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Prior to the Civil War, apologists for the South’s “peculiar institution” concocted “positive good” rationales that claimed slavery was beneficial. Though the arguments varied, they were broadly based on assumptions of white superiority: intellectual, spiritual, and civilizational. The “superior” white man had the right to live off the labors of the “backward” African because doing so freed him to engage in the higher pursuits afforded by his loftier intellect, morality, and civilization.
Abraham Lincoln’s rejoinder — made during his debates with Stephen Douglas — was that the Southerners’ arguments could equally justify their own slavery by their supposed betters. Islamists, for example, believe their religion, morals, and culture are infinitely better than ours and so it is their religious duty to conquer the West and bring it under Sharia Law. Those refusing to convert to Islam are to be subjected to death, slavery or — at best — to the partial slavery of dhimmitude, which entails limited rights, obligatory humiliation, and special taxes to help enhance the lifestyles of the faithful.
In early America, people voluntarily supported the weak and infirm, but such practical compassion is not compatible with the enlightened and progressive times in which we live. Instead, the left of today imposes its own form of better living through coercion, based – not on assumptions of superiority – but on assumptions of inferiority. In the left’s utopia, productive individuals are forced to support those unable or unwilling to work; the recipients’ poverty, ignorance, infirmity, or victimhood entitling them to the fruits of others’ labor. The successful must be subjected to special taxes and to humiliation (“greedy,” “uncaring,” “elitist”) to justify the confiscation of their property and to soothe the beneficiaries’ feelings.