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Do you know who Philip Foner? No biggie, until recently I had no idea who he was either. Foner is a historian who wrote a 5-volume collection – “The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass” and a biography of the great abolitionist leader. Because of my interest in black history, Foner landed on my radar. I looked him up on Wikipedia and discovered that in addition to being a historian, he was what I would call (along with the people of his day) a far-leftist due to his Marxist idelogy; views which later got him fired from teaching at the City College of New York in the 1940’s. The way much of Academia is today, Foner would be in line with much of the contemporary thought on college campuses. Foner also authored the book, “History of Black Americans: From Africa to the Emergence of the Cotton Kingdom” in which he said the following:
“The fact that the early Negroes imported into Virginia held the status of indentured servants is shown by the records of some Negroes’ receiving the customary ‘freedom dues’ in the form of land at the end of their term of service. Some obtained land after becoming free by importing servants under the ‘head-right’ system, by which they obtained 50 acres for each servant imported. A small number of Negro landowners not only held black servants, but were sufficiently prosperous to pay the transportation costs of white indentured servants, through each of whom they could obtain 50 acres of land. Anthony Johnson, who was imported into Virginia in 1622, accumulated property after he ended his indentured period, and even though he lost all his holdings in a fire, was able by 1651 to import five black servants into the colony, for which he was granted 250 acres in Northampton County. About 1650, Benjamin Dole, a Negro, was granted 300 acres of land in Surry County for having imported six servants. Another Negro was granted 550 acres after importing 11 people.”
Does the fact that some black people (pre-Civil War) once had white indentured servants lessen the evil of slavery? No. Neither does the fact that blacks enslaved whites prior to Columbus discovering America, as the book “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters” makes abundantly clear. This from the book description:
This is a study that digs deeply into this ‘other’ slavery, the bondage of Europeans by North-African Muslims that flourished during the same centuries as the heyday of the trans-Atlantic trade from sub-Saharan Africa to the Americas. Here are explored the actual extent of Barbary Coast slavery, the dynamic relationship between master and slave, and the effects of this slaving on Italy, one of the slave takers’ primary targets and victims.
Does the fact that Africans enslaved Italians make the slavery here in America any less abhorrent? No, neither does the fact that Native Americans owned Africans as slaves. Here is quote from Smithsonian Magazine:
“When you think of the Trail of Tears, you likely imagine a long procession of suffering Cherokee Indians forced westward by a villainous Andrew Jackson. Perhaps you envision unscrupulous white slaveholders, whose interest in growing a plantation economy underlay the decision to expel the Cherokee, flooding in to take their place east of the Mississippi River.
What you probably don’t picture are Cherokee slaveholders, foremost among them Cherokee chief John Ross. What you probably don’t picture are the numerous African-American slaves, Cherokee-owned, who made the brutal march themselves, or else were shipped en masse to what is now Oklahoma aboard cramped boats by their wealthy Indian masters. And what you may not know is that the federal policy of Indian removal, which ranged far beyond the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee, was not simply the vindictive scheme of Andrew Jackson, but rather a popularly endorsed, congressionally sanctioned campaign spanning the administrations of nine separate presidents.
These uncomfortable complications in the narrative were brought to the forefront at a recent event held at the National Museum of the American Indian. Titled “Finding Common Ground,” the symposium offered a deep dive into intersectional African-American and Native American history.
For museum curator Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), who has overseen the design and opening of the widely lauded “Americans” exhibition now on view on the museum’s third floor, it is imperative to provide the museum-going public with an unflinching history, even when doing so is painful.”
- Africans in America once sponsored whites as indentured servants pre-Civil War.
- Africans enslaved whites (typically Italian) before Africans were enslaved in America.
- Native Americans once enslaved Africans in America.
And before I get to my point, because I do have one, here is more information from HistoryNet (HT to Derrick Wilburn of RMBC News) I quote the research, “Civil War Casualties: Casualties Numbers And Battle Death Statistics For the American Civil War.”
Though the number of killed and wounded in the Civil War is not known precisely, most sources agree that the total number killed was between 640,000 and 700,000.
And when you dig into the Union Civil War casualties alone, its over 250,000. Considering that the American population in 1860 was 1/10th the size it is today, that 250,000 would be 2,500,000 white people dead in a bid to end slavery.
This is my point.
There is a lot of talk today about racism; most of it rooted in Critical Race Theory. The supposition being that all whites are evil and blacks are eternally oppressed due in large part to slavery in America. How can this be justified when so many whites died to end slavery? And what about the blacks who enslaved whites before Africans were slaves in America? And what about the Native Americans who had black slaves?
No matter the PC culture of today, no race is more virtuous than the other. Slavery should be forgiven but not forgotten. Society should put slavery in a museum where it belongs and not use it as a bludgeon to advance Marxist fantasies and political advantage. From what I have seen, such is the endgame on all discussions of slavery today; at least in America. This is a pity because more relevant topics on slavery are ignored. Why? There is no political advantage to bringing them up and the citizenry, for all of its moral outrage over an era of slavery that ended centuries ago, cannot be bothered to show indignation over the slavery happening today. Here are just a few examples.
- Study: Nike, Apple, BMW Among 83 Brands Using Chinese Muslim Slave Labor
- Nike should quit lecturing on social justice — and atone for using slave labor in China
- Your Apple phone, Adidas shoes and Sony TV may have been made in China by forced Uighur labor
- China ‘using Uighur slaves in hellish camps to make coronavirus face masks’
- “Modern-Day Slavery”: China Is Forcing Muslims into Forced Labor, Prison & Indoctrination Camps
So, maybe you are now outraged over corporations profiting from slave labor. I hope so. Something needs to be done against modern day slavery in China. One solution may be to boycott companies that use slave labor. There are certainly advocates for that like this guy and there are groups like this one who strive to increase public awareness. However, I think the best effort is any action that gets laws on the book with real penalties on corporations that use slave labor. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced a bill last year to do that very thing. Here is a quote from a press release discussing it.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is introducing legislation to hold American companies accountable for slave labor in their supply chains. The Slave-Free Business Certification Act (S. 4241) increases corporate supply chain disclosure requirements, mandates regular audits, requires Chief Executive Officers to certify that their companies’ supply chains do not rely on forced, slave labor, and creates penalties for firms that fail basic minimum standards for human rights.
Senator Hawley said, “Corporate America and the celebrities that hawk their products have been playing this game for a long time – talk up corporate social responsibility and social justice at home while making millions of dollars off the slave labor that assembles their products. Executives build woke, progressive brands for American consumers, but happily outsource labor to Chinese concentration camps, all just to save a few bucks.
“If corporate America wants to be the face of social change today, they should have to certify they are completely slave-free. Participate in independent audits to verify it and disclose steps to ensure slave labor won’t become part of the equation later on. And if they refuse to do so, they should pay the price. That’s social responsibility.”
Corporations have been lobbying against this act because it would negatively affect their profits. (But, I thought they were all about justice?) Here are a few articles on that in case you are curious.
- Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola Lobby To Preserve Slavery Of Uighurs By Communist China
- Corporate Oligarchs Lobby for Less Restriction — on Slave Labor
- Nike and Coca-Cola Lobby Against Xinjiang Forced Labor Bill
- REPORT: Several Major Corporations Are Fighting To Use Slave Labor
- Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China
- Nestle Says Requirement to Report Use of Slave Labor Would Cost Consumers More Money
On January 27, 2021, the Senate reintroduced a modified version of the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (akin to what Hawley introduced). Hopefully it will become law under the Biden Administration. Time will tell. (You may want to call your Senator and tell them to vote for it.) It may mean higher prices in the long run and (I imagine) a sticker on goods that says, “Slavery free” as justification for the price increase. I would be good with seeing that. I would see that as social justice.
Okay, I’m off my high horse. New rant tomorrow. I promise it will be shorter 😉
By the way, the photo in the header is from this article: Prisoners Are Subjected To ‘The Big Hang’ And ‘The Death Bed’ At China’s Notorious Re-Education Labour Camps