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I mean, -- and I guess one of the reasons you didn't have it is because
you didn't have that many Europeans to whom it mattered that much.
Another reason -- well, I suppose that's the basic reason. But comparing
say this pattern in America with, say, slavery in ancient Greece,
ironically, you didn't have Christianity in ancient Greece, you know.
YOu didn't have to have rationalizations and alibis for the inhumanity of
slavery, in a non-Christian context, because the Greeks weren't saddled
with the notion of brotherhood of man, Fatherhood of God, today
Christian notions. And apparently the only way people who were “Christians
or believers in that kind of religious philosophy and morality could
have slavery was to do something about the slaves, you know, in terms
of not making them human enough to increase guilt for keeping them
So you find even Jefferson resorting to that kind of
defensive approach to the problem.
Now, all that by way of saying that this is the context,
within which blacks in America were socialized. A tremendous amount of
time and effort was spent in trying to convince them that they weren't
quite human. And not without some success. You see.
Fortunately not total success. But almost every device in
the American social and political system was used to reinforce this
notion. You know, laws, practices, religion even, you know. Well, it
would be impossible for this not to have had some long lasting effects.
It would be impossible. And the miracle is that it wasn't more
successful than it was. And that, to me, is a sign of wonderful,
indominable quality of the human spirit -- that there were blacks who,
in spite of this barrage in America, insisted upon their humanity.
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