Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Putting slavery in perspective

It may just be my imagination, but it sometimes seems like many on the Left absolutely love to use slavery as a big club to show how evil America is. Michael Medved answers these guilt-mongers with an article entitled, Six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery. Slavery was certainly a horrible evil and Mr. Medved in no way wishes to justify it, but he does an excellent job of putting it in perspective. Some excerpts appear below but please take the time to read his entire article.
“…at least 97% of all African men, women and children who were kidnapped, sold,
and taken from their homes, were sent somewhere other than the British colonies
of North America. In this context there is no historical basis to claim that the
United States bears primary, or even prominent guilt for the depredations of
centuries of African slavery.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution put a formal end to the institution of slavery 89 years after the birth of the Republic; 142 years have passed since this welcome emancipation.

Moreover, the importation of slaves came to an end in 1808 (as provided by the
Constitution), a mere 32 years after independence, and slavery had been outlawed
in most states decades before the Civil War. Even in the South, more than 80% of
the white population never owned slaves. Given the fact that the majority of
today’s non-black Americans descend from immigrants who arrived in this country
after the War Between the States, only a tiny percentage of today’s white
citizens – perhaps as few as 5% -- bear any authentic sort of generational guilt
for the exploitation of slave labor.

In the course of scarcely more than a century following the emergence of the American Republic, men of conscience, principle and unflagging energy succeeded in abolishing slavery not just in the New World but in all nations of the West…This worldwide mass movement (spear-headed in Britain and elsewhere by fervent Evangelical Christians) brought about the most rapid and fundamental transformation in all human history. While the United States (and the British colonies that preceded our independence) played no prominent role in creating the institution of slavery, or even in establishing the long-standing African slave trade pioneered by Arab, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and other merchants long before the
settlement of English North America, Americans did contribute mightily to the
spectacularly successful anti-slavery agitation. As early as 1646, the Puritan
founders of New England expressed their revulsion at the enslavement of their
fellow children of God”

6 comments:

professor ed said...

Interestin information. Thank you Dennis for posting it. Another aspect of slavery in the US, purposly overlooked by some, was that some slaveowners were Black! See, for example, Black Slaveowners: free black slave masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860, by Larry Koger. Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1995.

Dennis said...

Interesting. Thanks. I have never heard that.

Robert said...

How do you guys feel about the argument that some got very rich off the backs of enslaved blacks and that their families have benefited tremendously since then? Those blacks who came out of slavery dirt poor have (as a result) suffered generational poverty.

I'm not saying I agree with the above statements, but it is worth considering. What do you believe is the best remedy to this sort of generational poverty?

Dennis said...

Robert. I think Michael Medved addresses that question in his article. He challenges its truthfulness (see #4). I'll have to take his word for it since I don't know enough about it to evaluate it.

Regarding the remedy: We've had 30 or 40 years of affirmative action . I think that should have been a pretty big remedy but affirmative action--while probably necessry and a good thing for awhile--is discrimination against white people. On just about every application I've ever filled out, it was made clear to me that if there were any non-white people or women who were as qualified, I didn't have chance of getting that job.

Maybe that's as it should be. Our country neeeded to address the issues caused by slavery and the discrimination against blacks that followed (although I have never discriminated against someone because of their skin color).

But I think our government should have made clear that affirmative action was a temporary evil to rectify a much worse evil, but that it cannot continue forever.

My children and grand children should not have to continue to pay for something that happened long before they were born.

Even today, I think we need to set a limit and say that affirmative action can continue for just so long, but after that time it must stop.

Jon Swift said...

I'm glad someone is finally writing about the good side of slavery. I can't wait for his piece putting the Holocaust in perspective.

Robert said...

Jon,

Do you always just "seagull" blogs, or do you occassionally participate too? Just curious.