Tag Archives: Abolitionist

Is Chris Matthews or Michele Bachmann right about John Quincy Adams?

Rep. Michele Bachmann

Let me link to a post that I found on Letitia’s blog.

Here’s the dispute:

On Tuesday, leftist lackey Chris Matthews went on a jaundiced tirade against Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s speech for the Iowans for Tax Relief. Specifically, he derided Rep. Bachmann’s citation of John Quincy Adams as one of this country’s forebearers who worked tirelessly for abolition.

First, of all, let’s look at this post on Big Government which explains what John Adams did.

Excerpt:

As a Founder and the second President, it’s true that John Adams put the Republic above what was then an impossible issue to resolve. It is inaccurate to suggest he was a proponent of slavery with no role in its ultimately being eliminated in the U.S. No, he did not sacrifice the forming of a Republic for it, which is precisely what a strong position against it would have meant. But he did make his sentiments known (for more), taking pride in never having employed a slave. He is said to have found it “repugnant” and he argued against the Southern position that blacks not be included in population figures during the Continental Congress.

Now back to Letitia and John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams.

Here are the facts, linked from Letitia’s post:

John Quincy Adams: according to biographies of Adams’ life, he repeatedly attempted to introduce bills by abolitionist groups into Congress calling for the abolition of slavery. Such was the opposition to his ongoing attempts, Southern Democrats passed a number of gag rules in order to prevent Adams from introducing any more abolitionist bills.

“Throughout he was conspicuous as an opponent of the extension of slavery, though he was never technically an abolitionist, and in particular he was the champion in the House of Representatives of the right of petition at a time when, through the influence of the Southern members, this right was, in practice, denied by that body. His prolonged fight for the repeal of the so-called “Gag Laws” is one of the most dramatic contests in the history of the U.S. Congress. The agitation for the abolition of slavery, which really began in earnest with the establishment of the Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831, soon led to the sending of innumerable petitions to congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, over which the Federal government had jurisdiction, and for other action by congress with respect to that institution. These petitions were generally sent to Adams for presentation. They aroused the anger of the pro-slavery members of congress, who, in 1836, brought about the passage of the first “Gag Rule”, the Pinckney Resolution, presented by Henry L. Pinckney, of South Carolina. It provided that all petitions relating to slavery should be laid on the table without being referred to committee or printed; and, in substance, this resolution was re-adopted at the beginning of each of the immediately succeeding sessions of congress, the Patton Resolution being adopted in 1837, the Atherton Resolution, or “Atherton Gag”, in 1838, and the Twenty-first Rule in 1840 and subsequently until repealed. Adams contended that these “Gag Rules” were a direct violation of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and refused to be silenced on the question, fighting for repeal with indomitable courage, in spite of the bitter denunciation of his opponents. Each year the number of anti-slavery petitions received and presented by him increased; perhaps the climax was in 1837, when Adams presented a petition from twenty-two slaves, and, when threatened by his opponents with censure, defended himself with remarkable keenness and ability. At each session, also, the majority against him decreased until in 1844 his motion to repeal the Twenty-first Rule was carried by a vote of 108 to 80 and his battle was won.” (Source: NDDB biographies, http://www.nndb.com/people/370/000026292/)

Incidentally (or not incidentally, if you believe in Divine Providence as I do), in the last year of Adams’ life, he mentored a young Congressman to work toward abolition. This Congressman later went on to become the 16th President of the United States. Oh, what was his name? Abraham Lincoln.

She then links to this Youtube video showing the details of the connection between John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln.

Letitia is a friend of mine, so I recommend that everyone read the rest of her post. Her blog is called “Talitha, Koum”. There’s a Biblical meaning to that phrase.

My thoughts

I’m going to compare Chris Matthews to Michele Bachmann to see which one has more education, more experience and higher moral standards.

Education:

Let’s review Matthews’ academic history. He has a bachelor degree in something, no site will say what, from the College of the Holy Cross. When people don’t say what the degree is in, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is something totally useless like drama or music or education or women’s studies. And he did one year of graduate work in economics before DROPPING OUT. He then spent some time working as a police offer on Capitol Hill.

In contrast, Michele Bachmann has a B.A. and a J.D. and an LL.M in tax law from the College of William and Mary, a prestigious law school. That means she has completed her bachelor degree, doctorate in laws, and a post-doctoral degree in tax law. She worked as a federal tax lawyer before starting a successful career in politics.

Campaigns:

Matthews is a Democrat, who has worked for Democrats and he has even run for office as a Democrat.

When Matthews first arrived in Washington, D.C., he worked as a police officer with the United States Capitol Police. Subsequently, he served on the staffs of four Democratic members of Congress, including Senators Frank Moss and Edmund Muskie. In 1974, he mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Pennsylvania’s 4th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in which he received about 24% of the vote in the primary. Matthews was a presidential speechwriter during the Carter administration, and later worked for six years as a top aide to long-time Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill, playing a direct role in many key political battles with the Reagan administration.

Michele Bachmann meanwhile has run for office at the state and federal level and won numerous times, in a blue state, no less. In all, she has spent six years as a state senator, and 4 years as a congresswoman, and was just elected again. She has not ruled out a run for the Presidency in 2012.

Religion:

Note that Matthews was raised Catholic but he is not a Catholic, since he is a strong proponent of abortion.

Matthews is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross but his own Catholic faith has diverged from the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.

His political career saw him as a top staffer for pro-abortion former House Speaker Tip O’Neil and he is an unabashed supporter of Obama.

In March, Matthews referred to pro-life advocates who oppose pro-abortion Health Secretary nominee Kathleen Sebelius as terrorists.

During his program “Hardball,” Matthews worried that Sebelius would become the target of “the terrorism of the, of the anti-abortion people.”

And more:

[…]the conservatives will find the evils of sodomy, the evils of, uh, uh, infidelity, the evils of sex of any form. It seems like the conservatives don’t like sex and they’re very focused on that and the liberals are focused on social injustice.

So he rejects Biblical morality on sex. And why should we be surprised? He is a Democrat -the party of John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Gary Condit, Eliot Spitzer, etc. For Democrats, affairs are OK – they never resign because they think that there should be no rules around sex. My opinion is that he is an atheist like most Democrats, although he is not going to come out and say that.

Note what being pro-abortion really means. Being pro-abortion means that one group (adults) can choose to kill another group (the unborn) simply because it makes them happier to do so. To make this sound more palatable, they marginalize an entire group of human beings to being non-human trash. As Frank Turek recently noted, this is EXACTLY what slave-owners did. Slave-owners marginalized an entire class of human beings to trash because it made them happier. If Matthews had been alive during the time of slavery, he would have been a slave-owner. He would have called abolitionists “terrorists”, just like he calls pro-lifers “terrorists”.

In contrast, Michele Bachmann is an outspoken evangelical Christian. Her views are consistent with the Bible across the board.

Misogyny:

Chris Matthews is constantly insulting the intelligence of women:

On a recent installment of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Chris Matthews could not contain his mocking laughter as he announced the breaking news that Michele Bachmann had been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee. Matthews does not make any case to support the idea that Bachmann lacks the competence to be on the intelligence committee; to him it is simply a forgone conclusion based on her gender and political leanings. Matthews has made trivializing remarks about Christine O’Donnell as well. During O’Donnell’s campaign, Matthews dismissed her as a “cute” girl that is “just having fun.” Somehow, conservative women are inherently bimbos.

However, the most glaring examples of the bimbo narrative are focused upon Sarah Palin. Matthews, along with many in the mainstream media, have repeatedly accused her of lacking intelligence. From the outset of her emergence upon the national stage Matthews has questioned her intelligence: calling her an empty “vessel” that lacks “independent thinking” which will be filled up with conservative rhetoric. When Palin’s first book deal was announced, Matthews was quick to dismiss: “If she can read, if she can write, she’ll make money.”

Last Friday, preemptively criticizing an upcoming appearance on Hannity, Matthews compared Palin’s appearance to an infomercial that would be “selling makeup foundations.” Palin was to discuss the recent blood libel comment she made in response to accusations that she incited the Arizona shootings.

And not just conservative women:

On “Hardball” Thursday, Chris Matthews responded to critics who claim he recently made sexist comments about Hillary Rodham Clinton, which they say is part of a history of similar conduct.

Controversy erupted after Matthews made remarks on Joe Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC that “the reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t win there on her merit.”

Naturally, Michele Bachmann won’t do this – she is an intelligent woman. She knows how hard it is to actually finish graduate school and win election campaigns… unlike Chris Matthews. She actually finishes what she starts… unlike Chris Matthews.

UPDATE: Letitia posted this on Facebook:

Wow, that was pretty fast.

Related posts

A hero’s legacy: Happy birthday, William Wilberforce

August 24th was the 250th birthday of the official hero of the Wintery Knight blog, William Wilberforce.

Chuck Colson wrote about it. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

Today marks the 250th birthday of William Wilberforce, the Christian statesman who, for 18 arduous years, led the crusade against the abominable British slave trade. And I can think of no better gift I could give my listeners than to tell you about some of the traits that made Wilberforce a man who profoundly changed history-and whose legacy so profoundly shaped my life.

To speak of Wilberforce is to speak of biblical worldview in action. When Wilberforce, one of the youngest members of Parliament, came to Christ, he contemplated leaving office and becoming a clergyman.

Thankfully, William Pitt, who went on to be Great Britain’s youngest prime minister, convinced him otherwise. In a letter to his dear friend, Pitt wrote: “Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple and lead not to meditation only, but to action.”

And indeed, for Wilberforce, Christian faith meant action. He could not stand idly by and see the imago Dei of each person, the image of God, abused. His fiercely unpopular crusade against the slave trade ravaged his health and cost him politically. He endured verbal assaults and was even challenged to a duel by an angry slave-ship captain.

And when the French Revolution began, what had been merely an unpopular position became a dangerous one. As cries of liberty, equality, and fraternity erupted across the Channel, Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists who believed so strongly in human equality were suddenly viewed with suspicion by the British people.

Nonetheless, Wilberforce persevered year after year. Writing about whether to give up the fight, Wilberforce notes, “a man who fears God is not at liberty” to do so.

What Christianity teaches is that every person in the world was made by God for the purpose of responding freely to him. Your job as a Christian is to help everyone who wants to freely respond to God to do so.

Contrasting the moral values of an authentic Christian with an authentic Darwinist

Let’s start with someone who acted consistently on the plain, intended meaning of the Christian worldview, as expressed in the New Testament.

The case of William Wilberforce, an authentic Christian

Consider this article from the Wall Street Journal about the abolitionist William Wilberforce.

In fact, William Wilberforce was driven by a version of Christianity that today would be derided as “fundamentalist.”

…William Wilberforce himself, as a student at Cambridge University in the 1770s and as a young member of Parliament soon after, had no more than a nominal sense of faith. Then, in 1785, he began reading evangelical treatises and underwent what he called “the Great Change,” almost dropping out of politics to study for the ministry until friends persuaded him that he could do more good where he was.

And he did a great deal of good…[h]is relentless campaign eventually led Parliament to ban the slave trade, in 1807, and to pass a law shortly after his death in 1833, making the entire institution of slavery illegal. But it is impossible to understand Wilberforce’s long antislavery campaign without seeing it as part of a larger Christian impulse. The man who prodded Parliament so famously also wrote theological tracts, sponsored missionary and charitable works, and fought for what he called the “reformation of manners,” a campaign against vice.

Even during the 18th century, evangelicals were derided as over-emotional “enthusiasts” by their Enlightenment-influenced contemporaries. By the time of Wilberforce’s “great change,” liberal 18th-century theologians had sought to make Christianity more “reasonable,” de-emphasizing sin, salvation and Christ’s divinity in favor of ethics, morality and a rather distant, deistic God. Relatedly, large numbers of ordinary English people, especially among the working classes, had begun drifting away from the tepid Christianity that seemed to prevail. Evangelicalism sought to counter such trends and to reinvigorate Christian belief.

…Perhaps the leading evangelical force of the day was the Methodism of John Wesley: It focused on preaching, the close study of the Bible, communal hymn-singing and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Central to the Methodist project was the notion that good works and charity were essential components of the Christian life. Methodism spawned a vast network of churches and ramified into the evangelical branches of Anglicanism. Nearly all the social-reform movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries–from temperance and soup kitchens to slum settlement houses and prison reform–owe something to Methodism and its related evangelical strains. The campaign against slavery was the most momentous of such reforms and, over time, the most successful. It is thus fitting that John Wesley happened to write his last letter–sent in February 1791, days before his death–to William Wilberforce. Wesley urged Wilberforce to devote himself unstintingly to his antislavery campaign, a “glorious enterprise” that opposed “that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature.” Wesley also urged him to “go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”

Wesley had begun preaching against slavery 20 years before and in 1774 published an abolitionist tract, “Thoughts on Slavery.” Wilberforce came into contact with the burgeoning antislavery movement in 1787, when he met Thomas Clarkson, an evangelical Anglican who had devoted his life to the abolitionist cause. Two years later, Wilberforce gave his first speech against the slave trade in Parliament.

…This idea of slaving as sin is key. As sociologist Rodney Stark noted in “For the Glory of God” (2003), the abolition of slavery in the West during the 19th century was a uniquely Christian endeavor. When chattel slavery, long absent from Europe, reappeared in imperial form in the 16th and 17th centuries–mostly in response to the need for cheap labor in the New World–the first calls to end the practice came from pious Christians, notably the Quakers. Evangelicals, not least Methodists, quickly joined the cause, and a movement was born.

William Wilberforce believed that slaves were made in the image of God – that they were embodied souls who could be resurrected to eternal life. Wilberforce believed that the purpose of human life is to freely seek God, and to be reconciled with God through Christ. He wanted all men and women to have the opportunity to investigate and respond to God’s self-revelation to them.

You can read more about Wilberforce’s beliefs here and his public activities here. And you can still see modern-day abolitionists, like Scott Klusendorf, consistently acting out their Christian convictions in the public square. Only today they’re called pro-lifers. By the way, like Wilberforce, I am also a Wesley-inspired Evangelical Protestant Christian. Hooah!

The case of Adolf Hitler, an authentic Darwinist

Now let’s take a look at the opposite of Wilberforce someone who despised and rejected Christianity entirely. Adolf Hitler was strongly influenced by the anti-Christian zealot, Nietzche, but also by Darwin’s evolutionary ideas such as human inequality, moral relativism, the non-existence of human rights, equality of humans with animals, denial of the soul, and survival of the fittest.

You can see the entire case presented by tenured professor of history at the University of California, Dr. Richard Weikart, in a lecture presented at the University of California at Santa Barbara, here:

Here’s the blurb on the lecture from the University of California Television web site:

First Aired: 11/15/2004
58 minutes

In his book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004), Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics (a movement wanting to control human reproduction to improve the human species), but also on euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles.

But for those who don’t like watching video lectures given by tenured professors, with nice Powerpoint slides, in front of a live audience of students and faculty, at a major university, then here is an article by secular Jew David Berlinksi writing in Human Events to give us the briefest of summaries of Weikart’s argument.

A little bio of David Berlinski:

David Berlinski received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He has authored works on systems analysis, differential topology, theoretical biology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics, as well as three novels. He has also taught philosophy, mathematics and English at such universities as Stanford, Rutgers, the City University of New York and the Universite de Paris. In addition, he has held research fellowships at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) in France.

He starts his Human Events piece like this:

Published in 1859, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species said nothing of substance about the origin of species. Or anything else, for that matter. It nonetheless persuaded scientists in England, Germany and the United States that human beings were accidents of creation. Where Darwin had seen species struggling for survival, German physicians, biologists, and professors of hygiene saw races.

They drew the obvious conclusion, the one that Darwin had already drawn. In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals. German scientists took the word expense to mean what it meant: The annihilation of less fit races.

…At Hitler’s death in May of 1945, the point was clear enough to the editorial writers of the New York Times. “Long before he had dreamed of achieving power,” they wrote, [Hitler] had developed the principles that nations were destined to hate, oppose and destroy one another; [and] that the law of history was the struggle for survival between peoples … ”.

Berlinski concludes by analyzing an answer given by Richard Dawkins to Ben Stein in the movie Expelled:

Would he care to live in a society shaped by Darwinian principles? The question was asked of Richard Dawkins.

Not at all, he at once responded.

And why not?

Because the result would be fascism.

In this, Richard Dawkins was entirely correct; and it is entirely to his credit that he said so.

The difference between consistent Christianity and consistent Darwinism is the difference between day and night. There is not now, nor will there ever be, an atheist Wilberforce. Atheists live their lives seeking pleasure and avoiding social disapproval, and they will never be able to consistently and rationally sacrifice their self-interest to oppose the fashions of their culture in obedience to a higher objective moral standard.

Atheists acknowledge no higher moral standard. If there is no God and the universe is an accident, then there is no way humans ought to be. The only thing to do in life is to invent your own arbitrary “morals” and hold to that, or not, (you do whichever gives you pleasure, since there no ultimate accountability one way or the other), while avoiding social disapproval for breaking the arbitrary cultural standard of your time and place. That’s atheist “morality”.

The moral character of a consistent Christian towers above the base animal selfishness of a consistent atheist like a Colossus towers over an ant. Atheists understand morality like a cat in a library, seeing the words, but lacking all understanding of their meaning.

Here is a quote I am stealing from the Anchoress to summarize: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

Other debates on atheism and morality

My summary of the William Lane Craig (of Biola) vs Shelly Kagan (of Yale) debate at Columbia University on the topic “Is God Necessary for Morality?” is here.

Here are some prior debates on the rationality of morality on atheism.

  1. From Christianity Today, a written debate: Douglas Wilson vs. Christopher Hitchens
  2. From the University of Western Ontario, a transcript of a public debate: William Lane Craig vs. Kai Nielsen
  3. From Schenectady College, a transcript of a public debate: William Lane Craig vs Richard Taylor
  4. From Franklin & Marshall College, William Lane Craig vs. Paul Kurtz (audio, video1, video2, video3, video4, video5, video6, video7)
  5. From the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, William Lane Craig vs. Louise Antony (audio1, audio2, video1, video2)

Further study

A good paper by Bill Craig on the problem of rationally-grounding prescriptive morality is here. My previous posts on this blog on this topic are here and here. The first one is about whether atheists can use an ungrounded, arbitrary standard to judge God for his “moral failures”, the second (better) one is on why the concept of morality is literally meaningless on atheism.