Posted by: Kevin | September 28, 2007

The Stupid! It Burns!

Michael Medved, of Townhall.com, is trying to put a happy face on American slavery with his “Six Inconvenient Truths about the US and slavery”.  Read it at your own risk.  The stupid is so potent, it can actually damage your computer screen.  Mr. Medved trots out some old standards for slavery/racism apologists, so don’t expect any new thinking.  It’s the same racist crap argued in the sixties except he deleted the word nigger.

So what are his “inconvenient truths”?

1. SLAVERY WAS AN ANCIENT AND UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION, NOT A DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN INNOVATION.

Americans didn’t invent slavery?!?  No shit Sherlock.  What we did was perfect it and make it more profitable than ever before.  The whole argument of “some one else did it first” is infantile.  We are supposed to be progressing as a society not regressing.  That fact that someone else committed the atrocity in the past doesn’t mitigate our own offense.

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

This point is complete bullshit from start to finish.  African slavery was first introduced in 1670 in South Carolina.  That means that slavery existed in the US for 195 years, not the 89 years Medved sites in his article.  Furthermore, slavery existed in every colony at one point or another.  The first colony to legalize it was Massachusetts, where the transportation of slaves and rum help spur its shipping industry.

3. THOUGH BRUTAL, SLAVERY WASN’T GENOCIDAL: LIVE SLAVES WERE VALUABLE BUT DEAD CAPTIVES BROUGHT NO PROFIT.

Are.  You.  Fucking. Shitting me!?!  It wasn’t so bad because slavers lost out too when slaves died in the middle passage.  That makes it somehow less monstrous?  Furthermore, the slaves on those voyages were insured.  Meaning slavers could actually seek compensation for the slaves lost during the middle passage.

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.

There are many sources of wealth in the US but to argue that slavery didn’t help jumpstart the industries of the North is willful blindness.  One of the first wealth engines in the colonies was the triangular trade route between Africa, the West Indies and New England.  Colonial ships would leave New England loaded with rum and other products.  These would be traded in Africa for slaves.  The slaves would be traded in the West Indies for Molasses.  The slaves could also be unloaded in the South for Cotton and other crops.  The Molasses was brought back to New England where it could be processed into rum.  The traders made a profit at every stop in the chain.

5. WHILE AMERICA DESERVES NO UNIQUE BLAME FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SLAVERY, THE UNITED STATES MERITS SPECIAL CREDIT FOR ITS RAPID ABOLITION.

Except for the part where we weren’t on the forefront of the abolition movement.  We were in fact conspicuously behind most European nations.  We also had to fight a 4 year war that led to ~800K deaths before successfully abolishing slavery in the US.  Other than that we were so on top of the abolition movement.

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 is no reason to believe that Africa wouldn’t have been better off if the slave trade and colonialism hadn’t destabilized so much of it.  One fact that seems lost to history is that some of the richest kingdoms in the world prior to the 1500s were African.  

I’m not one to believe we should spend all of our time apoligizing for past sins and I don’t beleive we should be paying reparations.  But the arguement that we shouldn’t feel ashamed for this very dark chapter in America’s history is completely wrong.  We as a nation did this.  We as a nation profited from slavery.  We as a nation need to accept our own capacity for evil if we ever want to be looked upon as a source of moral leadership in the world. 

Via Memorandom

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