Source: Adam Serwer / The American Prospect
Months ago, there was a small controversy over Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann signing a pledge put forth by social conservatives in Iowa that stated “black child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African American President.”
However well intended, many people were understandably offended by the implication that black people were better off as property. But this isn’t the first time Bachmann has put forth a perspective on slavery that is at odds with the historical record — previously she “suggested that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery, before citing John Quincy Adams as an example (he was a child at the time of America’s founding).
Ryan Lizza’s profile of Bachmann reveals that Bachmann’s odd perspective on slavery isn’t a series of gaffes, but rather “a world view.” Lizza explains that Bachmann is a believer in a kind of Christian conservative reimagining of slavery, where “many Christians opposed slavery” but owned them anyway and didn’t free them because ““it might be very difficult for a freed slave to make a living in that economy; under such circumstances setting slaves free was both inhumane and irresponsible.” How charitable of them!
She is also a fan of Robert E. Lee biographer J. Steven Williams, whom Lizza describes as a “leading proponent of the theory that the South was an orthodox Christian nation unjustly attacked by the godless North.” Wilkins “approvingly” cites Lee’s conviction that abolition was premature because it was necessary for “the sanctifying effects of Christianity” to take their time “to work in the black race and fit its people for freedom.” Not only that but as Lizza reports, Williams hates abolitionists and thought slavery was awesome:
Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. . . . The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.
To read this article in its entirety visit The American Prospect.