Schuyler and Washington clearly were fighting for the freedoms of white men only

To the Editor:

This letter is a response to the letter printed in The Enterprise last week from George Pratt [“Are we today supposed to erase history? June 18, 2020].

First, I want to say that I respect George Pratt’s contributions to the community as a leader of law enforcement in Altamont for many years. In my personal experiences with him, he was always gracious and friendly.

When I have seen him in the past he always mentioned his age, born in 1928. I hope age equates with experience, thoughtfulness, and wisdom.

But I have to challenge the content of his recent letter. This is my summary of that letter. Mr. Pratt states that the mayor of Albany is removing the statue of Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler from the exterior of the front of City Hall.

He seems to want you to know that the mayor is sacrificing history to satisfy her own bigoted ideology and that she lacks an understanding of American history, as he puts it! Mr. Pratt also clearly makes the point that men like Philip Schuyler, George Washington, and Robert E. Lee and others used slaves as an accepted way of life that is now a part of our history.

Problem is the only people who found slavery an acceptable way of life were slave owners and maybe non-slave whites. Mr. Pratt states the removal of the statue is being caused by the ideology of intellectual idiots.

I’d like Mr. Pratt to rethink his comments with a little sympathy for the unfortunate and sad life of slaves and some of their descendants. Mr. Pratt’s letter continues by saying “way back when many historical representatives used employees otherwise known as slaves.”

Mr. Pratt, you must recognize employees are not beaten, raped, chained, locked up, whipped, kept against their will, etc.! Now do you understand why you cannot equate them?

By removing statues of former slave owners, Black Americans want a recognition of the negative aspects of our history. They want to finally and forever be acknowledged as equals in America. They deserve to have their concerns addressed.

George Pratt does not want to acknowledge the story that is beyond the public image of our traditional American heroes. If you’re going to record history, you can’t pick and choose the facts. All historical facts apply.

Yes, many of our American heroes were slave owners before the Civil War and at that time slavery was legal. But Mr. Pratt seems to want to overlook the historical ramifications of being a slave owner and what it means to Black Americans when they see one glorified in a public venue in front of a place representing our current government.

The architects of our Bill of Rights and Constitution who were also slave owners constructed a democracy with freedoms for whites only.

Don’t you understand why Black America has a lasting problem with that? The men who founded this country like Schuyler and Washington clearly were fighting for the rights and freedoms of white men only.

The Bill of Rights and the Constitution left out the rights of equality for all women, Black people, and Native Americans. These people were not included in this new democracy that offered equality. This is an inarguable fact proven by the actions of white men throughout history in America.

The new democracy was established for white men and was controlled by and overseen by white men, to their advantage. This relevant history does not negate the history Mr. Pratt thinks is being lost by the removal of General Schuyler’s statue.

We Americans will never forget the efforts and successes of this country’s revolutionaries and patriots to free our nation from the tyranny of English rule. I will always remember them.

The only thing changing about history is that modern society is learning that it is better for everyone if we consider the position of other Americans who didn’t have the advantages of white America. This is a generalized statement given the history of Black people in America, and their existance in America, as it relates to slavery.

For example, ask any white man if, given a choice, would you have preferred to be born Black? Whether Mr. Pratt acknowledges it or not, he offended our fellow Black Americans and intellectual whites when he made a statement that refers to slaves as employees!

I am saddened by his proclamation as I have heard similar thoughts from conservatives who are ignorant or otherwise unsympathetic to the existence of a person held in slavery. Black Americans don’t feel the same way about famous white Americans who were slave owners that professed freedom and equality for all, but only if you’re white!

Mr. Pratt should imagine himself in the shoes of a Black man, either from history or even today. Does Mr. Pratt think he would then idolize or honor any man who didn’t fight for his equal rights?

The statues and their history will not be lost or forgotten. Their history is important for many reasons, not just the military campaigns that they fought in. They will be put in museums where they belong, not in front of a modern-day public building.

Government buildings exist to serve all the people of today equally, unlike the man whose statue represents someone that served one race of man over another.

To Mr. Pratt’s point of keeping the statue because you can’t fault General Schuyler if it was legal at that time to own slaves. I say to that statement: It is inconceivable for any man at any time in history to have not known that slavery is wrong. Every man and woman knows of slavery and would have imagined that they themselves would not want to be enslaved and made to be subserviant to another without freedom.

Implying that General Schuyler and others should be forgiven for being slaveowners because the law allowed slavery at that time, would be like condoning Adolf Hitler’s systematic killing of Jews during the years of World War II when he made it law in Germany.

One of America’s great mottos is “In God We Trust.” It’s clear to Christians that Jesus Christ denouced slavery. So too should modern Americans denounce former slave owners for their acceptance of a law that allowed slavery to exist in an America that espoused equality and freedom for all!

Please recognize the human condition and exercise compassion and sympathy for everyone.

Timothy A. Albright


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