Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Black History and Liberty

It is remarkable that American libertarians—so often eager to discuss freedom in nearly every conceivable iteration—rarely address African-Americans and the Struggle for civil rights in America. Slavery is long gone, but it is hardly coincidence that the descendants of slaves have accounted for disproportionate percentages of Americans in poverty and incarceration in the 150+ years hence.

Save Emancipation and America’s reluctant recognition of the 14th Amendment by way of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, the government has consistently (though not exclusively) been a boot on the necks of African-Americans, hindering progress and true equality. Yet libertarians tend to shrink away from acknowledging race for fear of involving themselves in “identity politics” and thus rarely discuss the government’s legacy of racial oppression.

If libertarianism is to be something more than free markets—libertarianism’s guiding principle is, after all, liberty—then its adherents should recognize that liberty is the end of, not just the means to, a better society. Thus, when looking for people to hold up as exemplars of liberty, we need to stop thinking “Was ______ a libertarian?” and start thinking: Did ________ fight for liberty? Is there something we can learn from him about what it means to be free? What exactly was he fighting againstand what did his denied freedom teach him? What mistakes did he make and what mistakes by others resulted in the denial of his freedom? How did the government fail him? How did society fail him?

Read more: http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/black-history-liberty

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