Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Found via Jobsanger

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Romantic revisionism of this most ghastly enterprise cannot stand."

Charles Blow of the New York Times:




Sojourner Truth, in her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, lamented: “I have borne 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me!” 

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History estimates that nearly two-thirds of slaves lived in nuclear households. However, those families could be broken up on a whim, and many slaves were bred like animals, were raped at will and could marry only if allowed. 

How could they have been “happier” to meet the lash, to feel the flaying of flesh, to have it heal in dreadful scars only to be ripped open again until one had, as Sethe, the main character in Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” put it, a tree on one’s back? 

It was not only the lash but also the noose and being chased down and ripped apart by dogs, and all manner of terrors. When the human imagination sets itself on cruelty there are no limits to its designs. 

Americans have been trying to justify slavery since its inception, to make the most wrong of wrongs right, to no avail. Robert E. Lee wrote in 1856: “The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things.” 

Others used religion as a justification, quoting verses and patting themselves on the back for saving the souls of the so-called savage. But as Frederick Douglass pointed out, “The slave auctioneer’s bell and the churchgoing bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heartbroken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.” Religion didn’t elevate enslavers; trying to justify slavery reduced religion. 

“Happier”? How, Mr. Bundy, could you even utter such absurdity? The very soil of this country cries out for us to never forget what happened here, for the irreducible record of the horrors of slavery to never be reduced. 

Romantic revisionism of this most ghastly enterprise cannot stand. It must be met, vigilantly and unequivocally, with the strongest rebuttal. Slaves dishonored in life must not have their memories disfigured by revisionist history. 

America committed this great sin, its original sin, and there will be no absolution by alteration. America must live with the memory of what its forefathers — even its founding fathers — did. It must sit with this history, the unvarnished truth of it, until it has reconciled with it.

8 comments:

Infidel753 said...

No one should even need reminding of all this, but evidently many do.

Religion didn’t elevate enslavers; trying to justify slavery reduced religion.

I'd take exception only to this one statement. The Bible never condemns slavery, and explicitly endorses it in many passages. Christianity was not "reduced" by defending slavery; it was already on that level.

Dr. Who Cares said...

If you are an American, the value of free speech is one of the most valuable rights afforded to you a citizen of the United States. Freedom of speech. It has been throughout history tested and tried, but it stood the test of time. People say, "My government infringes on my right to freedom of speech!" well, I would count my blessings if I were you. China does not value that right, and will without hesitation take it from you. It is getting to that point here, with the NSA watching what you do on the internet and who you call on the phone. Our freedom of speech is now in danger, in China it's gone. A chilling reminder of our future if we allow it to happen. Look at things that have happened in America just in the past few years alone. Affirmative Action, The Paula Deen thing, the Bundy thing, the George Zimmerman thing. these are ALL things that have been caused by taking away our FREEDOM’S!

Jerry Critter said...

Calling out absurd, idiotic, and false statements is not obstruction of the freedom of speech. It is the exercise of the freedom of speech.

Happy birthday, Shaw!

okjimm said...

Dear Dr Who Cares..I am quite at a loss to understand what it is you are saying. I think your statement was sincere,on your part, but incoherent as to how andwhy it is relevant to the post.

It appears to be a defense to say and be racist. Well rest assured, that right is still guaranteed. Unless that freedom of speech is utilized to instigate harm, physical harm.

You seem to feel, as this is where so confusion appears, that you are implying that certain events have taken place because folks are NOT FREE to, well, act in racist fashion.

//Look at things that have happened in America just in the past few years alone. Affirmative Action, The Paula Deen thing, the Bundy thing, the George Zimmerman thing. these are ALL things that have been caused by taking away our FREEDOM’S//

Affirmative Action??? I truly do not see any correlation between Affirmative action and loss of freedom. Perhaps you could explain that again.

The Paula Deen thing..hmmmm she said and implied a racist attitude, one that is connected to the post subject, and well, a ton of Americans exercised their freedoms, of choice, and well, gosh, if she suffered loss because of it...well, that was freedom in action.

The Bundy thing????? wELL, gosh, he sure was free enough to commit a criminal act,not pay his due bills, talk like a racist...and we and all of America are freen enough to call him an asshole. Fair enough.

George Zimmerman??? Please! He wAS NOT FREE to commit murder, I am free to call it that,he was free enough to have a legal loophole...but he is still a chump of a degraded level.

So..Dr Who Cares...

I am free enough to call your statement juink and off topic..and to say that you do not seem to have the mental acumen to peruse history and realize that the post is right on...Slavery was a despicalble,evil,odious institution. Oh, and it still exist today..on a much less formalize or legalized level, but it is still in existence.

oh, and I am also free to say, get a life or get a beer...and please, learn how to think before you write. Have a good day.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Infidel753, I agree with you on that. But as you know, people are frightened to say anything that is perceived as an attack on religion, even when it's the truth.

Jerry Critter, lots of these people (NOTE: not all) on the right think that when they're criticized for statements they make, that's infringing on their "FREEDOM'S."

okmimm, I knew you or one of my other smart commenters would tell Dr. Who Cares what a misguided commenter he/she is.

Dervish Sanders said...

It is also ugly revisionism to insist that the Civil War was not fought over slavery. Responsible for this romantic revisionism of this most ghastly chapter of US history is a group known as the "United Daughters of the Confederacy" (UDC). As revealed in The New Mind of the South by Tracy Thompson, the UDC (among their other history rewriting efforts) lobbied legislatures in Texas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Florida to ban the purchase of textbooks that said the South had fought to preserve slavery. According to the UDC, this false accusation was an effort to smear the reputation of the South's gallant leaders (source).

Yet I, in affirming the accurate accounting of history on my own blog, have been referred to as "slightly delusional".

BB-Idaho said...

The South fought to keep slavery and the Japanese raped Nanking;
both ignore history.

Stupid things Conservatives say said...

I'm sick and tired of slave movies and movies showing us a subservient. I'd rather stay focused on the greatness moments in our history, like the Great Hillary Clinton Lying her Fat Ass off about not being responsible for the 4 dead Americans in Benghazi...