Some Must Reading about Wilson’s Slavery Controversy
A friend has sent me some resources about the slavery controversy that started here in Moscow a few years ago.
A number of links can be found here. I would strongly recommend reading the page that demonstrates how “Christ Church Lies” about the issue, which you can find here. At this page, writing that helped spawn the controversy is compared to statements from Christ Church once the controversy was well under way. Given some of the energy we have spent on the theonomic desparaging of political and legal progress, I found this quote from Southern Slavery As It Was important:
“Our humanistic and democratic culture regards slavery in itself as a monstrous evil, and it acts as though this were self-evidently true. The Bible permits Christians to own slaves, provided they are treated well. You are a Christian. Whom do you believe? . . . But in this matter, the Christians who owned slaves in the South were on firm scriptural ground. … If he owns slaves, then Scripture does put a series of requirements on him, which the church of Christ may and must insist upon. But beyond those requirements, the church may not presume to legislate.” (SSAIW, pp. 12, 17, 18; italics original)
Wilson’s smug response to the controversy that words like this helped spawn would not allow any apologies or retractions. However, when in a bind like this, Wilson is sure to offer some helpfully untrue statements. In this case, Christ Church put a paid advertisement in the Daily News :
“It’s ridiculous to have to say the obvious—that slavery has always been an evil needing to be abolished.”
The odd opportunist he is, Wilson would take this issue as a platform to start bashing “secularism” and “pluralism.” From the “Christ Church Lies” page:
“Secularism undermines rationality and knowledge….Secularism guts beauty, play, the arts, and laughter…Secularism inherently encourages racism . . .”
But the “medieval” hierarchalism gives us that glorious “biblical” (static theonomic) alternative:
“The modern egalitarian mindset is incapable of recognizing an aristocratic and feudal society, which the antebellum South was, without assuming as axiomatic that the subordinate classes must, of necessity, have been constantly seething with resentment and discontent.” (Credenda/Agenda, vol. 9, no. 1)
This is one reason I found my sample reading from the Alabama narratives so interesting. One slave ran away to be with her parents who she was taken from. Whites found her and brought her away again. She writes, “as they were not cruel to their slaves they did not ‘buck’ me.” They were not cruel. They hunted her down like a piece of property, and ripped her away once again from her parents; but they were not cruel since they did not ‘buck’ her. Perhaps she was likewise very affectionate for these whites too. No doubt the servile black people who were used like a bunch of dogs would not react to their environment like the “modern egalitarian” would. I guess we are just a selfish and prideful people, not welcoming the godlier world of hierarchy, that wondrous aristocratic and feudal world Doug Wilson longs for so. We just can’t understand why the black slaves were not “seething with resentment and discontent.”
Of course, we likewise have a hard time understanding why a woman who is physically abused by her husband will stay with him and defend him, or why a child constantly molested by her father would not be looking for the first opportunity to call the cops and express here resentment and discontent. Perhaps at least the impending threat of beating and rape helped make the slaves affectionate for any scraps of kindness their masters threw off the table for them. The masters would have enjoyed developing a paternal psychology. One slave spoke about how nice it was that the slave children would be given medical care by their master. They would not have likely been in a position to wonder if their master might have given his dairy cows the same attention if he lived today in Wisconsin.
Being the romantic I am, I too look longingly back to the good old days when folks knew their place in life; this kept things mighty nice. Cotton picked, money in the bank, someone to really call you master since your southern patriachalism was a bit too whimpy to get it from your wife, and a nice visually clear distinction of your caste system (didn’t have to worry about any of your daughters getting tricked by a nice looking underling); and no doubt they agreed with Wilson who once defined “wealth” just as the ability to command labor. Boy, I think I could have gotten all into this stuff about State’s rights too! What a convenient political theory at the time. To the happy masters, the intrusion of the North no doubt looked a lot like a foreigner wanting to come in and take your children away.
And lastly, I would highly recommend William L. Ramsey’s article at HNN.
In this article Ramsey writes:
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviews with former slaves are not, we argued, conclusive proof that African Americans were overwhelmingly content and pleased to be enslaved. The slave narratives are not, we stressed, conclusive proof that “the majority” of slaves remembered the experience of forced labor as being “so pleasant” that they wished to become slaves again. As we wrote the book review, we often found it difficult to believe that anyone would have to explain these things. We expected to be vilified and attacked, of course, by Wilson and Wilkins, but we failed to anticipate the depth of their commitment to pro-slavery ideology and the sophistication of their attacks. We underestimated the extent of their support base in northern Idaho and the ability of organizations such as the League of the South to refocus their efforts on Moscow and to mobilize activists.
Perhaps it would have been good if my eyes randomly fell on a different book. Perhaps it was the word “narratives” that got me.
Some other resources I have not had the time to look at are found at the “Joshua Letter.”
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