Letter to the Editor

Moralistically, abortion is our humanitarian issue

Thursday, February 21, 2019

To the Editor

In October 2018, while visiting our son, Andrew, who is the head swimming coach at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Mary and I heard about some changes being made at Washington and Lee University (also located in Lexington, Va., right next door to VMI).

Following the recommendation of the Commission on Institutional History and Community, Robinson Hall has now been renamed to Chavis Hall after John Chavis, the first African American to receive a college education in the United States.

The building had formerly been named after John “Jockey” Robinson, one of the 1803 founders of the university, and a man, without whose generosity, Washington and Lee University might not exist today. At a time when slavery was both legal and socially acceptable, his bequeath of a large farm and 73 enslaved men, women and children to the college assured the institution’s survival.

Today we recognize the immorality of slavery, and therefore the very idea of a building being named after a slave owner is seen as repugnant and insulting to potential African American students. (Only about 1 percent of Washington and Lee’s student body is African American.) Even with this change, Washington and Lee must still reconcile itself to its own name and history. Robert E. Lee, after the Civil War, was the university president who raised the school to its current highly respected level. (The name “Lee” was added after his presidency.)

Arguably, slavery was only able to exist through the dehumanization of those enslaved. If the humanity of slaves could be thought of as something less than the slave owner’s humanity, then slavery could be justified morally as well as financially. Evidence of this dehumanization can be found with Charles Darwin, who postulated in Origin of the Species, that Black Africans originated from a different ancestor that White Europeans (therefore making them something less than human,) and the U.S. census at the time counted slaves as only half a person.

Today we recognize this to be racist nonsense, but at the time it was used as a moral justification. Thus, through dehumanization, slavery was able to not only exist legally, but to also be acceptable socially.

During World War II, Hitler was able to exterminate over 10 million people (over six million Jews) by dehumanization. They were not of the German race and/or Germany’s problems were their fault.

Of course today nothing like this could ever happen because we’re so smart. We hold every human being in high esteem, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, political leanings, and the like. We would never dehumanize anyone. We find the very idea so repugnant that we tear down statues and change the names of buildings. We have learned that lesson of history. Just because it’s legal and socially acceptable, doesn’t make it moral. Yep, we’ve got it all under control. More than 10 times as many children have been legally aborted since Roe v. Wade as Jews who were exterminated in the Holocaust. Oh, excuse me, not children, masses of cells.

Listening to the radio on the way home from church last Sunday, I heard the question, “Do you think we’re on the brink of another Civil War?”

The guest expert answered, “No, because today we’re divided over trivial issues. There is no issue today that is as moralistically wrong as was slavery.”

Yep, we’ve got it all together. We’re so smart.

Paul Bretscher

Former GHS teacher/coach and current member of Peace Lutheran Church