Category Archives: Slavery

Black Lives Matter is just another part of the left’s BIG LIE *UPDATED*

What we’re seeing with the Black Lives Matter movement is the BIG LIE — and it’s not the slander that cops are killers. This BIG LIE is even worse.

Right now, a whole lot of us are being bullied to parrot the slogan that “Black Lives Matter.” Before I get further into the weeds here, let me explicitly say that I’m not arguing that black lives don’t matter. I’m saying that the melanin content of people’s skin is irrelevant to me. At the largest level, all lives matter, because I value the human race. I think we do come into the world a blank slate, each of us worthy of respect.

As people move through life, regardless of what they look like, their sex, their chosen bed partners, their choice of job, etc., I continue to treat each person I meet as if he or she matters. I treat everyone nicely and assume (correctly, most of the time), that they’ll treat me nicely too.

However, that respect and niceness stop when people’s behavior moves beyond the pale. I don’t like liars, murderers, thieves, bullies — in other words, I don’t like hardcore leftists. They tell lies and, using those lies as a springboard, they bully and, eventually, kill people to steal their wealth and their liberty.

Believe it or not, despite the move to defund the police, the left’s worst lie isn’t that unarmed blacks are being slaughtered by rogue cops, although that is quite a big lie.  here’s the data:

There are between 39 and 42 million blacks in America, and they make up 13-14% of the American population. They also make up 13.3% of the police officers in America. Police departments are not discriminating in hiring.

After Ferguson, the WaPo started obsessively tracking all police shootings in America. According to that list, in 2019, police shot and killed 1,003 people, 249 of whom were black. Fourteen of those black decedents were unarmed. Those unarmed black victims are equal to around 0.000034% of America’s black population. That is not a black genocide at police hands.

However, even that number is misleading, because while the men killed were not carrying guns, they were all dangerous. Only three of the fourteen officers involved in those shootings were criminally charged.  Another one of the shootings was clearly an accident, while one death remains murky.  As for the other nine deaths, each involved a situation in which the decedent, although not armed with a gun, violently attacked officers.

The most common weapon used to attack officers was a car. One person tried to choke the officer.  The news reports don’t detail the other non-gun weapons the decedents used against the police, but we can assume fingernails, fists, knees, feet (shod or unshod), and anything nearby that could be used as weapons (rocks, boards, ballpoint pens, etc.). Before police shot one man, he was so violent he sent two police to the hospital and even a taser couldn’t stop him.

Doing the percentages again, in 2019, police officers who’s behavior was so heinous it justified criminal charges killed at most 0.000007% of American blacks. While each of those three deaths was a terrible individual tragedy, it’s scarcely an indictment of policing across America.

But as I said, those lies about police and black deaths, while a powerful weapon in Democrats’ hands are not the BIG LIE.

Here’s the BIG LIE that Democrats and their activist arms (Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, the mainstream media, etc.) tell: They claim that blacks aren’t as good as other races. That’s right, for all their crocodile tears about blacks, they actually see blacks as subhuman beings to be manipulated for power. And sure, some of the people doing the manipulating are blacks themselves. There are always people who are so unprincipled, they will sell anyone down the river….

A little history sets the stage:

When the British began colonizing the Caribbean and North America, slavery was still the norm around the world. Indeed, it was the norm throughout human history.

When you conquered another people,  you had three choices: Walk away from them, which would allow them to fight again; slaughter them all, which was a brutish and wasteful business; or enslave them, which enriched you with their labor. You were especially enriched if you didn’t care whether your slaves lived or died — and that was the way of the world before the Jewish Bible insisted that even slaves had some human rights.

By the early 17th century, 1,600 years of Biblical teaching (both Old and New Testament) was raising Europeans up from a world in which cruelty, including slavery, was interwoven in the fabric of people’s lives. Still, when the British started colonizing areas in which sugar, tobacco, cotton, and indigo could be grown, slavery was still acceptable enough that it was seen as the most economically feasible way to create wealth in the new world and transfer it to the old.

The British originally tried to use the Irish, whom they despised, as their slaves. That effort failed only because the Irish, stubbornly, kept dying from heat and malaria in the intemperate climates found in the Caribbean and the American south.

That’s why the British turned to African marketplaces, where they bought people whom warring tribes had kidnapped and Muslim traders sold. It was a “trade” because everyone was involved, including the Africans themselves. Indeed, the legal case in America that established slavery as an acceptable practice came about because Anthony Johnson, a free black man who had come to America as an indentured servant, went to court when another black man claimed to be an indentured servant (subject to release) rather than Johnson’s slave.

As the 17th century turned into the 18th century, something happened in America, a combination of the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening. A large segment of the population realized that we are all God’s children. Moreover, they could no longer ignore that the 8th Commandment (Thou shalt not steal) must apply to stealing liberty as well as to stealing property.

The slave owners weren’t stupid. They knew this to be true. As the world modernized and civilized, the only way they could justify their economic dependence on slavery was to dehumanize people of African descent. Once they were dehumanized, like a dog or a cow, the 8th Commandment no longer applied.

Dehumanizing. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the really BIG LIE.

In 2020, the era of government dehumanization that supported both slavery and Jim Crow is gone. Less than 15% of the population consists of people who were older than about five or ten in 1964, when the Civil Rights Act went into effect. In other words, only a small percentage of the American population felt the effect of systematic and systemic racism — or was responsible for it.

As those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s know, there was lingering cultural racism going on even after all governments were banned from institutionalizing racism. Perpetrators did it in a spirit of stupidity or ignorance. We know better now, whether we’re Paula Deen or Ralph Northam and Joy Behar, neither of whom is as “woke” as s/he pretends to be. That attitude, thankfully, is gone from all but the most ignorant or meanspirited.

Yet despite sixty years of legal and cultural change, blacks are still being dehumanized. They are still being treated as less than fully human. And those heinous behaviors are still coming from the Democrat party, a party that is now wholly given over to the far left.

It’s the left that claims that blacks, unlike all other human beings in history are incapable of rising above past prejudice. And no, it’s not because of their skin color. Asians are easily distinguishable from whites, and they used to be subject to ferocious discrimination. Less than eighty years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt (a Democrat) threw every Japanese person in America, whether native-born or not, into concentration camps. But the Asians are doing very well in America despite that, earning the nickname “model minority.” Other recognizably non-white populations (e.g., East Asians who come from the poverty and dysfunction of India or Hispanics who don’t buy into the victim myth) do well too.

But leftists tell blacks that it is impossible for them to rise above poverty, damaging cultural behaviors, or the psychic pain of stupid people saying stupid things. Unlike every other group in America for the past three hundred years, leftists assure blacks and each other that blacks cannot overcome being downtrodden. They cannot do well in school because they’re downtrodden. They cannot be responsible at their jobs because they’re downtrodden. They cannot resist the lure of violence and crime because they’re downtrodden. They cannot stay away from substance abuse because they’re downtrodden. They cannot stay married and raise their children in stable, two-parent homes because they’re downtrodden.

What leftists are really saying is that blacks are genetically defective because of their race. If you’re born black, the leftist world view holds that you’re infantile, a creature of uncontrollable impulses, and neither very bright nor capable of hard work. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what leftists said of blacks in 1960 and 1860 and 1760 to justify enslaving them or otherwise depriving blacks of their civil rights: Blacks aren’t fully human. They can’t handle rights or responsibility or education . . . or freedom. The only difference this time around is that leftists phrase their insults in gentle, loving terms, thereby tying blacks to their abusers.

No wonder that blacks abort their children in such extraordinary numbers. They’re being told by the people they trust most that they’re less than human. For those helpless, defective people, Planned Parenthood (just as Margaret Sanger intended 100 years ago) is there to help. In public, it insists that Black Lives Matter. Behind clinic doors, it’s the biggest killer of blacks in American history.

So there’s the BIGGEST LEFTIST LIE OF ALL: Blacks are not fully realized human beings. They never have been and they never will be. That’s why I hate leftists, regardless of their race, color, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or whatever label they plaster on themselves and on others. They always dehumanize people, whether to use them, as they do with blacks to get votes or with slaves to get labor, or to slaughter them, as they did the Jews and the gypsies.

Incidentally, at a subliminal level, all leftists understand that theirs is a binary system. They’re either at the top or the bottom. Right now, it’s amusing to see the purges going on, with leftists attacking other leftists. It’s the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks all over again. But when you see the frantic virtue signaling, with every business in America trying to outdo all the other businesses by showing more empathy for blacks than the next person or by confessing more guilt, this is what you’re seeing:

Every one of the people lining the street as Kim Jong-Il’s body was carried away was trying to cry louder than the next person. It’s like the old joke about the bear:

A bear surprises two hikers. One of them takes off at a dead run. The other hollers after him, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!” The first hiker, still running, hollers over his shoulder, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Right now, the virtue signalers are trying to outrun each other. Those that survive, the fastest and most agile, will then turn their deadly attention to you. They’re already dehumanizing you. Remember what Hillary said? You’re a “basket of deplorables.” Joe Biden just announced that 10-15% of Americans just “are not very good people.”

When I go on my Facebook feed and look at what the lefties post, what’s as interesting as the articles they post attacking Trump and Trump supporters is the chorus in the comments. Each commenter piles on frantically, trying to be more insulting than the next person in describing people, rather than challenging ideas: “Piece of sh*t,” “disgusting,” “disgusting white trash,” “clowns,” “slug,” “moron,” “bitch,” “dick.”

Blexit is the best thing that could ever happen to blacks but they’ve been so brainwashed into believing that they’re less than human, that their turning away from the loving hand promising to drag them out of the animal kingdom into which the left has placed them and place them where they rightfully belong, up here with the rest of the children of God.

UPDATE: This woman gets it (language warning):

(The image at the top of this post was the official “logo” of the 18th century British Anti-Slavery Party, which arise from the Great Awakening, a Christian Evangelical Movement.)

The 1619 Project: Reframing History & Redefining Racism

“White Supremacy” is a progressive canard to keep the race card viable in the absence of actual racism. It paints all whites as inherently racist and promotes the worst of tribalism as a progressive political tool.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project seeks to “reframe” American history to mark the year 1619 as the “true founding.”  The first purpose of the 1619 Project is to cement slavery as America’s original sin.  The “reframing” comes about, first, in the telling of a narrative so distorted as to be false, then, second, in redefining “racism” to attach the slander to a whole host of things that either are not caused by racism or are not racist by definition.  Mirable dictu, America is suddenly a nation full of virulent racists / white supremacists.

It is helpful before continuing deeper into this morass to take a balanced look at the actual history of slavery in this country, not as an original sin that still stains us today and that can only be explicated by destroying the country, but rather as an extremely difficult issue that was set on the road to being righted by our Founders and their progeny. In a recent AEI article, author Mark Perry quotes extensively from black economist (and one-time card carrying communist) Thomas Sowell:

Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved – and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed.

[snip]

Everyone hated the idea of being a slave but few had any qualms about enslaving others. Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century – and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of the 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there. But who is singled out for scathing criticism today? American leaders of the 18th century.

Deciding that slavery was wrong was much easier than deciding what to do with millions of people from another continent, of another race, and without any historical preparation for living as free citizens in a society like that of the United States, where they were 20 percent of the population.

It is clear from the private correspondence of Washington, Jefferson, and many others that their moral rejection of slavery was unambiguous, but the practical question of what to do now had them baffled. That would remain so for more than half a century.

In 1862, a ship carrying slaves from Africa to Cuba, in violation of a ban on the international slave trade, was captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy. The crew was imprisoned and the captain was hanged in the United States – despite the fact that slavery itself was still legal at the time in Africa, Cuba, and in the United States. What does this tell us? That enslaving people was considered an abomination. But what to do with millions of people who were already enslaved was not equally clear.

That question was finally answered by a war in which one life was lost [620,000 Civil War casualties] for every six people freed [3.9 million]. Maybe that was the only answer. But don’t pretend today that it was an easy answer – or that those who grappled with the dilemma in the 18th century were some special villains when most leaders and most people around the world saw nothing wrong with slavery.

While Sowell notes the reality, the NYT actually does posit an “easy answer” to the slavery issue. The Times “reframes history” in the 1619 Project to tell it in Howard Zinn fashion, erasing or minimizing the First Great Awakening and the abolition movement, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights movement.  And with that, the Times then claims that America is still a country full of virulent racism — at least if you support Trump or are not a progressive.  Of course, the lack of racism in mainstream America is a problem, so progressives have redefined “racism” into “white supremacy,” something that implies virulent, evil racism but means, in actuality, nothing.

To put it another way, a strict, classic definition of “racism” means “a belief that race is the primary detriment of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” The decline of actual racist acts in America’s mainstream, though, has become a real problem for progressives who have bet their entire political future on keeping minorities believing that they are under siege and that their only protection is to voting proggie.  There is a reason, not that many years ago, that then Vice President Biden told an audience of black Americans at an NAACP meeting that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains.”  And there is a reason President Obama, author of all that racial healing in his administration, told Latinos that Republicans were their “enemies.”

So what is “white supremacy?”  Well, at least when the Left talks about it, it’s not the old KKK crap anymore. Instead, we can use the “Pyramid of White Supremacy” (pictured at the top of this post) as our guide to see just how outrageous it is and just how disconnected it is from people actually engaging in racist acts predicated on the belief in the inferiority of minorities — i.e., actual racism.

A college professor put together and uses the “Pyramid of White Supremacy” for a mandatory course she teaches for elementary education majors at Salisbury University in Maryland.  I was reminded of it the other day when I saw it at the Ace of Spades blog. The pyramid names nothing as “racist” that has not already made it into the mainstream media over the past several years.  The list goes from ludicrous, to insane, to evil, literally making of everyone not a proggie a white supremacist.


Racism Pyramid of White Supremacy

Tier One — Genocide 

At the top of the “white supremacy” pyramid are those who call for genocide of blacks or other minorities. No one in the mainstream for the entire history of this nation has ever called for that — but one would not know that today.  According to the NYT, the President is a “white supremacist” who, according to MSNBC, wants to exterminate Latinos. Moreover, according to CNN, Trump is already responsible for more deaths than Mao (40,000,000-75,000,000), Stalin (20,000,000) and Hitler (11,000,000) put together.  And by extension, if you are a Trump supporter. . . .

Tier II –  Violence

a)  Unjust Police Shootings & Police Brutality — This is the BLM obscenity that blacks have more to worry about in the inner cities from police than they do from black on black violence.  Until, of course, one actually looks at the numbers, then at the facts of just about every case — yet you still have virtually all progressives, including Kamala Harris and Fauxcohauntus, pushing this canard, at whatever expense to police such race hustling might bring.

b)  Lynching — The extra-judicial killing of a person as an act of mob justice and with any substantial basis in racism declined precipitously as the Civil Rights movement took hold in the 1950’s.  The last — but perhaps most horrendous — race-based lynching was that of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955 Mississippi.  So here we are almost seventy years removed from that event.  The vile racism that gave rise to that event is dead in this country.  But proggies are still trying to paint a link between the racists who murdered Till and all not-progressives today.

For instance, two years ago, Vann Newkirk, writing in The Atlantic in an article entitled How the Blood of Emmett Till Still Stains America Today, proclaimed the lynching of Till an act of “white supremacy.”  So, while the racism that motivated Till’s lynching may be, in all relevant respects, banished from the mainstream of society, it still lives on under the newly minted charge of “white supremacy.”  Non-progressive whites, virtually all of whom are neither committing or tolerating racism, still not only own all the guilt for slavery, but for the lynching of Emmett Till as well.

[Bookworm here: I’d like to suggest that race-based lynching still has a bit of a hold in America, at least as recently as the early 1990s. In 1992, for example, was beaten almost to death because he was a white man in the wrong place. And a year before that, Al Sharpton instigated the Crown Heights riots that saw black men kill random Jewish men after a Jewish motorcade accidentally killed one black child and injured another.]

c)  Hate Crimes — The whole concept of “hate crimes” is one that needs to be banished from American jurisprudence.  That said, it is the perfect metaphor for what is happening in this nation today.  The majority of “hate crimes” — i.e., crimes with a racial component — occurring in this country are progressive hoaxes to drive a racial narrative, with Jussie Smollett being simply the most notable and recent.

Tier III — Calls For Violence:

a)  Neo-Nazi’s, KKK, Burning Crosses — These are the people in this nation who in fact can be called racist and are associated with movements having a history of violence.  These groups are not conservative groups nor are they tolerated in mainstream society.  Today, the total number of people in these organizations nationwide, in a nation of over three hundred million people, is probably at or under 100,000.  I would not be surprised to find about the same number or higher if you add up ANTIFA, anarchists, and black nationalist groups.

b)  The N-Word — The professor lists using the “N” word as a call to violence.  I agree.  I only point out that I look forward to the day when the right understands that being falsely labeled racist is also a call to violence.

c)  Confederate Flag — I am not going to argue this one.  I think Bookworm’s take on the flag and Confederate statutes (see item 11 in the linked post) is the right one, and this is one case where the subjective feelings the flag and paeans to Confederate generals might engender is sufficient justification to move them into museums.

Tier IV — Actual Discrimination

 a)  [Systemic] Mass Incarceration — This has long been a stalking horse for progressives.  For progressives, enforcing the law against blacks is ipso facto proof of racism. The statistics do not show disparate treatment against blacks for sentencing, only that blacks’ rate of criminal conduct is out of proportion to their numbers in society.  Regardless, Trump has in fact been the only President to push through prison reform with an eye towards giving blacks caught up in the prison system a second chance.  That must be “sneaky” white supremacy.

b)  [Systemic] School to Prison Pipeline — Again, another stalking horse, calling this discrimination.  The fact that there might be fundamental problems in the dysfunctional culture of lower socio-economic blacks is never the cause — and by calling the pipeline discrimination, that makes it racist to even discuss and solve the problem of young black men leaving school and heading straight into the prison system.

c)  [Systemic] Racial Profiling and Stop and Frisk — Stopping a person to question or search simply because of that person’s race is a 4th Amendment violation and would be racist.  No one argues that.  But stopping and searching someone is neither a 4th Amendment violent nor racist if, because of surrounding circumstances, the police have a reasonable suspicion that the person might be involved in a crime.  This goes back to NYC’s policy of “stop and frisk” that the NYPD used successfully to bring down crime by and against minorities circa 2000.

d)  [Systemic] Redlining —  Redlining has been illegal since the 1970’s.  It was a practice by financial institutions to refuse loans to people regardless of qualification if they lived in particular areas, most often in inner city areas.  Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act to end it, but then Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd used the CRA to destroy all color-blind lending standards as racist.  This social engineering under the guise of correcting for racism led to the Sub-Prime Crisis and the Great Recession of 2008.

e)  Housing Discrimination and Employment Discrimination — These have been unlawful since the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Rare cases of actual racism still occur on the fringes of society and are dealt with through the courts.  That said, the majority of Housing and Employment discrimination cases of today rely on the “disparate impact” theory, which holds that one does not even need to show an intent to discriminate if a policy is shown to affect minorities disproportionately for whatever reason, including, as mentioned above, colorblind reasons.  As Thomas Sowell has opined, much of what the left falsely claims today is racism in society is based on their manipulations using the “disparate impact racket.”

f)  Anti-Immigration Policies — This is pure post-modernism, where the subjective feelings of the progressive author are embraced as objective fact.  There are countless reasons to enforce the border and require that our federal government control immigration.  Indeed, that is an express right and duty of the federal government in Article I Sec. 8 of the Constitution.  And yet, for the progressive left, any attempt to stop illegal immigration, and any attempt to deport illegal immigrants is deemed “racist” and is part and parcel of “white supremacy.”

g)  Funding Schools Locally — We’ve been funding schools locally in this country for as long as there have been schools.  It is a state and local function.  It is not an Art. 1, Sec. 8 enumerated power of the federal government, the Department of Education notwithstanding.  As Thomas Sowell points out, the problem with minority educational achievement or lack thereof is not school funding.  But apparently, you are a white supremacist if you do not support a federal takeover of funding for schools.

Tier V — Veiled Racism

a)  Victim Blaming — If you believe that people should address the problems of their community and that they are responsible for their own actions, you are a white supremacist.

b)  Paternalism — If you offer suggestions for minorities to solve the problems of their community, you are a white supremacist.

c)  English Only Initiatives — The ability of a nation’s people to communicate using a common language is near a foundational element of societal success and a keystone for individuals to succeed in society.  That seems like a valid, non-racist basis to require that everyone learn the English language in this country.

d)  Euro-centric Curriculum —  This is nothing more than reverse racism.  Unless one can articulate how substituting X for Y acts as an improvement to our society, then this is nothing more than intentionally destroying the common culture of a nation founded in Western civilization because of identity politics.

e)  Claiming reverse racism — To point out that the progressives are attacking whites on the basis of their skin color alone — which is all the white supremacy movement is — is itself an act of white supremacy.  Apparently, though, while the professor does not make this point, it appears that the progressive left defends itself against charges of racism by claiming minority status.  Somehow, being a minority in proggie land means that obscene racism is not truly racist.  This is all part of the redefinition of “racism” into a purely white, original sin.

f)  Tone Policing —  So telling a minority to tone down if that person is emoting so that you can have an exchange of ideas is racist because . . . minorities can’t control their emotions?

g)  Cultural Appropriation — To borrow from another culture because one appreciates something is about as far from racism as one could act.  How that becomes an act of “white supremacy” is beyond my ken.

h)  Tokenism — So having minority friends is now “white supremacy?”

Tier VI — Minimization

a)  Denying you are a white supremacist — This may seem completely insane, but to be white and deny your white supremacy is proof that you are a white supremacist.  No less than the NYT has proclaimed that in “The Heartbeat of Racism Is Denial.”

b)  Colorblindness — Treating a minority the same as everyone else — the very antithesis of racism — is proof that you are a white supremacist.

c)  Not believing the experiences of people of color —  If you question a person’s narrative or point out that the person’s subjective feelings are not the same as objective facts . . . you are a white supremacist.

d)  Post-Racial Society — I’m not quite sure what the professor means by that, but I am assuming that she means that to posit a post-racial society as the goal for America, as Martin Luther King did, is “white supremacy.”  The goal of progressives is an identity centric society where a critical mass of the identities vote proggie.

Tier VII — Indifference

a)  Remaining Apolitical — This is binary.  You either join the progressives and buy into their obscene canards or you are a white supremacist, even if you could care less about race.


“White Supremacy” is an obscene dark fantasy.  But Project 1619 and the MSM at large are all engaged in pushing this canard.  There is not a single major outlet outside of Fox not running with it.  It is an effort to balkanize and turn our nation from a melting pot into a state based on tribalism permanantly ruled by progressives.  With this latest foray into “white supremacy,” progressives will either keep this obscene dark fantasy of racism in America alive, or progressives will lose any hope of regaining political power.  It will be the ruin of our nation if they succeed.

The post The 1619 Project: Reframing History & Redefining Racism appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

No. 12 Bookworm Podcast: Slavery was a blessing for today’s African Americans

Though slavery was awful, for today’s American blacks what would have been even worse was an absence of the slavery that brought them to these shores.

(If you prefer listening over reading, the companion podcast to this post is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like the podcasts, please share them with your friends and on social media. Giving my podcast good ratings helps too.)

My co-blogger, Wolf Howling, has already written two excellent posts savaging the shoddy scholarship and evil motives behind the New York Times’ 1619 Project. He’s right, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the project from benefiting from the fact that the Times, while it no longer even makes a pretense of reporting news (instead it works as a Democrat propaganda arm), still has a disproportionate reach into American minds. For example, at Twitter, Stu Cvrk does a quick rundown of the Times’ decades’-long control over American newsrooms, a power it still holds today — as can be seen from the fact that USA Today has already published its own echo of the 1619 project.

Even the meanest intellect can understand the message that the Times’ and its fellow travelers are pushing: Americans cannot hide behind the Constitution to claim that they are a society founded on a great and colorblind idea (albeit one that was imperfectly implemented for a long time). Instead, from the moment Europeans set foot on America’s shores, they brought with them an evil so great that America is irredeemably corrupt. And of course, the proggies know the only way to purge that corruption: America must be destroyed and rebuilt in a socialist mold.

I’ll repeat here a true family story about this notion of purification: My aunt, along with her siblings (one of whom was my father) managed to escape Nazi Germany before the war. After the war, my aunt found her way to Israel. Israel was socialist, which ought to have satisfied her, but it wasn’t socialist enough. She wanted true communism, so she abandoned her husband and child and returned to Berlin. When she first raised the idea of leaving Israel, her friends asked her how she could return to the land of the Nazis. She confidently assured them that this was not a problem: “They’ve been purified by communism.” Looking at how people in the 20th century suffered under communism, I guess you could call that purification — and it’s that kind of “purification” that the new American Left wants for us so that we can atone for the sin of slavery.

Many people more intelligent and informed than I have pointed to some very obvious problems with the 1619 project. There’s

  • the shoddy, dishonest scholarship;
  • the fact that slavery was the norm throughout the world up until the Enlightenment, something that was a purely Western concept;
  • the fact that Africans enthusiastically participated in the slave trade as a way of ridding themselves of prisoners taken in their endless tribal warfare;
  • the fact that millions of Europeans were enslaved in Africa and the Middle East even as Africans were enslaved in other parts of the world;
  • the fact that slavery continues today across the Muslim Middle East and Africa; the fact that America fought its bloodiest war to end slavery, with the loss of 650,000 men (or 2% of its population); and
  • the fact that, after the 1830s, both slavery and its descendant, Jim Crow, were phenomenons unique to the Democrat Party.

That’s all the obvious stuff.

I’d like to talk about something less obvious, which is the fact that slavery is the best thing that ever happened to the African-American diaspora, by which I mean black Americans whose ancestors were forcibly brought to America as slaves. This is not to excuse the inhumanity of the slave trade nor is it meant to lessen the horrors visited on those Africans whose fellow countrymen consigned them to the slave ships. I’m also not trying to lessen the generational pain, suffering, and humiliation experienced by those who survived the ships only to become slaves, sharecroppers, and people on the receiving end of virulent racism. But what I’ve said is still true.

To begin, I’d like to talk a little bit about life in Africa today. Let’s start with life expectancy. African nations have the lowest life expectancy in the world — pathetically, tragically, horrifically low. No matter the source (the WHO, the UN, or other NGOs), the message is always the same: If you live in Africa, your life will be shorter than the life expectancy of any other people in any other parts of the world, no matter how impoverished. And just as one point of comparison, an African American man in America, although he is unlikely to live as long as a white male in America, can still expect to live 10 to 25 years longer than his African brethren.

What about infant mortality? Once again, Africa lives in the bottom half, nay, the bottom third of any infant mortality chart.

The African continent does top some charts, though. Many of its nations are in the top 20 percent when it comes to lists identifying the most dangerous countries in the world. See here, here, and here, for example. Africa also tops the charts for illiteracy, poverty, and horrific diseases.

Life in Africa is truly Hobbesian: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” — except that, given crowding in African cities, the one thing life isn’t is solitary. Instead, it’s over-crowded, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Just today, I picked up a couple of stories about life in Africa. The first was a tweet showing a South African mob, in full xenophobe mode, beating to death a Nigerian Uber driver and his passenger:

In response, someone tweeted a reminder to me that, just this past June, several thousand miles away on the northwestern side of Africa, there was a little reported story out of Mali:

Bodies recovered from a massacre of almost 100 people by a Malian ethnic militia included at least 24 children, many of them shot in the back, the prime minister said during a visit to the crime scene on Tuesday.

Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided the rival Dogon village of Sobame Da, in central Mali, between Sunday and Monday.

They killed at least 95 people and burned houses to the ground in an escalation of the tit-for-tat ethnic slaughter that has engulfed the country this year.

That massacre did not get the coverage of a shooting in a Texas Walmart. Instead, it got almost no coverage. That’s because it’s a dog bites man story. Massacres are normal for Africa. Mass slaughter for religious, ethnic, political, tribal, and racial grounds is an ongoing, day-to-day experience. It’s what they do there.

If you want a pithy summary of life in Africa, read Kim du Toit’s post entitled Let Africa Sink. du Toit grew up and lived for 30 years in Africa, so he has first-hand experience when he makes the following points. I’m offering here just a portion of his post, but I urge you to read the whole thing. It makes for both painful and eye-opening reading:

In Africa, life is cheap. There are so many ways to die in Africa that death is far more commonplace than in the West. You can die from so many things: snakebite, insect bite, wild animal attack, disease, starvation, food poisoning… the list goes on and on. At one time, crocodiles accounted for more deaths in sub-Saharan Africa than gunfire, for example. Now add the usual human tragedy (murder, assault, warfare and the rest), and you can begin to understand why the life expectancy for an African is low — in fact, horrifyingly low, if you remove White Africans from the statistics (they tend to be more urbanized, and more Western in behavior and outlook). Finally, if you add the horrifying spread of AIDS into the equation, anyone born in sub-Saharan Africa this century will be lucky to reach age forty.

[snip]

So because of my African background, I am seldom moved at the sight of death, unless it’s accidental, or it affects someone close to me. (Death which strikes at total strangers, of course, is mostly ignored.) Of my circle of about eighteen or so friends with whom I grew up, and whom I would consider “close”, only about eight survive today — and not one of the survivors is over the age of fifty. Two friends died from stepping on landmines while on Army duty in Namibia. Three died in horrific car accidents (and lest one thinks that this is not confined to Africa, one was caused by a kudu flying through a windshield and impaling the guy through the chest with its hoof — not your everyday traffic accident in, say, Florida). One was bitten by a snake, and died from heart failure. Another two also died of heart failure, but they were hopeless drunkards. Two were shot by muggers. The last went out on his surfboard one day and was never seen again (did I mention that sharks are plentiful off the African coasts and in the major rivers?). My experience is not uncommon in South Africa — and north of the Limpopo River (the border with Zimbabwe), I suspect that others would show worse statistics.

[snip]

My favorite African story actually happened after I left the country. An American executive took a job over there, and on his very first day, the newspaper headlines read:
“Three Headless Bodies Found”.
The next day: “Three Heads Found”.
The third day: “Heads Don’t Match Bodies”.

[snip]

More to the point, the West has evolved into a society with a stable system of government, which follows the rule of law, and has respect for the rights and life of the individual — none of which is true in Africa.

Among old Africa hands, we have a saying, usually accompanied by a shrug: “Africa wins again.” This is usually said after an incident such as:

  • a beloved missionary is butchered by his congregation, for no apparent reason
  • a tribal chief prefers to let his tribe starve to death rather than accepting food from the Red Cross (would mean he wasn’t all-powerful, you see)
  • an entire nation starves to death, while its ruler accumulates wealth in foreign banks
  • a new government comes into power, promising democracy, free elections etc., provided that the freedom doesn’t extend to the other tribe
  • the other tribe comes to power in a bloody coup, then promptly sets about slaughtering the first tribe
  • etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

In other words, for vast numbers of Africans, life in Africa is awful, really and truly awful. Not to be in Africa is a blessing.

And that loops me back to my earlier point, which is that those American blacks whose ancestors were enslaved here, are the lucky ones. This idea is not original to me. Instead, I first learned it when I stumbled across a book by an African-American, former Washington Post correspondent named Keith Richburg. Back in the early 1990s, Richburg was thrilled when he was appointed to be the Post‘s African bureau chief for it would give him the chance to return to the land of his ancestors. That thrill did not survive the African experience, especially given that he was in Africa during the Rwanda massacres.

In 1997, after returning to America, Richburg wrote about his experience in a book entitled Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa. I cannot recommend the book highly enough. The fact that it was first published in 1997 does not make it one whit less relevant to what’s going on in the world today and, indeed, given the iniquity of the 1619 Project, it makes the book more relevant than before. If you have $12 lying around for the Kindle edition, do yourself a favor — follow the my link to the book and get yourself a copy.

Rather than trying to summarize Richburg’s core point in the book, I’ll let him explain in his own words the staggering realization he had about America once he had done his time in Africa. Richburg begins by describing the overwhelming horror of being in Tanzania and watching bodies from Rwanda float down the Kagera Rivera by the thousands. That was not the only time he was confronted by dead bodies in Africa. He saw hundreds more, whether the people died from Nature’s aggression, poverty, ordinary African violence, or all-out war.

Maybe now you’re asking yourself: How does he deal with it? How does he cope with seeing those horrific images every day? Does he think about it? Does he have nightmares? What on earth must go through his mind?

I’ll tell you, if you’ll let me describe it. Revulsion. Sorrow. Pity at the monumental waste of human life. They all come close, but don’t quite capture what I really feel. It’s a sentiment that began nagging me soon after I first set foot in Africa in late 1991. And it’s a gnawing feeling that kept coming back to me as the bodies kept piling up, as the insanity of Africa deepened. It’s a feeling that I was really unable to express out loud until the end, as I was packing my bags to leave. It was a feeling that pained me to admit, a sentiment that, when uttered aloud, might come across as callous, self-obsessed, even racist.

And yet I know exactly this feeling that haunts me; I’ve just been too embarrassed to say it. So let me drop the charade and put it as simply as I know how: There but for the grace of God go I.

You see, I was seeing all of this horror a bit differently because of the color of my skin. I am an American, but a black man, a descendant of slaves brought from Africa. When I see these nameless, faceless, anonymous bodies washing over a waterfall or piled up on the back of trucks, what I see most is that they look like me.

Sometime, maybe four hundred or so years ago, one of my ancestors was taken from his village, probably by a local chieftain. He was shackled in leg irons, kept in a holding pen or a dark pit, possibly at Goree Island off the coast of Senegal. And then he was put in the crowded, filthy cargo hold of a ship for the long and treacherous voyage across the Atlantic to the New World.

Many of the slaves died on that voyage. But not my ancestor. Maybe it was because he was strong, maybe just stubborn, or maybe he had an irrepressible will to live. But he survived, and ended up in forced slavery working on plantations in the Caribbean. Generations on down the line, one of his descendants was taken to South Carolina. Finally, a more recent descendant, my father, moved to Detroit to find a job in an auto plant during the Second World War.

And so it was that I came to be born in Detroit and that thirty-five years later, a black man born in white America, I was in Africa, birthplace of my ancestors, standing at the edge of a river not as an African but as an American journalist—a mere spectator—watching the bloated bodies of black Africans cascading over a waterfall. And that’s when I thought about how, if things had been different, I might have been one of them—or might have met some similarly anonymous fate in one of the countless ongoing civil wars or tribal clashes on this brutal continent. And so I thank God my ancestor survived that voyage.

Does that sound shocking? Does it sound almost like a justification for the terrible crime of slavery? Does it sound like this black man has forgotten his African roots? Of course it does, all that and more. And that is precisely why I have tried to keep this emotion buried so deep for so long, and why it pains me so now to put these words in print, for all the world to see. But I’m writing this so you will understand better what I’m trying to say.

It might have been easier for me to just keep all of these emotions bottled up inside. Maybe I should have just written a standard book on Africa that would have talked broadly about the politics, the possibilities, the prospects for change.

But I’m tired of lying. And I’m tired of all the ignorance and hypocrisy and the double standards I hear and read about Africa, much of it from people who’ve never been there, let alone spent three years walking around amid the corpses. Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I’ll throw it back in your face, and then I’ll rub your nose in the images of the rotting flesh.

I’ll stop there, but let me say again that Richburg’s is one of those books you should read, indeed, you must read, if you want to understand the flip side of the sudden Leftist hysteria about the slave experience. Yes, slavery was bad, but America was scarcely unique. What is unique is that, out of that awfulness came something good: An African diaspora in which descendants of slaves can be Keith Richburg or Barack Obama or Beyonce, rather than the two Nigerians beaten to death on the street in South Africa or the 24 children killed in yet another tribal/religious battle that is day-to-day fare in impoverished, diseased, corrupt Africa, a place profoundly hostile to life.

Moreover, you need to understand that today’s American Left is trying to import wholesale Africa’s horrors to America under the guise of socialism — and by that I mean that the Left is trying to reinstate tribalism.

Keep in mind that Marx’s idea was anti-tribalism. He was all about class divisions that he believed uniformly encircled the globe. Thus, he envisioned a world in which, eventually, the whole world would march under one banner. For those who read Marx in the late 19th century, WWI came as a shock. They had assumed that, when the capitalist powers went to war, the workers of the world would unite, resisting national borders and combining instead to bring down worldwide capitalism and replacing it with one-world communism. Instead, the only uniting the workers of the world did was to march behind the national banners.

(As an aside, one can say that nationalism is tribalism on a larger scale and therefore equally dangerous. This is one of the proggie arguments against Trump. However, as Milton Friedman and other economists have pointed out, truly capitalist nations, especially those built around the type of liberty-oriented principles that animate the Constitution, tend not to go to war. They enrich themselves through trade and the spread of liberty; not through conquest and the spread of tyranny.)

America’s socialists are not working for a unified America. To achieve power, they are doing their best to divide America into as many warring sub-parts as possible. In other words, even as the world is finally leaving behind the tribalism that led to chronic violence (a type of violence I described here), America’s progressives, through initiatives such as the 1619 Project, are doing their best to reinstate it. Think about my post, read Richburg’s book, and resist the pernicious, evil, ill-informed, dangerous 1619 Project.

A note about the picture: An image from the Ethiopian famine in the early 1980s, which killed between 200,000 to 1,200,000 people.

The post No. 12 Bookworm Podcast: Slavery was a blessing for today’s African Americans appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

The 1619 Project: Scholarship Or Race Hustling? — by Wolf Howling

In addition to being an obvious effort to sow racial discord in America, the 1619 Project is based upon false, shoddy, and uninformed “scholarship.”

Let’s take a deeper dive than I did yesterday into the evil of Project 1619.  Let’s take a look at the work of two academics who figure prominently in it, Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond and Cornell historian Edward Baptist.  Are they pushing scholarship or race hustling?

I have been lambasted in the comments to the post linked above for pointing out that the 1619 Project is a revision of history designed to sow racial hatred and division for unrelated political ends — and opining that it is mother of all tosses of the race card.  To paraphrase the comments, “No, no, this is just a fair look at history.  It is benign.  There is no ulterior motive here.”  Yeah . . . bull.

Neo-Marxist progressives are in a full court press to destroy the foundations of this nation by tying the Constitution, the application of our laws, and our economic system to racism.  The problem is, there is precious little overt modern day racism in this country — and indeed, apparently most of what accounts for actual racial incidents today on the fringes of society are more likely than not to be hoaxes.

What is a good proggie to do?  Well, claim everything is inherently racist or, to use the words of the NYT in announcing the 1619 Project, all that the neo-Marxists progressives oppose is the “legacy of slavery [that] continues to shape our country.”

There is nothing fair or benign about any of this.  To falsely stir up racial tensions in this country, the cause of so much pain, suffering and loss of life, is pure evil.  Let’s drill down on just one example, the 1619 Project’s neo-Marxist assault on capitalism and the modern wealth of this nation.  Matthew Desmond, an ivy-league professor of Sociology, as part of the NYT Project 1619, authored an essay entitled In Order to Understand the brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start On The Plantation.  Heavily anecdotal, it is much more of an appeal to emotion than reason.

Desmond begins his introduction to the “brutality of American capitalism” by giving the example of Martin Shkreli:

A couple of years before he was convicted of securities fraud, Martin Shkreli was the chief executive of a pharmaceutical company that acquired the rights to Daraprim, a lifesaving antiparasitic drug. Previously the drug cost $13.50 a pill, but in Shkreli’s hands, the price quickly increased by a factor of 56, to $750 a pill. At a health care conference, Shkreli told the audience that he should have raised the price even higher. . . .

“This,” Desmond breathlessly tells us, referring to Shkreli as the alpha and omega of capitalism in America, “is a capitalist society.”  That, folks, is an appeal to pure emotion.  And Desmond is lying through his teeth in making the appeal.

The Shkreli story is the opposite of free market capitalism.  It is what happens when the government intervenes in the market place — in Shkreli’s case with regulations that allowed him to create a tiny monopoly.  A monopoly is the antithesis of free market capitalism.  If a government does that on a small scale, it is a market distortion.  If they do it on a larger scale for political ends, it is called, misleadingly, crony capitalism.  And if they do it on a national scale, it is called Venezuela . . . or the Soviet Union, etc.

What it is not is an example of the free market capitalism that has, in its short and imperfectly applied life, lifted humanity — including the progeny of all people once slaves — out of grinding poverty.  And indeed, as you take a look at the graph below, note that slavery ended in all British possessions circa 1843, and in the US, 1865.

 

People like Desmond love the Shkreli story because they think it an indictment of capitalism.  It certainly is an indictment of government regulation that allowed Shkreli to get away with his temporary monopoly pricing but, critically, Desmond and others never tell the rest of the Shkreli story:

Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that last month raised the price of the decades-old drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750, now has a competitor.

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company based in San Diego, announced today that it has made an alternative to Daraprim that costs about a buck a pill—or $99 for a 100-pill supply.

That is “brutal American capitalism” in actuality.  Bit of a different story, eh?

But enough of that.  Aside from having nothing to do with actual capitalism, what in the nine hells does Shkreli’s case have to do with the “legacy of slavery”?  After all, Desmond raises it as the exemplar of “brutal American capitalism” to indict American capitalism as somehow uniquely founded on the greed of Democrat slave owners.  Really?  Because the history of mankind is kind of full of the stories of people actuated by greed.  Indeed, the Bible, whose oldest chapter was written over 3,000 years, is full of proscriptions against greed.  That was long before capitalism or slavery in 18th and 19th century America.

Greed is a constant of mankind.  It is fair to say in the modern era that it is always at its worst when not blunted by the market forces of capitalism.  Take a look at any socialist economy, where the people starve while the rulers get fat and their children accumulate fortunes beyond the imagining.  For but two examples, in Cuba the average wage is $29.60 a day; Castro’s son is an international playboy.  In Venezuela, people are starving; the richest person in Venezuela was the daughter of Hugo Chavez.  Etc., etc.

But back to Desmond.  His drive-by hit on capitalism is Desmond’s template for the entire article.

As Craig Pirrong, a professor of finance at the University of Houston, writes at his blog

Desmond observes X (a bad thing) in the modern American economy. He observes something sorta kinda like X in the slave economy. He asserts that sorta X developed sui generis in the slave economy, and then asserts that the slave economy sorta X caused the modern economy X.  Every part of this “reasoning” is false.

It is not just false, it is insane.  It is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez levels of insanity, where she, with her degree in economics, celebrated driving Amazon out of the Bronx and saving the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, not understanding that she was in actuality preventing her city from collecting billions of dollars in tax revenue that did not exist without Amazon there.

Two more examples from Desmond’s work should be sufficient to show his fact-free blame game.  The first concerns the fiscal crisis of 2008 which resulted from Democrat race-based social engineering in the market in the 1990’s.  The second concerns accounting.  Again, Prof. Pirrong addresses both:

The bulk of Desmond’s screed consists of just-so stories showing that pathologies and misfortunes of modern American life trace back directly to slavery. My favorite – mortgages and financial crisis. You see, slaves were collateral in mortgages extended by greedy New York bankers. There was a credit boom in the South in the 1820s and 1830s, fueled in large part by mortgages with human collateral. The boom collapsed with the Panic of 1837.

Just like 2008! – only replacing “slaves” with “houses.” Per Desmond: “C.D.O.s were the grandchildren of mortgage-backed securities based on the inflated value of enslaved people sold in the 1820s and 1830s. Each product created massive fortunes for the few before blowing up the economy.”

As if there have not been other financial crises in other countries with totally different histories that have resulted from a collapse of credit. Indeed, this a hardy perennial of financial history.

Which can bring us back to Desmond’s beloved Iceland, which had a debt-fueled financial crisis that was arguably the worst in the world in 2008. . . .

Just how the hell does Iceland’s implosion have anything to do with American chattel slavery? And if it doesn’t, how can Desmond claims some sort of necessary causal link between a financial crisis during the slave era (which, by the way, was followed by many other US financial crises in the non-slave era) to a financial crisis 143 years after the 13th Amendment?

And as for mortgages, they’ve been around since Roman times (as the Spanish word for mortgage, hipoteca, indicates, that also being the Roman word for this kind of debt, which also lives on in English as “hypothecate”).

Ridiculous, I know. Oh, but there’s more!

Accounting. Seriously. Slave owners depreciated slaves in their plantation accounts:

“They quantified capital costs on their land, tools and enslaved workforces, applying Affleck’s recommended interest rate. Perhaps most remarkable, they also developed ways to calculate depreciation, a breakthrough in modern management procedures, by assessing the market value of enslaved workers over their life spans. Values generally peaked between the prime ages of 20 and 40 but were individually adjusted up or down based on sex, strength and temperament: people reduced to data points.” (Emphasis added.)

Uhm, slave owners didn’t “develop ways to calculate depreciation,” they applied a long standing concept to their capital in slaves. It is horrific that humans were viewed as capital, but this did not spur the development of a universal accounting concept: the concept has been around since people figured stuff wore out. And it is ridiculous for him to say that “scientific accounting” was developed on plantations: it was developed long before, starting with the Renaissance Italians, and plantation owners found it useful. As did Boston merchants and Manchester mill operators and on and on and on.

Desmond also focuses on the meticulous monitoring of slave laborers, and sees it as the forerunner of “unremitting workplace supervision” in the modern American economy. Put aside for the moment that workplace supervision today is at its most unremitting outside of the United States (can you say “Foxconn,” Matt? How the hell does that relate to US slavery?). What the hell do you think Marx and Engels kept going on about when describing the horrors of the English factory system? . . .

There is more.  Do read the whole post.  This crap is ridiculous.

That said, Desmond, a sociologist, bases a significant portion of his work on that of a new-age Cornell professor of history, Edward Baptist, the darling of the reparations set.  Indeed, Desmond quotes and references Baptist several times in his essay for the NYT 1619 Project.  Baptist is the author of the 2014 book, The Half That Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, the book Ta Neshi Coates relied upon when arriving at the rather large number he claims that today’s white Americans, none of whom have ever owned slaves and some of whose ancestors died in the fight to end slavery, owe to some or all of today’s blacks, none of whom have ever been slaves, some of whose ancestors may have been slave owners, and some of whose ancestors may have been slave traders.

Many of the same comments about Desmond’s ideas apply with equal force to that of Baptist.  Baptist tells the sad tale of slavery that everyone knows, cherry picking the most brutal stories.  He ignores the abolitionist movement — at one point in a recent Vox interview ludicrously crediting the decision of Northern states to outlaw slavery with being “largely due to the resistance of enslaved people,” as if in the years before the Great Awakening triggered the abolitionist movement, blacks had been fine with their slave status, encouraging white passivity.  Well, that certainly makes the moral issues much easier for progressives.  But Baptist does not stop there.

In tallying up the amount he believes are owed in reparations to free blacks today, a number he puts in the trillions, he essentially erases the staggering economic costs of the Civil War, while simultaneously claiming that the wealth of the pre-Civil War South is responsible for American wealth today.  As he states in the interview:

The debt is so great that whites have little claim to say that something is too much to pay. They have no standing to argue that the wealth distribution should remain where it is today. There’s no justifiable way — in my opinion — to make that argument.

So this is the moral argument not merely for reparations, but wealth redistribution on a grand scale.  Is that justified, or are there problems with Baptist’s scholarship before you even reach the question of justification?  This from The Statistical Errors of the Reparations Agenda appearing at The American Institute For Economic Research:

[During the reparations hearings, Ta-Nahesi Coats testified that] by 1836 more than $600 million, almost half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd slaves.”

This stunning statistical claim was widely repeated in commentary . . . [it] is, however, unambiguously false.

Coates’s numbers come from Cornell University historian Ed Baptist’s 2014 book The Half Has Never Been Told. In a key passage in the book, Baptist purports to add up the total value of economic activity that derived from cotton production, which at $77 million made up about 5 percent of the estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States in 1836. Baptist then committed a fundamental accounting error. He proceeded to double and even triple count intermediate transactions involved in cotton production — things like land purchases for plantations, tools used for cotton production, transportation, insurance, and credit instruments used in each. Eventually that $77 million became $600 million in Baptist’s accounting, or almost half of the entire antebellum economy of the United States.

There’s a crucial problem with Baptist’s approach. The calculation of GDP, the main formulation of national accounts and a representation of the dollar amount of economic activity in a country in a given year, only incorporates the value of final goods and services produced. The rationale for doing so comes from accounting, as the price of the final good already incorporates intermediate transactions that go into its production and distribution. Baptist’s numbers are not only wrong — they reflect a basic unfamiliarity with the meaning and definition of GDP.

When The Half Has Never Been Told first appeared in print, economists immediately picked up on the error. Bradley Hansen of Mary Washington University kicked off the scrutiny by posting a thorough dissection of Baptist’s errors on his personal blog. Economic historians Alan Olmstead (UC-Davis) and Paul Rhode (University of Michigan) chimed in with a devastating critique of Baptist’s empirics, observing that a continuation of his “faulty methodology by summing the ‘roles’ of cotton with a few other primary products” would yield an amount that “easily exceed[ed] 100 percent of GDP” in the antebellum United States — an economic impossibility.

Stanley Engerman, perhaps the foremost living expert on the economics of slavery, weighed in next:

“Baptist’s economic analysis, intended to demonstrate the essential role of the slave-grown cotton economy for Northern economic growth, is weakened by some variants of double and triple counting and some confusion of assets and income flows. To go from a value of the Southern cotton crop in 1836 of “about 5 percent of that entire gross domestic product,” to “almost half of the economic activity of the United States in 1836″ (pp 312-22) requires his calculation to resemble the great effects claimed by an NFL club when trying to convince city taxpayers that they should provide the money to build a new stadium because of all the stadium’s presumed primary and secondary effects.”

The main takeaways are that (1) the actual percentage of GDP derived from slavery is measured from final goods and services that involved slave-based production, and (2) Ed Baptist clearly did not understand what he was doing when he calculated his statistic. Cotton was by far the biggest item on the list of final goods and services, and, while its output varied year by year, it is probably reasonable to place slave-based goods in the mid to high single digits, not the 50 percent claim that Coates repeated.

Unfortunately, historians who work on the “New History of Capitalism” — a school of historiography that emerged after the financial crisis of 2007–8 and that purports to study the relationship between slavery and capitalism — have proven remarkably ill-suited at grasping the fundamentals of GDP and other economic concepts.

So this is the level and type of scholarship the NYT is pushing with Project 1619.  There is not an act undertaken in good faith.  It is an effort to stir up racial tension using the basest of polemics.  All so progressives can take power in 2020, because everyone who does not agree with them is a racist or white supremacist.

The post The 1619 Project: Scholarship Or Race Hustling? — by Wolf Howling appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

No. 10 Bookworm Podcast — Tlaib, Omar, Israel, and the Times takes on slavery

The advent of the internet means that ordinary people like me can loudly criticize Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and the Times‘ ridiculous 1619 project.

(If you prefer listening to reading, the companion podcast is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like it, please share it with your friends and on social media. Giving it good ratings helps too.)

An internet world lets ordinary people praise Israel. It’s very hard to cast ones mind back to a pre-internet era when traditional news outlets were the only game in town and news was on a day-to-day cycle. In today’s world, the fact that two junior Congresswomen were denied admission to Israel has received 24/7 coverage in the old-line news media (television and what we still call “print,” even though it’s really internet). In addition, politicians — especially Leftists — have spoken about it steadily, flooding Twitter with their opinions.

Here are the basic outlines: Rashida Tlaib (D-Palestine) and Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) have consistently and openly demonized both Israel and Jews. Among other things, both have actively pushed the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement, which seeks to destroy Israel economically. Of course, those who argue that this is an appropriate activity because of Israel’s alleged human rights abuses have not pushed a BDS movement against any other country that has provably violated human rights. The same people behind BDS are horrified that Trump would use economic sanctions against China, never mind that China’s human rights abuses against its own people are legion and that its economic abuses are terribly damaging to Americans here at home.

Anyhoo, Tlaib and Omar planned to travel on the taxpayers’ dime to visit Israel. Oh, wait! I misspoke. They planned to travel on the taxpayers’ dime to visit a place called Palestine:

Omar Tlaib itinerary Palestine Israel

Israel mulled letting the women into the country but eventually decided against it. In so doing, it relied on an existing law holding that Israel has the right to bar from entry people who support the BDS movement. One could add that it’s quite reasonable to prohibit entry to people who call for your country’s destruction and openly embrace activists who use violence to advance that destruction.

Democrats went nuts. How dare Israel enforce its borders! How dare Israel insult the U.S. Congress! How dare Israel insult American citizens! How dare Israel listen to Trump’s advice about the women!

Tlaib then upped the ante by announcing that Israel’s decision was barring her from seeing her beloved 95-year-old grandmother. She promised, in writing, that if Israel agreed, she would not engage in any anti-Israel provocation:

Israel yielded to this humanitarian request, only to have Tlaib immediately throw it back in Israel’s face:

In other words, the whole thing was a stunt to keep the news cycle going a bit longer. Which gets me back to my point about the non-stop news cycle. Would this kind of non-news also have been a story in the old days? I think it would have been. I distinctly remember when the media turned on Jimmy Carter (hoping, I’m sure, that Ted Kennedy would become the Democrat candidate for 1980). The traditional media was suddenly flooded with endless iterations about killer rabbits, lusting after the Polish people, and defecting from America.

The virtue of the internet era, despite the best efforts of Google, Facebook, and other Leftist outlets exerting out-sized control over the internet, is that people other than the mainstream media still have a say in the matter. That means that I — and you and every other sane person — can tweet or blog or podcast about the fact that, if Tlaib and Omar can boycott Israel, Israel can boycott them.

And I can point out that it’s really irrelevant that Israel is barring those two women from entering Israel, since their plan is to go to some other country altogether. That other country would be Palestine, a place found only on UNRWA maps and on the map that Tlaib put in her office when she was elected as a U.S. Congresswoman. (UNRWA, for those who don’t know, stands for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. It is the only UN agency devoted entirely to a single group of refugees, a group, moreover, that gained its refugee status 52 years ago. All other refugee groups in the world have either been repatriated or absorbed into their new locales.)

One other opinion I’ve seen floating around is that Israel should let Tlaib and Omar in and have them see places unique to Israel, in the hopes of changing their minds. Daniel Pipes, one of the most profound thinkers about anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment believes this:

For starters, the possibility exists that the congresswomen would have learned something during their travels to diminish their hostility to Israel. It has happened before. Jesse Helms, the longtime Republican senator from North Carolina, who died in 2008, was renowned for his hostility to Israel, for example calling in 1982 for a “shut down” of U.S.-Israel relations. But he was strongly affected by a 1985 trip to the Holy Land and became Israel’s staunch supporter. In a more recent case, former Islamist Maajid Nawaz recalled on Twitter Thursday that a “trip to Israel & engagement with Israeli humans changed me profoundly.”

This is one of the few times I find myself at odds with Pipes. First, Israel can’t force the women to do anything, and visiting “pro-Israel” sites was not on their itinerary. Second, these woman have a political, public, and media investment in hating Israel. There’s no benefit to them in changing their minds. Third, serious haters are surrounded by a mental force field. This is especially true when it comes to calls (not Pipes’ call, by the way) that it would have helped Israel to take Tlaib and Omar to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. I can’t think of a more terrible idea.

I can assure you that seeing Yad Vashem will not move these two open anti-Semites to see the error of their ways. Instead, whether they gloat openly or inwardly, a visit to Yad Vashem will represent something they devoutly wish — the bloody and complete destruction of the Jewish people. Keep in mind that their pals in Hamas have as part of their charter calls for the obliteration of the Jewish people and the complete Muslim takeover of their land. In other words, what Hitler started, they wish to finish. Yad Vashem is not a place of horror for them, but a reminder of work yet to be done.

So, I’m fine with the fact that Tlaib and Omar don’t get to go to Israel, that they don’t see Yad Vashem, and that the internet world, while every bit as Leftistly vicious and repetitive as the old, pre-internet mainstream media world, for the first time gives the rest of us a voice.

One more thing: I’ve seen a bunch of headlines for the past two days about the fact that that Tlaib’s grandmother called for “God to ruin Trump.” She didn’t. If you listen, you hear that she called for “Allah” to ruin Donald Trump.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered Allah to be the same creator as the Judeo-Christian God. Monothesist, yes. God, no. Just sayin’.

The risible Times’ take on slavery and America. Byron York has garnered deserved praise for his article describing the latest New York Times project, which isn’t just to say that Trump is racist (its planned narrative for the next 15 months), but to say that all of America is racist:

In the Times‘ view (which it hopes to make the view of millions of Americans), the country was actually founded in 1619, when the first Africans were brought to North America, to Virginia, to be sold as slaves.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of that event, and the Times has created something called the 1619 Project. This is what the paper hopes the project will accomplish: “It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

[snip]

The basic thrust of the 1619 Project is that everything in American history is explained by slavery and race. The message is woven throughout the first publication of the project, an entire edition of the Times magazine. It begins with an overview of race in America — “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.” — written by Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who on Twitter uses the identity Ida Bae Wells, from the crusading late 19th-early 20th century African American journalist Ida B. Wells.

The essays go on to cover the economy (“If you want to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.”), the food we eat (“The sugar that saturates the American diet has a barbaric history as the ‘white gold’ that fueled slavery.”), the nation’s physical health (“Why doesn’t the United States have universal healthcare? The answer begins with policies enacted after the Civil War.”), politics (“America holds onto an undemocratic assumption from its founding: that some people deserve more power than others.”), daily life (“What does a traffic jam in Atlanta have to do with segregation? Quite a lot.”), and much more.

[snip]

A major goal of the 1619 Project is to take the reframing message to schools. The Times has joined an organization called the Pulitzer Center (which, it should be noted, is not the organization that hands out the Pulitzer Prize) to create a 1619 Project curriculum. “Here you will find reading guides, activities, and other resources to bring The 1619 Project into your classroom,” the center says in a message to teachers.

The paper also wants to reach into schools itself. “We will be sending some of our writers on multi-city tours to talk to students,” Hannah-Jones said recently, “and we will be sending copies of the magazine to high schools and colleges. Because to us, this project really takes wing when young people are able to read this and understand the way that slavery has shaped their country’s history.”

I have a few points I want to make, in no particular order.

To a hammer, everything is a nail. To the extent the Left is monomaniacal about America and racism, this truly is the prism through which it views this country. Nothing will change that.

The goal here is obvious: To make it clear that America is rotten to its very core. There can be no salvation. It must be destroyed root and branch, for the sin of African slavery is so deeply woven into the fabric of America’s soul that it cannot be expiated. There is no level of remorse or redemption that will wipe out this canker. The more than 600,000 American men whose bodies littered American soil are meaningless. The Civil Rights Movement is meaningless. The first black(ish) president . . . meaningless. The corruption is so interwoven with America that the country needs to be ended.

I’m reminded somehow of my aunt. She, along with her siblings (one of whom was my father) and her mother managed to escape Nazi Germany before the war. After the war, she found her way to Israel. Israel was socialist, which ought to have satisfied her, but it wasn’t socialist enough. She wanted communism, so she abandoned her husband and child and returned to Berlin. When people asked her how she could return to the land of the Nazis, she assured them that this was not a problem: “They’ve been purified by communism.” Looking at how East Germans suffered compared to their Western compatriots over the next 73 years, I have to say she was right. That’s the kind of purification the new American Left wants for us.

The Left ignores or misunderstands the history of slavery. Slavery is not uniquely American. Slavery is a part of the world and its history. I don’t believe that there has been a time or place in the world during which slavery has not existed. In the early years of European activity in North America, it was the Europeans — the Spaniards, French, and English — who brought slavery to these shores. At the same time, throughout the Muslim world, there was a huge traffic in European slaves, with millions of Europeans vanishing into Africa and the Middle East.

Moreover, slavery in America wasn’t initially driven by race. The British made a serious effort to use the Irish as slaves — in the form of indentured servants for debts or penal servitude for crimes — but the Irish, stubbornly, kept up and dying. It was black resistance to malaria, rather than their skin color, that initially made them the preferred unpaid servant race.

Put another way, for all of America’s pre-revolutionary history, slavery in every part of the world wasn’t the exception, it was the norm. Moreover, the fact that slaves ended up being black wasn’t a racial decision, it was a pragmatic decision based upon survivability.

The only places in which slavery ceased being the norm were those places that embraced capitalism. Slavery is an inefficient system, since those who labor without recompense produce at the most minimal level possible. It’s when people’s labor is tied to profit that they put energy into their work. Moreover, although the slave owner isn’t getting good work from slaves, he still has to maintain them. They must be fed, housed, and clothed. Moreover, a slave owner with the even most limited conscience also had to care for them at some level after their work years ended. After all, at this point they were unsaleable and, even in the cruelest of times during the Roman empire, slaughtering them like old horses wasn’t the done thing.

Beginning immediately after the Civil War, the northern states took off like gangbusters, creating the amazing American economic engine that exploded onto the world in the second half of the 19th century. Meanwhile, for more than 100 years after the War, the former slave states — the ones that immediately embraced Jim Crow — were economic backwaters. To the extent that they had a slavery legacy, it screwed them economically. It wasn’t until they turned their collective backs entirely on their racist pasts that the Southern states finally caught up with the northern states economically.

But again, to a hammer, everything is a nail. America is evil and modern Americans must be made to suffer until, as my aunt said, they are purified in the fires of communism.

The post No. 10 Bookworm Podcast — Tlaib, Omar, Israel, and the Times takes on slavery appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

That time when Democrats were responsible for low Black unemployment

Trump boasted in his Grand Rapids speech that his policies were responsible for historically low Black unemployment. Dems shouldn’t take that lying down.

Low Black Unemployment under Democrats

Never forget which American political party was the slavery party.

And don’t forget either that it was the Democrats who, ignoring the great Frederick Douglass’s insistence that America could serve Blacks best by allowing them to thrive unhindered,* instead foisted government dependency on them beginning in the 1930s, with an extra dose of the hard stuff in the 1960s. After all, it was Democrat President Lyndon Johnson who, when speaking to two like-minded politicians, boasted that his Great Society legislation would ensure that “I’ll have those n*****rs voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

Looking at these trends in Black employment — that is, almost full employment through slavery; unemployment through government dependency; and almost full employment through the free market — American Blacks must decide what system served them best, both at an individual level and as a community. If they conclude that being independent, self-sufficient, and gainfully employed is a good thing, it’s time for them to leave the Democrat plantation and, as free men and women, vote for Trump and the Republicans in 2020.
____________________________________
*Here’s what Douglass wrote in 1862 when people were worried that society would be overrun by indigent Blacks were slavery to end:

These objections are often urged with a show of sincere solicitude for the welfare of the slaves themselves. It is said, what will you do with them? they can’t take care of themselves; they would all come to the North; they would not work; they would become a burden upon the State, and a blot upon society; they’d cut their masters’ throats; they would cheapen labor, and crowd out the poor white laborers from employment; their former masters would not employ them, and they would necessarily become vagrants, paupers and criminals, over-running all our alms houses, jails and prisons. The laboring classes among the whites would come in bitter conflict with them in all the avenues of labor, and regarding them as occupying places and filling propositions which should be occupied and filled by white men; a fierce war of races would be the inevitable consequence, and the black race would, of course, (being the weaker,) be exterminate. In view of this frightful, though happily somewhat contradictory picture, the question is asked, and pressed with a great show of earnestness at this momentous crisis of our nation’s history, What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated?

This question has been answered, and can be answered in many ways. Primarily, it is a question less for man than for God — less for human intellect than for the laws of nature to solve. It assumes that nature has erred; that the law of liberty is a mistake; that freedom, though a natural want of human soul, can only be enjoyed at the expense of human welfare, and that men are better off in slavery than they would or could be in freedom; that slavery is the natural order of human relations, and that liberty is an experiment. What shall be done with them?

Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone. They suffer by ever interference, and succeed best by being let alone.

[snip]

As colored men, we only ask to be allowed to do with ourselves, subject only to the same great laws for the welfare of human society which apply to other men, Jews, Gentiles, Barbarian, Sythian. Let us stand upon our own legs, work with our own hands, and eat bread in the sweat of our own brows. When you, our white fellow-countrymen, have attempted to do anyting for us, it has generally been to deprive us of some right, power or privilege which you yourself would die before you would submit to have taken from you. When the planters of the West Indies used to attempt to puzzle the pure-minded Wilberforce with the question, How shall we get rid of slavery? his simple answer was, “quit stealing.” In like manner, we answer those who are perpetually puzzling their brains with questions as to what shall be done with the Negro, “let him alone and mind your own business.” If you see him plowing in the open field, leveling the forest, at work with the spade, a rake a hoe, a pick-axe, or a bill — let him alone; he has a right to work. If you see him on his way to school, with spelling book, geography and arithmetic in his hands — let him alone. Don’t shut the door in his face, nor bolt your gates against him; he has a right to learn — let him alone. Don’t pass laws to degrade him. If he has a ballot in his hand, and is on his way to the ballot-box to deposit his vote for the man whom he think will most justly and wisely administer the Government which has the power of life and death over him, as well as others — let him alone; his right of choice as much deserves respect and protection as your own. If you see him on his way to the church, exercising religious liberty in accordance with this or that religious persuasion — let him alone. –Don’t meddle with him, nor trouble yourselves with any questions as to what shall be done with him.

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Reparations: The Holy Grail of Identity Politics (Part III)

Reparations for the unpaid labor of blacks held in slavery in America are speculative at best and cannot be fairly distributed or imposed.

[Note:  The picture to the left, which shows Democrat Robert Byrd in a KKK outfit. is a Photoshop, but I use it because, to use the phrase coined by the New York Times, it is “fake but accurate. “]

2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery.  They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.

This will be the third of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:

Part I – Constitutional Considerations: Bills of Attainder, Corruption of Blood, & Ex Post Facto Laws.

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

Part IV – Need for Reparations?

Part V – Marxism versus Melting Pots

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

The New York Times, in a recent article, observed that “2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations.”  Leaving aside the legal, historical, ethical, and equitable considerations of slandering all white Americans with the “original sin” of slavery and establishing at law that black Americans in the present day are permanent victims of evil whites, there are a host of practical problems with the concept of reparations for slavery (only) in America (and only as to American slaves).  Those practical problems include calculating the amount of reparations, identifying who should be eligible for the reparations and in what degree, and determining who should be liable for funding the reparations.  Do note that none of the race hustlers mentioned in the Times article linked above address any of these questions.

So, first off, let’s define “reparations.”  According to Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., perhaps our nation’s most well-known victim studies professor, writing in the NYT in 2010, reparations are “the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage.”  But that is certainly not all.  As Gates states, there is more to this than just compensation in monetary terms.  The push for reparations primarily has a moral purpose:

There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain. [Emphasis added]

So the moral dimension is that all American whites and those slavers in Africa are to be tarred with the sin of slavery, though not a one alive today has ever committed slavery.  And every black alive today is to be given unearned status as a victim, though not a one of them has ever been a slave.  Again, you will never find the people who push for reparations mentioning either the Christian abolition movement or our Civil War.  It is as if they never happened.  But let’s leave the moral question aside.  For the purpose of this post, let’s assume, arguendo, that all reparations for slavery should be paid.

Newsweek published an article in 2015 , using research from Prof. Thomas Craemer, that attempted to value reparations for American slavery:

Craemer . . . has come up with what he says is the most economically sound estimate to date of what reparations could cost: between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion.

Craemer came up with those figures by tabulating how many hours all slaves—men, women and children—worked in the United States from when the country was officially established in 1776 until 1865, when slavery was officially abolished. He multiplied the amount of time they worked by average wage prices at the time, and then a compounding interest rate of 3 percent per year (more than making up for inflation). There is a range because the amount of time worked isn’t a hard figure.

Previous estimates of reparations have ranged from around $36 billion to $10 trillion (in 2009 dollars), Craemer says. Those calculations mostly looked at wealth created by slaves as opposed to services provided, resulting in underestimates. Craemer believes that “the economic assumptions underlying [his method] are more sound” than those used in previous papers.

So, in other words, any attempt at putting a number to reparations — a spread of $36 billion to almost a year’s worth of the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. at $14.2 trillion — is going to be an incredibly speculative guess from the outset.

Determining Reparations:  Offsets by the costs of life

The numbers that the race hustlers typically throw around do not include any offsets.  The initial round of offsets would include the costs of living during the slave’s lifetime.  Owning a slave meant that the owner was responsible for day-to-day feeding, clothing, housing, and medical care for the slave throughout his lifetime, during the slave’s productive and non-productive years.

Those costs could be significant, and indeed, by the late 1700’s, prohibitory.  George Washington’s life is instructive.

Washington found slavery economically inefficient. In the last decades of his life, the profits from his farmland did not cover the cost of feeding and clothing the estate’s enslaved people. By the 1770s, Washington began to realize that slavery was not an efficient labor system for Mount Vernon. After switching his plantation’s focus from tobacco to less labor-intensive grains, Washington had far more enslaved workers than he needed. He was losing money. By 1799, he lamented, “I have more working Negros by a full moiety [half], than can be employed to any advantage in the farming System.”

If you wonder why Washington did not simply sell his slaves at that point, it was because he refused to break up enslaved families.  In the end, when he died, Washington did not merely free all of the 123 slaves that he owned outright, but also provided a trust to educate the slaves and to house and care for those of his slaves that were too old or infirm to make a living in free society.

Determining Reparations:  Offsets by the economic and human costs of the Civil War

Slaves in America are unique in world history.  They are the only group of people for whom a nation engaged in a Civil War to determine their fate as free men or slaves.  That was the costliest and most brutal war in American history.  If the question is how much economic benefit the nation received from the institution of slavery, then would it not be only fair to deduct the economic costs to the nation from ending the institution of slavery?  And if we are going to put an economic value on enslaved blacks during their lifetime, should we not offset that against the economic value of the hundreds of thousands of non-black, non-Confederate lives snuffed out during a Civil War to free the slaves?  “Based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white men aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6 percent in the North . . .”  The race hustlers never mention those issues.

I don’t think anyone has ever attempted to valuate the long-term economic costs of both the Civil War itself and the non-black lives lost during the war.  We can get a sense of the scope, though, because we have a lot of numbers available. Thus, we know the numbers for the war itself (numbers below not inflated to current value).

In dollars and cents, the U.S. government estimated Jan. 1863 that the war was costing $2.5 million daily. A final official estimate in 1879 totaled $6,190,000,000. The Confederacy spent perhaps $2,099,808,707. By 1906 another $3.3 billion already had been spent by the U.S. government on Northerners’ pensions and other veterans’ benefits for former Federal soldiers. Southern states and private philanthropy provided benefits to the Confederate veterans. The amount spent on benefits eventually well exceeded the war’s original cost.

Inflation affected both Northern and Southern assets but hit those of the Confederacy harder. Northern currency fluctuated in value, and at its lowest point $2.59 in Federal paper money equaled $1 in gold. The Confederate currency so declined in purchasing power that eventually $60-$70 equaled a gold dollar.

The physical devastation, almost all of it in the South, was enormous: burned or plundered homes, pillaged countryside, untold losses in crops and farm animals, ruined buildings and bridges, devastated college campuses, and neglected roads all left the South in ruin

We also know what happened to the South’s wealth:

The wealth amassed in slaves and slavery for the Confederacy’s 3.5 million blacks effectively ended when Union armies arrived; they were nearly all freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves in the border states and those located in some former Confederate territory occupied before the Emancipation Proclamation were freed by state action or (on December 6, 1865) by the Thirteenth Amendment.

The war destroyed much of the wealth that had existed in the South. All accumulated investment Confederate bonds was forfeit; most banks and railroads were bankrupt. Income per person in the South dropped to less than 40 percent of that of the North, a condition that lasted until well into the 20th century.

When it comes to the human costs,  approximately 828,000+ people associated with the Union Army or civilians in Union states lost their lives or were seriously wounded during the conflict. (Indeed, one in thirteen of the survivors were amputees). Moreover, of those Union soldiers who survived the war, our nation had to pay pension costs well into the 20th century, with these costs actually exceeding the cost of the war itself.

All of the above led Prof. Thomas Sowell, America’s greatest living economist, to eyeball the numbers and then write:

Sometimes it is claimed that slavery made a great contribution to the development of the American economy, from which other Americans benefitted, so that reparations would be like back pay. Although slaveowners benefitted from slavery, it is by no means obvious that there were net benefits to the economy as a whole, especially when you subtract the staggering costs of the Civil War.

So if in fact, the value of freedom provided to blacks by the Civil War exceeds the cost of reparations . . . can we get a check from Rev. Al and the Congressional Black Caucus?

To whom should reparations be paid?

As of 2016, there were 40 million people in America who self-identified as black (including, apparently, Talculm X and Rachel Dolezal).  This raises an interesting question: Are all people who merely self-identify as black entitled to reparations, regardless whether they can trace their origins in America back to a slave — or can even trace their origins back to Africa? (Or at least, back to black Africa from the 17th to the beginning of the 19th centuries, for modern anthropology tells us that all of us trace our origins back to Africa.)

Of the 40 million self-identified black people living in the U.S. in 2016, 4.2 million were first generation immigrants to America and clearly had no history of slavery in the American colonies or states.  Barack Obama was himself the son of a black man from Kenya.  Many more of the 40 million have ancestors who came to the U.S. after slavery ended in 1865.  So, are these people entitled to reparations regardless?

If a person’s DNA is not full African, is that person limited to only a portion of reparations in equal proportion? Or does the one-drop rule now apply?

For people who can trace their her origins back to the 18th century, what about if their black ancestors were free people, not slaves?  By 1810, at least 13% of Africans in just in the upper South were free people.  Many more were likely free in the north.

Or how about this scenario: What if a person’s ancestor was black but owned black slavesAfter all, “in 1830 there were 3,775 free black people who owned 12,740 black slaves” in America.  And does it matter that it was a black slave owner in mid-17th century Virginia, Anthony Johnson, who, in a law suit against his black servant John Casor, established the concept of chattel slavery for life in America?

Lastly, what percentage of reparations should be charged against the Africans and Arab Muslims who captured slaves in Africa and sold them into American slavery?

Who should pay reparations?

The simple fact is that, even at the height of slavery in 1860, only 8% of Americans (white and black) owned slaves overall.  Even in the Southern states, that number never rose above 33%.   Moreover, probably half of all Americans (“swag” — scientific wild ass guess) are descended from people who were not even in the U.S. before 1865.  So why should Ms. BWR be responsible for paying reparations to blacks today for slavery during the period 1776 to 1865 when her family did not even come to this country until 1954?   That would amount to requiring people to fund reparations to blacks simply because of their white skin color.  And that would be, dare I say it, racist beyond measure.

If we are to look to history for the wrong, let us look to history for the culprits as well.  As Deroy Murdock writes in the National Review today, slavery and its associated ills are identifiable with a particular group — Democrats:

. . .  As Black History Month draws to a close, it is vital to remember that slavery spread agony across the South under the watchful eyes of Democrats, such as President Andrew Jackson, from the party’s 1828 launch. It was not until 1860’s election of Republican Abraham Lincoln that the final, decisive push toward abolition began. The GOP-led Union Army crushed the Democrat-led Confederacy in 1865. That’s when Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation came into full force, as Republicans freed the slaves.

The Republicans’ Radical Reconstruction empowered newly liberated blacks. Overriding the presidential vetoes of Democrat Andrew Johnson, congressional Republicans pressured southern states to ratify the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing blacks equal protection under law. . . .

After detailing the many sins of Democrats as regards blacks, Murdock concludes:

. . . if Democrats want reparations to atone for their nearly 200 years of anti-black sins, they should finance them. From Barbra Streisand to George Clooney to Tom Steyer to George Soros, the Democratic 1 percenters should shove their billions into a huge pile and then show us the money.

I could live with that.

The post Reparations: The Holy Grail of Identity Politics (Part III) appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part II)

Reparations that economically penalize modern Americans for ancient acts to benefit other modern Americans are not justified by any fair reading of history.

2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing the for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery.  They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.

This will be the second of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:

Part I – Constitutional Considerations: Bills of Attainder, Corruption of Blood, & Ex Post Facto Laws.

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

Part IV – Need for Reparations?

Part V – Marxism versus Melting Pots

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

The end game for those pushing reparations for slavery (who now include the top Democratic presidential candidates among their number) is to paint people with black skin as separate, permanent victims in a modern day America that is itself a hotbed of racism.  That hotbed, they claim, is responsible for all of the problems of blacks.  This is all part and parcel of the effort to destroy Western Civilization, starting with America, then to remake it into a socialist paradise. A necessary step in this endeavor is to delegitimize the Founders of this country, the Constitution, and the Judaeo-Christian religions.

Significantly, those who push for reparations for slavery in America almost invariably paint slavery as a sin unique to white Americans.  No one ever seriously mentions the world-wide history of slavery, the American Civil War, or the unique role that white Americans and Brits — Christians, Jews and capitalists — played in ending slavery as both an American and a world-wide institution. Sadly (and dangerously) very little, if any, of that history comes to the attention of students in America today:

For 11 years, Professor Duke Pesta gave quizzes to his students at the beginning of the school year to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.

The most surprising result from his 11-year experiment? Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, he said.

“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America,” Pesta told The College Fix. “They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.” . . .

The world history of slavery and its equities.

Slavery didn’t begin in America nor did it begin with the African slave trade. To the contrary, slavery as an accepted practice in the world ended with the African slave trade. Slavery began with the dawn of civilization and it has involved virtually every race (very much including blacks in both Africa and America) at one time or another, alternately as slavers and enslaved. Indeed, slave-based agrarian economies have been the norm throughout much of the world’s history (hyperlinks omitted):

Evidence of slavery predates written records, and has existed in many cultures. . . . The earliest records of slavery can be traced to the Code of Hammurabi . . . and the Bible refers to it as an established institution. Slavery was known to occur in civilizations as old as Sumer, as well as almost every other ancient civilization, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, Ancient India, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Islamic Caliphate, and the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas. . . . Records of slavery in Ancient Greece go as far back as Mycenaean Greece. Two-fifths (some authorities say four-fifths) of the population of Classical Athens were slaves.

Slavery is also still practiced across vast swaths of Africa and the Middle East. It also crops up periodically in the West when those who currently practice slavery import it to their new countries.

The record of historic and current day slavery means that, if slavery is an original sin for which all races once slavers are to be held liable for their sins, and all races once slaves are to receive reparations, than the world has a lot of accounting and atoning to do, none of which will advance humanity in the slightest.  Even our most vociferous race-baiters would find it unpalatable.  Nevertheless, if they want to go that route — that is, alternately charging and compensating current generations for slavery hundreds or thousands of years old on the basis that slavery is an original sin that involves the collective responsibility of entire races of people, then who owes what to whom — and on a related note, do the people that ended slavery get a pass on reparations?

The word “slave” itself gives a clue to that institutions non-African foundations. The word “slave” is a derivation of “Slav” — as in the Slavic people who were enslaved in such number by European warlords towards the end of the Dark Ages and for the better half of the following millennium that their very name came to be identified with “slavery.”  So can anyone with some Slavic blood get in on this reparations deal? Do they get to reach into the pockets of the Germans, Italians and Celts?

The Romans regularly took slaves as they marched across Europe and into the Middle East. If Europeans, Britons, and North Africans could trace their lineage back two millennia, probably everyone of European ancestry could find an ancestor enslaved by the Romans. Then there were the Mongols and Tartars who enslaved an estimated 3,000,000 people from Poland, Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Mongols have the economy today to grant large scale reparations. Maybe the Poles and Russians can hit them up for some free yurts?

What of the Jews? The Old Testament makes clear that they owned slaves and made slaves of other tribes in the Middle East. But the Jews may have an out. The Jews themselves were enslaved, during various times, by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. So can the Jews just tell whomever they owe to pick up the IOU’s in Cairo, Baghdad, Athens, and Rome, and then call it even?

Now how about this for a question?  If reparations are to be based on race or skin color, what do blacks owe to people of British, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish or Italian ancestry.  Many were enslaved by African and Arab Islamic pirates who for centuries made raids to capture white Europeans as slaves. The Africans would also enslave the crews of any ships they captured — including American ships (and thus two of our earliest wars as a young nation, The First and Second Barbary Wars):

Reports of Barbary raids and kidnappings of those in Italy, Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, Scotland as far north as Iceland exist from between the 16th to the 19th centuries. It is estimated that between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by pirates and sold as slaves during this time period. Famous accounts of Barbary slave raids include a mention in the Diary of Samuel Pepys and a raid on the coastal village of Baltimore, Ireland, during which pirates left with the entire populace of the settlement.

One and a quarter million Western Europeans enslaved by Africans during the time frame slavery in America was also in practice? To put this into perspective, note that only an estimated 645,000 Africans were sold by fellow Africans into slavery, then imported into the United States, and that includes during the colonial era. That means that Africans enslaved nearly two times as many whites as did whites in America import Africans as slaves.

Moreover, those European whites enslaved by the Africans never had the benefit of Africans rising up in a civil war to end their slavery.  Indeed, most of the male European slaves were worked to death and had no opportunity to pass on their genetic lineage to people alive today.  Regardless, does this mean that all people of African origin are morally culpable for enslaving whites? Can people of white European stock get two times the reparations from people of African origin today? Taking the reasoning of those pushing reparations for blacks to its logical conclusion, the answer to both questions should be “Yes.”

When our nation was founded in 1776, slavery was a normal institution throughout the world.  It involved people of every race.  As to North America, a distinct minority of people on the continent owned black slaves, but that distinct minority included not merely white Europeans, but a significant number of free Blacks and American Indians as well.  Moreover, as to the supply side of the African slave trade, the people capturing and selling blacks into slavery were rarely, if ever, white Europeans. Instead, the hunters and traders were almost invariably African blacks and Arab Muslims.

Abolition, America’s Founding and the “sin” of owning slaves

Before 1776, wherever slavery was extinguished, it fell due to changed economic or geopolitical circumstance, not because of morality.  The Romans did not stop enslaving people of other cultures because they recognized that slavery was immoral, but rather because, after 476 A.D., they no longer had the power to conquer other nations. The Vikings did not stop enslaving Northern Europeans because they recognized that slavery was immoral, but because, by circa 1060 A.D., they stopped having the advantage in strength and tactics to conduct seaborne raids against lightly protected coastal European kingdoms.  The Arab Muslims did not stop enslaving African blacks or European whites because of morality, but because . . . well, they have never stopped.

The very first notable moral challenge to slavery came about in 1381 A.D. during the Peasant’s Revolt in England. The Black Death — which landed in England in 1348 and killed roughly a third to a half of the population — had vastly changed England’s economic conditions. With few workers available for a a surfeit of empty, arable land, feudalism no longer made economic sense. The serfs, who were effectively slaves under feudalism, supported by a surprising number of nobles and clerics, rebelled to end their bondage.

The ideological leader of the rebellion was Father John Ball, a priest who preached that slavery was an abomination to Christianity and that all humans, as descendants alike of Adam and Eve, should be treated equally. The revolt, like all of history’s other slave revolts (but for the Haitian Revolution of 1804), was brutally suppressed, though the changed economic conditions in England led to serfdom’s natural extinguishment by 1500 A.D.

It took another three centuries after King Richard II had Father Ball hanged, drawn, and quartered before the world’s first sustained, and ultimately successful, moral challenge to slavery appeared — and it arose out of Christianity during the Enlightenment.  The first person of note making the argument was the physician and philosopher, John Locke.  In his 1689 book Two Treatises of Government, Locke set forth a Judaeo-Christian based philosophy of government that was adopted as the foundation of our Constitutional government.  Locke, in Chapter IV of his 2nd Treatise, applied  his arguments to slavery and concluded that chattel slavery was unsupportable.  All men, after all, are created equal by God, with the same rights to life, liberty and property.  He therefore concluded that no one can take legitimately and permanently take away those rights.

The Mennonites and Quakers in Pennsylvania next picked up the Judaeo-Christian moral argument against slavery. These were the first stirrings of the abolition movement, but the Mennonites and Quakers always a small fraction of the colonists.  The abolition movement picked up steam among other religions in America and Britain with the First Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival movement of the mid-18th century — though even there, it was only at the end of that movement that the leaders began fully and forcefully to come out against chattel slavery.  George Whitefield, the preacher who began the Great Awakening in the 1730’s, was himself a slave owner.   It remained for Rev. John Wesley, the final great name associated with the First Great Awakening, to unconditionally condemn chattel slavery in his 1774 pamphlet, Thoughts Upon Slavery.

The bottom line is that, at the time of the Revolutionary War, the movement to abolish slavery as immoral was based in the Judaeo-Christian religions, it was nascent and disorganized and, outside of the failed Peasant’s Revolt, it was unprecedented in world history.  Still, by the time the Revolution ended, it had wrought a profound change on some of the people most associated with the Revolution: Ben Franklin had became President of the nation’s first abolitionist organization; George Washington was privately calling for abolition of slavery, though he saw it as a state responsibility; and Thomas Jefferson calls for abolition were legendary, although he never had the courage to undermine his own economic situation which was predicated on an institution he understood was immoral.

Many of the other Founders also agreed that there were severe problems with chattel slavery and that it needed to be gradually abolished in America.  The reason for “gradual” abolition (as found in, for example, legislation Pennsylvania passed in 1780) was to create a window of time within which to educate slaves and their children and to teach them skills and professions that would enable formerly slaves to integrate smoothly into American civil society:

An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery . . . prescribed an end for slavery in Pennsylvania. It was the first act abolishing slavery in the course of human history to be adopted by a democracy. The Act prohibited further importation of slaves into the state, required Pennsylvania slaveholders to annually register their slaves (with forfeiture for noncompliance, and manumission for the enslaved), and established that all children born in Pennsylvania were free persons regardless of the condition or race of their parents. . . .  Pennsylvania’s “gradual abolition” . . . became a model for freeing slaves in other Northern states.

So it was that, a few years later, in 1787, when our Founders gathered together in Philadelphia to craft our Constitution, what they crafted was a document that did two things.  For all free Americans, they crafted a limited government of checks and balances that would best serve their needs, allowing for the people (not the Courts or the President by fiat) to make changes to the Constitution as need arose.

As to slavery, the Founders crafted a document that set the seeds for its gradual abolition.  Those who supported slavery wanted to see the institution protected against government intervention.  To that end, they wanted to count all slaves in each census to maximize the slave state’s representatives in the House.  They did not get their wishes.

Those Founders opposing slavery limited those items in the Constitution.  They allowed for the federal government to outlaw importation of slaves after a period of twenty years (Art. 1, Sec. 9) and, as to apportionment to the House of Representatives, they limited the power of the slave states by providing that each slave only be counted as 3/5 of a person (Art. 1, Sec. 2).  Moreover, many of the same people involved crafting the Constitution in 1787, including George Washington, also passed the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, then reaffirmed it under the new Congress of the United States in 1789:

[The Ordinance] created the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains, between British North America and the Great Lakes to the north and the Ohio River to the south. The upper Mississippi River formed the territory’s western boundary. . . . [The ordinance prohibited slavery and indentured servitude in the territory, thus having the practical effect of] establishing the Ohio River as the geographic divide between slave states and free states from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River (an extension of the Mason–Dixon line). It also helped set the stage for later political conflicts over slavery at the federal level in the 19th century until the Civil War.

Among those opposed to slavery before 1794, several years after the Constitution came into being, the general belief was that, just as slavery ended in other parts of the world due to changing economic conditions (see the discussions about Roman and feudal slavery, above), so too would it end in the new American states.  The most famous of those holding such a belief was George Washington, who found that the cost of maintaining slaves was becoming prohibitive by the latter half of the 18th century.  What they could not foresee was that Eli Whitney would invent the cotton gin in 1794, making slavery profitable again in the South.

Fast forward to today and you have the Left relentlessly portraying our Founding Fathers as uniquely sinful for having practiced slavery, even though they were no more sinful in that respect than anyone else in the history of the world, including blacks themselves.  Moreover, you have people who wish to destroy our society relentlessly trashing America and the Constitution on the grounds that these white slave owners wrote the Constitution.

It requires incredible historic ignorance to condemn our Founding Fathers for owning slaves in the 18th century.  To the contrary, while by today’s standards we see their ownership of slaves as an atrocity, those are today’s standards and not applicable to other historical periods — unless you are a neomarxist proggie who wants to claim faux victimhood status.  The truth is that it was the colonists alive at our Founding who, for the first time in all of human history, began to battle successfully against the institution of slavery as immoral and incompatible with the Jewish and Christian religions.

Post-1800 history of slavery and modern perceptions of the institution

The abolition movement that grew during the 19th century in the American colonies was, in many ways, part and parcel of the abolitionist movement then growing “across the pond” in the era’s great superpower, Britain.  By 1810, both Britain and America had declared it unlawful to import slaves and began policing the high seas to end the international slave trade.  Britain did the lion’s share in forcing both African nations and nations within Britain’s trading ambit that employed slave labor to end their practices while the U.S. fought two wars to end the scourge of Muslim piracy on the high seas.

Although modern Britons like to take the high ground about the lack of slavery in Britain as compared to America (forgetting that they brought it to America), it wasn’t until 1833 that Britain finally and fully ended slavery within its existing colonies — a decision again made easy, not just because of the changed moral climate in the Western world, but also by the fact that, in non-cotton growing regions, slavery was no longer an economically viable system. Only thirty-two years later, America decided against slavery by the bloodiest and costliest combat ever seen in this country. That war destroyed the wealth of the slave-owning South for over 100 years and was so costly to the North that, as economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out:

Sometimes it is claimed that slavery made a great contribution to the development of the American economy, from which other Americans benefitted, so that reparations would be like back pay. Although slaveowners benefitted from slavery, it is by no means obvious that there were net benefits to the economy as a whole, especially when you subtract the staggering costs of the Civil War.

A few final comments on the history of slavery and the people — white Europeans of Britain and America — who decided that it must end once and for all and then put that decision into effect. If one listens to the race hustlers pushing for reparations today, it is as if the end of slavery, African or other, came about by magic and at no cost.  No credit is given those who ended slavery, nor is any mention made of the “staggering costs” they incurred in both blood and gold.  To the contrary, in many cases, members of our modern progressive left do their utmost to downplay any credit due white Europeans of Britain and America for their role in ending African slavery. Moreover, having coopted for the Democrats the “civil rights” moniker, although the Democrats fought civil rights tooth-and-nail, they’ve successfully muddled history to the point that many believe that “Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat fighting slave-owning Republicans in the South.”

Critically, the progressive left has successfully written out of history Christianity’s and Judaeo-Christian theology’s utterly central role in creating and driving the abolitionist movement that ended slavery in the West. The only Christian voices that today’s progressives cite continuously are those in the pre-civil war Deep South who tried to raise competing theological arguments to counter the Christian-based abolition movement.  For instance, last year, when then Attorney General cited Romans 13 for the proposition that the Trump administration was dutifully executing its responsibilities in enforcing immigration law, WaPo found some progressive donkey’s ass to point out that Romans 13 was one of the Biblical passages people in the pre-Civil War South used to defend slavery.  That statement, standing alone and without all of the applicable context, is so false and defamatory as to be beyond obscene.  It not only ignores Christianity’s role in creating and driving the abolitionist movement, it gives the impression that the Christian religion uniquely supported African slavery.  Truly, screw these people.

So successful has the left been in its all-encompassing slander against Christianity that many associate the Christian religion with the institution of slavery itself rather than with the first and only moral rejection of slavery in world history.  Thus, for the past fifty years, we’ve seen American blacks increasingly reject Christianity in favor of either secularism or Islam.  Both are galling, but it is the latter that is galling beyond measure.

Why, you might ask?

Well, the Islamic faith explicitly embraces slavery as an approved practice.  Mohammed was a slave owner and the Koran permits enslaving any and all non-MuslimsNo race of people suffered more enslavement than black Africans at the hands of Arab Muslims.  And while white Europeans and Americans ended slavery in their lands well over a century ago, instances of Muslim enslavement of non-Muslims still occur in the modern day, from the sex slaves of ISIS to the slave markets of Libya to the al Qaeda controlled territories in Mali.

Summary

The people pushing for reparations for slavery focus solely on African slaves in the West. By doing so, they take slavery wholly out of context for both American and world history.  They further ignore the fact that white Americans of European ancestry fought and died in the bloodiest and costliest war (both in terms of lives and money) in our nation’s history in order to free blacks on American soil. I, personally, having never enslaved anyone — and being aware of history — feel no guilt for the slavery that occurred in America, nor do I look upon blacks in America today as victims because some of them have progenitors who were slaves in this country at some point in the distant past, well beyond living memory.

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