It's high time for African Americans to change their perspectives on slavery, asserts Arkansas Rep. Jon Hubbard. In his new book, Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative, the Republican congressman argues that slavery was actually a positive turn of events for blacks.
"--The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise," Hubbard argues. "The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth."
There's no doubt that Americans enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, not to mention a range of political liberties that individuals in other countries lack. But those factors don't mean that slavery was worth it. Slaves endured physical brutality, sexual violence, gruesome labor conditions, psychological battery and destruction of their family units, all of which have been depicted in films, literature and other materials about the institution. Slaves couldn't marry and saw their children auctioned off to strangers. What's worse, they could do nothing to stand up for their loved ones. The small things Americans take for granted today--reading or writing, coming and going as we please, eating well-balanced meals--were off limits to slaves. To boot, civil liberties such as owning property or voting were out of the question. That's because slaves were considered property, not people. Hubbard has conveniently forgotten this fact. I don't think slaves, especially those who'd been raped, tortured and ripped apart from their family members, would argue that such treatment was all a blessing in disguise because it meant that one day they could be a U.S. citizen and, thus, have a chance to own a house in the suburbs, 2.5 kids and a 401k plan. Has Hubbard lost his mind? Do people actually understand what happened during slavery, including that many blacks did kill themselves because they couldn't endure the horror of the peculiar institution? I can't imagine any politician arguing that the Holocaust was a blessing because it allowed some Jews to take refuge in the United States.
Americans as diverse as Bob Dylan and Condoleezza Rice have argued that slavery has left a permanent scar on the United States. Today, it still affects race relations for the worse. It was certainly no blessing.