The Strawman as Other

The exchanges in the comments section during the last several weeks have reminded me that one of the characteristics of such arguments is that certain people construct strawmen in order to establish something to attack.  Ironically, the people who do this often are quite intent on saying that whatever they are defending has been subjected to the same sort of distortion and stereotyping.  Thus we hear of “anti-Southern”/”anti-Confederate” bloggers who supposedly are out to “evilize” the South as part of a “politically-correct” crusade.

Bunk.  The same goes for people who claim that these bloggers “hate” their critics.  Hate?  Really?

In such cases the line between amusement and boredom is rather quickly crossed.

One wonders what ends such irrational and extremist rhetoric is intended to serve.  One also wonders whether such language is deliberate distortion or sincerely-felt responses that tell us much more about the person making the claims and charges than about the people and arguments being characterized.

On the other hand, as we can see here, some commenters have made the big time with their rants.  Way to go, Connie!

43 thoughts on “The Strawman as Other

  1. Roger E Watson November 30, 2011 / 4:22 pm

    Branding ! I had forgotten about branding!! Of course, Connie would say this was done in a very few extreme cases and not indicative of how benevolent 99.9% of the slaveowners were to their property.

    I’m probably one of the few people that could only get through the first 20 pages or so of Uncle Tom’s Cabin before I had to put it aside. Man’s inhumanity to man.

  2. wgdavis November 30, 2011 / 4:39 pm

    One wonders what fantasy world the author lives in when 11 states went to great lengths to seceded from the Union, three others had unsuccessful attempts to do so, and then those seceded states joined together in a Confederacy. All of the secession documents by those states declared that slavery was the main issue.

    Further, the remaining states remained together in a four year effort to restore the Union and in the process free the slaves.

    There really is no dispute about this. It was serious enough to go to war over.

    For Ms. Chastain to assert that, “An incomplete and unrealistically negative picture of slavery is pervasive in the culture of this country; it is deliberately perpetrated in order to create the perception of slaveowners as inhuman and total evil — and, by association, the entire Confederacy, thus making the South “deserving” of the destruction by the righteous army of the north. To point out that this picture is agenda driven and incomplete, and thus not true, is not “arguing for slavery.”, is simply a true strawman.

    Indeed, slavery was morally wrong, it was evil, and it was very pervasive throughout the south. While some states in the Confederacy were more populated than others, one could hardly go 20 miles in any direction even in the most sparsely populated Confederate states to find slavery, or signs of slavery [slave catchers, those who forged manacles, chains, and other very inhuman and evil forms of restraint.]

    Ms. Chastain is completely without and foundation for her statement. I could use it to catch fish with.

    She is either living in a fantasy world or…something worse.

  3. wgdavis November 30, 2011 / 5:19 pm

    I would recommend for the future that when referring to Ms. Chastain, she should be properly referred to as “Ms. Chastain, the Southern Slavery Apologist.”

  4. Charles Lovejoy November 30, 2011 / 6:33 pm

    I’m a southerner here and kinda see and understand the war from a southern understanding, and I hadn’t been kicked off yet? Guess y’all don’t hate all southerners 🙂

    • John Buchanan December 1, 2011 / 12:22 pm

      No, but we have our eyes on you!

  5. Margaret D. Blough December 1, 2011 / 12:25 am

    The idea that, as Ms. Chastain claims, that there is a conspiracy to “create the perception of slaveowners as inhuman and total evil” is ridiculous. What scholarship on the subject has done is confront and attempt to understand the complex and troubling issue of how people who, if we met them, would be considered decent, kind, etc. could, nevertheless, participate in and even support enslaving others. It is the great cognitive dissonance that was present from the birth of the “First New Nation” (as Lipset called it) with the jeer of Samuel Johnson questioning how the loudest cries for freedom could come from the mouths of slave drivers and the troubled question of Abigail Adams writing to her husband John and raising the dilemma of people fighting for liberty while depriving others of it. It’s what James Madison, in the Constitutional Convention, identifies as the factor that presented the highest risk of producing disunion.

    • Charles Lovejoy December 1, 2011 / 9:25 am

      Margaret, I also see slavery in the United States as a >”complex and troubling issue””raising the dilemma of people fighting for liberty while depriving others of it.”< I see as a dilemma that has plagued humans as far back as we have written history. My conclusion is, in times past in the lands of Christendom including 18th-19th century America ,the majority of white Christians viewed themselves as a higher people than non-white and non-Christian. That in my opinion is the answer to Abigail Adams dilemma. When a group of humans view another group as lesser humans than themselves then add being ordained by God to the Formula opens the door to deprive others they view as lesser of their basic liberty . I see Abigail Adams and others like her as being ahead of their time in thinking when it came to human rights in America. I see slavery in America and the western hemisphere as an example of capitalism, Imperialism and human greed when uncontrolled.

      • Margaret Blough December 1, 2011 / 10:25 pm

        I have a different perspective. You leave out the rise of the Enlightenment and the natural rights philosophy adopted in the Declaration of Independence. Abigail Adams was very much a creature of her time and the fact that Massachusetts had abolished slavery years before the Constitution bears evidence to that. It also was the moving force for the end of slavery in the northern states after the Revolution. Natural rights philosophy did not mandate total social and political equality for all, but there were certain basic rights (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) that were common to all. The other forces that you mention certainly existed and even prevailed quite often but the rise of natural rights philosophy, reinforced by religious views, created the cognitive dissonance with the other forces with which the US struggled without resolution until the Civil War settled it.

    • Connie Chastain December 2, 2011 / 12:09 pm

      Ms. Blough, I respectfully request that you direct us to any claim of a *conspiracy* made by me. It is possible for an idea to take hold of the public consciousness without a conspiracy. If it comes and goes quickly, it’s a fad. If it doesn’t go quickly, and becomes embedded in the public consciousness more or less permanently, that’s not evidence of some kind of conspiracy.

      I’m not talking about scholarship. I’m talking about the general population and the popular culture.

      Sometimes I wonder if future generations will confront and attempt to understand the complex and troubling issue of how people who, if we met them, would be considered decent, kind, etc. could, nevertheless, participate in and even support the annual slaughter of millions of preborn children in the United States….

  6. Connie Chastain December 1, 2011 / 1:44 am

    Thanks for the heads up. I had no idea that had been posted.

    Yes, Mr. Watson, you’re absolutely right, except that I don’t have a percentage figure. I’m not claiming however, that such horrific practices were “okay” because they were the exception, they weren’t okay. However, it is deceptive to present the worst as if it is the whole. And yes, I believe that deception is practiced in order to evilize slaveowners and, by extension, the entire South/Confederacy,and make them “worthy” of the savagery and destruction rained down up on them in the war — by people who had no moral authority for doing so.

    Mr. Davis, I’m not living in a fantasy world. If you have to believe that in order to neutralize a differing perspective that takes into consideration factors you choose to ignore, fine, I don’t care. Have at it. I would just note that seeing the whole of slavery, rather than presenting the worst of it as the whole, is not being a slavery apologist. However, if name-calling is your thing, shall we start referring to you as W.G. Davis, the Slavery Exaggerator?

    • Roger E Watson December 1, 2011 / 5:39 pm

      “However, it is deceptive to present the worst as if it is the whole.”

      Which is exactly what you do with your benevolent slaveholder rhetoric. The free room and board. The free medical care, etc. All the benefits of being owned by another. With all that harmony, bliss and three squares a day, I can’t understand why there would have been any need for a Fugitive Slave Act ! You are so far from the truth, your statements on slavery are as laughable as your kool aid drinking followers You might also read Mr. Foskett’s post below. Sums up my opinion of you, also.

      • Connie Chastain December 2, 2011 / 12:12 pm

        Mr. Watson, I haven’t written any “benevolent slaveholder rhetoric” … nor do I have followers, kool aid drinking or otherwise. Perhaps you’re confusing me with someone else.

        On occasion, I have written (whether at the FB page, I don’t recall) about the laws that required slaveholders to continue supporting their slaves when they could no longer work, as in sickness, disability or old age, and that medical care was provided in several ways — at large plantations, it might be a doctor who resided on the estate; smaller plantations might together hire a doctor to provide medical service to the families and slaves all; or at slave hospitals located in several major cities in the South.

        This information about medical care, btw, came from an essay written by Michael T. Griffith, who I “met” online several years ago. He had just discovered in his ancestry one or more Confederate soldiers, This ignited in him an interest in the Confederacy and the civil war, and he launched a self-propelled study that resulted in several such essays.

        I agree that if the benevolent slaveholder/free room-and-board, free medical care rhetoric is presented as the whole of slavery, it is just as erroneous as the opposite. If one is presented to counter balance an incomplete view of the other, making a more accurate picture of the whole, then I’m not sure what the objection would be. I have to say, though, that I find the worst-as-all view presented far,far more often than the best-as-all.

        When the “free medical care,” etc., rhetoric was recently posted at SHPG, contrary to the claims that such racist rhetoric is never challeneged, another member posted this: “The response would be that not being able to determine one’s own destiny would outweigh all those positive aspects.”

        Both you and Mr. Foskett are entitled to your own beliefs about me, regardless of how wrong they are.

        • Margaret Blough December 2, 2011 / 10:01 pm

          Ms. Chastain-You retain a death grip on the straw man, don’t you? I have a very extensive personal library of works on slavery, including a book first published in 1858, “An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America” by T.R.R. Cobb (a Georgia lawyer and major slave owner who was also a fire-eater and a brigadier general in the Army of Northern Virginia who was KIA at Fredericksburg in1862) You look for stories of acts of kindness, etc by individual slave owners as though they change anything. It is simply not necessary to portray all slaveowners as monstrous to accurately identify chattel slavery as a monstrosity. However, you might want to consider this passage in trying to blame modern views for your vision of an incomplete picture of slavery.:

          >>There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances. And with what execration should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patriae of the other. For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labour for another: in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavours to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.–But it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one’s mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.<<

          That comes from the answer to Query XVIII in "Notes on the State of Virginia" (1781-1783) by Thomas Jefferson. His hopes proved fruitless for there were no signs in 1860 of the masters consenting to general emancipation, the replacement of the defense of slavery as a necessary but not necessarily permanent evil with the aggressive doctrine of slavery as a positive good already underway before Jefferson's death.

  7. John Foskett December 1, 2011 / 10:26 am

    The following may be the single most stupid/most alarming sentence I’ve seen in a long time: “An incomplete and unrealistically negative picture of slavery is pervasive in the culture of this country.” Talk about getting an insight into somebody;’s disturbing mentality with only 16 words.

  8. Connie Chastain December 1, 2011 / 6:40 pm

    Mr. Foskett, do you sincerely think it’s fine to portray the worst — of slavery, or anything else — as the totality of it?

    I’ve had occasion to read articles and news stories that describe unfortunate circumstances of African Americans as the “legacy of slavery.” I’ve never found anything that acknowledges that basically everything America commemorates and celebrates in Black History Month is also a legacy of slavery, because the forebears of African American achievers were brought here as slaves and it seems most unlikely they would have come here under other circumstances.

    Perhaps you need to consider the likelihood that the “disturbing mentality” you speak of exists in the eye of the beholder.

    • Margaret Blough December 1, 2011 / 10:16 pm

      Ms. Chastain-The level of cultural arrogance and ignorance in that statement is mind-boggling. In the first place, Africans have emigrated and continue to emigrate to the United State voluntarily, both short-term (for instance, Barack Obama Sr., a Kenyan) and permanently. In the second place, we will never know what the descendants of those kidnapped and sold across the Atlantic would have achieved if African culture and development had not been disrupted by the kidnapping of men, women, and children, generally the strongest and healthiest in order to have a more salable product. More than anything else, I find the argument that one can find any justify the deprivation of liberty from millions of human beings over a period of almost 250 years because of an accident of fate that actually was only possible because the war that secessionists began in order to protect slavery ended destroying it.

      The moral attack on slavery is no phenomenon of hindsight and is not dependent on proof of torture, etc. for its reasoning. The deprivation of liberty by one human being of another without consent or contract is sufficient. The Germantown, PA Quakers published their Declaration against slavery in 1688. The Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery (PAS), the first anti-slavery society in the world was founded in 1775 and Tom Paine joined it and wrote against slavery on coming to America. In 1787, Benjamin Franklin became its Honorary President. The Church of the Brethren website on the Dunkers (a popular name for the denomination at the time) and the Battle of Antietam has this to say on slavery:


      What did the Dunkers believe concerning slavery, at the official denominational level? Since the Dunkers or Brethren had migrated from Pennsylvania into a few southern States (Maryland, Virginia) with significant slave populations, the issue of slavery would inevitably confront them denominationally at their Annual Conference. The earliest record of an official mention was in their Annual Conference minutes for 1797, held at Blackwater, Virginia: “It was considered good, and also concluded unanimously, that no brother or sister should have negroes as slaves; and in case a brother or sister had such he or she was to set them free.” This had the effect of barring members from Communion and even disfellowshipping those who persisted in retaining slaves. Again the issue was similarly reflected in the minutes of the 1713 Conference held at Coventry, Pennsylvania.
      But how did the Dunkers feel about having slaves or negroes in full membership status? The first mention is found in the 1835 Conference minutes from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania: “It is considered, that inasmuch as the gospel is to be preached to all nations and races, and if they come as repentant sinners, believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and apply for baptism, we could not confidently refuse them.”
      Should members “hire” slaves from slaveholders, thus evading any ruling concerning ownership while still enjoying the benefits of their labor? It was a very common practice in slave States for people to hire slaves from their masters under a contractual agreement: so many slaves, for so much work, for such a period of time. Questions regarding slavery or related matters repeatedly came to the Dunker or Brethren Annual Conference for consideration, but one of the more definitive pronouncements is found in the minutes of the 1855 Conference held at Linville Creek, Virginia: “We, the Brethren of Augusta, Upper and Lower Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Hardy counties having in general council meeting assembled at the church on Linville Creek; and having under consideration the following questions concerning those Brethren holding slaves at this time and who have not complied with the requisition of Annual Meeting of 1854, conclude: That they make speedy preparation to liberate them either by emancipation or by will, that this evil may be banished from among us, as we look upon slavery as dangerous to be tolerated in the church; it is tending to create disunion in the Brotherhood, and is a great injury to the cause of Christ and the progress of the church. So unitedly we exhort our brethren humbly, yet earnestly and lovingly, to clear themselves of slavery, and that they may not fail and come short of the glory of God, at the great and notable day of the Lord. Furthermore, concerning Brethren who hire a slave or slaves, and paying wages to their owners, we do not approve of it. The same is attended with evil which is combined with slavery. It is taking hold of the same evil which we cannot encourage, and should be banished and put from among us, and cannot be tolerated in the church.”
      Long before cannons sounded in Charleston harbor, the Dunkers repeatedly gave clear and unambiguous official statements regarding their beliefs over the issue of slavery. It was an “evil” that could not be “tolerated in the church” because the “gospel of Jesus Christ was to be preached in all nations to all races.” (fn omitted).

      If slavery was so beneficial, why did secessionists regard it as a fate worse than death for whites? Slaves got nothing for free. The only ones who got anything for free were slave owners and their families who not only got the benefit of the lifetime services of slaves but could use slaves as collateral for loans and could lease them to others in order to earn income. That was the reason that enslaved females of childbearing years who had proven themselves fertile were as valuable as they were. They were seen and discussed as interest bearing property.

      • Connie Chastain December 2, 2011 / 12:15 pm

        Ms. Blough, I’m not talking about the level of current immigration from Africa. I’m talking about African immigration centuries ago on the scale that would result in the black population figures we have today. About 500,000 Africans were brought to what became the United States. Does it truly seem likely to you that this many Africans would have immigrated here on their own during the colonial era? You acknowledge that we can’t know what would have happened if Africans had not been brought here as slaves. I’m acknowledging what DID happen — and what we celebrate in Black History Month is achievement by those brought here as slaves, and their descendants. That’s just… fact.

        • Margaret Blough December 2, 2011 / 10:18 pm

          Did it ever occur to you that those descendants’ accomplishment have occurred by overcoming the effects of slavery, not as some sort of positive side-effect of it, and that is what we celebrate in Black History Month. In addition, Black History Month began not as a celebration than as an effort to correct a conscious omission from history texts in the US, especially school texts, which tended to restrict mention of any accomplishments/contributions to the US by blacks to, at most, George Washington Carver and the peanut if it mentioned that much.

          I’m simply appalled that you argue that any present day accomplishments of their descendants ameliorates in any way what was done to their ancestors: not just those who were put on slave ships, whether they survived the Middle Passage or not, but those who were born, suffered, and died in the nearly 250 years between the first purchase of slaves by English settlers in Jamestown and the ratification of the 13th Amendment. The fact that Irish both in the US and in Australia have accomplished much does not excuse or lighten the implications of the British policies that led to massive suffering and death in Ireland during the Potato Famine and the flight to the US and Australia by desperate survivors facing death if they remained in Ireland.

      • Noma December 2, 2011 / 4:01 pm

        Thanks for sharing this. Pretty amazing.

    • Roger E Watson December 2, 2011 / 3:38 am

      Absolutely astounding !! And frightening !!!!!

      • Noma December 2, 2011 / 8:46 pm

        I mean: Margaret, thanks for sharing the information on the progressive ideas of the Dunkers.

        • Margaret D. Blough December 2, 2011 / 11:01 pm

          Noma-You’re welcome!

    • John Foskett December 2, 2011 / 8:34 am

      Ms. Chastain: You’re talking about human slavery. Kindly give me the “positives”.

    • HankC December 2, 2011 / 10:14 am

      “basically everything America commemorates and celebrates in Black History Month is also a legacy of slavery ”

      it may just be me, but the celebration of Black History Month is largely that of those who worked to *remove* the legacy of slavery from our country and, frankly, it’s also the history of the opposition who wished to *preserve* the legacy…

      • Connie Chastain December 2, 2011 / 12:18 pm

        HankC, my understanding is that Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans in the United States.

        • HankC December 3, 2011 / 5:05 pm

          correct and differs from your previous statement.

          ‘legacy’ is something handed down from generation to generation. slavery is hardly something we wish to continue from generation to generation.

          the ‘history’ of slavery should never be forgotten, but it’s ‘legacy’ (racism, segregation, Jim Crow and both massive and petty resistance to racial equality) should be stamped out for all time.

          You claim there was a ‘best’ of slavery. Was there also a ‘best’ for segregation? Jim Crow? Massive Resistance?

    • James F. Epperson December 2, 2011 / 4:13 pm

      Connie’s problem is that any attempt to portray the reality of slavery is accused of portraying the “worst” of it.

      Slavery is bad. Slavery in the American South was not nearly as bad as in the Spanish colonies, but it was still bad. Connie should contemplate how many choices she has made today, and then ask herself how many of those a slave would get? And don’t forget the choice of who you will sleep with tonight. My apologies if that blunt reality offends anyone, but as the father of a 20 year old daughter, it is rather important to me. And if you don’t believe me that it was common-place, just ask Mary Chesnut.

      • John Foskett December 3, 2011 / 10:19 am

        I don’t know, when you consider general flogging practices for whatever whim suited the master or the overseer, the selling off of family members, the “innovative” punishments for making one’s self literate, bad diet, 12-hour workdays, forced sex, etc. Comparing it to slavery in the Spanish colonies is a bit like comparing the German death camps to those operated by Stalin. I suppose that if one reallly HAD to choose…….

        • James F. Epperson December 4, 2011 / 5:18 am

          It is my understanding that in most of the Spanish colonies, slaves were literally worked to death. That was the basis for my saying slavery in the Spanish possessions was worse.

          • John Foskett December 4, 2011 / 9:21 am

            I certainly understand the valid point you’re making. My objection is that it becomes a bit of a meaningless exercise to rank evils. There were plenty of slaves toiling in brutal climates for absurd periods of time on inadequate rations in the Deep South, as well. To the extent they were kept alive, it was primarily for economic reasons – much like one would insure that the livestock are fed. Plus there was the top price a well-nourished “buck” would fetch on the market, in the offensive lingo of the time.

  9. Khepera December 2, 2011 / 8:00 am

    >>>” I’ve never found anything that acknowledges that basically everything America commemorates and celebrates in Black History Month is also a legacy of slavery, because the forebears of African American achievers were brought here as slaves and it seems most unlikely they would have come here under other circumstances.<<<"

    Nor will you find such acknowledgment of such a repugnant and immoral sentiment, except among racists.

    • Connie Chastain December 2, 2011 / 12:16 pm

      Khepera, so you imagine that, absent the slave trade, there would have been 500,000 Africans who voluntarily chose to immigrate to what became the United States during the colonial era? For me to doubt that is repugnant and immoral and racist? I reject that notion.

      • khepera420 December 3, 2011 / 11:28 am

        Ms. Chastain, I don’t imagine “jack.” I’m saying that your line of reasoning is the same one used by centuries of European invaders and modern apologists to justify the heinous acts of those invaders and oppressors; i.e., the conceit that without white people having brought enlightenment, civilization and Christianity to the dusky-skinned savages of the world, they’d still be wallowing in abject barbarism. Ah, the echoes of the White Man’s Burden!

        You ignore the fact we’ll never know what Africa and Africans might have become if the continent had not been raped to the tune of 12 million people. We’ll never know what the descendants of the 645,000 brought to the U.S. might have wrought without their history of enslavement, and left in their native lands.

        Instead, you call it all good because, well, look what many of them became or were able to accomplish here! American chattel slavery was no felix culpa, ma’am. Your words are merely a prettified version of the time-honored, racist meme of, “They ought to be grateful. If they hadn’t been brought here they’d still be swingin’ in the trees, eatin’ bananas and livin’ in mud huts.” And yes, that’s an exact quote of which I’ve heard a number of repetitions or variations over the years.

        Your words, ma’am, are no less profoundly insulting, demeaning and offensive.

        • Connie Chastain December 3, 2011 / 11:24 pm

          No, if that’s the only way you can conceptualize it, there’s no point in trying to explain it further. But the fact is, you appear to be so accustomed to putting a particular spin on this subject, you can’t see it being discussed in any other way. You are apparently so accustomed to classifying viewpoints that do not conform to yous as all falling within a certain description or category, you can’t conceptualize any that fall outside of it.

          I see that same inability in reply after reply in this thread.

          • khepera420 December 4, 2011 / 11:31 am

            The fact is that you are apparently an apologist for slavery and the wrongs of the white-supremacist Confederacy, and have an inability to admit it. *I* see that same inability in you and most of your fringe cult. Your repeated attempts at using pop psychology to invalidate the viewpoints of others are merely amusing. Your views on slavery in America, though, are repugnant, immoral and inhuman to anyone who considers herself or himself civilized in this day and age.

            You are right about one thing; “there’s no point in trying to explain it further.” You can’t. Not to any intelligent, thinking and, as I’ve said before, intellectually honest person. The more folks like you talk, the more creeped out I become. God help us if your vision of the south should EVER “rise again.” I’m out. . .before I tell you what I *really* think about the Confederacy and those who celebrate its racist filth.

      • Steve Witmer December 3, 2011 / 6:56 pm

        Ms. Chastain, that 500,000 was a fraction of those actually loaded onto those ships, many never survived the journey.

        Who the heck are you to pass judgement on how these people’s lives might have been in Africa had they not been sold into slavery? If I told you that, in 250 years time, one of your descendents might be able to live in a country like the U.S., and all you had to do was give up 100% of your freedom, submit yourself to regular beatings, possibly rape, and once your children are born (possibly a result of rape or forced marriage), they can be sold away from you on a whim. Then those children will likewise be subjected to similar lack of freedom. And maybe, just maybe, in a couple of centuries or so that condition of slavery might end, and your great-great-great-great-great grandchildren, if your lineage has survived the hardships, might be allowed to have some level of equality with the great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren of your owners. And they’ll tell your descendents how lucky you are that you were enslaved so that they can enjoy the benefits of their modern society, so slavery must not be so bad after all.

        • Connie Chastain December 3, 2011 / 11:16 pm

          Actually, I have said nothing of the sort, and you’re putting a spin on my words I never intended. I find that an almost universal practice among critics — an inability to take what is written at face value, and an apparently irresistible urge to embellish,

        • Connie Chastain December 3, 2011 / 11:18 pm

          Mr. Witmer, I appreciate the emotion that went into your post, but you completely missed the point of what I said.

          • khepera420 December 4, 2011 / 11:37 am

            How typically condescending. He didn’t miss your point. He perceives it loud and clear, as do most of the folks in this thread. You are the only one with an apparent inability to see your words for what they are.

  10. Marc Ferguson December 2, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    Perhaps you need to consider the likelihood that the “disturbing mentality” you speak of exists in the eye of the beholder.
    – Connie to Margaret

    Connie’s problem is that any attempt to portray the reality of slavery is accused of portraying the “worst” of it.
    – Jim E. on Connie’s view of our limited capacities (or willingness)to truly appreciate the historical, moral, and human benefits of Southern slavery Connie wants us to look on it’s “bright side,” or, as she corrected me the,”whole of it” as opposed to just it’s down side, I presume.

  11. TF Smith December 2, 2011 / 9:38 pm


    Whew, that was close. Truly amazing the things that climb out of the swamp.

    Best to our host and the rest of the reality-based community.

  12. Lawanda Denise Newham December 23, 2011 / 2:02 pm

    I have been reading this blog, and i am a direct decendant of a Chastain slave, and the stories that has been passed down from my family and the recent DNA tesats done on myself to find my geneoplogy and its origin was a bit different than what MRs. Chastain is portraying as any positives to the slavery era. my great grandfather was Obediah, he had no other sirname because he was of Aboriginal Australian decent, he was sold from a williams slave holder in Australia to a cargo ship that ended him up in the USA, and he was transferred from the Williams ownership to the Chastain ownership, even to this day our family has usffered the lies ans treatment of disrespect because of this fact, and I think that people should be more sensitive to what they speak of and the true facts of modern science ….. not all blacks were from Africa. and not all slave decendants are dead, today i still search for the truth of who i am and where i came from ……… so far I am of the bloodline of a north Queensland Aboriginal clan from Australia who was caught up in the slave era, its a shame that anything like this ever happened because it destroyed families and generations to come from the actions …….. i hope everyone gets thier facts straight because i rthink the history is wrong and you are both wrong. find some people with the genetic information we decendants of slves do have an education now and can research our own history based on family info passed down through the generations.

  13. Lawanda Denise Newham December 23, 2011 / 2:03 pm

    sorry for any mispelled words and yes i am aware of it. thanks i am sure anyone can figure the misspelled words out . =)

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