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View Diary: Devil's Advocate: Other Countries Think America is Exceptional Too (35 comments)

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  •  Give British abolitionists some credit: (5+ / 0-)

    after abolishing slavery within the British Empire, they pursued the abolition of the slave trade everywhere.

    Even Brazil, which continued to import slaves on a large scale and was economically more dependent on slavery than the US, gave up slavery without a squawk.

    "Is it despicable that we diverged into two stark camps and the right one was victorious?" I think phrasing it this way soft-pedals the real horror of what happened. Those southern politicians and plantation owners who betrayed their nation and started a civil war to perpetuate slavery were not involved in mere regrettable folly-- their project was deeply evil, even by the standards of their age.  

    •  Deep evil that we confronted and defeated. (0+ / 0-)

      While Britain still tried to trade with the South's ill-gotten gains.  Britain has never had to make such choices and sacrifices as Americans made, because the sick fucks responsible for the formation of the Confederacy had already left Britain and colonized the Southern US.  In other words, Europe simply exported its moral conundrums.  And when the continent was divided between two psychoses, Nazism and Communism, the solution didn't come from inside.

      Europe didn't become the "good guy" until the Iraq War, and even then they didn't do shit to stop it.  The most resistant governments were at most passively critical.  I say this as someone intensely versed in history, and aware of our technocratic failures: We are the most morally upstanding hegemony that has ever existed, and our critics lack the balls to hold us accountable for the horrors that are occasionally perpetrated in our name by Republican parasites.

      Pour yourself into the future.

      by Troubadour on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:29:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  America has historically failed to confront evil (1+ / 0-)
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        - especially if it was at great risk to itself. A cotton mill in Lancashire buying plantation cotton was not morally different from it's counterpart in New Hampshire. As for the "sick fucks" who left Britain - well they colonized ALL the American colonies as well as the West Indies. George Washington kept his slaves (at least the ones who had not run off to the British), and it was Thomas Jefferson who held Sally Hemings family hostage so she would return with him from revolutionary France.

        In 1841 the crew of the American ship Creole, en route to Louisiana with a cargo of slaves, was overpowered by an escaped group led by Madison Washington, and the ship was forced to sail to Nassau in the Bahamas. On their arrival the majority of slaves were set free immediately and 17 who were deemed to have been involved in the death of one of the Americans were detained while the authorities decided whether charges should be brought. In the end they decided these 17 were legitimately fighting for their freedom and they were also free to go.

        One intrepid congressman for Ohio took the opportunity to present a bill in Congress to declare that any slaves on Southern ships that left State waters were free of their bondage. His reward was to be censured by Congress and he resigned his seat. He was subsequently re-elected - but the sorry fact of the matter is that abolition was a vote-LOSING position in the North, never mind the South.

        While the Civil War was started by the South to preserve slavery, it was fought by the North to preserve the Union. Lincoln is on record declaring that if he could win the war without freeing a single slave he would do so. The Emancipation declaration was issued in a preliminary form in August 1862, with the final declaration being issue in January 1863. Why issue a preliminary version in 1862?

        The timing had everything to do with what was happening in London - the British government was mulling the recognition of the Confederacy. While I won't downplay the intent of British government to make mischief with a power rival - the fact is that in every civil war there is potentially a tipping point where foreign governments would recognize the de facto independence of the breakaway group - we see that dynamic in Syria right now.

        What Lincoln and his advisers realized was that British public opinion (at least the public that could vote) was strongly abolitionist, and the moment Lincoln made abolition a war aim, the government in London would have to back away from any incipient recognition - which is exactly what happened.

        However, the price paid in the US was deep discontent in the North, and when the draft was expanded after the emancipation declaration there were riots across Northern cities against local African American communities - protests against being drafted to fight to free slaves.

        The details of what I have laid out are easily researched, and some of them (like the draft riots) have appeared in recent cultural settings like Martin Scorcese's "The Gangs of New York" or the tv series "Copper". American history is rich and intriguing and there is much to be learned from it - but like most countries - its honestly not very flattering.

        One final point - regarding World War 2 - Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 - knowing full well that its continued existence was likely on the line. The British public knew they were fighting evil - the American public not so much. It would take a Japanese attack 2 years later, years during which Britain suffered the Blitz and a massive U-boat campaign, to finally get America involved. In fact, it was Hitler who declared war on America (in support of their Japanese ally!) and it is not certain that Roosevelt could have persuaded Congress to embark on the 2-front war without that help from Adolf.

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