Guest Post #1 Violence and Christian Holy Writ: Did God Command Genocide?

Below is the first guest post in Per Caritatem’s new series, “Violence and Christian Holy Writ.” Each post will remain live for approximately one week in order to create a space for fruitful dialogue to occur.  Many thanks to Kyle for his contribution to this series.


Kyle R. Cupp is a freelance writer living in Texas. He has an MA in Philosophy and a BA in English, both of which he received from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He writes at Journeys in Alterity and the group Catholic blog Vox Nova.

My thanks to Cynthia R. Nielsen for the opportunity to contribute to this series. I intend here to consider the narrative meaning of a God who ordered genocide and its significance for the Christian story and for the narratives of those who seek to justify violence today. I have in mind the apparently divine order delivered by Samuel to Saul regarding the Amel’ekites: “utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling” (1 Samuel 15). My hope is to show that the idea of a genocide-commanding God does not cohere with the conception of God proclaimed by traditional Christianity, that the narratives that arise from each are incompatible.Battle of Joshua with Amalekites Nicolas Poussin

According to one reading of this Old Testament depiction of divinely-commanded genocide, God needed to order mass death for the preservation of his chosen people (Deuteronomy 20:18), who could not survive the foreign influences of others, so that the way would be made for the coming of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom. The eternal salvation of everyone in every time and every place depended on the Israelites maintaining their purity as the chosen people. God’s response to those who threatened to pervert and corrupt his chosen people was to order their annihilation: God commanded the killing of men and women, infants, newborns, and livestock. To speak in postmodern terms, the other had to be obliterated to preserve the same. It was a horrid but necessary order, one that is, according to a further reading, no longer necessary, but rather obsolete. Christ made the world anew, and so God has no need to give such orders again.

What significance does this conception of God have for the Christian story? It elevates the role of violence in the grand narrative. Salvation is now not merely dependent on God’s suffering of violence, violence freely and sinfully chosen by human beings, but on humankind’s obedience to the role of annihilator, a role that purifies the way for Mary’s “Yes” and the Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It grants the infliction of violence a salvific role—a necessary divinely-intended part to play in salvation history. Purifying violence becomes a prerequisite for redemptive suffering.

The consequences of this elevation of violence extend beyond the specific boundaries of the Christian myth: it is not only violence within the narrative leading to the Christ-event that takes on a salvific role. The idea of violence itself has become united with the idea of salvation: salvific violence is a legitimate kind of violence, even if the particular violence amounts to genocide. Conceiving God as one who commands genocide gives rise to new thought about violence and salvation. We have before us an instance of genocide being morally legitimate, countering all condemnations of genocide as intrinsically evil. Indeed, the morality of genocide in this instance isn’t a question of right and wrong, but of power and necessity. God, the all-powerful, orders genocide because it is necessary. Genocide has been and therefore can be morally licit.

Scourging at the PillarThe idea that Christ made the world anew may be used to close the door on the acceptability of genocide today, but the line of thought outlined above creeps through the cracks. The idea of genocidal violence has become united with the idea of salvation. This union gives rise to new thinking. Indeed, we hear today the infliction of mass death proposed as a necessary means of salvation. We uphold military might as a solution to the problem of evil. Presidential candidates promise to seek out and defeat evil in the world by destroying those said to be evil. We fight wars to bring “an end to evil” and justify the killing of infants and newborns when such mass killing is necessary. Those today calling for the annihilation of evildoers may or may not believe that God once ordered genocide, but the idea that God once did so gives a theological backing for their call and enhances the appeal of salvific genocidal violence to the ears of Christians. The argument that Christ made the world anew, thus making mass violence an obsolete means toward salvation, might appeal on an abstract, theoretical level if one assumes a particular understanding of “made anew,” but on the practical level of concrete action and justification, it has little force.

Frederick Douglass and Reverse Discourse as an Act of Resistance

I will soon cross the ocean to participate in the 2010 Biennial Conference of the International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture.  For those interested, I have posted my abstract in order to give you an overall sketch of the paper, followed by a few passages from the last section of my paper dealing with Frederick Douglass’s critique of “the Christianity of this land.”Frederick Douglass Painting


In his first autobiography Frederick Douglass describes how his socio-political identity and his spatio-temporal existence were defined, constrained and circumscribed by the white other. Nonetheless, Douglass was able to assert his humanity through various acts of resistance. In what follows, I explore the ways in which the strategies of resistance described and performed by Douglass can be mapped onto Foucault’s elaboration of power relations and resistance possibilities. In addition to complementing Foucault’s analyses of power and resistance, Douglass’s account of his struggle with Mr. Covey proves an excellent critical dialogue partner for Hegel. Lastly, besides socio-political anti-black narratives, Douglass also encountered pseudotheological racist narratives.  Though himself a Christian, because of the way in which the Christian narrative was taken up to bolster proslavery arguments and to construct blacks as inferior, Douglass also became an ardent critic of (white) American Christianity. Recognition of the existential strain American Christianity placed on Douglass, provides an opening to view him as a socio-political, as well as religious critic “from below,” one whose prophetic voice cries out from the underside of modernity in order to expose the exclusivity, injustice, and monochrome hue of “We the People,” as well as the utter irrationality and duplicity of the whitewashed necropolis proclaiming itself “The City Upon a Hill.”[1]

Douglass’s Critique of White American Christianity

An important layer in Douglass’s multivalent text is his critique of American Christianity. Douglass himself identified as a Christian. Yet, because his local experience of Christianity was a distorted, deformed facade masquerading as Christianity, he experienced a great deal of existential and spiritual strain.  Having both endured his own lashings, and having witnessed countless cruelties performed by so-called “religious” men on the bodies of other slaves, Douglass was compelled to speak out against this rampant hypocrisy.  With the same frankness Jesus expressed toward the Pharisees, Douglass minces no words concerning these self-proclaimed “religious” men. Were he to be reduced again to slavery, next to enslavement itself, Douglass states, “I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst.”[2]

These religious masters, many of whom were ministers, appealed to selected Scriptural passages, which, when interpreted through their patriarchal, racist hermeneutical grid, supposedly provided biblical justification for the institution of slavery.  Knowing that his readers were thoroughly familiar with biblical stories, Douglass regularly draws upon Scriptural language and imagery in his critiques of slaveholders and the injustice of the slave system.[3] Realizing that some may misinterpret his remarks, take them out of context, or turn them against him in order to claim that his Christianity is disingenuous, he adds an appendix to stave off such criticisms. There he states explicitly that that his disparaging comments “apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper.”[4] Carefully crafting his condemnatory remarks into a rhetorical tour de force, Douglass sets “the Christianity of this land” in opposition to “the Christianity of Christ.”[5] Having developing his themes, set forth his contrasting, opposing voices, Douglass begins a movement composed of line after dissonant line detailing the inconsistencies of America’s so-called Christianity.

We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit in Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of the week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for the purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. […] We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.[6]

With the examples cited in this section, we have Douglass taking up familiar Scriptural language and images, reinterpreting them in order deconstruct the religious arguments alleged to sanction slavery and the slave’s “natural” inferiority. Douglass’s creative re-scripting of his subjectivity and his reclaiming of the Christian narrative for emancipatory purposes are variants of what Foucault calls “reverse discourse.” In such discourse the very same discursive elements can be employed for opposing, even contradictory purposes.[7] Since it was the case that in Douglass’s context, the dominant discourse of American Christianity, had become firmly established with relatively fixed meanings, recognized metaphors, and common applications, Douglass was able to re-appropriate these elements to create a powerful counter-hegemonic discourse.

In short, Douglass worked within the power mechanisms of an oppressive slave society, and his acts of resistance proved successful on multiple counts. His narrative helps us to see concretely and feel dramatically Foucault’s emphasis on the productive rather than merely oppressive dimensions of power relations. Likewise, the often grim picture associated with Foucault’s conclusion that there is no outside to power is given a brighter hue. If power and resistance are correlative, then the all-pervasiveness of power necessarily entails the all-pervasiveness of resistance, and thus the hope that we might become other than what we are at present.


[1] This phrase comes from John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity.” The sermon was given to his fellow Puritans while still at sea and served as a rallying call, urging them on to their future destiny as a city upon whose eyes the entire world shall be fixed.

[2] Frederick Douglass, in Douglass: Autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave/ My Bondage and My Freedom/ Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.  Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (New York:  Library of America, 1994), 68.

[3] For example, in his description of Rev. Rigby Hopkins, whose slave “management” techniques included “whipping slaves in advance,” Douglass compares Hopkins to the Pharisees whom Jesus scathingly denounces in Matthew 23.  Just like hypocritical Pharisees of the New Testament, who “do all their deeds to be seen by others,” yet neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith” (Matt 23:5, 23, NRSV), these slaveholding Pharisees, whom Rev. Hopkins typifies, are likewise exposed as “blind guides” and “whitewashed tombs.”[3] Hopkins who would draw blood from a slave’s back for a mere wrong look, movement, mistake, or improperly inflected word, was also one of the most active men in revivals, prayer and preaching meetings, and other church-related activities. In Douglass’s words, “there was not a man any where round, who made higher professions of religion, […] that prayed earlier, later, louder, and longer,—than this same reverend slave-driver, Rigby Hopkins” (ibid., 70).

[4] Ibid., 97.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 97–8.

[7] Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 1, 100.

Amy Allen on Foucault’s Alleged Role in the “End of Man”

Politics-of-Our-Selves_Amy-AllenI recently came across Amy Allen’s excellent book, The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory, and have found her discussion of Foucault in chapters two and three particularly helpful and insightful.  In chapter two, Allen offers a careful reading of Foucault’s relationship to Kant and concludes that Foucault does not reject, cancel, or write off the subject per se but rather a particular historical understanding of the (transcendental) subject as the source of all meaning. Of course, skeptical commentators will immediately begin reciting statements from The Order of Things, as well as other works in Foucault seems to rather clearly sign the death certificate of the subject.  Allen, however, engages a number of these “problem” passages, and in my view, offers a convincing counter-interpretation emphasizing the way in which Foucault works within the Kantian tradition utilizing Kant’s own vocabulary to transform the tradition.  Stated otherwise, Foucault performs an act of philosophical resistance via a reverse discourse of sorts.

So what does Foucault mean in the closing pages of The Order of Things when he speaks of hoping for a new opening for thought, a new episteme that will take us beyond “man,” which he claims is “an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end” (The Order of Things, 386, 387). According to Allen’s reading, “the call for the ‘end of man’ at the end of The Order of Things echoes Foucault’s call for a ‘true critique’ of the ‘anthropological illusion’ in the closing pages of his these complémentaire [Introduction à l’anthropologie de Kant, 127].  Critique, for Foucault, has both Nietzschean and Kantian roots; however, the former is often emphasized, while the latter is either unacknowledged, rejected, or so downplayed that it has little consequence in Foucauldian discussions of the subject and subjectivity. On Allen’s interpretation,

[w]hat Foucault is calling for is a critique of critique, which means not only a criticism of Kant’s project for the way in which it closes off the very opening for thought that it had created but also a critique in the Kantian sense of the term—that is, an interrogation of the limits and conditions of possibility of that which Kant himself took as his own starting point, namely, the transcendental subject. Such a critique is, in a sense, “transcendental” inasmuch as the historical a priori sets the necessary conditions of possibility that are constitutive for being a thinking subject in a particular episteme and, as such, are indirectly the conditions of possibility for all of that subject’s experiences. However, such an account is obviously not transcendental in the same sense in which Kant uses that term, inasmuch as our understanding of those “necessary” conditions is grounded empirically in an analysis of the contingent historical conditions that give rise to them and in which they remain embedded.[1]

Clearly, Foucault, as Allen points out, has transformed the sense in which Kant employed the term “a priori conditions.”  For Foucault, the conditions are neither necessary in modality nor universal in scope; they are historical conditions; yet, they, like Kantian a priori conditions, make possible intelligible objects, practices, discourses, concepts and so forth; however, for Foucault, these objects, concepts, etc. are intelligible within a particular episteme which is structured by (historical) rules themselves subject to change over time.

Continuing her discussion of how we ought to understand Foucault’s participation in the so-called “death of man,” Allen writes,

The end of man thus amounts to the revelation that human subjects are always constituted by and embedded in contingently evolved (and thus transformable) linguistic, historical, and cultural conditions. As Foucault himself put the point in a 1978 interview: “Men are perpetually engaged in a process that, in constituting objects, at the same time displaces man, deforms, transforms, and transfigures him as subject. In speaking of the death of man [in The Order of Things], in a confused, simplifying way, that is what I meant to say” [“Interview with Michel Foucault.” In Power, vol. 3 of The Essential Works of Foucault, edited by James Faubion. (New York: The New Press, 2000), 276].

As such, the call for the end of man is not a rejection of the concept of the subject per se, if by that we mean the notion of consciousness or the “I think.” Instead, it is a call for a critical interrogation and transformation of the particular notion of transcendental subjectivity first formulated by Kant and later taken up by phenomenology. The paradoxes and instabilities to which the modern age of man gives rise emerge only if man is taken to be both a finite object and a transcendental subject that serves as the condition of possibility of all experience. Thus, the claim that Foucault argues for the death of the subject appears plausible only if we conflate this transcendental conception of subjectivity with the concept of subjectivity itself.[2]

In short, Foucault’s comments advocating the subject’s demise must be taken not as a complete rejection of subjectivity or the subject itself; rather, Foucault’s criticism are aimed specifically at the notion of a subject shielded from all socio-historical and cultural influences—the ahistorical subject as sovereign originator of all meaning.  For Foucault, it is undeniable that the subject is socially constituted; however, the subject as a free being is also capable of (re)constituting him/herself because all the converging, intersecting, socio-historical lines which shaped the subject in the first place are contingent, not necessary.  In addition, Allen adds that Foucault himself “argues that Kant’s own writings on anthropology point beyond this transcendental conception and pave the way for the fully historicized conception of the subject that Foucault later develops. On this interpretation, Foucault’s call for the end of man is perfectly consistent with the project of reconceptualizing subjectivity carried out in Foucault’s later work.”[3]

Pointing toward an argument that she develops in chapter three, Allen ends chapter two with a foreshadowing of her conclusion.  “[A]lthough Foucault does rely in his late work on notions of subjectivity and autonomy, he radically reformulates these concepts; thus, they are not the same as the strictly Kantian and phenomenological notions that are taken up and transformed in his early work.”[4] Like myself, Allen does not see Foucault’s ethico-aesthetic turn as a significant rupture with or cancellation of his early work, nor (as we’ve seen) does she hold that Foucault has done away with the concept of the subject per se. Rather than, as Habermas would have it, a “total critique of modernity,” Foucault engages in an immanent “critique of critique”; he does not give us “an abstract negation of the self-referential subject,” but instead “interrogates its conditions of possibility. That interrogation is designed to show the historical and cultural specificity and, thus contingency of this conception of subjectivity, which in turn makes possible new modes of subjectification.”[5] In essence, Foucault performs an act of philosophical resistance via reverse discourse by simultaneously taking up and transforming Kantian categories and structures.  Or applying a jazz analogy, Foucault improvises on a Kantian lead sheet quoting Kantian melodies reharmonized in a postmodern key.


[1] The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory(New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 35.

[2] Ibid., 36.

[3] Ibid., 37.

[4] Ibid., 38.

[5] Ibid.

A Call for Guest Posts: Violence and Christian Holy Writ

The relation between violence and the Christian religion or the role of violence in Christianity is of course not a new problem. However, like other difficult, controversial, and incredibly important issues, it is often left unaddressed or given scant attention in Christian circles including Christian seminaries.  Thankfully, at least some modern and

Marc Chagall (Russian-born French painter, 1887-1985), “Abraham Slaying Isaac”
Marc Chagall (Russian-born French painter, 1887-1985), “Abraham Slaying Isaac”

postmodern theologians, philosophers, and other Christian thinkers—Frederick Douglass, Jung Mo Sung, James Cone, J. Kameron Carter, William T. Cavanaugh have engaged the subject of violence and its relation to and manifestations within the Christian tradition.  Because I personally find this issue difficult, important, and extremely relevant to our current (post)modern context, I have decided to host a series of guest posts on the topic.  My interest in this series, however, is somewhat narrowly focused in a biblical hermeneutical direction.  That is, in dialogue with other Christians via this guest post format, I want to have a conversation about what Scripture itself says, promotes, prohibits, permits or seems to say, promote, prohibit, permit about violence, majoring on those difficult passages dealing with genocide, slavery, and the like—all with a view to developing a Christian hermeneutical trajectory that would enable us to intelligently and compassionately engage contemporary issues.

I have listed below specific topics for engagement and hope to receive two to three submissions per topic presenting different and perhaps even opposing perspectives. I welcome Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant contributors, liberal as well as conservative. (Recently, a number of thoughtful non-Christians and atheists have written excellent works dealing with violence.  As a philosopher, I find these works incredibly valuable; however, for this series, I am looking for contributions exclusively from Christians, as I want the series to serve as a resource of sorts for Christians interested in this subject area and who also find it a challenge to their faith. If you would like to participate, please leave a comment with your name, institutional affiliation (if you have one), and a brief description of your proposal.  If you are selected to write a guest post, I will contact you via email and give you the details regarding the length, due date for the post, etc.  Generally speaking, the posts should be between 500–1500 words, with a strict maximum limit of 1500 words.

Specific Topics

  • How should a Christian community interpret the mass killings (genocide) commanded by God in the Old Testament (e.g. Joshua 6, 10, etc.)?  Should we read these allegorically, literally, or what?
  • How should a Christian community interpret passages in the Old Testament (e.g. Exodus and Leviticus) that at least appear to permit slavery?
  • How does a Christian community make sense out of seemingly opposed views on slavery (e.g. Philemon, and I Cor 7:23 verses 1 Peter) in the New Testament?
  • Does a Christian community’s theology of atonement make a difference as to  how it interprets the violent acts recorded in Scripture?  If so, how?
  • Given the relevance of Girard, a Girardian reading related to any of the above topics and which interacts with some particular Scripture passage is quite welcome.
    • If it is the case that Christianity breaks the cycle of sacrificial violence (at least in theory, historical praxis may be another story), how so?
    • From a more Catholic perspective, how ought we think of the Eucharistic “sacrifice” in dialogue with Girard’s insights?
    • What would Girard say to those holding a view of eternal (physical or psychological) punishment and torture of the “damned”?  If you are a creative type, a fictive dialogue between Dante and Girard would be ideal!

Part II: Frederick Douglass and Hegel’s Master/Slave Dialectic: The Un-Liberating Effect of Slave Labor

With a basic sketch of Hegel’s master/slave dialectic in place [see part I], I want to bring Douglass’s account into conversation with Hegel. After Douglass’s act of physical resistance or more strongly put, his act of violence, Covey never again physically abuses Douglass.  For Hegel, the master/slave relationship comes into existence when one person chooses to preserve his life rather than fight the other and risk his life. The one opting for life over death becomes the slave. Contra Hegel’s account of the docile slave who surrendered himself to his master’s will, Douglass confronts his master and is willing to risk his life in order to gain freedom. In his narrative, Douglass himself interprets the fight with Covey as a decisive moment in his struggle for freedom.Slaves Working in Fields

The battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave.  It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed self-confidence, and inspired me again with a determination to be free. The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full compensation for whatever else might follow, even death itself. He only can understand the deep satisfaction which I experienced, who has himself repelled by force the bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before.  It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom.  My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.  I did not hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me.[1]

According to Douglass, something beyond intellectual freedom—literacy and so-called “inner freedom”—was required for his “resurrection” from “the tomb of slavery,” his on-going social death experienced from sunrise to sunset. As an embodied, political being, Douglass’s experience of freedom was necessarily limited so long as Covey and the all-pervasive socio-political apparatus of chattel slavery had dominion over his body, controlling, monitoring, and defining his every spatio-temporal move. As I highlighted earlier, Douglass’s personal history including significant temporal markers and events—his birth date, the identity of his father, the death and burial of his mother—was erased, covered up, and controlled by the white other. When he resolved to stand up to Covey—an embodied representative of the larger socio-political racialized apparatus—Douglass began to re-write his own story and to forge his own historical and temporal markers.  His preface to the Covey episode indicates that he himself understood the fight as momentous, historic, and transformative. “The circumstances leading to the change in Mr. Covey’s course toward me form an epoch in my humble history. You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”[2] In short, Douglass’s re-narration of this event suggests that not only was some form of physical resistance or force needed for his own sense of freedom, but it was also needed so that Covey might recognize him as an other, as a human being with volitional and rational faculties capable of producing deliberate and purposeful acts of resistance.[3] The (white) panoptic gaze inscribed in his body through multiple lashes of the whip and forced inhumane labor, the gaze internalized through his brokenness and reduction to an animal-like state, was at last cast off, deflected, turned aside.  In Douglass’s words, “I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.”[4]

Frederick Douglass SpeakingMy final point with respect to the Hegel/Douglass dialogue is to highlight the fact that in Douglass’s narrative, the slave does not attain freedom or recognition of his humanity through his labor for the master. To the contrary, Douglass says that the excruciating labor regime and brutality he endured under Covey’s supervision tormented his body and soul and depressed his spirit. “My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!”[5] Rather than unveil over time the truth of his humanity, Douglass’s forced labor for the master’s sake, worked in a systematic and calculated way to extinguish—or at least attempt to extinguish—his higher capacities and thus to reduce him to an animal-like existence.[6] His work for Covey produced neither indifference to nor detachment from desire, but instead ignited and augmented a desire for freedom, a spatio-temporal existence defined and fashioned by his value as a (rational, volitional) human being and not by the economic value or any other benefits extracted from his subjugated body only to be handed over for the enjoyment of his master. Although on Douglass’s account acquiring skills through labor does not bring about a reversal in the master/slave relationship, he is quite cognizant of the way in which the master’s identity is (as Hegel claims) dialectically related to the slave’s. How so? Covey decides against turning Douglass in for a public whipping. Douglass’s explanation for Covey’s seemingly inexplicable decision is that his master’s reputation as a slave-breaker was on the line.  The master had failed to break the slave; consequently, for Covey to surrender Douglass to the civic authorities would be to admit his failure and to lose his highly valued reputation.


[1] Frederick Douglass: Autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave/My Bondage and My Freedom/Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr.  New York:  Library of America, 1994, 65.

[2] Ibid., 60.

[3] I personally have no desire to promote acts of violence; however, if we take Douglass’s account at face value, we must wrestle with his claims that violence was a necessary component to his freedom.

[4] Ibid., 65.

[5] Ibid., 58.

[6] In fact, Douglass describes his first six months of Covey’s work regime as one of the most difficult periods of his enslavement.  “If at any one time of my life more than another, I was made to drink the bitterest dregs of slavery, that time was during the first six months of my stay with Mr. Covey.  We were worked in all weathers. It was never too hot or too cold; it could never rain, blow, hail or snow, too hard for us to work in the field.  Work, work, work, was scarcely more the order of the day than of the night” (ibid.).