Home Virginia Politics Video: Your Daily Dose of Right-Wing Craziness Comes from Leesburg, Virginia

Video: Your Daily Dose of Right-Wing Craziness Comes from Leesburg, Virginia

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I saw this story in the Loudoun Times, and thought it would be worth posting the video on YouTube. Here’s the short version of what happened earlier this week in Leesburg, as Council member (and self-described “proud” “conservative”) Tom Dunn rambles on about how government didn’t really free the slaves (uh…ever hear of the emancipation proclamation? the Civil War fought by the Union army and government? the 13th amendment to the constitution?), and how “God” supposedly did (even though God and religion were used by many/most slaveowners as justification for holding slaves). Dunn also rants against diversity and commissions and government in general, commenting, “I don’t know why folks feel that the government has to give their race legitimacy.” More to the point, why did voters give this guy and his out-there views any “legitimacy,” and when are they going to do something about that situation by booting him out of office?

Tuesday’s hours-long hearing on the diversity commission was punctuated with a weighty oration from Dunn, who said American slaves were freed by God, not government.

Within his speech, Councilman Dunn chided Phillip Thompson, the local NAACP president, for invoking slavery into the conversation.

“Shame on you, Mr. Thompson, for throwing slavery into this discussion,” Dunn said. “There are people who feel that government, I guess, is supposed to be the answer to everything. Mr. Thompson, I don’t believe government freed our slaves that we had in this country. That was an evil that this country had. It was the hand of God touching the hearts of man that freed those slaves. And it’s the same hand of God touching the hearts of man that will bring unity within diversity. It’s not government.”

Dunn continued, “Jesus said, ‘I give you one commandment, and that is to love one another.’ He could have said, ‘go out and create a diversity commission,’ but he didn’t … I don’t know why folks feel that the government has to give their race legitimacy.

  • Jeb Stuart

    And his position is valid.  The abolitionist movement in this country and in England was largely driven by religious considerations, and Lincoln shrouded his efforts in Biblical terms.  If you believe, as many Democrats do, that God does intervene in human affairs, then Dunn’s position cannot be easily dismissed or mocked, as you do.  Or you can continue with this line of argument and reinforce the stereotype that most Democrats are atheists…hmmm.  Better think this through.  

    Now, Dunn is wrong as well.  Slavery was instituted and recognized by government, all the way back to the Romans, so its legal abolition was an act of government.  But it was the moral argument that drove the movement and it was generations of religious leaders (many of them southern) who refused to accept evil in silence. Are you going to deny that MLK was acting because he was touched by the hand of God? Think before you answer.  

  • Insane extremist and raging homophobe Dick Black, rabid pit bull Barbara Comstock, anti-Semitic “joke” dude John Whitbeck, this guy (“The Geary Higgins campaign is now the most despicable campaign in Loudoun County this election season.”).

  • ir003436

    Dunn’s comments and most of Jeb Stuart’s response to lowkell are nonsense.  I shall declare here and now that I am far better qualified than anyone else I have encountered on Blue Virginia to speak about slavery, the role of religious doctrine in supporting slavery, and the persistence of slavery.  I know because I lived it and still do.

    I was born and spent the first 18 years of my life in Wilkinson County, Mississippi.  When I left in 1962, the county was ruled by the Klan and, while the Klan no longer rules, one doesn’t have to look far to find the values of white supremacy still very much in operation, not only in Wilkinson County, but in much of Mississippi and the rest of the South.

    Let me describe three phenomena:  (1) Plantation owners’ use of Biblical authority to keep their slaves under control; (2) the role of Southern religious leaders in the ante-bellum split of US denominations; and, (3) the use of Biblical authority by ante-bellum Southern religious leaders to justify slavery and by modern Southern religious authorities to “prove” the innate inferiority of blacks.

    The plantation environment

    My great-great-grandfather, his brother, two cousins and an uncle owned almost 250 slaves who worked my ancestors’ 14,000 acre Mississippi cotton plantation.  Another of my g-g-grandfather’s brothers and a couple of cousins owned sugar plantations concentrated along Bayou Teche in Louisiana — their plantations encompassed 18,000 acres and 300 slaves.  I have in my family history files six year’s of bound, hand-written plantation journals from the Mississippi plantations and eight year’s from the Louisiana plantations.

    Common practice on my families’ plantations and on every other plantation I know anything about was to ring the plantation bell between 3:00 and 5:00 AM, waking up the slaves and everyone else — the time of the morning bell was determined by the season — 3:00 AM when cotton was being worked, 5:00 AM in the winter when the only work was field and dike maintenance and general non-crop work.  After breakfast and before going to the fields, the slaves gathered in front of the main plantation house or at one or more overseers’ houses where they were given their work assignments and where they listened to a Bible reading and short “sermon” from the “master” or one of the other senior white males.  

    By reading the plantation journal entries, I find the most common Bible reading and sermon were based on Biblical admonitions that slaves should obey their masters.  It’s clear my ancestors were using their religious faith — the same faith they forced on their slaves — to reinforce the superiority of white people over blacks.  Slaves were being taught a Christian religion that told them they were inferior to their white masters and they should not question that inferiority because, to question this was to question God Himself.

    Ante-bellum split of major denominations

    I am related by marriage to William Winans (1788 – 1857).  Winans was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher in ante-bellum Mississippi whose ministry serves as a prime example of Southern religious leaders and their position on slavery.  In short, they supported slavery and did everything they could to use Biblical authority to justify slavery and to defend themselves from attacks by damnyankee abolitionists.

    Sent by the Methodist Church to serve small churches around New Orleans, Winans wound up as a circuit-rider preacher in Southwest Mississippi, a position from which he became a powerhouse leader in defending slavery,  He eventually assisted in the fracture of the Methodist Church into Northern and Southern branches.  He first attended the Methodist General Conference in 1824 and delivered the keynote Pastoral Address in 1832.  He was part of the Southern-dominated committee that drew up the Plan of Separation for the Methodist Episcopal Church and, in 1846, he presided over the first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church – South, after the Methodist Church split into Northern and Southern branches.  While the dates are different every other major US denomination experienced a similar schism — a schism that was not healed in most denominations until the 1960’s or later.

    Winans’ career is instructive because, by studying his letters, sermons, and other manuscripts archived in the Millsaps-Wilson Library, Jackson, Mississippi, we see how Winans and his fellow Southern Methodist leaders used every ounce of Biblical authority they could muster to support slavery and to defend slavery from abolitionists.

    While many (most) Northern religious leaders and a handful of Southern religious personages opposed slavery, in the South, the Bible dictated that slavery was fine and dandy.  In fact, slavery was ordained by God.  Winans is a prime example of this fact, though the biographies of other Southern religious leaders reveal the same conviction.

    Biblical authority proves the innate inferiority of blacks

    I shall not go into vast detail of how the Bible has been AND CONTINUES TO BE used to support the idea that blacks are an inferior people.  I’ll simply cite one of the sermons I heard preached from time to time from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of XXXXX, Mississippi.  Not only was the myth I am about to describe a common Baptist sermon topic, it was a fundamental belief of all the good Christian folks around whom I grew up.

    First, you must be familiar with and believe every word of the legend of Noah.  You know the outlines of the story:  God looked around, saw his creation overrun by wicked people who had turned away from Him.  In His search for a Godly man, God happened upon Noah and his family.  God told Noah to build a big boat, bring in all the animals two-by-two and load up his family on the boat because God will send a flood to destroy the entire Earth.

    According to the Noah legend — which is FACT according to every Baptist Sunday School teacher and preacher I have ever known — the entire Earth was drowned — not just a regional flood confined to the Eastern Mediterranean, but the whole Earth from pole to pole.

    After the water receded, Noah sent the animals out to procreate and re-populate the Earth with critters.  Meanwhile, Noah and his family set about re-populating the Earth.  

    The myth continues.  Noah planted a vineyard, harvested his grapes, made some wine, drank too much, fell down drunk and naked on his bed.  One of his sons, Ham by name, entered Noah’s tent and “beheld his father’s nakedness.”  According to the Noah legend, one of the most grave sins was for a child to behold a parent naked.  Waking up and realizing what had happened, Noah cursed Ham, telling him that he and his descendants would forever serve the descendants of his two brothers (who had not “beheld their father’s nakedness”).

    In Christian legend, Ham’s family trekked into Africa where they became the “black race” and where “the curse of Ham” requires them to be slaves to white folks, who are the descendants of Noah’s two good sons.

    This, then, is what I heard preached from the pulpit and taught in Sunday School from as far back as I can remember (I was born in 1944).  Because Noah cursed his son Ham, and because Ham is the father of all Africans, black people bear the “mark of Ham” — black skin — and they are cursed by God to be forever subservient and inferior to whites.

    Now, I know this tale sounds absolutely ridiculous — and it is.  HOWEVER — the legend of Ham’s curse was treated as ground truth by my family of fundamentalist Christians who, to this day, still believe it and they are not alone in this belief.

    Don’t try to tell me that slavery was overturned by godly people because I guarantee you the “godly people” in the South did everything they could do, including starting a war, to protect slavery and to use Biblical authority to justify slavery.  Today, while slavery is long gone, you don’t have to search very far in Southern churches to find white supremacists sitting in the pews, using their Bible to justify their racism.   I know because I have to listen to their bullshit every time I go back home.