April 22, 2015

"Ben Affleck has admitted he was 'embarrassed' about a slave-owning ancestor..."

"... and said that’s why he lobbied television chiefs to hide his story in a documentary about his heritage."
The Hollywood star said he regretted trying to influence what went into the programme and was now glad that his family history would be part of the discussion about the impact of slavery in America....

Affleck spoke out after hacked emails from film studio Sony Pictures Entertainment, leaked online, revealed that he had asked producers of the television programme Finding Your Roots to suppress details of the ancestor. The revelations have provoked a censorship scandal in the US: the programme’s producer, Henry Louis Gates, a history professor at Harvard, had to issue a statement insisting he retained “editorial control.”
Affleck's efforts to control PR are what you'd expect from an actor. The focus should be on Gates. He's the one with the serious obligations here.

“Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling programme. In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry – including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great–grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.”

PBS released a statement of its own, which said: “It is clear from the exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity. He has told us that after reviewing approximately 10 hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative. The range and depth of the stories on Finding Your Roots speak for themselves.”
What credit or shame is there in having this or that ancestor? It's trivial that Affleck was embarrassed by a slave-owning ancestor. I think that just means that he worried that people would think ill of him, not that it makes sense to think ill of a person who has a disreputable ancestor. I'm more interested in what this means about Gates, who uses his stature as a Harvard historian to participate in a possibly lame enterprise on PBS. He chooses "the most compelling narrative"? And what's compelling is a couple cherry-picked heroes in the ancestry of a handsome movie star? You had the opportunity to confront Affleck with something disturbing, a slave owner, and you decided to tell him about his own mother who participated in a civil rights march? How is that "finding your roots"? Had he lost track of his mom?

From the leaked email:
“We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. What do we do?” Gates wrote.

[Sony’s chief executive, Michael] Lynton asked who else knew about the information in question, advising that “it gets tricky” when editing out material “based on this kind of sensitivity”.

Gates replied that the producers of the show, the star’s PR agents and PBS knew about the slave-owning ancestor.

“To do this would be a violation of PBS rules, actually, even for Batman,” Gates wrote, apparently before he was due to take a flight.

Lynton wrote back: “It is tricky because it may get out that you made the change and it comes down to editorial integrity. We can talk when you land.”

In the final email of the exchange, Gates seems to indicate that the producers of the show will include the information.

“Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand,” he wrote.

However, that part of Affleck’s story never aired.

WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange issued a statement saying the leak of the exchange about Affleck was justified because it showed the inner workings and influence of a multinational media giant.

118 comments:

EDH said...

A courtesy from one Cantabrigian to another?

Me thinks Affleck was more worried about being hit-up for "reparations" from left of center activists and how much that it would cost him to maintain his future "political viability". Affleck has latent political ambitions.

MayBee said...

So stupid of Affleck.

rhhardin said...

Slave owning isn't a moral fault anyway.

It just outlived its economic justification and became indefensible.

The final arguments for it became more desperate and lost.

The initial argument for it is that it's a better use of conquered peoples than killing them. Hence historical slavery.

Free markets made that untrue. A slave does more good working in his own interest than for another's, in a free market. The economic justification disappears.

But the narrative needs slave guilt, for a completely dysfunctional new economic interest.

Bob said...

Making sanctimonious pronunciations about race is far more difficult when your ancestor was Simon Legree.

Curious George said...

With all the reparations talk, and Obama still in the White House, well...

Curious George said...

"PBS released a statement of its own, which said: “It is clear from the exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity. He has told us that after reviewing approximately 10 hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative. The range and depth of the stories on Finding Your Roots speak for themselves.”

What a steaming pile.

Brando said...

Bunch of idiots. As if none of this would have been found out? And who cares if your ancestor, who you never knew, owned slaves? Go back far enough and I'm sure we all had ancestors who did things we'd be ashamed of today. Gates himself is probably descended from a few slave holders. The fact that they think this is something worthy of hiding says far worse about them than having such an ancestor could.

sinz52 said...

I'll bet that Gates would have fought to the end to retain the slave ancestry, if the program had been about a Republican actor.

Levi Starks said...

Come on people,
Poor Ben is already carrying around such a large burden of white privilege guilt, if the added weight of having slave owning ancestors were placed on his back, the poor man might collapse under the weight.

Laslo Spatula said...

"WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange issued a statement saying the leak of the exchange about Affleck was justified because it showed the inner workings and influence of a multinational media giant."

I agree with Assange on this. I believe it also applies to leaking photos of nude celebrities on the internet. Especially the "inner workings" part.

I am Laslo.

tim maguire said...

When I read this, I immediately thought of your recent column and minor kerfuffle about how we are all descended from slave owners (and slaves).

All of these people are idiots who should waste America's time on their own dime, not the taxpayer's.

St. George said...

He's Batman.

Laslo Spatula said...

""Ben Affleck has admitted he was 'embarrassed' about a slave-owning ancestor..."

I'm sure he is very kind and generous to the manual labor he employs in and around his $17.55 million Pacific Palisides house. He probably even knows some of their first names.

I am Laslo.

Eleanor said...

The show is an opportunity for Gates to travel and meet celebrities on someone else's dime. It's about as entertaining as spending an evening at ancestry.com. It sort of depends on whether you think Ben Affleck's relatives are more interesting than your own on which you choose to do. Or you could send your dog's DNA out to be tested. Or take the dog for a nice walk.

Browndog said...

So, this is what Holder meant when he said we were a nation of cowards?

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhh.....Progressives. First it was the stupidity of the racist white police who dared to question a man breaking into a house, and now poor little Benny Affleck is embarrassed about something an ancestor did that isn't politically correct in this day and age. They are liars just like the president and Hillary.

Gahrie said...

Seriously?

If I had been the producer, not only would I have talked about Affleck's slave owning ancestor, it would have been the focus of my advertising campaign for the series.

jr565 said...

I don't know that you should HAVE to have such information revealed. it's private information.
If though, it were George Bush and his past, you can be sure Affleck would want it revelealed.

sean said...

It's an entertainment program. A mildly intellectual version of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." Presumably the producers don't present anything flatly untrue--that applies to both programs--but beyond that I am not aware of any ethical rules for programs of this nature. A program that focused on digging up dirt about celebrities' ancestry might be interesting, but the celebrities wouldn't co-operate, which in turn would mean that no one would watch.

jr565 said...

So, was his ancestor a slave whipper?

PB said...

Affleck asked PBS agreed. This seems to diminish both parties ethics and interest in truth.

AllenS said...

No, jr, it's information that can be accessed on any ancestry website. Obituaries, no matter how old are public information. If you provide a census worker your information, when it's entered into the system, people can have access to it.

Jay Vogt said...

Odd how many educated people still can't grasp the distinction between editing and censorship.

MayBee said...

Levi Starks said...
Come on people,
Poor Ben is already carrying around such a large burden of white privilege guilt, if the added weight of having slave owning ancestors were placed on his back, the poor man might collapse under the weight.


Home run!

damikesc said...

PBS released a statement of its own, which said: “It is clear from the exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity. He has told us that after reviewing approximately 10 hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative.

Odd, for all of the OTHER people who had slave-owning ancestors, they made their judgment to include those. Only with Affleck, who fought to have it removed, did they exercise discretion.

Funny.

A program that focused on digging up dirt about celebrities' ancestry might be interesting, but the celebrities wouldn't co-operate, which in turn would mean that no one would watch.

I believe 7 celebs besides Affleck had that same issue.

Odd how many educated people still can't grasp the distinction between editing and censorship.

True. Why was this editing not done for the OTHERS who had slave owning ancestors?

William said...

I'm not a fan of the show, but I've seen it occasionally. On the occasions I've seen it, the celebrity discovers some ancestor who was on the wrong side of history. Sally Fields had ancestors who fought on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War. Valerie Jarrett and Malcolm Gladwell had ancestors who were slave owners. Most of our ancestors tried to advance their self interest and stay out of jail. I don't think the judgment of history was a key factor in their decision making process......That's why it's so refreshing to encounter a celebrity like Ben Affleck. Not only is he on the right side of every issue, but he is also prescient enough to know how history will judge and validate his decisions of the moment. If the larger public were privy to the fact that his ancestors were flawed, they might in their stupidity also suspect that he's wrong about some things. Better to suppress such subversive facts. We can only hope that someday Ben will find the time to pair off with Gwyneth and breed a new race of superheroes or, at the very least, run for public office.

gspencer said...

Thanks, Ben. You've only confirmed what most common sense thinking people have known for a long time.

The left (and you, Ben, are a card-carrying member) can only sustain itself through lies (and, yes, covering up the truth (such as the history and character of your ancestors) is lying.

Truth is "hate speech" to the left.

And, Ben, you may continue to deny the texts of Islam, and the resultant behavior of Muslims acting on those texts, but your denial doesn't make Islam not the "motherlode of bad ideas."

Nonapod said...

If you go back far enough it's a statistical certainty that every one of us has some ancestors who were slave owners, rapists, and murderers. I've heard that something like 1 in 200 men direct descendants of Genghis Khan. Humanity sucks.

Anonymous said...

In our culture I think being famous means you can lie and people will facilitate the lying when they interview you. Also, being poor means you can be violent and people will help you with special programs using my tax money.

So I just assume these characteristics about people as I live my life. I kind of do that "judge people by the content of their character" thing.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Henry Louis Gates, a history professor at Harvard, had to issue a statement insisting he retained “editorial control.”

Celebrity trumps Integrity.

I'm sure Harvard has a class about that.

I am Laslo.

Fen said...

Slavery was a once normal social convention, same way we "enslave" dogs and cats today. But we evolved culturally.

One day we will evolve even further, and the grandkids will be ashamed that their ancestors enslaved cats and dogs and horses. "And OMG you ate cattle?! You monster!"

BDNYC said...

More like he supports reparations but was trying to protect himself and his wealth if reparations ever became a reality.

mezzrow said...

Narrative maintenance is sometimes an ugly thing. It's hard to maintain your position as a a secular saint.

Truth can be so inconvenient. That's why it needs some help from those in charge of the product. In another __ years, what difference does it make, anyway?

Terry said...

jr565 wrote:
"So, was his ancestor a slave whipper?"

Worse. Affleck's g-g-grandpa, Ames Affleck, was the wicked master who whipped Frederick Douglass's aunt because she wouldn't sleep with him.
Ever notice that Ben Affleck has these really tiny teeth? B-r-r-r-r. Creeps me out. They are like ventriloquist dummy teeth. I bet that he inherited them from ol' Ames Affleck.

Gahrie said...

I've heard that something like 1 in 200 men direct descendants of Genghis Khan

I've read that at some point, humanity's total population was so small, that every human alive has a single common female ancestor. Of course they dubbed her Eve.

Laslo Spatula said...

I wonder what the ancestor would think of his descendant Ben if forced to watch "Gigli" ?

Ricki: It's turkey time.
Larry Gigli: Huh?
Ricki: Gobble, gobble.

There is shame, and there is Shame.


I am Laslo.

lgv said...

Gates said all the right things in the email exchange, but turned around and did the wrong thing. No explanation will change that simple path.

It's on Gates. Regardless of how you feel about Aflleck, I'm pretty sure he did what most of us would do. We would prefer it not be made public because we would be embarrassed. I think he over-thought it. I would hate to think I could be held in lower esteem by what my ancestors did in the 1800's.

MadisonMan said...

Why should anyone be embarrassed for the actions of an ancestor?

If you live you life as a decent person, that's what you'll be remembered for, not for the actions of an ancestor.

Char Char Binks said...

I'd rather be descended from a slave owner than from a slave. Slaves are losers.

rhhardin said...

If you live you life as a decent person, that's what you'll be remembered for

That's what Bush 43 was thinking.

Mark Caplan said...

Southerners I know with slave-owning ancestry are usually proud to show off their own moral superiority to their ignominious forebears while modestly acknowledging their aristocratic roots.

Charlie Currie said...

Maybe Afleck and Gates could get together with Obama for a beer in the Rose Garden...

lemondog said...

It just outlived its economic justification and became indefensible.

The final arguments for it became more desperate and lost.


Now we have robots.

walter said...

Ben "acted stupidly"...

chillblaine said...

This will be spun the same way they have tried to spin Climategate. The servers at East Anglia were hacked and the emails stolen. This was done for political reasons. Therefore, the nefarious agenda of the "deniers" is discredited, but not the nefarious agenda of the "alarmists."

Happy Earth Day!

n.n said...

Under normal circumstances it would be classified as editing. However, with the emotionally charged narrative exploited by Democrats to create political, economic, and social leverage, it can only be considered selective censorship in order to protect their special interests.

Thorley Winston said...

I think it’s important to Affleck only if he’s the sort of person who either (a) in the course of attacking people who disagrees with politically is not above impugning their families or their ancestors (we saw a lot of this when Bush was president) or (b) makes snide comments about people from the South. A revelation that he has a slave owner or two in his own family tree opens himself up to the same sort of personal attacks or (even worse in some people’s eyes) a charge of “hypocrisy.” If however he’s a person of ordinary good manners and doesn’t engage in either sort of behavior, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Unless he decides to run as a Republican, then it doesn’t matter how decently he treated people in the past because then all bets are off.

Wilbur said...

What nonsense.

When I was informed that I was a descendant of a famous Civil War general and author (which later turned out to be false information) I was asked if I was proud of this.
Of course not. Just as it is foolish to be ashamed of one's ancestors it is foolish to take pride in them. It's nothing I accomplished or created, so how should there be any pride in this whatsoever?

Titus said...

Gates lives a couple blocks from me. He walks with a cane and always doesn't date black women.

He knows my rare clumber by name.

Cambridge is extremely elite.

tits.

Dr.D said...

Affleck is an idiot (but then, that is redundant since we already knew he was a Dem).

My great grandfather fought for the CSA in the War of Northern Aggression, and I'm pretty sure the family owned slaves. They were Alabama farmers, so owning slaves would have been a natural thing.

Coupe said...

As I read it, Gates did the right thing. They had spent thousands on the segment. He asked for advice, because he knew the truth would come out one day.

But, he was able to compromise, in an era where compromise is a bad word. They decided to salvage the segment by focusing elsewhere.

Compromises are a way to move forward, while providing harmony.

In the end, as Gates predicted, the truth was revealed, embarrassing everyone, but his honor is not at issue, because he was forced to compromise by the economics of television productions. If you can't compromise, you have to quit. This was not something to quit over.

The stockholders get to vote on whether a program moves forward, and pure truth is a fantasy anyway.

walter said...

I guess there are different gradations of and comfort levels with "white guilt".
Kind of a NIMBY scenario..

Saint Croix said...

I suppose many African-Americans have slaves in their family tree. I had an African-American law professor who told me that one of his ancestors was a slave-owner. That might be true of many African-Americans who have mixed ancestry. They have both slaves and slave-owners among their ancestors.

Skeptical Voter said...

A tempest in a PC progressive teapot. A pox on both their houses.

I had ancestors who were slave owners; had some who were not slave owners, but who were soldiers and officers in the CSA.

I had some ancestors who were soldiers and officers on the Union side as well. Several of those ancestors wound up killing each other at Vicksburg.

To all of which I say, like Popeye the Sailorman, "I Yam what I Yam". I bear no guilt for what my slave owning ancestors may have done; I own no glory from what my Union Army ancestors did.

Affleck and Gates should both get a life--they have one. Live it well, you're responsible for what you do with it, and for nothing else. Only a cretin believes otherwise.

walter said...

"he was forced to compromise by the economics of television productions."

Oh..really?

BDNYC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
damikesc said...

In the end, as Gates predicted, the truth was revealed, embarrassing everyone, but his honor is not at issue, because he was forced to compromise by the economics of television productions.

Wasn't this a PBS presentation? The costs involved are basically meaningless for them since they have no commercial sponsors.

Mike said...

Nice that they cover for eachother. Not nice enough to join the progressive tribe, but it is touching how sensitive they can be about racial matters when the correct kind of people are afflected.

I mean affected.

BDNYC said...

I can understand being proud or ashamed of relatives you know personally, or even those who were known to people that you know personally. So if I learned from someone that they were personally wronged by my great-grandfather, whom I never met, I might feel ashamed.

But distant ancestors? Haha, who cares?

damikesc said...

I suppose many African-Americans have slaves in their family tree. I had an African-American law professor who told me that one of his ancestors was a slave-owner. That might be true of many African-Americans who have mixed ancestry. They have both slaves and slave-owners among their ancestors.

There were some black slave owners. In 1830, there were 3,775 black slave owners owning over 12.000 slaves.

Edmund said...

If your family is from Europe, you probably have slave owners in your ancestry.

If your family is from Africa, you probably have slave owners in your ancestry.

If your family is from the Middle East, you probably have slave owners in your ancestry.

If your family is from Central America, you probably have slave owners in your ancestry.

(I'm not as sure about Asia, S. America, and Australia.)

Birches said...

Wouldn't it have been a great juxtaposition btw his mother and the freedom summer and the slave owning ancestor?

I suppose we'll never know....

Saint Croix said...

One of the big journalism scandals is the celebrated mini-series, Roots, which is supposed to be a true story about the slaves in Alex Haley's family tree.

Both the mini-series and the book were complete frauds.

See also this and this.

walter said...

And there were/are African slave owners. Maybe one of Skippy's relatives was/is one.

richard mcenroe said...

Ben's REALLY embarrassed about the three Filipino women he has chained in his kitchen. Didn't even let the show film them.

richard mcenroe said...

St. Croix Hell, many free blacks back then OWNED slaves. In fact the first black slave was imported into America by a free black man. Odd what gets left out of the narrative.

CatherineM said...

Everyone should watch the Maggie Gyllenhall episode. She is furious when she finds out she is distantly related to the Bush family (16th cousins or some nonsense). She is so angry that when Gates visits her at home later she mentions again how she can't believe she is related to Bush!

You gotta laugh.

This is on Gates. The whole thrust of the show is about slavery and denial of it. He should have said tough tits to Ben.

Coupe said...

Wasn't this a PBS presentation? The costs involved are basically meaningless for them since they have no commercial sponsors.

You're thinking of the old PBS. The current PBS has many commercial sponsors. Many, in the form of trust funds. Very finicky people, who, like Romans, use their thumbs, and you die.

I think PBS allots 5 minutes at the start of each program to list where all the big money is coming from.

Coca Cola is a proud sponsor, etc, etc

Saint Croix said...

In 1830, there were 3,775 black slave owners owning over 12.000 slaves.

Is that worldwide, or just in the USA? It was quite common for Africans to own slaves in Africa.

Another strange aspect of slavery in the USA are the white people who were "indentured servants." See, for instance, White Cargo.

Of course racism became very, very important in the later attempts to justify slavery in the USA. But for centuries slavery was a worldwide phenomenon. One of the obvious examples were the Jews who were slaves in Egypt.

I suspect most of us have slaves or slave-owners in our family trees, if we go back far enough.

damikesc said...

Is that worldwide, or just in the USA?

Just the USA.

Everyone should watch the Maggie Gyllenhall episode. She is furious when she finds out she is distantly related to the Bush family (16th cousins or some nonsense). She is so angry that when Gates visits her at home later she mentions again how she can't believe she is related to Bush!

Maybe, but that involves intentionally watching Maggie Gyllenhall, which I cannot advise anybody do.

James Pawlak said...

He is a slave-owner: Of those who follow his PC ideologies.

William said...

St Thomas Aquinas, Maimonedes, and Mohammed believed that slaves should be treated humanely, but nowhere in their writings do they question the essential morality of one human being owning another human being.......The Roman historian Tacitus observed that the German tribes were barbaric because they murdered instead of enslaving their defeated enemies......Ben Affleck's mother marched in the cause of civil rights for blacks, but she did not have sufficient moral imagination to demand marriage rights for gays. If all these truths are so self evident, why not? I hope Ben is ashamed of his mother's moral stupidity.

Coupe said...

In the end, I blame Sony.

They were archiving private information online. Way too much material, that has no relevance to daily operations.

As a previous Systems/Database Administrator for a billion dollar company, I would never place archived private information like this on the Internet in an non-encrypted form.

I would think that the subjects here, have a liability case worth millions in the right court.

exhelodrvr1 said...

But what about the Crusades?

damikesc said...

Of course racism became very, very important in the later attempts to justify slavery in the USA. But for centuries slavery was a worldwide phenomenon. One of the obvious examples were the Jews who were slaves in Egypt.

Slavery is still quite active in Africa.

Sudan has about 8% of the population enslaved today. Mauritania is about 20%.

Even the UN Human Rights Council took time off from condemning Israel to note slavery in Mauritania is an issue (before, probably, condemning Israel again)

damikesc said...

In the end, I blame Sony.

Sony's had large issues with this for years. I remember when their PSN service and Sony Online were hacked a few years and taken down for about a month.

No excuse for them not fixing it...well, outside of them being broke and all.

Terry said...

Wouldn't it be great to have Gates introduce Affleck to a descendent of one of the slaves Affleck's family owned. Then that descendent could punch him, knock him down and take his money. It would be a gas, man.

Gerald R. Ford is my fourth cousin, twice removed. Is he still alive?

lemondog said...

I suspect most of us have slaves or slave-owners in our family trees, if we go back far enough.

Well!! Certainly not peaceful Assyrians who
.... came down like the wolf on the fold,

And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;

And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,

When the blue wave rolls nightly on the Galilee.

Terry said...

Or Gates could get Affleck on camera and just really make him uncomfortable by referring to the slaves Affleck's ancestors owned as though he owned them personally.

"No man, not me! It was my great-great-grandfather Ames Affleck!"
"But slaves could be passed down as an inheritance, Ben, couldn't they?"
"I dunno. I suppose."
"How much do you think your slaves would be worth today, Ben, if your grandaddy would've passed them on to you?"
"But he didn't! I mean he couldn't! Heck, I would have let them go!"
"I bet you would, Ben. Lots of men just give their money away. Say, you're really into the green energy scene, aren't you, Ben? Would you have them slaves your grandaddy left you out here in the sun, running on treadmills to keep your air conditioning going?"
"Please. Stop! Here, just take my money, all of it."

Paul said...

OMG....Affleck is a slaver!

Saint Croix said...

St Thomas Aquinas, Maimonedes, and Mohammed believed that slaves should be treated humanely, but nowhere in their writings do they question the essential morality of one human being owning another human being.......

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

--Thomas Jefferson

Matthew Sablan said...

It would've been an excellent chance to show that we, as a nation, can grow beyond our faults. Imagine the story arc from slave owner to mom who marches for civil rights.

That would've actually been a nice, uplifting story! They should hire me; it seems I could write better arcs for them than they're getting. I'd work for less too.

Saint Croix said...

I think slavery is quite analogous to abortion, in that good, honest and nice people are on the wrong side, and are participating in atrocities. And the only way those atrocities can happen is by refusing to see the truth.

Slavery, and abortion, requires a huge amount of self-deceit.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'll bet that duck they force to do those TV commercials for Affleck is a slave in all but name so somebody still has egg on his face.

Sebastian said...

"I had an African-American law professor who told me that one of his ancestors was a slave-owner. That might be true of many African-Americans who have mixed ancestry. They have both slaves and slave-owners among their ancestors."

"In 1830, there were 3,775 black slave owners owning over 12.000 slaves."

Shh. Y'all are messing up the calculations for the coming reparations.

Saint Croix said...

"We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable, that all men are created equal..."

Jefferson's original draft.

When you think about human creation, it is both sacred and undeniable. Every baby has a biological mother and a biological father. We are all born of a mother. The humanity of human beings is obvious. It is "self-evident." To deny it, we have to lie.

What's remarkable about Jefferson's Declaration is that the truth was so obvious to him. And yet he could not or would not apply it to his own conduct.

Coupe said...

Slavery today no longer requires a single owner. The slaves are free to work for any owner they want.

The socialists in DC weighing the owners wealth against those slaves who are no longer productive, while keeping the national debt below $1 Quadrillion.

Brando said...

"It would've been an excellent chance to show that we, as a nation, can grow beyond our faults. Imagine the story arc from slave owner to mom who marches for civil rights."

Why do that when we can simplify and give out collective blame?

Of course Affleck plays right into the "privilege" nonsense by trying to cover all this up. As always, it's difficult to live in this racist paradigm of white guilt and racial indulgences.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

The Abolition Project:
"What is Slavery? Slavery refers to a condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and at what they work. Slavery had previously existed throughout history, in many times and most places. The ancient Greeks, the Romans, Incas and Aztecs all had slaves."

So was the whole world evil immoral until slavery was banished? I think we are conflating slavery with maltreatment of people who could not legally defend themselves.

In this day and age government can assign police to break into your home and you're not even allowed to talk about it (at least in Wisconsin). People are required to bake cakes and provide flowers for ceremonies that they consider immoral. the government takes money from me that I earned to accomplish things that I would not do and totally disagree with.

These are things that are happening today. These are things that Ben Afflack should be embarrassed about.

Rusty said...

MadisonMan said...
Why should anyone be embarrassed for the actions of an ancestor?

If you live you life as a decent person, that's what you'll be remembered for, not for the actions of an ancestor.


Nope. No matter how many slaves my great, great, great grandparents owned, I'm still pretty much an asshole.
Or son of a bitch depending who you ask.

Brando said...

One would think he would be more interested in covering up his involvement in "Jersey Girl."

traditionalguy said...

Colonial farmers clearing and planting crops on new land bought and owned West Africans and the lives and their children bred in captivity as slaves for life. That was totally immoral then, and now. UNLESS we say the Africans aree not humans but are another species of beasts. Funny that is the way urban police see poor black teens today.

Romans based economic life on slaves. And they sold the captured Jews all over the Empire after 130 AD and forbade then a return to Jerusalem, which ban lasted until the British off shoot of the Roman empire gave up in 1948.

Indian tribes captured women and children from dead males they killed in raids on settlements to get slaves, but if they were young enough they married or adopted them into the tribes.

But peaceful Muslims can
make slaves of all infidels they capture on raids, since we are not seen as human to them.

The Caliphs especially liked young captured infidel boys to be castrated and used as eunuchs in their palaces. trouble was they had to castrate 50 to get one survivor, but a servant problem is irrelevant as long as the Jihad takes new territory.




ken in tx said...

"In 1830, there were 3,775 black slave owners owning over 12.000 slaves."

In 1860, South Carolina had over 200 free black slave owners. I don't know how many slaves they owned.

Union Soldiers, in Louisiana, were totally taken aback when they encountered black plantation owners.

n.n said...

Slavery needs to be defined carefully and specifically. It is a practice and institution of involuntary abdication of liberty and denigration of individual dignity.

Exploiting correlation and inference to capture and exploit individuals is an act of enslavement. For example, Obama is not morally responsible for either his Kenyan or European ancestors that held other people as slaves.

The act of "reparations" for disconnected crimes is not prosecuted through criminal channels, but with appeals to mutual acknowledgment of intrinsic value in societies that recognize that moral axiom.

n.n said...

Saint Croix:

I would consider offering sanctuary to a slave as a "slave" (i.e. voluntary or involuntary abdication of liberty but in a humane environment) in a hostile environment to be a mitigating factor.

jr565 said...

Allen S wrote:
No, jr, it's information that can be accessed on any ancestry website. Obituaries, no matter how old are public information. If you provide a census worker your information, when it's entered into the system, people can have access to it.

True, but they'd have to look for it, and have the pertinent information. Whereas, Affleck couldn simply say "on second thought, I don't want to be part of this project". Theres no requirement that he would have to be.

damikesc said...

In 1860, South Carolina had over 200 free black slave owners. I don't know how many slaves they owned.

I forgot the number in our state. But, yeah, while not numerous (then again, slave owners were a pretty large minority as it was) existed.

And, according to some reports, were hardly nice or friendly to their slaves.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I don't know, but this could possibly end up being more explosive than Ben Ghazi. Hopefully.

I'm more interested in what this means about Gates, who uses his stature as a Harvard historian to participate in a possibly lame enterprise on PBS.

Do you ever research a single thing that you comment on? The show is actually really good. Gets a heck of a lot more interest than this blog, that's for sure. And it's about historical reality, two really important things that this place couldn't get right if it tried.

Anyway, it's small potatoes. Gates still gets a bunch of people to allow the chips fall where they may, other well-known people allow revelations of slave-owning ancestors, it's all good. Causing a row with Affleck would have been pointless. If you'd ever worked with people with clout, you'd get that. Regardless, it would have been poor form in any event, with no reward. As I said, other slave-owning descendants allow the revelation. Rejoice in that, Althouse! Rejoice!

So other than being completely incapable of proving Gates' mens rea when making editorial decisions (as conservatives are when it comes to political payola), where's the story? Oh that's right. Race, history, slavery and celebrity. And academy. The issue matters not. These topics are red meat for the masses - never to be thoughtfully addressed. Let them be engorged and be full. As if they could ever be fully satisfied on that stuff. Their appetites for ignoring the past, legendary. Their stomachs for swallowing whole those who don't, bottomless.

Rage on, racism deniers! Rage on!

Gahrie said...

Slavery is still quite active in Africa.

Sudan has about 8% of the population enslaved today. Mauritania is about 20%.


Those don't matter because they are mainly Christians enslaved by Muslims.

Terry said...

R&B wrote:
"Do you ever research a single thing that you comment on? The show is actually really good. Gets a heck of a lot more interest than this blog, that's for sure. And it's about historical reality, two really important things that this place couldn't get right if it tried."

Epistemology check on the R&B aisle!
Gates' program is corrupt. We know that. He alters his presentation of "historical reality" to keep powerful figures from being embarrassed. How else have his editors shaded the narrative you accept as "historical reality"? You don't know and you never will.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Gates' program is corrupt.

LOL. You talk like he's in the mafia, you whackamadoo. Either that, or one of your cocksucking Republican congressmen. Either way, it's a tv show. One that you've probably never seen. Get the fuck out of here!

We know that. He alters his presentation of "historical reality" to keep powerful figures from being embarrassed.

Oh no! What we know of "historical reality" is soooo altered because one minor slave-owner out of millions wasn't discussed. How can we ever believe slavery existed, now - let alone that its descendants roam among us? What will we do? Oh, Lawdie Loahhd!

How else have his editors shaded the narrative you accept as "historical reality"? You don't know and you never will.

Oh yep. Because a genealogy program is really groundbreaking history. Are you retarded? Everything in there was already common knowledge - how blacks were treated, how records are retrieved, etc. Except maybe to conservatives who never seem to know anything. One person's family tree doesn't change historical "narrative", you bimbo.

Seriously, you believe we might have had to change the history texts because of Ben Affleck's fourth great-grandfather. What the fuck do you smoke and where do you get it?

Reveal your entire family tree to me for the last ten generations or else we will know that you are altering our common understanding of historical knowledge! Lol. Trust me, your ancestors weren't that important and neither were Affleck's. Get over it.

Terry said...

R&B wrote:
"LOL. You talk like he's in the mafia, you whackamadoo. Either that, or one of your cocksucking Republican congressmen. Either way, it's a tv show. One that you've probably never seen. Get the fuck out of here!"

The R&B epistemology comedy continues. "corrupt" is a term that long predates the word "mafia", R&B assumes that I am a Republican (although I am not), and he assumes that I have never seen finding Your roots.
And R&B throws in a little homophobia just to demonstrate how debased his notion of "discourse" has become.

BudBrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

I wonder if his slave holding ancestors are ashamed of HIM.

RecChief said...

"the hollywood star regretted his use of influence was publicized."

is how it should read.

Apparently slave owning is an Original Sin. I guess Affleck should have gotten into his time machine and traveled over a hundred years into the past, and challenged his ancestor to a duel to wipe away the stain instead.

Stupid lefties

Rhythm and Balls said...

Oh brother. The drama continues. Let's clear the air…

The R&B epistemology comedy continues.

I'm just calling them as I see them. It's what I'm perceiving that's a bit ridiculous, because it is.

"corrupt" is a term that long predates the word "mafia",

That's good. But tv is a medium primarily aimed at entertainment. To use a word as serious as "corruption" in that context is either asinine or precious. What's next? Will we demand incorruptible standards for Bozo the Clown's show? Sesame Street? It's a bit too high and mighty.

R&B assumes that I am a Republican (although I am not),

Well, my congratulations if you're not. Although, this doesn't rule out you being one of those crazy Tea Party types who thinks Republicans not "conservative" enough for them. (Relax, I'm just saying). Anyway, I used "your" in the impersonal sense. We're all Americans, we should all be ashamed of them.

and he assumes that I have never seen finding Your roots.

Well, I'm glad you're properly appraised of the subject. It just didn't come across that way from your comment.

And R&B throws in a little homophobia just to demonstrate how debased his notion of "discourse" has become.

God help us if we can't talk about the willingness to compromise principles without references to prostitution. It kind of gets the point across more directly. No, it's not homophobic to refer to the way Republicans prostitute themselves, even if in the admittedly slapdash way that I did it. Someone as willing as you are to call trivial things "corrupt" should appreciate where I'm coming from on that, even if the vocabulary wasn't perfect.

Elmer Stoup said...

Rush Limbaugh's comments on this kerfluffle were amusing, but it is galling to know that if Rush was the subject and Gates' crew found a slave-owning ancestor, that one fact would have dominated the entire show.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Rush Limbaugh's comments on this kerfluffle were amusing, but it is galling to know that if Rush was the subject and Gates' crew found a slave-owning ancestor, that one fact would have dominated the entire show.

But that's because Rush is, objectively, pro-slavery. And pro-racism. (As long as it's against blacks).

Terry said...

R&B, I am growing more certain that you do not know what the word "epistemology" means.

Anonymous said...

Ben Affleck should be more embarrassed that in each screen role he plays, he simply does a variation of being ....Ben Affleck.

No-talent whitebread successfully masquerading as a star.

Anonymous said...

R & B: But that's because Rush is, objectively, pro-slavery. And pro-racism. (As long as it's against blacks).

***And, "objectively", you know these things....how?

Face it: you're just another low-info soldier in Barack's know-nothing army.

FullMoon said...

Jesus, some of you guys really don't get it. R&B never misses an opportunity to attack AAs blog. Gates doesn't matter. R&B equated gates show to Bozo the Clown and Sesame street for Christs sake, and it went right over your heads. Don't argue with him, he is way better at it than you. Kinda reminds me of an interesting black fellow here a while back who went off the rails.

JAORE said...

I'm sure I have had distant ancestors that did things I would find repugnant.

Why in the world would I be embarrassed by the actions of someone I have never met, who lived under circumstances I can not fathom, whose sole connection to me is a faint trail of genetic material and a few lines in a family Bible?

Or does Ben believe the sins of the father.....

Terry said...

I had an ancestor who joined the Union army. In April, 1965. As a substitute. That is, he was paid by a draftee to take his place.
hey were Quakers on that side of the family. Hated war, but recognized a good way to make easy money when they saw it.

Terry said...

1865. Doh!

Æthelflæd said...

St Croix said:
"I had an African-American law professor who told me that one of his ancestors was a slave-owner. That might be true of many African-Americans who have mixed ancestry. They have both slaves and slave-owners among their ancestors."

Didn't necessarily have to be of mixed ancestry. Plenty of free blacks owned slaves.

Æthelflæd said...

I see others beat me to that.