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Kayleigh McEnany doubles down on Trump’s bizarre conspiracy theory about 75-year-old pushed by cops

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Kayleigh McEnany doubles down on Trump's bizarre conspiracy theory about 75-year-old pushed by cops


White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is rejecting accusations that President Trump floated a ‘baseless conspiracy theory’ when he tweeted that a 75-year old cancer sufferer pushed by police may have been using his cell phone to obtain their radio signatures.

McEnany faced the assembled media Wednesday for the first time since Trump claimed on Twitter that the man,Martin Gugino, may have been part of a ‘set up’ and may even have deliberately manipulated his fall to the pavement in a way to mischaracterize police.

‘It’s not a baseless conspiracy no not at all. I won’t acknowledge that,’ McEnany said, when pressed repeatedly about Trump’s tweet.

‘It’s not a baseless conspiracy no not at all. I won’t acknowledge that,’ said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, as she defended a tweet by President Trump that a 75-year-old man pushed by Buffalo police’fell harder than was pushed’ and it ‘could be a set up’

‘The president was asking questions about an interaction and a video clip that he saw and the president has the right to ask those,’ she said, referencing video assembled by right win One America News that Trump referenced in the explosive tweet Tuesday.

‘The president does not regret standing up for law enforcement men and women across this country,’ she said.

She characterized Trump’s tweet which also raised the possibility without evidence that Gugino was involved with antifa as part of the obligation of media members and others to ask questions and parse information.

‘In this tweet that he sent out he was in no way condoning violence. He was not passing judgement on these two officers in particular. But what he was saying is this: When we see a brief snippet of a video, it’s incumbent upon reporters and those who are surveying a situation to ask questions,’ she said.

Pressed on whether Trump should assemble facts before firing off a tweet, McEnany protested: ‘The president did have facts.’

She said the nation is going through a moment when people are ‘reflexively anti-police officer.’ Earlier, McEnany backed up Trump in comments to Fox News.

‘The president does not condone violence. He wants to see the appropriate amount of force used in any given situation, including this one. But he believes that the officers have a right to be heard,’ she said.

She was also pressed on practical aspects of his claim that Gugino may have ‘fallen harder than pushed’ by two police officers.

‘How does that work in terms of physics?’ McEnany was asked.

‘The president raised several questions based on a report he saw. He has a right to ask those questions,’ she responded. ‘And where he stands is squarely with law enforcement.’

McEnany doubled down even as a few Republican senators distanced themselves from the comments and others avoided comment claiming they had not even seen Trump’s tweet.

‘Thepresident was raising questions based on a report that he saw’ when he retweeted a report claiming the man,Martin Gugino, might be an ANTIFA provocateur,’ McEnany tolda panel of interviewers on ‘Fox and Friends’ Wednesday morning.

Trump also claimed based on watching video in the report that Gugino ‘fell harder than was pushed.’ The man is now out of the ICU but still in hospital following the incident, according to his lawyer. He was already undergoing treatment for cancer.

‘They’re questions that need to be asked,’ said McEnany. ‘In every case we can’t jump on one side without looking at all the facts at play.

‘This individual had some very questionable tweets some profanity-laden tweets about police officers.’

‘The president was raising questions based on a report that he saw,’ White House press secretary Keyleigh McEnany said in an interview Wednesday where she defended President Trump’s tweet about a 75-year-old man shoved to the ground by Buffalo police

'This individual had some very questionable tweets, some-profanity laden tweets about police officers,' McEnany said of Gugino, who was knocked to the ground by police officers in Buffalo

‘This individual had some very questionable tweets, some-profanity laden tweets about police officers,’ McEnany said of Gugino, who was knocked to the ground by police officers in Buffalo

Martin Gugino, a longtime peace activist from Amherst, had been at a protest at Niagara Square near Buffalo City Hall when he was pushed. He hit his head on the ground causing it to bleed

Martin Gugino, a longtime peace activist from Amherst, had been at a protest at Niagara Square near Buffalo City Hall when he was pushed. He hit his head on the ground causing it to bleed

‘Of course no one condones any sort of violence,’ McEnany said.

‘We need the appropriate amount of force used in any interaction. But there are a lot of questions in that case. In fact, you had 56 police officers who resigned in protest of how their fellow officers were treated.’

She was referencing a tweet Gugino posted the day before he got pushed that said ‘F*** the police.’

Her mention of 56 officers resigning was an apparent reference to all 57 members of theBuffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigning from the squad last Friday in support of the two colleagues who were suspended over the incident and are now being prosecuted.

‘The president was just raising some of those questions,’ she added.

The president had said that he agreed with at least part of what was put forward by the broadcast a network he regularly touts. ‘I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?’ Trump asked.

The report he referenced was on the One America News Network. The pro-Trump outlet picked the story up from the Conservative Treehouse website, which made the claim based on slowed video footage that Gugino was seeking to scan frequency information from police officers with his phone.

The OANN correspondent identifies himself as Kristian Rouz, who has been revealed to simultaneously be working for Kremlin-backed Sputnik news. The Daily Beast previously reportedthat Rouz was born in Siberia,graduated from Novosibirsk State University, and moved to the U.S. in 2017.

The report Trump cited and McEnany justifiedclaims that the incident ‘could be the result of a false flag provocation by far left group Antifa.’

It cites information that appeared on the Conservative Treehouse blog which identifies Mr Gugino as a ‘well-known activist.’

The report used close-up, slowed footage of the incident while voice-over touting possible connections to Antifa, a group Trump has said wants to label as domestic terrorist organization.

An elderly man was seen approaching Buffalo police officers in riot gear outside of City Hall on Thursday

An elderly man was seen approaching Buffalo police officers in riot gear outside of City Hall on Thursday

McEnany doubled down on President Trump's tweet about the 75-year-old man pushed down by Buffalo police

McEnany doubled down on President Trump’s tweet about the 75-year-old man pushed down by Buffalo police

McEnany defended the president during an appearance on 'Fox and Friends'

McEnany defended the president during an appearance on ‘Fox and Friends’

Her Fox interviewers showed no expression while McEnany defended the president’s tweet.

Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked: ‘Kayleigh what about the timing of it in the middle of the George Floyd ceremonies,’ referencing the funeral Tuesday, the last of several events to commemorate the man who died during arrest by Minneapolis police. It got wall-to-wall television coverage amid the uproar over Trump’s tweet.

‘Look the president has acknowledged so many times and rightfully so the injustice with George Floyd,’ she said. She continued that Trump was ‘raising some questions some legitimate ones about that particular interaction, and it’s his prerogative to do so.’

Kelly Zarcone, attorney for Mr Gugino told TMZ that President Trump is wrong to draw links between her client and the radical left group, adding that Mr Gugino had been seriously injured.

Zarcone said:’Martin is out of ICU but still hospitalized and truly needs to rest. Martin has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today’s society.’

She added: ‘[Mr Gugino] is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family. No one from law enforcement has even suggested anything otherwise, so we are at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations against him.

Gugino texted USA Today after being asked about Trump’s tweet. ‘No comment other than Black lives matter. Just out of the ICU. Should recover eventually. Thx,’ he wrote.

Trump rival former Vice President Joe Biden pounced on the Trump tweet in more detail Tuesday.

‘My Dad used to say there’s no greater sin than the abuse of power. Whether it’s an officer bloodying a peaceful protester or a President defending him with a conspiracy theory he saw on TV. I’m a Catholic just like Martin,’ Biden said.

‘Our faith says that we can’t accept either,’ he added.

Aaron Torgalski pictured in his mugshot

Robert McCabe pictured in his mug

Aaron Torgalski (left) and Robert McCabe (right) pictured in their mugs. They were each charged with one count of assault in the second degree in a court hearing Saturday morning over the shocking incident that left peaceful protester Martin Gugino in a ‘serious condition’ in hospital

Clinton retweeted a post referencing some backstory to the conspiracy theory

Clinton retweeted a post referencing some backstory to the conspiracy theory

Kristian Rouz, who was previously revealed to have been working for Kremlin-backed Sputnik, produced the segment that Trump retweeted

Kristian Rouz, who was previously revealed to have been working for Kremlin-backed Sputnik, produced the segment that Trump retweeted

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ripped the president Tuesday for issuing a ‘reckless, irresponsible, mean, crude if there was ever a reprehensible, dumb comment.’

‘And from the president of the United States at this moment of anguish and anger. He pours gasoline on the fire. If there was ever, if he ever feels a moment of decency, he should apologize fr that tweet,’ Cuomo added.

Prominent Republican senators turned down the chance to criticize the president when asked about his tweet. ‘I didn’t see it. You’re telling me about it. I don’t read Twitter. I only write on it, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN. Added Texas Sen. John Cornyn: ‘You know, a lot of this stuff just goes over my head.’

Former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona did weigh in. ‘This was a 75 year-old-man shoved to the ground, left bleeding from a head wound. Trafficking in conspiracy theories like these is beneath your office, Mr President,’ Flake wrote.

‘Most of us up here would rather not be political commentators on the president’s tweets,’ said South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, a Senate party leader.

Thune added: ‘It’s a serious accusation, which should only be made with facts and evidence. And I havent seen any yet.’

Utah Republican Mitt Romney, who is now a persistent Trump critic, said he had seen it and called it ‘shocking’ and added: ‘I won’t dignify it with any further comment.’

Asked about the tweet, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) responded: ‘Oh lord.’

Martin Gugino’s history of peaceful activism

Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old man who got pushed to the ground by Buffalo police and who Trump accused of possibly being in on a ‘set up’ has a long history of activism for a range of causes.

The resident of Amherst in upstate New York outside Buffalo has been involved with the Western New York Peace Center.

‘He’s a gentle person who really believes that he must stand up for what he thinks is right,’ his friend Terrence Bisson told the Buffalo News.

He has advocated for closing the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, climate change, and other issues. He has protested the treatment of child immigrants at the southern border.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called him an ‘agitator’ and President Donald Trump claimed after watching a video where Buffalo police shoved him that Gugino ‘fell harder than was pushed.’

Friends of the retired computer programmer described Gugino as a devout Catholic and a graduate of Canisius High School, a private Jesuit school in Buffalo, who is a passionate advocate for multiple causes on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Gugino spent his retirement lending a hand to multiple causes, among them Black Lives Matter.

Martin Gugino pictured with actor Ed Asner

Martin Gugino pictured with actor Ed Asner

‘Martin has a passion for social justice,’ said Mark Colville, who runs Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven, Connecticut, and has known Gugino for years. ‘When he sees wrong he wants to be involved in making it right.’

Colville said Gugino made multiple trips from his home in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst to New Haven – a six-and-a-half-hour drive- to help prepare and serve meals at Amistad, a house of hospitality that describes its mission as ‘follow(ing) Jesus in seeking justice for the poor.’

Gugino never wanted to draw attention to his work, Colville said. He’s a private person who lived alone. He cared for his mother until she died, and he recently lost his sister, too.

The two have worked for years to advocate for the closing of Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. detention camp in Cuba where terrorism suspects could be detained without process.

Gugino is active in Witness Against Torture, an organization formed in 2005 to protest the treatment of detainees on the base. Each January, group members travel to Washington, D.C., to fast and hold vigil outside the Department of Justice.

Much of the work was done on behalf of Muslim prisoners, many of whom were picked up by the CIA and taken to Guantanamo after the 9/11 terrorist strikes.

‘People, including Martin, made connections between their own faith and the faith of people detained because of their own faith,’ said Matt Daloisio, a New York state public defender and one of the organizers of Witness Against Torture.

Daloisio and several others say they’ve been texting Gugino in the hospital and hes been responding with emoji hearts rather than texts.

Tom Casey, a retired civil engineer from Buffalo and a local coordinator for Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace movement, said the idea that Gugino is a provocateur is ludicrous. Gugino was certainly opinionated, Casey said, but always respectful of others.

‘I have never heard him use a vile or angry word against anybody and I spent a lot of time talking to him,’ Casey said.

Gugino was also active on behalf of Black Lives Matter. After the 2014 killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy who was shot by a police officer, Gugino traveled to Cleveland to meet with Rices parents. In 2016, Gugino participated in a protest in front of the Justice Department in which demonstrators called for murder charges against the officer who shot Rice.

He is also active with the Western New York Peace Center and PUSH Buffalo, a coalition working on affordable housing.

This fall, Jericho Road, a community health clinic in Buffalo, featured Gugino in its newsletters ‘donor spotlight.’ Asked why he gives, Gugino wrote: ‘In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, and give drink to the thirsty.’

THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES PUSHED BY TRUMP

Claiming a 75-year-old peace protester pushed to the ground by police is an ANTIFA provocateur who was trying to jam their radios is the latest in a long line of Trump’s conspiracy theories. Others from his political career include:

TED CRUZ’S FATHER SHOT JFK

In May 2016, before Cruz dropped out of the 2016 presidential race, Trump seized on a National Enquirer story which claimed to show the Texas senator’s father Rafael Cruz having breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald.

‘His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot,’ he told Fox News. ‘I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this? Right? Prior to his being shot. And nobody even brings it up.’

He later said he was only highlighting the National Enquirer, adding: ‘They got OJ. They got [John] Edwards.’Cruz’s campaign said the picture was not of Rafael Cruz.

MARCO RUBIO AND TED CRUZ CAN’T BE PRESIDENT

Trump retweeted a theory that because both Rubio’s parents were born in Cuba and Cruz’s father was born there too, they could not become president. Trump’s mother was also not a natural-born citizen so if the theory was true, he would be ineligible.

JOE SCARBOROUGH MURDERED HIS ‘INTERN’

Trump has recently repeatedly accused his friend-turned-archenemy, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of playing an unspecified role in the tragic death of Lori Klausitus. She worked for the Morning Joe host when he was a Florida Republican congressman in 2001 and was found dead at one of his offices early one morning.

An autopsy said she had an undiagnosed heart condition which caused her to fall and strike her head; Scarborough was in Washington D.C. at the time. But Trump has latched on a debunked theory he was involved and demanded a ‘cold case’ investigation, to the distress of her widower and family almost 20 years later.

THE CLINTONS KILLED JEFFREY EPSTEIN

In the wake of the discovery of the pedophile financier hanging in his cell in a New York federal prison, Trump retweeted a claim that he was part of a ‘Clinton kill list’ because of the former president and first lady’s long association with him. Trump’s own attorney general Bill Barr has said repeatedly that the death was suicide. Trump was also a long-term Epstein associate.

WINDMILLS CAUSE CANCER

Trump has repeatedly claimed that windmills used to generate electricity somehow cause cancer, apparently through the ‘noise’ from them. There is no known scientific theory that lies at the base of his claim but it makes frequent appearances at his free-wheeling campaign rallies.



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Covid-19 conspiracy theories not among reasons given for test refusal in Victoria

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No one in Victoria is known to have cited a conspiracy theory for declining to take a Covid-19 test, the states health department has said, despite the health minister, Jenny Mikakos, blaming such beliefs for some of the 10,000 refusals as mass testing is carried out across Melbournes hotspot suburbs.

A spokeswoman from the health department told Guardian Australia on Friday: People have declined a test for reasons such as not wanting to do nasal swabs and showing a preference for saliva testing, and language barriers which our massive team of door-knockers try to overcome.

Guardian Australia had specifically asked the department if conspiracy theories were a reason people had declined the non-compulsory tests.

Door-knockers have been doing either testing, community education or both, the department spokeswoman said.

The response contradicted comments from Mikakos on Friday that belief in conspiracy theories was among the range of reasons for test refusal.

We are analysing that data to see exactly why people are refusing, but it is concerning that some people believe that coronavirus is a conspiracy or that it wont impact on them, so what I want to stress here is that coronavirus is a very contagious virus, she said. It can go through your family very quickly, it can affect your neighbours, your loved ones, and your entire community. So for those individuals in those communities who have not yet been tested, we are urging them to get tested as quickly as possible.

Guardian Australia has contacted Mikakos for comment.

The comments followed 65 new cases being announced in Victoria on Friday and 108 on Saturday after 17 days of double-digit growth, with a continuing and concerning number of new cases associated with transmission in households and families. Public health workers and legal experts have expressed concern that members of the community in hotspot suburbs may be unfairly criticised by people in non-lockdown suburbs, or overly targeted by police who are patrolling areas under lockdown to ensure people only leave for legitimate reasons.

Adding to confusion for residents in hotspot suburbs are mixed messages about who requires a test. While the government has said anyone in a hotspot suburb under lockdown can receive a free test even if they have no symptoms, a video seen by Guardian Australia shows two door-to-door workers who appear to be from the department of health tell a family they do not need to be tested as they are not symptomatic.

The video, taken on 29 June during the blitz, shows the two men, dressed in orange department of health vests and purple lanyards visiting a home in the hotspot suburb of Keilor Downs.

The tests are going on in the [nearby] avenue if you have any symptoms or anything? the workers told a resident of the home. When the resident replied that no one in his home had symptoms, the public health worker replied: Oh, thats all right. The other public health worker mentioned a kit that would allow the resident and their family to be tested at home, but the first worker cut him off and said, No, its all right. If you dont have any symptoms, its fine.

The resident replied: We dont have any symptoms but we can get tested, but was still not given a test kit. The first worker told him: Please make sure you maintain inside please, before the pair left. The interaction lasted about 30 seconds. The resident, Dave, who asked Guardian Australia not to include his last name, said he was concerned this interaction would be counted in the test refusal figures.

Theres no clarity right now so we dont know, Dave said. We dont know whats being counted in refusal, whats being miscounted … There is no detail behind what anybodys saying so I cant tell. He said that after the interaction he took his family to be tested despite being told it wasnt necessary.

[The workers] were fairly confused, they didnt understand what I needed to do, what I didnt need to do … I mean I can see why it might be inconsistent for people who dont speak English, as well as elderly folk.

The department of health and the premiers office declined to comment on the video or if the interaction would be counted as a refusal, but a spokeswoman for the premier confirmed that every household visited during the blitz should have been told to get tested.

Anyone living in the restricted postcodes is encouraged to get tested for coronavirus regardless of whether they have symptoms, she said.

All staff working on our suburban testing blitz are briefed ahead of their shift to ensure they can provide advice to residents about symptoms, hygiene and current restrictions, as well as how they can get tested.

Team members are a combination of department of health personnel, trained public health staff, and newly recruited staff. Since the blitz started last Thursday, more than 150,000 samples have been collected across the state and more than 94,900 doors have been knocked on.

While there has been misinformation spread via text messages and on social media, the department of health and premiers office have provided no detail about whether locked-down communities have been more likely to believe these conspiracy theories. This is despite Victorias chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, saying on 24 June that conspiracy theories may be partially responsible for the Victorian spike.

A woman named Ann contacted Guardian Australia to say she had received a text message that purported to be a police bulletin. The text warned against answering the door to door-knockers. It read: People are going door to door handing out masks, they say its a new initiative from local government. They will always ask you to please put it on to see if it fits you.

It has been doused with chemicals which knocks you out cold and once youre knocked out they proceed to rob you. Please do not accept masks from strangers. Remember, we are living in critical times and people are desperate to take advantage with the aim of making money. Crime rate has skyrocketed, so please be cautious and play safe!

Please send to all your friends, colleagues and loved ones so as to help them stay vigilant in this adverse situation. A spokesman for Victoria police said the message had also been widely circulating on social media for some months, long before the lockdown.

Meanwhile, Sarah Carter, the mayor of Maribyrnong city council, which contains suburbs among the hotspots, blamed entitlement on people declining to be tested.

It makes me feel incredibly angry, she told Channel Nine on Wednesday. I just think its the height of entitlement, to be honest, not to take the test, and I would urge everyone in our community, when asked, to take that test.

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YRKKH Upcoming Story: Sita Suhasini’s shocking past connection unlock present conspiracy

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YRKKH Upcoming Story: Sita Suhasini's shocking past connection unlock present conspiracy


Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai Upcoming Story: Sita (Alka Kaushal) and Suhasini’s (Swati Chitins) shocking past connection, unlock present conspiracy 

Star Plus longest running show Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai is gearing up for interesting twist.

The show is returning back for its audiences on 13th July, the makers are bringing in new dhamaka.

Goenka’s are suffering a business loss and are trying to compensate for the same by getting deals.

Here Sita marks her entry and Dadi is eager for Goenka to do business with her and asks Kartik to get the deal.


Sita and Suhasini’s past friendship

While now Naira ends up messing all and thus has to play double role game, while Sita is well aware of it.

Sita and Suhasini very well knows each other and were friends at sometime, Sita is back to seek revenge of past from Suhasini I’m the disguise of friendship.

Will Naira and Kartik be able to learn this shocking fact, stay tuned for more exciting updates only on entertainment news website latestgossipwu.com



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Slavery, the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

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Slavery, the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"


Frederick Douglass.

 

July 4 is an appropriate time to remember Frederick Douglass’ famous 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” The speech is—for good reason—most famous for its powerful condemnation of slavery, racism, and American hypocrisy. But it also includes passages praising the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers. Both are worth remembering.

Here is, perhaps, the best-known part of the speech:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

And there is much more material of the same kind in the speech, ranging from a denunciation of the internal slave trade, to an attack on the then-recent Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The key point is that slavery and racism made a mockery of America’s professed ideals of liberty and equality. And, sadly, that legacy is far from fully overcome even today.

But Douglass’ speech also includes passages like this one, praising the American Revolution:

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final;” not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times….

Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them!

Elsewhere in the speech, he also praises the revolutionaries’ refusal to submit to oppression merely because it was backed by law. This is an obvious reference to the those who, in the 1850s, argued that abolitionists had a duty to submit to the Fugitive Slave Act and other unjust proslavery laws. It is also a rebuke to “just enforce the law” arguments backing submission to deeply unjust laws in our own day.

Douglass recognized that the American Revolution not only espoused high principles, but had actually made important progress in realizing them—even as he also condemned the failure to realize them more fully, and the hypocrisy of Americans for tolerating the massive injustice of slavery, which so blatantly contradicted those principles.

In other writings and speeches, Douglass also praised the antislavery potential of the Constitution(which, I think, he in some respects overstated). His purpose in the Fourth of July Speech, was not to denounce the Founding Fathers, but rather the white Americans of his own time.

This raises the question of how we should think about slavery and the American Revolution today. Elsewhere, I have argued that, on balance, the Revolution gave an important boost to the antislavery cause, in both America and Europe—most notably by inspiring the “First Emancipation”—the abolition of slavery in the northern states, which was an essential prerequisite to eventual nationwide abolition.

I do not, believe, however, that this fact completely exempts the Founders from severe criticism on their record with respect to slavery. Most obviously, they still deserve condemnation for the fact that many of them were slaveowners themselves. People like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and George Mason all owned slaves throughout most of their lives, even though they well knew it was wrong and a violation of their own principles.

Jefferson famously denounced slavery as “a moral depravity” and “the most unremitting despotism.” Yet he kept right on owning slaves. The same goes for the others, though Washington did finally free his upon his death. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they continued to perpetrate a grave injustice because they did not want to suffer the loss of wealth and social status resulting from manumission.

This isn’t even a matter of “judging historical figures by modern standards.” It is a matter of them failing to live up to their own standards.

In addition to failing to free their own slaves, most of the Founders also failed to prioritize the abolition of slavery as an institution. They did take some important steps, such as promoting abolition in the northern states, barring the spread of slavery to the “Old Northwest,” and eventually banning the importation of new slaves from abroad. But they pretty clearly did not give abolishing the greatest moral evil in the new republic the priority it deserved.

Instead, they often prioritized less significant, but politically more advantageous issues. Alexander Hamilton (who was not a slaveowner) is often praised for his antislavery attitudes—in some ways justifiably so. But, throughout his political career, he repeatedly subordinated abolition to other priorities. Much the same can be said of most other political leaders of the day.

With great power, comes great responsibility. When it comes to slavery, most of the people who wielded great power in revolutionary America and the early republic failed to fully live up to theirs.

But the condemnation they deserve for that failure must be balanced against the very real progress they made possible—including on the issue of slavery. In addition, we should remember that we ourselves may not be free of the same types of faults.

It is far from unusual for people to set aside principles when they collide with self-interest. How many of us really prioritize doing what is right when doing so requires us to pay a high price? We like to think that, if we were in Jefferson’s place, we would have freed our slaves and prioritized abolition. But it is far from clear we would actually have the courage and commitment to do so.

Modern politicians, too, rarely prioritize the most morally significant issues ahead of those that are most politically advantageous in the short run. Given that slaves could not vote—and neither could many free blacks—it is actually notable that the Founders did as much to curb slavery as they did, even if it was nowhere near as much as they should have done.

In sum, Frederick Douglass was right to praise the American Revolution, and right also to condemn the gross injustice and hypocrisy of the nation’s failure to live up to its principles. In thinking about the Founders today, we too should praise the great good they did—which ultimately outweighed the harm. But we should also remember their greatest shortcoming. And we should be wary of too readily assuming that we ourselves would do better if faced with the same kinds of choices.

UPDATE: In previous posts, I have written about Douglass’ underappreciated speeches on immigration and how we should remember the Civil War.

 



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