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20 May 2016


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different clue

tim s,

The only common decency we will see is the common decency we show to eachother.

The bed we make for Darwin's discards is the bed we lie in if Darwin discards us.

Richard Armstrong

Your slave ancestors had the only themselves to blame ? Really? Please expound on that. Mbrenner has nailed this on the nose and your proposition that slaves were responsible for their own enslavement is less than ludicrous.


I think the main issue with "reparations" for slavery is not the slavery itself.

Like it or not, slavery was a common institution throughout human history. The African slaves sold to the New World, for the most part, were already enslaved in West African societies where they came from according to the customs and laws thereof. If we in United States "owe" the African-Americans a "reparation" for their past slave status, then the same (or more) applies to modern Nigerians, Ghanians, and Cameroonians whose ancestors literally profited by selling them to European slave traders.

At the same time however, we probably should do something, even if we don't call it "reparations" if only to recognize that slavery in US history was an abominable and repugnant practice, a reflection of our moral failure as a society. I don't think it is a "crime," if only on a technicality, but a grave sin nevertheless for which we should do a penance. Georgetown and SJ should do something in recognition of its past moral failure, and something similar at the national level would be good for our collective souls too.


I suppose what I said above is that, a "reparation" for slavery (which should not be called a "reparation") is more about our own morality as a nation, a recognition of our historical "sins," not a "penalty" for a "crime" which I don't think it was.

Nick Smith

"I have empathy for those descendants of slaves who are good and just people who are trying their best to overcome."

I find this statement difficult to take seriously.



Scholarship funds are in order I remember when I started searching for my ancestry and was under the assumption that they all came in and disembarked in the Deep South only to find out it was in Charleston. They were then sold down the river which is the worst fates. I did locate white ancestors who didn't want to give up any information because I thought I wanted money when all I wanted was information. Oh well.


Well said!


The difficulty of the topic is significant, as the tenor of comments reveal. When it comes to slavery in America, simply recognizing events like this Jesuits slave-deal raises an immediate defensive reaction over reparations. Let's see what the Jesuits come up with to deal with their institutional behavior - it's more their public issue than the nation's.

Seamus Padraig

The point is: what if they had no choice but to sell these slaves? What if manumission were not a legal option? That would be a mitigating factor in my view.


Seamus Padraig

Manumission laws varied a lot by state in the antebellum world. I don't know what the law was in Maryland. In Virginia, people could be freed in wills or by having a white owner go to state court to affect manumission. This happened quite a lot in cases in which a skilled slave was allowed to charge for his services as something like a smith and bought himself from his owner. The state legislature tried fitfully and somewhat half heartedly to send freed blacks out of the state but the law, like that against teaching slaves to be literate was largely unsuccessful. As a result the number of free Blacks in Virginia rose steadily. pl



Off-thread. But I was disappointed to discover that "black lives matter" was funded by one "philanthropist" that also funded "the lgbt movement" amongst other freaks.

I guess messing up Asian markets in '97 for profit wasn't enough.

"Not resting on laurels," perhaps only a civil war in 21st. c. America (utterly destroying bedrock of family values & other Conservative values) will satisfy such curs.

I must inform my other Nigga-loving associates 'bout this, whom like me lean towards minorities...


It is the implication of Tim S' world view. But it is also a view my mother once came across when in argument with an African lady. She suggested that my mother's ancestors were too stupid to evade capture and enslavement.

I hope once bitten twice shy, and that none of my decendents are unlucky enough to find themselves in the same circumstances.


Sorry I should have been clearer. I think Tim S is arguing for an extreme form of self reliance. Or rather that life is essentially Hobbesian whether we like it or not. Any injustice which is not remedied can potentially generate an argument for reparations. It seems obviously impractical to offer reparations to the decendents of slaves, but that leaves an injustice without remedy, which continues to echo in American life. If you superimpose a map of American poverty over a map of slavery the two maps are essentially identical. If we are Hobbesian we are free to ignore this.

I think reparations are impossible, but the circumstances of the "peculiar institution" do create another argument for a better social safety net for all Americans. An argument that wouldn't exist in Denmark.

Of course you could take the view that that is no one else problem. Life is inherently unfair and ex-slaves have only their ancestors to blame for the many years of unremunerated work. Some do. I disagree but I do think life is a bit like boxing - always keep your hands up!


No you did not Sir. Mbrenner did.

"Since you are being completely candid in expressing what I deem repugnant views, allow those like me who disagree to label them frankly as blatant racism of the kind which has plagued this country since the day the first slave was forcibly brought to these shores."

tim s

Much appreciated Harry. My sentiments precisely, although your wording is less harsh, and your history can provide more of a firewall than mine.

I realize my views will sit as they do with many people, as is shown here. I mean no malice. It's just the world as I see it, which is admittedly entirely subjective. I'd love to have enough convincing arguments against my view to convince me that we do live in a humanitarian world, which would be more comfortable than the one I see. The moral outrage against my outlook falls a bit short of convincing.

No big deal. All the best to you.


Sadly Tim, my experience of the world has also made me sympathetic to a Hobbesian perspective. It takes an effort to fight that tendency.

different clue


One wonders if that African lady's ancestors were involved in the mass-roundup and mass-sale of people like your mother's ancestors to the slavers. One wonders if that African lady was doing some after-the-fact rationalization for her ancestors' involvement in the slave trade . . . if indeed her ancestors were involved in it.


In case there's any curiosity about Paul sending a letter to a slave, this is not at all unusual. A slave in Rome had a quite different status and outlook from one in the antebellum South.

While we like to project modern, democratic fantasies on it, Rome was much like a caste society, with varying levels of rights (and requirements). The lowest caste was the "servus" or "servant" (the word "slave" actually comes from a later French word). While I don't recommend Roman slavery to anyone, especially not in galleys or mines, slaves had some rights. They could own property, buy their own freedom, and even attain high status while still being slaves. In fact, many slaves were literate, as they were trained by their masters to write. Some became noted writers themselves, including Epictetus.

The very early Christian religion was highly egalitarian and did not recognize caste distinctions. It was thus attractive to slaves and also women, who were often bishops in those days, though the office was not the same as what it became. So Paul writing a slave was not at all unusual, however it may seem. It's more an expression of what early Christianity was like, who was involved, and so on.



In the ante-bellum South skilled slave were often hired out or allowed to run a business in which fees were share between owner and slave. with these funds slaves frequently bought their freedom and subsequently that of some relatives; wives, children. pl

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