Michael Medved. I've never heard of him until now. Frankly I wish I hadn't. He was a film critic. Now he blogs. Its nauseating. Sadlyno has an article on a recent entry, dissecting it far more eleoquently than I can. Basically Medved says that slavery wasn't that bad because:
1. SLAVERY WAS AN ANCIENT AND UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION, NOT A DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN INNOVATION.
So the greeks did it. So what? And France and the UK had banned it on home soil before the founding of the US anyway.
2. SLAVERY EXISTED ONLY BRIEFLY, AND IN LIMITED LOCALES, IN THE HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC – INVOLVING ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THE ANCESTORS OF TODAY’S AMERICANS.
In the history of the republic perhaps. In the history of the colonies? Rather longer I venture. And the majority of African-Americans have slaves as their ancestors.
3. THOUGH BRUTAL, SLAVERY WASN’T GENOCIDAL: LIVE SLAVES WERE VALUABLE BUT DEAD CAPTIVES BROUGHT NO PROFIT.
Er? One of the commenters on SadlyNo points to this painting, "The Slave Ship" by JMW Turner. Says it all really. And as slaves were cargo the traders could claim on the insurance. Profitsss all round.
"Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of these voyages involves the fact that no slave traders wanted to see this level of deadly suffering: they benefited only from delivering (and selling) live slaves, not from tossing corpses into the ocean."
WHAT?!!!!!????????!!!???!?!?!?! Did I just mention the insurance? Did you look at the pretty picture?
(Sadly No interrupts their blog for puppies. I suggest you look at Ugly Overload. They have cute centipedes.)
4. IT’S NOT TRUE THAT THE U.S. BECAME A WEALTHY NATION THROUGH THE ABUSE OF SLAVE LABOR: THE MOST PROSPEROUS STATES IN THE COUNTRY WERE THOSE THAT FIRST FREED THEIR SLAVES.
5. WHILE AMERICA DESERVES NO UNIQUE BLAME FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SLAVERY, THE UNITED STATES MERITS SPECIAL CREDIT FOR ITS RAPID ABOLITION.
Except that the US needed a civil war before slavery could be stopped, and the UK didn't, over 30 years earlier. Plenty of other places had banned slavery long before the US did it. (But at least they did it before Saudi Arabia in 1960! So that's all right then.)
6. THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT TODAY’S AFRICAN-AMERICANS WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF THEIR ANCESTORS HAD REMAINED BEHIND IN AFRICA.
True. But their ancestors being transported would have. Slavery is wrong. Just because 200 years down the line your descendants have a walkman and nice shoes doesn't make it right here and now (or there and then.)
Then again it turns out the the man has form. After all the Native Americans weren't the victims of genocide.
Best of all Pharyngula notes that Medved is now a fellow of the Discovery Institute! Are they trying to discredit themselves? Its almost as if we don't need to bother any more.