Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 19, 2009

How is Our America Unrepentant About Slavery?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:27 pm

That’s the question this commmenter asks.

First he quotes my last post:

“With our shameful, still-unrepented-for history of slavery and segregation we didn’t deseve them, but they offered us a chance for at least partial redemption, and to our credit we took it.”

Then he offers:

How is America unprepentant about slavery?  This is the kind of divisive rhetoric one would expect from race hustlers like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton  and Spike Lee.  In 233 years, this country, warts and all, has become a shining example for the rest of the world when it comes to tolerance.  I’ve been to the Middle East where slavery still exists, both indentured servitude and actual slavery where the Arabs OWN black people.  And then there is Europe which is now reprising those heady days of pogroms and Jew-baiting of the 1930’s.

Martin Luther King said that we should judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. Sadly, Obama is the perfect example of just the opposite– and is exactly what a gullible and white-guilt ridden electorate has done.  Bravo.”

To which I’d say:

Okay since you evince little more than a grade school education: Slavery was not abolished completely until 1865, some 145 years ago. So a good part of the 233 years you celebrate uncritically, the law and the much-worshipped Constitution were devoted to upholding a system of wretched and murderous human bondage, that any human being with any fellow-feeling should feel deeply ashamed of and repentant about regardless of whether it still obtains legally now, but which you seem to regard as just a “wart”. Our great wealth that our “shining example” was built upon was built upon the backs of slave labor. You’re proud of that? Then I feel sorry for you.

And then for more than 100 years after official slavery was abolished, official state-enforced racism under the name of segregation and Jim Crow laws insured vicious mistreatment of all those who survived slavery and their descendants. Unrepentant about that? Shame on you. And then while segregation has been abolished legally, and racism diminished over time, as bigots die off, people who cared about civil rights and the feelings of others still have had to listen to the smug self-congratulatory words of the ignorant. On a day like this you should be ashamed of yourself, but you’re probably too busy patting yourself on the back for your world travels which have clearly brought you no wisdom or tolerance.



  1. I think you’re both misreading each other, or at least assuming the worst in each other’s positions.

    First, while slavery and segregation were shameful periods, even in those periods we represented an example of tolerance in relation to much of the world. This country was settled and populated, in part, by people who fled their countries in search of the freedom to worship the God they chose and choose the people who governed them, and not have to right in wars based on the whim of kings or nobility. Sure, using our current view of ethics, we were horrid, like just about any society at the time, but in relative terms we were quite advanced.

    Second, this country had something of a redemption in that we sacrificed over 600,000 of our best and brightest in a war to end slavery; that this led to segregation was a tragedy. But, during this period we remained a beacon of inspiration for millions to emigrate here for a better life, and for you to deny this (if that’s what you intend), you are committing the same bit of ignorance as the poster you mock.

    Many of us, perhaps even a majority of Americans at this point, are from families that emigrated here after slavery, so why should we feel guilt over something that not even our ancestors engaged in? Sure, they benefited to some extent from the economic benefits it brought, but really is that something that should fill us with shame? Do we ever get forgiven for this? Or is this just the American original sin, one we carry with us until the end of time? And does this extend beyond America? I mean, just about any country in the world achieved some benefit from either slavery, forced labor, segregation, or exploiting foreigners, or the lower classes. Should everyone in the world feel guilty? What about the African-Americans whose own ancestors engaged in slavery in Africa (a common practice there for far longer than in the US)? Do they, too, carry this shame?

    I’ll tell you a little secret they’re probably not teaching these days in our universities (although it’s obvious from anyone who knows grade-school logic): If you go back far enough in everyone’s history, whether their skin is white, black or somewhere in between, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim or any other religion, everyone has ancestors who were once slaves, and part of everyone’s story is how their ancestors achieved freedom from bondage.

    Comment by Rob — January 19, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  2. So let me get this straight: you are castigating ME PERSONALLY for slavery???? At what point do we say “enough” and “it’s over?” I was not alive in the 1860’s, never owned slaves, my family in the 1930’s employed many blacks and women and paid all of them an equal wage (something almost unheard of at that time), and I have had significant romantic relationships with two beautiful, intelligent, loving women who, incidentally, are black.

    I don’t deny that slavery ever existed or that Jim Crow continued for a hundred years. They were horrible and shameful. But the truth is we have moved on. I feel ZERO guilt for what we have done in the past because a) I had nothing to do with it, b) it’s in the past and c we have done the best we could in the shortest time possible (compared to any other nation on the planet) to address the problem and work to correct it.

    It’s interesting to note that of any immigrant group that came to this country, voluntarily or not, every one has managed to assimilate and become part of the American fabric. Yet in the 40 odd years since the heyday of the civil rights movement and the Great Society, blacks by and large are still considered “victims.” Could it be that liberals and race hustlers have more to gain by perpetuating the myth of continued organized societal racism and maintaining the victimhood of blacks for their own purposes? Nah, couldn’t be that.

    Sorry Mr. Rosenbaum. I’m not buying it and I suspect a great majority of others aren’t buying it.

    Comment by J.J. Sefton — January 20, 2009 @ 6:46 am | Reply

  3. Enabling a victimhood mentality is immoral, no matter how fashionable it might be. If you feel some sense of guilt, it was indoctrinated into you. Those responsible for slavery should be held accountable. But to attempt to make those who have absolutely no part in it feel guilty is perverse – and just plain wrong.

    Come down from your self-righteous high horse. You do not hold the moral high ground, Mr Rosenbaum. Instead, your ‘victim’ worldview rationalizes failure.

    Comment by RE — January 20, 2009 @ 7:04 am | Reply

  4. I had written a long comment then decided it was not worth it. Those before me summed it up quite well.
    Ron, I had a great amount of respect for you before today. Didn’t agree with much of what you said, but I still owed that much to you for what you gave me in Shakespeare Wars. Long time, loyal reader.
    Anyway, I am done. Not going to read another word of yours. Just an ugly, arrogant post. You are what I hate in humanity. Truly offensive.
    And you will not see it. I pity you.

    Comment by Bryan — January 20, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  5. In the faces and souls of black folk, you can see that slavery did not truly end until today.

    Comment by charlie finch — January 20, 2009 @ 9:21 am | Reply

  6. My ancestors got recruited right off the boat (as they fled 800 years of British oppression in Ireland) into the Union Army and Navy, several of them died during the Civil War. I feel no guilt for slavery.

    As for “grade school” history, do try to get the whole picture before you enter into ad homineum attacks upon posters.

    You seem to forget the tribes in Africa that sold surplus population to the Portugeuse and English to be carried away into slavery. And then they hunted down their neighbors to sell when the surplus dried up. Should they feel guilty as well?

    You also seem to miss that the Founding Fathers struggled with the question of slavery from the very beginning. You miss the point that if the “Old Institution” was not somehow accomdated the Confederation would have split into free and unfree halves. This would have led to a seperate South feeling no pressure to free the slaves.

    As to the “great wealth” you reference; most of the little wealth held by the Confederacy was destroyed by the Civil War. The far greater portion was always in the North, most of it was created in factories by newly arrived “free” men and women who worked endless hours under excreable conditions for pitiful pay, or cleared land with their own two hands to establish tiny farms. Slaves of another sort, if you will.

    These unfortunates were called upon to remedy the situation that came about when the South split from the North and the Civil War began. Hundreds of thousands died in that cause, most of them were volunteers. Their sacrifice set the slaves free.

    Check the lily-white composition of the EU elites to see how well people of color have fared in other places. You will not find a black man leading a nation that is not primarily black anywhere but here, so put your indigant attitude away.

    I will celebrate that a black man could get elected President of the US. I will not celebrate that this black man, an unknown vapor with a questionable history and little more to recommend him other than some teleprompter skills is now our president.

    Comment by Anton — January 20, 2009 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  7. Hmph. I would prefer that Herr Rosenbaum talk at greater length how the race baiters of Black Nationalism have contributed to a furthering of racism in America.

    Or, perhaps he could talk historically about the union of freedmen and low-class whites during the Reconstruction.

    Or, how DEMOCRATS were the biggest racists in American history.

    Mr. Rosenbaum, guild over slavery is not an American thing… it is a Democrat Party thing.

    And I write as someone whose ancestors didn’t arrive here until after the 20th century started, and who didn’t encounter blacks until much later.

    Comment by MG — January 20, 2009 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  8. “Old Institution”=Peculiar Institution, my bad

    Comment by Anton — January 20, 2009 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  9. Charlie Finch:

    Jew hatred is still alive and well after 2,000. My relatives survived the death camps. It scares me and I want to do all I can to fight it. But do I let that define who I am?

    If the election of a black man meant no more or no less than the election of any other president THEN we would have become truly post racial.

    Comment by J.J. Sefton — January 20, 2009 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  10. It is not a matter of “letting it define” who one is. As with the Jews, the definition comes from without. Look at the phenomenon of passing, as delineated in Jean Toomer’s “Cane”. Were it not for racism, black people would not even know they were black.

    Comment by charlie finch — January 20, 2009 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

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