Ben Carson Clarifies … Kinda

Ben Carson took a lot of flak for a comment he made about slavery and immigration on Monday. In turn, when I highlighted his comment, some readers of this blog, reflecting their own assumptions, went off on what I conclude was a Rorschach test of reading and reacting to blog posts.

Even Ben Carson understood he had to clarify what he meant. On his Facebook page, he did so:

Carson FB slavery

If only he had stopped there … because, afterwards, in chatting with Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, Carson observed: “Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants.” That drew renewed criticism in some corners.

I’m inclined to give Carson the benefit of the doubt here, because the modifier represents an important advance. The same could be said of the formulation Barack Obama used, because, contrary to some careless readers (I’m being kind here), he did not simply declare that slaves were immigrants.

In short, Dr. Carson now admits he could have spoken better, and he’s offered observations that ought to be heeded by his defenders here and elsewhere. Let’s see whether they are as big as he is, or whether they wish to go the way of, say, someone who resides in Virginia Whine Country, where heritage correctness and right-wing opinions always trump historical accuracy and objectivity in what amounts to a mindless clipping service of the blogger’s referred political reading pretending to be a blog about history.

Ben Carson, Dred Scott, and Historical Memory

Today is the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision … you know, where Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared in his opinion that African Americans …

had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it.

Almost as if to commemorate this event, what did Ben Carson, the incoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, tell his new colleagues today?

That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.

Ah, yes. Enslaved people as immigrants looking to come to a land of opportunity for their descendants. They would work longer (and for a long time), to be sure, and harder, and for far less … as in no wages. In many cases, they would be torn away from husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children, so that they would never know what happened to sons and daughters, let alone other generations down the line. Black women would be raped by white men and offspring would come of such violence.

Yes, these people dreamed of freedom. Recall the folks who wanted to deny them that freedom in 1860 … and how they continued to do so after 1865.

Then again, as we’ve been told by one famous Confederate heritage apologist, slavery was, after all, a choice.

I can’t wait for those whiny blogs that bemoan “political correctness” and proclaim that they are committed to historical accuracy and truth to get on this one. What, you say … those principled folks won’t do that? I wonder why?

Heritage, not history … has gone mainstream.

As for Dred and Harriet Scott, here’s a statue of them outside the very courthouse in St. Louis where they gained their freedom:

DSC05083

Let’s honor the cause for which they fought, and pray that it never becomes a lost cause.

Frederick Douglass Is Making a Comeback

One way to make America great again is by recognizing the greatness in America’s past. Of course, some people continue to do a great job, according to President Donald J. Trump:

Press secretary Sean Spicer elaborated as only he can:

I await the usual protests of political correctness from Virginia Whine Country. Fake history? Yup. Not that it bothers him (perhaps because it’s about a black person? Perhaps because he doesn’t know it’s fake?). His concerns are different. As he has admitted: “I’ve been ranting and raving about rampant leftist indoctrination and political correctness in American colleges and universities for over 10 years now.” Ranting and raving … someone’s applying to be a spokesperson for the new administration, although that would force him to emerge from his safe space (note the silence about Trump’s prattling about the theater as a safe space).

Toughen up, butternut buttercup. You can dish it out, but boy, you can’t take it.

A Black Trump Supporter Embraces the Black Confederate Myth

That’s right. 

As the story says,

Derek Boyd Hankerson is an African American university lecturer, filmmaker, author, and political operative. He’s also a Donald Trump supporter. Pledging his support for Trump last year, Hankerson served as Trump’s Northeast Florida Field Director….

He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1991 from the University of Maryland College Park. In 2007 he earned his Masters in Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

But he has co-authored a history book, Belonging: The Civil War’s South We Never Knew.  The book makes the astonishing claim that blacks in large numbers fought for the South during the Civil War, a myth advanced by white racist groups that long ago was debunked by historians.

Now, I’m sure some whiny Confederate heritage advocate will claim that this is a way to get at Donald Trump. That in the process they will be defending poor history is something to note. After all, opponents of “political correctness” embrace heritage correctness … and, it seems, they don’t mind what Trump supporters say, regardless of its historical accuracy, because they are invested in what I might call “partisan correctness.”

Actually, as the comments show, I’m just as tired of anyone citing John Stauffer as a reliable source on this subject. We know better.