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dead racists

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Just Barely Edition

An Alabama State Senator running for Congress has written a speech arguing that slavery was justified by the Bible and that it was good for blacks.

The lawmaker, Charles Davidson, ... made the arguments in a speech he prepared for a Senate debate.... The measure was quickly tabled on Tuesday before Mr. Davidson could deliver the speech, so he passed out copies of it.

Mr. Davidson referred to Leviticus 25:44 — "You may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you" — and quoted I Timothy 6:1 as saying slaves should "regard their own masters as worthy of all honor."

"The incidence of abuse, rape, broken homes and murder are 100 times greater, today, ... than they ever were on the slave plantations in the Old South," he wrote. "The truth is that nowhere on the face of the earth, in all of time, were servants better treated or better loved than they were in the Old South by white ... slave owners."

--"Bible Backed Slavery, Says a Lawmaker", New York Times

I can hear you now: "You're losing it, skemono. An Alabaman senator--even a postbellum one--defending slavery? That's nothing unusual. You've failed me. And what's this 'Just Barely Edition'?"

Well, this is a 'Just Barely' edition in that it's only just barely about a dead racist. You see, Charles Davidson died in December, 2000. That New York Times article was written May 10, 1996. It was almost exactly eleven years ago that we had a congressional candidate who was an apologist for slavery. You can find a few copies of the speech via Google, though they all differ a little. Here's one in PDF format, written up as an article for a magazine, so the pages are sprinkled with ads.

The debate in which he was going to deliver this speech was one "over his proposal to fly the Confederate battle flag atop the State Capitol." Here are a few excerpts of the speech:

It is past time that the truth were told. Hitler's tactic of "tell a big enough lie often enough and people will believe it" has been utilized to the fullest extent, to smear the Confederate States of America and her symbols such as the battle flag.

Fortunately, most people have not been deceived by such hate mongering tactics, as is evident from a recent Louis Harris poll showing that 92% of the Southern people, of all races are not offended by our Confederate battle flag and that nationwide, 68% of blacks are not offended. Unfortunately, a few too many have believed the lies about our Confederate battle flag, which has resulted in unjustified and horrible intolerance, bigotry, hatred, violence and even murder.

Today, I come before you to set the record straight: to refute the myths and false propaganda and to remind you of the truth concerning our Confederate ancestors and history. It is my hope and fervent prayer that truth will replace fiction; that tolerance will replace intolerance; that peace will replace violence; that love will replace hate; and that unity will replace division. Our Lord Jesus says, "know the truth and the truth will set you free"; in this case, free from hate and intolerance of our Confederate symbols. So, I beg of you to listen with an open mind and a Christian heart.

The first lie concerns slavery and its link to racism. The lie is that only blacks were slaves and thus have some special right to a "slavery pity party" because their ancestors were slaves and therefore, anyone who owned slaves was a racist. This is not true.

The word "slave" is Greek for the word "Slav" and rightly applies only to white European slaves or Slavs from the countries of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Siavonia, Russia, Poland, Hungary and others. The Slavonic tribes are the root of all European white people. For a thousand years, so many millions of these white European Slavs were captured and sold as servants, that the word "Slavs" or "slaves" became universally used for the word "servant" and was only later applied to black servants.

Every white person in America has ancestors who were slaves at some time or the other, including the Scots, British, French, Spanish, and Germans. In the early colonies of America whites were regularly sold as permanent slaves. If it were justifiable, whites would be much more justified in having "a chip on their shoulder" or "a pity party" over slavery than blacks, because more of their white ancestors were slaves and for a longer period of time than blacks. Almost all blacks in the U.S. were under slavery for less than 100 years and only 5% of all black slaves shipped by black masters out of Africa ever came to the United States, because most black slaves were shipped to South America or the West Indies.

Yes, those poor, oppressed whites. How they suffered so. Interesting how he goes from denouncing the claim "that only blacks were slaves" (which technically isn't true; merely the vast, vast majority of them in this country) to the claim that the "word 'slave' ... rightly applies only to white European slaves." So only whites were slaves? Sure.
Our ancestors in the old South were fundamental Christians, which means, they believed that the Bible, Old and New Testaments, were the opinions of Almighty God, who does not change, and not the opinions of man. On the other hand, the abolitionists from up north were humanists. They believed that God changed with the times and that the Bible was merely the opinions of men and not necessarily the opinions of God. I shall read to you a little of what God says in the Bible concerning slavery and thus what our ancestors in the old South believed.

In the Old Testament, Leviticus 25: 44-46, God says: "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have — you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have begotten in your land, they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves."

In the New Testament, 1 Timothy 6:1-5, God says: "let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles." People who are bitter and hateful about slavery are obviously bitter and hateful against God and his word, because they reject what God says and embrace what mere humans say concerning slavery. This humanistic thinking is what the abolitionists embraced, while Southerners and most Northerners embraced what God said in the Bible. The humanists' argument is not with me or the South or the United States but rather their argument is with God. They have made themselves out to be greater than God, for they add to God's word when they call something evil that God obviously allows. This is what the humanistic abolitionists did, teaching the doctrines of men as if they were the doctrines of God.

I find this amusing not just for its bizarre rant against Northern "humanists", but also because just yesterday a commenter over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars made the claim that "There is no way to justify slavery from the bible that doesn't do tremendous violence to the text." Sure, Mr. Heddle. Whatever you say.
The second lie is that slaves were mistreated in the old South. Again, this is not true.

In Colossians 4:1, Jesus says: "Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a master in heaven." To say that slaves were mistreated in the old South, is to say that the most Christian group of people in the entire world, the Bible belt, mistreated their servants and violated the commandments of Jesus their Lord. Anyone who says this is an accuser of the brethren of Jesus Christ; not a very good position to take. We in the South are offended by such false accusations.

Just the opposite is true. In the old South there were numerous laws that protected servants from abuse just like there are laws to protect wives and children from abuse, today. But just because a few men abuse their wives or children does not make marriage or having children a cruel hateful endeavor.

I wonder if Mr. Davidson counts among the "numerous laws that protected servants from abuse" such laws the Virginia 1669 act, "An act about the casual killing of slaves"? It reads:
Whereas the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistris or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinancy of many of them by other than violent meanes supprest, Be it enacted and declared by this grand assembly, if any slave resist his master (or others by his masters order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accompted ffelony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepensed malice (which alone makes murther ffelony) should induce any man to destroy his own estate.

In short, if a slave should just happen to die while you're beating them--well, you could hardly be held responsible for that!

Or maybe Virginia's 1792 law (reaffirmed in 1819) about what to do with a black man who gave false testimony:
Where any negro or mulatto shall be found ... to have given false testimony, every such offender shall without further trial, be ordered ... to have one ear nailed to the pillory, and there to stand for the space of one hour, and then the said ear to be cut off, and thereafter the other ear nailed in like manner, and cut off at the expiration of one other hour, and moreover to receive thirty-nine lashes on his or her bare back well laid on at the public whipping post, or such other punishment as the court shall think proper, not extending to life or limb.

See? The punishment can't extend "to life or limb"! How could you get any more Christ-like?
Just as white European slaves were primitive, barbaric pagans who practiced human sacrifice, incest, witchcraft, and idolatry; yet were converted to Christianity, learned trades and skills and became a civilized people under black, oriental and white masters; so also, did black African, barbaric pagans become civilized, Christians with skills and trades under slavery in the old South.

It's amazing how often this crap gets repeated.
All slave ships from the United States sailed from the northern States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, new jersey and Delaware under the United States flag. Not one Southern ship sailed to Africa to bring back slaves and no ship ever sailed under the Confederate flag to bring back slaves.

Really? No ship under the Confederate flag? Gee; I wonder why that might be?
The third lie is that the War for Southern Independence (or as the U.S. Congress officially dec1ared it to be: The War Between The States, it was not a civil war), was fought over slavery, with the north fighting to free Southern slaves and the South fighting to keep her slaves. This is, of course, not true.

The hell it's not. This has been shown extensively in recent posts at Dispatches from the Culture Wars: here, here, and here (check the comments for imbeciles trying to defend the Confederacy and the consistent debunking of their claims).

But let's look at what Davidson has to say about this. Maybe he has something more intelligent to say than some lunatic commenters on the internet.
First off, all thirteen original States that seceded from England in 1776 and formed the United States, from Maine (a part of Massachusetts at the time) to Georgia, owned slaves. Was the 1st American revolution fought over slavery?

No? Then neither was the 2nd American revolution fought over slavery, when the Southern States withdrew from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America. Is the 4th of July a racist holiday because all thirteen original colonies had slaves? No? Then neither are our Confederate holidays.

Oh dear god. It's worse than I thought.

No-one ever said that the Civil War was a war over slavery just because the Confederate states "happened" to have slaves, you rotting mountebank. It was a war over slavery because they seceded specifically to preserve slavery. The leaders of the states stated so specifically; the Confederate constitution was practically an exact copy (warning: PDF) of the constitution of the United States except for passages explicitly discussing slavery; the reasons the states gave for seceding invariably mentioned slavery. And it wasn't just political leaders who recognized this was about slavery, it was the average soldier--on both sides--who recognized this was a fight over slavery.

Afterwards follows a bunch of bullshit trying to equate the North and South because "both had slaves." Except in the Northern states, there were only 20 slaves in 1860, most of those in New Jersey, which had a law of gradual abolition in place. In the same year, the Confederate States had a total of 3,521,110 slaves. And yes, the border states had slaves; and yes, the Emancipation Proclamation did not explicitly free them. But the 13th amendment, passed when the war was won, did. Imagine that... after a fight over slavery, slavery is abolished. Who'da thunk it?
The War for Southern Independence was fought over local self-government for the South versus centralist government by the North; the centralist government won and local self-government lost. The Confederate battle flag is the symbol of the right of the local people and the States to govern themselves and is flown in memory and honor of our Confederate ancestors and veterans who gave their lives for less government, less taxes and Southern independence.

What a load of crap. The southern states wanted self-government because they wanted to be able to keep their slaves without interference--again, this was about slavery. Similarly, yes, Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union. But why was this necessary? The South had seceded. And why did they secede? To keep slavery. It comes back to that, no matter how much "southern pride" you have.

Comments

An infamous (in my family -- and probably a few other people) moment from years ago visiting my Mom in Augusta, GA:

My youngest son, Momma and I are walking around J.C. Penny's basement during the time that the GA flag was changed to eliminate the Confederate battle flag and Momma's ranting and raving about it being "heritage, not hate" (Momma's a good person, and pretty enlightened for her age -- but she's 86 and a bit naive). I finally stopped and said, "MOMMA! CIVIL WAR IS OVER. THE SOUTH LOST. GET OVER IT!" It suddenly became very, very quite in the basement of J.C. Penny's.

Having grown up in Virginia (10 miles outside of Washington, D.C. -- but still Virginia schools, with VA history texts and curricula) I grew up hearing all of that blather. A few years ago, when I began reading (to my horror) in earnest the truth about slavery and Jim Crow and sharing it with Momma, she didn't believe any of it until I pointed out, "Momma, your Daddy wouldn't allow the 'N-word' to be used in his presence -- do you really think the locals were going to say anything about lynchings and other 'good times' around any of you?"

I'm amazed at people I otherwise respect who still spout this self-serving crap. For instance, novelist Sharyn McCrumb (whose books I really love), in MacPherson's Lament claims that slavery was an outmoded system that would have just died out on it's own in a few years. After how long? If you're a slave, a month is too long even under the most "benign" conditions.

Boggles the mind....

"For instance, novelist Sharyn McCrumb (whose books I really love), in MacPherson's Lament claims that slavery was an outmoded system that would have just died out on it's own in a few years."

I think the very fact of how widespread slavery still is rather discredits that.