Ben Shapiro Has Thoughts On Slavery. They Are Gratuitously Stupid Thoughts.
Ben Shapiro is riled up like a less eloquent Yosemite Sam because the New York Times's 1619 project has everyone talking about slavery. Yesterday, on his silly show, he decried ungrateful black person Jonathan Capehart for rhetorically pissing on the US flag.
SHAPIRO: [T]he attempt to paint America's history as irreversibly dark and immutably horrible continues apace at our nation's great editorial newspapers. Jonathan Capehart, writing for The Washington Post, has an entire piece called "Dismantling the Myth of America and the white men who founded it." You see they were all evil and terrible and no good and very bad. And that means that America's founding was very bad.
It's true. The title of Capehart's Washington Post op-ed is "Dismantling the Myth of America and the White Men Who Founded It." However, Shapiro doesn't seem to have read more than the title. Capehart, a mature thinker, argues that America's founding is complicated. That scares the pants off conservatives like Shapiro, who confuse patriotism with borderline personality disorder. If you're not praising America as entirely good at every point in its history, then you're saying it's a shithole.
Capehart doesn't think America's founders are "evil and terrible and no good and very bad." He's not six years old. He actually speaks fondly of America and is optimistic about its future.
CAPEHART: I believe that this country is great because of the foundational role played by the descendants of those "20 and odd Negroes." They did this despite slavery, despite the state-sanctioned terror that followed, despite the discrimination and bigotry that continue to be a drag on full African American equality and advancement. And I believe we can be greater still once the complete picture of our shared history is learned, internalized and embraced.
This is what ticks off conservative sociopaths like Shapiro. They don't want to share American history with black people or acknowledge the crimes committed against us in America's name. Shapiro argues that slavery was just a weird, somewhat unsettling quirk in an otherwise perfect nation -- sort of like shots of women's bare feet in Quentin Tarantino films. It's not something Americans should beat themselves up over. America already apologized for slavery. Didn't you commie liberals ever learn about the Civil War while you were hiding in your college "safe spaces"?
SHAPIRO: There was a national apology for slavery. It was called the Civil War where 700,000 Americans died. So that seems to have been kind of important in American history.
That is a gratuitously stupid statement. It's not even unique. We heard this all the time growing up from people just as stupid and racist as Shapiro. You remember the Confederate side of the war? You should because of all the statues. They were fighting to preserve slavery. This is like saying Germany losing World War II was its "apology" for the Holocaust. This is not how anything works. And the non-traitors fought primarily to preserve the union. You don't want to give away a perfectly good set of Carolinas to a bunch of lazy-ass slave owners. Few if any Union soldiers died solely to free black people. If that was their goal, they could've "invaded" the South at any time. There was no Internet but most Americans knew slavery existed.
If you don't believe us, these are Abraham Lincoln's own words on the subject. (We hear he was also a Republican.)
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."
Shapiro also glosses over Jim Crow, segregation, and decades of (ongoing) racial discrimination, because he's a jackass. If someone burns down your house and then their grandkids come along and lynch you, does that sound like "I"m sorry" to you?
No, the Civil War was not in any way an "apology" for slavery. We would've preferred flowers and integration.
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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.