On Sunday I pointed out Victor Davis Hanson’s Washington Times column on historical amnesia and noted that in addition to the history we don’t learn we (especially our kids) are also the victim of history that isn’t so. John McCaslin’s May 10 Washington Times column coincidentally provides a perfect example of the latter point:
In promoting democracy in her travels around the world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice doesn’t hesitate to share her personal roots with audiences.
Most recently, the Community of Democracies held its third meeting of foreign ministers in Santiago, Chile, discussing how democratic nations can better promote democracy around the globe.
“Democratization,” Rice told the foreign ministers, is “not an event, it is a process. It takes many years, even decades to realize the full promise of democratic reform.
“For nearly a century after the founding of the United States, millions of black Americans like me were still condemned to the status below that of full citizenship,” the secretary said. “When the Founding Fathers of America said ‘We the People,’ they did not mean me; many of my ancestors were thought to be only three-fifths of a man.”
Said Rice: “It is only within my lifetime that the United States has begun to guarantee the right to vote for all of our citizens.”
Secretary Rice’s point about the “three-fifths” clause of the Constitution is a frequently repeated canard. The constitutional provision reduced slaves from counting in full for the purpose of allocating congressional representation. As Thomas West explains:
[T]he Constitution allowed Southern States to count three-fifths of their slaves toward the population that would determine numbers of representatives in the federal legislature. This clause is often singled out today as a sign of black dehumanization: they are only three-fifths human. But the provision applied to slaves, not blacks. That meant that free blacks-