John Brown’s body lies amouldering in the grave

This political violence that has broken out today makes me fear.  I wish that I thought that this was “lone wolf” that won’t be repeated.  I fear, however, that the precedent is more John Brown than Timothy McVeigh.

In 1856, during the fight over whether Kansas would be slave or free, John Brown, anti-slavery abolitionist said,”These men are all talk.  What we need is action–action” and he began to take action.  Going into battle twice and then murdering five pro-slavery supporters in teh Pottawatomie massacre in May 1856.

In 1859, Brown attacked Harpers Ferry, trying to start a slave liberation movement.  He was captured by Robert E Lee and hanged by Virginia.

But his violence was defended by many in the North.  For example, Henry David Thoreau fasted and mourned.   A song was written and sung.  ”

John Brown’s body lies amouldering in the grave

  • John Brown’s body lies amouldering in the grave,
    John Brown’s body lies amouldering in the grave,
    He’s gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord
    But his soul goes marching on.Later the words were changed.

    Glory, Glory hallelujah
    Glory, Glory hallelujah
    Glory, Glory hallelujah
    His truth goes marching on

    But the murderous hatred of John Brown was echoed in the verses that were written.

    I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel
    As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal
    Let the born of woman crush the serpent with his heel
    Since God is marching on

I see this anger and hatred echoed today in the twitter feeds of left and right.  I fear for my country.  We lost a whole generation of young men, and the ones who did survive were embittered.  The wounds have still not healed, as one can see in the reactions to the bars and stars flag.

But, at least the Civil War had something real to fight about.  We did use the death of all those innocent young men to begin to atone for the worst sin of our land – slavery.

But today’s fights are not over real things.  They are over slogans and personality cults.  Obamaites vs Trumpkins. Kind of Fair Trade versus Kind of Free Trade, Reducing the CO2 in our atmosphere by .000000something%.   Nevertheless the hatred is as strong.

Today, after the shooting of Republicans by an inflamed Bernie Sanders supporter, Democrat congressmen got calls saying You’re Next.

Still, today, the same reporter who explicitly called for terrorism in the name of liberalism uses the incident that he helped inspire to try to oppress his political enemies some more.  He doesn’t take any moment to reflect that explicitly calling for violence sometimes works.

Please my brethren my brethren , in the name of God, In the name of America.  Don’t do this.  Republican democracy will work if you give it a chance.  Stop.  In the bowels of Christ, Stop this hatefulness.  Stop this calling for death and blood.  Love your political enemies, Do good to them who behave badly.  Don’t repeat the most ruinous war in our history over meaningless slogans.

 

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