Thursday, October 13, 2011

More: No Leftist/Socialist Watches PBS

This is more of a note for references in How Many Borders Would You Like With That Socialism? than anything else.

Some think glasses automatically make you smarter.
I don't know how many times I have been called some version of racist bigot for my "stupid belief" that West Coast Africans sold their fellow men, women, and children into slavery.  Sold to the slave traders of the West.  Any attempt at an intellectual discussion on the topic quickly spiraled into a list of pejoratives directed at yours truly.

At least sometimes Angela Davis speaks the truth on this topic:
“We have inherited a fear of memories of slavery. It is as if to remember and acknowledge slavery would amount to our being consumed by it. As a matter of fact, in the popular black imagination, it is easier for us to construct ourselves as children of Africa, as the sons and daughters of kings and queens, and thereby ignore the Middle Passage and centuries of enforced servitude in the Americas. Although some of us might indeed be the descendants of African royalty, most of us are probably descendants of their subjects, the daughters and sons of African peasants or workers.”
Angela Davis

My wonder of how the Europeans, and later Americans, managed to run about an entire continent, unimpeded, snatching up Black men and women made-to-order for customers in Whitelandia (link to Ron Kuby, who coined the term) began later in life, since I believed the Leftist party line: White people just took any Black person they wanted as a slave and traded them like we trade baseball cards now.

Well, that theory did not hold up to any scrutiny whatsoever.  For example: why weren't the invaders taken prisoner by their much more numerous opponents?  An easier theory to believe is one of slave merchants making contact with Africans, neither side being stupid, and the merchants making offers of value to the powerful African natives for surplus human beings.  I never pursued the details much, but noted what I heard over the years.

Low and behold!  PBS came to the rescue again, albeit with watered down language, supporting the facts that African people were captured by fellow Africans, used as slaves there, with the surplus sold to Europeans:
Enslavement was most often a byproduct of local warfare, kidnapping, or the manipulation of religious and judicial institutions. Military, political, and religious authority within West Africa determined who controlled access to the Atlantic slave trade. And some African elites, such as those in the Dahomey and Ashanti empires, took advantage of this control and used it to their profit by enslaving and selling other Africans to European traders.
This from the PBS special The Slave Kingdoms.
A favorite slave of geeks.

Here is a longer passage.  Read the whole thing here.
In fact, Europeans often acted as junior partners to African rulers, merchants, and middlemen in the slave trade along the West African coast from the mid-15th century on. Two factors contributed to this dependency: the coastal geography and the diseases of West Africa. Seasonal wind patterns along the Atlantic coast of Africa generated heavy surf and dangerous crosscurrents, which in turn buffeted a land almost entirely lacking in natural harbors. Hazardous offshore reefs and sandbars complicated the matter even further for seafarers along the West African coast. European commerce in West Africa took place, therefore, most often on ships anchored well away from shore and dependent on skilled African canoe-men whose ability to negotiate across the hazardous stretch of water between the mainland and the waiting ships made the Atlantic trade possible. Even in places where Europeans were able to conduct trade on the mainland, their presence was limited by an epidemiological situation that impeded their livelihood and threatened their lives. Malaria, dysentery, yellow fever, and other diseases reduced the few Europeans living and trading along the West African coast to a chronic state of ill health and earned Africa the name "white man's grave." In this environment, European merchants were rarely in a position to call the shots.

Furthermore, when Europeans first initiated a trading relationship with West Africans in the mid-15th century they encountered well-established and highly-developed political organizations and competitive regional commercial networks. Europeans relied heavily on the African rulers and mercantile classes at whose mercy, more often than not, they gained access to the commodities they desired. European military technology was not effective enough to allow them this access by means of force on a consistent basis until the 19th century. Therefore it was most often Africans, especially those elite coastal rulers and merchants who controlled the means of coastal and river navigation, under whose authority and to whose advantage the Atlantic trade was conducted.
The next time some do-gooder leftoid  touts the value of PBS and the need for public funding of television, ask them if they actually watch any of the shows.  Then segue into this slave thing and see how things go.  I do not recommend this approach to chat up someone you are attracted to hoping to end up in angry sex with a happy ending.

There is a tie-in to my latest book project in here someplace.  Right now I am looking at the nuance of how the Socialists enslave without much regard to race, although racism is core to their worldview.

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