Q: African Americans are still victims of a misinformation campaign to downplay our tragedy.
The tragedy of African-Americans is possibly the most publicized tragedy in the history of humankind, both in movies and books, not to mention laws. (There is no law in Germany that checks how many Jews are hired by a company, but there is a law in the USA that checks how many African-Americans are hired by a company). This tragedy has been simplified in a way that may reduce it to a mere Hollywood stereotype. I suspect the victims of those slave markets in Ghana are not too proud that their descendants routinely curse against the land that gave them a much better life than they would have had in Ghana but never curse against the land that turned them into slaves and threw them into a boat. If blame has to be shared, let all share it. But it seems to me that the blame has traditionally been placed mostly on only one side: the side that, basically, accepted it.
Q: Mhites thought of blacks as voiceless beasts of burden.
Q: A cruel majority of whites believed that blacks were subhuman.
Q: No other slaves were denied their culture in the same way as African slaves in the United States were.
Q: It is irresponsible to try and justify the African slave trade by white Europeans.
That said, my article was certainly not meant to justify anyone's slave trade. On the other hand, you seem to excuse the black slave trade by trying to distort history, absolve the (African) nations that started it and the nations that exploited it for several centuries (the Arabs) before some Europeans nations became the masters of it. Nothing excuses those European nations, in my view. But apparently, you think that the only people who are guilty of the slave trade are all the people of white skin, regardless of whether their ancestors traded or did not trade slaves, whereas the non-white countries that traded slaves for several centuries should be forgiven (as long as their skin is not white). Personally, i have no interest in placing blame here or there. I am interested in the truth.
The USA were born in 1776, when the slave trade was dwindling down. The bulk of the slave trade happened between the Roman empire and the 18th century. The Atlantic slave trade (although it is, again, a little racist to ignore all other slave trades, as if Africans were more "human" than Slavs or Chinese) mainly occurred between the 1520s and 1800. Most of the slaves were already in the USA when the USA was born. (Yes, i know: Hollywood movies show USA ships carrying slaves from Africa, but please don't confuse movies with history).
Blaming the USA as a whole for something that the original USA did, is also a little racist (and plainly ridiculous): today the USA population includes millions (tens of millions) of Cubans, Vietnamese, Chinese, Italians, Irish, Polish, Mexicans, etc etc whose ancestors had nothing to do with the slave trade. Is my friend Rod Leng guilty of the slave trade because his grandfather emigrated from China to a country that used to have slaves? If so, then everybody in the world is guilty of horrible things, because it's difficult to find a place where horrible things never happened.
I'm not interested in assigning blame. I don't blame today's Germans for deporting my father to Auschwitz, like I hope that the French don't blame me for Caesar's invasion of Gaul. I just state the facts.
Your article on the African and Arab origins of slavery is accurate. Indeed Africans are responsible for slavery of their own people.
What made the American slavery unique are the following issues:
(a) It was no longer slavery in the ancient understanding of the concept. A slave in Rome could buy his or her freedom. A Greek slave in Rome could teach his masters children or even be responsible for apportioning his masters estate (hence "auditare" and audit)
(b) It was characterized by extreme cruelty. The storage and transport of blacks across the Atlantic was extremely cruel and barbaric. It was never done anywhere anytime by anyone on such a systematic scale before (form 1854 to 1865) for such a long time.
(c) It stole people and systematically dehumanized them and made them into possessions or just like livestock.
- Denial to use home language.
- Theft of human beings and deliberate splitting of family bonds.
- Separating and selling of human beings.
- Extortion of free labour.
- Sexual abuse and rape.
(d) For more than 200 years creating a "free" agricultural sector worked for free by human beings and making immense capital out of it.
(e) Considering that the English did all this while they had full comprehension of the enormity of their deeds, that is why eventually its defence could not be sustained by religion, morality, or reason.
(f) Between the 17th and 20th century, western intellectuals wrote numerous articles and scientific papers justifying the inferiority of black people. This belief was defended even on the pulpit. It ceased to be just slavery, it became institutional genocide of a race.
The word slavery does not even begin to describe what went on in America and the West Indies. It was more than just slavery. We have never seen it practiced anywhere by anyone in that particular manner. With due respect it was a holocaust. And many Americans benefited from the free labour of slaves for more than 200 years. The miracle is to hear white Americans trying to belittle this dark chapter in their history and downplay it.
It is very difficult to be famous for wrong and immoral deeds.
What’s unique is how English colonists and Americans did with "slavery" and that has earned them the eternal opprobrium of the civilized world for all times because they knew better, and had the intellectual resources and spiritual resources to know that they had overstepped the line.