I may choose to ignore people who comment anonymously. I choose never to be anonymous online myself. I have little tolerance for this behavior.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Because I said it and nobody's checked."

Years ago I saw Victor Crawford on a 60 Minutes clip where he admitted to doing all sorts of dastardly things to promote tobacco issues as a tobacco lobbyist. He claimed he got away with making false claims, "Because I said it is and nobody's checked."

I've always remembered that.  I decided that in the future somebody better check. With all the digital resources at our fingertips, that somebody can be me, and you!

Right now, the digital wires are burning up over the Church's new 2013 edition of the scriptures. Most of the changes are simply editorial but that doesn't stop people from making them out to be bigger than they are. For example. see the head-note for Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants:
The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.
This has always been the "official" version. What muddied the waters? Speculation! People gave all sorts of views on this matter and they got carried around as official. Over time, fiction become fact.

This is insidious. Do you want more proof? It took being a Ph.D. student for me to discover how the Founders really viewed black people when they wrote the Constitution.

The conventional wisdom will tell you that black people were valued as only 3/5's a white person. This is nonsense, but this nonsense has morphed into fact.

Simple reading of the Constitution and a little logic will debunk this theory.

For the text, see the National Archives. You can't get more official than that. The "infamous" reference is in Article 1, the one dealing with Congress and all the "legislative" issues:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Does this say black people are viewed as only 3/5's a white person? No, it doesn't.

What it does say is that in counting people in order to determine the number of Representatives in the House of Representatives and for tax persons that free persons are counted as a full person and persons not free are counted as 3/5's of a person.

So, how were free blacks counted in the original Constitution as written? Answer: AS A FULL PERSON. It didn't hinge on race. If any white slaves existed they would have been counted as 3/5's of a person.

The issue was apportionment and taxation not race!

Southerners, slave holders and their supporters wanted to count slaves as a full person!

Abolitionists didn't want to count slaves at all!

Why!!!

Siimple. If slaves were counted, it would give the South more Representatives in the House of Representatives giving it more strength and making it much less likely that slavery could ever be abolished by congressional vote.

If slaves were not counted then the South would have fewer Representatives, making the South weaker in Congress and making it more likely that the abolitionists in the North could abolish slavery through congressional vote.

So, how do we avoid succumbing to these gross inaccuracies whether religious or otherwise?

Simple. Just check!

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