What’s wrong with this picture?

by on October 6, 2015 at 8:40 am in Data Source, Education, History | Permalink

The New York Times covers a controversy about a Texas history textbook:

Coby Burren, 15, a freshman at a suburban high school south of here, was reading the textbook in his geography class last week when a map of the United States caught his attention. On Page 126, a caption in a section about immigration referred to Africans brought to American plantations between the 1500s and 1800s as “workers” rather than slaves.

textbook caption

The black lives matter movement is upset that slaves are referred to as workers.

I am upset that the caption is factually incorrect even if rewritten not to use the word worker. In particular, it is not true that millions of slaves were brought from Africa to the southern United States. In fact, less than half a million came to the United States.

Here is Henry Louis Gates  Jr:

The most comprehensive analysis of shipping records over the course of the slave trade is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by professors David Eltis and David Richardson. (While the editors are careful to say that all of their figures are estimates, I believe that they are the best estimates that we have, the proverbial “gold standard” in the field of the study of the slave trade.) Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America.

And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.

Here is the primary database for what we know about the Atlantic Slave Trade which lists 305,326 slaves brought to the USA. Gates goes on to note that some 60-70 thousand slaves initially brought to the Caribbean ended up in the United States so he estimates that perhaps 450,000 African slaves in total were brought to the U.S. over the course of the slave trade.

If you want to understand the slave trade it’s important to understand that the vast majority of the slaves taken from Africa were shipped to the Caribbean and South America. If you want to understand slavery in America it’s important to understand that most slaves in the United States were born into slavery. Also, as Gates notes, it’s a rather striking and amazing fact that “most of the 42 million members of the African-American community descend from this tiny group of less than half a million Africans.”

Regardless of whether you think that slaves are workers or not the textbook failed its students by getting the facts wrong. In a better culture, that failure would make for a controversy and a story in the New York Times.

Hat tip: Arthur Charpentier on twitter.

1 asparagus October 6, 2015 at 8:48 am

Just guessing the chances of the Arab Slave Trade being mentioned in a geography text book are next to nil. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_slave_trade

2 Pasha October 6, 2015 at 8:59 am

Well, we do live in America so Ameri-centric history is pretty common…

3 ivvenalis October 6, 2015 at 9:40 am

The issue with not mentioning Muslim piracy in the Mediterranean has less to do with Ameri-centrism than Anglo-centrism–I’m guessing the Vikings are mentioned. At least that used to be the case, I’m sure PC has plenty to do with it nowadays.

4 asparagus October 6, 2015 at 10:02 am

Yes, that is true. But the article says that it came from a “World Geography” text book. Not to be completely cynical but my impression is that most US students are presented with a picture of slavery that suggests it was unique to the US.

5 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 11:01 am

Let us know when they introduce a full course on Middle East history to the curriculum, and be sure not to leave this part of the story out.

Don’t forget the part about how non-Muslim religions were traditionally tolerated, as evidenced by existing populations of non-Muslim religions in the Middle East well into the 20th century, as compared to Europe, which was far less tolerate of non-orthodoxy, and was essentially 100% Christian until the 20th century.

Slavery is an abomination. We should never forget that many people in many times and places have thought it was OK.

6 Sam Haysom October 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Is this a joke? The entire Middle East with the exception of the desert regions of Arabia was Christian before the Muslims began there centuries of rage and pillage. No indenigous populations of Muslims came under Christian control until the age of imperialism. They faced absolutely no threat even to voluntary conversion for the most part. Are you under the impression that some large block of German Muslims was wiped out by the Saxony Inquistion. Muslims haven’t even figured out how to get along with themselves.

7 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Early Christianity took root in modern Turkey, not the Middle East. Obviously there were still Christians and Jews in the Middle East after Islam took root, as evidenced by directives to respect other “people of the Book”, namely Abhrahamic faiths, namely Christians and Jews.

I’m referring to the period from, say, 1000-1900, where other religions were tolerated. Especially under the Ottomans, who basically were fine with anyone so long as taxes were paid. If the Muslims were so intolerant as some would suggest, then how are there still Yazidis, Druze, Coptic Christians, etc?

Obviously no Germanic Muslims were wiped out. Germans practiced other religions. So did the Scots. So did the Irish. So did the Norse. So did the people of Gaul. My understanding is that these conversions were not altogether optional, as compared to the early church in what is now modern day Turkey (where they were heavily persecuted for the first few centuries).

Anyways, my point was that if there were to be teaching of Middle Eastern history in US curriculum, it should not be taken as an opportunity to paint them as devils.

How bad was slavery in the Middle East? Surely some got a raw deal, but also observe that they Mamluks came to rule Egypt, and they descended from slaves. Compare this to the USA, where slaves were for farm and domestic labour only, and nothing short of emancipation, desegregation and activist racial policies made it possible for a black man (albeit not descended from slaves) to become president.

8 Sam Hayson October 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Are you seriously not aware that by the time of the Muslim conquest most of the Middle East and North Africa was Christian? Where does this kind of ignorance come from? Is it deliberate?

9 dearieme October 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm

“How bad was slavery in the Middle East?” I suppose that depends partly on whether they shared the North African partiality for castrating their male slaves.

10 ThatSkepticGuy October 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm

How bad was slavery under Islamic rule in the Middle East? Well, if modern Sudan, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, ETC are any judge, pretty damn horrific.

11 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Sam – No, I didn’t know that. Any links to quick and easy reads to salve me from my ignorance?

I thought a majority (but not all) people of the ME at the time were mostly tribal non-monotheistic people, and that Islam had introduced them to monotheism. As for North Africa, my understanding is that they were basically non-monotheistic Berber-like peoples. Perhaps that high school course in ME history would be useful then? But I think it is unnecessary to call me ignorant – just when and where would the average person pick this knowledge up?

deramie – interesting point. I’ve only previously been aware of that practice among elites, who don’t want slaves sleeping with their wives. Although, maybe that’s precisely the same situation. My perception based on reading a limited number of books about history of Islam is that things were a fair bit more ruthless in North Africa than ME, but I wonder whether this involves bias on the part of the writers.

ThatSkepticGuy – the Saudi Salafist Wahabbists are the extremists of extremists, and this is a new interpretation of Islam as of the 1800s or so. Mauritania is a country of desert people altogether unlike the Arabs of the ME. Sudan … not a clue. But things can change over time. I wouldn’t take a present situation as informative about things a 1000 years ago. But, point well taken. We all know that humans have the capacity to be horrible in any time and place if the circumstances are conducive to it.

12 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 5:05 pm

“I thought a majority (but not all) people of the ME at the time were mostly tribal non-monotheistic people, and that Islam had introduced them to monotheism. As for North Africa, my understanding is that they were basically non-monotheistic Berber-like peoples.”

-Neither of these are true. The vast majority of the people in the Middle East and North Africa (even excluding Turkey) were Christian in 500 AD.

13 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 5:06 pm

*Excepting those parts of the Middle East East of the Tigris, where Christianity was much rarer.

14 Nathan W October 7, 2015 at 4:13 am

I think my understanding was based on the story of origins of Islam which occurred in Arabia as opposed to the broader Middle East, where indeed the desert tribes were non-monotheistic, that my readings on ME religion were focused on minorities which indeed focuses on the Tigris (and some mountain areas) which were indeed non-Christian, and that my knowledge of North African history mostly involves the nearly-eradicated history of the Berbers who indeed were not Christian (which I got curious about after meeting descendants of Berbers in their southern reaches in Mali). I guess I almost missed out on the broader picture …

Having checked a wikipedia page on Early Christianity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Christianity), I do see a map which depicts Christianity as having been quite common in the Middle East and North Africa by 600. (However, there is no description at how they arrive at this – was the mere presence of some churches sufficient to assume the whole region was Christian?)

I guess it should be altogether unsurprising that, after Constantine adopted Christianity as the state religion (I surmise more as a practical matter as to take control of the religion more so than a genuine conversion, but that’s debatable), that the geographic spread of the practice of Christianity was essentially synonymous with the reach of the Roman Empire. It leaves me wondering how sincere many converts were – the Romans aren’t reputed to have been very nice and I can imagine that it may not have felt very optional.

I’m suspicious of the accuracy of the map. It paints the British Isles as entirely Christian by 600. Yes, St Patrick reached Ireland in the 5th century and was a missionary there. But isn’t it safe to assume that his converts were quite the minority? Imagine a method where the presence of a single church in an area is deemed sufficient to conclude that the area was Christian. Applying the same method, one could demonstrate that Canada or the USA has become alternatively Hindu, Muslim, or Mormon, when ignoring all other evidence of pre-existing or divergent local practices.

I suggest that it would be more accurate to conclude something along the lines of “Christianity had at least some presence in all areas on the map”, whereas the map would lead us to believe that these areas had fully (100% adherence) Christianized.

Was the ME strongly Christian? I suggest that we don’t know. All we know is that there were some churches there (and moreover that these churches belonged to a state religion). And moreover – what was preached in those churches? The love your neighbour and forgiveness stuff, or the lines which are conducive to fearful obeisance to the powers that be?

15 Richard Baker October 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm

A substantial part of the Middle East was under the rule of the Sassanids before the Islamic conquests and so was Zoroastrian, with a healthy admixture of various Zoroastrian-tinged folk beliefs and even some Buddhists and Hindus.

16 JonFraz October 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm

The Crusader era? And even before that the Byzantine Empire had pushed south into Syria.

17 Aleksander October 7, 2015 at 9:42 pm

While it is true that most of the Middle East and North Africa eventually converted to Islam, the process was quite different from the Christianization of Europe. Most places, the Muslim conquerors would impose an extra tax on the local non-muslim population, which was a strong incentive to at least formally convert to Islam. Over the years, it did the job. In Europe, conversion from pagan religions were largely done by force, and Muslims were not tolerated at all. Jews and Jewish culture also flourished (at least at times) more in Muslim areas than in Christian.

18 JonFraz October 8, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Re: In Europe, conversion from pagan religions were largely done by force

This is incorrect. Force was occasionally used against a handful of recalcitrants, but far more common was the fact that most people tended to follow what their betters did in matters of religion (and much else besides). If the king converted then his vassals would mostly follow him, out of a conviction that they obeyed him that loyalty (and much else besides). And likewise down to the level of the common folk. The sort of individualistic personal religion we practice today simply did not exist back then. And in many cases people brought many of their older customs and legends into the new faith where they were repurposed and reinterpreted (in regards to the Greeks, the paganistic philosophy of Neoplatonism was very explicitly adopted by Christian thinkers in antiquity, who made no bones about what they were doing).

19 Aleksander October 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Re: This is incorrect. Force was occasionally used against a handful of recalcitrants, but far more common was the fact that most people tended to follow what their betters did in matters of religion

Do you have a source for this? My impression is that at least formal conversions of the entire population in European countries were quite swift, because other religions were simply outlawed. Let me exemplify with a quote from Wikipedia on the Christianization of Norway:

“Olaf I then made it his priority to convert the country to Christianity using all means at his disposal. By destroying temples and torturing and killing pagan resisters he succeeded in making every part of Norway at least nominally Christian. Expanding his efforts to the Norse settlements in the west the kings’ sagas credit him with Christianizing the Faroes, Orkney, Shetland, Iceland and Greenland.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization_of_Scandinavia#Norway

I am not saying that this source is authoritative, but it well describes my impression of how paganism was completely extinguished from most European countries in a matter of a couple of centuries. Do you have a source that suggests the conversion of European heathens was more peaceful than what the above quote would suggest for Northern Europe?

20 Harun October 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

They do teach World History in the US not just American.

it depends by year, though.

21 Doug October 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

“Don’t forget the part about how non-white races were traditionally tolerated, as evidenced by existing populations of [non-whites] in the [USA] well into the 20th century, as compared to Europe, which was far less tolerate of [non-whites], and was essentially 100% [white] until the 20th century.”

By that logic its actually Sweden that has the ugly racial history. Comparatively Alabamans of the 1890s were paragons of racial enlightenment for their day and age. Certainly it must be said that for the standards of 16th century Islamic religious “tolerance”, Jim Crow was magnanimous “tolerance”.

22 Daniel Klein October 6, 2015 at 8:50 am

BTW, here is Adam Smith’s line from The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) on the slave-trade:

“Fortune never exerted more cruelly her empire over mankind, than when she subjected those nations of heroes to the refuse of the jails of Europe, to wretches who possess the virtues neither of the countries which they come from, nor of those which they go to, and whose levity, brutality, and baseness, so justly expose them to the contempt of the vanquished.”

23 honkie please October 6, 2015 at 10:08 am

Huh? That line is plainly about European settlers and the animosity of natives.

24 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 11:05 am

Slaves were often taken during war, no? And then this war booty was resold in markets? I don’t think it’s about natives in the New World.

25 Ricardo October 6, 2015 at 11:06 am

Use Google Books to find the sentence in TMS and then read the sentence immediately before it.

26 honkie please October 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

Pretty hard to argue that one. I lose.

27 Thelonious_Nick October 6, 2015 at 11:36 am

You do, however, win the rarely awarded (but not so coveted) Certificate of Having Admitted You Were Wrong on the Internet.

28 Ricardo October 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I cheated. I took Daniel Klein’s course on econ philosophy, and I know that he knows both TMS and WN as thoroughly as anyone can know anything. If the post had been written by anyone other than Prof. Klein, I would have had the same reaction you did.

29 honkie please October 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Haha, good on you. My initial phrasing was, “Absent context, the line seems more about…”, and then I decided to get more confident. Note for future.

30 Agra Brum October 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Even without the use of google books, you can see that the “refuse of the jails of Europe” are the slavers; basically an insult that only scum and criminals would look at the slave trade and say “I shall make that my trade.” A fair assessment.

31 ibaien October 6, 2015 at 8:53 am

is it more or less morally repugnant to be sold into slavery than it is to be born into it?

32 RPLong October 6, 2015 at 9:42 am

I’d say it is much, much worse to be born into slavery. Getting this hideous part of our history accurate is of paramount moral importance.

33 Harun October 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

I don’t know. Being free and then being captured, and sold?

Maybe it would be better to grow up not knowing about freedom.

34 RPLong October 6, 2015 at 4:36 pm

In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss. Prisoners, for example, keep their heads by clinging to some kind of hope, even if it is an unlikely hope. But if you’re born and raised in a prison, you’ll have no sense of such hope. This is, in my opinion, the most pernicious evil of slavery.

35 ivvenalis October 6, 2015 at 9:43 am

Less, because it implies the slaveholders aren’t working their slaves to death.

36 NoahThompson59767 October 6, 2015 at 11:53 am

It says nothing of the kind, if you think about how fertile ages vs. total lifetimes work.

37 Actual Libertarian October 6, 2015 at 9:51 am

Since minors don’t really have rights, everybody’s still born into slavery for ~18 years.

It’s always been normal to force children to do what they don’t want. In fact, we’re still doing it to adults, too.

Slavery is never over. The reason is fundamental, the reality of violence as a means to an end that cannot be resolved by moral talk. You’d need an omnipresent system of radical rights enforcement, coded with radically libertarian rights.

38 ibaien October 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

i literally cannot tell if you are trolling.

39 Two Parts Gin October 6, 2015 at 10:34 am

It’s hard to tell trolls apart from Stefan Molyneux drones.

40 Actual Libertarian October 6, 2015 at 11:08 am

Hahaha, you said drones! Implying we can’t think for ourselves! You have won a great propaganda victory, all aruments are now invalid forever!

In fact, you should be our owner! Give us orders for our private lives! Take our money! How may we suffer in your name?

41 Dan Lavatan October 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm

He is right (to a large extent, minors have constitutional rights but no means to enforce them). All the textbooks contain errors and young people are required to put up with this stuff for 12 years. Anyone who finds an error should be exempt from compulsory education.

42 Ed October 6, 2015 at 10:26 am

In practice, many of the people sold by the African kingdoms to the slave traders were condemned criminals. Some of them would have been executed instead. Against this, you have the Middle Passage itself, which was genuinely horrible, and which people born into slavery in the Americas at least didn’t have to experience.

Probably the textbook should mentioned that slavery was legal in every northern colony as well until 1777, and the last slave in the northern states (not counting Missouri) was freed in 1847 (I just looked this up). Slavery never had the economic and demographic importance in the northern colonies/ states that it had in the south, of course. But this shed light on why the Constitution originally accommodated slavery.

43 Ricardo October 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm

“In practice, many of the people sold by the African kingdoms to the slave traders were condemned criminals. Some of them would have been executed instead.”

Let’s do a political economy thought experiment. Suppose you take a society without rule of law or an independent judiciary and outsiders decide to pay their rulers what is to them an enormous amount in terms of firearms, jewelry, liquor and other status goods in exchange for “condemned criminals.” Don’t you think the leaders of that society will find more and more ways to accuse those riff-raff from another tribe or another village down the road of “crimes” for which the punishment is enslavement?

I’m certainly not an expert in this area but my understanding is that that is pretty much what happened. The dominant tribes in coastal West Africa found new excuses to enslave ever larger numbers of people and, with the firearms and status goods they received, forged alliances and waged wars with the purpose of enslaving ever larger numbers of people.

I think it is standard in any textbook to mention that Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri allowed slavery even after the Emancipation Proclamation. I didn’t know the 1847 factoid, though, which I assume applies to states north of the Mason-Dixon line rather than those that did not secede.

44 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm

My understanding of the matter is that dominant tribes raided other tribes and sold them into slavery.

There is a theory that this basically destroyed the economy of the state. Since they obtained their riches from the slave trade, there was no need for taxation for the elites to fund their militias/armies or what have you, ending the incentive for a growing economy or a properly functioning bureaucracy. Later, as the slave trade dribbles off, the ruling class loses its source of revenues, leading to collapse of the state. Not long later, imperial armies enter the scene to take over these places, entering into the interior for basically the first time, and observe that there is no functional political system at any noteworthy scale.

To this day, it is popular knowledge that West Africa historically never had any functioning political system. But this is based on misinformation that has been perpetuated for a very long time. FIRST the political system were destroyed (almost accidentally, as described above) and then later formal extractive colonies were established. However, there is actually a fairly large amount of documentation of historical works which proves that there were functioning states throughout West Africa going back at the very least many centuries prior to European contact. The chronicle of Kano, for example, documents the rise of a given political entity going back as far as 800, and which perpetuated for about a 1000 years

45 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm

“To this day, it is popular knowledge that West Africa historically never had any functioning political system.”

-Is it? And Kano is well to the North of the area where slaves were traded to White slavemasters.

46 Jonathan October 6, 2015 at 7:15 pm

There were quite a few polities in western Africa that basically came into existence and came to thrive due to the slave trade- hardly surprising, since slavery was big business and isn’t really something that does well without organized, systemic violence, the sort that states and empires provide best, and out of which they are often generated. For a surprisingly long period, European traders and African states were pretty close to parity when it came to the slave trade- remember that the age of serious European imperialism in Africa wasn’t until long after slavery had been abolished in European and American states.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. has a lovely travel/documentary series he did on West Africa that lays out the details and modern-day reactions/memory (or lack thereof) of the slave trade in the successor societies to those slaving states of early modernity.

47 Alain October 7, 2015 at 2:12 am

Behahhahahahaha

48 Pochemuchka October 7, 2015 at 2:43 am

Kano, Ashanti, Benin, Mali, Songhai, Mossi, Kanen-Bornu, Oyo, Fulo, Masina – those I can provide from my memory.

Man, your performance as know-nothing, ignorant and full of BS American is world-class.

49 Nathan W October 7, 2015 at 4:20 am

Pochemuchka – I suggest that less than 10% of Americans could name even one of the groups that you mention. Mali and Songhai are perhaps the best examples, but I cited Kano because the chronicles make for an interesting read. Never heard of the Masina, but after a quick online search, I discover that it’s because it’s in the DRC area and I’ve mostly read about West Africa.

How many Chinese minorities can you rattle off, off the top of your head? There are 56.

Does it make you feel good when you call people ignorant for not knowing things that only a few percent of people in the entire world know?

50 Agra Brum October 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Sort of typical for an extractive resource economy…lots of distortions in the market.

51 mavery October 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm

If you’re referring to the 3/5ths thing, that was more about finding a number that would allow the South to maintain some political clout in the lower house of Congress (and through the electoral college, the Presidency too I would imagine). The slave population in Southern states far exceeded that of the Northern ones, and GA, SC, etc. were pretty worried about the Northerners running roughshod over their (economic) interests.

52 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 11:10 am

I think the suffering of those sold into slavery is worse. They know the taste of freedom, and will forever know the injustice of their situation.

Those born into it may suffer in the sense of having to work too hard, physical punishments, etc., but will not suffer from LOSS of freedom, rather, it is something they never had. I suggest that unfreedom is more acute for those who know freedom than for those who don’t know freedom.

53 Pasha October 6, 2015 at 8:57 am

Standard piffle from an economist: missing the forest for the trees.

54 In the sky October 6, 2015 at 9:09 am

I would suggest that it’s the people complaining about the nomenclature and overlooking the factual inaccuracy that are missing the forest.

55 Pshrnk October 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

Both

56 Ryan October 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

Agreed. Clearly we need to think at the margin.

57 mavery October 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I think it relates to the fact that there’s a lot of folks politically interested in how the legacy of slavery (and by extension African Americans) are broadly portrayed to modern folks. There are fewer folks interested in in understanding the difference between “hundreds of thousands” and “millions”.

Frankly, the difference between “worker” and “slave” is a helluva lot more substantial than the difference between half a million and two or three million when it comes to how you think of slaves.

58 Dan Miller October 14, 2015 at 4:32 pm

+1 to that

59 cheesetrader October 6, 2015 at 3:39 pm

*fires up chain saw*

60 wiki October 6, 2015 at 9:35 am

Most of the condemnation of the slave trade in the New World worldwide has been focused on the USA. And most of the burden of guilt is placed on North Americans. Yet as is clear from this one small fact, South America and the Caribbean accounted for more of the trade than did the USA. Yet I doubt that one in ten children at school has learned that MOST of the slave trade to the New World went elsewhere.

61 Ed October 6, 2015 at 10:32 am

American history textbooks will focus on the United States. I don’t see a big problem with this. I also don’t think “Brazil did it too!” really excuses slavery in other countries.

62 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2015 at 11:18 am

The Empire of Brazil forbade any and all slave in 1831 and did it again in 1850, to drive the messge home.
“And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000.”
We call it Tuesday. From 1826 to 1830 alone, 250,200 “guest workers” were welcomed in Brazil. Between the first prohibition (in 1831) and the second one (1850), more than 600,000 slaves were imported (more than 30,000 slaves a year).

63 Bill October 8, 2015 at 3:50 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Brazil

Brazil was the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery. By the time it was abolished, in 1888, an estimated four million slaves had been imported from Africa to Brazil, 40% of the total number of slaves brought to the Americas.

64 Aaron Luchko October 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

1) American history is very US centric.

2) You’re conflating the import of slaves with the size of the total industry. It could be that incoming slaves were primarily destined for South America and the Caribbean since the USA was breeding their own slaves.

3) Discrimination against African ethnicities continued a lot longer in the US (and there’s still a huge power imbalance), that makes slavery and its legacy a more important topic in the US.

65 Ricardo October 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

The U.S. does carry a larger burden of historical guilt because the U.S. declared independence and proceeded to practice slavery for another 89 years. The Caribbean and South America was made up mostly of European colonies. The nation of Barbados, for instance, can’t really have a debate over reparations for slavery because the government is firmly in the hands of the black, slave-descendant majority and, if any entity can be blamed for enslaving their ancestors, it would be the British government, not the government of Barbados which only became sovereign in 1966.

66 Careless October 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm

So if we’d elected Sharpton instead of Obama, it would be moot?

67 Dan Lavatan October 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

You guys know the Caribbean is part of North America right. Maybe the geography text needs to be fixed first.

68 Ricardo October 7, 2015 at 1:42 am

In geological terms, the Caribbean islands sit on the edge of the Caribbean tectonic plate which is separate from the North American and South American plates. Several islands are closer in proximity to Venezuela than to mainland North America. In other words, the exercise of assigning remote oceanic islands to continental landmasses located on different tectonic plates is pretty arbitrary.

69 Jacob October 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Funny, I would have thought that historical accuracy should be priority number 1 for a history book.

70 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 8:59 am

So what were those slaves? Unemployed?

71 Willitts October 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

They were obviously on holiday.

72 josh October 7, 2015 at 9:42 am

Right. Slaves *were* workers. They were imported to be workers.

I suppose we are suppose to recognize the unique horror of this kind of labor, but was it really uniquely horrific. Nobody would object if we call the white laborers in 17th Century America who mostly died while still under their indentures “workers”. What about the people forced off their traditional land who worked in early factories at less than a subsistence wage. They were “workers” too. American slavery was just one more shitty thing that happened to poor people.

73 Erick October 6, 2015 at 9:04 am

It says slave right in that sentence. Are people really upset that it isn’t there a second time? Is there any evidence that a single person thinks those weren’t slaves? The slavey slave trade brought millions of slaves to slave at slaving on slave plantations owned by slaveowners. Better?

74 Willitts October 6, 2015 at 9:14 am

The slaves were enslaved to slave for the slavemasters in slavecamps.

75 Willitts October 6, 2015 at 9:17 am

Love your creation of “slavey.”

76 RPLong October 6, 2015 at 9:46 am

It’s not really that difficult to get this right. Something to the effect of: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s displaced millions of Africans, including the hundreds of thousands that were forced to work on the Southern United States’ plantations.”

77 Urso October 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

That is an improvement, but the fact that there are marginally better alternatives does not suggest that the original was wrong (except in the number). Plus, I doubt anyone makes it to fifteen years old without realizing that the word “slave” implies “forced to work.”

78 Kevin- October 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

Some here seem to be hung up on the ‘work’ part of slavery. Is being ‘forced to work’ really the Sine qua non of slavery? When a slave is not at labor, are they no longer a slave?

Words like ‘displaced’ and ‘workers’ read like shrugs of the shoulder. Misleading shrugs of the shoulder, like the original textbook sentence.

79 RPLong October 6, 2015 at 11:18 am

I’m surprised by your reaction to the word “displaced,” which, at least in my experience, has an unequivocally negative (to the extreme) connotation when used outside the context of physics.

80 Kevin- October 6, 2015 at 3:11 pm

A person can be ‘displaced’ by a natural disaster, persecution, or conflict. ‘Displaced person’ is another way of saying ‘refugee.’ It does not imply a slave. Perhaps for you being forced into slavery, becoming another person’s personal property, and losing all freedoms and control is simply another form of forced migration. I don’t.

81 RPLong October 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Kevin, you make a great case for your point, but you state it as though you and I are in some kind of disagreement with each other. Wars, natural disasters, and persecution all displace people, yes. Are any of these things considered “shrugs of the shoulders,” as you indicated in your comment above? Of course not. They are some of the greatest travesties that ever occur to innocent people.

Is slavery worse than those things? I personally believe that it is, yes. But I think that language which is applied to travesties like war and persecution is quite a bit better than a “shrug of the shoulders” for discussing slavery, hence I believe you’re being a tad unreasonable here.

82 Martin-2 October 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

“It’s not really that difficult to get this right.”

This sentence? No. Every sentence in every textbook on slavery? Probably.

83 RPLong October 6, 2015 at 11:17 am

I dunno. We’re talking about this sentence, so that’s what I commented on.

84 Urso October 7, 2015 at 10:44 am

Yes, but I would posit that if I handed you this 300 page textbook and said “read it and tell me what you think,” you wouldn’t have even noticed this particular line. Certainly you would’ve have found so vile and loathsome to merit an op-ed to the NYT. It’s just a sentence — one of thousands in the book — that probably could’ve been worded better. All these furores-of-the-day are essentially arbitrary and unpredictable.

85 RPLong October 7, 2015 at 11:23 am

I don’t know about that, Urso. What the heck to they pay editors for, if not to literally be the one to say, “You know, that sentence right there could be worded better” several times for each of the 300 pages in the book?

Is your argument that editing is hard, so we shouldn’t criticize the politically volatile results of bad editing, or is your argument that criticism is bad because in the big picture a lot of people won’t notice? Either way, it’s not a hugely persuasive argument IMO.

86 Urso October 7, 2015 at 11:28 am

My points were stated in my previous post, but I’ll repeat them for your benefit: “if I handed you this 300 page textbook and said ‘read it and tell me what you think,’ you wouldn’t have even noticed this particular line.” And: “All these furores-of-the-day are essentially arbitrary and unpredictable.”

87 RPLong October 7, 2015 at 11:46 am

But “RPLong wouldn’t have noticed” to “it’s all arbitrary and unpredictable” is a complete non sequitur, unless your previous comments also laid out some kind of theory connecting those two statements and I just somehow missed it. If so, feel free to repeat again for my benefit.

88 Urso October 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Changing the general “you” to the specific “RPLong” is a cute rhetorical trick, but we both know what I meant. But, by all means, if you have some way of accurately predicting which particular sentence in which particular history textbook will turn into an NYT cause celebre, by all means don’t keep it a secret from the rest of us.

89 RPLong October 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm

What you call a rhetorical trick was my making sure I didn’t over-claim on your point. Sorry if you think I’m trying to trick you.

I have no idea how to predict which drunk drivers will wrap their cars around telephone poles, but that doesn’t mean such events are “arbitrary.” I won’t say it’s a “cute rhetorical trick” to suggest that anything that cannot be predicted with certainty is an arbitrary event, but such a claim does seem to obfuscate both the poor word choice – which you yourself acknowledged in a previous comment – and the factual inaccuracy highlighted by AT.

In short, there’s nothing arbitrary about this. It was a poor choice of words and an inaccurate statement. I have to admit, I’m struggling to understand under what set of assumptions this sort of thing seems “arbitrary” to anyone.

90 josh October 7, 2015 at 9:48 am

Perhaps they should add something like, “however, the salves received free health care and retirement and disability insurance”.

91 Harun October 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm

I wonder if the writer was one of those types who hates to use the same word twice.

92 Urso October 8, 2015 at 11:21 am

That sounds like a plausible explanation, as editors love to make that change. But as written it says “workers … to work” which, to me, is more egregious than “slave trade … slave” would have been. I doubt an editor would’ve removed one duplication to add another.

93 Zach October 6, 2015 at 9:05 am

This is an interesting bit of history, but to present it with an eye-roll at the very real and meaningful controversy over the use of “worker” instead of “slave” is pretty gross.

94 A Definite Beta Guy October 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

It’s not meaningful. It’s a caption. What’s meaningful is that Blue Tribe doesn’t care about facts, it cares about hitting Red Tribe as much as possible using whatever rhetorical weapon is most convenient…while pretending to care about “the Truth.” Evidence: they didn’t notice the only actual factual inaccuracy in that caption.

95 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

Not meaningful? Calling “slaves” workers? That sounds almost like outright historical revisionism to me, but I would give them the benefit of the doubt and imagine that it might have been an innocent mistake.

There were two factual inaccuracies, not one. One was referring to slaves as workers. The other was the number. Which is worse?

96 A Definite Beta Guy October 6, 2015 at 12:39 pm

It’s not inaccurate to refers to slaves as workers and there is no indication they inaccurately characterized slaves as freedmen. It’s a caption. If you want historical inaccuracies, then look at how American History portrays Rome or Athens, where slavery is hardly mentioned in any course.

97 A Definite Beta Guy October 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Speaking of Greece, slaves in Greece were often used as craftsmen, Aristotle justified it as natural, and Plato said that slaves could still be free in spirit and that’s the only freedom that mattered, but why have any historical discussion or context when we have Texas Conservatives to mock?

98 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm

I do wonder how unfree the slaves of Athens were, but I don’t think any amount of effort at reconstruction will tell us much about this. Under Rome, many of them (not a clue of percentages) were pressed back into service in slave armies – quite horrible, I think, to be forced to fight for the very people who enslaved you.

99 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

“There were two factual inaccuracies, not one. One was referring to slaves as workers.”
-Because, as you know, slaves never worked, they just sat around in the sun eating watermelons all day.

100 TheAJ October 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm

What’s wrong with calling them slaves instead of workers?

101 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 7:14 pm

I have no complaints about either: it’s Nathan who’s complaining about “workers”. Get with the program.

102 Terra October 6, 2015 at 9:40 am

It says “slave” right there at the top of the sentence. Is anybody honestly under the impression that students will not think the people the book was talking about are slaves? If not, why is this a “controversy”?

Oh right, because this textbook is used in Texas, and everybody who reads the New York Times knows that Texas is full of racist rednecks.

103 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 10:10 am

We can dissect the sentence, but perhaps that fact that this book is used in Texas, and focuses on the East Cost is an important factor.

Is the picture a way to be less up-front with Texas slave history?

250,000 slaves in Texas at the outbreak of the Civil War?

104 Cliff October 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

Well, Texas is not in the picture so I guess we have no idea what it says about Texas, what is the point of speculating?

105 dearieme October 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

Well spotted, sir.

106 Terra October 6, 2015 at 11:18 am

Clearly you’re commenting without even having read the NYT article because there’s a picture of the entire textbook page in the article, which clearly does show Texas[1]. You might also realize that this chapter isn’t even about slavery, it’s about the way people came to the U.S. Regardless, putting a blurb about the Atlantic Slave Trade close to the Atlantic ocean surely makes sense?

But forget about the placement of the blurb for a second. If you knew your history, you might even know that the Atlantic Slave trade was banned by the U.S. all the way back in 1808, 37 years before Texas even became a state!

Perhaps you ought to spend a little more time in a Texas high school and get a refresher on this stuff?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/us/publisher-promises-revisions-after-textbook-refers-to-african-slaves-as-workers.html?_r=0

107 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

I think that’s spin in a couple ways:

First, pointing to the East Coast definitely does direct attention there, and a few purple boxes in Texas do not overcome the focus of the text bubble.

Second, saying “this is about how people came to America, and not about slavery” is exactly the major redirection we are talking about.

108 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 11:34 am

and speaking of your strange wiggle about 1808,

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

— Texas Secession Convention, A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union, (February 1861).

109 PD Shaw October 6, 2015 at 11:55 am

Do you notice where the captions are placed? They are placed so they don’t cover up the United States.

As Tera also pointed out, the lesson is about how people got to where they reside today. Slaves came from Africa to the East coast. If there is anything suspect about the caption besides the numbers, its referring to slave-workers only coming to the Southern U.S.

110 mulp October 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Do you call your car a “worker”??

Slaves, by the time there were 3 million, were property not persons, property like cattle. Do you think anyone called or calls the oxen that pulled wagons “workers”?

111 PD Shaw October 6, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Don’t look at me. I am not one of the idiots that thinks workers brought by the Slave trade is ambiguous about slavery. I’ll adapt, how about slave-laborers?

112 Jay October 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Was the textbook written in Texas by a Texan? Who cares where its being used.

113 Urso October 6, 2015 at 10:35 am

Don’t forget that all we’re looking at is a portion of a caption of a map. I’d wager that the actual text uses “slave” and “slavery” repeatedly.

114 charlie October 6, 2015 at 9:09 am

Think how much better would all be if we didn’t take part in this original sin, and fear open borders. 350,000 people and four centuries of pain.

115 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 10:12 am

The truth is that we all have heroes and villains in our family tree, and yes, going all the way back to Africa for all of us.

116 dearieme October 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Indeed, it’s presumably a statistical near-certainty that we all have slaves and slavemasters in our family trees.

117 Doug October 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Truthfully, a lot more villains than heroes. Why are modern human men so much bigger than women? Because the gene pool’s filled to the brim with hyper-violent rapists and pillagers. Genghis Khan’s alleles are about a million times more dispersed than history’s best husband and father.

118 botogol October 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

the same table says that 3.2m slaves disembarked in Britain — but that can’t be true, there weren’t millions of africans living in Britain in 19th century. If 3.2m million slaves did land in the UK then obviously the UK was a staging post on the way elsewhere, presumably a good portion of them to USA.

119 PD Shaw October 6, 2015 at 10:42 am

It looks like “Britain” includes British West Indies.

120 dearieme October 6, 2015 at 10:43 am

“the same table says that 3.2m slaves disembarked in Britain”: that seems entirely implausible to me. Why on earth would you buy slaves in West Africa and then haul them to Britain, only to export them to the Caribbean or North America?

121 honkie please October 6, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Most of these slaves left due to the quality of the food.

122 Careless October 6, 2015 at 9:13 am

10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage

How could it be “dreaded”? They had no knowledge of what it involved, and it’s not like people who had experienced it were coming back and talking about how terrible it was.

123 Millian October 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

You could say the same about death.

124 Careless October 6, 2015 at 9:38 am

How? How many slaves do you think had any idea they’d be put on a ship and sent overseas? They had no idea that the middle passage existed.

125 Millian October 6, 2015 at 11:04 am

They knew as much about the big boats as you or I do about dying.

126 Careless October 6, 2015 at 11:08 am

No, I know that dying exists. They did not know that the ships existed.

127 josh October 7, 2015 at 9:50 am

The middle passage lasted for a couple of centuries. People probably had some idea. Jeez, talk about denying black people agency.

128 Urso October 6, 2015 at 10:36 am

Yeah, I’m sure they were under the impression that they were going on a Carnival cruise. sheesh.

129 Careless October 6, 2015 at 10:58 am

They had no concept of ocean travel.They had no idea at all what they were getting into.

130 honkie please October 6, 2015 at 1:02 pm

They should have read DFW’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” Would’ve saved them quite the hassle.

131 Cooper October 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm

I think it’s safe to say that there was probably some knowledge about the middle passage among locals in West Africa. They knew that their friends and relatives were disappearing. They probably knew to fear the slave catchers.

We aren’t talking about deer in a forest, unaware that hunters mean them harm. We’re talking about human beings.

I have no objection to calling the middle passage “dreaded”.

132 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 3:51 pm

They knew that their friends and relatives were disappearing. They probably knew to fear the slave catchers.

If I’m not mistaken, the slaves were generally intramural war captives taken to the coast and sold to European slave traders.

133 Careless October 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm

They probably knew to fear the slave catchers.

Yep. And it’s a gigantic leap from there to assuming they knew about the Middle Passage.

134 josh October 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

Seriously? In 200 years, no knowledge about Ocean travel circulated despite the fact that 14 million native had traversed the ocean out of a not-that-populated area. I mean, you don’t think the guys who sold the slavers their slaves ever asked, “where do you send them?” Not once in 200 years?

135 Steve Sailer October 6, 2015 at 9:23 am

The sugar business, such as in Brazil, killed off most of its slaves rapidly, but they could be cheaply replaced from Africa only 1600 miles away. The Virginia tobacco fields were much further from Africa, so it didn’t make economic sense to work slaves to death there.

One interesting aspect of this that never seems to come up these days is that the founders of the lethal Brazil sugar business were heavily Jewish by ethnicity. But few American Jews are aware of this, so face of the slave trade in media conceptions tends to be somebody who looks like Thomas Jefferson.

136 AndrewL October 6, 2015 at 9:38 am

You have a citation for this? Interesting if true because I thought the Portuguese started the Brazil sugar business.

137 Steve Sailer October 6, 2015 at 9:46 am

Paul Johnson wrote in his book “A History of the Jews:”

“Jews and marranos were particularly active in settling Brazil; the first governor-general, Thomas de Souza, sent out in 1549, was certainly of Jewish origin. They owned most of the sugar plantations.”

http://takimag.com/article/corruption_of_blood_steve_sailer/print#ixzz3nnMdksH7

The other big ethnically Jewish sugar business was Surinam.

138 Miguel Madeira October 6, 2015 at 10:01 am

I think that jews were forbidden to own land – of course, this will not apply to christians of jewisg ethnicity

139 AndrewL October 6, 2015 at 10:40 am

Thomas de Souza helped the Jesuits convert the locals to Christianity…. Not sure that helps his Jewish cred.

140 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2015 at 11:36 am

He said by “Jewish by ethnicity.”

141 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 10:57 am

You’re citing an opinion journalist as an authority. At least look at his bloody bibliography and cite the secondary source he used.

142 XVO October 6, 2015 at 11:11 am

Where’s your anti citation Art Deco? Prove that Brazil was inhabited by Portuguese through first sources. Take your time we’ll wait.

143 Steve Sailer October 6, 2015 at 11:48 am

Try Google. There’s a fair amount online.

It’s not secret or even controversial, it’s just not the kind of thing you are supposed to know.

144 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Try Google. There’s a fair amount online.

Strange as it may seem to you, I tend to distrust internet memes, particularly ones which sound like they were dreamed up by Leonard Jeffries or one of the votaries who populate your comboxes. The figures on the population of the middle passage have identifiable sources (Philip Curtin and Joseph Inikori).

145 Steve Sailer October 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

If I put a lot of links in a comment, the anti-spam filter sends it to moderation. So, just Google, say:

Jews slavery sugar suriname

and you’ll find a whole bunch of articles on the subject in publications like The Forward, The Tablet, the Jewish Virtual Library, and The Washington Post. Many of them are along the lines of: Wow, as an American Jewish journalist, I had never heard of Jews being in the sugar and slavery business until I visited Suriname.

146 JonFraz October 7, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Odd, because the Portuguese took Ferdinand and Isabella’s advice and also expelled their Jews well before Brazil was setttled

147 josh October 7, 2015 at 9:55 am

Portuguese practically meant Jewish in some parts of Europe in the 16th C.

148 Axa October 6, 2015 at 10:08 am

Well, the Kingdom of Portugal had the control of today’s Brazil over that time. The flag you fight for or the king to whom you swore loyalty is more important that ethnicity.

If you start making distinctions at that level, would you expect ISIL terrorism target any Latin American country since 1/5 of US Marines are Hispanic? So, what matters more for issues like this? The individual or the umbrella organization?

149 Steve Sailer October 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

It’s striking how little known is the ethnic Jewish role in the slave/sugar trade in the New World. It’s kind of like the obscurity of the Jewish role in Southern African mining.

150 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 10:58 am

Since when were Ernest and Harry Oppenheimer ‘obscure’ to anyone who knows the first thing about South African history?

151 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

Maybe it’s because most (normal) people look at 16th century history and see a lot of tragedy, committed by a lot of people, and don’t categorize it by race?

(They were still disemboweling protestants as the sugar trade was established in Brazil.)

152 Axa October 6, 2015 at 11:15 am

Land private property does not exist at that time in Brazil. The King was the owner of land and gave concessions to nobles, church and friends. The guys with concessions rented the land to slave owners.

Textbook history has a bias on positivism, on how to make things “better”. Killing a Jew slave owner would end slavery in Brazil? Killing a noble with land concessions would end slavery in Brazil? The only alternative to end slavery is focusing on the system: the King, military and the support of slavery system. That may explain why the books are obscure over the details of who where the slave owners (disposable actors) while focusing on who ruled over that time (indispensable actors).

153 josh October 7, 2015 at 10:03 am

“The flag you fight for or the king to whom you swore loyalty is more important that ethnicity.”

Apparently the King of Portugal disagreed. Shortly thereafter, the Dutch controlled the slave trade. Funny how that worked out.

154 Steve Sailer October 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/17/passover-in-the-confederacy/?ref=opinion

This is a relevant piece on U.S. history:

“For many American Jews today, particularly those descended from immigrants coming through Northeast corridors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea that Confederate Jews fought on the side of slavery offends their entire worldview, rooted so deeply in social justice. Even the idea of there being so many Jews in the American South, decades before Ellis Island opened its gates, is a strange idea.”

As far as I can tell, the Jewish role in the exploitation of African labor was roughly comparable on a per capita basis to the European gentile role. But there’s remarkably little awareness of that today, as these comments suggest.

155 Doug October 6, 2015 at 3:24 pm

> “Originally, Passover was theological. It’s about redemption and the power of God. It’s not really about setting human beings free in a universal way. The text says that God frees the Hebrew slaves because God loves the Hebrews. God doesn’t free all slaves for all of humanity or send Moses out to become the William Lloyd Garrison of the ancient free world.”

That’s great.

156 asdfG October 6, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Have you ever been evaluated for OCD?

157 JonFraz October 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Tobacco farming is also less lethal than sugar culture by its nature. Likewise non-tropical Virginia was healthier than tropical Brazil.

158 dkl October 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

Surely errors in textbooks are extremely rare.

Our beloved professional educators detect and eliminate 99.6% of errors, untruths, and misleading info in teaching materials… long before it could affect vulnerable students.

159 Careless October 6, 2015 at 11:04 am

My favorite textbook “error” from a textbook I cannot recall that was used for US history at Northwestern 15 years ago:
On one early page, it stated that Native American warfare was not generally fatal. On literally the next page, it explained that polygamy was caused by the shortage of males due to deaths in war.

160 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 11:54 am

Born to Run is a good book, but similarly, it more or less says Native Mexicans were chia-eating vegetarians, and running made them great hunters.

161 A Definite Beta Guy October 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Perhaps not as contradictory as it appears. I recall a (possibly fictitious) anecdote of two primitive tribes with endemic warfare. They had a Combat Season that where the two tribes would fight each other to absolute nil effect, no deaths on either side. However, when one tribe saw that the other had weakened substantially, they pressed ahead and utterly wiped out the other tribe. Endemic warfare testing for weakness constantly means a small average loss with a huge death-toll at the culmination.

162 Careless October 6, 2015 at 12:46 pm

How is genocide not contradictory of a non-fatal war pattern?

163 A Definite Beta Guy October 6, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Because 99% of the incidents contain zero deaths.

164 RoyL October 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

About 25 years ago Texas had a history book that said that Truman ended the Korean War by dropping an atomic bomb on Korea.

165 josh October 7, 2015 at 10:07 am

You know history professor write the textbooks, even in Texas. If that happened it was a typo.

166 dave October 6, 2015 at 10:05 am

Would it have been so hard to frame this post as:

Not only does the caption use the term workers when it should have used the word slaves, but also it incorrectly states that millions of slaves were brought to the US. It should have said, millions of slaves were brought to the Americas.

167 Cliff October 6, 2015 at 10:36 am

It would have been wrong, but not hard

168 dave October 6, 2015 at 2:15 pm

?

169 MOFO. October 6, 2015 at 10:09 am

“And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.”

Im sorry Alex, you failed to state “and that is way too many” and so you are, therefore, a racist.

170 Chip October 6, 2015 at 10:20 am

Wiki says between 1 and 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by Barbary pirates – along with 700 Americans.

I wonder if DNA mapping has traced the path taken by these slaves into North Africa and the Ottoman Empire.

How many Irish descendants live in Istanbul?

171 XVO October 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

Probably not very many irish, but Spanish and Italian sure.

172 Horhe October 10, 2015 at 4:47 am

Even some Icelanders!

173 The Anti-Gnostic October 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

I wish the textbook had pointed out that the bigger picture is: cheaper, browner labor is not, as it turns out, cheaper.

“As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;”

174 Jimorbid October 6, 2015 at 11:24 am

Interesting to see how many slaves were imported into the U.S. Weird fact: the number of Africans immigrating to the U.S. between 1990 and 2000 is greater than the number of slaves imported into the U.S.

175 Ckb October 6, 2015 at 11:56 am

It’s always amazing to read the comments from a group of soi disant libertarians on the issue of slavery. Illuminating. Almost makes one think that human freedom isn’t such a big deal for a very large number of you.

176 The Anti-Gnostic October 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Well now business owners pay brown people what it formerly cost to feed, clothe and house them and to the extent they don’t, they get to socialize their employees’ cost of living on the taxpayer, along with increased infrastructure, crowding, etc. How does that make you feel?

177 Careless October 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Yep, there’s lots of support for slavery here.

Moron

178 ckb October 6, 2015 at 7:58 pm

I think you mean “Moran.”

179 ThomasH October 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm

No doubt it is good to understand that most of the slaves in the US were born into slavery, but surely it is vastly more important to understand that they were slaves, not “workers.” It is also interesting to understand that in the US the concept of slavery was developed into a theory of race inferiority that was quite unknown in earlier forms of slavery. American Exceptionalism is American Exceptionalism.

180 GinSlinger October 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm

“It is also interesting to understand that in the US the concept of slavery was developed into a theory of race inferiority that was quite unknown in earlier forms of slavery.”

Now, you’ve baked a good deal of wiggle room into “earlier forms of slavery” (Medieval? Iron Age? Roman? Early Classical? African? Middle Eastern? Caste? Pre-historic? Native American?), but you’ve none in “the US . . . concept of slavery developed into a theory of race inferiority that was quite unknown.” Have you spent much time in the primary source material for Caribbean and Iberian slavery? Much in the seventeen century or earlier? Because, if you’re trying to say that’s uniquely a US (post-Revolution or even mainland Anglo-America) concept, I’m afraid you’re deeply, deeply mistaken.

As much as I hate to recommend it, you can start with Thistlewood’s diary. http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/page/241 That’s sufficient in itself, but you could also read up on Brazilian, Spanish, and Dutch slaveries (especially planters’ correspondence).

181 JonFraz October 7, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Actually Africans were imported to the Caribbean because they were deemed, in some ways, superior– to the Native Americans certainly who were perishing in great numbers from European diseases, and in some ways even to the Europeans, who tended not to be very good workers in tropical heat and humidity.

182 GinSlinger October 7, 2015 at 3:24 pm

First, you’re not totally correct about Indian slavery in the Caribbean (see the post-King Philip’s War shipping registers, or the exports out of seventeenth-century Carolina). The problem Europeans found with Indian slaves on the mainland (namely they knew the country well enough to escape) didn’t factor in the Caribbean, where, if one goes through the deeds of Jamaica, for example, one can find Indian slaves being exchanged.

African slaves were viewed as superior in terms of tolerating climate, disease and abuse.

Not in a way that would deem them the superior race in the thinking of their masters and drivers. European workers could sue in courts (even non-denizens) for abuse and be released from indentures (which even convicts and traitors received), unlike Indians or Africans. Hard to put the lash to someone who could use that lash to walk off the plantation.

183 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Losers should know when to stop fighting the Civil War.

184 Careless October 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

As they’re dead, that seems a bit irrelevant

185 Kevin- October 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm

You haven’t been to the American south if you think people here aren’t still fighting the Civil War.

186 josh October 7, 2015 at 10:10 am

Perhaps we could end reconstruction as well. After all, the north did get Rutherford B. Hayes.

187 Rahul October 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm

I have to admit I never expected that number was so low. That’s like the population of Madison, WI imported over 300 years.

188 HL October 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Or roughly how many children of illegal aliens are born in the USA every year

189 msgkings October 6, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Remember in 1840 the US had far fewer people than it does now, though.

190 Cooper October 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Regarding the verb “work”.

It is common to refer to Jewish “workers” at labor camps. We also use the phrase “prisoners were sent to work in the Gulags”. Plenty of farmers talked about horses “working” on farms.

I don’t think “work” automatically implies compensation.

191 mulp October 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Horses may work, but they are never called workers, A working dog is called a dog for short, not a worker.

The textbook cut and pasted “worker” for “slave” on orders of Texas government textbook censored who want it to be clear that the Civil War was about opposition to Obamacare, Planned Parenthood’s genocide of non-whites, and the EPA, and had absolutely nothing to do with slavery because there was never any slavery in America.

192 E. Harding October 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Humans aren’t non-human animals, mulp. And you’re progressively getting more and more insane. Or are you just trolling us?

193 Joanne Jacobs October 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm

“Slave” is politically incorrect, I learned years ago. The correct term is “enslaved person.” That’s so young people won’t forget that slaves are people. Which you’d think would be obvious.

194 Ricardo October 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm

It is not so obvious. In fact the Roman conception of slavery was precisely that slaves were *not* people. A vanquished opponent, at the point of being killed, could be spared and enslaved. The opponent was technically no longer alive (from a legal point of view), but was allowed to remain alive (de facto but not de jure) to serve a master.

Furthermore the obvious parallel construction is “fetuses are people which you’d think would be obvious,” which is not a politically correct thing to say either.

195 Harun October 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm

I have a suspicion the writer/editor may have used the word worker thinking it was a better word, as in, it would be less pejorative.

196 Robert October 6, 2015 at 2:06 pm

On a similar topic, Oprah Winfrey likes to say that “Millions” of African Americans were lynched.

See: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/355067/oprah-laments-millions-lynching-victims-ian-tuttle

The number, of course, is more like 4,000.

197 Robert October 6, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Another interesting tid-bit in today’s NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/10/06/world/europe/ap-eu-britain-meryl-streep.html

“LONDON — Time Out magazine has defended its use of a slogan including the word slave on a T-shirt worn by Meryl Streep to promote the movie “Suffragette,” arguing that critics have taken the quote out of context.

The magazine’s London edition last week published a story including photos of Streep and her co-stars wearing T-shirts reading “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave,” a 1913 quote from suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. The photos triggered controversy, as critics said the words belittled the suffering of slaves in America.”

Apparently, when it comes to using the word “slave”, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

198 dearieme October 7, 2015 at 7:18 am

The Great Reform Act of 1832 took the vote away from those women who had it, in the name of uniformity of franchise in different constituencies. Bad stuff, in my view, but hardly enslavement. By 1913 the bad old English laws on a wife’s property becoming her husband’s had been scrapped by the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882.

Not that these facts have anything to do with the ubersensitivity to the quotation of a historical use of “slave”. Though you could argue that that use showed Edwardian women being rather hysterical, and so is deeply insensitive stereotyping. Has anyone made that whinge yet?

199 mulp October 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm

“Regardless of whether you think that slaves are workers or not the textbook failed its students by getting the facts wrong. In a better culture, that failure would make for a controversy and a story in the New York Times.”

Alex, the Texas school board would totally disagree with you!

This textbook gets history correct for the benefit of Texas youth who have been saved from your liberal leftist indoctrination, especially your implication that people have sex and reproduce. How can there be 3 million Africans in America if 3 million were not brought to the US to be workers?

Patriotic Texans and Americans have worked hard to correct history and eliminate all the liberal leftist indoctrination about how Americans have been evil!

200 Cooper October 6, 2015 at 4:16 pm

This story is basically mood affiliation.

Texas is racist. Therefore anything that Texans do which could be interpreted as racist must be interpreted as racist.

It would have been nice to see the surrounding pages to get a sense of how the author is writing about this topic. I think everyone agrees that slavery is horrible and that students should be taught about the history of slavery in the United States. If this textbook is actually downplaying this part of history and pretending that it wasn’t an important part of life in the antebellum South, then I’ve got a big problem with that.

Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough information to make that determination. We’re looking at one sentence out of hundreds of pages. If we’re already jumping to the conclusion that the textbook is racist based off this one blurb, then we’re never going to have a real discussion about ANYTHING.

201 Careless October 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm

This place needs some sort of Sailer+Jews Godwin rule.

202 Bernard Yomtov October 6, 2015 at 5:53 pm

And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.

So if 15 million slaves had been shipped elsewhere, then shipping 388,000 to North america would hardly be worth mentioning at all? Is that right? Strikes me as curious view of slavery in North America.

203 Tyler October 6, 2015 at 10:49 pm

It’s easy for the population to grow with regular (totally voluntary, right?) genetic input from their white masters.

204 josh October 7, 2015 at 10:21 am

When most people think of slavery, they think of the first half of the 19th century and gone with the wind style giant manors. There were two centuries of slavery in America before this. Slaves mostly lives, ate and worked alongside their masters. In the early period slave status was inherited via the father as in England. This lead to many slaves marrying their masters so that their children would inherit free status. The barely emerging planter aristocracy gradually adopted different laws in order to keep their laborers. Nevertheless, the racial mixture in the US largely stems from this early period as well as marriages, which may not have been legally recognized (which did what for you in the 18th century rural south?), but nevertheless existed especially on small rural farms with a few slaves, where the slave women may have been the only females around for miles, and the master was, after all, the big man.

205 Los Ranchos October 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm

Following Wal-Mart, shouldn’t they be called “Associates”?

206 derek October 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm

“brought” here is just ambiguous enough that it is perhaps a case of poor phrasing on the textbook’s part and pedantry on alex’s. the most incorrect of the sentence is absolutely the workers/slaves issue.

207 Katie Woolf October 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm

I think there is a huge problem in the United States with textbooks. They are becoming more and more incorrect and biased. Even if they weren’t having problems with facts and bias, the school system is not receiving enough funds to get textbooks. The education system is extremely flawed in this country, yet it seems that a lot of the legislation is against reforming it.

As to referring to slaves as “workers”, I think that is one of the most offensive things I could imagine to write in a text book. Workers implies that they had a choice in the matter. I think we all know that that is not the case. I’m sad that not only was this written in a text book, it passed certification and no one seemed to have a problem with it.

208 Bill October 8, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Slave trade did not bring any slaves to the Southern US in the 1500’s No US, no British colonies even until Jamestown founded (1607) unless we are talking about the Spanish and Florida which is not what the caption is pointing too.

209 EkkjvSuOOkKPqlx October 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

rPkaxIPxVgnBkhjUOF 8277

210 strategery October 15, 2015 at 10:43 pm

Texas textbook adoption has been frought with politics for a long time and there is a long history of various textbooks indulging southern revisionism about the Civil War that emphasizes ‘state’s rights,’ tariff policy, and a narrative of economics intended to deflect from slavery and racism. Maybe this is a routine editing error, but then again those people involved in producing this text should understand the historiography well enough to catch this awkwardly mis-calibrated language. Although overwrought and somewhat outdated, I recommend Loewen’s _Lies My Teacher Told Me_ to Alex. “Millions” deserved to be part of the coverage — but the chances of that being influenced by textbook adoption considerations is much lower than the repeated use of ‘work’ over ‘slave” and it is that still pernicious influence that deserved to be at the center of the story.

211 strategery October 21, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Further proof that Alex just doesn’t get it:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/opinion/how-texas-teaches-history.html?_r=0
I’m sorry but the problem with this textbook is that it soft-pedals slavery, not that it exaggerated the extent of forced migration. A classic example of offering just enough context to make an (invalid) point. Appropriate for an economist I suppose but still shallow.

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