DSM: Slavery, Education, Political Philosophy, Caring, Human Rights, Effecting Change


Scott David Gray (sdavid@tiac.net)
Sat, 05 Feb 2000 17:50:52 -0500


     The slavery analogy has sparked some deep thought and
deep sentiment. Despite how far we've strayed from the topic
of education, because I have a deep interest in the history of
slavery in this country I would like to make a few comments.

    When government and civil society does more damage to the
human rights of any people than it does good in protecting
those same members' human rights, those who have been cast
aside and their sympathizers have every moral right to act
directly and physically against the government and against the
so-called civil society.

     In the case of African American slavery, the state did
not recognize or protect the fundamental rights of the negro
in any way, and the state and civil society promoted the
institution of chattel slavery. This put the nation of the
United States in a position of deliberate WAR against the
African American slaves. So the salves (and their
sympathizers) had every right to react by any and all means
possible to dismantle a government that had NO intrinsic
authority over the African American because it refused to
protect his/her rights.
     At the "Chatham Conference" on May 8+10 1858 in Chatham
Canada West (now Ontario) leading Negroes and White
Abolitionists met, and drafted a "Provisional Constitution for
the United States" as a rightful government in exile.
     John Brown and his raiders acted as the army of the
government in exile, in attempting to bring about a massive
slave rebellion and guerilla war in the American South through
their raid on Harper's Ferry. I would maintain that they were
wholly justified in doing so, in particular because every
effort was made to liberate slaves and capture property rather
than to hurt pro-slavers (even their hostages declared that
the raiders were decent towards them, and the hostage Joseph
Brua even volunteered medical aid to Aaron Stevens after the
slaughter of the raiders by Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee
was begun).

     So, to turn to the Lincoln analogy and the Emancipation
Proclamation. Lincoln took action AFTER a bloody war had
already begun. Having already paid the COST of violent
conflict, he choose to take action of questionable legality in
order to TURN an illegitimate government into a new government
which truly was moral -- there wasn't much for the government
to lose by that point as the violent conflict had already
begun.
     Would it have been better to let the civil war rage on,
and then to do something half-baked like letting 4-million
live in slavery provided it not be extended into the North,
just so that reconstruction would prove a tad easier? It
seems to me that would have only caused ANOTHER civil war
later! John Brown was right when he said that "the crimes of
[that] guilty land, [would] never be purged away, but with
blood."

     In one fundamental way, the issue of truancy laws is
different than issue of slavery. Over the long run, despite
the humiliating and disgusting treatment of children in the
modern era, the rights of children that are mostly protected
(the right to life, and to grow up safe from fear of physical
or other terror) are of enough intrinsic value relative to the
rights categorically denied them (assembly, speech, due
process, etc.) that one cannot justify armed rebellion.

     The problem is, the rights of children which are
"protected" are NOT protected BECAUSE they are innate human
rights. They are protected because people LIKE children --
most people refuse to RECOGNIZE that children have innate
rights. The fact that everyone CARES for children has an
insidious effect. It means that one is not taken seriously
when one argues basic human rights for children. It's hard
enough to convince a person that s/he is treating an opponent
or enemy unfairly -- try convincing her/him that s/he is
treating unfairly people whom s/he KNOWS s/he cares deeply
about.

     So what can one do?
     I don't think that the answer is to pretend that the
treatment of children is fair. It is insulting and unfair to
coddle others, and let them believe that they are doing the
right thing, when they are clearly stealing human dignity from
children.
     Is it ever possible to reform things a "piece at a
time?" I think not, when the question is such a
fundamental one. The difference between the educationists and
those who prefer a Sudbury type approach, is that one group
thinks that we should debate when/where to DOLE OUT rights to
children, while the other recognizes rights as INTRINSIC and
argues that they can only be TAKEN AWAY with cause. Either
you believe that individuals have certain basic rights, or you
don't. For as long as people believe that group A (adults)
know better for group B (children) the minutia of how their
lives should be run than group B does itself, there will be no
lasting change to the modern educationist policies. The best
that the alternatives can hope for, is to create a new fad
here or there for limited periods of time (and, indeed, that
is how most alternative schools operate).
     So, here's what we can do. We can find people of like
mind, and protect as many children as we can (sort of an
underground railroad). And we can continually argue
forcefully for recognizing human rights in children.

-- Scott David Gray
reply-to: sdavid@tiac.net
http://www.sudval.org/~sdg
Phone: 508/650-9639
ICQ: 27291292
=================================
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate
agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and
lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many
waters.

-- Frederick Douglass
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