Slavery and the American Bigot
We Americans are interesting people and we have an interesting history. Slavery is part of that history. From time to time we forget just how much of part slavery plays in our history. I was reminded of that once again by the news story on the family reunion of the Thomas Jefferson family. The family of Thomas Jefferson has both white branches and black branches.
Thomas Jefferson looms large in the history of our country. The humor comes not from the fact that his decedents are feuding. Who of us don’t have family feuds? The humor comes from the attitudes adopted by the two different branches of this same family. Sadly one of the branches has a bigoted point of view.
To me a bigot is simply a person who says there is one and only one way to look at a thing. Actually the bigot says a bit more than that. They say there is only one right way of looking at a thing. What makes that narrow is the word one. What makes it bigoted is the word right. Of course the religious bigot would say there is only one godly way of looking at a thing or an issue.
The problem with looking at a thing or an issue from one single point of view is that by so doing only the simplest of things can be understood. Most things and most issues are not simple. Imagine looking at a three dimensional object from a single point of view. If we look at the front of our house we can not see the back of it with out changing our point of view. In fact if we only see our house that way we do not even realize that there is a back yard. To us from this point of view the back yard does not exist.
Objects and life’s problems are too complex to be grasped from a single point of view. To restrict yourself to a single point of view dooms you to a lack of understanding. To ask others to share this single minded view is to cause bigotry. Understanding Thomas Jefferson’s family tree can best be accomplished by acknowledging Sally Hemming.
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