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View Diary: On Angola, America's Racist Slave History is Celebrated (59 comments)

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  •  I agree (7+ / 0-)

    The reality of Angola is horrible enough, and the connection to slavery is clear enough that the Auschwitz comparison is unnecessary, only remotely analogous, confusing and in the end, offensive.

    I would take it out.  It detracts from the main point about the renewal of slavery in prisons.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:02:22 AM PST

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    •  I disagree (9+ / 0-)

      America is not nearly ashamed enough of its slave history, especially in places like Louisiana, where you can still hear plenty of people tell you that "in many cases, slaves weren't treated all that poorly."

      America, and specifically those who practiced human ownership in the South, should be reminded as often as possible that the atrocities of slavery are as horrible as the Holocaust. America is willing to deal in reality on every other country's sins without dealing with its own.

      Your attitude here is complicit in that.

      The "confusing" point seemed to be clear to a good number of people. And this being my diary, I choose to leave it there for the explained reasons listed here and above. If that's dissatisfying to you, then I can assure you that your sense of offense will pass with time.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:13:36 AM PST

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      •  American slavery has been devastating. (4+ / 0-)

        Its effects, which persist into the present day, are atrocious. Yes, we DO need to talk about slavery, as a formative influence in American society. If your analogy with the holocaust is imperfect, it conveys the urgency this discussion should rightly have.

        Racial discrimination is rife. It's justified by crackpot best-sellers about "lower average IQs" of dark-skinned races supposedly resulting in their academic and vocational under-performance. Thugs shoot up poor neighborhoods every day.

        Let's put it out there on the table.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 08:13:16 AM PST

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      •  I believe the inapt analogy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cks175

        detracts from your point.  You write "America is not ashamed enough of its slave history."  I totally agree, but an inapt analogy to Auschwitz isn't going to achieve the consciousness raising goal you seek.  The fact that people here are "clear" as to what you mean doesn't make it convincing to those who are less aware than they are.

        There are similarities between the atrocities in both slavery and the Holocaust, but your hypothetical detracts from, rather than emphasizes those similarities.  The hypothetical is unconvincing because it misstates what happened at Auschwitz -- People were not imprisoned and executed at Auschwitz because they committed crimes, but because of who they were.

        And because I point that out, I'm "complicit" in America denying the barbarity of slavery?  That's wrong and unfair.

        Your point is trenchant enough -- Angola today replicates many of the horrors of slavery, just as voter ID and long lines replicate the horrors of Jim Crow.  

        The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

        by Upper West on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:46:20 PM PST

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        •  What's your point? (4+ / 0-)

          I'm the diarist; I'm the tenant here.

          And as my headline notes, "I DISAGREE." That is, with you, on your point that my "inapt" analogy "detracts" from my point.

          I think it adds to my point. A lot of people agree. Among those that agree, most have rightly identified the central thrust of my point, which you continue to struggle in identifying.

          In the rambling you've done above, you continue to miss the main point of my diary, where others have not. And because of that, I don't think your opinion holds as much weight as those who did manage to get the point.

          This:

          There are similarities between the atrocities in both slavery and the Holocaust, but your hypothetical detracts from, rather than emphasizes those similarities.  The hypothetical is unconvincing because it misstates what happened at Auschwitz -- People were not imprisoned and executed at Auschwitz because they committed crimes, but because of who they were.
          is nonsense, because it misstates my point.

          I will break it down for you in the simplest terms possible, so as to not have to deal with this again, because I feel myself straying into condescension, and that is not a feeling I enjoy.

          Angola in 1850 was a horror, where people were enslaved on the basis of their skin color, and forced to work for the betterment of their disgusting owners.

          Auschwitz in 1940 was a horror, where people were enslaved on the basis of their ethnicity, and forced to do a lot of terrible things for the "betterment" of their disgusting "owners" (in this case, the Nazi party).

          Angola in 2013 is a place where we honor the legacy of that initial horror by reproducing its scene. Rather than acknowledging the abhorrent history that took place at Angola in 1850, we use the plantation in much the same way, filled with many people of the same race we once owned there. The difference, of course, is that the captives on Angola are now there because of their criminal convictions.

          Angola is in no way ever compared to Auschwitz. The example is instructive, and designed to illuminate the American unwillingness to confront the disgustingness of its own history.

          As I noted before, it is designed for the the following purpose: to make you think of what it might be like if Germany used the site of its nation's greatest sin as a holding ground for many of the same (types of) people it once tortured there. What if Germany used Auschwitz as a prison for its criminals today - those people the country has a lawful right to punish? And what if, short of gassing and mutilation, it utilized some of the same practices that Auschwitz used to see in order to punish those people?

          Would you be ok with that? Would Americans? Would the rest of the western world?

          If so, then that's odd.

          If not, then why is America any different? Why does America use one of the hallowed halls of its disgusting, tortuous, racial past as a place to house black criminals, forcing them to engage in a ceremonial brand of punishment not indistinguishable from the field work done by 1850s slaves?

          In order to argue that Germany's potential use of Auschwitz is wrong, while the American use of Angola is alright, you would have to believe that slavery is a stain on American history less dramatic than the Holocaust is a stain on German history. I see these two things as substantially similar - the systematic removal, torture, and in many cases, killing of huge numbers of people based upon little more than the color of their skin.

          Both disgusting. And both deserving of the harshest historical treatment a society can muster. The difference, of course, is that one society actually musters the requisite historical outrage (Germany), while another (us) does not muster the appropriate amount of moral outrage.

          It's typical American horseshit - holding other nations to a standard higher than one we live up to ourselves. As one person noted, "Yes, America DID that, but America wouldn't DO that."

          And the point is important, in my estimation. And lots of people agree over the dissents of only a few. The bottom line is that this diary is mine, and I think you're wrong. The use of the German example was intentional and well-considered, and by mutilating the central point of the diary, you've failed in whole or in part to change my opinion here.

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:06:41 PM PST

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          •  Well, you're right about the straying into (0+ / 0-)

            condescension part.

            Although I wrote "I would take it out," my primary goal is not to change your mind (obviously quixotic), but to express my view of the diary for others that might read it.

            The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

            by Upper West on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:23:25 PM PST

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          •  Use of the German analogy was poor judgement. You (0+ / 0-)

            wrote a really good diary that was informative, but the analogy just didn't work, and I'm not the only one who found it offensive.

            There are other analogies you could have used that would have been more to the point.  The choice to use the German analogy doesn't highlight your concern for the depravity of the US prison system, but it implies that you think your issue is more important than any other, and more important than facts, and more important than the sensitivities of those who were both victimized and horrified by the Holocaust.

            Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

            by cks175 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:49:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're entitled to your opinion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chi

              I happen to think you're wrong.

              You can disagree with the effectiveness of the analogy, but to call it "poor judgment" suggests that I in some way wrote something offensive.

              Which I did not.

              Unless you believe that conflating the Holocaust with slavery somehow detracts with the atrocity of the Holocaust - an opinion that I believe smells of horseshit.

              And if that is your opinion, then I have the same right to take offense with yours as you do with mine (which is, 0).

              "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

              by Grizzard on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:07:25 PM PST

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            •  I should say (0+ / 0-)

              that I could see where it might be very easy to be offended by that portion of the diary if you were unable to process both the purpose and the thrust of the analogy.

              But I refuse to take responsibility for any offense caused by a comprehension-less reading of what I wrote.

              "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

              by Grizzard on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:09:56 PM PST

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              •  It's actually quite easy to comprehend your (0+ / 0-)

                intended point, and recognize a flaw in it's delivery.  You're a good writer, but that doesn't make you immune from criticism.  And if you really want to become a better writer, first thing you might want to work on is being a little less thin skinned when it comes to honest critique.

                Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                by cks175 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:50:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

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