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Reading Michael Barone And Soaking Up IQ Points

When I read Michael Barone I alternate between feeling incredibly more intelligent just for having the good sense to bask in his brilliance and feeling terribly inferior by comparison. Barone's blog celebrates its one year anniversary this week and a piece there linked by Power Line is a must read.

Barone looks at the end of slavery and points to some authors who view that end in a way I am unaccustomed. The difference? All the dead white Christian guys don't come out looking so bad. I will quote a bit of it, but please, please read the whole piece. It isn't very long, but it is full of information and interesting pieces of history that are not likely the typical curriculum you were taught in school.

Secular elites of our day, or for that matter their counterparts of a century or two centuries ago, like to think that all human progress is due to secular reason. But Christian belief in the moral equality of every person played a key role in inspiring the Britons and then the Americans who led the fight to abolish the slave trade and then slavery. Others followed in their wake. This, I think, is a lesson also of Adam Hochschild's Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, a book I have written about with admiration before but that I have not yet read all of; I'm putting it on my carry-on for reading on my next long flight on my tour to flog the paperback version of The New Americans: How the Melting Pot Can Work Again.

Hochschild, I gather, approaches the subject from the perspective of the American left; but he is also a gifted writer who eschews annoying cant, has immersed himself in the documents that tell this story, and gives the Christian inspiration of the first opponents of the slave trade--the first opponents of the slave trade in human history--its due. As we try to fathom the mindset of Islamofascists who fight violently for genuine evil, it is worthwhile to take some time to fathom the mindset of people--Evangelical Christians, most of them, in this case--who fought nonviolently for genuine goodness.

As I said before, please read it all.

Comments (12)

Lorie, Thanks for t... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Thanks for the ptr to this excellent article. Having experienced "fundamentalist" secularism in the form of communism, I can tell you that it is really bad compared to whatever critics of christianity have claimed.

Lorie - thanks for pointing... (Below threshold)

Lorie - thanks for pointing out this Barone article. (I too feel a little inferior reading his brilliant copy; I get the same reaction reading Thomas Sowell. I'm also currently reading William McFeely's 1991 biography on Frederick Douglass (which I'll review on my site), a man who in my humble opinion belongs on Mt. Rushmore, along with U.S. Grant.)

The end of slavery in England and America is an amazing story, and evanglical Christianity played no small role in it. This is a powerful statement from Barone's article:

"Secular elites of our day, or for that matter their counterparts of a century or two centuries ago, like to think that all human progress is due to secular reason. But Christian belief in the moral equality of every person played a key role in inspiring the Britons and then the Americans who led the fight to abolish the slave trade and then slavery."

How true. Of course, the whole fight to end slavery was much more involved than that, but the core was wrapped in evangelical Christianity.

Inpreparing for my Ph.D. co... (Below threshold)

Inpreparing for my Ph.D. comps, I've read a lot of antebellum and Reconstruction depictions of slaves and freed slaves. In many cases, both black and white authors show that in many cases, the black characters are intellectually and morally superior to the white ones. White charcters that are clearly to be admired treat the black characters with the respect of equally human beings, even if they're in the role of servents. Slavery is shown as wrong for many reasons, but blacks and white do not hate each other.

Ironically, the lliterature of the mid-19th century shows a deeper respect between the races than is often portayed in today's political climate.

Yes, Barone is just plain b... (Below threshold)

Yes, Barone is just plain brilliant. I discovered that first hand on election night 2004. He was drilling down to the superbs of Cleveland talking about voting trends! I was impressed.

This is a nice follow-up to... (Below threshold)

This is a nice follow-up to the previous post regarding quips like "tar baby" and "niggardly".

While I don't claim any religion myself, I do share many of the same morals and values that Christians do. I grew up in a "secular" household, but right was right and wrong was wrong. It's just so fashionable these past few years to highlight everything that may have ever been done wrong by those who claimed Christianity as their own, yet behaved contrary to the tenets, that no one is willing to speak kindly of everything that was right with it and still is.

It's disheartening really.

The horror with which we - ... (Below threshold)

The horror with which we - quite properly - view slavery today obscures the perspective of history.

Slavery was commonplace in human societies for thousands of years. As Barone points out, the efforts of British and American Christians were the first to oppose slavery on moral grounds. In a couple hundred years, it was banished from the civilized world.

Of course, it is still practiced today in Africa, and some form of slavery, indentured servitude, or forced labor is practiced throughout the Muslim world, much of South Asia, and China.

Oyster ~ Christians aren't perfect. If any of us were, it would sort of negate the whole point . . . But, if you are disheartened, it seems a shame to share the moral values, and miss out on the spiritual ones, which are the benefits of practicing the former. I try not to proselytize, so I'll just say, "Ask, and ye shall receive."

kirktoe -I remember ... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

kirktoe -
I remember that well. I blogged about Michael Barone that night. I just wrote a brief post about how he was the best pundit that night with all his detailed info about why many of the exit polls were wrong.

He is very nice, too. He wrote me an email a few weeks later thanking me for my complimentary post.

I always read Barone; he is... (Below threshold)

I always read Barone; he is an original thinker and a decent human being.

He was a Democrat long ago when being a Dem. was not such a demoralizing thing. He grew and moved into the Republican party.

Our Republican leaders would do well to read anything Barone writes.

What I really want to know ... (Below threshold)

What I really want to know is Barone's opinion on the up coming election.

The poll results are starting to make me nervous

There seems to be a lot of ... (Below threshold)

There seems to be a lot of revisionist history going on here. I think it was Socrates that said: "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance"

IMHO, many christians argued that there was a biblical justification for slavery, and only a few churches-such as the Quakers, and later the Methodist-supported the abolitionist movement in this country. Now, like Solomon, -did you like that biblical reference?- everyone has found new wisdom, because we now see slavery and the slave trade for the sinful and immoral act that it was. Don't for a minute think that Sunday morning is not the most segregated time in America for a reason. It was an ex methodist preacher and evangelical, William Simmons, who revived the Klan in the early 1920's, and the new Klan was made of of mostly protestants, fundamentalist, and southern baptist.

I am not like some blacks; (house negro) Earl Carter comes to mind, because he argued in his book "No Apology Necessary" that slavery was necessary for us blacks because it freed us from the Pagan idolatry worship that we practiced in West Africa. IMHO, there is no difference between that and the myriad of different religions being practiced in America today. The only difference is, white folks have said this is the way we should believe and blacks have signed on to it. And don't get me wrong, I feel the same way about Islam and muslims. I am fully aware, that while America formally abolished slavery in 1865. Countries like Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, did not abolish slavery until 1936, and 1962 respectively.

But I live in America, and America, is still a judeo christian country. And it is the christian dogma that groups like the klan use to practice hate against people like me.

"WE COME IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AMEN" Those are the words on the site of the Imperial Klans of America [http://www.kkk.net] and those are the words of your so called christians.

So forgive me if I am not on board with Mr. Barone on this one. He might be a good man, as I am sure all the posters here are. But don't try to absolve the so called christians in this country of the serious hate they effectuated throughout our history.

Barone mentions William Wil... (Below threshold)

Barone mentions William Wilberforce in just one spot, but he played an _enormous_ role in ending the slave trade in Britain. If you have the interest, his story is an amazing one, and was the subject of one of my pastor's biographical studies one year. You can read the lecture here. Of course, the lecture is geared toward a church audience, so don't be expecting the slant of a Harvard historian.

field negro --I don'... (Below threshold)

field negro --
I don't think Barone was trying to excuse any behavior of Christians or those using the name of Christianity. I think he was acknowledging a fact and trying to tell the rest of the story. I welcome information and found this incredibly interesting and thought provoking.

I don't think he mentions it in this piece, but I have heard Barone say in the past that he is not a Christian, but is agnostic. I assume that is still the case. So I don't think he comes at this with an agenda other than to let the truth be known.






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