September 7, 2017

"We have placed this memorial here, in the campus crossroads, at the center of the school, where everyone travels, where it cannot be missed."

"Our school was founded with wealth generated though the profoundly immoral institution of slavery. We should not hide that fact nor hide from it. We can and should be proud of many things this school has contributed to the world. But to be true to our complicated history, we must also shine a light on what we are not proud of."

Said John F. Manning, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Harvard Law School, at the uncovering of a plaque affixed to a small boulder. Manning is quoted in Harvard Law Today. The plaque reads (in all caps):
In honor of the enslaved whose labor
created wealth that made possible
the founding of Harvard Law School

May we pursue the highest ideals
of law and justice in their memory
We're told the text was "drafted by [Annette] Gordon-Reed, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and Professor of History on the Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.'"
Gordon-Reed observed that memorials usually name people. In this instance, she said, we will never know the names of all the Africans enslaved in Antigua whose labor created wealth that helped start the Law School. “The words [inscribed on the plaque] are designed to invoke all of their spirits and bring them into our minds and our memories with the hope that it will spur us to try to bring to the world what was not given to them: the laws [sic] protection and regard, and justice.”
On the idea of a memorial to persons whose names are unknown: There is a worldwide tradition of tombs to "the unknown soldier." And there is a "Tomb of the Unknown Slave" in New Orleans:
Resting next to one of the walls of the St. Augustine Catholic Church of New Orleans is a rusting cross made of thick chains. Medieval metal shackles hang from the length of it, while smaller crosses are planted in the ground around their larger brethren....

While no one is actually (officially) buried beneath, the cross is a constant and haunting reminder of the legacy of oppression that led to America’s modern prosperity. It may not be the most uplifting memorial in the land....
The Harvard plaque is, visually, much more discreet, and the text is very carefully composed to be uplifting.

ADDED: Here's the NYT review, by the historian Eric Foner, of "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family":
Gordon-Reed acknowledges that it is almost impossible to probe the feelings of a man and a woman neither of whom left any historical evidence about their relationship.... But Gordon-Reed is determined to prove that theirs was a consensual relationship based on love.... She sets up a series of straw men and proceeds to demolish them — those who believe that in the context of slavery, love between black and white people was impossible; that black female sexuality was “inherently degraded” and thus Jefferson could not have had genuine feelings for Hemings; that any black woman who consented to sex with a white man during slavery was a “traitor” to her people. She cites no current historians who hold these views, but is adamant in criticizing anyone who, given the vast gap in age (30 years) and power between them, views the Jefferson-Hemings connection as sexual exploitation.

As a black female scholar, Gordon-Reed is undoubtedly more sensitive than many other academics to the subtleties of language regarding race. But to question the likelihood of a long-term romantic attachment between Jefferson and Hemings is hardly to collaborate in what she calls “the erasure of individual black lives” from history. Gordon-Reed even suggests that “opponents of racism” who emphasize the prevalence of rape in the Old South occupy “common ground” with racists who despise black women, because both see sex with female slaves as “degraded.” This, quite simply, is ­outrageous.
ALSO: The plaque on a rock seems to invite cries out for the response that a plaque on a rock is not enough.

Surely, the law professors at Harvard realize this.

The rock offers a place to stand. I cannot believe that students will not take to standing on the rock and haranguing passersby — in this prominent location — about the insufficiency of a plaque on a rock.

But maybe that's the genius idea of a plaque on a rock. It's a performance-art piece that finds completion in its use over the years.

I'm assuming there's no rule at Harvard against standing on rocks that have plaques.

AND: "We have placed this memorial here, in the campus crossroads, at the center of the school, where everyone travels, where it cannot be missed." Cannot be missed, but it's off to the side. Along the way. They should have put it right in the path, made it a veritable stumbling block.

Haranguer on the Rock: You're only looking at this rock because I'm standing on it, forcing you to look. They put this rock out of the way, so they could say they took notice, and it's in an important place, but you'll only look straight in front of you or at your slave-made iPhone, not at this rock. I demand that the rock be relocated right in the center of the path, where you'll have to pay attention so you don't trip and fall on your face and break your iPhone that was built for you by slaves. Look it up. On your iPhone, that you can read without tripping because the stone was put over here where you wouldn't have to look if I weren't saying look. Look it up....

135 comments:

Curious George said...

Yeah, a stupid boulder and a $100 plaque...that's going cut it.

Laslo Spatula said...

All is good now. Glad that is over with.

I am Laslo.

Big Mike said...

How about another plaque dedicated to all the people who suffered, and many who died, as a consequence of Harvard granting a J. D. to Barack Hussein Obama?

John Tuffnell said...

Self-flagellation with razor tipped chains, or they are insufficiently committed to embracing the shame. Little plaques just won't do this time.

Owen said...

It will be interesting to record and study reaction to the monument. Regular rallies? Occasional bouquets? Chalk testimony? Indufference? Vandalism?

In rewriting its history, I hope Harvard employs its scholars to preserve and share this new history. How about a live CCTV feed?

MadisonMan said...

They can also still equip all incoming Freshmen with Hair Shirts too. We must all apologize for the behavior of people who lived 100s of years ago, after all.

Smilin' Jack said...

In honor of the enslaved whose labor
created wealth that made possible
the founding of Harvard Law School

May we pursue the highest ideals
of law and justice in their memory


It's about time someone said something positive about slavery.

Nonapod said...

"Our school was founded with wealth generated though the profoundly immoral institution of slavery. We should not hide that fact nor hide from it. We can and should be proud of many things this school has contributed to the world. But to be true to our complicated history, we must also shine a light on what we are not proud of."

All fair and true.

But if you really believe this will satisfy certain people, you haven't been paying much attention.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Why didn't slaves matter when Obama was the prez?

Birkel said...

I can't wait to start denouncing my people, who kept slaves even before Europeans arrived in great numbers.

Owen said...

In earlier times crossroads, being nodes in the network of communication, were where the gibbets were located. On them were suspended the bodies of thieves for crows to pick, and supply thereby to travelers a reminder that justice ruled the land.

I imply nothing by this.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Nonapod said...

But if you really believe this will satisfy certain people, you haven't been paying much attention

Maybe it's a good thing they believe it will.

IgnatzEsq said...

I actually do like this. I wish more people would honor people in this way, by not denying or tearing down the past or people from the past based on present morals.

This is much better than removing patently racist and offensive sheathes of wheat from the Harvard Crest. But I'm still surprised it's necessary since they did already get rid of the wheat.

traditionalguy said...

The slave trade from west Africa to the sugar islands in the Caribbean (and to Brazil) created wealth rivaling the Technology company's owners wealth of today. And interestingly, both super wealth controllers then and now demanded dirt cheap labor and have bought governments that do as they are told.

The terrible coastal south was only invested using northern capital in the supply chain for 50 years to producing cotton that British Mills needed to make slaves clothing once the Industrial revolution had invented mass cloth manufacture by machinery.

Gabriel said...

Not Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings again. There never was any evidence about that, and there still isn't, and what has been offered as evidence has been shown not to be. Yet it is assumed by educated people to be true. Along with people in the Middle Ages believing the earth was flat and fearing the year 1000, it's just too good to check and not to repeat.

Smilin' Jack said...

Slavery also created the wealth that made possible the Greek and Roman civilizations from which we derive our ideals of law and justice. Yay slavery!

Known Unknown said...

ALL BETTER NOW THANK YOU.

buwaya said...

The proper solution is to, referencing a previous thread, have the Confederate Air Force use their WWII vintage heavy bombers (as they are the only outfit with functional ones) to attack the Harvard campus with the inherent lack of accuracy of these systems, with the intention of creating a firestorm. Only thus can the ancient fault be erased.

It may help the US in other ways also.

Bill Peschel said...

I would have far rather seen monuments like these added to the CSA statues. It's so much more dignified and rational than seeing Democratic party mayors sneaking out in the middle of the night to topple them and drag them off. Even mature.

What this may do is peel away the moderates who are fine with acknowledging the reality, and separating them from the people for whom no solution will sate.

As for nameless monuments, I'll add that my local Catholic church has a memorial stone for the infants killed by abortion.

buwaya said...

But the Greeks and Romans were conquered by barbarians, and their cities wrecked, so their sins were expunged.
Is that how it works?

Ann Althouse said...

"There never was any evidence about that, and there still isn't, and what has been offered as evidence has been shown not to be."

Evidence is anything that makes a fact in issue more likely (or less likely) to be true. It's not the same thing as meeting the burden of proof. But your statement on its face is glaringly wrong. I don't know why you are choosing to make an assertion that is obviously wrong. I'll just guess that you don't know what the word "evidence" means.

YoungHegelian said...

The surest way to destroy the study of history is to read it through a moral lens. Moral judgements are not facts, & history starts with the facts as best it can.

If I want history through a moral lens, I'll stick with Augustine's City of God or Hegel's Philosophy of History, and not these pikers, thank you very much.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

YoungHegelian said...

If I want history through a moral lens, I'll stick with Augustine's City of God or Hegel's Philosophy of History, and not these pikers, thank you very much.

Augustine and Hegel are pikers compared to God. If you want history through a moral lens, read the Bible.

gspencer said...

Following the ceremony the President of Harvard was quoted, "And to answer your specific question, No, we won't be giving any of the wealth back."

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I would have far rather seen monuments like these added to the CSA statues. It's so much more dignified and rational than seeing Democratic party mayors sneaking out in the middle of the night to topple them and drag them off. Even mature.

Agree entirely and this is what I have been saying all along. Stop destroying; start creating. Add more context, add more speech, add more perspectives. Destruction is evil.

Gabriel said...

@Ann:But your statement on its face is glaringly wrong.

The people who present the DNA evidence typically misrepresent it as evidence that Thomas Jefferson fathered Heming's children, when it is actually evidence that a male related to Jefferson fathered her children.

However you want to call that, fine by me, if I'm not allowed to use the word "evidence" then what do you call it, when people say something is what it is not.

YoungHegelian said...

@Ignorance,

If you want history through a moral lens, read the Bible.

While the Bible has historical material, the Bible isn't a history book. I would say that what consciousness of history exists in the New Testament is a consciousness that history is about to end soon. Eschatologies deal not with history, but with its ending.

Mike Sylwester said...

Beginning in 1957 a series of so-called "Mandingo" novels was written about the mutual attitudes of White male slave owners and Black female slaves. The author of the initial novel, Mandingo, was Kyle Onstott, but a couple of other writers gradually took over the series, which continued to be published through the 1980s.

I read most of Mandingo, which is captivating in several aspects. Onstott seems to be very knowledgeable about that society (which does not mean that he is right about all of the novel's aspects).

Anyway, the most captivating aspect is that the Black slave women were happy and proud to become their White masters' sex partners. The novel portrays those attitudes quite vividly. I don't know what to think about that, except that it sure is a novel idea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandingo_(novel)

chuck said...

I would advise Harvard to go forth and Zinn no more.

William said...

Both the New Testament and the Koran explicitly condemn the practice of usury. They do not condemn the practice of slavery, although, I believe, Mohammed talks about the ethical and humane way to treat your slaves. The ancients (and some moderns) believed that banking was more immoral than slave trading.

YoungHegelian said...

I would advise Harvard to go forth and Zinn no more.

chuck wins the internet today!

Gabriel said...

Would dearly love to understand this "evidence" matter better.

Suppose I wish to argue that 4 times 5 is 46. And as evidence, I cite that 2 times 5 is 23 and then if I multiply both sides by 2 obviously I get 46.

So that statement I offer as evidence "2 times 5 is 23", is provably false. Is it correct then to call it "evidence"? We use the word "evidence" to refer to provably false statements offered to support a conclusion?

Earnest Prole said...

They think that's going to cut it? The only way to mollify the hard-core is to cease to exist.

YoungHegelian said...

Resting next to one of the walls of the St. Augustine Catholic Church of New Orleans is a rusting cross made of thick chains.

I'm sure a church named after St. Augustine was chosen for the memorial site because St. Augustine has traditionally been thought to have been black.

That Berbers, which is what his at least his mother was, are black or what is another matter. I'm just telling ya what's the tradition.

David said...

People with power imbalances fall in love quite often. Given the history of power and gender, the less powerful has usually been the woman. You might have expected that to change somewhat in the current environment, but it's pretty clear that most powerful women do not want to be entangled with less powerful men. Whether this is an internal choice or a response to societal pressures is not clear.

In the slave society there was an incentive for an attractive slave female to form an attachment with a white owner. There are many well known examples, none of which find their way into the current popular debate. Inconvenient truths.

There is also the issue of sexual power. A politically weak female can wield considerable power against a politically powerful male through sexual allure. It's not a reliably durable power, but it is power nevertheless.

Sally Hemings has become a mythical figure and a pawn in current politics. She is unknowable. We make her what we want her to be. We fall in love with her.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Yet it is assumed by educated people to be true. Along with people in the Middle Ages believing the earth was flat and fearing the year 1000"

Many people feared the year 2000, thanks to the Y2K business. What a nothingburger that turned out to be. What they should have been fearing in 2000 was the inability of certain Floridians to use butterfly ballots.

I recall reading that the DNA evidence regarding the descendants of Sally Hemmings point to one of Jefferson's nephews being the father, not Jefferson himself.

William said...

Just now I'm reading a book about the Crimean War. There was a Russian doctor, Pirogov, who pioneered the use of ether while performing amputations in battlefield settings. The British physicians considered and rejected the use of ether. They felt that the shock of pain to the system in some way stimulated the body and helped it recover. We can say that Pirogov was right, and the British physicians were wrong, but you can't make any broad statements about moral superiority beyond that. People are wrong about a lot of things without being necessarily immoral.

Gabriel said...

@exiledonmainstreet:I recall reading that the DNA evidence regarding the descendants of Sally Hemmings point to one of Jefferson's nephews being the father, not Jefferson himself.

Someone in his male line, someone he shared a Y chromosome with. That is the extent of what the DNA shows.

DNA doesn't say "nephew". If it is narrowed to nephews it is because of other facts, like timing.

Owen said...

Agree: Chuck wins the thread for the "Zinn" pun.

Bill Peschel: the monument to the murdered unborn is arresting and moving at the same time. I wonder if Harvard would ever do that? No, I don't wonder! But it invites meditation on the similarity between abortion and slavery: in both cases we treat our fellow humans as objects to be used or discarded.

gspencer said...

Tom Wolfe in his Bonfires of the Vanities (1987) had a character who was the press secretary to the mayor. He had coined a phase, very much on point to this posting, which, while it irritated the mayor to hear it, was dead on.

"Plaques for Blacks"

For the mayor's purposes and for that of Harvard, Plaques for Blacks gives them (you know who) something, but carries with it no responsibility and no cash outlays.

Meade said...

Place making, plaque making...

"because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable with the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is denied us" -- Fran├žois Rabelais

Curious George said...

"Owen said...
Agree: Chuck wins the thread for the "Zinn" pun."

That's chuck, not to be confused with Chuck.

William said...

Why is having sex with a slave considered to be more immoral than owning a slave. Having sex with a slave affirms her basic humanity; owning a slave negates such humanity.

bagoh20 said...

It's a long overdue monument to an honest and accurate history. It should have come sooner and be very prominent. It's true that those enslaved people sacrificed far more to build Harvard than anybody else. Too bad they were forced into it by black slave harvesters and traders in Africa, one of the few places the practice still endures. Black lives matter, but it seems very selective.

YoungHegelian said...

Whatever was the relationship between Thomas Jefferson & Sally Hemings, it's important to remember that she accompanied Jefferson to France when he was named ambassador. At that time, slavery was illegal in France. Hemings could have walked out the door & never come back, & no French court could or would have forced her back into servitude. She returned with Jefferson back to the US & slavery seemingly of her own free will. Her inner thoughts on this matter are lost to history.

David said...

"I recall reading that the DNA evidence regarding the descendants of Sally Hemmings point to one of Jefferson's nephews being the father, not Jefferson himself."

The point is that DNA evidence can not distinguish between the two. The nephew in question was known to carouse in the slave quarters. Those who argue that Jefferson has to be the father cite evidence of access and proximity that is of doubtful quality.

The bottom line is that there is at least one child of Sally who could have been Jefferson's based on DNA evidence. Others were conclusively not fathered by Jefferson. As I recall there is one living line of descendants for which no DNA evidence because the living descendants decline to provide their DNA. They are content with their family tradition that they are descended from Thomas Jefferson, which is surely their right.

The claim that DNA proves that Jefferson fathered six children by Sally is another myth. We have spun quite a few around Sally.

William said...

Tolstoy, Randolph Churchill, and Karl Marx were a diverse lot, but they all had six with the female servants in their household. Why wouldn't the same dynamics be at play with Thomas Jefferson?

Meade said...

The Democratic Party truly is the party of slavery.

Now how about a plaque for all the (male only) slaves who were drafted into forced labor during the war in Vietnam so that LBJ could maintain his sense of pride and honor.

bagoh20 said...

"Stop destroying; start creating. Add more context, add more speech, add more perspectives. Destruction is evil."

But doesn't building monuments require money and work? Well, the hell with that then. We don't got any of that to offer. Got any medicinals, man? ~ Antifa

Bay Area Guy said...

Harvard is trying to purge its white guilt over slavery by offering black folks a few hundred years after the fact.....a plaque.

These are leftwing fools. BLM and Antifa should go to Harvard and demand more than a plaque.

Paddy O said...

YH, methinks you should add a little Wolfhart Pannenberg to your theology of history list. Revelation as History is a good start. He makes his proposals in a relatively short essay that he then follows up on throughout his career.

Also, add John Lewis Gaddis's The Landscape of History, for a wonderful contemporary historiography. By all means, hang Hegel by the binding, tear out the pages, burn those pages, bury the ashes in the dirt, dig up the dirt and dump it out into the middle of the ocean.

Bruce Gee said...

William:
"Both the New Testament and the Koran explicitly condemn the practice of usury. They do not condemn the practice of slavery, although, I believe, Mohammed talks about the ethical and humane way to treat your slaves. The ancients (and some moderns) believed that banking was more immoral than slave trading.”

You might check out Philemon in the New Testament. St. Paul therein has given me my favorite line occasionally used with my own sons: “…not to mention that you owe me your very life…” Said with tongue in cheek.

While the practice of slavery is not mentioned, perhaps because the writer knew there would always be slavery, just as there will always be the poor, the writer does encourage Philemon to free his slave, who is a brother in Christ.

n.n said...

To the generations of people enslaved by Africans in Africa and resold for profit, today we have a liberalized form of racism and involuntary exploitation under color diversity and redistributive change. Progress. One step forward, two steps backward.

Hagar said...

Sally Hemings thoughts on that matter is not lost to history. Her son (James Madison?) testified that his mother agreed to go back to America with his father and live with him as his wife on condition that he free all resulting children when they reached maturity. Which he agreed to and lived up to.
Sally Hemings was a quadroon, his wife Patsy's half-sister, and looked and acted much like her.
The relationship was no secret to anyone within 100 miles of Charlottesville; it just was not to be mentioned in public.

And the idea that Jefferson fathered just one of her children and not the other six is beyond pathetic. Jefferson is not my favorite person, but such behavior was not in him.

YoungHegelian said...

@paddy,

By all means, hang Hegel by the binding, tear out the pages, burn those pages, bury the ashes in the dirt, dig up the dirt and dump it out into the middle of the ocean.

If no Hegel, then no Pannenberg. You know that, right?

David said...

"Harvard is trying to purge its white guilt over slavery by offering black folks a few hundred years after the fact.....a plaque."

Shhhh. No one wants you to say stuff like that. Soon you will be saying that most of those professing guilt and regret are faking it. We can't have that notion going around.

rhhardin said...

The idea is to keep blacks from thinking they play a part in their own problems.

You could say an exclusive part.

Ralph L said...

And the idea that Jefferson fathered just one of her children and not the other six is beyond pathetic. Jefferson is not my favorite person, but such behavior was not in him.

Not sure what your point is here.
If it was known at the time, looks like it would have been used in his flea erections.

exiledonmainstreet said...

William said...
Why is having sex with a slave considered to be more immoral than owning a slave. Having sex with a slave affirms her basic humanity; owning a slave negates such humanity.

9/7/17, 11:13 AM

Eugene Genovese's great work, "Roll, Jordan, Roll," has a chapter about miscegenation. He found when he researched the topic that it was much more complex than "white slaveowners raped black slaves." That did happen of course, but there is also evidence of long-term, loving relationships, to the point where slave owners risked social ruin by marrying, or attempting to marry, their slaves. Genovese also reported that slaves had stories of relationships which began brutally and ended up with the slaveowners falling in love.

Solomon Northup related the story of a very pretty, light-skinned and vain young woman who bragged that she had no doubt she would be sold to a wealthy planter who would pay top dollar for her. She understood the realities of her world and intended to benefit as best she could.

In other words, although slavery is and was an undoubted evil, how the men and women who were entangled in "The Peculiar Institution" responded to it varied greatly - because they were complex human beings, not cartoon characters.



rhhardin said...

The evolutionarily developed support of the tribe against the outsiders isn't so great when the outsiders are trying to help.

You get a moral reversal.

Hagar said...

Thomas Jefferson apparently was a past master at laying guilt on the people around him.
F. ex., Sally's half-brothers, Robert and James, who traveled around the country - James even in Europe - as free blacks making their own livings, but still felt obliged to return to Jefferson and serve him whenever he sent word he required their services.

Sebastian said...

How many Harvard men died to defeat the rebels? What is their blood worth? Useless questions, I know.

How much did African traders make by selling slaves? When will reparations by their descendants start flowing to the descendants of their victims in the U.S.? Useless questions, I know

"about the insufficiency of a plaque on a rock" Everything is always insufficient. It's the most basic prog rule: never enough.

Gahrie said...

I would advise Harvard to go forth and Zinn no more.

This has got to be the first thing Chuck has ever written that I agree with.

David said...

Hagar, stop the hysteria. My point is that the claim that DNA shows Jefferson to be the father is incorrect yet widely repeated. DNA shows that Jefferson could have been the father of one. He might have been the father of more, and is widely accepted as being so, because that is what many people choose to believe nowadays. But DNA is not a sound basis for that belief.

Jefferson's paternity of children by Sally is unknowable. There is some evidence, much of it unreliable, none of it conclusive. We make it into what we want it to be. That is why it has become myth. Some myth is even grounded in truth, but which?

Jupiter said...

buwaya said...
"But the Greeks and Romans were conquered by barbarians, and their cities wrecked, so their sins were expunged.
Is that how it works?"

That certainly appears to be how it is working.

David said...

"but still felt obliged to return to Jefferson and serve him whenever he sent word he required their services."

Their relationship with Jefferson was very useful to them. They were acting in their own best interests.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"At that time, slavery was illegal in France. Hemings could have walked out the door & never come back, & no French court could or would have forced her back into servitude. She returned with Jefferson back to the US & slavery seemingly of her own free will. Her inner thoughts on this matter are lost to history."

While we can never know what her thoughts were, I would imagine that the thought of walking out on Jefferson in a foreign country would have been incredibly daunting. So you leave him. You're in a country filled with white people and you don't speak their language. You have no money and little education. Your owner is a powerful and respected man and if you leave, you will no longer be under his protection.

No matter what her feelings about Jefferson were, she had very good reasons not to leave him.

rhhardin said...

The rock needs a Sisyphus statue on a hill looking back.

Jupiter said...

I have to say, I do look forward to seeing how the "Black Community" explains to Harvard that this is the beginning, not the end. Maybe they will dig up the stone, and take turns dragging it into their classes, to symbolize the awful burden Harvard has placed upon them? Oh the possibilities are endless. It should be amusing to watch the grandees of the Massachusetts squirearchy explaining to their black bondsmen that their shame and sorrow over the past slavery is almost without bound, but does not extend quite so far as to touch upon the endowment. I expect they will have to sacrifice a Professor or two in expiation. Not a problem, there's plenty more where those came from.

exiledonmainstreet said...

rhhardin said...
The idea is to keep blacks from thinking they play a part in their own problems."

That's about it. It also lets white libs think they've done something for blacks without actually, you know, doing something for blacks.

etbass said...

It's a small beginning in a nation that now worships blaques.

Ralph L said...

Would the DNA evidence have been the same if a Jefferson slave had fathered some of her children, said slave fathered by an earlier white Jefferson?

rcocean said...

Dumb Dumb Dumb.

History for Dummies. And Marxists.

Note word for "Slaves" is "enslaved people" because? We need to fuck with the language.

Angel-Dyne said...

gspencer: Following the ceremony the President of Harvard was quoted, "And to answer your specific question, No, we won't be giving any of the wealth back."

Of course not. Just like the rest of the Great and Good living comfortably in the land conquered and pacified by the violent, genocidal Moral Inferiors who preceded them. Let's deplore Our Moral Inferiors while we live off their endowments. Let's deplore Our Moral Inferiors who "stole the land from the Native Americans", which we have no intention of returning to the "rightful owners", all the while never, ever, indicting ourselves, in any meaningful way, as receivers of stolen goods. (Not a lot of Indians left, and, as they pose no danger to us, we can pose and posture out the wazoo now, in perfect safety.)

Especially if we ourselves are not personally descended from the people who did all the bloody work of conquest - if our ancestors came after all the dirty work was done, that makes us Doubleplus Morally Superior to their descendants, and we have the moral right, nay the moral duty, to memory-hole the history of these awful, awful people.

...the cross is a constant and haunting reminder of the legacy of oppression that led to America’s modern prosperity.

Undoubtedly some people acquired wealth exploiting the labor of slaves. But if slavery is the root of America's modern prosperity, why is non-slaveholding Canada wealthy? Why haven't all the countries in the New World that practiced slavery been as historically prosperous as the U.S.? "Modern prosperity - of the country in general and individual (white) Americans - is the result of slavery" is "reparations" bullshit. (Whose non-slave-descendant proponents, btw, have no intention of dipping into their own wealth to pay.)

But let's take their word for it. Lead the way, o holy ones, by earmarking a good chunk of the billions in Harvard's endowment for some Truth and Reconciliation with teeth! Better yet, stop fooling around with nickel-and-dime "affirmative action", and give your jobs, if you yourself are not a slave-descended black American, to someone who is. Sorry, bemoaning the racism of dead people and Deplorable Americans just isn't cutting it any more.

Greg Hlatky said...

Why doesn't he just resign?

Anita said...

The baptismal font at Belmont Abbey College is made from an old slave stone, upon which slaves stood during auction. The 19th century monks who used to pray for the souls of these slaves were accused of being slave worshipers, so they buried the large granite block. It was excavated about 50 years ago, brought into the church, and a well was carved out of the stone to hold baptismal waters. An plaque on the font says: Upon this rock, men were once sold into slavery. Now upon this rock, through the waters of baptism, men become free children of God.

I find that to be a beautiful tribute to the men and women who endured earthly bondage.

Hagar said...

The Hemingses came to Monticello as part of Martha Jefferson's inheritance, so no earlier Jefferson paternity.

James Hemings spoke better french than Jefferson did and there is no reason to believe his half-sister Sally could not at least speak it reasonably well. Certainly she spoke it well enough to get around in the streets of Paris on her own.

Owen said...

etbass: "...blaques." Not bad!

Agree, obviously, with those who say that this is one more effort of those who feel guilty, to assuage their guilt as cheaply as possible. And complementarily, this is an effort by those who profit from inducing or relieving such feelings of guilt, to get as much as they can from the event.

Once we look at it in those terms, it simplifies wonderfully. This is a piece of sociopathology and it is going to beat itself to death as we watch.

Jupiter said...

"Better yet, stop fooling around with nickel-and-dime "affirmative action", and give your jobs, if you yourself are not a slave-descended black American, to someone who is."

Now we're talking Thanksgiving turkey! Just turn the whole place into the Cambridge subcampus of Howard. Why should there be *any* white people at Harvard? Their mere existence is an affront; their actual presence on the bondage-tainted ground of Harvard Common is a blood insult. Drive them out with whips, and in chains!

Oh, yeah! Hell, yeah! I guess Fauxahontas can stay on, she's an honorary POC by osmosis or something.

Bay Area Guy said...

At Harvard, to really feel the necessary contrition for robbing "enslaved people" of their labor and dignity, I would submit that all white tenured professors should be fired and replaced by various black dudes from Oakland.

It would make a bolder statement than a plaque.

n.n said...

So, basically what Progressives are saying, is that Africans, native Americans (a.k.a. Indians), etc., with rich traditions of generational slavery, earned what followed in history. And their Posterity, too? Forevermore?

Angel-Dyne said...

exiledonmainstreet: In other words, although slavery is and was an undoubted evil...

Slavery was accepted as a fact of life throughout most of history. (Still is, in some places.) Obviously, a lot of human beings didn't, and haven't, gotten the memo on its "undoubted" evil.

If slavery were somehow to become economically viable again (easier to practice and more profitable than, say, employing illegal immigrants and ignoring worker-protection laws), apologists for the practice would come crawling out of the woodwork once again.

I wouldn't be at all shocked to see some econo-sperg arguing that laws and social prejudice against the right to sell oneself into slavery are an affront to free choice and individual autonomy.

furious_a said...

They think that's going to cut it? The only way to mollify the hard-core is to cease to exist.

But not before getting out their checkbook first.

Kevin said...

As a black female scholar, Gordon-Reed is undoubtedly more sensitive than many other academics to the subtleties of language regarding race.

What a racist and sexist thing to say.

furious_a said...

If I want history through a moral lens...

...try studying it through the moral lenses available to those at that time.

n.n said...

arguing that laws and social prejudice against the right to sell oneself into slavery are an affront to free choice and individual autonomy

They already do that, to some degree, when they defend the right of male transgender couplets to bear children through a surrogate female.

exiledonmainstreet said...

What is also overlooked is the hierarchy that existed among the slaves themselves. Skilled workmen, like blacksmiths and carpenters, looked down on fieldhands. House servants looked down on everyone, particularly if their owners were very rich. Slaves owned by the wealthy looked down on slaves owned by people of more modest means.

Some of that still lingers on in the black community. It isn't the fault of whites that there is still a stigma among blacks regarding very dark skin.

I find it a bit puzzling that at a time when black militancy is on the upswing hair weaves and dyes which make black hair look more Caucasian are popular. In the late '60's and early '70's all the hair straighteners earlier generations used were condemned. I walked by a black woman this morning who had straight blonde hair. I think it was a wig.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

"How many Harvard men died to defeat the rebels? What is their blood worth? Useless questions, I know."
On the contrary, Harvard built Memorial Hall specifically to honor its Civil War dead. Confederates weren't included. It's an interesting story.

http://www.vastpublicindifference.com/2011/05/confederates-in-harvards-memorial-hall.html?m=1

mike c said...

The problem with Althouse's "evidence" is that the DNA of Sally Hemmings 4th [and last] child matched the DNA from descendants of Jefferson's grandfather. At the time of the 4'th birth, there were over 20 Jefferson family males who could have donated their sperm. This obviously wouldn't be allowed as "evidence" today against specific person.

I'm sure that that many people would like to say that "well Thomas Jefferson is the most likely one." Not really. At the time of conception of the 4th birth, Randolph Jefferson, a younger brother, was at the Monticello frequently. And unfortunately for the anti Jefferson narrative, a slave wrote a book in the 1850's saying that that Randolph always came down and played his guitar and sang along with the slaves late at night. In a charming phrase, the slave wrote that "Randolph was as simple as he was." This mean in today's slang, that he was a party animal. And Randolph had five sexually mature sons who were also frequently at Monticello. These young men as well as many other young men who visited Monticello had sex with the slaves lot. Reprehensible as it may seem, this is just a fact.

A good question, never asked, is whether this sex was forced. Possibly, it was forced in the same manner that groupies have sex with famous performers or secretaries had sex with Clinton. This doesn't make it right.

So what are the chances that Thomas Jefferson impregnated Sally Hemmings instead of Randolph Jefferson or his sons. Probably zero.


"that his mother agreed to go back to America.... on condition that he free all resulting children when they reached maturity. Which he agreed to and lived up to."


Alas, this is just nonsense. Neither Sally or her last two children were freed in Jefferson's will. Surprisingly, one of Sally's brother [a skilled craftsman] and sons were freed however along with their tools.




Gabriel said...

@Ralph L:Would the DNA evidence have been the same if a Jefferson slave had fathered some of her children, said slave fathered by an earlier white Jefferson?

On the nose.

Ralph L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Titus said...

How fabulous does Cambridge look? And is that Ruth Bader Ginsberg hanging from a street light? Of course it is! There have been Malia sightings everywhere. All the elite blacks at Harvard are hoping to get on her dance card. And she will definitely be on MV. Did you know MV has like a black area?

We have a black lesbian mayor. Before that we had a black gay mayor.

Harvard has the largest ENDOWment in the country.

Hagar said...

Patsy Jefferson freed her aunt Sally who then went to live in Charlottesville as "a single woman."
Four of Sally Hemings' children survived to adulthood. The two eldest were freed by Jefferson when they came of age and left Monticello. The two youngest were freed by his will. I think only one stayed in the area while the other three "went north," "passed for white" and was not heard from again. (Actually, by Virginia law at the time, as octoroons they were "white" and had no need to "pass.")

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If I want history through a moral lens...

furious_a said....try studying it through the moral lenses available to those at that time.

Exactly. To judge and condemn the people of the past by the morals and culture of the present is ridiculous. People are products of their time and their environment. If slavery was a common thing in not just Western Society but throughout time and throughout the world. The word for slavery comes from the name of the Slavic people who were taken as slaves by the Romans. White on white slavery. The Irish were sold into slavery in recent times.

That doesn't make it good or make it right. In fact, many people even then were opposed or had strong reservations. But, to judge the past by the present and then try to ERASE the past is a huge mistake. We need to learn from the past and not repeat the past. If it is erased how can we possibly learn!

The Godfather said...

Regarding the relatively new (to me, anyway) practice of referring to people as "enslaved" rather than as "slaves": When I first came across this convention, I thought it rather silly and PC. However, when I was doing some writing about the abolition movement, I decided to try writing this way, and I found that it makes a difference. If you refer to someone as a "slave", there's an implication that "slave" is what that person IS. If you refer to someone as "enslaved", then you are thinking about what has been DONE TO that person. Try it out. I'll think you'll agree.

Ann Althouse said...

"The people who present the DNA evidence typically misrepresent it as evidence that Thomas Jefferson fathered Heming's children, when it is actually evidence that a male related to Jefferson fathered her children."

I think you're misstating that. Don't you mean "evidence that Jefferson or a male related to Jefferson fathered her children"? The DNA evidence doesn't exclude Jefferson, so it is evidence that he fathered those children. It's just not 100% conclusive evidence. It's also evidence that they lived in the same place and traveled together. The opportunity to do something is evidence that you did it. It's just not conclusive evidence. How can we know anything about the past? You might as well toss all history out. You can only approximate what happened.

Jupiter said...

Interesting photo. If you went by that photo, you might think Harvard was already a majority-black university. There's a few white mofos around, but it kind of looks as if most of Harvard's white students had something better to do that afternoon than go and be mau-maued by the SOCs. Do you suppose the sons and daughters of the nation's white elite are getting just a teence tired of smiling and nodding while they are told that they are a worthless pack of racist scum who deserve to die? Nah, I bet they all look forward to spending the rest of their lives kow-towing to all those black wannabe lawyers. Those bitches look like worlds of fun.

Hagar said...

I think i was Mary Chesnut who commented that it was remarkable how the ladies of the south could know the exact family relationships of everyone, white or black, on every plantation in their area - except their own.

Ann Althouse said...

"And she will definitely be on MV. Did you know MV has like a black area?"

I got confused in the Wikipedia disambiguation page for MV. Ended up listening to this Nirvana song.

Meade said...

"Actually, by Virginia law at the time, as octoroons they were 'white' and had no need to 'pass.'"

Octoroon privilege.

Jupiter said...

Titus said...

"Harvard has the largest ENDOWment in the country."

Yes, Harvard is the big swinging dick of Left Fascism.

Ralph L said...

Did you know MV has like a black area?

Gotta raise the black grapes somewhere.

Jupiter said...

It occurs to me, as I contemplate that photograph, that when Harvard Law admits blacks with lousy SATs, it is not necessarily practicing affirmative action. If the goal of admissions policy is to admit those most likely to succeed professionally, one has to admit that the ability to play the race card, and to engage in open displays of mindless hostility without repercussions, is probably worth a lot more than ten or twenty IQ points in the kind of law these kids are going to practice.

Titus said...

I would of had sex with my slaves if I was a slave owner. When having sex I sometimes asks the blacks if I can call them names and say stuff, like I wish slavery was still around...they like it. And sometimes I get really bad and use the n word....

Gabriel said...

@Ann:Don't you mean "evidence that Jefferson or a male related to Jefferson fathered her children"?

I would say Thomas Jefferson is a male related to Thomas Jefferson (100% of DNA shared), but if you need that spelled out, ok.

The DNA evidence doesn't exclude Jefferson, so it is evidence that he fathered those children.

But the DNA evidence is presented as evidence that Thomas Jefferson and only Thomas Jefferson fathered those children. Which is false. It is that to which I object, that the qualification is left out.

Titus said...

How flyover to not know what MV is. MV seasonal beach passes on your car is considered total diva.

Gabriel said...

It is as if I were to prove that a murder was committed by a left-handed man with red hair, and the newspapers printed that I had proved that Bill Chesterton of 1547 Westlake Avenue, who happens to be left-handed and has red hair, committed the murder--and a meeting of the International Brotherhood of Left-handed Men was in town that week.

To me false statements do not constitute "evidence" in any meaningful way, but if that just means I'm using the word "evidence" wrong, then consider me sorry and crying about it.

Ann Althouse said...

"I would say Thomas Jefferson is a male related to Thomas Jefferson (100% of DNA shared), but if you need that spelled out, ok."

It's a phrase that appears to exclude Jefferson himself, which is the key matter in issue!

No one says "I am related to myself." You ARE yourself, not one of your relatives.

Ann Althouse said...

It not that I need it spelled out, it's that you ought to say what you mean and not something other than what you mean. You didn't say something general that could have been more specific. You said something specific than excluded the thing that we were talking about!

Gabriel said...

@Ann:No one says "I am related to myself." You ARE yourself, not one of your relatives.

People with a math background would, and do, especially when relation is measured as a fraction of DNA shared. Since there's a continuous spectrum between 0% and 100% it seems strange to carve out 100.0 as being different in kind form 99.9.

Jupiter said...

"It's a phrase that appears to exclude Jefferson himself, which is the key matter in issue!".

In the context of DNA evidence, relatedness is a matter of degree. And obviously, 100% is a very high degree of relatedness.

Suppose he said "Someone who looked a lot like Jefferson"? Would you say that rules out Jefferson? Jefferson doesn't look a lot like Jefferson, he looks exactly like Jefferson.

Gabriel said...

@Ann:t's that you ought to say what you mean and not something other than what you mean.

I said what I meant, and you assumed I meant something else, because of a difference in background and in how the problem is approached.

Relationship in the DNA context is a measurement of shared DNA, which is a continuous spectrum, as I pointed to before.

Not everyone uses words in exactly the same way, and sometimes the difference does not come out until there has been some extended discussion. That does not make one us using words wrong, it makes both of us humans not gifted with omniscience.

Gabriel said...

@Jupiter: Would you say that rules out Jefferson? Jefferson doesn't look a lot like Jefferson, he looks exactly like Jefferson.

There are situations where failing to mention something is taken as excluding that thing. I think your example is a good one, where failing to mention something is not taken as excluding it.

Achilles said...

Democrats put up a rock with a plaque apologizing for all the money they have because they have been taking advantage of poor people during their entire existence.

Next they will promise to take money away from republicans to pay it all back amrite?

Good work if you can get it.

The Godfather said...

@Althouse: Like you, I'm also a lawyer, and I know what "evidence" means in a legal context. But I also know that "evidence" is often misused in nonlawyer talk to mean "proof". There's been a lot of commentary around for years that "DNA evidence shows that Jefferson fathered Sally Hemmings' children", whereas (unless I've missed some recent developments -- this isn't a big issue for me), the correct statement would be that there is "evidence" that Jefferson "could have been" the father.

Personally, I think there are a lot of reasons to think that Jefferson was not an admirable person -- although he was a great wordsmith -- so to debate endlessly the specifics of his relationship with Sally Hemmings is a waste of time.

Hagar said...

The DNA tests are corroborating evidence, but the main thing is that Thomas Jefferson was Thomas Jefferson and anything about him was of interest to his contemporaries, and the Hemingses also were unusual people who got noted and written about in letters, etc. by the neighbors and others who met up with them, one way or another.

Gospace said...

While no one is actually (officially) buried beneath, the cross is a constant and haunting reminder of the legacy of oppression that led to America’s modern prosperity.

There is a much longer legacy of oppression and slavery in Sharialand. Where's their prosperity?

There is a long legacy of slavery and oppression in all the Caribbean island nations and in all the Central and South American countries. Where's their prosperity?

America's prosperity isn't due to a legacy of oppression and slavery; if it were, all the world would be prosperous. America's prosperity is due to a legacy of freedom and equality of rights, secured by the rule of law. Which Democrats, the party of slavery, seem determined to undermine.

Jupiter said...

"... the correct statement would be that there is "evidence" that Jefferson "could have been" the father."

The fact that Jefferson had offspring and was in the same room with her at least once is evidence that he "could have been" the father. The fact that the children's Y chromosome is a close match to his is evidence that he is "one of a small group of men who could have been the father". Althouse objects to "Jefferson's male relatives" as a characterization of that group, and after reflection I see her point. You are not generally considered to be one of your relatives. As Gabriel mentions, those schooled in set theory or genetics would understand that Jefferson is certainly a possible source for Jefferson's Y chromosome and is therefore included in that group. But others maybe not so much.

buwaya said...

You all could do a lot worse than to start and maintain a movement to change Harvard into an all-black university, board, endowment and all.
A very significant form of reparations, and all that.
The counter-arguments on the part of the university ptb and the various black interest groups would be amusing.

Richard Dolan said...

Rarely has an exercise in virtue-signaling like this plaque-on-a-rock been so successful in demonstrating the smallness of those doing the signaling.

Pathetic.

Known Unknown said...

I wonder if a white man installed the plaque. Think of virtue-signaling as a jobs program, just not for black people.

Known Unknown said...

"No one says "I am related to myself." You ARE yourself, not one of your relatives."

True, but you a part of a subset with those relatives as to those most likely to share genetic material. I think thou ist splitting the hairs a bit finely.

Luke Lea said...

Well, our civilization does rest upon our accumulated capital: all the tools and machinery (including the knowledge of how to use and make them) that have made it physically possible to have a complex society without involuntary servitude. This is a truism, isn't it? And what is capital if not the accumulated crime and sacrifice of centuries, plus interest? That, by the way is not a truism. It is a tautology!

So let us freely admit that our whole civilization rests on slavery and victimization in one form or another. It goes back thousands of years. What is unique about Western civilization is that we did not waste all of the evil fruits of exploitation on war, luxury and display as did the others. We learned how to invest at least a small part of them and make its grow, thereby redeeming some of the evil of the past by turning it into something permanent and good. Is that a Christian idea, redeeming the past? I think it is. That it actually happened is horrible, ugly, terrible, but at the same time beautiful, glorious, wonderful! Thanks to which we have been delivered from servitude!

So, yes, a terrible human price has been paid to build the modern world. But isn't the price that was paid a measure of how precious it is? Let us not fritter our capital away by living beyond our means. And don't let our children take their freedom for granted. Teach them the facts. Don't sugar coat the past. But condemn American and European civilization -- which is gradually becoming a truly world civilization -- for distinguishing itself this way? Are Chomsky and Zinn the wise ones here? Let us be grateful instead. And let everybody recognize that we all have countless generations of servitude in our ancestry no matter which continent your ancestors came from. African American slavery on the tobacco and cotton plantations of the Ante-bellum South is but one example, but by no means the worst, or the biggest, or even the most recent.

Mark said...

That's it??

Harvard is built up with the labor of slaves and their descendants don't even get a t-shirt despite the billions of dollars in their endowment?

If Harvard really meant it, as a matter of justice, it would disgorge itself from all of its ill-gotten gains and unjust enrichment.

Angel-Dyne said...

Titus: I would of...

Prole.

Angel-Dyne said...

buwaya: You all could do a lot worse than to start and maintain a movement to change Harvard into an all-black university, board, endowment and all.
A very significant form of reparations, and all that.


All black, but Americans only, descendants of enslaved Americans only.

The counter-arguments on the part of the university ptb and the various black interest groups would be amusing.

'Deed it would. Blood (toil, tears, and sweat) and soil.

Michael K said...

I think we have reached Peak Ivy League.

The Aztecs had a unique attitude about slavery. They would sacrifice them by ripping the beating heart of of a few every so often.

As for being black in Paris. Alexander Dumas' father was a Marshall of France and was a mulatto. His mother was a slave freed and married by his father.

Left Bank of the Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Left Bank of the Charles said...

I walked over to Harvard Law School this afternoon and looked. It is true that the rock could be bigger and the plaque is rather plain. You can see the Marxist labor theory of value in the inscription: "the enslaved whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of Harvard Law School".

How much wealth are we talking about? The bequest was for "eight or nine hundred acres more or less" in Granby, Massachusetts, which was sold for $2,938 by 1809. This in turn was invested and ultimately used to established the Royall Professorship of Law at a salary of $400 per year from the income of the legacy.

So if they'd picked a bigger rock, they would have by implication made the contribution of Isaac Royall, Jr. bigger than it actually was. Also, while it may be that the Royall acquired the land he bequeathed to Harvard with the profits of his family plantation in Antigua, the land itself was not created by slave labor.

Granby was part of a tract of land purchased for white settlement from three Native American chiefs: Chickwallop, Umpanchala and Quontquont. The Harvard Law School crossroads is going to need a second rock.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Another chapter in the story is that when the bequeathed land came to Harvard Its agent found the land stripped and occupied by squattters." Whether they were disposed or forced to pay rent, the poor white working class also deserve a rock and a plaque at Harvard Law School.

Jupiter said...

Luke Lea said...
"Well, our civilization does rest upon our accumulated capital: all the tools and machinery (including the knowledge of how to use and make them) that have made it physically possible to have a complex society without involuntary servitude. This is a truism, isn't it? And what is capital if not the accumulated crime and sacrifice of centuries, plus interest? That, by the way is not a truism. It is a tautology!"

Not. The speed with which Germany and Japan were rebuilt after the Allies bombed them to rubble during the Second World War makes it clear that pretty much all the physical stuff we have could be replaced in a very short time. The stored capital on which civilization is built is cultural and intellectual, not physical. The slaves contributed practically nothing to that stored capital, and their modern descendants aren't doing much better.

Jupiter said...

buwaya said...
"You all could do a lot worse than to start and maintain a movement to change Harvard into an all-black university, board, endowment and all."

Yeah, I'm thinking this idea has a lot of curb appeal;
What do we want? Reparations!
When do we want them? Now!

The last white punk to leave the Admin building can kiss everyone's black ass. And where do you think you're going with that iPod, White Devil?.

The Godfather said...

Jupiter says (and I hope he is right) that "pretty much all the physical stuff we have could be replaced in a very short time. The stored capital on which civilization is built is cultural and intellectual, not physical." When the Yellowstone super volcano blows, or the next near-miss asteroid strays a little too close, I hope Jupiter will survive to provide the cultural and intellectual capital to help us rebuild.

Bay Area Guy said...

Once you go plaque, you never go back.

Lewis Wetzel said...

What about the labor used to obtain and sell the slaves that produced the wealth that produced Harvard Law? Shouldn't that labor be honored as well?
There are powerful people in the Black Nationalist Movement who believe that all of the wealth of the United States is the product of slave labor and was stolen from them by the white man. The only people who are willing to tell them to go fuck themselves are the much-maligned alt-right.