John Brown: A Terrorist who Deserved Hanging
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Some pieces have to be quoted in their entirety. This is one of them:
This is the 150th anniversary of the hanging of John Brown. When he attacked Harper’s Ferry with a handful of followers, the butcher of Kansas helped sow the seeds of the Civil War. Few things would have made Brown happier than the thought of hundreds of thousands of people dying for his own Scorched Earth method of moral salvation.
The New York Times op-ed page has a piece today touting Brown as an American hero. It seeks to vindicate him:
He was held in high esteem by many great men of his day. Ralph Waldo Emerson compared him to Jesus, declaring that Brown would “make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Henry David Thoreau placed Brown above the freedom fighters of the American Revolution.
The fact that Emerson and Thoreau turned into cheerleaders for John Brown was among the worst failings for each of them. Both Emerson and Thoreau started out denouncing politics as a snare and a fraud. And both fell for Brown and his vision of progress via slaughtering innocent people.
Brown’s attempt to create a bloody uprising in Virginia helped close the final door to compromise between the North and the South. His name should be as odious today as those of other people whose violence sparked mass killing.
In fact, John Brown triumphed. He transformed the entire US government into his bloody instrument for exterminating those who resisted DC’s noble ideals of progress and enlightenment. The war against Southern civilians Sherman waged so effectively was prelude to the war on Native American women and children that followed. Then came the massacre of 300,000 Filipinos who resisted DC from 1899 to 1902. Let’s not forget the 750,000 German civilians starved to death during and AFTER World War I by the US-British blockade. Then there are the 500,000 Iraqis who died from US-imposed sanctions. Which brings us to the ongoing slaughter of Muslims in the name of liberation, summarized here by Stephen Walt.
That’s John Brown’s true legacy. Ours.