EVERYONE HAD SLAVES

The essence of the closing monologue on Real Time with Bill Maher the other night was a rebuttal against “white people” being the villains of the world. Essentially diverting blame to all of humanity in general, he claimed white people may suck, sure, but so does everyone else. People are just horrible in general.

I kinda pretty much agree with that part. Take Texas, for example. Need I say more? Women charged with murder for abortion? Where were these righteous Texas lawmakers when fully realized human beings—Native Americans and Blacks and many others, not a clump of cells–were being erased from the earth? Where was the Texan uproar after George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight?

And what’s with book banning? Is everyone really that eager to rush back into the Dark Ages? Among the targets is an illustrated version of Anne Frank. Ironically, clueless students would miss out on Anne Frank reassuring us all that she believed, despite everything, that people were good inside. Whoa, somebody light the bonfire! God forbid that message ever gets out!

Unfortunately, Bill Maher and his writing staff were correct to say that, yes, we had slaves, but everyone had slaves. Disturbingly, surveys have shown that a large amount of students believe slavery was created in America. I don’t know why, though. What a strange perception. Surely teachers don’t begin teaching history starting from 1619 in the U.S.

But while slavery was practiced world-wide, I do think it’s a dangerous form of rationalism to try to diminish the type of slavery America practiced.  http://crab.rutgers.edu explains where skin color entered the picture along with the difference between the Colonies and the rest of the world succinctly:

By the 1400s and 1500s, the issue of color begins to enter the picture for Europeans, and gradually we get a new type of slavery based on race or color rather than religion. Once the African captive or the American Indian converts to Christianity, we can no longer use his “heathenism” as an excuse for this enslavement. It is at that point that apologists seized upon the difference of color and ancestry to justify the continuation of slavery.

In the Old World, the slave was a person with customary rights. They could marry. It was not always hereditary. In Moslem societies, a man would set free his children by a slave woman. Most often, a slave was like a house servant. Slaves could own property and have money.

The type of institution that developed in the New World was plantation slavery, and chattel slavery, in which the captives are worked in the fields from sunup to sundown. Chattel slaves were not thought of as people, but as objects, as property, like livestock. New World slaves had no rights. In the US they could not own or possess property. Families were broken up in forced sales.

And worst of all, slave masters sexually exploited slave women as concubines and did not acknowledge their children or set them free. This would have been unimaginable in African or Islamic (Moslem) culture.

The chattel slavery that evolved in the New World was an extreme institution that animalized and dehumanized (per David Brion Davis) the slave. This is why New World chattel and plantation slavery really cannot be equated with Old World slavery, and why it cannot be equated with African or Islamic or ancient slavery.

Just a thought. Just a reminder for when the topic comes up and someone blithely says, “Everyone had slavery.” On top of the fact that the ancient world is one thing. Recent history—a few hundred years ago—is pretty sad and unforgivable to have been shamelessly engaged in a brutal slave society.

I feel afraid for Texas and other states that seem intent on going backwards…and worried how many more will get pulled into their mire. People increasingly just don’t want to hear it, don’t want to know. But ignorance is binding, not freeing. What happened to the truth shall set you free?

Anne Frank thought that people were mostly good, even after everything she’d gone through. We’re all supposed to have a piece of divinity inside us, after all. But maybe it needs to be cared for, whatever “it” is–the light, the spark, the seed of grace–carefully attended to like a bonsai tree, and if it’s not, it shrinks and petrifies, frozen inside its desiccated landscape.

18 thoughts on “EVERYONE HAD SLAVES

  1. In the USA, there’s a deep sickness within the Republican Party and within the Christian right. For the most part, they are the folks determined to return this country to the Stone Age. And they’ve been doing a good job of it, partly thanks to the several fools on the Supreme Court. As for slavery, in a real way the White supremacists in the States are still fighting the Civil War.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Neil. Yeah, we’re in a bad way with those life-appointed judges on the Court. And, yeah, I don’t think the South has ever stopped fighting. The mindset is definitely still there, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The other day I heard a discussion about whether we were all born “good,” or just some of us, or none of us. I do think your analogy is excellent with the bonsai tree. I believe we are born with the potential to go in any direction – good, bad, loving, evil. And, creating a “spiritual light” within as we grow and get older doesn’t just start with birth and end when one turns eighteen. All of your life experiences continue to repeatedly impact whether we continue to have empathy, a “light”…or not. It is an ongoing, day-to-day process. As for history, the old adage still applies for me that if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oof. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately. So since it appears that we’re not taking heed from the past, I guess doom it is……

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You got me thinking Stace, as always. The whole idea of ‘owning’ people is so abhorrent that I don’t think it originated on our planet. My guess is that our species was ‘seeded’ from elsewhere. I wonder whether part of the process involved mining precious metals, which in turn called for miners, embedded with notions of obedience, compliance and deference. And so on, dividing the races to make the ‘conquest’ easier. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, just a thought or not, it makes me happier to consider that as a possibility than it originating within ourselves. One good example of that behavior is how the caste system is so entrenched in India, even though outsiders instituted it thousands of years ago. So anything’s possible, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ok, my whacky word for the day is DRAPETOMANIA.
    Here’s the skinny…

    Samuel Cartwright (1793 – 1863) was a medical doctor in the proslavery South. He supported slavery and even used medicine and science to justify it. Cartwright is best known as the ‘inventor’ – if that is the right term – of the mental illness he named DRAPETOMANIA

    Cartwright believed that slaves sometimes got afflicted with DRAPETOMANIA, a ‘mental disorder’ that made them flee from their masters. The word DRAPETOMANIA was formed from the Greek words for “crazy” and “runaway slave.”

    The disorder was supposedly caused by masters who treated their slaves like humans. Cartwright wrote that slaves planning to run away often got “sulky and dissatisfied without reason.”

    Our good Mr Cartwrong… ooops.. better make that Cartwright…. also believed a person of color would never be truly happy unless he was a slave.

    He’s no longer here to defend himself but would anyone mind terribly if I used the term ‘knuckle nuts’ to describe this guy?

    .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If only we could blame space aliens for the cruelty that human can inflict upon human. Even today with all the soul searching and speaking out, we live in a time that has more slaves on earth than in any other: child labor, human trafficking, etc., at least 20 million.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeah. Maybe slavery was a different kind of “animal” in the ancient past… but no slavery is good. And then people came up with new and imaginative ways to be inhuman to others, so things got worse, not better. The fact that we don’t learn from the past or our mistakes…. doesn’t give one much hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Carol, and thanks. Good to hear from you!
    It does seem like human drama and cruelty are permanent residents of the planet. WERE people very different in mindset in the past? I don’t know. I definitely think skin color was NOT an issue once…and became one later. But here we are today…fighting the same fights. How Anne Frank could have any optimism floors me. A better woman than I am, obviously. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. First of all Stacey, I want to say this–Hi! I’m back! Ha!

    Okay. Now that’s out of the way…whew!…where do I start…I really dislike the leadership of my two states, Tennessee and Texas. Take our current governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee. So, I’m pretty socially moderate in many ways, in fact, in some ways I’m downright conservative, but economically and when it comes to civil rights I lean center left.

    My social conservatism is something that I view as a choice, but not one that I feel comfortable imposing on others, except when it comes to abortion beyond the first trimester. There are exceptions to this within my point of view.

    To me, beyond the first trimester the fetus becomes a person–and while I am not aware of a definitive study proving that the fetus can feel fear and pain after the first trimester, I’m not aware of a definitive study proving that it can’t. In other words, from my understanding, medical experts are in disagreement here.

    So anyway, Governor Lee, is running an campaign add all about mothers, about how great his administration has been for mothers, about all the money he has poured into medical care for “moms” as he calls us and to social services for moms and their children and to foster children and foster parents…Bullshit!! Tennessee has a terrible track record of pregnancy related deaths, especially for women and children of color.

    Lee’s talking a big talk now, and, yeah he’s putting more money where his mouth is now with the Dobbs decision in the Supreme Court but where was his administration before 2021 when we were near the bottom of the barrel taking care of moms, and children, and foster/adoptive parents. It pisses me off to no end. Where moms and children worth less 2017-2020?

    And Lee, who I think in many ways is a good man (but not a good governor) is so skittish about critical race theory. I’m not really sure what CRT is beyond its hot button reputation but I know I’m for teaching the TRUTH in history. I don’t want a white washing of history, nor do I want a far left hijacking of history.

    America has done some really great things that I am proud of. Conversely, America has done some really bad things that I am ashamed of. Teach our history! Don’t exaggerate the good and don’t exaggerate the bad. Tell the truth.

    Yes, it might make some people feel uncomfortable and it might make some people feel bad. But if it does, than it should. If you pour peroxide on your hand it shouldn’t burn unless something’s wrong with your hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, Pam, welcome back! And thanks for stopping by and for your much-appreciated insights. So much to address here, which I can’t do now. But I shall return! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Okay, first of all, thanks a lot for the insights on Governor Lee. Very interesting! I really know very little about him, but now I know a little more.

    I would pretty much never, ever get into an argument with another woman, especially, over her beliefs for or against abortion rights. I definitely think it’s so very personal and the only thing I stand firm on is other people’s opinions should not in any way figure into it. If a woman believes a clump of cells is a child and is against abortion, that’s between her and her conscience/God. If a woman doesn’t believe that’s true, that’s between her and her conscience/God. This issue is not between a woman and the government.

    What you’ve said about Lee and what I know about other politicians shouting about this issue tells me that the politicians actually do not give two craps about when pregnancies become actual human beings. I don’t believe that they give one crap. I think they’re taking up a cry for only one portion of the populace whom they’re pandering to in order to hold on to power. I don’t believe this issue is of any moral or ethical concern to them, like you seemed to say, too, when you called bullshit on Lee.

    And like I said in my blog, if people are so concerned about the lives of the unborn, where, exactly, is the concern for those who have already been born? Those who are despised, imprisoned, oppressed, and murdered? In my mind, it’s going backwards, because as long as someone can kneel on someone’s neck in broad daylight until they die with everyone around him yelling and begging him to stop—just one small example of what happened/happens all the time but has now started getting recorded because of cell phones—how do we really even dare to make the unborn a priority? And I only ask that in the most philosophical way, because of course we care about any and all life, of course. And then also when everyone’s pregnancies are forced to come to fruition and another George Floyd is born, destined to be murdered…is there an endless purgatorial cycle going on here that we refuse to face?

    To me, it’s kinda like when people go to other countries to adopt children when there are so many orphaned/abandoned children here in the US. You know, are we leapfrogging over points one and two, which need immediate attention NOW, to get to three and four, and we’ll deal with one and two later? Or maybe never?

    And you bring up a great topic, Pam, about the lack of funds for caring for these children once they’re born. Bullshit is right! Lol. As an adopted person myself, who luckily was taken in as a baby, I avoided any foster care situations. But we all know that system is subpar at best. Inefficient and abusive at the worst.

    Well, I didn’t mean to go on so long about abortion, sorry, haha. I think we’re on the same page that no one wants looming life or potential life to be cut off for no reason, but I believe the approach happening now is not in the best interests of women or their families and that, ultimately, it’s a personal decision that should be separated, like church and state, from the government.

    I agree with you about past history, for sure. We want the truth, but we also don’t want some weird “hijacking” as you put it, going too far the other way. Hasn’t anybody read Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Where’s the middle ground? Where’s the balance? But, yeah, the USA is a mixed bag of so many competing, paradoxical elements. I do think its founding and how it operated from early on by decimating the Native Americans and enslaving people from other countries sent it down a dark road from which it has never emerged and has led us to many of our problems today. But a lot of genius and genuine attempts at redemption and rising to something better, even rising to greatness, have also happened, and like you, I’m proud of those things too.

    Lastly, I found out something about CRT that I had no idea about. First of all, I didn’t know that it was taught in law school. It’s part of the foundation of ALL law school education. But the essence of it was so different from what I thought it was. The essence is that other people, when they “assimilate” into American society, begin to lose their own voice. Their beliefs, cultures, personal perceptions begin to be molded toward those of what they described as “white Americans,” so that there’s a loss of identity. I’m probably paraphrasing this very badly, so looking it up would probably be the best thing, haha. But yeah, the idea is for “others”, anyone who isn’t white, to be able to “assimilate” and “move forward” and “succeed” in this country, whatever that may mean for them, but without losing their identity and culture. I found that fascinating. It seems so intuitive and empathetic, doesn’t it? But I guess that’s a small part of CRT and there’s many other parts… that people just don’t want to hear about/know about. I don’t know. CRT has now become a catch-all word, another bogeyman for everyone to fear.

    No idea if you’re gonna read this, but sorry it’s so long! Thanks, though. It helps me to put my thoughts in order.
    Looking forward to YOUR next blog, Pam. When’s it coming? 🙂

    Like

  12. Hey Stacey. You know I never got your reply…I’m just now reading this. I saw you commenting on some other blogs so I thought…hmm, I guess she’s mad at me about the abortion thing. And that made me sad, but it wouldn’t be the first time. But alas! You aren’t mad! You replied and WordPress F’ed up and didn’t send it to me!

    Well, I largely agree with what you’ve unpacked above, my friend. It’s so sad when people demand that you agree with them 100%. Of course very few people are that narcissistic, thank the good Lord, but a lot of people have their pet issues…and while I’m comfortable in being black and white on some issues like, rape and incest–NEVER okay–most things are more nuanced and reside in shades of gray.

    Anyway, glad we’re cool. I’ve got two fairly recent posts that you haven’t seen.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Haha, no no, I think it would take a lot for me to get mad at you, Pam. You’re often the voice of reason in a swirling pool of madness, lol. And yeah, I think WP is up to its old tricks, ’cause I have NOT seen a notification for your posts!! So…. here we go…. Into more madness….!! 🙂

    Like

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