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Racism has been one of the staples of Limbaugh's radio career. In his early days it is reported he told an African American caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back." Throughout President Obama's first presidential election, Limbaugh played a tune called "Barack the Magic Negro". Last year he took great delight in saying "nigga" multiple times.
This time Limbaugh calls African American voters "Uncle Toms". What does that even mean?
In 1852, a woman by the name of Harriet Beecher Stowe published an anti - slavery novel called "Uncle Tom's Cabin". On Thanksgiving Day, 1862, when she was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, he greeted her with these memorable words, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!" As President Lincoln's pre-war comment reflected, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a highly influential book. It was about the life of a slave named Tom. This fictional character is forever remembered for his obedient servitude to his Machiavellian slave master. But, it is rarely remembered that in the novel, Tom's life was ended in loyalty, not to his master, but to his fellow slaves who suffered at the master's hands. To cover debts, Tom's master sold him to another slave owner. After Tom was sold, he continued to work hard so he could realize his dream of becoming a free man. All he wanted was to get back to his family. Tom's dream never came to fruition because he dies from a terrible beating. Tom gets whipped to death because he didn't report two runaway slaves. Tom relinquishes his dream of reuniting with his family in a selfless act of protecting others. He withstood hours of torture to protect their dream. Their dream that had been his own dream; to be free and to reunite with loved ones. What does it mean to be called an Uncle Tom? What should it mean to be called an "Uncle Tom"?
One last thought; here is a photograph of sculptures made by fugitive slaves awaiting their passage to Canada. They were hiding out in a church basement in Syracuse, New York. They waited for hours, sometimes for days until they could escape to freedom. I know it's a stretch, but I like to imagine that one of the fugitives fictionalized in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" contributed to the carvings. I'd like to envision she made it to freedom. These words were spoken in that little church:
“...I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land... I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.' I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.”
― Frederick Douglass
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Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM PT: See next diary.