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Paying the piper

March 15, 2012

Dr. Thomas Sowell

Good intentions may not save. But bad intentions have unintended consequences. A lesson from Dr. Sowell.

Bell’s options were to be a nobody, living in the shadow of more accomplished legal scholars — or to go off on some wild tangent of his own and appeal to a radical racial constituency on campus and beyond. His writings showed clearly that the latter was the path he chose.

His previous writings had been those of a sensible man saying sensible things about civil rights issues that he understood from his years of experience as an attorney. But now he wrote all sorts of incoherent speculations and pronouncements, the main drift of which was that white people were the cause of black people’s problems. Bell even said that he took it as his mission to say things to annoy white people.

Perhaps he thought that was better than being insignificant in his academic setting. But it was in fact far worse, because the real damage was to impressionable young blacks who took him seriously, including one who went on to become president of the United States.

A career of litigation in a contentious political area may not be the ideal experience for the development of prudent legal and political theory. Dr. Bell’s predecessors in Massachusetts and their colleagues in Virginia and other then colonies were somewhat rash and radical in their writings.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness

The lack of excitement in Senaca Falls, NY, after life as a young sucessful lawyer’s wife in Boston, also contributed to rash and radical notions.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation–in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

Many difficulties may be traced to the forgetting of the words of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The children imagined that they had become the hub of the universe and forgot the simple message about becoming a city upon a hill.

Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil, in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life, / that we and our seed may live, / by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, / for He is our life and our prosperity.

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