Friday, December 12, 2014

White America's secret, part 2

Men, women and children were piled up on that little flat in one confused mass. Blood ran like water ...
Big Foot's band was converted into good Indians.
(A soldier who participated in The Wounded Knee Massacre, December 29, 1890)

A lust for conquest had already destroyed the Great Republic, because trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.
(Mark Twain, during U.S. conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1902 )

Verscharfte Vernehmung [Enhanced Interrogation]
(The Gestapo's Methods of Examination, from a directive by the Gestapo chief, Muller, 1937)

Mohammed was also subjected to rectal rehydration 'without a determination of medical need.' Mohammed's chief interrogator described use of the process as emblematic of their 'total control over the detainee.'
(excerpt from Senate report on CIA torture, December 2014)

Um-m, before post-racial America

Approximately 20 Africans arrived in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, but we think they were treated as indentured servants. Some supposedly achieved their freedom and became property owners. A lot of historians cite John Punch who, in July 1640, became the first official slave in the English colonies, supposedly because he decided to leave his employer before he'd finished his indentured servitude. The two white men that left with Punch had their servitude extended for a few years unlike Punch, who was placed in permanent bondage for the remainder of his life, with no rights. He became human property.

The “formal institution” of slavery was a gradual process and it took another 150 years or so before it was thoroughly and “legally” entrenched into the fabric of the entire country. Edward Baptist, professor of history at Cornell, has written an economic history of slavery, entitled The Half Has Never Been Told.

Many American history texts have portrayed slavery as a marginal system in the South, a relic of feudalism and perpetrated by a handful of landowners, with many slaves often becoming part of the slave owner’s family or variations of this relatively benign theme. I certainly have known a number of white southerners, who were far from being ignorant racist troglodytes or in any way thought slavery was “not all that bad,” but who still cling to some version of the Gone with the Wind nonsense.

The “war of northern aggression,” as some white southerners still today call the American Civil War, was not about slavery, but was about state's rights. This is a belief still offered by far too many. It is why Baptist's book is an important contribution in sweeping away the illusions of many white Americans and better understanding the very long legacy of slavery, that is far from being a relic of the past. Go to Hate Map to see where some of these groups reside at the present time.

According to Professor Baptist, America's rise to power ( and white privilege ) was very much connected to black slaves. It is a story about global capitalism and where “personal” property superseded all other rights. It most definitely was not a marginal system practiced by a few backwater southern plantation owners. In fact, Baptist doesn't speak of plantations but of slave labor camps. Think of Stalin's Gulags, North Korea's labor camps, and Nazi concentration camps. Work Sets You Free—Arbeit Macht Frei.

At the end of the Civil War in 1865 some 4 million former slaves were set free. Eight million whites in the South, overwhelmingly poor, landless and illiterate, thought of black people as competitors. White southerners were easily manipulated. By 1874 white power in the South had regained control, and the North had lost interest in Reconstruction. We had the West to now “civilize” and for some there was a lot of money to be made. Above all we now understood industrial warfare after the carnage of the Civil War..


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