"And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, [Moses' mother] take this child away, and nurse it for me and I will pay thee thy wages. And the woman took the child [Moses] and nursed it."And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said because I drew him out of the water."
The typical use that David Walker's words would be put to, today, is to use his attempt to shame Christians to act as the words of the Gospel command them to do to discredit the very arguments he was making. To expropriate his weapons against slavery for ends he never intended. Walker was calling on slave holders to do justice, equally and impartially to treat those they held in slavery as they would have themselves treated, using the Exodus narrative to point out the especially barbaric nature of American slavery. To reduce his criticism of Christians who were not acting according to the teachings of Jesus into a weapon to attack Christianity would be to negate his attack on slavery.
I used to have an irrational and unfounded faith that the good things that happened in history, especially such rare hard things as the formal abolition of slavery, just, somehow happened and that, as Jurgen Habermas implied, they can happen without regard for the particular means by which they happened in history, in the places those happened. That was a faith founded merely on a generalized sense of fairness - the idea that it could have happened anywhere if it occurred to the people, since we are all equal and a superficial knowledge of how the anti-slavery struggle happened. But reading more of the primary material left by those who struggled and, against enormous interests, habits and even such scientific thinking as Jefferson was considered to practice, I think that the sources of their inspiration and, especially, what fueled their resolve to make the enormous sacrifice and effort cannot be pushed aside to make up some generalized assertion that those are unimportant.
I have, a number of times, pointed to the counter document to this one and all of the others I've been presenting this month, the 1865 essay written just as the forces of reaction against emancipation were gathering, by the eminent scientist and Charles Darwin's right hand man and enforcer, Thomas Huxley, in which he asserts, on the basis of natural selection, that abolition would deprive slaves of the protection of those with a financial interest in them and in a modern struggle for existence, based on brain power, they were doomed. That argument was not a one-off, it became commonly believed in science through those promoting natural selection and its entirely accepted logical conclusion, eugenics, which early became and remained mainstream science. The eugenics campaigns had some of their greatest successes in ending the lines of members of racial minorities, even, as I've documented, in such places as Vermont, places which, now, are entirely unaware of what was done there in the name of science, modernism and even with the pose of scientific humanism, and that it continues far after that. I think the idea that we have outgrown the arguments that were effective in forcing legal equality in even the limited way that abolition turned out to be is grotesquely premature and uninformed. When science can reestablish the worst of racism as it did in the late 19th and 20th centuries, when, even in the post war period, such eminent, post-Nazi era scientists as Francis Crick could campaign for legally enforced racism, calling for inequality in fact and action, we're not safe from that kind of thing.
Note: I'm considering extending my series about eugenics into the post-war period but it's going to be a major effort and as still living people will be named it's a bit more complex than dealing with those who are safely dead and beyond legal threatening. Reading Crick going on in letters about how reading Karl Pearson on Francis Galton was inspirational to him, in the 1970s, as he was advocating scientific racism and being lauded as a great humanist is pretty scary. Racism, inequality, is not in the past, it just changed its vocabulary and forms.