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.