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Eunuchs Have A Long History In Government—Though Jackson Is Wrong To Suggest It For Obama


The Reverend Jesse Jackson has suggested in the past few days that Senator Barack Obama be castrated.

While I’ve written that I’m standing by Reverend Jackson in the broader sense, I oppose this specific suggestion.

I will say though that eunuchs have long played a role in government. In his classic three-volume work entitled The History of Government From Earliest Times, the late political scientist S.E. Finer made many references to eunuchs. 

( Above is 18th-century eunuch in some type of eunuch robe.)  

I count a total of 14 eunuch references in the index to the three volumes. They served in Rome, China, Persia and in other places.

From Finer—….Eunuchs, wherever we find them–in the late Roman and the Byzantine empires, in the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire, and in Imperial China—are humble menials, but some, more educated and talented then the rest rise to positions of influence….The Assyrian monarchs may have employed eunuchs extensively….If Herodotus is to be believed…Babylonia and Assyria had to supply the court with 500 boy-eunuchs a year….At first the ones mentioned by name are confidential emissaries, but from the time of Artaxerxes I the eunuchs appear in highly influential positions.

Why and how eunuchs could attain such importance is explained by Xenophon…”They are not made any less efficient horsemen…or less ambitious men…rather the contrary, and even if physically weaker ( which he doubts), steel makes the weak equal to the strong.”

Finer continues–“Men would put children, wives, and sweethearts first–Not so the eunuchs, whose chief affection would go to those who could make them rich, protect them, and give them high office. Furthermore, eunuchs were despised by the rest of mankind, hence they were dependant on a patron for protection.”  

Of course, it is also true that slaves throughout history were sometimes punished with castration.

Bottom line—While eunuchs have often held great power, they have not generally reached the top spot. Also, most eunuchs have been slaves or servants of one kind or another. If Reverend Jackson is angry at Senator Obama, I feel that some other expression of that anger would be more appropriate.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Sticking By Jesse Jackson

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, the senator from Chicago, has accepted the apology of the Rev. Jesse Jackson for crude comments he made about Obama when he thought a television station microphone was not on. Here, Jackson holds up an Obama campaign sign on Super Tuesday primary night at Obama's party on Feb. 5 in Chicago.

Jesse Jackson made some intemperate remarks about Barack Obama recently. Reverend Jackson made these comments in front of an open microphone.

Jesse Jackson has been out there for a lot of people over the years. He’s had his act on the road for 40 years now. I say that admiringly. Reverend Jackson has no real institutional base, yet he keeps going.

The great A. Phillip Randolph ran the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters for many years. He could pick his spots. He knew he had a gig waiting for him at the end of the day. Martin Luther King was dead at 39. But Jesse has had to be out there slugging it out.

Reverend Jackson may not be Mr. Randolph or Rev. King, but he presses ahead.

( Please click here for the best Martin Luther King reading list on the web.)

People forget how groundbreaking Rev. Jackson’s Presidential campaigns were in 1984 and 1988. He won a lot of votes and earned the right to go all the way to party convention in both years.

And the fact is there were elements of truth to what he was saying about Mr. Obama’s campaign. Senator Obama needs to focus on misdeeds by all people.

In 1988, I cast my first vote for President for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primary. He’s part of the reason I’ll be voting for a black man in 2008 in the general election.

I’m sticking by Jesse Jackson.

(Please click here to read about the history of eunuchs in government.)

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments