A Review: Foreign Affairs Jan.-Feb. 2018

December 23, 2017

A Review: Foreign Affairs Magazine

Jan.-Feb. 2018 Issue

The Undead Past: How Nations

Confront The Evils Of History

by

R.E. Prindle

Part I

 

In this issue of the official gazette of the CFR (Council On Foreign Relations) the Editors examine the moanings of those citizens of the world who believe the past still lives and of those who feel no obligation to mourn the doings of previous centuries but yet must suffer the torments of hell forever for what are deemed the sins of their fathers. May heaven deliver the latter from the former.

Perhaps the model for those who live their lives in hatred for the dead past whose deeds have never affected them are the Jews who even today bemoan, and make for a narrative for their lives, the deeds of a long forgotten king named Haman who existed some twenty-five hundred years ago in a society that ceased to exist at about the same time. Haman’s descendants have disappeared in the ceaseless flow of time, yet his memory is deplored in the Haman shrieks in synagogues across the world today.

The CFR seems possessed, I believe possessed is the right word, by events that can have no other than a ghostly effect on them. In this issue of Foreign Affairs the Editors examine the feelings of the walking dead suffering from the Undead Past that haunts the corridors of their minds.

How do nations handle the sins of their fathers and mothers? Take genocide, or slavery, or political mass murder. After such knowledge what forgiveness—and what way forward?

Are the Editors deranged? Nations don’t handle anything, the people do. And once you’re dealing with citizens, you can examine their psychology to put matters into a correct perspective. They believe their angst is universal throughout the population, or should be. Nothing can be further from the truth. A very large proportion of the people have no such qualms as these. Legions of us do not share the Editors’ sense of guilt or shame.

Any rational person is well aware that human passions can be inscrutable while there are no innocents. Let the dead past bury its dead. Have done with them. Life is for the living. Those sayings do not require quotes, they live throughout history as well as today.   The Editors continue:

The Germans have a word for it, of course: Vergungenheitsbewaltigung, or “coming to terms with the past.” But the concept is applicable far beyond the Nazis—as Americans belatedly recognized when Robert E. Lee shot to the front of the culture wars last August after the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.

To acknowledge ‘culture wars’ means that the Editors do recognize that by the term Americans, they mean that there is no monolithic America. Not all Americans think as the Editors do. The others, the Deplorables, to use Hillary Clintons term of abuse are misguided animals who don’t count and, moreover, shouldn’t, must never count. They are people who shame this great democracy of theirs. The Hillbillies, the Rednecks, the unwashed, knuckle dragging ignorami, the off scourings of humanity.

The Editors ignore not only their own faulty bigoted psychology but project it onto others.

Not surprisingly the Editors’ lead article is entitled ‘America’s Original Sin’. Even less surprising they have chosen as their advocate the dread locked Negro female, Harvard’s so=called historian, Annette Gordon-Reed.

Miss Reed is unmistakably an Affirmative Action hire from the African-American studies department. Her article takes the form of a complaint as one might expect. Her understandings reflect her grievances: America has never lived up to its high flown rhetoric of the Constitution while she believes that slavery lives on in White Supremacists’ hearts as it does in her’s and her Negro fellows. White Supremacists do not want to re-enslave the Negro, they want to send them back to Africa. A subtle difference.  Miss Gordon-Reed continues:

Consider, by contrast, what might have happened had there been Irish chattel slavery in North America. Irish suffered pervasive discrimination and were subjected to crude and cruel stereotypes about their alleged inferiority, but they were never kept as slaves. Had they been freed, there is every reason to believe they would have had an easier time assimilating into American culture than have African-Americans. Their enslavement would be a major historical fact, but it would likely not have created a legacy so firmly tying the past to the present as did African Chattel slavery. Indeed, the descendants of white indentured servants [slaves] blended into society, and today suffer no stigma because of their ancestors’ social condition.

Let us examine the above quote. Miss Gordon-Reed obviously believes that Whites look down on Negroes because the race was once enslaved in America. I have never heard any White demean Negroes because the race had once been slaves.

In fact, as Miss Gordon-Reed admits, and as I have maintained elsewhere, that the real issue is that masters were White. As she points out slavery before had always been of the same race so there was no racial inferiority contrast. Thus, when Lincoln emancipated the Negroes they ceased being slaves but remained Negroes. The issue was not former servitude but race. Of course in any society a former slave would take about three generations to live down the stigma, but Negroes were outside that convention because, she says, of race.

Nor, was it a simple matter of ceasing to be slaves that was the problem. In ancient Rome the Romans enslaved the culturally superior Greeks. The Greeks were advanced thinkers compared to the Romans, thus they became the instructors of the Romans even though slaves. One must compare that situation with Negro slaves who had nothing to offer Whites except their labor. As the Greeks were superiors to the Romans, the Whites were far and away superior to the Negroes. And therein lies the problem.

While Negroes were relatively few in numbers before 1800 they represented about 20% of the population. Then in 1794 Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin making cotton growing on a mass scale viable. This created the need for increased importation of Negroes. This coincided with the ban on the importation of Negroes in 1808 but the importation went on illegally. Thus there was a phenomenal increase of the number of Negroes until 1860. When Lincoln emancipated the slaves, then, perhaps a majority of Negroes were fresh from the jungle being totally unacquainted with civilization. These were some rude dudes, raw recruits, as it were.

Lincoln perhaps took this into account but the abolitionists didn’t. Hence when the real invasion of the South by the North took place during Reconstruction (that is one terrifying word) and the Negroes were placed over the Whites the juxtaposition of qualities was unnatural, intolerable to the Whites, it could not be allowed to go on.

If the Greeks had revolted against the Romans and the roles were reversed that would have still been two very capable peoples. The horror of being placed under the governance of such a motley crew was palpable. Thus from 1865 to 1877 deprived of all rights by Northern bigots while suffering under Negroes who in nearly all cases could neither read nor write while being linguistically inarticulate. There is small wonder that Jim Crow succeeded slavery.

The situation is, perhaps, an unpleasant reality, but something that Miss Gordon-Reed as a historian should have taken into some account. As a polemicist she is free to speak as wildly as she likes but being a Negro does not excuse her as an historian. Certainly, the Editors of Foreign Affairs could see this. She is not an historian and not up to what people believe are the standards of America’s foremost university.

Her handling of the Irish situation also betrays a near complete lack of understanding. She has no grasp of the racial problems of the Irish and English, that is, the Celts and the Germans. Those racial problems far anteceded any Negro-White relations. While the Irish may not have been chattel slaves on the North American continent they surely were in the New World. The English Puritan Cromwell having overrun Ireland rounded up tens of thousands of Irish and sold them into chattel slavery in the Caribbean Islands where they worked the fields until death alongside Negro chattel slaves.

Further, something that Miss Gordon-Reed should take into account is that Negroes in Africa were sold by the Chiefs to the Whites. Nobody beat the bush for them to drag them from the jungles. In contrast, Cromwell, as it were, stole the Irish in much the same way that the Nazis rounded up the Jews. There was no compensation paid to anyone for the Irish.

Now, while Miss Gordon-Reed claims some sort of solidarity with the Negroes of the US, I also claim solidarity with my fellow Whites now so meanly treated. If she can claim an injury done to them as an injury done to her, I claim the same with the White slaves of the Caribbean. And that doesn’t exclude now non-Irish White indentured slaves on the North American continent.

Still further, English waifs and unprotected children as well as any unwary adults were taken from the streets of England’s cities, transported to the colonies and sold lock, stock and barrel in the colonies.

If she has read R.L. Stevenson’s Kidnapped she will see that the protagonist was intended to be sold in the colonies, saved only by a shipwreck. I hope that Miss Gordon-Reed can empathize with me as I do with her. Our pain is mutual.

Over all Miss Gordon-Reed has a thick headed inability to place matters in context which distorts and invalidates her analysis,

One thing she fails to understand is that the South was not responsible for chattel slavery. Southerners never went looking for Negro slaves. That was done by New England sea captains. In the early years the trafficking was between Africa, South America and the Caribbean islands. Only when the American colonies had been settled, as an afterthought unsold Africans were taken to North America seeking to make a new market and palmed off on the Whites. Originally Negro slavery was legal and practiced in all the English colonies. Only gradually was it rejected colony by colony while still being practiced under one legal pretext or another in several Northern States at the time of the Civil War.

Miss Gordon-Reed quotes Alexander Stephens, VP of the Confederate States thusly:

The prevailing ideas entertained by (Jefferson) and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old (US) constitution (not the Confederate one) were that enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically….Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They relied upon the assumption of the equality of the races. This was in error.

And so, there we get to the crux of the problem Miss Gordon-Reed admitted when she complained that never before had one race enslaved another race. Mr. Stephens thought that the great truth was that the Negro was not equal to the White man. Now, this remains the issue today. Is there a fundamental difference between the two races?

It may be true that the two races are fungible but is that the true quality that unites the races or does it just mean that evolution has not reached the point negating fungibility?

The Southern observation seems to have been proven by science although for social and political reasons those scientific facts are being suppressed. Indeed, any expression of them is severely and criminally punished. The very scientist who discovered DNA, James Watson, at 90 years of age, had his life and career destroyed and his achievements wiped from the books when he mildly responded to a question about racial differences between Whites and Blacks that the news coming out of Africa was not good.

Is it possible to denounce a scientist of preeminent achievements based solely on a few innocuous words like ‘it doesn’t look good? Not by any people revering the Constitution such as Miss Gordon-Reed claims to be here. The crime against Mr. Watson was committed out of sheer bigotry.

So, while I understand fully the motivations of the Editors of the CFR magazine, Foreign Affairs, and while I think Miss Gordon-Reed is undoubtedly a wonderful person the CFR should have chosen a more qualified historian to express their opinion which is all Miss Gordon-Reed has done. It has been done before; it wasn’t necessary to do it again. We all know the story.

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