A speech from 180 years ago, Still relevant today

[source: http://alecstapp.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/thomas-babington-macaulays-speech-to-the-house-of-commons-on-jewish-emancipation-april-17th-1833/]

I love this speech for what it says about how human nature hasn’t changed in 180 years. The particulars of who is being discriminated against and which precise rights they are denied in what jurisdiction change. But I do not understand how someone who reads these words can’t be touched by the empathy and love for humanity contained therein. Hats off to Thomas Babington Macaulay.

… The plain truth is that my honourable friend is drawn in one direction by his opinions, and in a directly opposite direction by his excellent heart. He halts between two opinions. He tries to make a compromise between principles which admit of no compromise. He goes a certain way in intolerance. Then he stops, without being able to give a reason for stopping. But I know the reason. It is his humanity. Those who formerly dragged the Jew at a horse‚Äôs tail, and singed his beard with blazing furzebushes, were much worse men than my honourable friend; but they were more consistent than he.

The honourable Member for Oldham tells us that the Jews are naturally a mean race, a sordid race, a money-getting race; that they are averse to all honourable callings; that they neither sow nor reap; that they have neither flocks nor herds; that usury is the only pursuit for which they are fit; that they are destitute of all elevated and amiable sentiments. Such, Sir, has in every age been the reasoning of bigots. They never fail to plead in justification of persecution the vices which persecution has engendered. England has been to the Jews less than half a country; and we revile them because they do not feel for England more than a half patriotism. We treat them as slaves, and wonder that they do not regard us as brethren. We drive them to mean occupations, and then reproach them for not embracing honourable professions. We long forbade them to possess land; and we complain that they chiefly occupy themselves in trade. We shut them out from all the paths of ambition; and then we despise them for taking refuge in avarice.

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