Monday, December 17, 2007

The New Abolitionism

Stowe and Brown are deeply and troublingly illiberal on the subject of abolitionism (and in the Brown case, at least, everything else). Some are suggesting Stowe ought not be linked with a bombthrower like Brown, but this won't fly. From the Linker piece:
Following a lecture in Hartford, she recalls, "I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by slave owners in Georgia. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up a slave in the first place."
In addition to being demonstrably false, this view is an awful and appalling thing to say, and she clearly deserves strong criticism for it. As does, in my view, anyone who suggests that anyone who holds a substantially different position on slavery is not capable of being a good and decent person. A society that contains deep disagreements regarding these sorts of questions will be benefited by deep pluralism and ecumenicalism. Many commenters feel compelled to point out that abolitionists of all sorts are often not afforded the respect and tolerance that Linker wants abolitionists to extend to slave owners. This is factually correct, but as a defense of the likes of Brown and Stowe, it's nothing but a tu quoque. Moreover, even if returning the disrespect in kind had some sort of strategic value, which I can't really see, Brown and Stowe attack cruel and exploitative slave owners and compassionate and generous slave owners with the same broad brush.

With no apologies whatsoever to DJW


  1. Dammit, man, I was going to comment on the Linker piece tomorrow. But this is better. Very funny.

  2. Easy too. I just substituted "slavery" from religion, changed the names and a couple of locations and poof. This post literally wrote itself.


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