Salon: The Declaration of Independence is sexist, racist, prejudiced

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Original poster
Nov 14, 2011
20,668
22,390

Plutonius

macrumors 604
Feb 22, 2003
7,855
6,018
New Hampshire, USA
Happy 4th of July everyone!

https://www.salon.com/2019/07/04/fourth-of-julys-ugly-truth-exposed-the-declaration-of-independence-is-sexist-racist-and-prejudice/
1. It did not condemn slavery.
2. It did not protect the rights of women.
3. To the disadvantage of Native Americans, Jefferson replaced the phrase "property" with happiness when saying that human beings' basic rights include "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
In todays world, everything is sexist, racist, and prejudiced to someone.

I think that the accusations are so overused now that they don't have the impact that they used to have.
 

Herdfan

macrumors 6502
Apr 11, 2011
267
3,842
I don’t understand how people can disagree with the central premise. The Declaration (and later the Constitution, as originally drafted) certainly did not recognize women and minorities (slaves, free blacks, native Americans, etc.) as equal to white men.
Ok, so let's say all this is true, which for the most part it technically is. But the Declaration is not meant to be a governing document so the absence of those things is mostly irrelevant.

And what is to be gained by pointing it out? Not one damn thing. All it does is further the divisiveness that is infecting this country.
 

JayMysterio

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
668
12,139
Rock Ridge, California
Ok, so let's say all this is true, which for the most part it technically is. But the Declaration is not meant to be a governing document so the absence of those things is mostly irrelevant.

And what is to be gained by pointing it out? Not one damn thing. All it does is further the divisiveness that is infecting this country.
So, I know this will sound foolish, but what is the Declaration for, since it's not a governing text?

Yes, yes I realize it was declaration for why the States wanted to be free. It was also a rallying point sent around to other parts of the country. In it though as pointed out in the article it was a listing of why the States wanted to be free of British rule, and establish rule of their own. It's there where one can argue the Declaration is the things mentioned in the Salon article.

Or as a Google search would show...
Why was the declaration of independence important?

The Declaration of Independence is an important part of American democracy ( emphasis mine ) because first it contains the ideals or goals of our nation. Second it contains the complaints of the colonists against the British king. Third, it contains the arguments the colonists used to explain why they wanted to be free of British rule.
The Declaration of Independence - Score

score.rims.k12.ca.us/score_lessons/symbols_freedom/pages/doi.html
This country's goals are NOT slavery, racism, or sexism. But there they are, obviously due to the times, but also because that was a genuine belief ( selectively, if not sort of :cool: ) then. For some, it's still a genuine ( not so much the actual act of slavery, but the whole viewing of others as not being equal ) belief.

That isn't irrelevant, as the article points out the issues with Jefferson & racism/slavery.

As far as to why point it out? It is a part of our history like many nations where there were shortcomings. Ignoring them is easy. It's a lot easier if it was something that never, never had, or will never affect you, your children, or your ancestors. For others it's a reminder of a past that's still in parts with us today, and has to be addressed.

That's what's great about this country, it has it's good, it has it's bad. I've said it on other threads to the dismay of others, if you move to the United States, you move here to accept the bad as well. The hope is you're going to enjoy & thrive with the good, and help fix the bad. The United States takes it's bad along with good and it's at it's strongest when it works together with all of it's disparate parts to fix that bad. You can't fix what's bad by pretending it isn't there, because one doesn't care for it and it may not ever affect you. It's something that does affect your fellow citizens new & old, and that should make you want to insure it doesn't happen.

For crying out loud, it's just an article showing the warts. It doesn't mean this country is any less beautiful. This country is beautiful because of it's warts & all, and being able to recognize them.
 

H2SO4

macrumors 601
Nov 4, 2008
4,353
3,752
Ok, so let's say all this is true, which for the most part it technically is. But the Declaration is not meant to be a governing document so the absence of those things is mostly irrelevant.

And what is to be gained by pointing it out? Not one damn thing. All it does is further the divisiveness that is infecting this country.
Gonna go out on a limb here. If pointing out that it misses to see everybody as equal, and that is divisive and causes more problems.
That tells me a lot about the state of US society. A lot that isn’t good.
 

retta283

macrumors 65816
Jun 8, 2018
1,040
696
Kingman, AZ
Ok, so let's say all this is true, which for the most part it technically is. But the Declaration is not meant to be a governing document so the absence of those things is mostly irrelevant.

And what is to be gained by pointing it out? Not one damn thing. All it does is further the divisiveness that is infecting this country.
It's absurd that a piece of paper that was written simply to announce that we were no longer under British suzerainty is being attacked today, almost 250 years later... Perhaps some of these people would rather we become a colony of the British again with the way they wish to tear our systems up
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rogifan

blackfox

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2003
1,208
4,030
PDX
I don’t understand how people can disagree with the central premise. The Declaration (and later the Constitution, as originally drafted) certainly did not recognize women and minorities (slaves, free blacks, native Americans, etc.) as equal to white men.
well, yes. I believe the point is more that like some Liberal Art Colleges removing certain books from their curriculum, because the author was deemed racist, sexist, etc - is that you have to judge something from the past in the context of when it was created - judging history from 2019 standards seems pedantic.
 

JayMysterio

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
668
12,139
Rock Ridge, California
well, yes. I believe the point is more that like some Liberal Art Colleges removing certain books from their curriculum, because the author was deemed racist, sexist, etc - is that you have to judge something from the past in the context of when it was created - judging history from 2019 standards seems pedantic.
The counter to that though is that the article isn't saying remove or replace the Declaration. Just pointing out that a document from then that is still around unrevised and revered as such has problems in it, that still exist somewhat now.

From the article

Is any of this intended to suggest that we should not take pride in the Declaration of Independence? Not even remotely: It was — and continues to be — one of the most eloquent and morally moving political documents ever penned. That said, we must also remember that our Founding Fathers were not the living gods that many believe them to be. They were fallible human beings, and some of their flaws had terrible consequences for people who were not fortunate enough to be born into privileged groups. When we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, we should embrace its underlying spirit — as well as the courage of the men who were willing to risk "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor" — and simultaneously learn from its shortcomings. This alone can make the spirit of 1776 relevant to the conditions of 2019 — or any other year, for that matter.
I think what a few people are confusing is that criticizing something doesn't mean one dislikes it.

James Baldwin said:
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
 

yaxomoxay

macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2010
3,611
24,589
Texas
The counter to that though is that the article isn't saying remove or replace the Declaration. Just pointing out that a document from then that is still around unrevised and revered as such has problems in it, that still exist somewhat now.

From the article



I think what a few people are confusing is that criticizing something doesn't mean one dislikes it.
This is like saying that writing on a document “we plan to cure cancer” is somewhat negative because it’s missing about a million other deadly - and in certain cases more deadly - health problems.
The Declaration of Independence is what it is. A document written in 1776, which declares an intent, and which does not deal with all the problems of the era that were recognized or that were not recognized (slavery and colonization were quite popular around the globe). The framers risked their head - LITERALLY - to write in and disseminate it among both the illiterate and the literate, so excuse me if they didn’t pass the process to get the “Salon” seal of approval in 2019.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jkcerda

RichardMZhlubb

Contributor
Nov 26, 2010
209
15,012
Washington, DC
It's absurd that a piece of paper that was written simply to announce that we were no longer under British suzerainty is being attacked today, almost 250 years later... Perhaps some of these people would rather we become a colony of the British again with the way they wish to tear our systems up
Placing the Declaration in an accurate historical context is not “attacking” it or suggesting that the American Revolution was a bad thing. The simple fact is that the majority of the men who signed a document that declared that “[w]e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“ owned at the time or had previously owned slaves. We should not whitewash our history and pretend otherwise.
 

blackfox

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2003
1,208
4,030
PDX
It's absurd that a piece of paper that was written simply to announce that we were no longer under British suzerainty is being attacked today, almost 250 years later... Perhaps some of these people would rather we become a colony of the British again with the way they wish to tear our systems up
well, prior to the brexit debacle, I might have been ok with that;) full disclosure: i'm British.
 

JayMysterio

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
668
12,139
Rock Ridge, California
This is like saying that writing on a document “we plan to cure cancer” is somewhat negative because it’s missing about a million other deadly - and in certain cases more deadly - health problems.
The Declaration of Independence is what it is. A document written in 1776, which declares an intent, and which does not deal with all the problems of the era that were recognized or that were not recognized (slavery and colonization were quite popular around the globe). The framers risked their head - LITERALLY - to write in and disseminate it among both the illiterate and the literate, so excuse me if they didn’t pass the process to get the “Salon” seal of approval in 2019.
No. It's like saying this document to cure cancer isn't complete or the end all be all, because there are newer options available since it's creation. From this document though we are able to build upon and improve, through mistakes discovered since it's creation, and advances since then. No document of that sort would be allowed to stay stagnant & not available for revision. The Declaration on the other hand due to it's reverence is. That doesn't mean it's issues though are invulnerable to criticism or observation.

The article clearly & literally states it has all respect for what they founders did, but they were flawed human beings as we all are, and those flaws are carried into the Declaration. If that's your hangup, it's a self created misguided one.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Night Spring

yaxomoxay

macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2010
3,611
24,589
Texas
No. It's like saying this document to cure cancer isn't complete or the end all be all, because there are newer options available since it's creation. From this document though we are able to build upon and improve, through mistakes discovered since it's creation, and advances since then. No document of that sort would be allowed to stay stagnant & not available for revision. The Declaration on the other hand due to it's reverence is. That doesn't mean it's issues though are invulnerable to criticism or observation.

The article clearly & literally states it has all respect for what they founders did, but they were flawed human beings as we all are, and those flaws are carried into the Declaration. If that's your hangup, it's a self created misguided one.
I disagree (FINALLY!!!!!!!).
That document is a picture in time, it was written for a specific purpose (independence) and with a specific ideal in mind. What elaborates, implements, and extends the document is what comes after it, from the Constitution to the latest local law, up to this day. We’re still working on that (a “more perfect union”, not “a perfect union”), and when we die most likely people will still work on that. Applying modern era labels such as sexist is reductive, and historically wrong.
[doublepost=1562276199][/doublepost]
And conservatives like to get angry over every little thing?
I’d like to point out that commenting on the stupidity and getting angry are two different things.
 
  • Like
Reactions: appleisking

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,387
UK
I disagree (FINALLY!!!!!!!).
That document is a picture in time, it was written for a specific purpose (independence) and with a specific ideal in mind. What elaborates, implements, and extends the document is what comes after it, from the Constitution to the latest local law, up to this day. We’re still working on that (a “more perfect union”, not “a perfect union”), and when we die most likely people will still work on that. Applying modern era labels such as sexist is reductive, and historically wrong.
[doublepost=1562276199][/doublepost]

I’d like to point out that commenting on the stupidity and getting angry are two different things.
The article is right. The US Declaration of Independence is sexist by modern standards. So was everything else written in the late 18th century.

Really as a document the US constitution and Declaration of Independence have aged rather well. They aren’t perfect though and have aged.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JayMysterio