So let’s talk about slavery. It’s that thing no one actually wants to discuss, teach, learn from, or admit exists. It’s not nearly as caught up in skin color or religion as people might think. And in every form, it’s wrong.

They taught our kids about slavery in school. They discussed how horrible slave owners were, how the inevitably white people owned the poor, uneducated blacks and abused them. They went over how Lincoln freed the slaves, without ever actually explaining how that could have happened (largely because it didn’t, but whatever… that’s outside the scope of this article). There was a lot of information about the bad treatment of slaves in America. All of the this is very clear, black and white, with no wiggle room.

When they were going through that lesson, I talked to our kids about it. I asked them a lot of questions, like…

  • Were all slave owners bad?
  • Did all slave owners want to be slave owners (and/or bad)?
  • Were all slave owners white?
  • Were all slaves black?

They knew the answer to the first one: yes! All slave owners are bad. While I agree with that answer, at least on the surface, I was bothered by the fact that neither of the kids had any idea about the rest of how slavery worked in America, or indeed, the rest of the world.

Slavery MUST be looked at in context. The Atlantic Slave Trade was part of a much larger problem, one that could not be (and WAS not) solved by simply banning slavery in America. Have a look at this video (The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes), and you can clearly see how many ships were going directly to America. That video doesn’t even touch on the basic fact that not all slaves were of African descent, nor that the enslavement of blacks was done almost entirely BY blacks, because no white people were willing to go into the interior of Africa to get them. It was far too dangerous.

Then there’s the basic fact that every country in history has, at some point, accepted slavery as legal. There are countries in the world today where slavery is absolutely legal, right now. And slaves in America were not all black, and not all from Africa, even without getting into the gussied up idea of indentured servitude. I could make a pretty good argument that certain parts of America currently encourages the idea of slavery of others, but that would be politically incorrect, so I won’t go there.

We here on the Continental United States decided very early on that we would treat most slaves like people, even if we treated them as considerably less than we were. Slaves were, for the most part, fed, watered, given medicine, and sheltered from the elements. Many slave owners allowed slaves to marry, and kept their offspring rather than selling them. Not all, of course (“…not all men…” comes to mind), but the vast majority treated their intelligent brood animals fairly well.

This is where I ran into problems with my children. “Look here,” I told them. “Slavery is wrong. It is anti-human to own another human being. Period.” They quickly agreed. “So what about the nice Massa who lets his slave’s children mingle with his own, teaches them alongside his own children, lets them learn to read and write, educates them in a trade… Is he a bad man?” This one made them think. It doesn’t sound like the man is a bad man. But all slavery is bad. So the man must be bad… right?

The man may not be bad, himself. If a society embraces the idea of slavery, and a man disagrees with it, he may choose to own slaves and then treat them as equals. He, himself, is not bad. At least, not on the surface of things.

There is no moral way to own slaves. Being nice does not make your ownership of another human being any less heinous. You are feeding into society’s evil, and while you may not share the gestalt of nastiness that others do, you are not free from the stain.

What I taught my children, repeatedly until they truly understood, was that “nice” slavery was in many ways worse than “mean” slavery. Putting icing onto a pile of shit doesn’t change the fact that it’s shit underneath. It’s a really cruel trick if you’re hiding the fact that there’s shit under there. That’s what “nice” slavery is: a thin coating of delicious icing on a giant, stinking pile of shit. By painting some slavery as being nice, you do a great disservice to those affected by it. ALL those affected (cough the Irish, the Asians, the Scots, the Native Americans cough).

When schools teach our children that slavery only comprised of horrible white men who beat poor black folk, they stop them from learning a valuable lesson. The schools set children up to allow slavery to happen again in the future, by giving them the mental space to say, “Well, I’m not a BAD master. I’m not like those BAD people.”

And if you don’t believe me, simply look at the Left today. So long as it’s painted with that lovely buttercream icing, preferably with rainbow sprinkles, it’s All Okay! If you tell them they’re promoting slavery and bigotry and racism, they spit at you, because they literally don’t understand. What they’re doing isn’t done in hate, therefore it CAN’T be bad, therefore it isn’t bad.

But it is that bad. It’s horrible. And because of that veneer of pretty, it’s even worse.

Hagar

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By hagar

13 thoughts on “Slavery”
  1. They should contemplate how slavery went away anywhere, given that it was universal in earlier eras.

    1. And, in the US.
      Plenty of girls, and likely boys are enslaved and used for the sex trade. Just ask J. Epstien.

  2. “slavery “ still goes on now. sex slaves, child slaves in lithium mines and other mines. slavery perpetuated by welfare. (caveat- the following is my opinion) we have the wisdom of time and history to see that in TODAYS world slavery is wrong. in the 1700s and up until the civil war, people treated slave ownership no different than owning any other “tool” such as horses or mules. some tend to look at past history with todays thinking, not an open mind regarding the thinking of the times.

  3. One thing the textbooks always seem to forget, is the slaves were the equivalent of farm equipment on the plantations.
    No farmer who wants to make money abuses his tractors, or knowingly destroys any other tools.
    Why would a slave owner want to damage the tools he uses to work his farm?

    1. Because some are sick in the head. And there are things you can do to a slave you can’t do to a Massey-Ferguson.
      .
      In ancient Rome freedmen were considered still to be “less” than those born free because it was assumed their owners had raped them.

  4. I have spent a great deal of time over my lifetime addressing the subject of Slavery in general and Slavery in America. And while in select cases in history, Slavery was not a stinking pile of shit, not to the enslaved and not to the slavers. The enslaved were facing death or a life of hell on earth, imposed by a tribe who conquered them, and thus were (using the provided analogy) facing a much larger pile of stinking shit than the enslavement by a people who wanted extremely cheap labor by which to make of all things, a profit. Fact is however that the enslaved likewise profited in that they were alive and leaving a hellish tyrannical existence for one must more favorable—hard work, better food, and far more personal freedom.
    .
    To the enslaved in that day in human history, was no pile of stinking shit but rather a fine nutritional meal unlike anything they had experienced to that point.
    .
    With that, here are the sources which I have gained my education on this subject from – Principles and Agents–The British Slave Trade and it’s Abolition by David Richardson, and Slave Traders by Invitation–West Africa’s Slave Coast in the Precolonial Era.
    .
    And all Lipton Matthews’ publications, Do a search on him, but here’s on example of his content – https://mises.org/mises-wire/african-slave-trade-wouldnt-have-been-possible-without-african-elites
    .
    And finally, a great writing by Jorge Felipe Gonzalez – https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-african-history/article/transatlantic-slave-trade-and-the-foundation-of-the-kingdom-of-galinhas-in-southern-sierra-leone-17901820/16F4755EDD249E840684E55EF4740728
    .
    The African Slave Trade Market was a powerful invention by the African Kings which gained them untold wealth and additional powers to sustain their empires. The entire world was engaged economically with Africa at the time in history and this certainly involved the purchasing of the best-of-the-best physical specimens, who were considered as the spoils of tribal wars, highly prized for profit, so therefore the Slave Trade business engulfed the continent.
    .
    No nation in human history has defeated slavery at the level the USA has. We stand alone at the top on this achievement.

    1. Slavery WAS hell on earth, always and everywhere. The idea the enslaved profited “profited” by being kept alive is disgusting. They could be beaten, raped, or killed at the whim of their owner. They could own nothing, and everything they could produce, whether an item, idea, or a child, was their owner’s property.

  5. Slavery was universal, practiced by every culture against every other culture. It was America’s founding, based on the unique Biblical premise that all men are created in God’s image, that put it on the road to extinction.

    In other words, the open practice of slavery was ended solely by white Christians. Period.

    1. The only pre-modern figure I’ve heard about who opposed slavery universally was Spartacus. He refused to let his band take defeated Romans as slaves, for example.

      1. Yes. But it’s worth noting that the bible banned slavery in the Old Testament, prior to the Roman Empire. For instance, it was a sin to kidnap someone and sell them into slavery. Where it does discuss slavery, it’s actually talking about indentured servitude, such as the rule where slaves must be freed after 7 years of service, even if their debts aren’t paid off.

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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