Thursday, October 04, 2007

Slave to the idiocy

The right, horrible shits that they are, like to whine that we leftists hate them because we are just full of hate, always in search of somebody to lay it on. But we don't. We hate them because they think like this.

Other commentators have belted the shit out of Medved, but I don't see why I should miss out, so I'm going to take a few of his "points" and get all riled up.

Those who want to discredit the United States and to deny our role as history’s most powerful and pre-eminent force for freedom, goodness and human dignity


Hello, I think he's talking about me.

invariably focus on America’s bloody past as a slave-holding nation.


Well, that and such beacons of human dignity as Gitmo, the School of the Americas, and your judicial system (you, Iran and China all a-murdering your crims together, hey ho); and look at your bringing freedom to Chile ('71), Iran ('53), Iraq (2003), Vietnam (fl. '65) etc etc etfuckingc.

Along with the displacement and mistreatment of Native Americans


And murder, you forgot to mention.

Now, if we had doubts that Medved was a horrible revisionist, his choice of words would dispel them.

European settlers appropriated native American land and murdered the natives in large numbers. They were "displaced" at gunpoint, and "mistreated" by being dispossessed and murdered.

the enslavement of literally millions of Africans counts as one of our two founding crimes


Well, it's not a plus, Mike.

—and an obvious rebuttal to any claims that this Republic truly represents “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


It's not a rebuttal of that so much as a suggestion that the word "free" should be followed by "white men" and "home" preceded by "former".

According to America-bashers at home and abroad, open-minded students of our history ought to feel more guilt than pride


I don't think it's necessarily "America-bashing" to suggest you shouldn't feel proud of slavery, but Medved, as we'll see, disagrees. He's damned proud of it.

and strive for “reparations” or other restitution to overcome the nation’s uniquely cruel, racist and rapacious legacy.


I don't think anyone, America-basher or otherwise, suggests that there's anything "unique" about America's racism or rapaciousness. Although we do admire how much of both you'll indulge.

Unfortunately, the current mania for exaggerating America’s culpability for the horrors of slavery


How can American culpability be "exaggerated"? It wasn't the slaves' fault! What Medved means to say is not that American guilt has been exaggerated, but how much guilt it should feel. In his view, not much.

bears no more connection to reality than the old, discredited tendency to deny that the U.S. bore any blame at all. No, it’s not true that the “peculiar institution” featured kind-hearted, paternalistic masters and happy, dancing field-hands


No? Really?

any more than it’s true that America displayed unparalleled barbarity or enjoyed disproportionate benefit from kidnapping and exploiting innocent Africans.


Erm. "Disproportionate benefit"? Well, who the fuck else benefited? The economy of west Africa was destroyed by slavery, along with its society and culture. So it didn't benefit all that much. So who does Medved think did? The slaves?

An honest and balanced understanding of the position of slavery in the American experience requires


someone other than Michael Medved to write it, of course, but tell me, Mike, what do you think, it requires?

a serious attempt to place the institution in historical context and to clear-away some of the common myths and distortions.


Some revisionism!

Well, bring it. whic Caps are all Mike's.

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


Change the word "slavery" to "sack" and I think you're getting where Mike has gone astray here.

Everyone else did it is not actually a moral defence. Rightards don't really grasp this. They enjoy a form of moral calculus that permits everything (except homosexuality) so long as someone else did it first.


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.

Slavery existed everywhere in the States, in some cases for hundreds of years. Medved tries to be cute by limiting his scope to "the history of the republic" but America's history does not begin with the republic. And, of course, even then slavery was a feature of the republic for close to 90 years of its 220. That's more than a third. Compare with the UK.

Why does Medved mention today's ancestors? Simple. He doesn't want to pay reparations (for the slower among us, that's what this is all about). But as many have pointed out, would Medved take the same view of his nation's achievements? He is probably not an a descendant of any of the Founding Fathers, but he considers it praiseworthy of his nation that they existed. Etc etc.

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


Well, that's all right then. We threw thousands of Africans into insanitary, crowded conditions, in which we knew that many would die, but we didn't mean to kill them.

I say the same when I drive on the pavement (sidewalk for our American cousins). Yes, people get knocked down, but I'm not trying to kill people, just getting out of the busy road.

I couldn't pass this gem by:

And as with their horses and cows, slave owners took pride and care in breeding as many new slaves as possible.


Medved's argument in favour of slavery boils down to: it wasn't all bad because we didn't purposely murder blacks; we just treated them like cattle, who died completely accidentally as a consequence in huge numbers. Which in his view is a vast improvement.

I ignore point 4, because it's just too stupid even to laugh at. Rightards just shouldn't ever write about economics.

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

First of all, Medved denies responsibility for slavery (because someone else invented it), and then he tries to take credit for its abolition elsewhere.

Erm.

Well, of course, nearly every civilised nation had abolished slavery long before 1861. In the case of my homeland, the UK, we had a spirited debate and abolition came about through peaceful means. In the case of Medved's, abolition came about through a four-year bloody war. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died because half the nation simply refused to give up slaves.

It should be noted that the movement to abolish slavery -- most prominently in the UK -- was well established at the time of the Dec of Ind.

6. THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT TODAY’S AFRICAN-AMERICANS WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF THEIR ANCESTORS HAD REMAINED BEHIND IN AFRICA.

The same cannot, sadly, be said of the ancestors of the African-Americans who didn't get to be born because their ancestors died in a festering hold and were thrown into the Atlantic, nor of the slaves who were ungrateful enough to try to escape from their white masters and were murdered, nor... well, why go on?

In none of this, in not a single word, does Medved face up to the real inconvenient truth of slavery: people like him enslaved people with darker skin because they thought the latter were somewhere just above dogs in the food chain. And I don't see a thing in Medved's writing to suggest that he thinks that that thought is problematic.

13 Comments:

At 4:32 pm, Blogger Father Luke said...

Shit, man, i gott'a get out more.
There are rilly people who think like this?

And then this from the comments section of that article:

"It is simply true that in SOME respects slaves were treated better than immigrant workers.

Which is better

- to be given a place to live or to fend for yourself and perhaps be homeless?
"

There is a Zombie movie on that I want to watch. Carry on, man.

Carrion. I kill me.

Kill me, haw haw.

Oh stop.

- -
Okay,
Father Luke

 
At 12:38 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American civil war was not about slavery Lincoln didn't even want to abolish slavery at the beginning of the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln_on_slavery

Yes i know its Wiki but its a place to start.

 
At 2:49 am, Blogger Don said...

Lincoln said he didn't, but he was a brilliant politician. The War was about slavery at its core, but the initial motivating issues were far more complex, making it easy to deny that it was about slavery.

The Medved article looks like a response to some pretty wacky accusations by people who hate the US's peculiar mixture of good and bad as much as you do. He doesn't cherry pick points to refute any more than you do either (and far less simplistically). Overall it's a pretty good list, a reset towards objectivity, which you object to because it seems, though only in your mind, to whitewash evil. I don't believe he does that, nor that it's just really about reparations. I think keeping the dialog fresh with periodic fact-based refutations of popular belief is part of the much-needed process of healing.

 
At 9:00 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Grant, the word "idiocy" was not supposed to be a come-on.

"The War was about slavery at its core, but the initial motivating issues were far more complex, making it easy to deny that it was about slavery."

Don, you are muddled. The war was entirely about slavery.

As for your comments on Medved, you are a fucking idiot. No more needs be said. His piece was horrible. You do realise that he suggests the greatest tragedy of the middle passage was that the slavers didn't want to lose money by losing slaves?

 
At 9:04 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

And can you fucking read the wiki piece you are citing, for fuck's sake.

"he early went on record[1] as being personally opposed to slavery"

He was not an abolitionist as such, but that doesn't mean the war was not fought over slavery. It's too complex for Grant to understand, and just complex enough for a revisionist racist like you or Medved to find room for your bullshit.

 
At 9:37 am, Blogger gdtownshende said...

The Civil War was indeed about slavery. The American South simply likes to sugar-coat it with the terminology that it was about the 10th Amendment, which has to do with States' Rights.

In other words, those who were part of the Confederacy felt that they had the right, over the Federal Government, to decide whether they should be allowed to keep or abolish slavery.

If you think Medved's article was a bit much, you should see the attitude that still prevails among many in the American South: Namely, the idea that 'the South will rise again', which is to say that if slavery were not currently against the law, they'd re-institute it in a heartbeat!

I lived in the American South when they first started to desegregate the school systems. I was 6-10 years old at the time. I can well remember my school being evacuated because of bomb threats that had been called in because some twit didn't like the idea of his kid going to school with black children. I can also remember the fear on the faces of the black children who were brought into my schoool. When they first instituted desegregation, only a few children were bussed to my school. Even then I was able to imagine how out of place they must've felt.

There are other aspects of the south during my childhood that I don't recall, but which my parents have told me about. For example, everywhere you went there were four public toilets (white men, black men, white women, black women), and two water fountains, one for the whites and one for the blacks.

And now? Things seem not to have changed as much as we'd like to think they have, given some of the events in the news having to do with the KKK, as well as the use of nooses to threaten (although nothing has been said in the media whether the nooses were used in actuality).

 
At 10:08 am, Anonymous bickerville.com said...

the US civil war, like all wars, was about power.

slavery was the focus of that power.

whenever human beings can find an excuse to exert some power (especially unfairly in their favor), they will often do so.

when someone else tells them they can't do so anymore because it's immoral, conflicts arise.

understatement.

bottomline, people are shit.

some will constantly rationalize that fact away, others are willing to repent, within reason.

foolish pride and foolish greed making the former far more likely than the latter (in the short run, anyway).

 
At 2:06 pm, Blogger The Janitor said...

Medved's piece reads rather like something trying to justify the Holocaust. And don't even get me started on the "reset towards objectivity". In order to be objective one has to know the facts, and it doesn't appear that Medved so much as opened a history book in many, many years.

His point 4 made me laugh. Apparently, one can amass huge wealth simply because he is a better businessman, and having vast amounts of people working for free has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Right. Just like the USSR's success in the space and arms race had nothing to do with the 20 million people working for free in the GULAGs.

 
At 2:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janitor, you are absolutely right. However, I think the likes of Medved and Don are not interested in "objectivity" as something composed of facts, and consequently are not much bothered by the facts' not bearing them out. Rather, their notion of "objectivity" is what the rest of us would probably term "whatever suits me".

Z.

 
At 6:08 pm, Blogger Don said...

he suggests the greatest tragedy of the middle passage was that the slavers didn't want to lose money by losing slaves

Rubbish.

As for history, the book he cites the most was quite good. The author is a Pulitzer-winning historian. I read it earlier this year. It's clear to me that you have read both the article you cite and me through your usual significant filters. The "objectivity" you denigrate is fairly objective -- your determination to hate the US is not.

WRT Point 4, it makes you laugh because you do not understand it. It is true that modern capitalism was developed by the British on the backs of the slaves they took to the Caribbean, and much 18th Century British and early American wealth was built upon that. But the northern part of the US was only marginally built on direct slave labor, and the South ultimately retarded by it. California and the West did not benefit from it in the least. Slavery works economically only under certain conditions, and as conditions change, the model changes too. I've no doubt that if it weren't for the Civil War, slavery would have collapsed under pressure of increasing recognition that it just doesn't work even for those fewer and fewer who really benefit. Eventually, white southerners would have demanded it be torn down at least because it depressed their wages.

I did not deny the CW was about slavery, indeed I said it did to refute "anonymous", but there were many other issues that distract people from that core issue. States' Rights was a huge concern, and many people fought just for that, and still feel strongly about it -- but of course, slavery was the reason States' Rights grew to such a large issue. No one was going to fight over railroad rights of way, or tariffs crossing rivers.

Stories about the South in the 60s are interesting, but I grew up in California and have never seen either white-on-black or institutional racism. The idea that Medved or I are in some sort of denial is evidence mainly that you're not reading us clearly.

Bottom line, no one denies slavery is a horrific abuse of power, the worst injustice of all, really. Medved is pointing out that the belief that the U.S.A. is uniquely stained with that sin is based on some misconceptions and misunderstandings; and also that our abolition of the practice was done with particular rapidity and was unique only in that we did NOT compensate slave owners for their lost "property", as was the case in British colonies, in Cuba, in Brazil, etc.

 
At 6:19 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Dude, as I say, you fucking revisionist lobtards should steer well clear of economics, which you do not even begin to understand, and make a fool of yourself every time you try to discuss it.

As for "reading you clearly", I'm reading you perfectly clearly, you fucktard. "States' rights" is code for "enslave the niggers", just as today it's code for "don't allow women to choose". You're either an idiot or an arsehole. Whichever way, dude.

Medved is writing an apology for slavery, dude, and you're writing an apology for Medved. And this is how revisionists like you have always done it: "no one denies slavery is a horrific abuse of power".

An "abuse of power"? Fuck me, dude. What a way to put it! Like, us whites abused our power over blacks? Power endowed on us by our creator, you mean? The power we had by dint of our superiority?

Dude, your viewpoint is *precisely* the same as suggesting that a rape is an abuse of power perpetrated by a man against a woman. Do you really not see why that concept is objectionable?

 
At 10:12 pm, Blogger Don said...

I'm reading you perfectly clearly

You are not.

Medved is writing an apology for slavery

No, he is not. How you get that I can't imagine. One thing he is doing, however, and some may object to this, is arguing against the use of "holocaust" to describe slavery. There are people who do this. But clearly he draws a distinction between the treatment of slaves as a property investment, and of the victims of Nazism as people to be exterminated. Maybe this effects his tone in some way you object to, I don't know.

Like, us whites abused our power over blacks? Power endowed on us by our creator, you mean? The power we had by dint of our superiority?

That you interpret me this way speaks volumes -- volumes you apparently will never grasp.

Dude, your viewpoint is *precisely* the same as suggesting that a rape is an abuse of power perpetrated by a man against a woman. Do you really not see why that concept is objectionable?

You assume I think of rape as an abuse of *intrinsic* power. It is not. But it is an abuse of power if the man can get that power. When the tables are turned, other abuses may be possible, but rape isn't so often one of them given the differing equipment.

So to clarify, no, men are not "superior" to women, nor whites to blacks. Why your view of my view has to be expressed in these terms puzzles me.

Power can be achieved without any intrinsic superiority, and as bickerboy says, war etc. are all about power. As are rape and enslavement; but not as an expression of some natural order. Where DO you get that?

 
At 2:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The civil war was about maintaining the union and very little else.

Lincoln said:
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

And his opinion on blacks!

Lincoln said:

I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

 

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