September 21, 2015

Another Jack Kelly Slavery Column Follow-Up

Sometime ago a letter writer from Squirrel Hill complained on the Post-Gazette's letters page about a column he read recently about slavery.  (It was written by Jack Kelly, doncha know.)  Our letter writer had a few issues with Jack's collection of "facts."  Here's one:
Slavs were not the people most frequently enslaved by the ancient Romans. Hence the Roman word for slave was "servus" not "slav." "Slav" became synonymous with "slave" almost 1,000 years after the Germanic tribes sacked Rome. Moreover, those Slavs who did become slaves around 1300-1500 were not Catholic Poles, but Eastern Orthodox Bulgarians and Russians (among many other ethnic groups from the Balkans to the Caucasus).
And another:
Kelly's reference to the Arab slave trade is less inaccurate, but no less irrelevant. Yes, about 11 million sub-Saharan people were transported by the Arab slave trade in the thousand years before 1900, and about 12 million were shipped across the Atlantic by the Europeans in the 400 years before 1860. The relative size of groups has no bearing on claims being made for descendants of African slaves within the United States.
And yet another:
Finally, Kelly's double-standard undercuts his own basic point: "No American living today was either a master or a slave," therefore why should one accept guilt by inheritance? Only liberals, Mr. Kelly insists, "love to apologize for everyone's sins but their own."
The letter writer was Seymore Drescher, history professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

He also wrote it in August of 2000.

That's right.  August of 2000.

You see, Jack's column from a week or so ago was not his first foray into slavery revisionism.  He wrote another one almost like it 15 years ago.  And while I can't find it at the P-G website, luckily Jack's columns are also published at the Toledo Blade.  And the column, in all it's glory, can be found there.

Here's how he started back then:
This talk of reparations for slavery excites me. I had, according to family lore, only one ancestor in this country at the time of the Civil War. He was a soldier in the Union Army. Since blacks were freed not by act of God, but by the bullets and bayonets of men like my great-great grandfather, I figure it's about time Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton wrote me a check.
Wow.  Not sure what to say about that.  So I'll let it the awkward settle in and then move on.

Let's compare and contrast.  Here's Jack from last week:
Slavery isn’t America’s original sin because it was unique, or uniquely horrible here. If prostitution is “the world’s oldest profession,” slave trading is second. Since the dawn of recorded history, slavery has been practiced in nearly every society known to man.
And Jack from 2000:
But to the extent American blacks believe slavery was a horror uniquely visited upon them, they are mistaken. Slavery has existed in every culture known to man, ancient and modern. The word slave comes from Slav, the peoples most frequently enslaved during Roman times.
So I guess Jack didn't concern himself with Professor Drescher's corrections.  Oh well.  He rarely concerns himself with mine.

I gotta ask: Did he research the column again or just use his earlier column for research?  How much of this is a rewrite and how much a regurgitation?  Inquiring minds want to know.

In any case, wanna know how long ago was August of 2000?
  • Bill Clinton was still president
  • Hillary Clinton had yet to be elected to the Senate
  • Monica and Chandler were still nine months away from getting married.
That's a long time, Jack.  Did you think no one would find your earlier column? 

(I only found it with a lot of help.  Mega hat tips to Ed Heath who was at John McIntire's comedy show where he heard the P-G's John Allison talk about Jack's slavery column from 2000.)

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