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Crossposted from ePluribus Media. This piece is a reflection - semi-meta - upon our history and future, as framed by a sobering set of thoughts & reflections posted by Brandon Friedman on Twitter late Wednesday (14 Sept 2011).

From Brandon Friedman (@BrandonF) via Twitter, about 11:30 pm EST:

If you watch the Ancestry.com TV ads, you always see people who find wonderful, redeeming stories about their families.What they don’t prepare you for is that you also find the names and dollar values of the people your family used to own.

Warren 24 years old, yellow color, $1,500; Mease a man 28 yrs old, black color, $1,400;Nettie 20 yrs old, black color, and her children, $1,700; Sarah 17 yrs old and her children, $750; India 52 yrs old black color, $350.

No idea what became of them.

Those are sobering thoughts that harken back to a darker part of our national heritage - a part that we have not left fully behind, when slavery and indentured servitude were used to build the nation on the backs of others.

We'd like to think we are now a "civilized" nation, but the current political trends are attempting to justify "austerity" and return to effectively similar economic conditions and labor relations - renamed, to seem more modern and acceptable, yet still wrong & still a form of inherent indentured servitude.

That's what the combined GOP & Tea Party are pushing for. That's what the Blue Dog democrats are not fighting against.

That's what our history, once, rejected and grew beyond - much to the chagrin of those who feel no empathy for others not of their blood, not of their perceived station or worth.

That's what hatred, bigotry, hypocrisy and narcissism has wrought, disguised by updated, intentionally deceptive terminology and intellectually dishonest 'reasoning.'

History exists. We must learn from it to grow, and not allow those who would re-write it force us to re-live it - to re-fight the fights that made us stronger as a nation & as a people.

Our parents & grandparents fought and won the right for our nation to grow & evolve. The unevolved, self-centered cretins who are still fighting to undo those victories and to stunt that growth must be recognized & called out, prevented from spreading their contagion and intellectual dishonesty, or our future is destined to be wasted on re-living the past, instead of actually building a better, stronger future for ourselves, our families and our descendants.

If we can but grasp the meaning of the lessons that reflection upon our history can provide, that alone can help make the difference between whether we own our future or are pwned by our past.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My thanks to Brandon for the impetus to (12+ / 0-)

    think and reflect, even if vicariously through his own reflections, upon our history & possible future as a nation & a civilization.

  •  Wrong preposition-- (6+ / 0-)

    not "on the backs" but "by the backs."  Slaves and indentured servants did the work.  Their owners, living off borrowed capital, gave orders which, with a few exceptions like Jefferson, they had not the skill or talent to carry out themselves.  Africans brought the skills necessary to cultivate rice and cotton.  They brought the skills necessary to build out of quarried stone.  The main reason African families kept being broken up was because the plantation owners (like today's industrialists) kept going bankrupt.  What the slaves produced was not enough to sustain a lifestyle that revolved around picnics and parties and wintering in the capital and traveling to Europe on shopping trips, in addition to meeting the banker's interest demands.

    Southern plantation owners were freeloaders, practical incompetents.  They got to write the history because they made a lot of noise, just as they do today.  Letting them be deciders is a disaster waiting to happen.
    Why did GM go into bankruptcy?  Because the management was incompetent?  Why did the banks go belly up?  Because the management was incompetent and, upon occasion, fraudulent.  But, now as then, history is being re-written.  It's the poor working slobs who dared to want a house who are at fault for having bought inflated, worthless junk.  What the building industry has been producing for the last two decades are instant slums. Why are green buildings going to take off?  Because what's languishing in foreclosure was all a waste.  The housing market was churned after the financiers ran out of farmland to exploit for industry and commerce.  Instead of managing their assets and rebuilding old plant, they left us with brownfields.  Because that's what our exploitative commercial class does. It's what happens when enterprise aims to make a profit, perpetrate a legal theft, instead of creating value.

    http://youtu.be/zjmxyaXVdDA

    by hannah on Thu Sep 15, 2011 at 04:02:43 AM PDT

  •  I think it would be helpful to realize that it is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, semiot, millwood, capelza

    the same people fighting the same war throughout our history. The names change, and less frequently, the families sometimes change, but in the final analysis it is the same people striving toward the same goals over and over and over.

    They want to rule over others, they want to profit from the labor of others, and they want to control the actions and even the thoughts of others.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Thu Sep 15, 2011 at 04:12:54 AM PDT

  •  Thank you - both Hannah & Greyhound. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semiot, millwood, capelza

    You both make excellent points, expanding upon part of the problem I'd described only peripherally.

    The other aspect, of course, is the sobering effect it can have on some people to realize that their own family "owned" other people, and to see it in one's own family history - something which the thoughtful & empathic will ponder, while those who of the type & characteristics you'd both described would likely yearn for those days once again...lacking the humility to realize and regret the inhumanity inherent in the situation.

    •  I've commented on this before, but this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreyHawk, millwood

      diary makes it worth reiterating.

      I found out that my Virginia family owned some slaves. A few. Sobering. I will say that my branch of the family got no lasting benefit from the ownership, as the land my ancestors homesteaded passed to a half-great-grand-uncle a century ago, in line with the practice of primogeniture.

      I'll also say this: I experienced the disruption of bussing for racial desegregation in my public school. I was a high-school senior when the policy was imposed in my school district, and so was exempted from the mandate. I saw a painful process for many involved - including those both black and white - and not the least of it for the teachers in my high-school who had to deal with students bussed in who it appeared didn't want to be there.

      Now, however, I am able to say that though it was painful for my generation, desegregation was largely successful for the succeeding one. I can say with happiness and quiet pride that my daughter's best friend is a lovely black child, and that the idea that skin color matters in judging a person is curious and simply unacceptable to my daughter.

      Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

      by semiot on Thu Sep 15, 2011 at 06:13:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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