I came across an interesting argument on Medium as to why many people do not really believe Black Lives Matter. It offers a test of sorts and asks the question
If tens of thousands of enslaved Black persons in the colonies of what became the United States — or the country itself, after its founding — had killed their enslavers in their sleep in a mass purge against the system of enslavement, would they have been morally justified in doing so?
I do not like hypotheticals. These kind of questions leave out a lot. My first thought was, “Yes, they are justified.” If this had happened it would have made for a more interesting history. Two seconds later I had to overthink this.
I have questions about this scenario, plus two wrongs don’t make a right and all that. This is why i hate hypotheticals.
Are these slaves going to be hunted and killed by slave catchers? Are they going to be lynched for such an insurrection?
If the answer is “yes”, as history says happened in these cases, I would have to argue that they are throwing their lives away and there would be a lot of unnecessary death.
That raises another question. Is it better to die for your freedom, and thus not securing freedom, or die a slave? I understand both sides of this argument. It’s a philosophical one with no “right” answer. It also comes down to asking someone to choose how they die. That is a right we should have, but we don’t. We euthanize pets who are suffering but we don’t do that for people. Often people are kept on life saving equipment prolonging their life when they are just going to die anyway. Doctors are tried for murder in cases of assisted suicide. It comes down to quality of life versus quantity of life.
Spock of Star Trek told us “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” There was defiantly more enslaved than there were slave masters. Slavery was wrong and slave masters horrible people. However, I’m not sure their death was an answer. I am all for going back in time and reversing the roles where slave masters could experience the same life as those they enslaved. To me, it is more fitting.
If everyone, the enslaved and the slave master, are going to die in the end, what is the point? That is at least half a million deaths at the height of slavery, around the same number of people who have died from Covid-19.
Half a million deaths is still half a million deaths no matter the cause or what populations are involved. I can’t condone half a million deaths, hypothetical or not.
When you think about any hypothetical question for more than a minute it is never a black and white issue. They normally fall into moral grey area because there is no way to know what the outcome of your choice will be, and that outcome really needs considered. We wouldn’t make and major decision without weighing the pros and cons and yet, according to the author of this Medium article, if we answer anything but “yes”, we really do not think that Black lives matter as much as White lives. I’m not sure that is fair. History is just that, history. We can’t change it and debating hypotheticals gets us nowhere. All we can do is learn from history and strive to be better people than those who came before us.