By Robert A. Goldwin
Read or Download Why Blacks, Women and Jews Are Not Mentioned in the Constitution, and Other Unorthodox Views (Aei Studies, 494) PDF
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Additional resources for Why Blacks, Women and Jews Are Not Mentioned in the Constitution, and Other Unorthodox Views (Aei Studies, 494)
But making a moral judgment does not settle the question of policy. The second step remains: to ask ourselves, what shall we do about it? There are moral as well as practical considerations involved in the second step. The first-step moral judgment may tell us that something ought to be done, but it leaves to deliberation what that something might be. The best example of this I know in American history is the consistent position of Abraham Lincoln on the question of slavery. The first step was easy for him, and he made it clearly and persistently in all of his public utterances, notably in his debates with Stephen Douglas.
A policy may be begun, it may be continued for a time, but if it lacks moral acceptability it cannot be sustained. But the morality that is needed must commence with the understanding that men and women are not angels. Moderate Morality Awareness that we are not angels has complex significance. It does not mean that we are evil or unrelievedly selfish. It does mean that we acknowledge that our basic motivation is self-interest and that there is a need to control the unavoidable abuses that follow from that selfishness.
That was the first step. As for the second step, Lincoln said he was not an abolitionist, just as he would not be a slaveholder. Abolitionists looked on the Constitution as an abomination, a compact with the Devil, and they regularly burned a copy of the Constitution at their meetings. That is an example of the unbounded moralism I spoke of, which in its crusading striking out at evil is likely to destroy with it many good things-the Constitution, in this case-that give us, ultimately, our best hope for preserving decency in political life.
Why Blacks, Women and Jews Are Not Mentioned in the Constitution, and Other Unorthodox Views (Aei Studies, 494) by Robert A. Goldwin