Letter: Ideal politician

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The Independent Online
Sir: Put away Marx and read Jefferson, as David Walker suggests ('Some tips from Mr Jefferson', 17 December). But let's read him in depth. The 'prophet of liberty and equality' did have 'visceral feelings' about the slaves he owned. The feelings were those of utter detestation for an institution that corrupted master and slave. It must end. But he knew also that there was no freedom without economic independence.

Unemployed 'free' blacks in a white society would be the victims of racial prejudice. He therefore advocated policies of economic and political self-sufficiency for black people in America which have some affinities with the arguments of Malcolm X. David Walker is right that Jefferson is full of paradoxes. One of the most remarkable is that this passionate idealist was also a hard-headed politician.

Yours faithfully

MALCOLM KELSALL

School of English Studies

University of Wales

Cardiff

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