Entirely, Completely, And, Utterly Worse Than Slavery On Slavery’s Worst Day

The year after the Civil War ended, an unrepentant Mississippi delta planter wrote: “I think God intended the niggers to be slaves. Now since man has deranged God’s plan, I think the best we can do is keep ‘em as near to a state of bondage as possible… My theory is, feed ‘em well, clothe ‘em well, and then, if they don’t work… whip ‘em well.” 

Now, nearly 150 years later, with Barack Obama as our leader, lots of people have been trying to make the case that racism is a thing of the past. A whole lot more people have been anxious, however, to let us know that racism is alive and kicking and screaming and whining and crying. And we never need to look far to find it.

Anyone who thinks that racism isn’t fairly common among cops hasn’t been spending much time in the real world. Just today, I got a bit of hate mail from a former D.C. cop who avowed that people like him were going to take up arms, and when they do, “Obama and the liberals are fair game.”

Right here in ol’ white bread Chico, we’ve got allegations of racism in the ranks of our cops, and across the spectrum of the American right wing, the biggest mouths among ‘em make little effort to disguise the racism that has driven so much of their hatred of Barack Obama, and just about anything associated with him. Nor is it coincidental that so many comments are now made by Tea Partiers—observations that tend to play up things they don’t like while simultaneously playing down the horrors of slavery.

Sarah Palin thinks that the growth in the nation’s debt is “worse than slavery.” She’s peddling a book on the chat shows these days, and her handlers are trying to give her things to say that’ll garner a little more media attention, to sell a few more copies before that big print run of her wisdom gets remaindered and pulped. So, Mrs. Palin—the woman who abandoned her duties as the Governor of Alaska after serving half a term—is now in full pursuit of another big payday and more of the national attention she became addicted to after the great patriot, John McCain, chose her to be a heartbeat away from the nation’s highest office. McCain thought Sarah—who couldn’t name a single publication she’d read, and who was transparently ignorant of the world—was going to garner him some votes from women, so he endowed the country with the enduring legacy of this self-serving woman. Among her many profundities is this right-wing meme about things they think are as bad, or even worse, than slavery.

In Sarah Palin’s mind, not only is the federal debt worse than slavery, but so is a woman’s right to decide whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. Sarah’s rather glib in making such comparisons. But since things that are worse than slavery come so readily to her mind, I’m guessing she’s inclined to make that analogy even at home, in her private life.

On mornings when her hair won’t do what she’d like it to do, does Sarah exclaim in exasperation: “Oooh, these split ends are worse than slavery”? When she comes back from the salon with an imperfect manicure, could she stop herself from whining about how “this nail job is worse than slavery”? Or when she’s hunting wolves from a helicopter, and the pilot fails to hold steady as she’s about to pull the trigger, wouldn’t it be natural for her to decry the inadequacies of the paid help by comparing their inadequate performance to the hell of slavery? When she’s perched precariously on high heels, and she twists an ankle, wouldn’t it be likely for her to curse those shoes by comparing them, unfavorably, with what slaves once endured?

But Sarah Palin isn’t the only right-winger who finds stuff that’s worse than slavery. Another former Republican VP candidate, Paul Ryan, compared himself and his fellow anti-choice activists to the abolitionists who opposed slavery. And former GOP presidential hopeful and current Fox News commentator, Mike Huckabee, commonly compares abortion to slavery.

Even George Will, the gray eminence of conservatism, recently compared the Affordable Care Act to fugitive slave laws that required the return of runaway slaves to their masters. Some might consider that a bit of a stretch, but not many on the right do.

Another Republican, E.W. Jackson, a candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia, even argued that welfare programs have been worse for black folks than slavery. Makes sense. Give most black folks a choice between food stamps and 50 lashes with a bullwhip, and only a fool would choose the food stamps.

Not to be outdone or overlooked on the subject, Glenn Beck has compared restrictions on guns as the first step on the path to slavery.

Oh, and lest we forget, Rush Limbaugh was on this bandwagon early and often, comparing the Affordable Care Act to slavery as that analogy was being rolled out as part of the right-wing marketing strategy. Rush got real defensive on the whole issue of slavery a couple years ago when he rushed to reassure everyone that white folks shouldn’t be burdened with guilt about that regrettable slavery period, because it was Caucasians who shed blood to free blacks from bondage, after all. Or at least some of them did, so no guilt necessary.

Among right wing women, Ann Coulter, poster girl for the kind of Tourette’s Syndrome that produces involuntary outbursts of hateful commentary, called Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty programs “the worst thing that had been done to black people since slavery.”

Michelle Malkin attempted to make fun of the idea that black people might be entitled to reparations for a couple hundred years of involuntary servitude by comparing such demands to her own beef with a shoemaker who sold her a product that didn’t satisfy her expectations. She was just kidding, of course. We all know what kidders these right wingers can be.

But it ain’t just the white folks who can get pretty dismissive of slavery’s horrors. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—a guy who benefited from both Affirmative Action and the enthusiastic support of Republicans who have used him as proof of their liberality on matters of race—has compared Affirmative Action programs to slavery.

And Dr. Ben Carson, the latest in a line of high-profile black folks willing to front for right-wingers, also thinks that we’re currently enduring stuff that’s as bad as slavery. Dr. Carson, in fact, seems to think that abducting people from a continent far across the seas, confining them below decks on slave ships, shackled and left to wallow in their own filth while crossing the Atlantic was no worse than what is being visited upon Americans these days as they’re made to endure changes in health care programs. Surely, the government imposition of restraints on insurance companies that charged for “junk” policies or dropped coverage of people who got sick is a crime against humanity any right-thinking person would associate with slaves whose offspring were sold, whose backs were stripped raw by the lash, and who were denied all rights and legal protections as human beings. The equivalencies should be obvious.

Dr. Carson, like Sister Sarah, is cashing in by saying dumb stuff some people are rabid to hear—but speaking for myself personally, this ain’t a guy I want tending to my medical needs. Anyone who can’t tell the difference between changes in health care laws and enslaving millions of people isn’t someone I can trust to distinguish between a kidney and a pancreas.

So, when it comes to black folks, the view hasn’t really changed all that much since that Mississippi plantation owner was offering his opinion back in 1866. Feed ‘em, clothe ‘em, but if they don’t work, whip ‘em. But, for God’s sake, don’t damage them with food stamps or welfare programs. As even a Chico cop might tell you, that’d be worse than slavery.

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  1. Terry Glover says:

    I’ve never read a more ignorant and slanted crock of bullshit in my life.

  2. Micah J. says:

    Do you even think about an article before you write it? I can’t believe what I just read!

  3. A. Pistoffreader says:

    I SO hate myself for reading another one by this idiot.