March 20, 2006

Yeah, I was going to just post this on Wonkette, but their comments function doesn't seem to be, well, functioning

The Wonketteers are obsessed with a no-name wingnut columnist who wrote what they describe as " a column so brilliant, so perfect, so unbalanced, that we must emerge from our decadent coastal enclave and enter the great uncharted middle of the country to bring back to our godless readers the Word." The insight that earned Adele Ferguson a recurring guest role on Wonkette last week is that, "the pony hidden in slavery is the fact that it was the ticket to America for black people."

Now it's true that this particularly delicious phrase is Adele's own. And it's true that the idea behind it is fairly batty. But Wonkette doesn't seem to realize that it's also thoroughly mainstream conservative thought, expressed most recently by Dinesh D'Souza this way: "Although slavery was oppressive for the people who lived under it, their descendants are in many ways better off today. The reason is that slavery proved to be the transmission belt that brought Africans into the orbit of Western prosperity and freedom. Blacks in America have a higher standard of living and more freedom than any comparable group of blacks on the continent of Africa."

Laugh if you want, bloggers, but the Adele Fergusons are running the country.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


My grandparents met each other on an aircraft carrier in WW II, but that doesn't mean I'm glad the Holocaust happened.

Yeah, that's a really old argument. I don't think it holds up wildly well, because for it to have any meaning requires a series of "what if?" leaps. If there had been no slavery, do we also assume there would have been no colonialism? No racism? Would Africans have been that badly off if they'd been able to meet the world as relative equals, sharing trade, technologies and ideas without coercion or conquest? Even if all else had remained the same save slavery--if black Africans had been treated as the subhuman, rejected Other, consistent with real history, but not forcibly imported to the West--the potential benefit to Africa of having left many more Africans living there is impossible to figure.

Anyway, what exactly is the takeaway from this silly argument? Say we grant that getting to America was the silver lining of slavery. So what? Blacks should shut up about their current plight because at least they're here and not in Africa? This particular black person finds more pragmatic discussions considerably more fruitful.

Upon reflection, that post was probably a tad over-earnest. Your point was just that Wonkette is late to the party in realizing that meme is common conservative currency, and with that I clearly agree.

Yes, that was my point, but I'm not at all adverse to my readers injecting some genuine philosophical and political debate into this blog, even if I'm stuck in shallow waters myself.

Does that mean black people should be paying finder's fees to their former slavemasters?

I don't doubt that that is mainstream Republican thinking. But I do question whether Dinesh E'Souza is very much more mainstream than this Adele Ferguson. And I think that Wonkette was likely having some fun while shoveling through a lot of shit, rather than being myopic. But speaking of not seeing things, can someone tell me how I can find out who is doing the posting over there?

Laugh if you want, bloggers, but the Adele Fergusons are running the country.

It was less of a laugh and more of a sneer, though your point is equally well taken.

But Wonkette loses points for not recognizing that "pony" was used out of its interwebs context.

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