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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: What would Douglass say?

I was pleased by the recent dedication of the Frederick Douglass statue in the U.S. Capitol. It's an honorable commemoration of a man who is steadily re-emerging as an American icon. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who spoke at the unveiling, was content to invoke Douglass' name in favor of D.C. statehood. The lack of attention to the black Republican's actual political philosophy was telling, however.

For instance, read one of Douglass' most famous statements: "Everybody has asked the question 'What shall we do with the Negro?' I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!"

There is no historic quote more clearly damning of our modern dogma of "affirmative action" through destructive racial quotas and of the more timeless, encompassing dogma of dependence on big government in all its wisdom and good will. Mr. Biden and his colleagues, however, have spent their careers perpetuating both. Given how we treat our original ideals and documents, it's clear what the Founding Fathers — to whom Douglass was a great successor — would think of our nation now. But can we really continue to claim reverence for history's great men when our very own past testifies against our present?

DANE SKORUP

Sandwich, Ill.

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