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“The Fates are just: they give us but our own;
Nemesis ripens what our hands have sown.”
John Greenleaf Whittier, To a Southern Statesman (1864)
This quote would seem trite and pitiless at the first glance. We all know many who have suffered through no fault of their own. No doubt the author had known more than one young patriot from Amesbury who now lay in a grave far from home, and as an abolitionist, he no doubt felt the horrendous injustice of chattel slavery was undeserved by those unfortunate souls trapped in bondage. Life is not fair to people.
What did he mean, then? I believe the key is in his audience and the context. He is writing to a Southern Statesman who has witnessed the ruin of his way of life. Any man could feel the tide of war shift toward the Blue and against the Gray. Could they see what was to come, with the Radical Reconstruction and years of occupation government? And it started with the choice to depend on slavery and make it a focus of their culture.
Whittier was referring to the fate of nations and groups. The United States of America, and especially the states rebelling as the Confederacy, had sown with hubris, and Nemesis came calling. Eventually, the contradictions of a nation half-slave and half-free could not be sustained. Then began the greatest slaughter of Americans in history and the crushing of the Southern Way of Life.
When we see the Left stoking the flames of civil unrest and political violence, does it ever cross their minds that the Birkenstock may someday be on the other foot? They are legendary in their hubris — it is already coming back to haunt them. Civility in politics, if it was ever alive, is most certainly dead now. If people in America give up on elections and the government, they will turn to less pleasant means to change the political leadership. Once people believe their livelihoods and families are no longer safe, the greatest power of the Left will evaporate.
And as Nemesis comes closer to them with the sound of gunfire, will they wonder at how they fell from such heights of power?