Neanderthals

Here, again, is more proof of Duhhhmerica!

pamela-ramsey-taylor1whaling Mayor Beverly Whaling of Clay, WV

[http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2046004/ape-heels-vile-post-about-michelle-obama-triggers]

These Euro-American women were never taught that it is not African-Americans that are descendant from apes but Euro-Americans that are descendant from Neanderthals: an extinct species of human that was widely distributed in ice-age Europe between circa 120,000–35,000 years ago, with a receding forehead and prominent brow ridges. The Neanderthals were associated with the Mousterian flint industry of the Middle Paleolithic; [also,] an uncivilized, unintelligent, or uncouth person, especially a man. [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Neanderthal]

Not to forget that the classy, beautiful, dignified lady who will step into Michelle Obama’s position in the White House is an immigrant from Slovenia who has posed nude numerous times:

 

malania-nude1

Melania Trump poses nude

 

Where is the class and dignity in this?

melania-knauss-covergirl-452x700

How will children relate to her?

Will her past reinforce her husband’s statements about his treatment of women?

trumppresident

What a shame that this is how white women see our First Lady.  Of course Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor and Mayor Beverly Whaling of Clay, West Virginia should be fired for their debasing remarks about First Lady Obama:

http://www.yahoo.com/news/official-west-virginia-leave-racist-obama-post-132100329.html

The ignorance and disrespect exhibited by Taylor and Whaling exemplify the mentality of the majority of whites in the United States.  Although we cherish our right to freedom of speech, in some countries their exchange would be seen as treason.

Perhaps, the people of this great nation should call for their heads!

What do you think?

 

 

 

To Vote or Not to Vote?

The Candidates
hillarydonald-trumpjillstein
Hillary Clinton (D)              Donald Trump (R)               Jill Stein (G)
On October 20, 2016, a colleague’s column declared the following statement:

BLACKS MUST VOTE AND DO FOR SELF!

By AL CALLOWAY

al-calloway

[Source]

For me, it is still bothersome that during Obama’s entire 2007-08 candidacy for President, there were few public occasions in which he did not exhort the American people to take control of our vaunted democratic processes. Over and over, Obama said, “organization is from the bottom up not the top down,” and “yes we can.”

The Brother laid a simple revolutionary concept out there that could change America, and the ultra shame of it is that, of all people, African Americans slept on it. People came as a hoard to Obama’s January 2009 inauguration. It was freezing. The millions praised him and celebrated, many cried as the event’s enormity hit home. And after the festivities, most people went home and did nothing.

Obama’s 2007-08 clarity was phenomenal. What kind of power would we now have, had we organized our neighborhoods, forged coalitions and mobilized? “Organization is from the bottom up not the top down,” and “yes we can.” In 2011, young white professionals, intellectuals and college students organized the Occupy Wall Street movement to “protest corporate influence on democracy.” The protests also called for legal action against those that brought about the 2008-09 economic crisis.

It is up to the American people to make democracy work. We must hurry before a great internal armed force is established throughout the nation with an appendage Gestapo-like secret police. The now Donald Trump led American right wing, like a fleet of submarines, has surfaced all over America. What some thought was mainly a deep southern socio-political will now see that it permeates all of America, save for its inner cities.

Somehow African Americans have in mind that if they vote there is nothing else to be done. So they waited for Moses (Obama) to take them to the “Promised Land.” Somehow the prospect that Obama’s election presented an opportunity to pressure government through organization es- caped black people throughout America. Not one leader came to the fore from any sector of black America to galvanize the people.

If there was even a modicum of understanding that Obama needed black organized pressure on Congress, the Supreme Court and his administration to facilitate positive social change, black reluctance to do anything rendered the Democratic Party base useless. The American white nationalist right used the opening to viciously attack Obama, take Congress and the Supreme Court.

We’re almost eight years later with Hillary Clinton dependent on the black vote to be elected President and, again, there is no black organization, no black policy initiatives known, and no known agreed upon deal. There is only a consistent appeal from Hillary for the black vote. By now the Clinton camp and just about everybody else outside of Trump world are certain that Hillary R. Clinton will be the next POTUS.

While it is imperative that all eligible voters of African descent cast their votes on Tuesday, November 8th, it is equally important that the same mistake of failing to organize for group self-interest never be repeated going forward after the election. Black people must pressure the next President within the first 100 days to put all black issues high on the policy agendas with sound assurances of implementation.

Do not, I repeat, do not use the regular channels of communicating with the President, that is through the Negro leadership. These people have been negotiating for African Americans since slavery. How do you like the job they’ve done so far? These people have bravely positioned themselves to negotiate for you and I without our permission because we have allowed them to get away with “pimping” us.

Instead, let’s organize using social media and groups like Black Lives Matter. Make preachers open churches and hold community issues forums and post findings. Utilize the black press and black orientated radio, especially during drive time to share information and send political messages to the White House and to black elected officials. Black people need to start organizing. Black people need to vote and do for self. Hillary won’t give you a thing unless you make her give it.

__________________

Then, I watched this video that left me numb:

I emailed the video to some friends with this message:

In reference to newspaper column linked [above], what about these allegations, Al?

__________________

One friend responded, thus:

Time doesn’t allow me to see this full documentary (or any of those interesting ones linked to it), but I am familiar with the story (or at least with some of what all has come out in the past), and I think your subject line says it all.  We could not agree more.
twoness
This is yet another manifestation of that famous “twoness” that Dr. W.E.B. DuBois talked about over 100 years ago.  As Africans in America — members of the “Global Elite of Descendants of Survivors of the Middle Passage,” the ones whom “History has forced, obligated, challenged, and blessed to be Truth Knowers, Truth keepers, and Truth tellers,” charged with the responsibility of “keeping it real,” we see through the game and can be downright cynical about it all, but we are also those who, for the same reasons, had to be brought here “because the African presence and the African genius were absolutely required to be her to keep this from being a disaster that would have been beyond human imagination,” as an Afro-Cuban Yoruba priest once stated, and we have to be engaged in the global Village, where every human being is important and even (or especially) “When the fool speaks, the wise person listens.”  We do not write off politicians as irrelevant or beneath the rest of us.  We judge deeds, not doers.
So, as in the case of our current POTUS, love him as we might, we knew from the outset that he was the darling of Wall Street banking types who rather openly groomed him for the role, which has limited power in any case because governments have been supplanted by private multinational corporations and the global banking cartel as the primary arbiters of human destiny.  That said, who will deny that Barack Obama has brought a level of intelligence, consciousness, grace and elegance to the office that has never been there before, and who does not give thanks for all that he WAS able to accomplish in spite of the ignorance, outright hatred, and blind opposition he had to contend with?  Can any of us imagine the direction the country would have taken if either of his opponents had won?  All of this goes into answering the question that Mumia Abu-Jamal posed in a rare interview from prison: At the end of eight years of having an African-American present, what will we [people in general, but African Americans in particular, as I interpret the question] have to shoe for it?”  From day one, we had to “have his back and hold his feet to the fire” at the same time, as I have always seen it, and maybe the REAL question is, “After eight years, how good a job have WE done with that assignment?”  (Mr. Obama, we will recall, was quite honest about this: Only weeks after being elected as the candidate of “Change We Can Believe In,” in those heady President-Elect Days before actually wielding authority, he told the American people, “Change has to come TO Washington, not FROM Washington.)
So you and I seem to be in that same place, as “sober supporters” of the better candidates, not distracted by sensationalism or slogans, or tribal and gender politics, who look at these elections for what they are, knowing all the while, as your subject line says, that we have to be about the pro-active business of building the healthy alternative society.  The real reason we had to be brought here in the first place.  “The past is present.  The future is now.”
Thanks for sharing the knowledge,
G
___________________
I cannot take credit for the subject. That’s Al Calloway’s headline in the South Florida Times for his article – Subject: Blacks must vote and do for self!

My contribution was the link to the video about the Clintons and the body county that has followed them from the Arkansas governor’s office.
So, the issue, when examining the iniquities of the two candidates, is whether to vote for the Republican whose sexual iniquities objectify women and racial slurs offend African Americans, Mexicans, and immigrants (except, of course, his wife)
or
vote for the Democrat whose iniquities far surpass lying, cheating, and stealing but encompass murder.
I’m just about ready to vote for Trump.
_________________________
To which G responded:
As usual, we have to choose what we deem to be the lesser of the two evils, while knowing that we better be about the business of making something better (like being Maroons in our own time — uncomfortable and inconvenient in so many ways but free and independent of the “slimy degenerates,” as Dick Gregory used to call them [ and maybe still does]).  That choice has to be objective, informed, and scientific, rather than an emotional and hopeful gamble.
The Clintons and their track record have been a source of some fascination to me for some time.  As horrific as it looks and sounds (if this is all actually verified), it has always struck me, when I am reminded of the” body count” and other questionable dealings, as something that is more American than unusual.  That may sound glib, but I keep getting the impression that these relative rubes from Arkansas have just been less capable of covering up their trail than other families who are more practiced at the craft.  The Kennedys, the Bushes, the ones whose names we don’t even know because they stay in the shadows instead of jumping out into politics, all strike me as  being not very different from those ruthless clans that competed for thrones in the old monarchy days in Europe.
The other impression I get — bearing in mind that none of this is “scientific, objective, or informed” — is the first impression that struck me on the morning of 9/11/01, which was that these dastardly acts could not have been committed by the named assailants alone; they have to be part of a larger conspiracy in which provided lots and lots of help.
This, we are reminded, IS American culture:  A place run by and for genocidal murderers and enslavers for the sole purpose of their profit and power, whatever the cost to others.  Hillary and Donald are just the two faces of that culture that have been thrust into prominence these days, as a major distraction while others of their ilk pursue the same odious agenda behind the scenes.  We, of all people, know this even better than we might ever have wanted to.
So we have a “choice” between a pure creature of the system, totally tied to business-as-usual, with all of her connections with the usual suspects, and all her experiences in several official positions within the system, who promises basically more of the same, and a pure creature of the system, that has been rigged to his advantage from the time of his birth, that could fashion him into a candidate for the presidency out of mere  entertainment industry “realty-TV” (an oxymoron) hype and hoopla, whose track record promises that he will serve himself at whatever cost to the country.
Of the two, the woman, for better or for worse, shows herself to be innately smart, battle-tested, professional, with at least a modicum of knowledge of statecraft, along with all of the heavy baggage that she drags along with her.  The guy, on the other hand, has demonstrated no skill other than his ability to provide power and privilege for himself in a world where everything and everybody is just a tool to that end. The Clinton’s “body count” is scary indeed, and all the more so because it is out in the open (unlike so many others), while the ruin to which the Donald has brought so many people may not have produced as many identifiable corpses, but remains well hidden by the ordinary workings of a system rigged to protect the materially wealthy from such exposure.  (How many Americans even today know how many presidents were slaveholders or how many lives they held in bondage, and at what cost to how many more lives, and that is only counting the ones who went into politics and got elected?)
central-park-5

Central Park 5 in 1990

For me. Donald Trump showed his true colors when he took a full page newspaper ad (at a cost which he surely found a way to write off at taxpayers’ expense) indicting the Central Park Five basically before a real trial could be held, and then another to denounce any compensation given to them after they were exonerated years later, having some of the best years of their lives taken from them in prison.
centralpark5

Central Park 5 in 2016

It was bad enough then, but when he brought it up again only recently, claiming that those men “should have been executed” (damn the courts), it became clear that this is another kind of psychopath, who is perhaps more to be pitied and helped than scorned and demonized.
To the extent that whoever occupies the White House has any relevance to our lives at all, given the choice to be made at the polls, we have to weigh the evidence before us (knowing that there is a whole lot more that is before us that we do not even know about), and, like any dutiful jury, decide the verdict in this case against the American people for being so negligent that out of a population of nearly 320 million people (officially), these are the best two candidates we can come up with.
The elders have wisely taught us that “Everything happens for a reason.”  There are profound lessons to learn from this election (whatever the outcome).  The most profound of all may be the one we have always known, which is that we have work to do.
A luta continua,
G
__________________
Then, I visited a local bookstore owned by a friend of mine who suggested that Jill Stein of The Green Party might be the best candidate to vote for.
So, what is the choice? 
To vote or not to vote for the Democratic Woman, the Republican Elitist, or the Green Party Unknown?
But keep this in mind:
jill-stein-trumpsweapon
DJC

Massacres

Angels Of Light

Today, I am more appreciative of my own life, the lives of my children and their children. However, the pain of others is vast and I AM now sending Light and Love to all of those who live a life without joy. May their hearts be opened to peace and comfort.

Yesterday, a 20-year-old white boy in Newtown, Connecticut slaughtered 26 people, including 18 children and the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and himself.  Last night, I found it hard to fall asleep, thinking that my grandchild is the same age as some of those murdered. It all started, when Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza with her own guns.

My dilemma is that Wolf Blitzer on CNN said “This is the worst massacre in the history of America.”  Huh?  Does he have convenient amnesia?

I’m struggling with one thing. America was built by people who slaughtered thousands of Native Americans (with guns and gun powder that Marco Polo “discovered” in China). The Trail of Tears resulted in the death of 6,000 Cherokee out of 15,000 that were walked from Tennessee to Oklahoma. Now, the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 killed 168 people. Columbine massacre in 1999 killed 15 people. Four people dead in the Oregon mall shooting on December 13, 2012.

What do all of these events have in common? Young, white men considered to be “warm, loving?” by their family and neighbors???

Is there sleeper cell activity going on here?

The minds of society are NOT just now degenerating. This country was founded by degenerates whose blood flows down to this generation of murders with no consciousness.

Is this retribution for the sins of the fathers? Read this article.

Why this matters to me.

My great grandfather was Cherokee and, somehow, got the name Savage Logan.  My grandmother, H. Maude Logan left property in Asheville, NC, to my mother Charlotte Galloway.

The “Indian Problem”

White Americans, particularly those who lived on the western frontier, often feared and resented the Native Americans they encountered: To them, American Indians seemed to be an unfamiliar, alien people who occupied land that white settlers wanted (and believed they deserved). [Source]

The Trail of Tears

The Indian-removal process continued. In 1836, the federal government drove the Creeks from their land for the last time: 3,500 of the 15,000 Creeks who set out for Oklahoma did not survive the trip. [Source]

See this List of Massacres

Human beings kill each other at alarming rates over ethnicity, religion, land, money, competitiveness, power, fear, or a lover.  The question is, if we are higher than angels and the beasts of the Earth, why can’t we stop the killing?

I call on My Mighty I AM Presence, all the Ascended Masters, guardian angels, and any and all Lightworkers in and around the Earth to STOP THE KILLING, now!!!

Diva JC

Obama Endorsed

In 2008, when we elected Barack Obama to the U.S. Presidency, I created this page to ask people “What does America mean to you?”  Although I received only a few responses, I continue to post this page with the trust that, eventually, people will answer this question.

I’m proud to say that my brother Carlton G. Cartwright, Founder and Executive Director of The Children’s Coalition, Inc. had the opportunity to videotape President Obama in West Palm Beach, FL

Be sure to see all of the videos – Parts 1-3.

Excerpt from The New Yorker’s Endorsement of President Obama:

In the realm of foreign policy, Obama came into office speaking the language of multilateralism and reconciliation—so much so that the Nobel Peace Prize committee, in an act as patronizing as it was premature, awarded him its laurels, in 2009. Obama was embarrassed by the award and recognized it for what it was: a rebuke to the Bush Administration. Still, the Norwegians were also getting at something more affirmative. Obama’s Cairo speech, that same year, tried to help heal some of the wounds not only of the Iraq War but, more generally, of Western colonialism in the Middle East. Speaking at Al Azhar University, Obama expressed regret that the West had used Muslim countries as pawns in the Cold War game of Risk. He spoke for the rights of women and against torture; he defended the legitimacy of the State of Israel while offering a straightforward assessment of the crucial issue of the Palestinians and their need for statehood, citing the “humiliations—large and small—that come with occupation.”

It was an edifying speech, but Obama was soon instructed in the limits of unilateral good will. Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hu Jintao, and other autocrats hardened his spirit. Still, he proved a sophisticated and reliable diplomat and an effective Commander-in-Chief. He kept his promise to withdraw American troops from Iraq. He forbade torture. And he waged a far more forceful campaign against Al Qaeda than Bush had—a campaign that included the killing of Osama bin Laden. He negotiated—and won Senate approval of—a crucial strategic-arms deal with the Russians, slashing warheads and launchers on both sides and increasing the transparency of mutual inspections. In Afghanistan, he has set a reasonable course in an impossible situation.

[In contrast,] Mitt Romney has embraced the values and the priorities of a Republican Party that has grown increasingly reactionary and rigid in its social vision. It is a party dominated by those who despise government and see no value in public efforts aimed at ameliorating the immense and rapidly increasing inequalities in American society. A visitor to the F.D.R. Memorial, in Washington, is confronted by these words from Roosevelt’s second Inaugural Address, etched in stone: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have too little.” Romney and the leaders of the contemporary G.O.P. would consider this a call to class warfare. Their effort to disenfranchise poor, black, Hispanic, and student voters in many states deepens the impression that Romney’s remarks about the “forty-seven per cent” were a matter not of “inelegant” expression, as he later protested, but of genuine conviction.

If the keynote of Obama’s Administration has been public investment—whether in infrastructure, education, or health—the keynote of Romney’s candidacy has been private equity, a realm in which efficiency and profitability are the supreme values. As a business model, private equity has had a mixed record. As a political template, it is stunted in the extreme. Private equity is concerned with rewarding winners and punishing losers. But a democracy cannot lay off its failing citizens. It cannot be content to leave any of its citizens behind—and certainly not the forty-seven per cent whom Romney wishes to fire from the polity.

The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work.

The re-election of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity.

[Read entire article]

Proclamations

Who really built the United States of America?

What’s the matter with white people?

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation Dilemma

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war,” said Lincoln at Gettysburg, “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.” Lincoln was fond of drawing attention outward, from local events to world import, from the crisis in America to the larger question of whether any democracy could survive the test the divided United States then faced. The Civil War, he argued, “embraces more than the fate of these United States.” Before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation — which would free slaves only in the seceded states that remained beyond the president’s immediate control — he fretted about “a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope’s bull against the comet,” referring to Callixtus III, who supposedly excommunicated Haley’s Comet because it was a bad war omen.

And when he had finally signed the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862, he spoke to celebratory crowds gathered outside the White House: “It is now for the country and the world to pass judgment.”

This was more than a rhetorical trope, and not just a reminder that the world was watching. Lincoln’s agonizing over the proclamation reflected a host of worries about self-government, practical politics, the future of the newly free African Americans and very possibly his own racist misgivings.

But foremost among these was the question of legitimacy and the constitutionality of the document. Even if issued as a war measure, a mere confiscation of enemy property, it was sure to be seen by many — perhaps even by Lincoln himself — as extraordinary medicine, even extra-legal. His Hamlet-like vacillating and deception during that period 150 years ago, when he pondered the document, wrote it, hid it in a drawer and finally issued it can best be understood in terms of Lincoln’s deep-seated fears about the viability of democracy: Was it capable of fixing itself?

In the late 19th century, as white Americans tried to exorcise the memory of slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation lost luster, replaced in the popular imagination by the more eloquent Gettysburg Address (which didn’t even mention slavery). And today it seems strange that we celebrate the proclamation at all, except as a precursor to the far more sweeping and triumphant accomplishment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which two years later banned slavery everywhere in the country, without qualifications or geographical exceptions. We have mostly forgotten the reality of the document itself, its ignominious origins in military crisis, its lack of moral certainty, its dull rhetoric and all the other faults that led historian Richard Hofstadter to complain that it “had all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading.”

And yet this document of war remains a sacred document of democracy, testament to the messiness rather than the ideals of governing. In an age when Western democracies are confronted by new forms of authoritarianism, which offer prosperity and security in exchange for political quiescence, the Emancipation Proclamation forces us to think about the fundamental vexations of representative government: Is democracy capable of resolving grand crises? Can we defend against terrorism without compromise to liberty? Can we reform our economies and free ourselves from crippling debts? Can we stave off environmental apocalypse? In short, is democracy capable of great things?

Both celebrated and condemned

If you can make your peace with the Emancipation Proclamation, you can make your peace with Lincoln. The president claimed it as the signal accomplishment of his administration, and it established him in the minds of free slaves and the annals of popular history as “the Great Emancipator.” Parsing the document may be the most productive and inconclusive franchise in Lincoln scholarship. Over the past 150 years, it has been celebrated as the death knell of slavery yet condemned as an unconstitutional usurpation of power, a capitulation by the president to his radical left flank, proof of Lincoln’s slow and inadequate evolution toward racial justice, a mere tool in the prosecution of the war, a political gambit to demoralize the South, a reckless invitation to race war, and both the least and the most that a cautious, deliberate leader could manage at the moment.

During his presidential campaign, Lincoln promised that his personal opposition to slavery wouldn’t affect the institution where it was legal. And while the Civil War was first prosecuted with assurances that the goal was the restoration of union, not abolition, Lincoln began dropping hints of of a general emancipation in the summer of 1862.

His record on slavery up to that time had been mixed. He had countermanded or discouraged orders by Union generals freeing slaves in Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, citing presidential prerogatives and the necessity of placating the slave-holding but still-loyal border states. But he had also signed an April 1862 bill that abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, and a few months later he freed slaves throughout U.S. territories.

His rhetoric was equally ambivalent. Lincoln’s opposition to slavery often seemed lukewarm. As Frederick Douglass said years after the war, “Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull and indifferent.”

Historians have attempted to square these apparent contradictions in different ways. John Hope Franklin, in his 1963 history of the Emancipation Proclamation, gave Lincoln the credit of most doubts, depicting the president besieged on all sides, from radical abolitionists who denounced an urgent moral evil to slaveholders still loyal to the Union who constantly threatened to join the South if Lincoln wavered on his promise to pursue only reunification. “The pressure of individuals and groups added to the President’s woes without contributing to a practical solution of the problem,” wrote Franklin.

No matter his feelings on slavery, Lincoln felt compelled to present and defend the Emancipation Proclamation as a military necessity — a strategic blow to the South, where the economy and thus the war effort depended on slave labor — rather than a moral statement. When it came, it was essentially two documents, beginning with a threat issued on Sept. 22, 1862, that he would emancipate slaves in any state still in rebellion on Jan. 1, 1863. He shared the preliminary proclamation with his Cabinet on July 22 but withheld it on the advice of Secretary of State William H. Seward, who feared it would look desperate to issue it in the midst of the summer’s military disasters. Lincoln waited two months, until after the battle of Antietam — by no means a decisive Union victory, but at least not a disaster — to make it public. The actual proclamation, greeted by ecstatic Jubilee celebrations on New Year’s Day by African Americans and abolitionists in the North, made good on the earlier threat.

Version one

The first proclamation wasn’t universally popular in the United States or abroad. It angered abolitionists for its half measures, for being merely an instrument of military policy, for its vague promise of compensation to slave owners and for its mention of colonization — Lincoln’s scheme to send freed blacks to other countries after liberation. The working class in England loved it, but their leaders, deeply embroiled in Colonial projects, saw it as a dangerous invitation to black-on-white war and fundamentally hypocritical. “The principle asserted,” said the Spectator, “is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.” Between the preliminary threat and the actual emancipation, however, feelings softened, especially among abolitionists.

Yet nothing that troubled Lincoln in the first document was cleared up by the second. Lincoln repeatedly said he believed that the proclamation was constitutional, but it was immediately declared not so by editorialists throughout the North and the South. Even former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin R. Curtis, who had dissented in the notorious 1857 Dred Scott case and resigned from the court in part because of the decision, attacked Lincoln’s proclamation as an unjust extension of executive power. When Lincoln had a chance to appoint a new chief justice in 1864, he chose the stalwart anti-slavery Republican Salmon Chase, in part because Chase could be counted upon not to overturn the proclamation.

Regardless of Lincoln’s motivations and true feelings, his delay and mixed messages had a serious impact on African Americans, according to some scholars.

“There is no making sense of such a perverse record,” writes historian Mark Neely Jr., who has convincingly demonstrated the miserable effect Lincoln’s equivocating had on free blacks. The nation was riven by race riots, and some African Americans in the North were seriously considering leaving the country: “A truthful revelation of the government policy embodied in a document in Lincoln’s desk might have changed the course of their lives.”

But likely, Lincoln was no less consistent than any other man, and though a gifted logician in argument, he was not necessarily logical in his own views on race and slavery. If he could be transplanted from his age into ours, his racial views would sound like the soft-core animus of a genteel “Bell Curve” racist: Intent on basic fairness, but convinced that whites are more civilized and better adapted to self-governance than blacks. His view on abolition might remind us of the sincerely halfhearted way that many people today embrace environmentalism or vegetarianism, convinced of their moral necessity yet unwilling to zealously oppose an entrenched way of life. This is either hypocrisy or moderation, depending on one’s perspective.

In fear of great power

Throughout his career, Lincoln was haunted by an almost superstitious fear of executive fiat, which may best explain his anguish before signing the proclamation. It showed up early, in an 1838 speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Ill., in which he imagined a Nietzschean superman rising up within American democracy and threatening it with dictatorial ambition: “Is it unreasonable, then, to expect that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time spring up among us? And when such an one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.” This “towering genius,” Lincoln feared, might exploit the demagogic potential of slavery: “It thirsts and burns for distinction; and if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen.”

This was Lincoln in fear of a man just like himself. The idea of great power often seemed to flummox him. “If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution,” he said, as preamble to some of his more overtly racist and despairing remarks about slavery. His comparison of emancipation to a papal “bull,” and his frequent reference to it as a “thunderbolt” suggest how keenly he felt it might set a dangerous precedent for a nation of laws, even if limited in scope and justified as an act of war. Perversely, he yielded often enough to the temptation he abhorred, suspending habeas corpus and arresting a political opponent for giving a speech that might discourage the war effort.

And yet there is almost universal agreement — and Lincoln felt so, too — that while the 13th Amendment abolished slavery legally, the Emancipation Proclamation had killed it symbolically, and, short of a Southern victory, in all practical senses. So while a magnificent act of human justice, it was hardly an accomplishment of democracy. By the summer of 1862, Lincoln had despaired of a purely democratic process to abolish slavery, through compensation, containment and a natural withering away. Slavery would require an extraordinary response, a “thunderbolt” from outside the system of laws and representative government. He himself would have to hurl that bolt.

A crisis he envisioned

The unruliness of democracy, bitter sectional feeling, entrenchment of the slave system and Southern moral defensiveness had led America to the place of crisis Lincoln so feared in his Lyceum speech. Secession and war were failures of the democratic system, and the emancipation order underscored that failure.

This was not the way things were supposed to work in the City on a Hill, which looked impotent and broken in a world still full of vigorous autocrats. In 1861, a year before the American emancipation, Alexander II of Russia freed more serfs, and promised them more opportunities, than Lincoln did the slaves. In 1879, as Reconstruction was failing, the czar compared his thoroughly authoritarian solution with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, saying he could not “understand how you Americans could have been so blind as to leave the Negro Slave without tools to work out his salvation.”

Lincoln was long dead. But he might have said it wasn’t a matter of being blind to the problem or unaware of the dangers. He had done what he could, which might be more than the Constitution allowed. And in so doing he had righted a great wrong, paved the way for the union to survive and set a precedent that deeply troubled him.

We can sympathize today, living in a democratic system that is even larger and more unwieldy, and growing more polarized. It is a common theme of political speculation that large, Western democracies may be endangered, today: by the lethargy with which they respond to crises, the half measures and sausage making that vitiates most efforts at reform, and the sheer accumulation of threats — environmental, political and social. The Emancipation Proclamation is a terrifying reminder that sometimes the only way to fix the system is to let it break down and then hit the reset button.

What does America mean to you?