When A Point of View “ain’t”
A Point of View © 1996
By Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA, ICCP.
Many of us, if not most of us, live under the distracting illusion that our way of life is the best or, if it isn’t, it’s because folks don’t recognize it or try to destroy it. Another alternative is to think negatively that our way of life is a tragedy. Folks have to be positive full-time.
We measure life with what we call standard beliefs: political, religious, economic, cultural, and racial, and constantly gauge others against our own to reach conclusions about the quality of their lives by comparison.
I have no particular objection to holding privately any of those beliefs as long as they don’t spread around aggressively and try to hurt others for those differences, one of those situations is when we rationalize those beliefs and try to force others to adopt them or else. I’ll use an example that has hit the news cycle recently and I hope will make my case.
For ages, the institution of slavery found countless defenders by those who considered it beneficial for its victims, the slaves. We have to build a system of beliefs around holding someone slave unwillingly or we couldn’t live with ourselves. It then becomes necessary to look for and find the good in the practice and, if we can’t find it, create it.
Adopting a scriptural belief in God by someone who doesn’t believe in one or has a naturalistic view of deity is considered salvation and redemption for that person, certainly not a curse. Rescuing their “lost souls” becomes an important mission for us. The Spanish conquistadores, for instance, killed thousands of Aboriginal people in the lands they discovered who resisted the Christianization they tried to impose on them. Their bodies were disposable as a down payment on earth for their entrance to heaven.
But the practice was not only Spain’s, or even its colonization age. In North America, the slave trade was full of abuses and exploitation as part of the slaves’ indoctrination and immersion into society. They could own no property or have a formal education. Most were illiterate. They were as raw as raw can be. Owning slaves was a distinction of the rich and powerful, even some of our Founding Fathers owned slaves.
Family life meant nothing to the dispossessed. Their mates could go at any moment sold by their masters, or worse, taken over as property when the owners went bankrupt. As for their children, they too were sold in slave markets like chattel. Most worked in cotton fields or any other hard agricultural occupations. Whatever skills they learned benefitted those who owned them. Even in the opinion of the Roman jurist Gaius slavery was “the state that is recognized by the “ius gentium,” the law of all nations, which someone is subject to the dominion of another person contrary to nature”.
These days, in a shameful attempt to rewrite History, in the state of Florida, others will follow, and school systems are asked to present a positive picture of slavery. Children learn that slavery was good for the slaves, that they enjoyed benefits and learned skills helpful in life. It doesn’t matter that they had to pay involuntarily with the loss of their individual freedom, it was all worth it.
I don’t know how teachers in Florida are supposed to disguise their presentations to deal with this in class: One of the goals of the American Civil War was to eradicate slavery, and thousands died on both sides of the conflict. The proponents look for individual cases of so-called “success” to make their point, trying to back up their claims with anecdotal poorly documented examples and not, as is normally required, with empirical data.
“President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The nation was approaching its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” One wonders why that proclamation was freeing the slaves from so many benefits as revisionists proclaim now.
The Emancipation Proclamation did not go far enough. It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Florida’s purchase by the United States from Spain in 1819 (effective 1821) was intended primarily as a measure to STRENGTHEN the system of slavery on Southern plantations by denying potential runaways the formerly safe haven of Florida. “(Source the net)
Slavery in Florida was theoretically abolished by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, as the state was then part of the Confederacy, but it had little immediate effect. Slavery in Florida did not end abruptly on one specific day. As news arrived of the end of the Civil War and the collapse of the Confederacy in the spring of 1865, slavery unofficially ended, as there were no more slave catchers or other authorities to enforce the institution. I suppose this historical fact is not a proud background of those who insist on the new education rules. Or shall we say non-education rules?
For generations, Black people in America were the victims of the effect of slavery from their ancestors. Father absenteeism, violence, and illiteracy, became part of their lives by a society that punished them for their behavior but did nothing to reward those who changed it for the better. Trying to justify an institution like slavery is in the same category as those who claim that the Holocaust never took place. It is a lie, it is dishonest and a guarantee that in the future another inhuman behavior will take center stage and our hands will get sore from applause. Shame on the politicians who are trying to change History.
And That is My Point of View today. So long.