BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Bone and Sinew of the Land’ recovers some American history that actually has been erased

When it so happens—more regularly now than before but never yet regular enough—that a cheap zinc or bronze cast of some semi-famous slaver is yanked from its pedestal in the middle of a city night, or when a suburban school board in broad daylight votes to no longer compel students to adorn their bodies with the name and imagery of a particular child trafficker, invariably there rises the cry:

“You’re erasing history! You’re censoring our Confederate past! You’re rewriting collective memory to sanitize it!”

This, of course, is worse than nonsense and akin to defending the maintenance of NAMBLA-installed plaques to Jerry Sandusky. It should be regarded as such whether it’s an argument being made by angry, open bigots in Facebook comment sections or under the auspices of the National Review.

But some worthy portions of our history have indeed been buried, erased, and minimized. Harvard’s Anna-Lisa Cox’s latest book The Bone and Sinew of the Land is an example of what it actually looks like when that sort of history is excavated for a popular audience, and what a positive effect that can have.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Bone and Sinew of the Land’ recovers some American history that actually has been erased”

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: Morgan Simon’s “Real Impact” won’t be the right investment for most

“Perfect” may be the enemy of “good”, but “better” ain’t always its friend.

Fundamentally, that is the most damning praise for impact investor Morgan Simon’s Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change, an admirable embodiment of the difficulties of navigating “woke neoliberalism” in our ongoing Gilded Age.

Simon’s book is a guide to better divest from harmful industries and businesses while investing in and founding endeavors that align with social justice values.

She also criticizes philanthropy as it exists today, in the form of charitable nonprofits and ethical-as-branding for-profit enterprises.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Morgan Simon’s “Real Impact” won’t be the right investment for most”

U.S. Rep. John H. Reagan: A moderate pro-slavery advocate circa 1860

The Congressional Globe

The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D.C.
House of Representatives, 36th Congress, 1st Session
Feb. 29, 1869

Page 924

The CHAIRMAN. When the committee rose it had under consideration resolutions of reference of the President’s message. On that question, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Reagan] is entitled to the floor.

Mr. REAGAN. Mr. Chairman, I avail myself of the general range of debate, in Committee of the Whole on the President’s message, to discuss some topics which concern the whole nation. And, as I cannot expect to occupy the attention of the committee soon again under our rules, I shall have to try to discuss a greater number of questions than may be conveniently considered or clearly presented in one speech.

Continue reading “U.S. Rep. John H. Reagan: A moderate pro-slavery advocate circa 1860”

‘Why do we judge Confederates on the morality of slavery but not figures of the classical era?’

HUMAN 0
Just wondering why Robert E Lee can’t be an American hero for owning slaves despite literally everyone owning slaves at the time

While we all can safely circle jerk around Alexander the Great and Plato and Julius Caesar who all owned the fuck out of shit tons of slaves.

Better take down every statue of Augustus Caesar in Italy because he owned slaves.

The Confederates sought to found a nation whose explicit cornerstone was the moral equivalent of institutional prepubescent rape.

Continue reading “‘Why do we judge Confederates on the morality of slavery but not figures of the classical era?’”

‘Greeks called people “barbarians”, so how can anyone act like Apartheid was a big deal?’

Walter Williams’ recent column on comparative slavery is intellectually dishonest in general, but his misquotation of abolitionist Frederick Douglass is either an especially egregious example of that, or he’s never bothered to even glance at it in context.

Williams accurately quotes from this sentence in a speech by Douglass examining whether the original U.S. Constitution was pro- or anti-slavery:

[The three-fifths compromise] is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.

But as Douglass continues, it becomes clear he in no way endorses such accounting and would have preferred enslaved people not be counted at all: Continue reading “‘Greeks called people “barbarians”, so how can anyone act like Apartheid was a big deal?’”

Racism is a grandfathered in to American societym

This criticism doesn’t mean that all white people are the devil, that malice or active racism are necessary. A hermit frontiersman in the 1800s might have had no opinion on slavery or even been against it morally.

But the act of doing nothing is tacit support of the status quo.

An auto union worker in the 1940s and ’50s may have thought segregation was wrong, but if they felt that opposition to anti-lynching bills in the Senate were equally important as economic policy, then their tacit support for a dehumanizing system of oppression is based on racism because it says that mobs torturing and murdering a man, woman, or child with impunity isn’t so important if that person is black.

In the same way, if you say that regularly stopping and frisking black and Latino people without any reasonable suspicion is ‘just one of many issues’, it’s because you think it’s unlikely to affect you or people like yourself, so you don’t care that much.

Malice is not required; apathy is more than sufficient.

Continue reading “Racism is a grandfathered in to American societym”

Meat isn’t murder, but it will be one day

The final entry in my friend’s initial question/topic of discussion series involves humans and domesticated animals.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the meat and dairy industry but I have way too many things to say about that.

That’s quite an open-ended prompt, although we talked about it in more detail in person over a lunch that included tacos with pig meat.

I expect proceeding generations to view my own meat consumption and use of animal products in the same way we now view the behavior of Nazis and slavers, and yet I don’t think this will change anything.

Continue reading “Meat isn’t murder, but it will be one day”