Frederick Douglass’ account of his boyhood as a slave; the deprivations, brutal injustices, and physical suffering, are a narrative of sadness and profound adversity. But the full horror of his circumstance did not steal into his consciousness until, having gained an understanding of the world through reading, he realized to the great anguish of his mind, that he was not free.
Among the men and women who, through their contributions to the cause of liberty, poignant expressions of patriotism, and lives of sacrifice and service, could be canonized as American Saints, stands Frederick Douglass, an America slave, and passionate abolitionist.
Descriptions by Frederick Douglass of his boyhood as a slave; the deprivations, brutal injustices, and physical suffering, are a narrative of sadness and profound adversity. But the full horror of his circumstance did not steal into his consciousness until, having gained an understanding of the world through reading, he realized to the great anguish of his mind, that he was not free. He was a slave for life, chained to a destiny of bondage to the will of others, and the dehumanizing constraint of his movements, thoughts, potential, and very definition as a man. This was the worst agony to him. Superseding the physical and mental burdens of being consigned to a lesser class of human being, was the agony of the thought that he was not free, and would never be free. Freedom for Frederick Douglass, was the ultimate statement of human potential, the most holy expression of the mind of a man. And freedom, through bad luck, bad timing, and the exercise of irresponsible power by greedy men, was irrevocably wrenched from his grasp.
The affliction of Frederick Douglass’ enslavement was unveiled by the craft of his comprehension, which came to him gradually after the wife of one of his masters was kind to him for a short time and taught him the alphabet. He taught himself to read. And the ability to read, comprehend, and think in context of his relation to, and position in the greater world, and thus reason out his own predicament, brought the unwelcome pangs of a man’s realization that his will was being crushed into extinction. Of the disquieting thoughts of freedom he wrote:
It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid
of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver
trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear
no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment
me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without
hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm,
breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.
Barack Obama invoked the name of Frederick Douglass at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2012, comparing himself to the “great reformers” of the past.
We can’t leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel — the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action — sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.
Obama profaned the name and spirit of Frederick Douglass by using rhetoric that buttresses the enslavement that Douglass so ardently opposed. This quote, taken from Obama’s remarks, speaks of “reformation” but is actually about the contraction of men’s liberty through the power of Socialist government. Obama’s “values” are offenses against human liberty; the taking by force from one man what he has earned and giving it to another, the rejection of the God of Heaven in favor of the godless state, the identification and valuation of a man by his color, or class, or some other superficial quality, which debases the individual as someone who is not born equal but must be granted equality by the government. Force, the acquisition of power over the wills and property of men, and the classification of individuals according to race and need, are features of the philosophy of slave holders. Barack Obama holds more in common with the overseers who used force against obeisant slaves to meet their economic ends, than he does the humble and unimpeachable Frederick Douglass.
Obama’s execration of great men did not stop with the names of Patriots and American Saints like Frederick Douglass, he even intoned the name of Jesus Christ as an instrument of his Socialist propaganda.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.
Barack Obama throws around the name of The Lord like a preacher scolding his congregation for being too greedy. But Obama clearly lacks an understanding of the role of God as the Author of Liberty. Obama would enslave freemen with a system in which rights are defined and given by the state. He would exercise the authority of his position like a taskmaster, drunk with power over those he considers to be less than himself. He dehumanizes certain classes, not by comparing them to animals, but by making their success a sin. Where there is greater success measured by wealth, there is greater sin, colder hearts, less equality, and an open door to the exploitation and the enslavement of “millionaires and billionaires.”
Barack Obama is not unlike the pious Christian slaveholders about whom Frederick Douglass wrote. They would kneel at their hearths in supplication to God for the provender of their pantries and the fullness of their stomachs, while starving their slaves, withholding even the meanest nourishment that would soothe the spasms of hunger. Obama and his family live like aristocrats and spend millions of dollars unnecessarily on parties, pomp and circumstance, while the nation grinds under the burdens of debt and unemployment. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are like the “men and women of God” who joined their congregations on the Sabbath, and feigned humility while worshiping, and upon returning to their homes, would brutalize their slaves with beatings and endless lashes of the “cow skin.” They are the plantation owners who consume the fortunes gathered by the broken backs and bleeding hands of others.
Frederick Douglass lived in the cause of Liberty. At the close of his personal narrative he wrote:
Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system, and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds — faithfully relying upon the power of truth,
love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts — and solemnly pledging my self anew to the sacred cause, — I subscribe myself,
LYNN, MASS., APRIL 28, 1845.
Modern Socialism is not the equivalent of slavery. Nor is it the opposite. Socialism is the soft-slavery of evaporating freedoms, theft through hidden taxes, strangling regulations, and the increasing prerogative of government upon the time, labors, and lives of men. Frederick Douglass knew the mental and physical agony of bondage, and victoriously freed himself from ignorance and slavery. He recognized the God-given right of every man to be free and self-determinant, and so helped abolish the atrocity of human subjugation. Barack Obama conversely builds a bulwark of constraint against the will and potential of the American people. He supports laws which, instead of protecting their liberties, bind and punish the citizens of the United States. He sees himself not as a man who loves and longs for freedom, but as a king with the power to manipulate men, either through unctuous persuasion, or the muscle of the state, in his effort to create a transformed American reality from a Utopian fiction. Frederick Douglass was a champion of the human spirit. Barack Obama is a forger of chains. Barack Obama is no Frederick Douglass.
By Marjorie Haun 2/2/14