FROM THE HORSE'S (RULING ELITE'S) MOUTH

 

Slave Owners

 

Slave owners in the slavery years of the United States virtually never exhibited any remorse or guilt for enslaving people. One reads in the book Southern History Across the Color Line by Nell Irvin Painter that, "In 1839 a Virginian named John M. Nelson described his shift from painful childhood sympathy to manly callousness. As a child, he would try to stop the beating of slave children and, he said, 'mingle my cries with theirs, and feel almost willing to take a part of the punishment.' After his father severely and repeatedly rebuked him for this kind of compassion, he 'became so blunted that I could not only witness their stripes [whippings] with composure, but myself inflict them, and that without remorse.' "

 

The same book in the next paragraphs goes on to talk about the views on slavery of a slave owner thought by many to be the most remorseful about being a slave owner: Thomas Jefferson. "Jefferson found Afrcian Americans stupid and ugly, a people more or less well suited to the low estate they occupied in eithteenth-century Virginia...[A]s a gentleman whose entire material existence depended on the produce of his slaves, he was never an abolitionist. In fact, his reluctance to interfere with slavery hardened as he aged. By 1819, as the Missouri Compromise was being forged, Jefferson was warning American politicians not, under any circumstances, to tamper with slavery."

 

 

Bill Clinton's Secretary of State

 

Former Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright, famously told Leslie Stahl that she thought the killing of 500,000 Iraqi childen by the U.S. imposed sanctions "was worth it." 

 

 

The Mexican Upper Class (1913)

 

A revolution against the Mexican dictatorial regime of Porfirio Diaz began in 1910. In its first phase Diaz was replaced by the revolution's leader, a liberal upper class person named Francisco Madero. Madero wanted reforms such as honest elections and allowing people to elect their own mayors and state governors (instead of them being appointed by Diaz) and some limited land reform, but he opposed anything like a social revolution that would end or even substantially reduce class inequality. As the new President of Mexico, Madero tried to suppress the poorest Mexicans ("peons") who were continuing to fight for more equality, but he lacked the power to do this effectively. The Mexican upper class was split on how best to suppress the "uppity" peons. In 1913 Madero was assassinated. In The Life and Times of Pancho Villa, Frederich Katz recounts the words of some of these upper class people.

 

Katz reports that more than twenty long-time American residents of Mexico sent a letter to President Woodrow Wilson in early 1913, after Madero had been assassinated. After describing Mexico's peons as both inhuman and irrational, they wrote with regard to Madero that:

 

"a man who should start a rebellion, among the peons, is a thousand times more of a knave or a fool than one who smokes cigarettes in a owder factory, or builds a bonfire in a drought scorched forest. This is exactly what Madero did, offering the peons a vote and a free distribution of land.

 

"Suppose a wealthy white man in Alabama had started in arming the Negroes a few years after the War, offering each a pure democracy, 40 acres and a mule, if they would make him governor. How long would the intelligent whites hesitate in stringing him to the nearest telegraph pole, especially if the Negroes there outnumbered the whites three to one?

 

"And if, suppose conditions were such that he succeeded, he sat supine in his gubernatorial chair, while his black cohorts kept on robbing farm houses, outraging women, wrecking trains and paralyzing businesses, and when people went to him with demands for some actions, he blithely chattered, 'Well, if you have not het got peace, you have liberty, haven't you?' How long would the vigilance committee of southern gentelmen postpone his lynching? This is an exact parallel to conditions here due to the Madero's misguided performance.

 

"And would the President of the United States decline to recognize the situation and help stop the rapine and robbery, because the succeeding Governor of Alabama was suspected of belonging to the lynching committee and in any event had obtained his office 'by force'? Would he demand an armistice and a full and 'free' election? Is there a white woman in the south who did not approve of the legal doings of the Ku Klux Klan? Similarly if there was a good woman, regardless of nationality in this part of Mexico, outside the Madero family who did not breath  a sigh of relief when Madero's death became known, she was either ignorant of the true conditions, or was politically blind."

 

Katz goes on to write that more acute observers, even if they shared the hacendados' [plantation owners] opposition to peasant revolts, felt that Madero had no choice in the matter, since the Mexican state was simply too weak to carry out the kind of harsh policy Madero's conservative opponents advocated. Thus, the British consul in Torreon, Cunard Cummins, wrote:

 

"Mr. Madero's most severe critics voiced the opinion that a strong man will improve the situation; on the other hand, Mr. Madero's policy here has found many supporters, it being contended and rightly so, that without an inner knowledge of the full situation, it is eminently unfair to criticize with decisiveness the action of the authorities, that the present temper of the turbulently inclined does not dispose them to tolerate extreme harshness now, and that, it may well be argued, stern measures would aggravate a delicate situation, and more over, perhaps assist to give revolutionary movement to the grindstone with which others may wish to share new seditious acts."

 

 

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