Category Archives: 1619 PROJECT

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.

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.