Do me a favor, read this and this from Michael Medved and when you are done read this blog post and tell me if their description of what Medved wrote is accurate.
After reading the two articles I responded in the comments section to correct what I saw as a false representation of what he had written. After all was said and done I simply asked them to tell me what Medved said that was in error? Which of his general points were wrong? A simple request, I thought.
Reenee, one of the co-bloggers of the blog responded with this:
My co-blogger’s post was not misleading nor was it myopic. It was her expressing her opinion.
This country does not get off the hook for introducing slavery merely because it was being done elsewhere on the planet. Nor does it get off the hook by “abolishing it quickly” after 240 years. You might want to expand your reading to other writers other than the glossed over tomes available to most schools.
After you’ve finished with those books, go here, pick out the first ten history books about the indigenous people and how they were treated, and then you’ll have a more well-rounded grasp on their history and what was done to them.
Everyone in this country ought to be baffled when faced with an argument that tries to mitigate or downplay or excuse the very bloody history of what our country did to people, either found here or imported, since it was founded.
That they aren’t, baffles me.
And, that’s all I have to say about that.
In other words, still no list of errors. Simply rebuts to arguments I did not make and a recommendation of what books I should read to be more ‘enlightened’.
I responded and then Leesee, whom I assume wrote the original post, responded with this:
His-Pan: That you would seek to defend Medved and ask for point by point disputation astonishes me.
Medved seeks to diminish the murder, the slavery, the genocide and the suffering, he gives a seemingly rational argument but I’m not buying it and it’s my choice not to buy it.
Frankly I’m a little sad you fell for his feel good take on these very sad episodes in our collective history.
Sometimes when you argue the fine points you miss the bigger picture, the fact is these things happened and putting them in so-called historical context does not diminish the crimes.
We as a gente cannot let anyone else define our reality or make less of our experience.
It’s your choice to buy into Medved’s cleaned up history lesson and I’m just not there.
Go on over to Crooks and Liars specifically Keith Olbermanns take on Medved, he called him the worst person in the world for “apologizing” for slavery, how is you don’t get that?
You notice a pattern here? Still no list of errors and more of the same caricatures.
This was a few days ago and so you can imagine how surprised I was to see the topic brought up again today, see here. I thought for sure this time there would be a list of errors, a real critique of what Medved wrote. Well, if you guessed not, you would have been correct. It is more of the same. More caricatures, attacks on the credentials of Medved, and references to incidental parts of his article, not a direct rebut of his main points.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with everything Medved wrote. There are some points he makes that are stronger than others. There is wording he uses that I would not have used. There are some points he includes that I would not have. And of course, there are some exaggerations and misleading statements…but I do buy the overall heart of his article – specifically the points I commented on the original post (slavery was universal, it was primarily the west that abolished it, and the majority of Native Americans were killed by the unintentional transfer of diseases).
The reason I was asking for a critique is because he makes many of the same arguments that a book I am reading does, Thomas Sowell’s, Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Thomas Sowell backs up his claims with reputable sources, many of them respected historians. So when I saw the Medved post, and saw that he was making many of the same arguments, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how one goes about critiquing Sowell’s arguments. However, the whole exchange left me with the impression that Sowell is more right than I initially gave him credit for (how else can you explain the irrational responses and refusal to deal with his central points?).
So if you have some time, read the two Medved articles, read the follow up posts by people who found the articles inaccurate, and if you find the refutations lacking and the topic interests you more I strongly recommend you read Thomas Sowells book, Black Rednecks And White Liberals, it gives more of the historical backing and larger context of some of the general points in Medved’s first article.
I want to close with a quote from a somewhat dated Thomas Sowell article:
Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century.
People of every race and color were enslaved — and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed.
Everyone hated the idea of being a slave but few had any qualms about enslaving others. Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century — and then only in Western civilization.
Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there.
But who is singled out for scathing criticism today? American leaders of the 18th century.
The full article should be read in full, see here. I’d post this response on the original blog post but then my two previous comments have already been blocked and on the last blog post there is a clear request not to.