From the civil war to the January 2021 insurrection, the white nationalist response to democratic defeat has been to attempt to destroy US institutions and our national agreements. We shouldn’t tolerate this
The current social contract in America is not an expression of our deepest values, greatest hopes and highest ideals. Quite the contrary, it is the result of a centuries-long series of compromises with white supremacists.
In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson included a forceful denunciation of slavery and the slave trade, condemning the “execrable commerce” as “cruel war against human nature itself”. The leaders of the states engaged in the buying and selling of Black bodies balked at the offending passage, and Jefferson explained the decision to compromise, writing, “The clause … was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina & Georgia who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho’ their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.”
Steve Phillips is the founder of Democracy in Color and a Guardian US columnist. This is an extract from his latest book, How We Win the Civil War: Securing a Multiracial Democracy and Ending White Supremacy for Good (New Press, October 2022)
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