Letter: The sin of slavery: Neither original nor unforgivable
In his letter “The triumph of abolition” (The Aspen Times, Jan. 25), Michael Malcolm rightly argues that there was nothing “original” about the sin of slavery in early America, as suggested perhaps by Glenn Beaton in his column “Still dreaming” (Commentary, The Aspen Times, Jan. 24).
However, Beaton may simply have meant that slavery was present at America’s “origin” — not that it was uniquely evil. Actually, there is another concept expressed by Beaton that is far more questionable, namely his fear that America may never be “redeemed” for having engaged in the practice.
Christian theology holds that there is only one sin that is unpardonable and therefore beyond redemption, and slavery isn’t it. Indeed, at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln argued that the nation was already righting itself in the eyes of God.
Our ancestors recognized that Lincoln’s famous address is imbued with the language of Holy Communion — the notion that shed blood could “hallow” and “consecrate” not merely a piece of ground but the struggle waged upon it, that what happened at Gettysburg, to say nothing of the wider war, was a gigantic act of atonement or, in the original sense of the word, a “holocaust” through which a people were redeemed. Past tense, Mr. Beaton: The nation has already been redeemed far beyond our poor power to add or detract.
Detractors remain, of course. The political left will never forgive America for the sin of slavery — not as long as it can use it as a cudgel with which to wrest power and money from the dominant culture, which it seeks to destroy.
And this, of course, is Beaton’s principal point — that in assenting to affirmative action and the demands of the racial-grievance industry, we are rejecting a redemption purchased with the blood of the nation. We are, in fact, compounding the “original” sin.
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