A riposte to my comparison of John Brown and Richard Trumka. Admittedly, it was sloppy and general. Blogging is a very imperfect art. John Brown is a very weird hero of mine. I'm convinced he was kind of crazy. He also did some things--that in the abstract--are hard to defend. But I've always admired him as a man who was out of his time. It wasn't just his opposition to slavery but the fact that he was a feminist who made he sons do housework.
He was also, as the poster noted in the deleted comment, a terrorist. But I must be honest with you--that word doesn't mean much to me. I've basically defined terrorism as killing innocents to affect some sort of change in a country's policies. I say this with some trepidation because I'm not a World War II historian, but I've never understood why Hiroshima (necessary as it may well have been) wasn't an act of terrorism. It's not so much that I'm an apologist for the murder of innocents. I just don't there are very many moral wars. John Brown was at war with slavery. And while so many simply lived their ordinary lives, he handed his over to end a truly evil practice. It's very difficult to not admire that courage, to not see a kind of love in a white man who would willingly die in such a way.
Anyway, I hope I'm not simplifying here. I'm actually still working some of this out in my head. I mean seriously, what are we, as black people, supposed to make of Nat Turner? Of Robert Charles? Of Gabriel Prosser?