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With Christians like these…

July 11, 2009

Slaves in America?  The hell you say!

I don’t know if congressman Steve King (R-I.A.) is ignorant of history or just intolerant toward it.  I don’t know if he is a God-fearing, loving Christian man or a bigoted Christian zealot.  Hell, I don’t even know if the congressman is an adequate representative for the state of Iowa.  I do know this:   he dissented on a house vote to acknowledge the contributions of slaves in building the United States Capital.  This tells me that he is racially insensitive and a poor excuse for an American citizen.   Let’s try to bring a little clarity to this by providing the background.   The vote took place earlier this week, and the resolution’s goal was to  simply “recognize those who constructed the capital with a marker.” Let’s bypass the obvious racial overtones of his vote for just a minute, and examine this issue from a historical perspective.  Here is the resolution:

Whereas enslaved African-Americans provided labor essential to the construction of the United States Capitol;
Whereas the report of the Architect of the Capitol entitled `History of Slave Laborers in the Construction of the United States Capitol’ documents the role of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol;

Whereas enslaved African-Americans performed the backbreaking work of quarrying the stone which comprised many of the floors, walls, and columns of the Capitol;

Whereas enslaved African-Americans also participated in other facets of construction of the Capitol, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, roofing, plastering, glazing, painting, and sawing;

Whereas the marble columns in the Old Senate Chamber and the sandstone walls of the East Front corridor remain as the lasting legacies of the enslaved African-Americans who worked the quarries;

Whereas slave-quarried stones from the remnants of the original Capitol walls can be found in Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia;

Whereas the Statue of Freedom now atop the Capitol dome could not have been cast without the pivotal intervention of Philip Reid, an enslaved African-American foundry worker who deciphered the puzzle of how to separate the 5-piece plaster model for casting when all others failed;

Whereas the great hall of the Capitol Visitor Center was named Emancipation Hall to help acknowledge the work of the slave laborers who built the Capitol;

Whereas no narrative on the construction of the Capitol that does not include the contribution of enslaved African-Americans can fully and accurately reflect its history;

Whereas recognition of the contributions of enslaved African-Americans brings to all Americans an understanding of the continuing evolution of our representative democracy; and

Whereas a marker dedicated to the enslaved African-Americans who helped to build the Capitol will reflect the charge of the Capitol Visitor Center to teach visitors about Congress and its development

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),

SECTION 1. PLACEMENT OF MARKER IN CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER TO ACKNOWLEDGE ROLE OF SLAVE LABOR IN CONSTRUCTION OF CAPITOL.

(a) Procurement and Placement of Marker- The Architect of the Capitol, subject to the approval of the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate, shall design, procure, and place in a prominent location in Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center a marker which acknowledges the role that slave labor played in the construction of the United States Capitol.

(b) Criteria for Design of Marker- In developing the design for the marker required under subsection (a), the Architect of the Capitol–

(1) shall take into consideration the recommendations developed by the Slave Labor Task Force Working Group;

(2) shall, to the greatest extent practicable, ensure that the marker includes stone which was quarried by slaves in the construction of the Capitol; and

(3) shall ensure that the marker includes a plaque or inscription which describes the purpose of the marker.

Now congressman King’s explanation for his vote might seem cogent on the surface, but I’d like to delve deeper than that.  Here’s his (first) explanation:

“Last night I opposed yet another bill to erect another monument to slavery because it was used as a bargaining chip to allow for the actual depiction of ‘In God We Trust’ in the CVC. The Architect of the Capitol and liberal activists opposed every reference to America’s Christian heritage, even to the extent of scrubbing ‘In God We Trust’ from the depiction of the actual Speaker’s chair in the U.S. House of Representatives.”This is just the latest example of a several year effort by liberals in Congress to scrub references to America’s Christian heritage from our nation’s Capitol. Liberals want to amend our country’s history to eradicate the role of Christianity in America and chisel references to God or faith from our historical buildings.

“Our Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation and should not be held hostage to yet another effort to place guilt on future Americans for the sins of some of their ancestors. Christian abolitionists gave their lives by the hundreds of thousands to end slavery. Great American leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worshipped God just as our Founding Fathers did. We must never forget this important aspect of our heritage or use it as a political bargaining chip.”

So in summation, Rep. King believes that we would be preserving our christian values, and at the same time preventing “white guilt” by not acknowledging the work slaves did in building our greatest symbols to freedom, liberty and democracy.  By denying the historical achievements of one segment of our people, we celebrate the subjugation of those same people, under the banner of our Judeo-Christian beliefs.  Therefore we are assuaging the guilt of another segment of our people.  I would find this shocking, if I didn’t think Congressman King had the brain of a Peruvian fruit fly.  I don’t, and he does.

So, a phony explanation on the basis of defending religion huh?   It gets better folks.  If he thought he explained himself sufficiently, why the need to offer a second explanation?

KING: I would just add that there were about 645,000 slaves that were brought to the United States. And I’m with Martin Luther King, Jr. on this. His documents, his speeches – I’ve read most of them. And I agree with almost every word that came out of him. Slavery was abhorrent, but it was also a fact of life in those centuries where it existed.

And of the 645,000 Africans that were brought here to be forcibly put into slavery in the United States, there were over 600,000 people that gave their lives in the Civil War to put an end to slavery. And I don’t see the monument to that in the Congressional Visitor Center, and I think it’s important that we have a balanced depiction of history.

Fair and balanced representation?  This also would be a valid explanation if it were true, but it is blatantly false.  Union soldiers and Civil war combatants are memorialized throughout the city of Washington, as depicted in this book about civil war monuments.   Anyone with one shred of intelligence can clearly look around the Capital, National Mall, Tidal Basin and near the Potomac River to find monuments of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant both Artillery and Cavalry and an African-American Civil War Memorial.  Not only do I find King’s explanations blatantly false, they are lazy, arrogant, ignorant and full of reckless bluster.

Steve King is no real American, and I seriously doubt that he is even a  Christian.  If he were, he wouldn’t believe that we would be sacrificing our beliefs as part of some strong-arm tactical campaign to reward minorities at the expense of the majority.  The slaves being recognized were Christians too Mr. King.  In fact, their faith was the driving factor and a motivator in overcoming oppression, ridicule and bondage.  Why would one group be more “Christian,” and more deserving than another?  Why offer two explanations if your first was as sound you claim?  The facts suggest to me that he is a bigot, and he has no business representing the people of Iowa.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2009 7:32 pm

    Just wondering if conservative politicians and real Christians are made of the same stuff.

    • Matthew Wright permalink*
      July 11, 2009 7:53 pm

      I say yes. Of course you always have the exceptions to the rule.

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