Katie Pavlich Wants Her Gold Star Please For Not Having Slaves
Fox News commentator Katie Pavlich was really annoyed Tuesday with Senator Elizabeth Warren's suggestion that America might possibly owe black people some form of reparations for enduring centuries of slavery, segregation, and now Donald Trump.
Pavlich doesn't even have slaves, mind you, because it's totally against the law. (We assume she also has a sincere moral opposition.) However, she believes Warren is out of her cotton-picking mind to propose just writing "big checks" to descendants of slaves. This isn't some common Publishers Clearing House slavery sweepstakes! No, Pavlich would prefer black people compose hand-written thank-you notes to the descendants of slave owners. After all, they're the ones who ended slavery out of the whiteness of their own hearts.
PAVLICH: They keep blaming America for the sin of slavery, but the truth is that throughout human history slavery has existed. America came along as the first country to end it within 150 years. And we get no credit for that.
Pavlich apparently views slavery as one giant historical causal loop, something that has always existed and for which no one is responsible. She also makes it sound like ending slavery was one of George Washington's big campaign promises: "Slavery gone! First 150 days ... no, wait ... years, I definitely meant years. Have you seen my Mount Vernon house?"
America shouldn't receive "credit" for 400 years of forced labor. It should receive a bill. Payment was not only never received but now there's compound interest. It's like America took out a sizable human loan in agriculture and plantation maintenance, defaulted on it, and is now annoyed whenever creditors call.
Also: America does in fact get lots of "credit" for ending slavery. It's certainly possible that Pavlich has never heard of the name "Abraham Lincoln," but they've made movies about him and built monuments in his image. Credit for slavery is even extended to the people who fought to preserve it. They get their own memorials and holidays. Sure, in some states, Robert E. Lee has to share his with a black guy, but you can't have everything.
Pavlich was so off base even "Outnumbered" (by smart people) host Kennedy had to remind her of the Civil War itself, as well as the "bloody" remnants of slavery and ongoing racial oppression, specifically but not exclusively in the South. When the former host of "MTV Beach House" is schooling you on basic US history, it's time to enroll in adult education classes. This is the crap that's in store for former DNC chair and incoming Fox News patsy Donna Brazile, isn't it? "Yes, Katie, slaves might have sung to each other once or twice, but there were probably no full-blown musical numbers. Has my check cleared yet?"
Pavlich later packed up her ignorance and took it on a tour of Twitter.
Unfortunately for Pavlich, there are people on Twitter. Noted historian and professional Dinesh D'Souza spanker Kevin M. Kruse is one of them.
No one has claimed that America was the "originator" of slavery. America didn't even "originate" the hamburger. However, as Malcolm X pointed out, America rarely "practices what it preaches." You can't declare independence in a document that states "all men are created equal" while keeping human beings as chattel. Well, America obviously found a way, but when called on this hypocrisy, you can't just point to nations that aren't overtly founded on freedom and democracy. "Hey, that tyrannical monarchy we fought a war to escape also had slavery!" (And ended it generations before we did.)
It's bizarre that Pavlich believes America is owed gratitude for sort-of ending a barbaric practice it profited from for centuries. But she's not the only one.
This is the ultimate self-own. America could not just peacefully stop keeping other human beings as slaves. There was the Three-Fifths Compromise, Dred Scott, the Fugitive Slave Act ... so many potential exit ramps, but America kept on trucking along Interstate Slavery. Then came the election of a president who was mostly ambivalent about the peculiar institution, and that was sufficient for Southern states to declare, "Fuck you! We're keeping our slaves!" and start killing other white people.
Seriously, no one really had to die in order for white people to stop torturing black people. Scarlett O'Hara would've had to pay someone to clean her gowns instead of doing it for free, but she'd have survived.
Reparations are about more than just slavery anyway. Enslaved people weren't freed and left alone to live as fully enfranchised Americans. They were actively discriminated against and persecuted. This includes not just Jim Crow in the South but predatory lending and redlining across the country. America hindered black progress in every way possible, while aiding white Americans. Martin Luther King discussed this in a clip that no conservative has ever seen.
Racism will likely always exist in America. Reparations won't solve the "racial divide." That's not the goal. America can no longer ignore the economic legacy of state-sanctioned racial oppression. We're no longer going to make it that easy.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.