Showing posts with label jefferson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jefferson. Show all posts

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Character Assination of Thomas Jefferson.

The current Internet discussion rule among liberals and conservatives alike is that any mention of Jefferson must point out the hypocrisy of his owning slaves, and choosing a black woman to mother his late life children. Er, excuse me, I have that meme wrong, he fucked a slave woman.

Never mind that politically, culturally and economically it would have been impossible and possibly immoral to free his slaves, according to present day standards he was a hypocrite.

Not the least of his problems was that he inherited via his first wife, 135 slaves and a large debt ridden estate. The sensible thing to do would be to sell off the slaves and the land separately, as the package without a resident manager would not have paid the debt.  So as an honorable, socially responsible slave owner he had to pay off the debts and maintain the business as a slave employing plantation.

Even the usually thoughtful and liberal The Weekly Sift devotes a short paragraph in an otherwise excellent post to trashing the founding fathers for owning slaves and includes the "Fact" that a sizeable chunk of Jefferson's surviving children were "fathered on a slave." 

Any person serving in the public sphere as a politician, entertainer, author, or even a blogger deserves the respect of not being trashed on some aspect of herm private life that you disagree with.  Herm public service actions and publications should stand alone as herm public reputation.  Private actions should be dealt with in the private sector, and kept there even if private actions become public through public records as in criminal convictions.  Many public servants have private indescretions resulting in a legal record, that are largely ignored.  Gossip about private activities are even less deserving of public airing to besmirch the reputation of our public figures. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jefferson and Native Americans.

The only thing Indians needed, Jefferson insisted, was the civilizing influence of agriculture. (Like English theorists since John Locke, Jefferson willfully ignored extensive and highly productive Native farming which did not use European implements.) By abandoning hunting and adopting farming, he counseled, Indians would rise from "savagery" to "civilization" and eventually be absorbed into American society. As president, he extolled the virtues of agriculture in meetings with Native leaders, in correspondence and in speeches. "In leading [Indians] to agriculture," he told Congress in 1803, "I trust and believe that we are acting for their greatest good."
Mark Hirsch is an historian in the Research Unit of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. He has a Ph.D. in American history from Harvard University.
National Museum of the American Indian, Summer 2009, pages 54-58
© 2009, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian
Another relatively "Fair and Balanced" attack on Jefferson for creating the slippery slope to Native American removal from the Colonial America and the Manifest Destiny.  

Assimilation was the British Colonial paradigm and eventually even the Colonials got restless.  But none could escape the "White man's Burden" of bringing "Civilization" to the differently civilized.  

Culturally Jefferson was a gentleman farmer in a slave economy.  More importantly he was skilled politician determined to bring his vision of an enlightenment society to America. Politics involves compromise even of ones own philosophical principles, to gather the consensus to make a nation.  That the native tribes and the atheists were victims of those compromises is not surprising.  I still like the way he snuck "Their Creator" into the Declaration of Independence, and "Freedom of Religion" into the Constitution.  What the rest of the bigoted Americans have done with it is not really his fault.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Enlightenment and Cosmopolitanism v Religion

From a Jonathan Korman Facebook thread on The Death of the New Age 
The problem with all religions, traditional, New Age, Pagan and for that matter sport warrior worship,  is that they focus inward. If not on self on the small group of "us."  Only "we" can save the world by converting everyone to "our" solution.  While some religions are moving toward the celebration of life, all life, it seems that no God, goddess, or guru can figure out how to satisfy the ego needs for belonging with a concern for those not like "us."  The Enlightenment and its modern descendent Cosmopolitanism does not give the ego the intermediate step of "us" but forces concern for all.

It begins with Jefferson. All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with  certain unalianable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.  Implicit in this statement is that these rights are accepted and enforced by all reasonable and civic minded people collectively and individually ready and willing to mutually pledge to their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor.  They do not pledge to a leader or to a nation but to each other and to a cause.   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet:

"You need to strip the God from Jesus the man, and the stage magic that was his stock in trade, then put the rest of what he said in the context of his time. A good place to start would be the Jefferson Bible in which Jefferson, an atheist, well, Deist politically, literally cut up the Synoptics to find out what Jesus was all about.

While you are at it forget about prooftexing it is no more becoming for an atheist than for a fundie.

As a starter take Matthew 22: 37 ff.
...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

There is a good reason that much of modern Christianity, the 'Progressive Christians' have for the most part reduced the entire law and the prophets, that is the whole Bible, to this teaching of Jesus. An atheist can learn simply by studying this and its context.

True it refers to God but look at the God it refers to: Thy God. Not the God of Moses or Abraham, or the prophets, or the priests. Thy God, God which speaks directly to the individual. With this three letter word 'Thy' he is basically telling the whole religious establishment to go to Hell in their own way.

'Love thy neighbor.' He goes on to identify the neighbor as a Samaritan, in our terms a Muslim terrorist. He had recently left a Samaritan village where he was refused hospitality, one of the most grievous affronts in that desert society. And now a Samaritan is his neighbor?

'As thyself.' In those days as now religion made a good living selling self-hate. Jesus is clearly stating that all humans are worthy of self-respect. You can't get much more humanist than that. Theistic humanist? Of course theism was the language of the time."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet :

"Atheists arguing about the existence of Jesus or the 'truth' in the Gospels among themselves are being willfully blind to the importance and humanistic message of the preacher who probably was called Jesus or Yeshua depending on the language assumption.

The story if you will or oral history which was probably the case in that illiterate culture was probably originated by a companion of Jesus in his travels, my guess is Mary Magdalene. She probably helped him hone his message, I see a lot of anti-misogyny in it, at least in the context of the time. No man thought up the tale of the unstoned whore.

I am of course speaking of the Synoptic Gospels, by the time John and Paul came around to create a God the story was destroyed beyond recognition. I think there is a lot to be learned by atheists from the Synoptics, I generally use Jefferson's extract. Hey, if a famous atheist like Jefferson can find value in the Bible who am I to argue.

Disclaimer: I owe much of my interpretation of the Gospels to Heinlein and his allegory of Jesus in Michael Smith and Gillian Bordman in Stranger in a Strange Land. The thinking is of course mine."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jefferson Bible

Dawkins Scale - Beliefnet Forums: "I find the Jefferson Bible useful in focusing on just what it was that induced Jesus' cult (the original disciples) to follow the Roman custom of making a God out of any special person. It is not to be read instead of the Gospels, but along with them.

I think the deification of Jesus was also critical in preserving the Gospels in the canon after Paul trashed his message to create the Christ he needed to save Christians from the sins that Jesus seemed to care little about. Reading the Jefferson Bible along with Paul is an exercise in cognitive dissonance that makes one wonder why Paul chose Jesus."

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Jesuism - Beliefnet Forums: "I suspect most atheists have not bothered to separate the teachings of Jesus the man, from the crap grafted on by John and Paul to create Christ Jesus the savior.

Thomas Jefferson has done this for us in The Jefferson Bible. He littered the floor of the President's office with trash from the bible created by Paul and others, until he had distilled the essence of Jesus from the rest of the bible. I claim Jefferson as the first Jesuist, he certainly was an atheist, (politically a Deist) and wanted to salvage something from Christianity, again for political reasons, to keep the Black Regiment of New England preachers quiet(er.) Whether he succeeded politically or not, The Jefferson Bible is a concise and readable way to discover the ministry of Jesus."

Note: This and related posts have been consolidated on Thinking on the Blue Roads

Footnote the (2011) Wiki article of the same name was simply a ripoff of the name to simplify Jesusism which is what his article is about. But what do you expect from Wiki.