today’s warmth is human-caused, when the last two warm periods couldn’t have been caused by humans? Hmmm?

And if you want to hit me with a Hockey Stick, might I remind you that there are many more papers supporting the MWP and RWP than there are supporting the Hockey Stick’s slick revision of history?

Or does “consensus” only count when it supports your side?

What’s that you say? The hockey stick is now the “new consensus”? So a scientific consensus can be wrong, after all? Hmmm.

Read the rest at Senate EPW Hearing: “Climate Change: It’s Happened Before” « Roy Spencer, PhD

 

Video: Global Capitalism: The Solution to World Oppression and Poverty by Andrew Bernstein

The opponents of global capitalism overlook the key points in the debate. The capitalistic nations of Europe, North America and Asia are by far the wealthiest societies of history—with per capita incomes in the range of at least $20,000-$30,000 annually. But capitalism is not merely the system of prosperity; fundamentally, it is the system of individual rights and freedom.

Capitalistic nations protect their citizens’ freedom of speech, of the press and of intellectual expression. Similarly, their citizens possess economic freedom, including the right to own property, to start their own businesses and to seek profit. By stark contrast, the pre-capitalist systems of history, and the non-capitalist systems of the present, are politically oppressive and economically destitute; their citizens have no rights and, consequently, little or no wealth.

What deeper principles make possible the freedom and wealth enjoyed under capitalism—and lacking in its political antipodes? How has capitalism already greatly enhanced the lives of millions of human beings in formerly impoverished Third World countries? What can the men of the free world do to further promote the spread of capitalism into the repressed nations of the globe?

Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Graduate School of the City University of New York, and teaches at Marist College & at SUNY Purchase. Dr. Bernstein is the author of The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire (2005); Objectivism in One Lesson: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (2008); Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights (2010); and Capitalist Solutions: A Philosophy of American Moral Dilemmas (2011). He has written the Cliffs Notes for three Ayn Rand titles: Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.

I Oppose Obamacare: Mark Your Calendar: March 23, 2013

From iopposeobamacare.com:

Repeal ObamaCare is a grass-roots campaign that started on Facebook on the eve of the worst health care law in U.S. history.

I Oppose Obamacare Banner

On March 23, 2013 find an opportunity to state your opposition to Obamacare.

Our next event I Oppose ObamaCare 3, is scheduled for March 23, 2013, the third anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—widely known as ObamaCare—recently upheld by the Supreme Court. We aim to make ourselves heard with clear, concise and principled opposition to ObamaCare.

Here’s how it works.

This coming Saturday, March 23, simply state in a few words or sentences why you oppose the law. Or say “I Oppose ObamaCare.”

You can do it on our Facebook group/event wall, in a letter to the editor or op-ed, around the water cooler at work, or at the grocery store, drugstore, doctor’s office, Starbucks, family gathering or elsewhere, such as on Twitter and other media. Send an e-mail to your friends, your doctor, your insurance company, your pharmacist. Write a letter to the editor, or an op-ed for the local newspaper, go on cable TV public access, talk radio, a podcast, or just talk to your friends, family and neighbors. Find an opportunity to speak up and say “I Oppose ObamaCare.”

It only takes a minute to make a difference.

We often hear people ask what one can do. Well, here’s what one can do. It’s not difficult. It’s not time-consuming. It’s not even an especially intellectual exercise, though it can be if you make it so. It’s a declaration – I Oppose ObamaCare – of opposition, renunciation and independence, on the date that marks the law’s creation. And it might feel good to express your thoughts, too. So, mark the calendar for – March 23, 2013 – when we rise up and say it again, only louder, with more passion and in greater numbers. And again and again until this law is repealed. Step up and do it. For your own sake.

Share your experience with us.

Please like our Facebook group page, follow us on Twitter (@OpposeObamaCare), and use the hashtag #IOpposeObamaCare. Our Facebook group has fine moderators, so please feel free to invite and encourage your friends, family and others to join the crusade against this law, which may influence the public, politicians and others.

Letter to Peter Carr: “Fix Reason Firmly In Her Seat…”

Jefferson’s letter to his nephew Peter Carr, from Paris, August 10, 1787.

 

Dear Peter, — I have received your two letters of December 30 and April 18, and am very happy to find by them, as well as by letters from Mr. Wythe, that you have been so fortunate as to attract his notice & good will; I am sure you will find this to have been one of the most fortunate events of your life, as I have ever been sensible it was of mine. I enclose you a sketch of the sciences to which I would wish you to apply, in such order as Mr. Wythe shall advise; I mention, also, the books in them worth your reading, which submit to his correction. Many of these are among your father’s books, which you should have brought to you. As I do not recollect those of them not in his library, you must write to me for them, making out a catalogue of such as you think you shall have occasion for, in 18 months from the date of your letter, & consulting Mr. Wythe on the subject. To this sketch, I will add a few particular observations.

1. Italian. I fear the learning of this language will confound your French and Spanish. Being all of them degenerated dialects of the Latin, they are apt to mix in conversation. I have never seen a person speaking the three languages, who did not mix them. It is a delightful language, but late events having rendered the Spanish more useful, lay it aside to prosecute that.

2. Spanish. Bestow great attention on this, and endeavor to acquire an accurate knowledge of it. Our future connections with Spain and Spanish America, will render that language a valuable acquisition. The ancient history of that part of America, too, is written in that language. I send you a dictionary.

3. Moral Philosophy. I think it lost time to attend lectures on this branch. He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if he had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter of science. For one man of science, there are thousands who are not. What would have become of them? Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong, merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true foundation of morality, and not the to kalon [beautiful], truth, &c., as fanciful writers have imagined. The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body. This sense is submitted, indeed, in some degree, to the guidance of reason; but it is a small stock which is required for this: even a less one than what we call common sense. State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, & often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules. In this branch, therefore, read good books, because they will encourage, as well as direct your feelings. The writings of Sterne, particularly, form the best course of morality that ever was written. Besides these, read the books mentioned in the enclosed paper; and, above all things, lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, &c. Consider every act of this kind, as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties & increase your worth.

4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth’s motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in fureâ. See this law in the Digest Lib. 48. tit. 19. §. 28. 3. & Lipsius Lib 2. de cruce. cap. 2. These questions are examined in the books I have mentioned under the head of religion, & several others. They will assist you in your inquiries, but keep your reason firmly on the watch in reading them all.

Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get & send you.

5. Travelling. This makes men wiser, but less happy. When men of sober age travel, they gather knowledge, which they may apply usefully for their country; but they are subject ever after to recollections mixed with regret; their affections are weakened by being extended over more objects; & they learn new habits which cannot be gratified when they return home. Young men, who travel, are exposed to all these inconveniences in a higher degree, to others still more serious, and do not acquire that wisdom for which a previous foundation is requisite, by repeated and just observations at home. The glare of pomp and pleasure is analogous to the motion of the blood; it absorbs all their affection and attention, they are torn from it as from the only good in this world, and return to their home as to a place of exile & condemnation. Their eyes are forever turned back to the object they have lost, & its recollection poisons the residue of their lives. Their first & most delicate passions are hackneyed on unworthy objects here, & they carry home the dregs, insufficient to make themselves or anybody else happy. Add to this, that a habit of idleness, an inability to apply themselves to business is acquired, & renders them useless to themselves & their country. These observations are founded in experience. There is no place where your pursuit of knowledge will be so little obstructed by foreign objects, as in your own country, nor any, wherein the virtues of the heart will be less exposed to be weakened. Be good, be learned, & be industrious, & you will not want the aid of travelling, to render you precious to your country, dear to your friends, happy within yourself. I repeat my advice, to take a great deal of exercise, & on foot. Health is the first requisite after morality. Write to me often, & be assured of the interest I take in your success, as well as the warmth of those sentiments of attachment with which I am, dear Peter, your affectionate friend.

P.S. Let me know your age in your next letter. Your cousins here are well & desire to be remembered to you.

President Obama’s Gun Control Proposal is Anti-Freedom

As expected, the White House is putting the Rahm Emanuel crisis playbook into full force after the horrific events in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  Even if Congress is reluctant to pass any major piece of legislation on the matter, Vice President Joe Biden has already stated the White House is prepared to take nineteen executive actions in relation to gun control.  Add this to the President’s proposals to limit the capacity of magazines to ten rounds and the implementation of a new assault weapons ban–not a reinstatement of the 1994 law.  From whitehouse.gov:

Assault rifles have been used in several recent mass shootings. The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons.

In addition, President Obama is looking to enact further restrictions on the possession and transfer of amor piercing ammunition. While even the White House wholly abstains from connecting events like Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook to this type of ammunition, it’s implied that if you’re in support of amor-piercing rounds then you’re in favor of police officers being exposed to increased levels of risk.  The mentality of both the White House and the gun-ban left is inherently driven by an anti-freedom agenda.

First, it’s important to ask, “Why stop at ten rounds of ammunition per clip?  Why not eight, or seven, maybe even six?”  The killers of Aurora and Sandy Hook selected their targets because of an overwhelming certainty that their victims would put up a low level of resistance.  In the former case, it was a dark and crowded movie theater.  In the latter case, it was an elementary school.  Regardless of what size magazines they used, they were determined to destroy and they chose those who were most vulnerable.

It’s also important to debunk the metaphysically impossible–the “assault weapon.”  Basically, the American left would have all believe that a piece of machinery, an inanimate object, a weapon, a noun, has the attributes and capabilities of a volitional consciousness, the ability to assault, a verb.  It’s perfectly legitimate to argue that these types of weapons are absurd for deer hunting but such weapons are vital for defense.  Perhaps not from a typical criminal, but from government–the institution throughout history (especially the twentieth century) which has exercised the ability and willingness to slaughter millions–whether constricted by borders or not.

This same principle can be applied to armor piercing ammunition.  In fact, the matter of ammunition is arguably more critical because of policies being implemented by the U.S. Air Force.  Last summer, Judge Andrew Napolitano published a piece about unmanned drones flying and spying above private property as part of a new domestic surveillance program.

If gun rights advocates wish to continue to bear arms then they must stop insisting on gun rights and begin insisting on their individual rights.  The second amendment is not an instrument to ensure longstanding hunting traditions, it’s to prevent a totalitarian government from rising to power.  It’s to make sure that the first amendment stays firmly seated where it is in the Constitution.  When speech is censored, the only means to communicate is through the muzzle of a gun.

Besides, if President Obama truly cared about gun violence, he would’ve gutted the Department of Justice after the Mexican government discovered that guns used in a birthday party massacre, in which the victims were mostly teenagers, were supplied courtesy of Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious program.

 

Self-Made Men by Frederick Douglass

by Frederick Douglass (1872)

Fortune may crowd a man’s life with fortunate circumstances and happy opportunities, but they will, as we all know, avail him nothing unless he makes a wise and vigorous use of them.

The subject announced for this evening’s entertainment is not new. Man in one form or another, has been a frequent and fruitful subject for the press, the pulpit and the platform. This subject has come up for consideration under a variety of attractive titles, such as “Great Men,” “Representative Men,” “Peculiar Men,” “Scientific Men,” “Literary Men,” “Successful Men,” “Men of Genius,” and “Men of the World;” but under whatever name or designation, the vital point of interest in the discussion has ever been the same, and that is, manhood itself, and this in its broadest and most comprehensive sense.

The tendency to the universal, in such discussion, is altogether natural and all controlling: for when we consider what man, as a whole, is; what he has been; what he aspires to be, and what, by a wise and vigorous cultivation of his faculties, he may yet become, we see that it leads irresistably to this broad view of him as a subject of thought and inquiry.

The saying of the poet that “The proper study of mankind is man,” and which has been the starting point of so many lectures, essays and speeches, holds its place, like all other great utterances, because it contains a great truth and a truth alike for every age and generation of men. It is always new and can never grow old. It is neither dimmed by time nor tarnished by repetition; for man, both in respect of himself and of his species, is now, and evermore will be, the center of unsatisfied human curiosity.

The pleasure we derive from any department of knowledge is largely due to the glimpse which it gives us of our own nature. We may travel far over land and sea, brave all climates, dare all dangers, endure all hardships, try all latitudes and longitudes; we may penetrate the earth, sound the ocean’s depths and seep the hollow sky with our glasses, in the pursuit of other knowledge; we may contemplate the glorious landscape gemmed by forest, lake and river and dotted with peaceful homes and quiet herds; we may whirl away to the great cities, all aglow with life and enterprise; we may mingle with the imposing assemblages of wealth and power; we may visit the halls where Art works her miracles in music, speech and color, and where Science unbars the gates to higher planes of civilization; but no matter how radiant the colors, how enchanting the melody, how gorgeous and splendid the pageant: man himself, with eyes turned inward upon his own wondrous attributes and powers surpasses them all. A single human soul standing here upon the margin we call time, overlooking, in the vastness of its range, the solemn past which can neither be recalled nor remodelled, ever chafing against finite limitations, entangled with interminable contradictions, eagerly seeking to scan the invisible past and pierce the clouds and darkness of the ever mysterious future, has attractions for thought and study, more numerous and powerful than all other objects beneath the sky. To human thought and inquiry he is broader than all visible worlds, loftier than all heights and deeper than all depths. Were I called upon to point out the broadest and most permanent distinction between mankind and other animals, it would be this; their earnest desire for the fullest knowledge of human nature on all its many sides. The importance of this knowledge is immeasurable, and by no other is human life so affected and colored. Nothing can bring to man so much of happiness or so much of misery as man himself. Today he exalts himself to heaven by his virtues and achievements; to-morrow he smites with sadness and pain, by his crimes and follies. But whether exalted or debased, charitable or wicked; whether saint or villain, priest or prize fighter; if only he be great in his line, he is an unfailing source of interest, as one of a common brotherhood; for the best man finds in his breast the evidence of kinship with the worst, and the worst with the best. Confront us with either extreme and you will rivet our attention and fix us in earnest contemplation, for our chief desire is to know what there is in man and to know him at all extremes and ends and opposites, and for this knowledge, or the want of it, we will follow him from the gates of life to the gates of death, and beyond them.

From man comes all that we know or can imagine of heaven and earth, of time and eternity. He is the prolific constituter of manners, morals, religions and governments. He spins them out as the spider spins his web, and they are coarse or fine, kind or cruel, according to the degree of intelligence reached by him at the period of their establishment. He compels us to contemplate his past with wonder and to survey his future with much the same feelings as those with which Columbus is supposed to have gazed westward over the sea. It is the faith of the race that in man there exists far outlying continents of power, thought and feeling, which remain to be discovered, explored, cultivated, made practical and glorified.

Mr. Emerson has declared that it is natural to believe in great men. Whether this is a fact, or not, we do believe in them and worship them. The Visible God of the New Testament is revealed to us as a man of like passions with ourselves. We seek out our wisest and best man, the man who, by eloquence or the sword compels us to believe him such, and make him our leader, prophet, preacher and law giver. We do this, not because he is essentially different from us, but because of his identity with us. He is our best representative and reflects, on a colossal scale, the scale to which we would aspire, our highest aims, objects, powers and possibilities.

This natural reverence for all that is great in man, and this tendency to deify and worship him, though natural and the source of man’s elevation, has not always shown itself wise but has often shown itself far otherwise than wise. It has often given us a wicked ruler for a righteous one, a false prophet for a true one, a corrupt preacher for a pure one, a man of war for a man of peace, and a distorted and vengeful image of God for an image of justice and mercy.

But it is not my purpose to attempt here any comprehensive and exhaustive theory or philosophy or the nature of manhood in all the range I have indicated. I am here to speak to you of a peculiar type of manhood under the title of Self-Made Men.

That there is, in more respects than one, something like a solecism in this title, I freely admit. Properly speaking, there are in the world no such men as self-made men. That term implies an individual independence of the past and present which can never exist.

Our best and most valued acquisitions have been obtained either from our contemporaries or from those who have preceded us in the field of thought and discovery. We have all either begged, borrowed or stolen. We have reaped where others have sown, and that which others have strown, we have gathered. It must in truth be said, though it may not accord well with self-conscious individuality and self-conceit, that no possible native force of character, and no depth of wealth and originality, can lift a man into absolute independence of his fellowmen, and no generation of men can be independent of the preceding generation. The brotherhood and inter-dependence of mankind are guarded and defended at all points. I believe in individuality, but individuals are, to the mass, like waves to the ocean. The highest order of genius is as dependent as is the lowest. It, like the loftiest waves of the sea, derives its power and greatness from the grandeur and vastness of the ocean of which it forms a part. We differ as the waves, but are one as the sea. To do something well does not necessarily imply the ability to do everything else equally well. If you can do in one direction that which I cannot do, I may in another direction, be able to do that which you cannot do. Thus the balance of power is kept comparatively even, and a self-acting brotherhood and inter-dependence is maintained.

Nevertheless, the title of my lecture is eminently descriptive of a class and is, moreover, a fit and convenient one for my purpose, in illustrating the idea which I have in view. In the order of discussion I shall adopt the style of an old-fashioned preacher and have a “firstly,” a “secondly,” a “thirdly,” a “fourthly” and, possibly, a “conclusion.”

My first is, “Who are self-made men?” My second is, “What is the true theory of their success?” My third is, “The advantages which self-made men derive from the manners and institutions of their surroundings,” and my fourth is, “The grounds of the criticism to which they are, as a class, especially exposed.”

On the first point I may say that, by the term “self-made men,” I mean especially what, to the popular mind, the term least imports. Self-made men are the men who, under peculiar difficulties and without the ordinary helps of favoring circumstances, have attained knowledge, usefulness, power and position and have learned from themselves the best uses to which life can be put in this world, and in the exercises of these uses to build up worthy character. They are the men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any favoring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results. In fact they are the men who are not brought up but who are obliged to come up, not only without the voluntary assistance or friendly co-operation of society, but often in open and derisive defiance of all the efforts of society and the tendency of circumstances to repress, retard and keep them down. They are the men who, in a world of schools, academies, colleges and other institutions of learning, are often compelled by unfriendly circumstances to acquire their education elsewhere and, amidst unfavorable conditions, to hew out for themselves a way to success, and thus to become the architects of their own good fortunes. They are in a peculiar sense, indebted to themselves for themselves. If they have traveled far, they have made the road on which they have travelled. If they have ascended high, they have built their own ladder. From the depths of poverty such as these have often come. From the heartless pavements of large and crowded cities; barefooted, homeless, and friendless, they have come. From hunger, rags and destitution, they have come; motherless and fatherless, they have come, and may come. Flung overboard in the midnight storm on the broad and tempest-tossed ocean of life; left without ropes, planks, oars or life-preservers, they have bravely buffetted the frowning billows and have risen in safety and life where others, supplied with the best appliances for safety and success, have fainted, despaired and gone down forever.

Such men as these, whether found in one position or another, whether in the college or in the factory; whether professors or plowmen; whether Caucasian or Indian; whether Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-African, are self-made men and are entitled to a certain measure of respect for their success and for proving to the world the grandest possibilities of human nature, of whatever variety of race or color.

Though a man of this class need not claim to be a hero or to be worshiped as such, there is genuine heroism in his struggle and something of sublimity and glory in his triumph. Every instance of such success is an example and a help to humanity. It, better than any mere assertion, gives us assurance of the latent powers and resources of simple and unaided manhood. It dignifies labor, honors application, lessens pain and depression, dispels gloom from the brow of the destitute and weariness from the heart of him about to faint, and enables man to take hold of the roughest and flintiest hardships incident to the battle of life, with a lighter heart, with higher hopes and a larger courage.

But I come at once to the second part of my subject, which respects the Theory of Self-Made Men.

“Upon what meat doth this, our Caesar, feed, he hath grown so great?” How happens it that the cottager is often found equal to the lord, and that, in the race of life, the sons of the poor often get even with, and surpass even, the sons of the rich? How happens it from the field often come statesmen equal to those from the college? I am sorry to say that, upon this interesting point, I can promise nothing absolute nor anything which will be entirely satisfactory and conclusive. Burns says:

“I see how folks live that hae riches,
But surely poor folks maun be witches.”

The various conditions of men and the different uses they make of their powers and opportunities in life, are full of puzzling contrasts and contradictions. Here, as elsewhere, it is easy to dogmatize, but it is not so easy to define, explain and demonstrate. The natural laws for the government, well-being and progress of mankind, seem to be equal and are equal; but the subjects of these laws everywhere abound in inequalities, discords and contrasts. We cannot have fruit without flowers, but we often have flowers without fruit. The promise of youth often breaks down in manhood, and real excellence often comes unheralded and from unexpected quarters.

The scene presented from this view is as a thousand arrows shot from the same point and aimed at the same object. United in aim, they are divided in flight. Some fly too high, others too low. Some go to the right, others to the left. Some fly too far and others, not far enough, and only a few hit the mark. Such is life. United in the quiver, they are divided in the air. Matched when dormant, they are unmatched in action.

When we attempt to account for greatness we never get nearer to the truth than did the greatest of poets and philosophers when he classified the conditions of greatness: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” We may take our choice of these three separate explanations and make which of them we please, most prominent in our discussion. Much can certainly be said of superior mental endowments, and I should on some accounts, lean strongly to that theory, but for numerous examples which seem, and do, contradict it, and for the depressing tendency such a theory must have on humanity generally.

This theory has truth in it, but it is not the whole truth. Men of very ordinary faculties have, nevertheless, made a very respectable way in the world and have sometimes presented even brilliant examples of success. On the other hand, what is called genius is often found by the wayside, a miserable wreck; the more deplorable and shocking because from the height from which it has fallen and the loss and ruin involved in the fall. There is, perhaps, a compensation in disappointment and in the contradiction of means to ends and promise to performance. These imply a constant effort on the part of nature to hold the balance between all her children and to bring success within the reach of the humblest as well as of the most exalted.

From apparently the basest metals we have the finest toned bells, and we are taught respect from simple manhood when we see how, from the various dregs of society, there come men who may well be regarded as the pride and as the watch towers of the race.

Steel is improved by laying on damp ground, and the rusty razor gets a keener edge after giving its dross to the dirt in which it has been allowed to lie neglected and forgotten. In like manner, too, humanity, though it lay among the ports, covered with the dust of neglect and poverty, may still retain the divine impulse and the element of improvement and progress. It is natural to revolt at squalor, but we may well relax our lip of scorn and contempt when we stand among the lowly and despised, for out of the rags of the meanest cradle there may come a great man and this is a treasure richer than all the wealth of the Orient.

I do not think much of the good luck theory of self-made men. It is worth but little attention and has no practical value. An apple carelessly flung into a crowd may hit one person, or it may hit another, or it may hit nobody. The probabilities are precisely the same in this accident theory of self-made men. It divorces a man from his own achievements, contemplates him as a being of chance and leaves him without will, motive, ambition and aspiration. Yet the accident theory is among the most popular theories of individual success. It has about it the air of mystery which the multitudes so well like, and withal, it does something to mar the complacency of the successful.

It is one of the easiest and commonest things in the world for a successful man to be followed in his career through life and to have constantly pointed out this or that particular stroke of good fortune which fixed his destiny and made him successful. If not ourselves great, we like to explain why others are so. We are stingy in our praise to merit, but generous in our praise to chance. Besides, a man feels himself measurably great when he can point out the precise moment and circumstance which made his neighbor great. He easily fancies that the slight difference between himself and his friend is simply one of luck. It was his friend who was lucky but it might easily have been himself. Then too, the next best thing to success is a valid apology for non-success. Detraction is, to many, a delicious morsel. The excellence which it loudly denies to others it silently claims for itself. It possesses the means of covering the small with the glory of the great. It adds to failure that which it takes from success and shortens the distance between those in front and those in the rear. Even here there is an upward tendency worthy of notice and respect. The kitchen is ever the critic of the parlor. The talk of those below is of those above. We imitate those we revere and admire.

But the main objection to this very comfortable theory is that, like most other theories, it is made to explain too much. While it ascribes success to chance and friendly circumstances, it is apt to take no cognizance of the very different uses to which different men put their circumstances and their chances.

Fortune may crowd a man’s life with fortunate circumstances and happy opportunities, but they will, as we all know, avail him nothing unless he makes a wise and vigorous use of them. It does not matter that the wind is fair and the tide at its flood, if the mariner refuses to weigh his anchor and spread his canvas to the breeze. The golden harvest is ripe in vain if the farmer refuses to reap. Opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable. “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at its flood, leads on to fortune;” but it must be taken at its flood.

Within this realm of man’s being, as elsewhere, Science is diffusing its broad, beneficent light. As this light increases, dependence upon chance or luck is destined to vanish and the wisdom of adapting means to ends, to become more manifest.

It was once more common than it is now, to hear man religiously ascribing their good or ill fortune directly to supernatural intervention. Success and failure, wealth and poverty, intelligence and ignorance, liberty and slavery, happiness and misery, were all bestowed or inflicted upon individual men by a divine hand and for all-wise purposes. Man was, by such reasoners, made a very insignificant agent in his own affairs. It was all the Lord’s doings and marvellous to human eyes. Of course along with this superstition came the fortune teller, the pretender to divinations and the miracle working priest who could save from famine by praying easier than by under-draining deep plowing.

In such matter a wise man has little use for altars or oracle. He knows that the laws of God are perfect and unchangeable. He knows that health is maintained by right living; that disease is cured by the right use of remedies; that bread is produced by tilling the soil; that knowledge is obtained by study; that wealth is secured by saving and that battles are won by fighting. To him, the lazy man is the unlucky man and the man of luck of the man of work.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

When we find a man who has ascended heights beyond ourselves; who has a broader range of vision than we and a sky with more stars in it in than we have in ours, we may know that he has worked harder, better and more wisely than we. He was awake while we slept. He was busy while we were idle and was wisely improving his time and talents while we were wasting ours. Paul Dunbar, the colored poet, has well said:

“There are no beaten paths to glory’s height,
There are no rules to compass greatness known;
Each for himself must cleave a path alone,
And press his own way forward in the fight.
Smooth is the way to ease and calm delight,
And soft the road Sloth chooseth for her own;
But he who craves the flow’r of life full-blown
Must struggle up in all his armor dight.
What tho’ the burden bear him sorely down,
And crush to dust the mountain of his pride.
Oh! then with strong heart let him still abide
For rugged is the roadway to renown.
Nor may he hope to gain the envied crown
Till he hath thrust the looming rocks aside.”

I am certain that there is nothing good, great or desirable which man can possess in this world, that does not come by some kind of labor of physical or mental, moral or spiritual. A man, at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing. What is true in the world of matter, is equally true in the world of the mind. Without culture there can be no growth; without exertion, no acquisition; without friction, no polish; without labor, no knowledge; without action, no progress and without conflict, no victory. A man that lies down a fool at night, hoping that he will waken wise in the morning, will rise up in the morning as he laid down in the evening.

Faith, in the absence of work, seems to be worth little, if anything. The preacher who finds it easier to pray for knowledge than to tax his brain with study and application will find his congregation growing beautifully less and his flock looking elsewhere for their spiritual and mental food. In the old slave times colored ministers were somewhat remarkable for the fervor with which they prayed for knowledge, but it did not appear that they were remarkable for any wonderful success. In fact, they who prayed loudest seemed to get least. They thought if they opened their mouths they would be filled. The result was an abundance of sound with a great destitution of sense.

Not only in man’s experience, but also in nature do we find exemplified the truth upon which I have been insisting. My father worketh, and the Savior, and I also work. In every view which we obtain of the perfections of the universe; whether we look to the bright stars in the peaceful blue dome above us, or to the long shore line of the ocean, where land and water maintain eternal conflict; the less taught is the same; that of endless action and reaction. Those beautifully rounded pebbles which you gather on the sane and which you hold in your hand and marvel at their exceeding smoothness, were chiseled into their varies and graceful forms by the ceaseless action of countless waves. Nature is herself a great worker and never tolerates, without certain rebuke, any contradiction to her wise example. Inaction is followed by stagnation. Stagnation is followed by pestilence and pestilence is followed by death. General Butler, busy with his broom, could sweep yellow fever out of New Orleans, but this dread destroyer returned when the General and his broom were withdrawn, and the people, neglecting sanitary wisdom, went on ascribing to Divinity what was simply due to dirt.

From these remarks it will be evident that, allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity, we may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!! Not transient and fitful effort, but patient, enduring, honest, unremitting and indefatigable work into which the whole heart is put, and which, in both temporal and spiritual affairs, is the true miracle worker. Everyone may avail himself of this marvelous power, if he will. There is no royal road to perfection. Certainly no one must wait for some kind of friend to put a springing board under his feet, upon which he may easily bound from the first round of their ladder onward and upward to its highest round. If he waits for this, he may wait long, and perhaps forever. He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else.

The lesson taught at this point by human experience is simply this, that the man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down. This rule may appear somewhat harsh, but in its general application and operation it is wise, just and beneficent. I know of no other rule which can be substituted for it without bringing social chaos. Personal independence is a virtue and it is the soul out of which comes the sturdiest manhood. But there can be no independence without a large share of self-dependence, and this virtue cannot be bestowed. It must be developed from within.

I have been asked “How will this theory affect the negro?” and “What shall be done in his case?” My general answer is “Give the negro fair play and let him alone. If he lives, well. If he dies, equally well. If he cannot stand up, let him call down.”

The apple must have strength and vitality enough in itself to hold on, or it will fall to the ground where it belongs. The strongest influence prevails and should prevail. If the vital relation of the fruit is severed, it is folly to tie the stem to the branch or the branch to the tree or to shelter the fruit from the wind. So, too, there is no wisdom in lifting from the earth a head which must only fall the more heavily when the help is withdrawn. Do right, though the heavens fall; but they will not fall.

I have said “Give the negro fair play and let him alone.” I meant all that I said and a good deal more than some understand by fair play. It is not fair play to start the negro out in life, from nothing and with nothing, while others start with the advantage of a thousand years behind them. He should be measured, not by the heights others have obtained, but from the depths from which he has come. For any adjustment of the seals of comparison, fair play demands that to the barbarism from which the negro started shall be added two hundred years heavy with human bondage. Should the American people put a school house in every valley of the South and a church on every hill side and supply the one with teachers and the other with preachers, for a hundred years to come, they would not then have given fair play to the negro.

The nearest approach to justice to the negro for the past is to do him justice in the present. Throw open to him the doors of the schools, the factories, the workshops, and of all mechanical industries. For his own welfare, give him a chance to do whatever he can do well. If he fails then, let him fail! I can, however, assure you that he will not fail. Already has he proven it. As a soldier he proved it. He has since proved it by industry and sobriety and by the acquisition of knowledge and property. He is almost the only successful tiller of the soil of the South, and is fast becoming the owner of land formerly owned by his old master and by the old master class. In a thousand instances has he verified my theory of self-made men. He well performed the task of making bricks without straw: now give him straw. Give him all the facilities for honest and successful livelihood, and in all honorable avocations receive him as a man among men.

I have by implication admitted that work alone is not the only explanation of self-made men, or of the secret of success. Industry, to be sure, is the superficial and visible cause of success, but what is the cause of industry? In the answer to this question one element is easily pointed out, and that element is necessity. Thackeray very wisely remarks that “All men are about as lazy as they can afford to be.” Men cannot be depended upon to work when they are asked to work for nothing. They are not only as lazy as they can afford to be, but I have found many who were a great deal more so. We all hate the task master, but all men, however industrious, are either lured or lashed through the world, and we should be a lazy, good-for-nothing set, if we were not so lured and lashed.

Necessity is not only the mother of invention, but the mainspring of exertion. The presence of some urgent, pinching, imperious necessity, will often not only sting a man into marvellous exertion, but into a sense of the possession, within himself, of powers and resources which else had slumbered on through a long life, unknown to himself and never suspected by others. A man never knows the strength of his grip till life and limb depend upon it. Something is likely to be done when something must be done.

If you wish to make your son helpless, you need not cripple him with bullet or bludgeon, but simply place him beyond the reach of necessity and surround him with ease and luxury. This experiment has often been tried and has seldom failed. As a general rule, where circumstances do most for men, there man will do least for himself; and where man does least, he himself is least. His doing or not doing makes or unmakes him.

Under the palm tree of Africa man finds, without effort, food, raiment and shelter. For him, there, Nature has done all and he has done nothing. The result is that the glory of Africa is in her palms — and not in her men.

In your search after manhood go not to those delightful latitudes where “summer is blossoming all the year long,” but rather to the hardy North, to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, to the coldest and flintiest parts of New England, where men work gardens with gunpowder, blast rocks to find places to plant potatoes; where, for six months of the year, the earth is covered with snow and ice. Go to the states which Daniel Webster thought good enough to emigrate from, and there you will find the highest type of American physical and intellectual manhood.

Happily for mankind, labor not only supplies the good things for which it is exerted, but it increases its own resources and improves, sharpens and strengthens its own instruments.

The primary condition upon which men have and retain power and skill is exertion. Nature has no use for unused power. She abhors a vacuum. She permits no preemption without occupation. Every organ of body and mind has its use and improves by use. “Better to wear out than to rust out,” is sound philosophy as well as common sense. The eye of the watch-maker is severely taxed by the intense light and effort necessary in order to see minute objects, yet it remains clear and keen long after those of other men have failed. I was told at the Remington Rifle Works, by the workmen there employed who have to straighten the rifle barrels by flashing intense light through them, that, by this practice, severe as it seems, their eyes were made stronger.

But what the hands find to do much be done in earnest. Nature tolerates no halfness. He who wants hard hands must not, at sight of the first blister, fling away the spade, the rake, the broad ax or the hoe; for the blister is a primary condition to the needed hardness. To abandon work is not only to throw away the means of success, but it is also to part with the ability to work. To be able to walk well, one must walk on, and to work with ease and effect, one must work on.

Thus the law of labor is self-acting, beneficent and perfect; increasing skill and ability according to exertion. Faithful, earnest and protracted industry gives strength to the mind and facility to the hand. Within certain limits, the more that a man does, the more he can do.

Few men ever reach, in any one direction, the limits of their possibilities. As in commerce, so here, the relation of supply to demand rules. Our mechanical and intellectual forces increase or decrease according to the demands made upon them. He who uses most will have most to use. This is the philosophy of the parable of the ten talents. It applies here as elsewhere. “To him that hath shall be given and from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.”

Exertion of muscle or mind, for pleasure and amusement alone, cannot bring anything like the good results of earnest labor. Such exertion lacks the element attached to duty. To play perfectly upon any complicated instrument, one must play long, laboriously and with earnest purpose. Though it be an amusement at first, it must be labor at the end, if any proficiency is reached. If one plays for one’s own pleasure along, the performance will give little pleasure to any one else and will finally become a rather hard and dry pleasure to one’s self.

In this respect one cannot receive much more than one gives. Men may cheat their neighbors and may cheat themselves but they cannot cheat nature. She will only pay the wages one honestly earns.

In the idea of exertion, of course fortitude and perseverance are included. We have all met a class of men, very remarkable for their activity, and who yet make but little headway in life; men who, in their noisy and impulsive pursuit of knowledge, never get beyond the outer bark of an idea, from a lack of patience and perseverance to dig to the core; men who begin everything and complete nothing; who see, but do not perceive; who read, but forget what they read, and are as if they had not read; who travel but go nowhere in particular, and have nothing of value to impart when they return. Such men may have greatness thrust upon them but they never achieve greatness.

As the gold in the mountain is concealed in huge and flinty rocks, so the most valuable ideas and inventions are often enveloped in doubt and uncertainty. The printing press, the sewing machine, the railroad, the telegraph and the locomotive, are all simple enough now, but who can measure the patience, the persistence, the fortitude, the wearing labor and the brain sweat, which produced these wonderful and indispensable additions to our modern civilization.

My theory of self-made men is, then, simply this: that they are men of work. Whether or not such men have acquired material, moral or intellectual excellence, honest labor faithfully, steadily and persistently pursued, is the best, if not the only, explanation of their success. But in thus awarding praise to industry, as the main agency in the production and culture of self-made men, I do not exclude other factors of the problem. I only make them subordinate. Other agencies co-operate, but this is the principal one and the one without which all others would fail.

Indolence and failure can give a thousand excuses for themselves. How often do we hear men say, “If I had the head of this one, or the hands of that one; the health of this one, or the strength of that one; the chances of this or of that one, I might have been this, that, or the other;” and much more of the same sort.

Sound bodily health and mental faculties unimpaired are very desirable, if not absolutely indispensible. But a man need not be a physical giant or an intellectual prodigy, in order to make a tolerable way in the world. The health and strength of the soul is of far more importance than is that of the body, even when viewed as a means of mundane results. The soul is the main thing. Man can do a great many things; some easily and some with difficulty, but he cannot build a sound ship with rotten timber. Her model may be faultless; her spars may be the finest and her canvas the whitest and the flags of all nations may be displaced at her masthead, but she will go down in the first storm. So it is with the soul. Whatever its assumptions, if it be lacking in the principles of honor, integrity and affection, it, too, will go down in the first storm. And when the soul is lost, all is lost. All human experience proves over and over again, that any success which comes through meanness, trickery, fraud and dishonor, is but emptiness and will only be a torment to its possesssor.

Let not the morally strong, though physically weak abandon the struggle of life. For such happily, there is both place and chance in the world. The highest services to man and the richest rewards to the worker at not conditioned entirely upon physical power. The higher the plane of civilization, the more abundant the opportunities of the weak and the infirm. Society and civilization move according to celestial order. “Not that which is spiritual is first, but that which is natural. After that, that which is spiritual.” The order of progress, is, first, barbarism; afterward, civilization. Barbarism represents physical force. Civilization represents spiritual power. The primary condition, that of barbarism, knows no other law than that of force; not right, but might. In this condition of society, or rather of no society, the man of mind is pushed aside by the man of muscle. A Kit Carson, far out on the borders of civilization, dexterously handling his bowie knife, rifle and bludgeon, easily gets himself taken for a hero; but the waves of science and civilization rolling out over the Western prairies, soon leave him no room for his barbarous accomplishment. Kit is shorn of his glory. A higher type of manhood is required.

When ferocious beasts and savage inhabitants have been dispersed and the rudeness of nature has been subdued, we welcome milder methods and gentler instrumentalities for the service of mankind. Here the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but the price is brought within the reach of those who are neither swift nor strong. None need despair. There is room and work for all: for the weak as well as the strong. Activity is the law for all and its rewards are open to all. Vast acquirements and splendid achievements stand to the credit of men of feeble frames and slender constitutions. Channing was physically weak. Milton was blind. Montgomery was small and effeminate. But those men were more to the world than a thousand Sampsons. Mrs. Stowe would be nothing among the grizzly bears of the Rocky mountains. We should not be likely to ask for her help at a barn raising, or a ship launch; but when a great national evil was to be removed; when a nation’s heart was to be touched; when a whole country was to be redeemed and regenerated and millions of slaves converted into free men, the civilized world knew no earthly power equal to hers.

But another element of the secret of success demands a word. That element is order, systematic endeavor. We succeed, not alone by the laborious exertion of our faculties, be they small or great, but by the regular, thoughtful and systematic exercise of them. Order, the first law of heaven, is itself a power. The battle is nearly lost when your lines are in disorder. Regular, orderly and systematic effort which moves without friction and needless loss of time or power; which has a place for everything and everything in its place; which knows just where to begin, how to proceed and where to end, though marked by no extraordinary outlay of energy or activity, will work wonders, not only in the matter of accomplishment, but also in the increase of the ability of the individual. It will make the weak man strong and the strong man stronger; the simple man wise and the wise man, wiser, and will insure success by the power and influence that belong to habit.

On the other hand, no matter what gifts and what aptitudes a man may possess; no matter though his mind be of the highest order and fitted for the noblest achievements; yet, without this systematic effort, his genius will only serve as a fire of shavings, soon in blaze and soon out.

Spontaneity has a special charm, and the fitful outcroppings of genius are, in speech or action, delightful; but the success attained by these is neither solid nor lasting. A man who, for nearly forty years, was the foremost orator in New England, was asked by me, if his speeches were extemporaneous? They flowed so smoothly that I had my doubts about it. He answered, “No, I carefully think out and write my speeches, before I utter them.” When such a man rises to speak, he knows what he is going to say. When he speaks, he knows what he is saying. When he retires from the platform, he knows what he has said.

There is still another element essential to success, and that is, a commanding object and a sense of its importance. The vigor of the action depends upon the power of the motive. The wheels of the locomotive lie idle upon the rail until they feel the impelling force of the steam; but when that is applied, the whole ponderous train is set in motion. But energy ought not to be wasted. A man may dispose of his life as Paddy did of his powder,—aim at nothing, and hit it every time.

If each man in the world did his share of honest work, we should have no need of a millennium. The world would teem with abundance, and the temptation to evil in a thousand directions, would disappear. But work is not often undertaken for its own sake. The worker is conscious of an object worthy of effort, and works for that object; not for what he is to it, but for what it is to him. All are not moved by the same objects. Happiness is the object of some. Wealth and fame are the objects of others. But wealth and fame are beyond the reach of the majority of men, and thus, to them, these are not motive-impelling objects. Happily, however, personal, family and neighborhood well-being stand near to us all and are full of lofty inspirations to earnest endeavor, if we would but respond to their influence.

I do not desire my lecture to become a sermon; but, were this allowable, I would rebuke the growing tendency to sport and pleasure. The time, money and strength devoted to these phantoms, would banish darkness and hunger from every hearthstone in our land. Multitudes, unconscious of any controlling object in life, flit, like birds, from point to point; now here, now there; and so accomplish nothing, either here to there.

“For pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed!
Or like the snow-falls in the river,
A moment white—then melts forever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.—”

They know most of pleasure who seek it least, and they least who seek it most. The cushion is soft to him who sits on it but seldom. the men behind the chairs at Saratoga and Newport, get better dinners than the men in them. We cannot serve two masters. When here, we cannot be there. If we accept ease, we must part with appetite. A pound of feathers is as heavy as a pound of iron,—and about as hard, if you sit on it long enough. Music is delightful, but too much of it wounds the ear like the filing of a saw. The lounge, to the lazy, becomes like flint; and to him, the most savory dishes lose their flavor.

“It’s true, they need na starve or sweat, Thro’ winter’s cauld or simmer’s heat; But human bodies are sic fools, For all their colleges an’ schools, That when na real ills perplex them, They mak enow, themselves to vex them.”

But the industrious man does find real pleasure. He finds it in qualities and quantities to which the baffled pleasure seeker is a perpetual stranger. He finds it in the house well built, in the farm well tilled, in the books well kept, in the page well written, in the thought well expressed, in all the improved conditions of life around him and in whatsoever useful work may, for the moment, engage his time and energies.

I will give you, in one simple statement, my idea, my observation and my experience of the chief agent in the success of self-made men. It is not luck, nor is it great mental endowments, but it is well directed, honest toil. “Toil and Trust!” was the motto of John Quincy Adams, and his Presidency of the Republic proved its wisdom as well as its truth. Great in his opportunities, great in his mental endowments and great in his relationships, he was still greater in persevering and indefatigable industry.

Examples of successful self-culture and self-help under great difficulties and discouragements, are abundant, and they vindicate the theory of success thus feebly and with homely common sense, presented. For example: Hugh Miller, whose lamented death mantled the mountains and valleys of his native land with a broad shadow of sorrow, scarcely yet lifted, was a grand example of the success of persistent devotion, under great difficulties, to work and to the acquisition of knowledge. In a country justly distinguished for its schools and colleges, he, like Robert Burns, Scotia’s matchless son of song, was the true child of science, as Burns was of song. He was his own college. The earth was his school and the rocks were his school master. Outside of all the learned institutions of his country, and while employed with his chisel and hammer, as a stone mason, this man literally killed two birds with one stone; for he earned his daily bread and at the same time made himself an eminent geologist, and gave to the world books which are found in all public libraries and which are full of inspiration to the truth seeker.

Not unlike the case of Hugh Miller, is that of our own Elihu Burritt. The true heart warms with admiration for the energy and perseverence displayed in this man’s pursuit of knowledge. We call him “The learned blacksmith,” and the distinction was fairly earned and fitly worn. Over the polished anvil and glowing forge; amidst the smoke, dust and die of the blacksmith’s shop; amidst the blazing fires and hissing sparks, and while hammering the red-hot steel, this brave son of toil is said to have mastered twenty different languages, living and dead.

It is surprising with what small means, in the field of earnest effort, great results have been achieved. That neither costly apparatus nor packed libraries are necessarily required by the earnest student in self-culture, was demonstrated in a remarkable manner by Louis Kossuth. That illustrious patriot, scholar and statesman, came to our country from the far east of Europe, a complete master of the English language. He spoke our difficult tongue with an eloquence as stately and grand as that of the best American orators. When asked how he obtained this mastery of language so foreign to him, he told us that his school house was an Austrian prison, and his school books, the Bible, Shakespeare, and an old English dictionary.

Side by side with the great Hungarian, let me name the King of American self-made men; the man who rose highest and will be remembered longest as the most popular and beloved President since Washington—ABRAHAM LINCOLN. This man came to us, not from the schools or from the mansions of ease and luxury, but from the back woods. He mastered his grammar by the light of a pine wood torch. The fortitude and industry which could split rails by day, and learn grammar at night at the hearthstone of a log hut and by the unsteady glare of a pine wood knot, prepared this man for a service to his country to mankind, which only the most exalted could have performed.

The examples thus far given, belong to the Caucasian race; but to the African race, as well, we are indebted for examples equally worthy and inspiring. Benjamin Bannecker, a man of African descent, born and reared in the state of Maryland, and a cotemporary with the great men of the revolution, is worthy to be mentioned with the highest of his class. He was a slave, withheld from all those inspiring motives which freedom, honor and distinction furnish to exertion; and yet this man secured an English education; became a learned mathematician, was an excellent surveyor, assisted to lay out the city of Washington, and compelled honorable recognition from some of the most distinguished scholars and statesmen of that early day of the Republic.

The intellect of the negro was then, as now, the subject of learned inquiry. Mr. Jefferson, among other statesmen and philosophers, while he considered slavery an evil, entertained a rather low estimate of the negro’s mental ability. He thought that the negro might become learned in music and in language, but that mathematics were quite out of the question with him.

In this debate Benjamin Bannecker came upon the scene and materially assisted in lifting his race to a higher consideration than that in which it has been previously held. Bannecker was not only proficient as a writer, but, like Jefferson, he was a philosopher. Hearing of Mr. Jefferson’s opinion of negro intellect, he took no offense but calmly addressed that statesman a letter and a copy of an almanac for which he has made the astronomical calculations. The reply of Mr. Jefferson is the highest praise I wish to bestow upon this black self-made man. It is brief and I take great pleasure in presenting it.

Sir:

I thank you sincerely for your letter and the almanac it contains. Nobody more than I do, wishes to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given our black brethren talents equal to those of other colors of men, and that the appearance of the want of them, is owing mainly to the degrading conditions of their existence in Africa and America. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur Cordozett, Secretary of the Academy of Science at Paris, and a member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it a document of which your whole race had a right, for their justification against the doubts entertained of them.

I am, with great esteem, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
THOMAS JEFFERSON.

This was the impression made by an intelligent negro upon the father of American Democracy, in the earlier and better years of the Republic. I wish that it were possible to make a similar impression upon the children of the American Democracy of this generation. Jefferson was not ashamed to call the black man his brother and to address him as a gentleman.

I am sorry that Bannecker was not entirely black, because in the United States, the slightest infusion of Teutonic blood is thought to be sufficient to account for any considerable degree of intelligence found under any possible color of the skin.

But Bannecker is not the only colored example that I can give. While I turn with honest pride to Bannecker, who lived a hundred years ago, and invoked his aid to roll back the tide of disparagement and contempt which pride and prejudice have poured out against the colored race, I can also cite examples of like energy in our own day.

William Dietz, a black man of Albany, New York, with whom I was personally acquainted and of whom I can speak from actual knowledge, is one such. This man by industry, fidelity and general aptitude for business affairs, rose from the humble calling of house servant in the Dudley family of that city, to become the sole manager of the family estate valued at three millions of dollars.

It is customary to assert that the negro invented anything, and that, if he were today struck out of life, there would, in twenty years, be nothing left to tell of his existence. Well, this black man; for he was positively and perfectly black; not partially, but wholly black; a man whom, a few years ago, some of our learned ethnologists would have read out of the human family and whom a certain Chief Justice would have turned out of court as a creature having no rights which white men are bound to respect, was one of the very best draftsmen and designers in the state of New York. Mr. Dietz was not only an architect, but he was also an inventor. In this he was a direct contradiction to the maligners of his race. The noble railroad bridge now spanning the Hudson river at Albany, was, in all essential features, designed by William Dietz. The main objection against a bridge across that highway of commerce had been that of its interferences with navigation. Of all the designs presented, that of Dietz was the least objectionable on that score, and was, in its essential features, accepted. Mr. Dietz also devised a plan for an elevated railway to be built in Broadway, New York. The great objection to a railway in that famous thoroughfare was then, as now, that of the noise, dust, smoke, obstruction and danger to life and limb, thereby involved. Dietz undertook to remove all these objections by suggesting an elevated railway, the plan of which was, at the time, published in the Scientific American and highly commended by the editor of that journal. The then readers of the Scientific American read this account of the inventiveness of William Dietz, but did not know, as I did, that Mr. Dietz was a black man. There was nothing in his name or in his works to suggest the American idea of color.

Among my dark examples I can name no man with more satisfaction than I can Toussaint L’Overture, the hero of Santo Domingo. Though born a slave and held a slave till he was fifteen years of age; though, like Bannecker, he was black and showed no trace of Caucasian admixture, history hands him down to us as a brave and generous soldier, a wise and powerful statesman, an ardent patriot and a successful liberator of his people and his country.

The cotemporaries of this Hatien chief paint him as without a single moral blemish; while friends and foes alike, accord him the highest ability. In his eulogies no modern hero has been more fortunate than Toussaint L’Overture. History, poetry and eloquence have vied with each other to do him reverence. Wodrsworth and Whittier have, in characteristic verse, encircled his brow with a halo of fadeless glory, while Phillips has borne him among the gods in something like Elijah’s chariot of fire.

The testimony of these and a thousand others who have come up from depths of society, confirms the theory that industry is the most potent factor in the success of self-made men, and thus raises the dignity of labor; for whatever may be one’s natural gifts, success, as I have said, is due mainly to this great means, open and free to all.

A word now upon the third point suggested at the beginning of this paper; namely, The friendly relation and influence of American ideas and institutions to this class of men.

America is said, and not without reason, to be preeminently the home and patron of self-made men. Here, all doors fly open to them. They may aspire to any position. Courts, Senates and Cabinets, spread rich carpets for their feet, and they stand among our foremost men in every honorable service. Many causes have made it easy, here, for this class to rise and flourish, and first among these causes is the general respectability of labor. Search where you will, there is no country on the globe where labor is so respected and the laborer so honored, as in this country. The conditions in which American society originated; the free spirit which framed its independence and created its government based upon the will of the people, exalted both labor and laborer. The strife between capital and labor is, here, comparatively equal. The one is not the haughty and powerful master and the other the weak and abject slave as is the case in some parts of Europe. Here, the man of toil is not bowed, but erect and strong. He feels that capital is not more indispensable than labor, and he can therefore meet the capitalist as the representative of an equal power.

Of course these remarks are not intended to apply to the states where slavery has but recently existed. That system was the extreme degradation of labor, and though happily now abolished its consequences still linger and may not disappear for a century. To-day, in the presence of the capitalist, the Southern black laborer stands abashed, confused and intimidated. He is compelled to beg his fellow worm to give him leave to toil. Labor can never be respected where the laborer is despised. This is today, the great trouble at the South. The land owners still resent emancipation and oppose the elevation of labor. They have yet to learn that a condition of affairs well suited to a time of slavery may not be well suited to a time of freedom. They will one day learn that large farms and ignorant laborers are as little suited to the South as to the North.

But the respectability of labor is not, as already intimated, the only or the most powerful cause of the facility with which men rise from humble conditions to affluence and importance in the United States. A more subtile and powerful influence is exerted by the fact that the principle of measuring and valuing men according to their respective merits and without regard to their antecedents, is better established and more generally enforced here than in any other country. In Europe, greatness is often thrust upon men. They are made legislators by birth.

“A king can make a belted knight,
A marquis, duke and a’that.”

But here, wealth and greatness are forced by no such capricious and arbitrary power. Equality of rights brings equality of positions and dignities. Here society very properly saves itself the trouble of looking up a man’s kinfolks in order to determine his grade in life and the measure of respect due him. It cares very little who was his father or grandfather. The boast of the Jews, “We have Abraham for our father,” has no practical significance here. He who demands consideration on the strength of a reputation of a dead father, is, properly enough, rewarded with derision. We have no reference to throw away in this wise.

As a people, we have only a decent respect for our seniors. We cannot be beguiled into accepting empty-headed sons for full-headed fathers. As some one has said, we dispense with the smoke when the candle is out. In popular phrase we exhort every man as he comes upon the stage of active life, “Now do your level best!” “Help yourself!” “Put your shoulder to the wheel!” “Make your own record!” “Paddle your own canoe!” “Be the architect of your own fortune!”

The sons of illustrious men are put upon trial like the sounds of common people. They must prove themself real Clays, Websters and Lincolns, if they would attract to themselves the cordial respect and admiration generally awarded to their brilliant fathers. There is, here, no law of entail or primogeniture.

Our great men drop out from their various groups and circles of greatness as bright meteors vanish from the blue overhanging sky bearing away their own silvery light and leaving the places where they once shone so brightly, robed in darkness till relighted in turn by the glory of succeeding ones.

I would not assume that we are entirely devoid of affection for families and for great names. We have this feeling, but it is a feeling qualified and limited by the popular thought; a thought which springs from the heart of free institutions and is destined to grow stronger the longer these institutions shall endure. George Washington, Jr., or Andrew Jackson, Jr., stand no better of being future Presidents than do the sons of Smith or Jones, or the sons of anybody else.

We are in this, as Edmund Quincy once said of the rapping spirits, will to have done with people when they are done with us. We reject living pretenders if they come only in the old clothes of the dead.

We have as a people no past and very little present, but a boundless and glorious future. With us, it is not so much what has been, or what is now, but what is to be in the good time coming. Our mottoes are “Look head!” and “Go ahead!”, and especially the latter. Our moral atmosphere is full of the inspiration of hope and courage. Every man has his chance. If he cannot be President he can, at least, be prosperous. In this respect, America is not only the exception to the general rule, but the social wonder of the world. Europe, with her divine-right governments and ultra-montane doctrines; with her sharply defined and firmly fixed classes; each class content if it can hold its own against the others, inspires little of individual hope or courage. Men, on all sides, endeavor to continue from youth to old age in their several callings and to abide in their several stations. They seldom hope for anything more or better than this. Once in a while, it is true, men of extraordinary energy and industry, like the Honorable John Bright and the Honorable Lord Brougham, (men whose capacity and disposition for work always left their associates little or nothing to do) rise even in England. Such men would rise to distinction anywhere. They do not disprove the general rule, but confirm it.

What is, in this respect, difficult and uncommon in the Old World, is quite easy and common in the New. To the people of Europe, this eager, ever moving mass which we call American society and in which life is not only a race, but a battle, and everybody trying to get just a little ahead of everybody else, looks very much like anarchy.

The remark is often made abroad that there is no space for repose in America. We are said to be like the troubled sea, and in some sense this is true. If it is a fact it is also one not without its compensation. If we resemble the sea in its troubles, we also resemble the sea in its power and grandeur, and in the equalities of its particles.

It is said, that in the course of centuries, I date not say how many, all the oceans of this great globe go through the purifying process of filtration. All their parts are at work and their relations are ever changing. They are, in obedience to ever varying atmospheric forces, lifted from their lowly condition and borne away by gentle winds or furious storms to far off islands, capes and continents; visiting in their course, mountain, valley and pain; thus fulfilling a beneficent mission and leaving the grateful earth refreshed, enriched, invigorated, beautiful and blooming. Each pearly drop has its fair chance to rise and contribute its share to the health and happiness of the world.

Such, in some sort, is a true picture of the restless activity and ever-changing relations of American society. Like the sea, we are constantly rising above, and returning to, the common level. A small son follows a great father, and a poor son, a rich father. To my mind we have no reason to hear that either wealth, knowledge or power will be here monopolized by the few as against the many.

These causes which make America the home and foster-mother of self-made men, combined with universal suffrage, will, I hope, preserve us from this danger. With equal suffrage in our hands, we are beyond the power of families, nationalities or races.

Then, too, our national genius welcomes humanity from every quarter and grants to all an equal chance in the race of life.

“We ask not for his lineage,
We ask not for his name;
If manliness be in his heart,
He noble birth may claim.
We ask not from what land he came,
Nor where his youth was nursed;
If pure the stream, it matters not
The spot from whence it burst.”

Under the shadow of a great name, Louis Napolean could strike down the liberties of France and erect the throne of a despot; but among a people so jealous of liberty as to revolt at the idea of electing, for a third term, one of our best Presidents, no such experiment as Napolean’s could ever be attempted here.

We are sometimes dazzled by the gilded show of aristocratic and monarchical institutions, and run wild to see a prince. We are willing that the nations which enjoy these superstitions and follies shall enjoy them in peace. But, for ourselves, we want none of them and will have none of them and can have none of them while the spirit of liberty and equality animates the Republic.

A word in conclusion, as to the criticims and embarrassments to which self-made men are exposed, even in this highly favored country. A traveler through the monarchies of Europe is annoyed at every turn by a demand for his passport. Our government has imposed no such burden, either upon the traveler or upon itself. But citizens and private individuals, in their relation to each other and the world, demand of every one the equivalent of a passport to recognition, in the possession of some quality or acquirement which shall commend its possessor to favor. We believe in making ourselves pretty well acquainted with the character, business and history of all comers. We say to all such, “Stand and deliver!” And to this demand self-made men are especially subject.

There is a small class of very small men who turn their backs upon any one who presumes to be anybody, independent of Harvard, Yale, Princeton or other similar institutions of learning. These individuals cannot believe that any good can come out of Nazareth. With them, the diploma is more than the man. To that moral energy upon which depends the lifting of humanity, which is the world’s true advancement, these are utter strangers. To them, the world is never indebted for progress, and they may safely be left to the gentle oblivion which will surely overtake them.

By these remarks, however, there is meant no disparagement of learning. With all my admiration for self-made men, I am far from considering them the best made men. Their symmetry is often marred by the effects of their extra exertion. The hot rays of the sun and the long and rugged road over which they have been compelled to travel, have left their marks, sometimes quite visibly and unpleasantly, upon them.

While the world values skill and power, it values beauty and polish, as well. It was not alone the hard good sense and honest heart of Horace Greeley, the self-made man, that made the New York Tribune; but likewise the brilliant and thoroughly educated men silently associated with him.

There never was a self-made man, however well-educated, who, with the same exertion, would not have been better educated by the aid of schools and colleges. The charge is made and well sustained, that self-made men are not generally over modest or self-forgetful men. It was said of Horace Greeley, that he was a self-made man and worshipped his maker. Perhaps the strong resistance which such men meet in maintaining their claim, may account for much of their self-assertion.

The country knows by heart, and from his own lips, the story of Andrew Jackson. In many cases, the very energies employed, the obstacles overcome, the heights attained and the broad contrasts at every step forced upon the attention, tend to incite and strengthen egotism. A man indebted for himself to himself, may naturally think well of himself.

But this is apt to be far overdone. That a man has been able to make his own way in the world, is an humble fact as well as an honorable one. It is, however, possible to state a very humble fact in a very haughty manner, and self-made men are, as a class, much addicted to this habit. By this peculiarity they make themselves much less agreeable to society than they would otherwise be.

One other criticism upon these men is often very properly made. Having never enjoyed the benefits of schools, colleges and other like institutions of learning, they display for them a contempt which is quite ridiculous and which also makes them appear so. A man may know much about educating himself, and but little about the proper means of educating others. A self-made man is also liable to be full of contrarieties. He may be large, but at the same time, awkward; swift, but ungraceful; a man of power, but deficient in the polish and amiable proportions of the affluent and regularly educated man. I think that, generally, self-made men answer more or less closely to this description.

From practical benefit we are often about as much indebted to our enemies, as to our friends; as much to the men who hiss, as to those who applaud; for it may be with men as some one has said about tea; that if you wish to get its strength, you must put it into hot water. Criticism took Theodore Parker from a village pulpit and gave him a whole country for a platform and the whole nation for an audience. England laughed at American authorship and we sent her Emerson and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. From its destitution of trees, Scotland was once a by-word; now it is a garden of beauty. Five generations ago, Britain was ashamed to write books in her own tongue. Now her language is spoken in all quarters of the globe. The Jim Crow Minstrels have, in many cases, led the negro to the study of music; while the doubt cast upon the negro’s tongue has sent him to the lexicon and grammar and to the study of Greek orators and orations.

Thus detraction paves the way for the very perfections which it doubts and denies.

Ladies and gentlemen: Accept my thanks for your patient attention. I will detain you no longer. If, by statement, argument, sentiment or example, I have awakened in any, a sense of the dignity of labor or the value of manhood, or have stirred in any mind, a courageous resolution to make one more effort towards self-improvement and higher usefulness, I have not spoken altogether in vain, and your patience is justified.

A Plea for Productivity

Twenty one French economists stood against the political trend in Europe as their open letter was published in the The Wall Street Journal.  This opinion could not have appeared sooner as monetary policy, impulsive bailouts, and woeful prospects plague the European economy.  With the election battle between Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Francois Hollande unfolding, these non-partisan economists launched an un-apologetic attack to those that, “think that one man’s life can be improved by robbing another.”

In it, they refute the practicality of finding balance between a quasi-free market system and the continuous expansion of a coercive welfare state that redistributes wealth:

Socialism has never succeeded in its extreme form, communism. As the past several years in Europe have shown, it does not work in its milder form of social democracy either. If European history teaches us anything, it is that prosperity is closely correlated to economic freedom.

Additionally, the observation is made that goods, wealth, and values are the products of man’s mind.  Government’s role is not to engineer society but to preserve the ability of men to think rationally and produce:

Growth can not be decreed: It is the result of unpredictable decisions and actions by countless individuals, all capable of effort and imagination. And growth can only come if these countless individuals’ impulses are not paralyzed by regulations, taxes, or dependence on the state. That is the path down which Mr. Hollande’s socialist policies would lead us, with the support of his inevitable Communist and environmentalist allies: A France that can produce nothing but economic stagnation and ever-higher unemployment and poverty, as the debt burden becomes unbearable.

…And they conclude with this–the inescapable nature of reality:

Sadly, whatever happens on Sunday seems unlikely to deliver France from socialism—our choices range from the status quo of a statist right, to the grand visions of a more-statist left. There is only one solution to restore hope to France: Abandon socialism entirely. To let it grip us even more tightly, as Mr. Hollande promises, would be a fatal error.

Here’s hoping statism and socialism will be rejected entirely…before it’s too late.

Democracy and Self Determination of Peoples: Euphenisms for Mob Rule in the Middle East

Writes Raymond Ibrahim in Jihad — When Elections Fail over at Jihad Watch:

The Obama administration supports “democracy” and “self determination” in the Middle East—two euphemisms that, in the real world, refer to “mob-rule” and “Islamic radicalization,” respectively. Yet, as Jimmy Carter recently put it: “I don’t have any problem with that [an “Islamist victory” in Egypt], and the U.S. government doesn’t have any problem with that either. We want the will of the Egyptian people to be expressed.”

Sounds fair enough. The problem, however, is that Muslim clerics openly and unequivocally characterize democracy and elections as tools to be discarded once they empower Sharia law. Thus Dr. Talat Zahran holds that it is “obligatory to cheat at elections—a beautiful thing”; and Sheikh Abdel Shahat insists that democracy is not merely forbidden in Islam, but kufr—a great and terrible sin—this even as he competed in Egypt’s elections.

The Obama administration can overlook such election-exploitations because the majority of Muslims are either indifferent or willing to go along with the gag—with only a minority (secularists, Copts, etc.) in Egypt actually objecting to how elections are being used to empower Sharia-enforcing Muslims.

But what if Muslims do not win elections? What if there are equal amounts of non-Muslims voting—and an “infidel” wins? What then? Then we get situations like Nigeria.

While many are aware that Boko Haram and other Islamic elements are waging jihad against the government of Nigeria, specifically targeting Christians, often overlooked is that the jihad was provoked into full-blown activity because a Christian won fair elections (Nigeria is about evenly split between Christians and Muslims).

According to Peter Run, writing back in April 2011:

The current wave of riots was triggered by the Independent National Election Commission’s (INEC) announcement on Monday [April 18, 2011] that the incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, won in the initial round of ballot counts. That there were riots in the largely Muslim inhabited northern states where the defeat of the Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari was intolerable, [but] was unsurprising. Northerners [Muslims] felt they were entitled to the presidency for the declared winner, President Jonathan, [who] assumed leadership after the Muslim president, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office last year and radical groups in the north [Boko Haram] had seen his ascent [Christian president] as a temporary matter to be corrected at this year’s election. Now they are angry despite experts and observers concurring that this is the fairest and most independent election in recent Nigerian history.

Note some key words: Muslims felt “entitled” to the presidency and seek to “correct” the fact that a Christian won elections—which they assumed “a temporary matter.”

Of course, had elections empowered a like-minded Muslim, the same jihadis would still be there, would still have the same savage intent for Christians and Westerners—Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.” But there would not be a fullblown jihad, and Obama would be singing praises to Nigerian democracy and elections, and the MSM would be boasting images of Nigerians with ink-stained fingers.

Yet the same jihadi intent would be there, only dormant. Like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood—whose ultimate goal is “mastership of the world”—they would not need to expose themselves via jihad, would be biding their time and consolidating their strength.

Now, back to the Egyptian clerics, specifically Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami—yet another leader in Egypt’s Salafi movement, who teaches that Muslims must preach peace when weak but wage war when strong. Discussing the chances of a fellow Salafi, Burhami asserts:

We say—regardless of the outcome of the elections—whether he [his colleague, the aforementioned al-Shahat] wins or loses, we will not permit an infidel [kafir] to be appointed to a post where he assumes authority over Muslims. This is forbidden. Allah said: “Never will Allah grant to infidels a way [to triumph] over the believers [Koran 4:141].” We are not worried about losing elections or al-Shahat losing votes. We will not flatter or fawn to the people.

What will you and your associates do, Sheikh Burhami—wage jihad? Of course, that will not be necessary: unlike Nigeria, most of Egypt is Muslim; one way or another, “elections” will realize the Islamist agenda.

Thus, whether by word (al-Burhami) or deed (Boko Haram) those who seek to make Islam supreme prove that democracy and elections are acceptable only insofar as they enable Sharia. Conversely, if they lead to something that contradicts Sharia—for instance, by bringing a Christian infidel to power—then the perennial jihad resumes.

The Islamists behave similar to the American “Progressives” who only support free elections as a vehicle to put their particular brand of collectivism — egalitarian socialism in place. As an example observe their praise of the Castro regime and communism, and their attacks on the profit motive, freedom and capitalism.

Salsman on the Anti-Capitalist Conservatives

Writes Richard Salsman in Mitt Romney’s Uphill Battle Against Anti-Capitalist Conservatives over at Forbes:

Most people assume GOP conservatives are reflexively pro-capitalist, that they embrace free markets, profit-making, and the pursuit of happiness through worldly success. But this assumption is far from the truth, as should now be evident after the anti-capitalist harangues launched at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by the much-touted “conservative alternatives” in the race – Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry.

Now conservative voters in South Carolina have through the ballot box stated that they prefer Mr. Gingrich, with his ethically challenged public and private lives, to Mr. Romney, whose personal life and professional career have been morally and productively impeccable. Evangelicals representing 60% of GOP voters in the South Carolina primary claimed to care most about family values and the sanctity of marriage, yet revealed their hypocrisy by disproportionately favoring Gingrich to Romney.

Sad to say, but conservatives and leftists alike don’t actually believe Mr. Romney’s career as a financier has been moral, because they assume the finance profession itself is fundamentally unproductive and parasitical, that it somehow saps or robs the “real” economy, which is popularly defined as that mass of common folk who work not with their minds for profits, but with their muscles, backs and callused hands for plain wages. This is the age-old Marxist myth that only manual labor creates wealth or value-added (profit). It’s one of the worst myths in the whole history of political economy, because in truth the mind is the main source of wealth; widespread ignorance of that basic truth makes people demonize financiers as exploitative thieves.

Myths aside, one of the world’s hardest jobs is that of financial capitalist, and sustained success at such work simply isn’t had by luck. It’s akin to being a consistently successful investor. Who can say this is a commonly held skill? It isn’t. The venture capitalist or private equity specialist must study and comprehend how best to allocate pools of capital (savings) to their most productive, efficient and profitable use. He must choose among thousands of potential companies, industries, and financial instruments. Most people find such work to be far too complex, too difficult, too time-consuming, and too ill-paid to undertake alone; yet most such spectators are also suspicious or even hateful toward the very few who earn millions succeeding at finance.

The profession of financial capitalist aside, it’s even more difficult today being a consistent ideological capitalist – i.e., an advocate of capitalism as a moral socio-economic system that enshrines rational self-interest, profit seeking, individual rights, the rule of law, and the pursuit of earthly happiness. Historically, capitalism is the radical system, and most religions (Marxism included) have decried it.

Read the rest…

Salsman: Newt Gingrich Reveals The Deep Rot Within the GOP

Why Do Takers Obama and Gingrich Attack Creators Like Romney? – Forbes

[…] Finally, take the case of Newt Gingrich, who despite posing earlier as the sober GOP candidate who’d run a positive campaign and wouldn’t trash his GOP rivals, this week chose to trash one of them: Mitt Romney, the only genuine wealth-maker among the entire GOP bunch. For context, note that when Gingrich first won a House seat in 1978 he was making a mere $10,000 a year; he went on to win nine more terms, the last couple as Speaker of the House (1995-1999). In 1994, the year before he became Speaker, Gingrich reported annual income of $675,000 a year – or many multiples of his official salary. In 1999 Gingrich was forced to resign from the GOP-controlled House and as Speaker, after being disciplined for wrongdoing (with a lop-sided vote of 395-28) and paying a $300,000 fine; it was the first time in U.S. history a Speaker was disciplined for ethical wrongdoing.

By the time Gingrich left as Speaker in 1999 – as a so-called public servant – his net worth had grown to astounding $7.5 million. What possible market value did Gingrich produce to attain such net worth while occupying political office?

[…] Mitt Romney, in contrast, has been a genuine creator-maker of wealth who
earned his millions honestly and productively, first as a management
consultant and then as a venture capitalist. 

[…] That Gingrich would equate his record of taking with Romney’s record of
making is truly despicable. This is a career-long taker of wealth
viciously and shamelessly assaulting a career-long maker of wealth, to
the glee and applause of GOP conservatives, Barack Obama and the liberal
media alike. This is Newt Gingrich the demagogue, assaulting Mitt
Romney the epitome of a good, productive capitalist. Indeed, this is the
same smear campaign run against Mitt Romney by Ted Kennedy in 1994.

Newt Gingrich is a corrupt, unprincipled power-luster who’ll say
anything and take any position necessary to attain high office
, and if
he can’t do that, he seeks to take wealth by selling his access to
political offices.

Nothing reveals more the deep rot within the GOP itself than the fact
that its conservatives-evangelicals so despise wealth-makers like Mitt
Romney and so sympathize with wealth-takers like Ted Kennedy, Barack
Obama and Newt Gingrich.

Salsman: Capitalism Isn’t Corporatism or Cronyism

Another great one by Richard Salsman:

Capitalism is the greatest socio-economic system in human history, because it’s so moral and so productive – the two features so essential to human survival and flourishing. It’s moral because it enshrines and fosters rationality and self-interest – “enlightened greed,” if you will – the two key virtues we all must consciously adopt and practice if we’re to pursue and attain life and love, health and wealth, adventure and inspiration. It produces not only material-economic abundance but the aesthetic values seen in the arts and entertainment.

But what is capitalism, exactly? How do we know it when we see it or have it – or when we haven’t, or don’t?

[…]

Capitalism has been blamed for the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and
for the financial crisis and bailouts of 2008, but it’s not “capitalism”
but the mixed economy and corporatism-cronyism that did it. We’ve had
corporatism in the U.S. for roughly the past century, and it’s getting
worse over time; it’s also the system we’ve seen in Europe since at
least the time of Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, who launched the
womb-to-tomb welfare state in the 1870s. In the interim, of course,
Europe also imposed communism, socialism and fascism. The result, we
know, was mass murder, world war, and the continent-wide destruction of
wealth.

Capitalism’s greatest intellectual champion, Ayn Rand (1905-1982),
once defined it as “a social system based on the recognition of
individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is
privately owned.” This recognition of genuine rights (not “rights” to
force others to get us what we wish) is all-crucial and it has a
distinctive moral foundation, according to Rand:

The
recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical
force from human relationships: basically, rights can be violated only
by means of force. In a capitalist society, no man or group may initiate
the use of physical force against others. The only function of the
government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights,
i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force; the government
acts as the agent of man’s right of self-defense, and may use force only
in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; thus the
government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of force under
objective control.” “The moral justification of capitalism does not lie
in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve “the
common good.” It is true that capitalism does—if that catch-phrase has
any meaning—but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral
justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system
consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival
qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice.

Elaborating, Rand explained in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
(1966) that historically, politically, economically, and morally,
capitalism was the superior socio-economic system, yet also how, for
decades, its achievements and virtues had been hidden and buried
deliberately in an avalanche of prejudice, distortion, and falsehood.
Rand argued that capitalism is a moral ideal yet also was made real, and
to the greatest extent, in America in the 19th century,
especially during the Gilded Age (1865-1890). Thus she called the U.S.
“the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the
only moral country in the history of the world.”

Read the rest of Capitalism Isn’t Corporatism or Cronyism over at Forbes.

Event: The History of Ancient Greece — The Early Fourth Century

From John David Lewis Ph.D.:

I will be doing a three-day course on Greece in the early fourth-century: The History of Ancient Greece: The Early Fourth Century.

The fourth century BC is often seen as the decline of the Greeks, a process that began with the defeat of Athens by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. But this gives short-shrift to a vital period. At this time the Athenians achieved a stable government under decent legal processes, the Greeks developed nascent federal political systems, markets thrived, orators brought forth groundbreaking ideas, and the philosophical schools of Plato, Aristotle and others were established. In bloody clashes the slave society of Sparta was neutralized, and freedom greatly extended. This course focuses on the defining political events of the first half of the century. Emphasis is placed on the political and military events that set the stage for the rise of the Macedonians under Alexander the Great.

The course draws in part from chapter two of Dr. Lewis’s book, Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History.

Check it out here–and sign up!

Art Against Jihad: An Interview with Bosch Fawstin Creator of The Infidel and Pigman

In this wide-ranging and exclusive New Romanticist interview, ex-Muslim artist extraordinaire Bosch Fawstin discusses: his new graphic novel series The Infidel and its’ hero Pigman — the Jihadist’s Terrorist; the influence of Frank Miller, Alex Toth and Ayn Rand on his work; the errors of George W. Bush and his contemporaries; his appearance on the Daily Show and the solution to dealing with Islamic terrorists. Enjoy!

 

NEW ROMANTICIST: Who is Bosch Fawstin?

BOSCH: A life-long comic book fan whose love of heroes led him to Ayn Rand’s novels and her philosophy of Objectivism, which my own fictional heroes embody.

I decided in my mid-20’s that I would turn my love of comic books into a career and released my first graphic novel, TABLE FOR ONE in 2004. The book led to a “Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer” award nomination, as well as an “Eisner Award” nomination for “Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition”.

I’m currently working on my second graphic novel, THE INFIDEL, featuring PIGMAN, the pigskin-clad, counter-jihad superhero.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Ayn Rand? Yes, I see the author of Atlas Shrugged she even makes an appearance in Table For One. What inspires you about Ayn Rand and her philosophy Objectivism in regards to your art?

BOSCH: Ayn Rand is the most fully realized artist I’ve ever come across. She wrote the truth as if her life depended on it, and she made me conscious of the fact that my favorite artists have always been the most honest. Her philosophy of Objectivism is what helps keep my life and the lives of my heroes in full intellectual engagement with reality. Its focus on what really matters helps me better recognize the unimportant and the unnecessary in my life and in my art, which is a great value in keeping my stories anchored to reality and true to themselves.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Who are your influences from comics – both in writing and art?

BOSCH: Frank Miller and Alex Toth are the big two, the ones whose work most challenged me to get real serious about my writing and drawing in order to show and tell my stories in the best way I can. Miller, mainly for his writing, and Toth for his inimitable drawing and storytelling ability.

NEW ROMANTICIST: For those new to Toth, what do you recommend as your favorite?

BOSCH: When it comes to the work of Alex Toth, I find it very difficult to play favorites because when thinking of your question I had a flood of images and stories in my head. But here’s a link to a short story that he drew that really shows how singularly great he was as a comic book artist. You can imagine how I felt when, less than a week after I sent him a black and white xerox copy of Table for One, I received a handwritten post card from Alex Toth himself, praising my efforts. I had heard about his famous post cards, which were truly a work of art in and of themselves. The one thing his appreciation for my work did is to make me dig deeper to get better, which is something he did throughout his entire career.

NEW ROMANTICIST: I see some John Romita Jr. in there too – particularly in the panel with your character Killian inking his comic with his library in the background. Also, some of those characters seem reminiscent at times of Herge’s Tintin. Wasn’t Miller an Ayn Rand fan too (though by no means could one call him an Objectivist)? I remember reading that Miller was particularly influenced by her work on esthetics, The Romantic Manifesto, which I assume you have also read?

BOSCH: Definitely, I read it a number of times, and I recall that when I first heard of Rand’s influence on Miller, I felt “Of course”, after having read his work for a number of years. John Romita Jr. was my favorite penciler in comics for a good number of years, especially when he had his early runs in Amazing Spider-Man and X-men, and I still appreciate his work, but I’d love for him to draw stories that he thinks are truly worth telling because when he’s asked about his best work he goes back nearly twenty years to his collaboration with Frank Miller in Daredevil: Man Without Fear.

NEW ROMANTICIST:  Miller also has been fairly vocal against the Jihadists and in his defense of Western Civilization, to the point that many of the left-leaning of those in the comic world label him a “fascist” etc., despite the fact that Miller is a defender of free speech. Are there others in the comic world with your views, and how do your views on 9/11 differ with his?

BOSCH: I do know of a number of creators in comics who understand the threat we face, but I’m not sure they’d want to associate themselves with my particular position, so they’ll go unmentioned by me. I do know that Miller intended to pit Batman against al Qaeda in a story he called “Holy Terror, Batman!”, but for whatever reasons (we can imagine what they were), Miller has now replaced Batman with his own creation, “The Fixer”. To think that Batman went from taking on Jihad to now taking on a Muslim to be his “French Batman” shines some light on why Miller’s project didn’t go through. Nonetheless I personally think Batman is not built to take on mass murderers anyway, since DC doesn’t allow him to kill, and being willing to kill is a requisite for fighting jihadists. Regarding any differing views Miller and I may have with respect to our approach in taking on this enemy, the Infidel takes on all of Islam — it’s laws, its doctrine of warfare, etc.. By contrast, from what I’ve read about Miller’s views and his project, I’ve never heard him get explicit about Islam per se, so he may just be focusing on al Qaeda. The fact that even that is considered controversial is just another sign of how far removed our culture is from where we need to be during this war.

NEW ROMANTICIST: What are your thoughts of Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen?

BOSCH: While I appreciate the craft Moore brought to Watchmen, because it must have taken a lot of thought and a lot of work to put it together the way he did, I’ve never been moved by his stories. The only time I felt there was something strong and true happening in Watchmen is when Rorschach entered the story. Not surprisingly, Rorschach was based on Steve Ditko’s Objectivist-leaning character, The Question. I think Moore tried his best to cut The Question down to size in order to characterize him as a psycho, but I think the character ended up being the most compelling in the story, despite Moore’s intent.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Who did you discover first – Miller or Rand?

BOSCH: Miller.

NEW ROMANTICIST:  Have you sent a copy of The Infidel to Miller?

BOSCH: I did ask a mutual friend to pass it on to him, so I’ll wait and see what happens. I’d love to discuss taking on Jihad through comics with him, and find out exactly where our approaches differ.

NEW ROMANTICIST: What is The Infidel about?

BOSCH: The Infidel is a story about twin brothers Killian Duke and Salaam Duka, whose Muslim background comes crashing to the forefront of their lives on 9/11. Killian responds by creating a comic book featuring a pigskin-clad superhero named Pigman, who takes on Jihad. Salaam’s response is full submission to Islam. Pigman’s battle against his arch-enemy, SuperJihad, echoes the escalating conflict between the twins.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Who is Pigman and how did he come about?

BOSCH: Pigman is aka Frank Warner, an ex-Muslim who, prior to 9/11, wrote and published books critical of Islam and Jihad. After the atrocity, Frank realized that he would have to take the war into his own hands when he saw Washington’s pathetic response to 9/11. The idea of Pigman came about when I started thinking about the enemy and what would be their worst nightmare personified. He’s a pigskin-clad superhero, a physically big, strong, ruthless defender of Western Civilization who fully understands the enemy and speaks his language. He is the perfect weapon against jihad.

NEW ROMANTICIST: What would you have rather seen Washington do? What do you think of those who said that Bush went “too far” in Iraq, and look what that has led to?

BOSCH: In addition to immediately bombing the mountain ranges of Afghanistan to wipe out most of al Qaeda, I would have wanted Washington to bomb Iran to show what happens to the world’s greatest state sponsor of jihad terrorism after an attack like 9/11, not to mention as a long overdue response to years of aggression against us.

George “Islam means peace” Bush, after having the green light from the American people to do whatever it took to End the threat facing us, decided to show our enemies that they can get away with mass murdering Americans if they belong to a religion. I really think Bush went after Iraq in order to avoid confronting Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two greatest threats we face in the region, which just happen to be the two most Islamic countries in the Muslim world. I think Bush’s decision to go after Saddam Hussein is because he appeared to be the least Islamic – i.e. “religious” — of our enemies in the Muslim world. And the fact that there was no love lost between Sadaam and his neighbors meant Bush could avoid Iran and Saudi Arabia without too much of a price to pay from an American public uninformed about who our greatest enemies actually are.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we needed an American president who understood that an enemy who flies planes into buildings, and a culture that celebrates that evil, would have to be dealt a devastating blow that would force it to end its jihad once and for all and begin to accept that we live in the 21st century.

NEW ROMANTICIST: How did you come about your views of Islam?

BOSCH: I was born into a Muslim family and, while my parents were not devout, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and a rejection of all those outside of our own kind was the norm in my upbringing. Only after 9/11 did I read the Koran and study Islam and its jihad. I needed to know firsthand whether Islam sanctioned the atrocity and I found that it did — that however insane the act seemed to the civilized world, Islam gave the 9/11 Muslim mass murderers a moral sanction for their evil act. We are still so far removed from the realization that Islam’s heroes are its jihadists, from Mohammad to Osama bin Laden.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Wow! Leaving Islam. Doesn’t that make you an Apostate?

BOSCH: It does, and according to Islam, I’m to be killed for it. It’s similar to how deserters of armies have been dealt with by their superiors when caught, which only emphasizes the militant nature of Islam.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Well at least you are in good company. So I take it you would not put Mohammad in the same category of Jesus or Buddha?

BOSCH: Mohammad was unique among those who claimed to be prophets as he had his critics assassinated, he waged wars against neighboring tribes and spread his religion by the sword. Mohammad made the founders of other religions seem rational by comparison.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Well how would you reply to Former President George W. Bush and President Obama who say that Islam is a “religion of peace”, and that Osama and those violent Muslims are “extremists?”

BOSCH: Islam means submission, submission to the will of the malevolent Muslim God, Allah. Osama bin Laden has never been repudiated as a deviant Muslim by any honest Muslim who knows Islam. The mass-murderer Osama bin Laden is revered in the Muslim world as the closest thing to Mohammad today, which really is all one needs to know about Islam and what it truly means.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Yeah, but those moderate Muslims aren’t killing anybody. In fact you have a peaceful, moderate Muslim as a character in your comic-book. What does that make them?

BOSCH: “Moderate Muslims” aren’t Muslim in any way that Islam would recognize. The problem with them is that they give Islam a better face than it deserves, and some mistake them for Islam itself, sometimes citing a decent person who happens to be Muslim as proving that Islam’s fine, outside of its “extremists.” I’ve thought about this for a while, and I think I’ve found a good way to make my point about it: Your average Muslim is morally superior to Mohammad. They are individual human beings who may or may not be a problem. It’s Islam’s consistent practitioners, especially those who are active in Organized Islam, who are the problem.

NEW ROMANTICIST: It’s quite intriguing how you have a story within a story. You have the counter-jihad superhero, PIGMAN, whom is the fictional creation of Killian Duke, who is himself is a fictional creation by you. It works on so many layers tailored to multiple audiences. How did you come up with that idea?

BOSCH: At a certain point in putting together my ideas for the story, I thought about the fact that not only must we wage a ruthless battle against the jihadist enemy, but we also, as individuals, have to fight through the self-destructive barriers that our culture has built around us in order to dissuade anyone from taking on a project such as The Infidel. It’s as if somehow those who are most invested in these barriers think that they can protect themselves from acknowledging certain terrible truths without paying any real world consequences for it. As Ayn Rand has stated, “To fear to face an issue is to believe that the worst is true.” So the story of Pigman took on a whole new dimension for me when I decided to write about the kind of cartoonist who would create such a comic book in a world that demanded it, but that does its best to ignore the necessity for it, which made me even more interested in taking the project on.

NEW ROMANTICIST: If you could describe Pigman in one or two words what would you call him?

BOSCH: Jihadists’ Terrorist.

NEW ROMANTICIST:  And would it be safe to say, given the similarities, that Killian Duke is an autobiographical version of you?

BOSCH: Yes, he is.

NEW ROMANTICIST:  So how has been the response to Issue#1 of The Infidel so far?

BOSCH: The response to The Infidel #1 has been gratifying. There have been two reviews published so far, both positive. One was written by someone who disagrees with the theme of the work; one by someone who is sympathetic with it. Reader response has been as good as I could have hoped for, both from long-time comic book fans and from those for whom this may have been a first-time comic book purchase. Nearly ten years after 9/11, The Infidel #1 is the first comic that has taken on jihad in a significant way. I believe today’s pop culture has to show and tell the truth about what we are facing in the post-9/11 world; it has to bring it to the enemy the way the culture of the WWII generation did.

NEW ROMANTICIST: …and it also looks like you will be making an appearance on The John Stewart show?

BOSCH: Yes, after they read my critical comments about the “Muslim” Batman, they found out about Pigman and invited me on to discuss both in an “interview” conducted by their “Liberal Muslim”. And even though I thought the actual shoot went pretty well, who knows what will air, since their job is get as much laughter as they can from their segments. But I figured this would be a good way to get Pigman out there to a culture that has seemed to want to keep him out. The segment I’m on has been rescheduled a few times already, but it looks like it will now air either Mon. Feb. 28, but more likely Tues., March 1st. I’ll keep everyone updated about that on my blog.

NEW ROMANTICIST: So what can we expect in Issue #2?

BOSCH: The twins engage in a war of words that only makes matters worse between them, but sheds more light on who these men are. In Pigman’s world, SuperJihad makes his first strike.

NEW ROMANTICIST: Fantastic…thank you for sharing your time with us Bosch, and we hope to hear from you again.

BOSCH: I appreciate the opportunity to get the word out about my work, thank you.

Order a copy of issue#1 of the Infidel at Bosch’s website.

Lessons From History About Victory in War

Excerpts from Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press, 2010) by John David Lewis, Ph.D.

“The causes of war and peace run far deeper than the movements of armies and troops (strategy and tactics) into the reasons why armies form and move at all” writes John David Lewis. Those causes are to be found in the ideas that motivate an aggressor to attack, or a defender to rise to the defense. 

“The wellspring of every war is that which makes us human: our capacity to think abstractly, to conceive, and to create. It is our conceptual capacity that allows us to choose a nation’s policy goals; to identify a moral purpose for good or for ill; to select allies and enemies; to make a political decision to fight; to manufacture the weapons, technologies, strategies, and tactics needed to sustain the decision over time; and to motivate whole populations into killing—or dissidents into protest. Both war and peace are the consequences of ideas—especially moral ideas—that can propel whole nations into bloody slaughter on behalf of a Führer, a tribe, or a deity, or into peaceful coexistence under governments that defend the rights and liberties of their citizens.”

To defend this claim, Professor Lewis examines seven events in history, derived from six major wars, to show how a long-term resolution to the causes of the conflict was only possible with a complete victory over an enemy’s will to fight. About the attack by Persia against the Greeks, Lewis writes:

“Xerxes began with the inherited passion for conquest that had motivated three generations of predecessors. But when his army and navy were mutilated by the Greeks and he saw his men sink beneath the waves, he confronted serious personal defeat for the first time. As his Great Pyramid collapsed, the effect on the king was immediate; he set off posthaste to secure his own retreat. His defeat was open and public, and despite his likely attempts to make it appear a victory, he knew that this could be fatal to the dynasty. His position had demanded that he demonstrate his splendor—but at the moment of defeat he reached the point of greatest danger. His task now was to reestablish his position inside his own territory—and this required a permanent change in policy. The legitimacy of his throne had to be disengaged from the conquest of the Greeks.”

 Writing of the defeat of the Spartans by the Theban leader Epaminondas—in which generations of slavery were ended in a single winter campaign directed against Sparta itself—Lewis writes that:

“such wars are powered from an ideological center, for both aggressors and defenders, which relies upon an economic and social base for its material sustenance and its affi rmation. This is the intersection of theory and practice. For the Spartans, this economic center was their hold over their Messenian helots, but when the Spartans were defeated and their helots found a political voice, more was lost than someone to do the dirty work. The Spartan ethos and its ideological center—the system of ideas that placed them at the top of a social hierarchy and that anchored their excellence in physical dominance—was discredited, its failure in action made undeniable.”

 The result? Sparta never again invaded the land of Thebes.

Sherman’s march through Georgai and the Carolinas had the same positive effect, demonstrating the hopelessness of the southern cause and undercutting their motivations to fight:

“Sherman’s tactics—like those of the cavalry commander Philip Sheridan, who was set to operate in the Shenandoah Valley—would shock southern society to its roots by the sheer force of his demonstration. This was not an unattended consequence; it was central to Sherman’s plan, and it centered on destroying property while avoiding the loss of life. An army burning its way through Georgia plantations is not a compassionate thought, but the creation of peace out of war was not a compassionate process. Sherman knew that the war could not be won as long as southern civilians thought that they were winning the war and were able to send men, arms, supplies, and psychological comfort to their army in the north.”

In defeating the Japanese will to fight in World War II, Lewis shows a specific campaign to end military indoctrination in schools, and to sever the ties between the religion of Shinto and those using it to motivate a population into suicidal war:

“State-mandated Shinto—the coercion of the Japanese people to follow this mythology and its rituals—was the cardinal means by which the Japanese government was able to motivate the population into suicidal military action.81 MacArthur’s so-called Shinto Directive left the shrines open—a very important issue to many Japanese—but it severed the connection between Shinto and the government. Shinto was reduced from a political mandate to a private matter; this was key to ending the sacrificial, nationalistic mind-set that had infected the Japanese people.”


Lewis applies the lessons derived from such events in a brief but provocative description, in the conclusion, about American involvement in Vietnam:

“The Americans had only two courses of action open to them: to accept the existence of the North Vietnamese government and therefore the fall of the South, or to destroy the government in the North as a necessary condition to an independent South. In either case, [the ancient Chinese military thinker] Sun-tzu should have been consulted, for the protracted campaign that followed was more damaging than either a fast destruction of the northern capital or the swift fall of the South without a fight would have been.”

Lest anyone think that Lewis is a warmonger, who glories in the idea of mass civilian casualties, this is what he writes of the Roman destruction of Carthage in the Third Punic War:

“The Third Punic War of 149–146 BC was not a war. It was a massacre. Rome was wrong; the peace of Scipio Africanus [following the Second Punic War] was good, and the Romans could have preserved it by just mediation of the Carthaginian complaints. The Romans . . . could have ended the Numidian [North African] attacks [on Carthage]. It is to Romans’ eternal shame—there is no credit due here—that they slaughtered a former enemy that had accepted peace and was living by its word.”

Alive Even at Rest

A painting recommendation by by Lee Sandstead

Ayn Rand opened The Fountainhead with these lines: “He stood naked at the edge of a cliff…He felt the wind behind him, in the hollow of his spine…He had come here for his only relaxation, to swim, to rest, to think, to be alone and alive, whenever he could find one hour to spare.” Have you ever wanted to see this scene in paint, a portrait of a passionate valuer, alive even at rest?

Young Man Nude by Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864), shows us a man, much like Roark, who seeks the solemn and thoughtful, even at rest, and like Rand’s masterful opening to The Fountainhead, Flanderin uses an intriguing subject, beautiful imagery and simple visual devices to hold our attention.

The man serenely sits with his head upon his knees atop a granite pinnacle high above a sea. He is young, virile and full of health; he is beautiful. The man dominates the painting, and the composition is such that wherever the eye falls upon the painting, it is immediately drawn back to him; the lines of his granite seat thrust our eye upwards, only to be stopped by the angle of his arm, which connects the clouds in the upper-left to the crag in the lower right. The effect is that the composition directs our attention in a circular motion around his torso. If the primary function of painting is contemplation, then Flanderin definitely succeeds.

Flanderin asks us to think about rest as it should be — an act of thinking, an act of valuing, an act of enjoying. Notice how the man is enraptured in himself. Notice how strong he is. Notice where he is and think of what he had to do to get there. Think of the great lengths Flandrin went to focus and direct our eye on his subject. One does not normally conceive of rest in such passionate terms, but Flanderin asks us to think of rest as something other than freedom from activity. Ironically, Flandrin gave us a highly inspirational and beautiful painting — about the act of rest!

If you buy a print of this painting and hang it on your wall, as I have, then let it serve as a reminder to pursue rest with the planning and thought of a career goal or loved one. Make the act of rest highly personal, highly valued, and most of all, highly restful.