By David Green
It seems that in every IHUM lecture I attend these days, the issue of racism and slavery comes up. Racial slavery is a dark point in our nations past. However, rather than condemning the past for its actions, we must learn from it. Put yourselves in the shoes of the American elite. What were the reasons behind their motivations and actions? Why would they commit this horrible act of enslaving, beating, and killing another human being?
It is not necessarily because all white men were evil during the 18th and 19th centuries, but rather because they thought that they were justified for their actions. If you were to interview a handful of slave owners during this time period, most of them would probably say that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. “After all,” they would argue, “people have a right do whatever they want with their property.” I’m sure some would even vindicate their argument by reciting their Constitutional rights and personal liberties. Second, many believed that blacks were not human at all. Whites looked down upon this “inferior” race and treated them as less than human. The very idea that a black person was equal to a white person seemed preposterous.
So how is this relevant to today, you might ask? Well, most of us would agree that all people are equal despite their race, and no human being should be considered the “property” of another individual. But consider this, have we really given up our ways of inferiority? Do we really believe that a person has no right to own another? What if abortion is as relevant to today as slavery was centuries ago? The more slavery is mentioned in each lesson of history, the more I connect the arguments made by slave owners and pro-choice advocates.
First, an argument that I often hear from people in favor of abortion is that the government has no right to interfere with a person’s body. Now, if we changed the word “body” to “property,” we essentially have the same argument of an anti-abolition.
Despite these reasons, one of the reasons I believe abortion is such a controversial topic is because the subject is so closely related with women’s rights. For the record, I am all for the advocacy of equality among men and women, but let’s forget about this issue of women’s rights. Untie the correlations between abortion and women’s rights and view it within its historical context. Can you see the similarities between our ancestor’s past or present.
I am not here to give you any of the other arguments that are against abortion because I’m sure that many of you have heard them already. What I am promoting is for everyone to take a step back and look at the similarities between the movement for slavery and the movement for abortion. Maybe next time you watch a documentary on television or read an article in the newspaper promoting why a fetus is not a human, consider this: about 150 years ago, former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke to a very hostile audience in a speech entitled “That the Negro is a Man.” Why is his speech any different from a pro-life individual arguing, “That the Fetus is a Person.” Maybe next time your professor brings up the issue of slavery in America, you should think twice before you condemn out of hand our earlier generations for such acts of injustice.