Opinion

Being Enslaved By Racism: How We Shall Overcome

Slaves have been owned in black Africa throughout recorded history. In many areas, there were large-scale slave societies, while in others there were slave-owning societies. Slavery was practiced everywhere even before the rise of Islam, and black slaves exported from Africa were widely traded throughout the Islamic world. Approximately 18 million Africans were delivered into the Islamic trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades between 650 and 1905. In the second half of the 15th century Europeans began to trade along the west coast of Africa, and by 1867 between 7 million and 10 million Africans had been shipped as slaves to the New World. Although some areas of Africa were depleted by slave raiding, on balance the African population grew after the establishment of the transatlantic slave trade because of new food crops introduced from the New World, particularly manioc, corn (maize), and possibly peanuts (groundnuts). The relationship between African and New World slavery was highly complementary. African slave owners demanded primarily women and children for labour and lineage incorporation and tended to kill males because they were troublesome and likely to flee. The transatlantic trade, on the other hand, demanded primarily adult males for labour and thus saved from certain death many adult males who otherwise would have been slaughtered outright by their African captors. After the end of the transatlantic trade, a few African societies at the end of the 19th century put captured males to productive work as slaves, but this usually was not the case before that time. (Online Encyclopedia Britannica- Slavery-Sociology)

Contrary to conventional thought, Slavery was NOT only endured by Blacks.  All peoples have at one time or another been enslaved.  The irony is that it is Blacks who appear to have created the institution of Slavery.  As the creators of civilization, and the builders of the world’s first cities, Blacks logically were the first to have a need for slaves, as a source of free labor.  Slavery in ancient cultures was known to occur in civilizations as old as Sumer, and it was found in every civilization, including Ancient Egypt, the Akkadian empire, Assyria, Ancient Greece, Rome and parts of its empire. (Ancient Man and His First Civilizations- The History of Slavery)

Did the enslavement of one human being by another begin in Africa?  That’s the view of what some might call the Black Supremacist site quoted above.  By contrast, the online Encyclopedia Britannica account of slavery (which I suppose the authors of the Afro-centric account would stigmatize as “white” supremacist) dwells on its characteristics in the “major” civilizations of Greece and Rome. (Since the word “major” means, at its root, greater or better, this slant would surely be noted by the Black Supremacists as evidence of EB’s cultural racism.)

At this point, Star Trek’s Ensign Chekov would pipe in to correct both views.  “Slavery was obviously invented in Russia.” He would say, “everyone knows that.  Even the word itself refers to the Slavs, among whom the practice was widespread.”  Chekov could be wrong, of course.  The reference to Slavs in the term “slavery” result from a) The large number of Slavs held to forced labor by the conquering Saxon King, Otto the Great; or b) the predominance of Slavs, at some point in the history of the Muslim slave trade around the Mediterranean.

Obviously, if we are going to assess blame for the evil practice of slavery, humanity itself would have a hard time beating the rap.  The “white” General Robert E. Lee was no more or less to blame than the black Africans who had been selling defeated male captives to Muslim slave traders for centuries, long before Lee inherited his.  In fact, the first glimmer of the “positive good” argument some American enslavers touted, may lie in the fact that many of the captured males sold into slavery would otherwise simply have been slaughtered.  The choice of slavery or death was implied, after losing a battle, throughout human history.  Such enforced subjugation made women the concubines and household servants of warriors throughout the world.  It produced despised working classes of one kind or another in most places.

Right now, it’s seriously important for people in the United States to ponder this.  Not only are the Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists demanding that we believe “whites” are somehow uniquely responsible for the systematic oppression and enslavement of people along ethnic (clan, tribal, national, or racial) lines.  They are making that lie the basis for demands that successful whites give up their income and property, including the right to will their belongings to their offspring—all on the specious grounds that enslaving, oppressing, and otherwise brutalizing people has somehow been the special privilege of “whites”, and especially of Christian whites. Should these demands be treated as comic relief? Remember the kulaks?

It’s time for Americans to research and take account of the facts, and reject this divisively tendentious nonsense. It evinces the racism it pretends to oppose.  Nothing about the historical experience of “white” skinned people corresponds to the myth of Aryan superiority and invincibility the racist Adolf Hitler and his ilk promoted.  “Whites” lost the civilizational battle time and again.  Besides the Roman Empire, the other period of clearly “white” pre-eminence in human history began in the nineteenth century.  The evil practices of human civilization were too wide-spread and otherwise well advanced to have been “invented”, or even much refined, by “whites”. In the practice of evil, they likely rank as amateurs and imitators.

The major difference between “white”, European evildoers of the modern era, and the mostly colored ones of other eras and locales, is that whites suffered from a major historical disadvantage. Coming late into the competition for the Crown of evil, they had to deal with the emerging bad conscience of humanity, a bad conscience rooted in the transforming ministry of a colored man in Palestine.  He was a craftsman by trade; not one of the obvious Princes of the earth.  He preached, practiced and suffered death, for the sake of a doctrine that denied the rights of conquest to anyone but God; so that the only form of slavery it encourages pertains to those like St Paul, who voluntarily choose to live in bondage to God’s will.

This slavery is not a matter of oppression.  It is a gift of extraordinary wisdom and power.  This can include the power to conquer people’s hearts, subduing their wills withal. Unlike the command of human empires and armies, it involves a command of love, expressed in every voluntary act declared and done according to God’s will. Everyone willing to accept God’s great commission may be installed in this command, and vested with such power as death cannot conquer nor fear subdue; as chains cannot inhibit nor prison walls contain.  It commands forces that move, invisible as the wind; shaking human hearts so that works of faithful courage and compassion fall, like leaves from a tree, marking out the path of Christ as He goes from heart to heart; from earth to heaven; from death to life renewed and everlasting.

Good consciences, bound to carry out His great commission, reproach the pretended conquest rights of humans bent on enslaving to evil those whom God intends for good.  Such consciences rebel against the assertion of merely human power that provides the primordial ground for the enslavement of humankind.  When will Americans remember that our special heritage as a people is not the heritage of wrongful slavery. That we have in common with all humanity.  It is the heritage of right, by which we are the first people (nation, clan, tribe, race) to make God’s intrinsic conquest of His Creation the basis for our willing declaration of His rule.  On account of that identity, the practice of human slavery, racist or otherwise, stands condemned. It must give way to the practice of right, by God-endowed,

In America, this practice of right was raised, by God’s Providence, as the standard for our identity as a nation.  We did not measure up to that standard, at first.  We do not fully measure up to it now.  No doubt, all on our own, we never will.  Our task is not to reach, but wholly to strive for the perfection of God.  To make up for our persistent failures, we must rely on His good will, already proved in Christ. In the meantime, as individuals and as a nation, we should be willing to strive and fail; strive more and fail again.  But, in begging God’s forgiveness, we must not let His standard fall.  In thanks to Him for His mercy, we must be determined to prove our thanks, as best we can.  That task involves, first of all, forgiving one another, even as we ask God, time and again, to forgive us. But how shall we forgive the living, if we fall prey to people who hate so obdurately that they want obsessively to obliterate from history the shadows of evils long since dead?