According to the federal government, today is Washington’s Birthday. Forgive me for not being pleased about this. I do not think of Washington as a great man and I certainly don’t see him as the father of our country. He is the greatest symbol of the Federalist Party — an oligarchic group so repugnant to the wishes of the American people that it was effectively destroyed within a decade. Basically, he was a royalist. But we Americans love us some military heroes. We also love us some rich men. I question Washington’s position as a war hero, but there is no doubt that he was a rich man.
He was a rich man because he owned slaves — a lot of slaves. But I suppose I could live with him being simply a vile slave owner. I could even live with his hypocrisy. The man decided that slavery was wrong before the start of the Revolutionary War. But just a few years later, he was looking to sell his slaves. Not to be too explicit about it, but if you believe slavery is wrong, you don’t sell your slaves; you free them. But what really bothers me is the two centuries of apologetics for Washington’s support of slavery.
It isn’t hard to find slave owners who said privately that slavery was wrong. They all knew it was wrong. But they didn’t do anything about it. As a hugely popular president, good ol’ George kept true to the myth that he never told a lie: he never said a thing against slavery, because he didn’t care. It was all about commerce.
Clearly, we celebrate Washington’s Birthday because it is something we can all agree on. (Not me, obviously.) We can’t celebrate Lincoln’s birthday anymore, given how many Americans think he was evil for taking away the South’s God given right to enslave people and beat them almost to death. That’s almost to death, people! Remember Exodus 21:20, “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.” I’m sure if you ask Justice Roy Moore, he’ll tell you that the Civil War would have been acceptable if it had been regarding God’s “slave death by rod” law. Otherwise, Lincoln is controversial 150 years after his death.
But maybe it is right that that we celebrate Washington’s Birthday. I mean, we could celebrate Thomas Paine’s birthday, but that would be a sham. The ideals that Paine stood for — freedom, individual rights, human dignity — are not things that the United States stands for. Slavery, human oppression, and the rights of rich — these are what the modern United States stands for. But I think we could use a better name for the holiday. For one thing, Washington was born on 22 February 1732. So it isn’t actually his birthday. A much better name for the holiday would Oligarchs’ Day. That was what Washington stood for. I’m sure he would be in favor of it.