Jason Palmer's Reviews > Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
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's review
May 03, 2012

really liked it
Read in March, 2012

I had never read this book before. The image I had of it was a boring old collection of disconnected stories that had something vaguely to do with the very early abolitionist movement. I also had the idea that the author was practically illiterate and the prose barely intelligible. I don’t know where I got these ideas because this book is extremely entertaining as an epic story in its own right. I read the last 150 pages in one sitting; the plot just drove me forward. Even if this book wasn’t a cry of protest against slavery during a key moment in history, it would still be a dang good book. The characters are indelible and completely believable. As for the slavery aspect, everyone thinks they know what slavery was like and they’d rather not think more on it. I’ve read a bunch of books on it and it’s always mentioned in any history class. Huck Finn touches on it. The truth is that we only focus on certain aspects of slavery, the transportation and auction of the slaves, their working conditions, the floggings, Harriet Tubman, etc. This is really the first book I have read that focuses on the family rending aspect of slavery, and how that is truly the worst part of it. While reading this book, things occurred to me that had never occurred to me before. I had always kind of fallen into the common belief that great men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson can be somehow excused by history because they were products of their times. They were chronologically incapable of understanding that slavery was evil. Now I understand that is absolutely not the case. No matter how well they treated their slaves, and no matter how they tried to calm their consciences by freeing them in their wills, Thomas and George were truly evil men. There is no sugar coating it. Not to say that a man who leads a double life can’t do heroic things in the one half of his life, but that does not excuse the other half. These founding fathers were truly hypocritical in the worst possible sense of the word, and they knew it, and they deliberately chose to do nothing about it in the country and on their own property. Now I can understand why maybe, just maybe, they could be morally excused from thinking that time would eventually take slavery away and that , therefore, in the name of compromise slavery would be written into the constitution for a time with the hope that one day it would be changed. Ok, I’ll by that. However, that does in no way excuse them from not freeing their own slaves. Now here’s a funny thing. Recently a school district in Tucson has had to stop their ethnic studies program because, for one, they talked about the heroic prowess of a man named Ernesto Che Guevarra. This man was supposedly complicit in certain murderous acts verging on genocide, but the teachers ignored that and focused on his efforts to overthrow imperialistic regimes all over the world by helping the poor fight for themselves. They ignored the bad and taught the good, and they were censored because Che will always be considered a bad guy by imperialistic rich people (school board members and other republicans in Tucson). Well, here we have little old George Washington gracing our dollar bills and our schools and nobody even denies the fact that he was a slave owner. How can we have a known slave owner staring us in the face every time we open our wallets? Is it because we don’t think slavery was really all that bad? Is that why we don’t want to stop and think about how bad it was? You can keep liking George, but you absolutely cannot criticize me for keeping as my personal heroes Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro. Slave owner lover you.

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