Friday, January 7, 2011
Congress Omits References to Slavery and Glenn Beck Defends Clause Declaring Black People Three-Fifths Human
The Washington Post reports that:
"Finally the time had come to recite the Constitution aloud on the House floor. But first came the bickering over which parts of the nation's founding document to read at all.
House Republicans, who orchestrated the symbolic exercise as an early gesture to the tea party movement, touted it as a way to bring the new Congress, and the people they represent, back to America's roots.
But they didn't want to go all the way back.
They skipped several passages that no longer apply, including those that condoned slavery, angering some Democrats. On a day designed to celebrate the Founding Fathers' growing role in the nation's political discourse, Democrats accused Republicans of distorting history and the men who wrote it.
Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House's top-ranking African American, declined to participate in the reading. He said omitting the slavery clauses amounted to "revisionist history."
"It could have been very educational if all the members talked about the United States Constitution as a living document, talked about how this country wrestled with things like race and gender," Clyburn said in an interview."
Reciting the U.S. Constitution was a complete waste of time. However, since Congress decided to recite the Constitution, they should have included references to slavery. Our ancestors were kidnapped, sold like cattle, brutally beaten with whips, raped and lynched. By omitting references to slavery, Congress simply glossed over that history of oppression. We should not allow anyone to negate or blot out our history.
For an entirely different reason, Glenn Beck was offended by Congress' failure to read the Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution. That clause declared enslaved Africans three-fifths of a person. Defending the Three-Fifths Clause, Beck claimed that the framers created that clause "because if slaves in the South were counted as full human beings they could never abolish slavery." He said that "it was a way to take a step to abolish slavery." What?!!?
Beck's rationalization is outrageous, nonsensical and absurd. The compromise only strengthened and empowered the slave holding states. Here is the real reason for the Three-Fifths Compromise. As stated on Wikipedia,
"The Three-Fifths compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the population of slaves would be counted for enumeration purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the United States House of Representatives. It was proposed by delegates James Wilson and Roger Sherman.
Delegates opposed to slavery generally wished to count only the free inhabitants of each state. Delegates supportive of slavery, on the other hand, generally wanted to count slaves in their actual numbers. Since slaves could not vote, slaveholders would thus have the benefit of increased representation in the House and the Electoral College. The final compromise of counting "all other persons" as only three-fifths of their actual numbers reduced the power of the slave states relative to the original southern proposals, but increased it over the northern position."
"The three-fifths ratio, or "Federal ratio" had a major effect on pre-Civil War political affairs due to the disproportionate representation of slaveholding states relative to voters. For example, in 1793 slave states would have been apportioned 33 seats in the House of Representatives had the seats been assigned based on the free population; instead they were apportioned 47. In 1812, slaveholding states had 76 instead of the 59 they would have had; in 1833, 98 instead of 73. As a result, southerners dominated the Presidency, the Speakership of the House, and the Supreme Court in the period prior to the Civil War."
Most students learn that basic history in high school. It is astonishing that so many gullible viewers support Beck's ignorance, revisionism, fear mongering and race baiting. We must support Color of Change's call for advertisers to stop supporting Beck's program.