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Comments

  1. #1 agnostic
    April 21, 2008

    “White European Overlords” in the context of who has developed civilization? That’s pretty racist.

    East Asians have been playing this game for awhile. Ditto the Aztec, Maya, and Inca. To a lesser extent, the Bantu Expansion was the African version of more economically developed people shoving the less developed (hunter-gatherers) out of the way. The Bushmen and the Hadza don’t have anything to worry about from White Europeans, but from Black Bantu groups.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2008

    Agnostic: You left out a half dozen African civilizations (the “Bantu Expansion” is a much more vague phenomenon, in time and space, than a given “complex society”; the East Asian case is multiple different cases, there are additional South and Central American cases you could have listed, you forgot South Asia. And then the one the film is (presumably) referring to is actually several different cases, not all “pure white.” And Polynesia/etc.

    The Bushman might not have anything to worry about, but they were listed by whites as “vermin” and allowed to be shot if found on your (white) farm, and are still not considered fully human by many whites in southern Africa.

    And so on.

  3. #3 agnostic
    April 21, 2008

    So then you concede that “White European” is a red herring?

  4. #4 the real cmf
    April 21, 2008

    “the “Bantu Expansion” is a much more vague phenomenon, in time and space, than a given “complex society”

    Hey Greg, what civilizations were in decline at the time of the so-called “European slavery” movement of human capital? I am always curious( other than the obvious answers of political fashion and PC-osity) as to why we seldom here about the inter tribal warfare, slave trading, and social malfeasance of that era.( Was it the kingdom of Mali that had fallen, or Songhai??

    It seems to me that ‘some’ African tribes had just kicked the asses of ‘other’ African tribes who had been slaving them, killing them, etc., and the Euro’s just got in on the deal; equally, we seldom hear about the fact that most slave routes and the slaves they stole led east to Middle east, India, etc. with a few landing as far away as China.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2008

    agnostic:

    I’m not sure what you are getting at here, could you please be more specific?

    CMF: Actually, I think there is these days a lot of recognition of the idea that things were not peaceful and honky dorey in West Africa at the opening of the slave trade, then the Europeans ruined it. The Europeans did horrible things, and drove the slave trade to the point where entire civilizations were indeed wiped out because of it. But it is also true to at least some extent that they were hooking in to an existing system, and in at least one case, exploiting the coincidental rise to power of a crazy guy leader of one of the nations.

    The West African slave trade and the Arabise slave trade along the Indian Ocean coast were very different phenomena not closely connected, supplying slaves for different kinds of work to different areas and yes, with different frameworks of time. Indeed, although the concept of “slavery” is not taken seriously anywhere of which I’m aware in Central and East Africa, I do know these two guys who hang out, whereby one is the employee of the other, and the employee is technically the inherited slave of the employer. That is in name only, but it shows how recently the slave trade there was pretty active, surely into the 20th century (but much diminished form it’s early to mid 19th century peak, which may not have been the only peak).

    Its all very complicated.

  6. #6 the real cmf
    April 21, 2008

    Thanks for that info. What good sources do you rely on for data about that era? What African records exist about those epochs in African history?

    I have read some of what is recently emerging as a sort of refutation of “white man” incepted slavery (and what was the name of that crazy guy you referenced?)It seems to me that a necessary culling of the historical facts from oral traditions isn’t enough, because racism is rapidly swinging the other way ( todays news: China is shipping guns to racist Zimbabwe, GW seeks intervention…).

    Equally, I was enlightened by a rare local Af/Am studies Prof named Vince DeLusia that those kingdoms of Africa probably benefitted from having oral traditions rather than written ones, if for no other reason than that the horrors of slavery and disapora were documented in comparitively rapid mass messaging formats.

    Mass communication via mass media was perhaps the dumbest thing the evil ol’ “whiteman” ever did–to himself–with the help of that other white meat in Hollywood of course;-)

    Racism: the gift that keeps on giving…

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2008

    Frankly, I do prefer original sources (travelers accounts, etc.) and archaeology, and find the intervening historical studies to be less compelling.

    But really, you should look at King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

  8. #8 Hendrik
    April 22, 2008

    Greg said: “The Bushman might not have anything to worry about, but they were listed by whites as “vermin” and allowed to be shot if found on your (white) farm, and are still not considered fully human by many whites in southern Africa.”

    Holy cr@p dude. The first part of that sentence might or might not have been true in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – roughly the same time when white Americans were comprehensively exterminating the Native American peoples. The last part of your sentence is plain and simple BS and I would love to see your substantiation thereof. But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good generalisation.

    Usually, I’m just another lurking supporter. Today I am a pissed off white South African.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    April 22, 2008

    Hendrik:

    I work in South Africa and know many white south Africans, and this statement applies to almost none that I know. Certainly none that I work with. In any blatant way.

    But every now and then I run into it. Honestly.

    Perhaps you object to the term “many” … let me say that that is not meant to (nor would it in normal parlance) mean “most” or really anything else specific.

    In addition, among the relatively liberal and self-defined-as-not-racist white South Africans that I know, there is indeed racism.

    I hear “I’m not a racist, but…. [fill in racist comment]” an uncomfortably large number of times. I quickly add that bushmen are rarely mentioned in the cities, but I work in bushman land, and I know a lot of farmers. It’s really true, man.

    Having said all that, I also must add that a very large percentage of the White South Africans in South Africa that I know are very supportive of the new ideals of the New South Africa, often much more vigorously, emotionally, and stridently than most American liberals that I know are about parallel issues of racism in America. It is very impressive.

  10. #10 Hendrik
    April 22, 2008

    Greg,
    Notice that you are changing the subject ever so slightly. I’m not denying the fact that racism is present in South Africa – it undeniably exists amongst (some / many / most – you pick one) people belonging to the white, black, Indian – whatever – groups in SA. As it exists everywhere else on the planet.

    As stated before, my gripe was specifically with the second part of that sentence – “…not considered fully human…” That would be considerably harsher than just your “garden variety” of racism and brings (to me certainly!) Hollywood visions of people with shotguns and dogs hunting down someone in the Louisiana swamps.

    In case you consider the objection to be trivial, let me illustrate as follows:
    [1] “a lesser human” – is still a human, whereas
    [2] “not fully human” or “less than human” – is not human, so would be an animal.
    Does that distinction make grammatical sense? (Let’s ignore the moral bankruptcy of both, for the present discussion).

    It would be inconceivable that you have really met people in this century in Bushmanland who still believe the second proposition above. If so, they must be backward to the extent of being illiterate, or you must have accidentally walked onto the set of “Deliverance ll – the African Adventure” in the making.

    I am probably over-sensitive on this specific subject, given our history and our current political climate. Drop me a mail when you next land at JNB so I can buy you a beer.
    Beste Groete