What You Can’t Say

Walter Williams, Lew Rockwell, October 23, 2012

Jon Hubbard, a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, has a book, titled Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative. Among its statements for which Hubbard has been criticized and disavowed by the Republican Party is, “The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”

Hubbard’s observation reminded me of my 1972 job interview at the University of Massachusetts. During a reception, one of the Marxist professors asked me what I thought about the relationship between capitalism and slavery. My response was that slavery has existed everywhere in the world, under every political and economic system, and was by no means unique to capitalism or the United States. Perturbed by my response, he asked me what my feelings were about the enslavement of my ancestors. I answered that slavery is a despicable violation of human rights but that the enslavement of my ancestors is history, and one of the immutable facts of history is that nothing can be done to change it.

The matter could have been left there, but I volunteered that today’s American blacks have benefited enormously from the horrible suffering of our ancestors. Why? I said the standard of living and personal liberty of black Americans are better than what blacks living anywhere in Africa have. I then asked the professor what it was that explained how tens of millions of blacks came to be born in the U.S. instead of Africa. He wouldn’t answer, but an answer other than slavery would have been sheer idiocy. I attempted to assuage the professor’s and his colleagues’ shock by explaining to them that to morally condemn a practice such as slavery does not require one to also deny its effects.

My yet-to-be-learned lesson—and perhaps that of Rep. Hubbard—is that there are certain topics or arguments that one should not bring up in the presence of children or those with little understanding. {snip}

{snip} Slavery has been part of the human condition throughout recorded history and everywhere on the globe. Romans enslaved other Europeans; Greeks enslaved other Greeks; Asians enslaved Asians; Africans enslaved Africans; and in the New World, Aztecs enslaved Aztecs and other native groups. Even the word slave is derived from the fact that Slavic people were among the early European slaves.

Though racism has been used to justify slavery, the origins of slavery had little to do with racism. In recent history, the major slave traders and slave owners have been Arabs, who enslaved Europeans, black Africans and Asians. A unique aspect of slavery in the Western world was the moral outrage against it, which began to emerge in the 18th century and led to massive efforts to eliminate it. {snip}

Unfortunately, the facts about slavery are not the lessons taught in our schools and colleges. The gross misrepresentation and suggestion in textbooks and lectures is that slavery was a uniquely American practice done by racist white people to black people. {snip}


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  • Puggg

    Slavery was good for blacks, but bad for whites.  The free labor available to the plantation class in the antebellum South became our black undertow today.

    • The plantation owners made bigger profits using slave labor than paid labor. The reason is that cotton, tobacco and similar crops required a large workforce. Even having to pay for living expenses for the slaves, which were quite minimal, they still made more money than if they had to pay wages to all their workers.

      • That could be disputed or at least argued against.. During American slavery owners had to clothe, feed, house and doctor all the slaves including children and older slaves who gave almost nothing in return. Every time a slave died or ran away it was a lost investment of probably equal to $25,000 in today’s money. It was cheaper to pay low wages and let them care for themselves.

        • humptydumpty

          Very well said Luca. The planters found that out after the Civil War when they adjusted and came up with the sharecropper concept. Everything was based on output. If the freedman was a good worker, he could do okay, but if he wasn’t, it was the sharecropper and the sharecropper’s family who suffered, not the planter.

        • The development of the Cotton Gin drastically increased the amount of cotton that could be processed and also drastically reduced the amount of people needed to process it. Slaves were used in the fields, for hand harvesting. This means that most of the year their labor was not needed, they were only used at planting and harvesting, yet they were fed and clothed and housed all year long. This was only possible because of the cotton Gin,which made cotton profitable.

          • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

             I used to think this but a recent fact check reverses it.  The cotton gin did not harvest cotton, but processed it faster, much faster.  The result was that more slaves were needed because the planters actually planted more cotton, vastly more.  This infuriated the parties already vocal against the institution of slavery and increased the slave populations dramatically during the 1850s.

            This fact also fits into the fact that the whites who worked in New England mills, but even more so in England where they saw the implementation of longer hours and child labor.  Whites had it far more miserable in the Northern mills and in England than the blacks in the South.  They worked 16 hour days, six days a week, slept in dorms, not cabins outside, and had to pay rent and buy their food from the same company.  The white workers were kept perpetually in debt, unable to quit for any reason.  When they were injured on the job, and they often were, they were simply pushed out of the factory door to go home.  The injuries were often horrific; death, mangled limbs, scalpings by machines that tore off not just the scalp, but continued down the neck and backs of women workers, producing a terrible result.  There were no safety rules or protections.  Whites were treated like cattle – worse by other whites in the industrialized regions. 

            When you learn of these histories you come to understand why unions and the violence around them developed.  Greedy whites (and corrupt rule in Europe (Russia) caused the rise of communism.  Marx was only a step beyond Charles Dickens in that he wanted to DO something about what was going on.  The abuses of whites in factories and mines did not end until the 1920s and then not completely. 

             Historical facts sometimes embarrass us, but ignoring them makes us obviously stupid and that is used by the enemies of our blood.  It is going to require subtle wisdom and deep understanding to win.

          • It processed cotton, That is what I said. The slaves were used basically for harvesting and planting, that is what I said. Most of the year they did nothing.

          • Whiteplight, that’s correct. When I looked up cotton gin on Wikipdia, I was shocked to find out that the invention of the cotton gin (1795) led to an EXPLOSION in the demand for more slaves. Normally, machinery leads to a lessening in the demand for human labor.

            Some may disagree with me, but I think the South would have had a boundless limit for slavery, and would have imported more and more slaves, had not the Civil War scotched its plans.

          • @Ahxsehl “The slaves were used basically for harvesting and planting, that is what I said. Most of the year they did nothing.”
            Interesting.  I wonder if any American musicologists have dared to attribute all this leisure time to the growth in 19th century hymns, spirituals, blues, etc.?

          • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight


            Well, I wouldn’t go that far.  Slaves were used for other things as well like lumbering, swamp draining, not to mention household work, etc.  But the planting/harvest cycles did not have the big lag times they seem to show today, and if you are familiar with today’s farming methods, a lot of work goes on in the winter to prepare for the spring.

            To John;

            My favored explanation for the fact of the plethora of musical/entertainment culture in AAs is that in general, the owners were liberal towards them and encouraged singing and play as they had to know that a happy slave is a safe slave.  It was the religious zealot, abolitionists that worked to stir up the slaves that led to increased runnaways for example.  That led to the increase of harsh punishment for runnaways, which led to an acceleration of emotions and ultimately to the war.  If you check out original jazz and blues influences one big one is the arrival of Eastern European Jews.  Ashkenazim “Klezmer” music uses the same instruments and many of the sounds in early  blues and jazz can be found in that music’s strains.  Jews began arriving in the South in large numbers after the CW.  (I already posted an article on the fact that a sizable Jewish community was in the South before and after the CS and loyally fought for the Confederacy). 

            Also, some credit has to be given to the fact that AAs were converted to Christianity and as they learned the Biblical stories they made up songs about them, but imposing themselves in the place of the original “Children of Israel.”  (Just like the Mormons did later).  The typical AA styled singing “soul” is really their version of the Irish, Celtic style of vocalization.  In other words, they got it all from Whitey, including the musical instruments.  Only a little input from African rhythm forms are found.

            Some may disagree with me, but I really think that the Gone with the Wind representation of the changing attitude toward slavery is more correct than not.  The conscious of owners, especially their children was changing.  The economics too.  Share cropping would have emerged without a CW as the costs of supporting slaves increased due to more and more technological improvements.  Sharecropping in the South was viewed as a second slavery that was actually worse for blacks because they had to manage themselves.

            I view the CW as the result of two things; 1. It was actually a continuation of the 17th century English Civil War, with the Virginia aristocracy posed against the New England Puritans.  That’s how those regions were settled and you can trace this influence.  2. Religious zealotry.  Mentally ill characters like John Brown who were addicted to the notion and need for an Armageddon in their lifetime and religious groups like Methodists and Quakers that used the issue to recruit and grow their congregations by stirring up the sense of righteousness, but hatred as well.

            Lincoln’s initial desire was to free the slaves and send them all back to Africa.  But because the CW happened, the U.S. was left in an economic depression and missing a generation of young white men.  The cost of sending blacks back to Africa made it impossible, so the idea that they should live here was settled upon.  This has led to the impossible situtions that continue to this day and IMHO have always meant doom for the American Experiment.

        • JohnEngelman

          If Southern whites had had more prudence they would have freed their slaves, rather than succeeded from the Union. Before the Civil War, and afterwards the South produced the best cotton in the world at the lowest prices. 

      • JohnEngelman

        Southern whites should have grown their own cotton and tobacco. 

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

       Yes, this is sadly all too true.  This is the “Achilles Heel” of America and we are doomed.  Whatever we become in the future, it will not be “Americans.”

  • Up to my neck in CA

    “Unfortunately, the facts about slavery are not the lessons taught in our schools and colleges. The gross misrepresentation and suggestion in textbooks and lectures is that slavery was a uniquely American practice done by racist white people to black people.”

    Slavery today, not in any White nations.

    • Diamond_Lil

      You are correct that textbooks and lectures reflect slavery  as a uniquely American practice.  The surprise and interest on my students’ faces years ago when I enlightened them was priceless.

      • Up to my neck in CA

        God bless you Lil and Teachers like you. I was lucky enough to have a 7th Grade History Teacher explain this to our class way back in 1981. Until that lesson the majority of the class thought it was an all evil Whitey thing and only in America.

  • Francis Galton

    Here’s the great irony in all of this:

    The conventional wisdom says that Whites are better off because of slavery (ill-gotten wealth, political dominance, etc.), while blacks are worse off because of it (no opportunities for self-improvement, discrimination, poverty and ignorance as modern-day holdovers of slavery, and other revisionist nonsense…)

    The reality is the complete opposite–Whites are WORSE off because of slavery (importation of an alien people leading to more crime, hatred against Whites, the White Man’s Burden, etc.), while blacks are much better off, as Walter Williams illustrates.

    If blacks were truly reasonable and honorable, they would take Black (revisionist) History Month and use it to thank Whites for giving them better lives.  In what other nation do blacks do so little and receive so much (food stamps, section 8, WIC, Obamaphones, ad infinitum)?

  • humptydumpty

    I’d like to see a discussion of free black slaveowners in the South before the Civil War. But I won’t be holding my breath for that.

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

       There was a book published some years back called “Black Masters.”  I really made a mistake in not purchasing it then.  But we both might be able to find used copies somewhere.

  • The relative benignity of slavery compared to other evils of that day … is of course a third rail … but a necessary one for our movement to confront.  We need revisionist scholars!

  • Whirlwinder

    Walter left out the largest class of slavery, EVER, in the history of mankind. That slavery engaged in when Islam conquered their many lands. Those who were left after the slaughter of the fighting class, men, women and children were taken back to muslim lands, the men to work for their new overlords, the women to labor as prostitutes in their harems and the children to grow up to serve in both of these tasks. What is more remarkable is that Islam in the modern era is still conquering, slaughtering and enslaving. And our current administration is coddling the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Triarius

      Exactly, a no-no that cannot be mentioned. The black slaves brought into the US were around 200,000 and the modest estimates of European slaves is 1.25 million just from Barbary pirates. Also, there WERE US citizens caught by Barbary pirates and enslaved. The US debated declaring war on them.

      Add in the Abbasid, Ayyubid, Caliph of Omar, The Moors, Ottomans, etc. And you have easily 5million+ white slaves, probably closer to 10 million. In fact the word slave comes from the ethnic name for Slav.

      Of course African Americans hold all the slave cards.

  • Blacks won’t ever admit that slavery was a “blessing in disguise” because that would end their “victim” status and “white guilt” that has been very good for them politically. As for muslims, this whole jihadist movement is simply about enslaving the world under them.

  • libertarian1234

    The attitude and opinion of the Marxist professor who intervewed Walter is sickenly far too common in academia.  And the poison within these Orwellian institutions is disseminated into young minds throughout, so much so that even the sciences, fields where the truth is supposed to lead the researcher, are contaminated with exaggerations and lies,  as we witnessed with Doctor Watson’s shameful reversal of his assertion that blacks do not share equality with other groups.

    Journalism schools especially are corrupt, and it is blaringly evident in witnessing the lies and manipulations, which is so typical of the media today.

    NBC’s and ABC’s alteration of the Zimmerman tapes and videos to make him appear to be a guilty racist is the norm, as was old George’s National Guard info altered and lied about by CBS.

    We became a dysfunctional society bent on self destruction by these PC dregs,  who are too brainwashed and/or dimwitted to see the error of their ways,  many years ago.

    It’s time to start over.  Maybe smaller….but stronger…..without all the airhead baggage.

  • bluffcreek1967

    Walter Williams learned from the discussion with one of the Marxist professors that “there are certain topics or arguments that one should not bring up in the presence of children or those with little understanding.” This is very true. One really learns how intellectually childish and close-minded liberals are when any discussion of race or slavery is brought up. The overwhelming majority have never deeply thought through the subject. Worse, they are unwilling to honestly consider opposing viewpoints. They are merely close-minded zealots for their cause who deceptively parade around as “intellectuals.”  

    • anarchyst

      The same thing goes for those who attempt to apply critical analysis to the jewish “holocaust ™”.  It seems that ANY attempt to analyze just about any aspect of this event in human history is met with cries of “anti-semitism” and “holocaust ™” denial. . . .

  • AB7

    Black slavery ultimately cost America her existence. It was the overreaction to slavery that brought on the extreme equal rights movement which in turn has brought on the denigration of the white race as blacks are still not quote unquote equal and it is blamed on supposed white racism, and this extreme equal rights belief system now has the West allowing the spread of Islam within our borders which will with 100% certainty result in the end of so-called freedoms and equal rights and democracy and therefore America.

    • AB7 – perfectly stated!  

      Yep, even gay marriage stems from the overreaction to slavery.

  • IKantunderstand

    I posted incorrectly, 2 hours ago. I’m going again. The sins of the Fathers are visited upon the third and fourth generations.  O.K., I’ not sure what the exact qoute is. But our generation is suffering in spades.

    • Whirlwinder

      IK. The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. Numbers 14:18

      We are ‘suffering in spades’? Is this a pun?

      • IKantunderstand

        It’s an allegory. Thanks for the proper quote.

  • Nobody will argue that from a human rights perspective, slavery was wrong, even though most slaves were well cared for due to their status as investments. But the money spent by white taxpayers to uplift blacks, with the marginal return it has garnered, has to far outweigh the profits earned from slavery. It sucks that their ancestors were chattel, but Quontravious and LaQueefa should be grateful they ended up as American born descendants of salves than back in the Motherland where they’d be living in huts. Even the poorest blacks who are not homeless have a better standard of living than most Africans back “home”.

  • Luke

    ” the major slave traders and slave owners have been Arabs”

    It appears as though Mr. Williams knows where the boundaries lie, with regards to which groups to identify and which groups to avoid identifying, when discussing slave trading enterprises.

    Perhaps Walter should agree to have lunch with his fellow black Professor Tony Martin and have an honest discussion about this issue?

    Which takes us back to the title chosen for this article:  What You Can’t say.

    • I just checked out some of Prof. Martin’s YouTube videos.  Dynamite stuff!  Thanks for the tip.

  • TTownTony

    In Alabama slaves were tightly regulated. In almost all areas they were subject to curfews and not allowed to roam at will. Serious crime, murder in particular, because so rare that a bill was introduced in the Alabama Legislature in the 1840s to abolish the death penalty. There were so few capital crimes that hanging was no longer a deterrent.

    The bill did not pass but it had very wide support.

  • Defiant White

    The greatest benefit of slavery for the African is the ability to interbreed with the white man. 

    Most modern American blacks have a dose of white genes.  Some more than others.  Every negro in America should pay a special “gene tax” for the damege they’ve done to our gene pool and the benefits they’ve gained from it.

    The fact that they haven’t benefited more from this gift shows you how toxic and  self-destructive African genes truly are.

  • Whirlwinder

    Isaiah, one reason we cannot talk about white slaves is because in the world of the multiculti, diversity, leftist, socialist people, white folks are the perpetrators of this evil and thus by definition cannot be victims. What a crock. Back as the country was new, Islam was raiding our ships in the Mediteranian and enslaving our sailors. We were paying tribute to Islam, as was the custom of the time, in an effort to get our seamen back. We finally sent warships over to Tripoli and we shelled the city into rubble and sent the marines in to get our people out.

    Also, Islam raided Europe and Asia minor taking millions of European citizens and enslaving them. When Islam conquered all the lands around the Mediteranian, the European towns on the shore died and people moved up into the surrounding mountains and built castles to avoid the Islamic depredations.

    This history should be taught in our schools but it is politically incorrect, to the detriment of our culture and way of life. Our liberal ‘leaders’ have us on a path of cultural suicide by snuggling up to Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Indeed.

  • Marc B.

     The Redneck Manifesto, along with the Answer Me! series, were instrumental in nurturing my building antagonism towards the Cultural Marxist/Anti-white/Anti-Western viewpoint that gained primacy in the 1990’s (especially in the hipster circles I ran in). I felt like I was among one of the few people who felt that Whites were being used as scapegoats for every evil that befell the world, and that it was also undeserved until I read JG. Jim Goad’s writing was one of the few sources of fresh air in an otherwise polluted decade.    

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    “To learn who it is that rules you, find out who you can’t criticize.” – Voltaire

  • The fight was held, not in Rwanda, but in Zaire, as the Congo (Leopoldville) was known back then. Not to be confused with Congo (Brazzaville).

    The Rwandan Tutsis and Hutus had their own fights.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

     Just as the Russians were not freed from Serfdom in 1863.  The Russian serfs then had to buy their land as freedmen.  This impoverished them even more and ultimately caused what came in 1905 and then 1917.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    I own a copy of a NG photo collection that has that on its cover.  I looked ath Jane’s link, it has the entire story. Worth reading.

  • Dr. William L. Pierce stated in one of his American Dissident speeches that the white man made two grave mistakes in their history.  1. The bringing of slaves unto this continent to do work that the whites should have been doing themselves.  and 2.  probably the last mistake we’ll ever make as a race. That is after the civil war we freed approximately 4 million former slaves unto the streets of this country with no plans to assimilate.  They should have been expatriated as fast as possible to Liberia or a country where they could speak the native language or at least participate in ruling themselves.  No one made this a big issue because they really didn’t perceive the former slaves as a threat.  Now and from now on, this society will pay and pay bigtime.  I love America,  served 6 years in the U.S. Army,  I now am seriously considering moving to a place that every issue that arises is not twisted, manipulated , exploited as a racial issue.  For the sake of one generations or two generations greed  We will suffer for thousands of years, and probably the country will dissolve eventually.  I see Somalia like govt in another 2 or 3 generations.  So we pay for our ancestors greed and barbarism.