I will begin my comments this very, very serious topic with a somewhat light-hearted aside. I am that rare type of person that actually enjoys certain uncomfortably awkward social situations. Don't get me wrong...I don't try bringing them about. It's just that some other damn fool invariably does and when it happens I actually welcome it, for a couple reasons. First, there's the very funny aspect of watching ignorant people stutter and spit while other less brash, but no less ignorant people, shift from foot to foot uncomfortably and stare off into space yearning for immediate deliverance from the here and now. And there's the emotional catharsis of "educating" on some fool that is just mindlessly regurgitating the talking points meant to reinforce their own lack of historical perspective.
Speaking of which, one of the most insidious and downright amusing-in-a-perverse-sort-of way talking points are those that deal with the topic of Slavery in America. These, I believe, are being cooked up by the modern day equivalent of plantation owners and their enormous PR machine that consists of an army of intellectual charlatans to do their bidding on the propaganda circuit. Well recently one of these charlatans, a movie critic turned culture warrior (only in America!!), decided to join the long list of right-wing nutcases that have expounded on the "Slavery Wasn't so Bad, Actually" meme that resonates so strongly with most white people benefitting from a socio-economic lansdcape descended directly from the plantation Big House. I will not even name the author because he deserves no special recognition, being one of the more unremarkable of the wingnut hired mouthpieces (maybe making a name on the freak show parade was one of the motives here). It's highly doubtful that he, as a supposedly educated person, even believes what he writes. So let's go down the list of the author's six "inconvenient truths" of slavery and see just how truthful they are. Why bother? Because this is the internet and we (still) have the opportunity.
1. SLAVERY WAS AN ANCIENT AND UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION, NOT A DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN INNOVATION.
OOOOhhhhh. Good call. "But Mom, everyone else was doing it!". How far did that justification get you, when you were a 5 YEAR OLD? I could see how this argument would play well with the spoiled ass young Republicans that it was meant for, though.
2. SLAVERY EXISTED ONLY BRIEFLY, AND IN LIMITED LOCALES, IN THE HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC – INVOLVING ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THE ANCESTORS OF TODAY’S AMERICANS.
It existed almost 200 years before The Republic was even declared, after which African slaves were denoted as 3/5ths of a person for another 89 years. The tiny percentage is misleading on a number of counts. Number one slave owners were rather small segment of the population to begin with. Number two, it involved a large percentage of the ancestors of Black people and one of the reasons for this is that, number three, the slave owning men sired quite a few black children. In fact, this can be traced through modern methods, and the thought of a lot of lilly-white trust funds being called into question on those grounds is a very scary thought indeed for some folks!
3. THOUGH BRUTAL, SLAVERY WASN’T GENOCIDAL: LIVE SLAVES WERE VALUABLE BUT DEAD CAPTIVES BROUGHT NO PROFIT.
Oh my favorite one, the old "My Holocaust was Bigger Than Yours" argument. He even does the Auschwitz comparison. Just because slaves were murdered for being sick, just because slaves were murdered for wanting to be free, just because slaves were murdered just because, this doesn't mean that all of them were MEANT to be murdered. They were really just meant to be WORKED TO DEATH. But the underlying theme is more along the lines of "the profit motive is your friend, even if you are a lowly slave". Meanwhile, people are still dying in this country because of profit-driven health care. Not to mention those in Africa consigned to death by the Big Pharma patent obsession. But I digress...
4. IT’S NOT TRUE THAT THE U.S. BECAME A WEALTHY NATION THROUGH THE ABUSE OF SLAVE LABOR: THE MOST PROSPEROUS STATES IN THE COUNTRY WERE THOSE THAT FIRST FREED THEIR SLAVES.
All this says is that Northern manufacturing was more profitable than the Southern agriculture. That's not to say that temendous wealth was not built on the backs of slaves working the plantations. The author also neglects to mention that Northern wealth was built on the backs of immigrants and children in factory sweatshops. Even so, if given the choice, I'd take the sweatshop over the plantation experience any day, tyvm. I bet the author would, too.
5. AMERICA DESERVES NO UNIQUE BLAME FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SLAVERY, THE UNITED STATES MERITS SPECIAL CREDIT FOR ITS RAPID ABOLITION.
It took 89 years and about the bloodiest civil war any country has ever fought to get rid of it. It was then replaced with a system almost as brutal that lasted another 100 years. And all the while there were people justifying slavery by saying it was God's will as expressed in the Bible. Of course there is little doubt that if slavery were still around the author would be listing the six "inconvenient truths" about "why slavery ISN'T that bad" instead of why it WASN'T that bad.
6. THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT TODAY’S AFRICAN-AMERICANS WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF THEIR ANCESTORS HAD REMAINED BEHIND IN AFRICA.
There's also no reason to believe that if Europeans had not continued to exploit the people and resources of Africa to this very day that large segments of Africa would not have the turmoil and misery they have had. But getting beyond that often overlooked truth, this statement is like saying that "hey, at least the Jews that were murdered by the Nazis in Europe didn't have to go to Israel and worry about being attacked by Palestinians".
OK I'm done. Now after having gone through all that trouble...I am beginning to think that the whole point of the drivel cascading from the right-wing parade of assclowns is to have forward thinking people waste their time and energy debating and debunking obvious bullshit. They are no more than internet trolls. Unfortunately, they are too well funded to be ignored.