Conventional wisdom has it that between 1623 and 1861, white traders wickedly exploited blacks by ripping them out of their ancestral homelands in West Africa and enslaving them here in America; that after emancipation wicked white capitalists further persecuted them by denying them jobs, and that now it is well and truly time to make amends by what is called "affirmative action" - a positive discrimination in their descendents' favor, enforced by Law.
Like a good deal of conventional wisdom, what truth there is in that fable is overwhelmed by the falsehood. I'd like to set the record straight, and let me start by saying I am NOT a white supremacist of any kind; on the contrary, I shall show that blacks have not only been treated shamefully in the past, but that they are being treated just as brutally in our society right now.
First, the disgusting trade in human persons was NOT a white invention. Slavery existed throughout Africa for thousands of years before 17th Century sea captains transported some across the Atlantic; and all such previous slave traders and owners were themselves black or Semitic. That no way excuses it; it just says it was not merely racist. Even the hunters and kidnappers, whom the movie "Roots" portrays as white, were themselves frequently black.
What shouts at me about this sad history is that all the while it was going on governments existed, all of them on the pretext of "protecting" people; yet every one of them permitted the trade to continue by using its power to prevent slaves escaping. It would be terrible if, in the absence of government, one human being were enslaved by another; but doesn't it make you sick to see that the very institution of government actively enforced the enslavement?
Indeed, it could be argued that, without such government complicity, it would be difficult and perhaps impossible to preserve a slave society; that even if government stayed "neutral" and kept out of the way, slaves would find ways to escape and frustrate the system. But when the awesome power of the State and its police is added to that of the owner, there is no hope.
The two governments that imposed slavery in America were the colonial British one, and the new independent American one.
The British abolished slavery throughout the Empire in 1834, not as a result of some pre-Marxist revolution but on the urging of Christian aristocrats (!) like Lords Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. To its shame, the American one waited another three decades to do it here - and then did it in exactly the wrong way.
One fascinating result of the difference is that blacks of identical origins in West Africa developed differently in the Carribean than they did here, and we can see the results clearly today. As a group, Jamaican immigrants progress far quicker towards the American Dream than do their native-born counterparts. This astonishing fact deserves a closer look.
The direct and powerful incentive upon any slave is to do as little work as he or she can get away with. They have zero possibility of career advancement, so the only way they can maximize enjoyment of life is to do less work for the same "pay", ie the subsistence shelter and food that is handed out.
Successive generations of slaves therefore absorb a negative work ethic - that is, one generation teaches the next that hard work brings LESS reward. Exactly the opposite of the American Dream. Unhappily, a great deal of that is still present in American blacks - because even after emancipation, Southern governments wrote laws to make it as difficult as possible for the freed blacks to advance their careers. So why bother trying?
In the British West Indies, however, their 30-year advantage was followed by no such limitation. Black citizens of Jamaica were treated, under the law, the same way as whites were. They could therefore learn the priceless lesson that work brings dignity and advantage, and pass it on to their children. Their descendants have now, in a circle of deep irony, brought it back here.
Black Slavery Today
Modern governments have learned to be far more subtle in the way they enslave blacks. Naturally, they call it something else, such as Affirmative Action, or "Entitlements for disadvantaged minorities," presumed helpless. Tragically, with hypocrisy like that, they have enslaved blacks every bit as effectively as the colonial plantation owners - by pretending to protect their freedom!
As we've seen, the century following 1865 did nothing to infuse black culture with the utterly vital understanding that work and enterprise bring dignity and wealth. Government action since 1965 has continued to exclude it, by teaching very directly that the way to get money is to go to the slavemaster and ask for a handout. The government welfare office is today's equivalent of the plantation soup kitchen. A huge, black underclass has been created. By Law.
Is there any hope? - yes, a little, maybe. The Million Man March saw a lot of young black men promising to take responsibility for themselves and theirs. But very few black school graduates are equipped to do that; they have been "dumbed down" by government school. And what few skills they could learn are not worth the minimum wage, so many of them are immediately trapped in long term unemployment; by Law, they are forbidden to mount the first rung of the ladder of success! And if they overcome that one, they are hit in many cities by rent-control laws, that place their families firmly in rat-infested hovels. And 15% of what they do earn is stolen for Social "Security", whose main benefits BEGIN at age 65 - the very age at which black males are expected to die!
Such is the subtlety and savagery of black slavery in America today.
|© Copyright Jim Davies 1999|
Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.
The above is Edition # 126
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