I was reading in the MDN* yesterday and was very pleased to read Bill Hallet’s editorial in response to another editorial on how we should be ashamed of our history because the rum made here was part of the Triangle Trade which involved slaves.
This progressive narrative that historical characters and events should be disregarded because they held and practiced some present-day odious belief system was very eloquently shot down.
There were a lot of things done in the past that were part of a commonly-held and popular societal standard. It was widely held that the Irish were prone to violence and mentally substandard. The same was held concerning Negros. Women were not taught beyond elementary school because it was felt they had no mental capacity for higher learning. And so on….
Mr. Hallet made a good-point and which is quite true, that we also believe and uphold odious practices and just assume it’s part of our society.
We permit in a very large part to immigrate illegals to do the menial work of our society at sub-standard wages because it keeps things, “cheap”.
We permit a retail class of workers who work long hours and receive minimal benefits while a catered minority class work regular hours and receive large benefits; so things can be “cheap”
We purchase products in a great array that fills the majority of our local department stores that were made in sweat shops, or in unsafe environments or factories where workers lie on cots next to the machines they are working on and sleep and work for months at a time and only paid once or twice a year so we can have things, “cheap”.
We buy our products from countries that have no citizen’s rights, who enslave minorities and subjugate women; and are brutal to their people, so we can have things, “cheap”
Notice that money is largely involved.
The New England colonies and early states needed large amounts of rum because it was part of their society. 2/3rd of their production went to local markets as the water supplies were unpredictable and dangerous; and the rest went to be bartered “overseas”.
Citizens here did not see slaves hauled off the ships. All they saw were barrels of molasses from the Caribbean and the South; cotton for the mills, and a whole range of “delicacies” to be enjoyed. Living was good and the profits were amply made.
They took no notice of injustices in the world, and were only concerned when the supply of “cheap” goods dried up. Just as we would if China were to find itself in trouble, or our dollar became too strong.
Do we disregard what we do today because of these background injustices?
As Jesus said, “First take the beam out of your own eye, before you remove the speck in your neighbor’s eye.”
To properly understand history, one needs to know the culture, the environment, the beliefs and what was happening at that time period.
“Social guilt” real or imagined is easy from the comfortable armchair of future generations but it has nothing to do with a proper understanding of the past.
- Mayor’s Daily Notice