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Current Events & Pop Culture

Available to teachers only as part of the Teaching Abolitionism Teacher Pass

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Sample of Current Events & Pop Culture

Hindsight is 20/20

A May 2010 blog from the Atlantic Monthly discusses the role of hindsight in judging advocates of radical versus gradual change in the context of the abolition of slavery.


"I've said I have some degree of sympathy for the notion of letting integration happen through the market. But an examination of the full context of the times quickly demonstrates why that wasn't possible. It was not merely a group of merchants disliking black people, it was an entire society engineered toward white supremacy. This public/private split we've been debating was only a quasi-reality. The Klan were the cops, and many white Southerners held black inferiority as part of their identity. It strikes me just as the 'What's the matter with Kansas' argument. Self-interest is sometimes more than economic. Likewise, I think about Lincoln and how easy it is to attack him for his caution, for not immediately--at the onset of the war--freeing the slaves. But when you start seeing that he was holding together this fragile coalition, when you see some of the military commanders going South and being converted to abolitionism by seeing slavery first-hand, as opposed to by presidential edict, you start to see the wisdom of going slow. You start to see how going fast likely would have been disastrous."