So some conservatives at CPAC, the gathering of conservatives, said slavery was good for blacks because it provided them with food and shelter. Surprisingly, there have been a number of conservative defenses of slavery — the ownership of human beings by other human beings — over the past few decades. Just in case you’re wondering how conservatives think, here’s a run-down of arguments I’ve seen:
1. Blacks were physically better off under slavery.
This is the food and shelter argument. Slaves were valuable property in the antebellum South, so surely they were treated well, right? Whereas workers in the North in that era were used until they couldn’t be used anymore, then thrown away, having on average a much worse life. The problem with that notion is that we have ample evidence that people don’t always treat their valuable property well. Rich people who buy expensive cars, for example, often completely trash them within a fairly short amount of time. Furthermore, we have evidence that even child slaves were worked horrifically hard, when slave grave sites are excavated child slaves in those grave sites are often found to have grooves in their bone ends where the tendons were worked so hard across the bone by hard physical labor that it actually wore grooves in their (soft and growing) bones. Slaves were property, in the end, and as with all property were at best cared for only insofar as they could produce work — just as in the North, where workers were paid only insofar as they could produce work. And they were used for that purpose from a young age — as soon as a child got big enough to be able to hoe a row of cotton, he spent his summers hoeing cotton, period, and was lashed with a whip if he didn’t produce.
The reality is that from a food and shelter point of view, the average black person today is *much* better off than under slavery, what with having that indoor plumbing stuff and such. Indeed, the biggest problem that the black population has today is *too much* food, thus obesity. So much for that.
2. American blacks are much better off than African blacks, thus slavery was good for American blacks because it brought black people to America rather than leaving them in the horror that is modern-day Africa.
I don’t quite know what the point of this argument is, but you hear it from conservatives from time to time. Yes, American blacks are better off than African blacks. But they’re better off because they are *not* slaves today. If slavery still existed, do you seriously believe they would get any food or shelter or clothing beyond those necessary for basic survival? They’re better off because they’re Americans, not because of slavery, and would likely be even better off if they’d come here voluntarily rather than spent 200 years as either slaves or as second-class citizens under “separate but equal” apartheid policies that ended only with the passing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1965. Given the labor requirements of early agriculture and the resulting labor shortages, do you really think there would have been fewer blacks coming to American to work as indentured laborers rather than slaves? Early American accepted laborers from wherever they could find laborers, because there was too much to do and not enough hands to do it. Thus this argument doesn’t hold water because it’s likely that black laborers would have come to America slavery or no. Slavery was just more convenient for the plantation owners, they still would have imported labor without slavery.
But of course the real argument that conservatives wish they could make, but can’t, is this:
- Black people are racially inferior to white people.
- Black people are vicious animals who will rape white women and girls and kill white men and boys if not kept caged.
- Thus slavery is the proper place for black people.
That was the conservative argument until the aftermath of the Final Solution turned the majority of Americans against theories of racial inferiority, and likely reflects their true beliefs today, if a perusal of headlines at World Nut Daily is any indication (World Nut Daily always depicts black people as racially inferior vicious animals who want to rape and kill whites, though never in those exact words). But remember, you won’t hear conservatives today making that argument, because even they know that the majority of people would find it absolutely repulsive. But listen to what they say, and you’ll hear echoes of it. Repulsive, isn’t it?
- Badtux the Non-racist Penguin