Hating America is in fashion these days. As if you did not know.
Fuel for the hatred comes in the form of sins. Sins the early Americans committed. They belittled women. They savaged the natives. And they owned slaves. As early as 1619. That was when an
English shipowner unloaded African slaves into Virginia. Aboard his vessel, flying a Dutch flag.
The haters claim this proves that racism is in this country’s DNA. It is systemic. It courses through the veins and arteries of the nation. Therefore all white people should feel guilt. Because the wealth of the country was built upon the backs of slaves.
The extreme haters reckon the U.S. is illegitimate. Because of these original sins.
Well, there is no denying we had a lot of slavery and a lot of racism in this country.
There is no denying that many white people grew wealthy by using and abusing blacks. (They abused a lot of Irish, Italians, Jews, Chinese and assorted immigrants as well. But that is a separate story.) However, declaring the country is illegitimate because of this? That is not even a stretch. It is a ridiculous concept.
I suggest this for a simple reason: If you are going to declare this country illegitimate you may as well cancel out the rest of the countries on this planet. To hell with the lot of them.
Find me a country that does not have sins in its DNA. All countries were built on foundations that are sinful by today’s standards.
Pick a country. Then read some of its history. You will find combinations of racism, sexism, caste systems, slavery, atrocities against Jews and folks of various religions. These sins are widely distributed among countries. This is because they flourished in the Age of Ignorance. And that Age of Ignorance only began to weaken in recent enlightened times.
Slavery is supposed to be our biggest sin. Let us ask all the people on this earth who live in places that suffered slavery to raise their hands. There are barely any hands that are not raised.
Slavery has been most everywhere! And the U.S. was one of the smaller players in it. (We also beat up ourselves over mistreatment of women. What country, what people did NOT mistreat women –
by today’s standards?)
The Spanish brought slavery to Central America? Hey, the Mayas and Incas beat them to it. English, Dutch and French brought slavery to America? Many Native Americans could have taught them a few things about it. They practiced it for a century or two. The Cherokees were major traders in slaves.
Europeans introduced slavery to the Caribbean? Hardly. Before them, the native Caribs owned slaves.
When the evil British colonized northern Nigeria in the late 1800s they found the locals held well over two million of their fellows as slaves.
Muslim countries in the north of Africa bled the continent of countless millions of slaves. For at least 10 centuries! They exported slaves via the Red Sea, via Swahili ports onto the Indian Ocean. They paraded millions in caravans over trans-Saharan routes.
Royalty of various African countries built their wealth on the slave trade. Brutal hardly describes how they rounded up and shipped slaves to the coasts. Where other Africans grew rich selling them to Europeans.
The rulers of Algiers captured a million and half Christians and Europeans. Whom they forced into slavery. In the 19th century.
Slavery is endemic today in Sudan. And Niger. Countless Nigerians are enslaved this very night. Sexual slavery and forced labor are common in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Many are enslaved from birth. There is systemic slavery on cacao plantations in West Africa. In Ivory Coast over 100,000 children are enslaved. Al Sharpton take note please.
Wikipedia reckons Indians own 8 million slaves today. Chinese own nearly 4 million.
Japan’s history is blighted by slavery. As are the histories of India, China, Korea, Burma, Thailand, Bhutan, Tibet and all of Southeast Asia. The Philippines were thick with slaves before the Spanish arrived.
And Europe? Well, the Romans were equal opportunity slavers. They enslaved Greeks, Berbers, Germans, Britons, Slavs, Thracians (Let’s hear it for the Thracians!), Gauls – otherwise known as Celts – Jews, Arabs and many more ethnic groups.
The Celtic tribes of Europe owned slaves. The Vikings raided Europe and Britain for slaves. They hauled off English, Irish and Scottish.
Ancient Hawaiians ran rigid caste systems. Those of the lower casts were not only virtual slaves. They were butchered in sacrifice rituals.
Even pure New Zealand cannot escape the sins of slavery. The Maoris, its native people, scorn European settlers for abusing them when they arrived. Yet the native Maoris made slaves out of their defeated enemies.
My point? It is to those who delight in claiming the U.S. is illegitimate because of its history of slavery. If the U.S. is illegitimate, what country is not? What country has no slavery in its DNA?
Tom Morgan, the retired Oneonta investment counselor whose column is national syndicated, lives in Franklin.