Slavery Was Racial, Not Economic

By Clarence Page Chicago Tribune | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 14, 1996 | Go to article overview

Slavery Was Racial, Not Economic


Clarence Page Chicago Tribune, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Slavery was good for blacks. It wasn't about race. It was justified in the Bible. American slaves were better treated than slaves anywhere else in the world. Black slaves suffered less than freed blacks suffer today from abuse, rape, broken homes and murder.

So says Alabama state Sen. Charles Davidson. It is painfully obvious that he is not a historian. He is a restaurant owner who also was one of six Republicans running for a congressional seat until he withdrew Saturday.

Davidson made his arguments in a speech he prepared for a state Senate debate over his proposal to fly the Confederate battle flag over the state Capitol. When the measure was quickly tabled before he could make a speech, Davidson passed out copies of his comments.

Davidson's ancestors didn't own any slaves, he says. But they did fight for the slaveholders' side, and he's glad they did.

He reached for Bible verses to justify slavery, not only as good for blacks but as God's will. He referred to Leviticus 25:44: "You may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you." He also quoted I Timothy 6:1, as saying slaves should "regard their own masters as worthy of all honor."

According to The Associated Press, Davidson said, "The issue is not race. It's Southern heritage. I'm on a one-man leadership crusade to get the truth out about what our Southern heritage is all about."

This crusade has more than one man in it. Jews are plagued by the Holocaust denial industry. Blacks are plagued by slavery deniers. Davidson sounds like the rest of them. He denies, incredibly, that slavery was about race. He denies that he is a racist. He insists that the public would know and understand his more cheerful "truth" about slavery were it not for - guess who? "the liberal media."

Well, one should not have to be a liberal to see slavery as evil - a monumental hypocrisy in the purported "land of the free."

From the days of slavery to the present, there always have been "experts" and pseudo-intellectuals who try in defiance of common sense and decency to justify the evil institution. For years, Hollywood supported the distortion with screen images of happy "darkies" strumming banjos on the front porch singing the praises of "Massah."

"The incidence of abuse, rape, broken homes and murder are 100 times greater today in the housing projects than they ever were on the slave plantations of the old South," Davidson wrote in his speech. …

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