Cornell University history professor, Edward Baptist, has written a new work on the connections between slavery and contemporary capitalism entitled, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.
It is a work The Economist chose to review, and did so scathingly, critiquing Baptist's alleged (cough) use of anecdotes to draw historical conclusions. However, the review ends unfathomably with its final swipe:
Mr. Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.Now, I have yet to read this work, and cannot speak to the review's various critiques, which themselves are coming under attack by historians and social critics alike.
I can, however, speak to the repugnancy of this final line, written in the year 2014. In America.
It's a fine reminder of the fact that, as Louis C.K. likes to remind white folks, we're really not all that removed from slavery in the grand sweep of history. The reverberative racism and injustice which permeates every level of society remains with us in slavery's wake.
As do lines like the one inexplicably written above.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, recently published by Oneworld Publications.
The Economist has withdrawn its review as a result of the mountains of criticism it received.