by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
For those who don’t know me I am not only an avid reader on the subject of history, but I also have a Bachelors in that field of study. I have always believed that everyone should at the very least have a basic understanding of the subject. Sadly, few people have any interest in history, which is largely due to the way it is taught in government schools. That is why we have so many clueless people who buy into the lies created by the 1619 Project or just about any other nonsense pushed by the left.
We have people who don’t seem to understand the significance or the purpose of learning about the past. To them history was nothing more than a set of dates or events that you memorized to get through classes that were boring and seemingly pointless. This isn’t entirely their fault, since we have schools that don’t make history relevant to their students. I went through a period where I didn’t understand why it was important to learn about our past. It wasn’t until my dad told me that history continues to repeat itself and that if we don’t learn from it then we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. He also said that if we don’t have a basic understanding of our history, it makes it easier for those who want to rule over us to lie to us about our past. I didn’t know what my dad meant until many years later when I started to study history in much greater detail. Just about every tyrant throughout the past has tried to distort or erase the history of the nation he ruled over as a way of dumbing down the populace. You have Hitler, who peddled the mythology that Germans descended from a fictitious race of Aryan supermen that were destined to conquer the world. Then there was Mao’s Cultural Revolution that went out of its way to destroy all of the relics of China’s past.
I also remembered my dad being proven right about history repeating itself when I started to see some of the same deception practiced in the United States. I used to think the history books were a bit one-sided when it came to The Civil War, The Great Depression or the so-called McCarthy era. Those were the good old days compared to the 1619 Project, an initiative of The New York Times that falsely claims that it was slavery that defined America and not individual liberty. They even go as far to make absurd claims about the American Revolution being waged to preserve slavery. Never mind that the colonies up North had no vested interested in preserving slavery or that very few people even owned slaves. I seriously doubt that the soldiers and the militiamen took up arms against the British in the name of an institution that few people participated in. Don’t get me wrong, slavery was definitely not a shining moment in the history of this nation. Yet, I find it interesting when leftists try to downplay America’s greatness by making it sound as if slavery was unique to this nation, while ignoring the fact that the institution had existed thousands of years before The United States was even an idea. It’s also quite telling that America is the only country that seems to be on the hook for slave reparations when there isn’t a single nation that isn’t without sin when it comes to the barbaric practice. One continent that comes to mind is Africa and contrary to what Roots showed us, it wasn’t common for white slavers to jump out of their ships to grab random Africans out of the jungle. The overwhelming majority of the people who were taken to the Americas against their will were already enslaved by their fellow Africans.
As for slavery being the concept that defines America, I would like to point out that there was a reason why many individuals in the early days of the United States referred to it as The Peculiar Institution. They considered it peculiar because many found that this barbaric and immoral system was completely out of place in a country that was founded on individual liberty. Even Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner himself, realized that an oppressive system like slavery was incompatible with a free nation and even tried to end it through The Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, The Southern States weren’t ready to give it up because they didn’t know who would pick the cotton if chattel slavery were to banned. Looking back, it is pretty absurd that they clung onto the institution as long they did, since it wasn’t even that effective of a system. One of the most common problems that plantation owners had was motivating their slaves to do anything beyond the bare minimum. In other worlds they could force their slaves to work, but they couldn’t force them to do their best. Also, the costs of owning a slave start to add up after buying them at an auction at the highest bidder. You then had to provide food, water, clothing, shelter and medical care to keep your slaves working. Once you add it all up it seems like it would have been more cost-proficient for the plantation owners to give their workers an hourly wage. Unfortunately, since the Plantation class were set in their ways, it would be almost a hundred years before America ended slavery.
Though what many people don’t realize is that when America became a Republic, the Founding Fathers that were against slavery did everything they could to end it through gradual means. One of them was not allowing the South to use the slaves in their states as full representatives of their population. Many people have a misunderstanding about the slaves being counted as three-fifths of a person as if this was the way the government judged their worth as human beings. In reality it was actually the Southern states who wanted their slaves to be counted as part of their population so that they could have more representation in Congress. Representatives of non-slave states were opposed to this practice because it would give South more power in Congress, which would make it even more challenging for those who were trying to abolish the barbaric practice. So, they compromised with the South by allowing their slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a regular person.
I have always found it interesting that this nation is supposed to atone for the sins of a practice that lasted less than a century under the United States (I count the years after we officially became a nation), while many nations would need thousands of years’ worth of atonement. From the very beginning the US knew that slavery wasn’t compatible with its values. While we could have gotten rid of the institution sooner, there were certain people who didn’t want to give it up because they couldn’t imagine the labor system on their plantations working any other way. It’s interesting how the South actually became more prosperous, once the institution went the way of the dodo. It also quite telling that the US knew that the system couldn’t go on indefinitely, while some nations continue it to this day. To anybody who says that slavery was a defining character of this country, I ask this question. Do you hold the same standards towards certain nations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East? I ask because these nations actually clung onto slavery longer the US and most of Western civilization. There are some nations that practice it in many forms to this day and yet I don’t see the same outrage about this as I do about the ghosts of America’s past. Why is that? Sadly, I think that the answer is obvious.
Note: The one upside to all this is that the 1619 Project has been raked through the coals by prominent historians. I was even amazed to see self-proclaimed socialist historians tear the history of the 1619 Project to shreds in the book, New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History. As much as I would disagree with most what these scholars believe in politically, it is nice to know that scholarly integrity still exists on the left.
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