With the popularization of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the spread of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools, universities and corporations during the past few years, the topic of slavery reparations has been put on the agenda by the political Left.
The issue of past slavery is being used by the Left to accomplish many political purposes; paradoxically, none of them has anything to do with evils of slavery. How do I know that, you ask? Because the Left shows absolutely no interest in abolishing present day slavery that is still going on in many parts of the world.
Firstly, millions of women around the world are living as slaves in their home countries. These women are subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) when they are just girls, as a way for them to be kept under sexual control by their owners. FGM is the process of surgically removing a girls’ clitoris so that she experiences little or no sexual satisfaction. FGM is also practiced in the form of sewing up the vagina in such a way that sexual intercourse is impossible, until the stitches are removed at a later date. Literally millions of girls and women in many countries (including in America and other Western nations) are subjected to this procedure and here in America, we never hear people on the political Left even mentioning this atrocious practice, let alone agitating against it.
Secondly, these girls are treated as the property of their fathers until they are forced to marry men who are usually much older than them, at which point they become the property of their “husbands.” I put the term in quotes because one can hardly consider a man you are forced to marry against your will a husband, in any meaningful sense of the word.
In many countries, these women cannot work, they cannot travel, and oftentimes they cannot even leave the home except accompanied by a male relative and with the permission of their “husbands.” They are forced to have sex with their “husband” whenever he wishes, even against their will, and there is no concept of marital rape in such countries which deliver consequences to the men for literally raping “their” women. One of the great horrors of past slavery as it existed in America’s early years was the prospect of slaveowners raping their slaves. Well, this is happening right now, in many countries around the world.
If these women are not literally slaves in the truest definition of the term, then I don’t know what the word “slavery” even means.
There are other forms of slavery occurring around the world which is different in character to the above described male domination of women in certain societies, but still a form of slavery nonetheless. These include human trafficking of young boys and girls for sex slavery here in North America and Europe as well as extreme forms of indentured servitude for untouchables on the Indian subcontinent. These two subjects are beyond the scope of this article but suffice it to say that modern day slavery is real, it’s still happening today, and it needs to be stamped out in all its forms.
My main point is this: if the people demanding reparations for the great grandchildren of long dead slaves in America really cared about the evils of actual slavery, they would show some interest, any interest, perhaps even a modicum of interest, in abolishing present day slavery. It’s not one or the other, you can care about both at the same time, like walking and chewing gum.
But the fact that the proponents of slavery reparations in America never even mention the horrors of present day slavery is the ultimate “tell” that what they really care about is the “reparations” part of slavery reparations, i.e., the “show me the money” part.
It’s a grift. A hustle. It’s all about getting the money for their tribe at the expense of all the other tribes.
Another reason slavery reparations make no sense in America is that the current day view of the history of slavery in America is mostly framed incorrectly and falsely.
The view currently en vogue is that America did a horrible thing by enslaving blacks from Africa and that this is America’s “original sin” for which all Americans must feel a present sense of regret and shame. In addition, this framing of history is based on the idea that slavery was primarily a racially motivated crime.
I don’t at all buy into this framing of the history of slavery and here’s why:
- Slavery has been present in all human societies for thousands of years.
- Slavery was, for most of its history, not at all racially motivated. Whites enslaved whites, blacks enslaved blacks, Asians enslaved Asians, etc. Vulnerable peoples of all races were enslaved. In fact, most slaves throughout history were of the same race as their enslavers, for the simple reason that it was not technologically possible to enslave people of other races and transport them long distances back to the home country. Most slaves were therefore snatched from neighboring regions and were of the same or similar race as their captors.
- A fact little known to most Americans is that there were more whites brought to Africa as slaves than there were blacks brought to North America as slaves.
- In America, not just whites owned slaves. There were black slaveowners as well as Native American slaveowners.
- During the time of slavery in America, there were also many free blacks who were not slaves. This demonstrates that slavery was not primarily a racial phenomenon.
- America fought a Civil War with the goal of eliminating the institution of slavery on American territory. Over 600,000 soldiers were killed on both sides, making this the deadliest war in American history. In fact, America and Great Britain were the first, and for a long time, the only societies in the world which thought that slavery was wrong and took steps to eliminate it not just within their own territories, but in other countries as well.
Most people in America have never heard the name William Wilberforce. If you are one of those people, ask yourself why you have never heard of the man most responsible for abolishing the slave trade in Britain and in all British territories. One would think that every slavery-hating person alive today would look up to William Wilberforce as an inspirational historical figure. His story illustrates that slavery was abolished precisely because leading Western activists took steps to destroy the institutions of slavery, at a time when other societies were actively taking steps to defend the institution within their own shores.
For this reason, I believe that the proper framing of the history of slavery is that Britain and America were the first and only countries which played an active role in the abolition of slavery around the world.
So instead of criticizing America for allowing slavery in the first place, America should be credited with abolishing slavery at a time when most other countries saw nothing wrong with the practice and even sought to maintain it into the future.
So when I look back at the American history of slavery, I feel no shame or guilt, but rather pride in the fact that when we inherited an age old practice of enslaving human beings, we came to the belief that it was wrong to do so, and we took great and costly steps to abolish the practice in our own country as well as in other countries.
Instead of America being asked to pay “reparations” for its history of slavery, America should be applauded and credited for the steps she took to abolish the practice throughout the world. The payment of financial reparations to any descendants of slaves, would be an insult and an injury to the hundreds of thousands of people who paid the ultimate sacrifice to bring about the end of slavery.
Who will pay “reparations” to the families of those lost in this great and just battle for the cause of freedom in America? This is the real question which must be asked.
If you’re interested in hearing the real history of slavery, read this historical SUMMARY by Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.