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There shall be no neutrals

The ongoing PBS series The American Experience has been praised as “the finest documentary series on television,” and The Abolitionists, broadcast last night, is possibly the finest episode I have ever seen. Behold William Lloyd Garrison, American hero. At the time that he wrote these words in 1831, introducing the first issue of The Liberator, he was virtually alone as a white ally:

There shall be no neutrals. Men shall either like, or dislike me. Let Southern oppressors tremble. Let their Northern apologists tremble. Let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble. On the subject of slavery, I do not wish to write with moderation. I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch, and I WILL BE HEARD.

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