by Ilana Mercer
First he exposed the History Channel’s miniseries “Roots” as root-and-brunch fiction. Now, the courageous epistolary warrior Kunta (Jack) Kerwick has turned his attention to correcting lies about slavery, promulgated in media and scholarly circles.
A point forcefully made
by Kerwick is that although a vibrant, indigenous slave trade was
conducted well into the nineteenth century in the interior of West
Africa, slavery has become the White Man’s cross to bear.
Also omitted, in the course of the “honest” conversation about race
directed by our political masters, is that credit for the demise of the
slave trade in Africa belongs to Europeans. In his compact study, The Slave Trade,
British historian Jeremy Black (London, 2006), highlights the “leading
role Britain played in the abolition of slavery [as]… an example of an
ethical foreign policy.” Britain agonized over this repugnant
institution, failed to reconcile it with the Christian faith, and
consequently abolished it.
Professor Black condemns the
exclusive focus on the Atlantic—or transatlantic—slave trade to the
exclusion of the robust slave trade conducted by Arabs across the Sahara
Desert. Or, across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to markets in the
Middle East. This exclusive focus on westerners as slave owners and
traders, notes Black, “fits with the [political] narrative of Western
exploitation” of underdeveloped countries and their people.
The greatest development economist to live was Lord P.T. Bauer. As The Economist quipped, Bauer was to foreign aid what Friedrich Hayek was to socialism: a slayer. In his Dissent on Development
(London, 1971), Bauer bolstered Black’s point well before the latter
made it: “The slave trade between Africa and the Middle East antedated
the Atlantic slave trade by centuries, and far outlasted it. Tens of
millions of Africans were carried away—north through the Sahara, and
from East Africa, by Arab and Muslim slave traders, well before
Europeans took up the trade from West Africa.”
for slavery, ethnic prejudice and purges lives on today in the
treatment, for example, of blacks in Darfur and Yazidi Kurds in Iraq.
Considering Europeans were not alone in the slave trade, Black, in
particular, questions “the commonplace identification of slavery with
racism,” given that, like serfdom, slavery was a device (albeit an
inefficient one) “to ensure labor availability and control.”
At its most savage, child slavery still thrives in Haiti in the form of the “Restavec system.”
Children are kept in grinding poverty and worked to the bone. In the
Anglo-American and European worlds this would be considered perverse in
the extreme; in Haiti owning a Restavec is a status symbol. (Haiti,
incidentally, is another spot on the globe that “Hillary Clinton’s State
Department” “helped ruin,” by ensconcing an illegitimate and corrupt leader, with a preference for corrupt NGOs such as … The Clinton Foundation.)
The savagery of the indigenous slave trade in the interior of West
Africa owed a lot to the rivalries and relationships between Africans
powers. By Black’s telling, “Both Arabs and Europeans worked in
collaboration with native polities that provided the slaves through
raids and war carried out against their neighbors.”
For the Atlantic slave trade, contemporary Americans and Britons
have been expiating at every turn. But more than engendering a cult of
apology, the Atlantic slave trade has been instrumental in the effort to
control and define the past as an “aspect of current politics,” not
least in shaping the historical treatment of the Civil War, the South,
and the American Founding Fathers.
Jeremy Black rejects these
ritual apologies as empty ploys, which “all too often conform to
fatuous arguments about ‘closure,’ resolution, and being unable to move
on until we acknowledge the past.” In reality, this bowing-and-scraping,
by obsequious Anglo-Americans, to their black political overlords,
entails the opposite of all these, and, instead, involves the
reiteration and institutionalization of racial grievance.
The cult of apology that has gripped America and Britain is uniquely
Western. What other people would agonize over events they had no part
in, personally, for damages they did not inflict?
leveled at a collective, all whites, for infractions it did not commit:
Africans who were not enslaved are seen as having an ineffable claim
against Europeans who did not enslave them.
At its core, the
argument against racism, at least as it works to further black
interests, is an argument against collectivism. You’re meant to avoid
judging an entire people based on the color of their epidermis or the
conduct of a statistically significant number of them.
however, deemed perfectly acceptable to malign and milk Europeans for
all they’re worth, based on the lack of pigment in their skin and their
overall better socio-economic performance.