Wednesday, March 12, 2014

EVERYONE Wants To Be A Slave!

Several days ago, at Novi Middle School in Detroit Michigan, a teacher asked his students “Which would you rather be: A slave or a factory worker during the Industrial Revolution?” Most of them? A slave.
The majority of the class felt that they would rather be a slave than to be a factory worker. And she was just extremely confused by that, knowing what slaves went through, she couldn’t understand why anyone would choose that,” James said. “The rationale by those students to choose slaves was that they had free housing, they had free food and they had free protection. But the argument that she and I put forth was that those things were not free.”
Now, these kids are 8 years old--but I'm thinking that maybe this says something about trends in our society--the values they're growing up with. Right? I mean--that whole Obama bought votes with phones thing is just an oversimplification of the actual promise Democrats make to their constituency of minority voters.

After all, Steve Matthews, the School District Superintendent said the essay was based on a Michigan Content Expectation that 8th graders should be able to explain the differences in the lives of free blacks and those of free whites. As such, the teacher won't be disciplined--although they'll review the question. It maybe wasn't the best way to ask that, was it?

If you nodded at any of the above (save for the fact about the Content Expectation) you're a sucker.

The above? It's bullshit. And I'd take a way closer look at that teacher if I were running that school.

12 Years A Slave
The American Spectator, a respected conservative monthly, recently posted a review of 12 Years A Slave.
Our awareness of Mr. McQueen’s frankly stated political agenda cannot but affect our view of the supposed history that is supposedly repeating itself and may even cast doubt backwards on that history itself. If ever in slavery’s 250-year history in North America there were a kind master or a contented slave, as in the nature of things there must have been, here and there, we may be sure that Mr McQueen does not want us to hear about it. 
They don’t care that such a cartoonishly simple-minded view of the vast and fascinating sweep of the past cuts them off from learning anything from it that they don’t already know — just as it cuts off the movie audience, assumed to harbor similar prejudices themselves, from any acquaintance with historical “reality” not pre-certified as politically correct.
I got racist bingo. Let me make this guy's position very clear: writing in a significant conservative print publication this guy, presumably of the Party of Lincoln, is attacking an autobiographical account of slavery because it does not show 'both sides of the story.' That's like saying Schindler's List needed some money-grubbing Jews or something--you know, to show the Nazi side. Or, I don't know, laud some Nazi scientists for their innovations in aerospace technology?

This is literally breathtaking. While The Omnivore presumes that anything published on the web in this day and age is simply click-bait he cannot fathom the editorial malpractice that allowed this to run in a mainstream Republican publication*.

If you are wondering what these things, the American Spectator's review and the school teacher's assignment, have to do with each other, let me give you two more pieces of the puzzle. Most people in the American Spectator's comments sections are rightly appalled by the review--but every once in a while someone steps in to defend the institution of slavery.

The truth is that most Blacks were no more discontent with their lot in life than other people in the labouring class, and were probably happier than most Northern factory workers.
The same poster later pops back in to state that "Yes, there were contented slaves, that is why there were no revolts by the slaves during the War Between the States."

Maybe you learned about that as the 'Civil War' in your American History class.

Back To Mr. Anonymous School Teacher
Here's the other piece of the puzzle. From the school teacher article:
The essay was assigned to be completed in class, and the teacher stated that he did not want any parental involvement.
Tell me you're shocked. The reason he didn't want any parental involvement is because an older, savvier parent might recognize this:
The Hireling And The Slave (William Grayson 1855)
"The Hireling"
Free but in name -- the slaves of endless toil...
In squalid hut -- a kennel for the poor,

Or noisome cellar, stretched upon the floor,
His clothing rags, of filthy straw his bed,
With offal from the gutter daily fed...
These are the miseries, such the wants, the cares,
The bliss that freedom for the serf prepares...
"The Slave"
Taught by the master's efforts, by his care
Fed, clothed, protected many a patient year,

From trivial numbers now to millions grown,
With all the white man's useful arts their own,
Industrious, docile, skilled in wood and field,
To guide the plow, the sturdy axe to wield...
Guarded from want, from beggary secure,
He never feels what hireling crowds endure,
Nor knows, like them, in hopeless want to crave,
For wife and child,
the comforts of the slave,
Or the sad thought that, when about to die,
He leaves them to the cold world's charity...
Uh-huh. This poem, a lengthy lauding of slavery, goes on for like 1500 more lines and while it was totes popular before the Civil War in the south  (that's the War of Northern Aggression, y'all) it was deemed interminably dull by modern critics and doesn't exactly show up a lot anymore.

Because we've concluded that slavery is evil.

At least most of us have.

Sympathy For The Slavers
I'd definitely want to have words with that teacher because from where I'm sitting it looks to me like this guy is well steeped in a pretty obscure vein of dialog that seeks to defend the institution of slavery. For example? Were white North Americans slavers? Why of course not (from the Spectator comments):
Hello. Nobody in North America enslaved anyone. Slaves were captured, by other blacks, in tribal warfare and raids in Africa, then sold to Arabs or Europeans on the coasts. Americans were guilty of holding slaves.
The stupidity of the above is pretty astonishing (never mind that it's trying for some 'technicality' that is an outright lie--but that the movie review the comment appears under has two very white guys enslaving a free man).

The point of the above isn't that it's dumb--it's that it's philosophy. The New Slavery is being defended (usually out of public sight) by a framework of 'logic' and 'history' that tries to morally separate the taking of slaves from the trafficking in them--that proposes a Disenyfied view of the South without acknowledging that it was written by the guys trying to rationalize their behavior.

In 200 years these guys are going to use Hogan's Heroes to try to prove the Nazis were mostly okay guys.

How come?

Why would anyone--much less the party that fought a freakin' war against slavery--want to defend this practice to any degree? Is it because they're telling the-truth-as-they-see-it? That is? Are they looking at the great mosaic of history and seeing politically correct historians with their thumbs on the scales ... and these hard guys committed to hard truths--they just can't let that stand?

Even if a truth is unpopular ... they gotta let the light shine in.

Is that it?


I lied to you above: I said I couldn't fathom how a Republican publication could print this. That was ... a lie. Actually, I can: it's pretty damn obvious. After 2012 there was a school of thought that said "We've gotta re-brand this thing" ... and there was the school that said "White guys are still a majority. Double down."

The party has gone with Plan B--and it'll work. That review of 12 Years A Slave? That's branding for Plan B. That's what it looks like--it tells the reader that any internal discomfort they felt with the movie was because the movie was wrong. That's why some news outlets highlight black-on-white crime: it tells people their gut reactions on the street are okay. That's why George Zimmerman's isn't just a defendant--but a hero. He's the icon--he's the brand.

Now you know. Now you know what it looks like if you didn't already.

* Why it's like the NRO suddenly realizing they'd better get rid of John Derbyshire (the link is to The Blaze ... read the comments)

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