Teacher Says ‘America Has Never Been Great for Minorities’

Johnetta Benton was caught on tape in a 15-minute rant against President Trump's campaign slogan. She ain't wrong.

Fox News (“‘America’s Never Been Great’: Student Records Teacher Saying Trump ‘MAGA’ Slogan Trying to Bring Back Segregation“):

On “Fox & Friends,” Abby Huntsman interviewed a Georgia middle school student who captured audio of her teacher ripping President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Josie Orihuela of Hampton Middle School near Atlanta began recording on her phone when sixth-grade teacher Johnetta Benton began reaming out the president.

“When my president says let’s Make America Great Again, when was he talking about?” Benton is heard asking, and later adding that Trump must mean when “[America] was great for Europeans.”

“Because,” Benton continues, “when it comes to minorities, America has never been great for minorities.”

Huntsman said the incident happened at the same high school where another teacher requested students write letters to their lawmakers demanding gun control.

Orihuela said Benton made the comments as she was introducing a video to celebrate Black History Month.

“It kept getting worse and worse,” she said.

Though not captured on the audio played by Huntsman, Orihuela said that at one point, Benton surmised aloud that “Make America Great Again” could be a precursor to “trying to bring back segregation.”

In 1954, the Supreme Court – led by Chief Justice Earl Warren – outlawed school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Orihuela said she showed her mother the tape, and that they both were shocked by Benton’s words.

Henry County School District spokesperson J.D. Hardin later called the incident “extremely unfortunate” and said that the “matter was addressed” after the tape went public.

While the Fox report is somewhat sensationalistic, the basic reporting comports with what I’m seeing elsewhere.

On the substance, it’s hard to argue with Benton. Slavery came to America before the Pilgrims and remained in effect through 1865. Jim Crow replaced it for another hundred years and, while we’ve certainly made great strides over the last half century or so, it’s hard to find a category where blacks are faring as well as whites.

On style, however, Benton was clearly in the wrong. First, the rant is seldom an effective educational technique, especially at the 6th grade level. A dialogue with the students starting with “When was America great?” and introducing questions about race would have gotten the students to reach the same conclusions for themselves in a much more effective manner. Second, as a school spokesman correctly noted, “This unfortunate incident affords us to opportunity to remind our educators of the importance of keeping any potential political bias out of lessons for students of any age.” It’s simply not the place of elementary schoolteachers to bring their politics to the classroom. Again, I think it’s perfectly appropriate—especially in a lesson about Black History Month (apparently, this incident happened several weeks ago)—to question the slogan and policy proposals. It’s quite another to rant about a political figure.

A right-leaning site called IJR, whose veracity I don’t have any insights into, adds another component to the story (“Sixth-Grade Teacher Told Students They’re All Illegal Immigrants in Anti-Trump Rant“):

The conversation then turned to illegal immigration, at which point another teacher, Mr. Stroud, entered the classroom and said, “All of us here are all illegal immigrants.”

“Because America belonged to somebody else,” Benton added as a reference to Native Americans.

The teacher contended that aside from African-Americans and Native Americans, who came here as slaves against their will, everyone is “illegal immigrants” and pointed to all the white students.

“So every person in here — unless you’re a Native American, and I sure don’t see any in here, I could be wrong — we’re all immigrants,” she said. “So when you say immigrants are killing folks, that’s us. That’s you, you, you, you and you.”

The only other sites reporting that exchange are of the message board variety. If, indeed, it happened Stroud is simply wrong on the facts. First, it’s dubious to call the initial wave of white settlers to North America “illegal immigrants” given that the continent’s aboriginal peoples didn’t have any concept of immigration law. Second, even if we’re going to grant that premise for the sake of argument, the overwhelming number of immigrants came after the establishment of the United States and in accord with our immigration laws—which until the 1920s was incredibly permissive.* Third, it’s quite likely that all of the white students in that classroom were born here and therefore not immigrants, legal or otherwise. at all.

_________________

*The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Alien Contract Labor laws of 1885 and 1887, the first attempts to curtail immigration, weren’t targeted at whites. Certainly, Irish and later Italian immigrants faced rampant bigotry; but we didn’t start limiting white immigration through legislation until 1924.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Education, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    If you are measuring it in how they treated racial, cultural, and religious minorities, then no nation has ever been great. Not America. Not England. Not France. Not Japan. Not Cuba. Nobody.

    But landing a man on the moon wasn’t great? Saving the world from Nazism and Comminism wasn’t great? Building the Panama Canal? Overthrowing a system of slavery created by Europeans? The Civil Rights Movement?

    What would this teacher say about the black-, Hispanic-, and Asian-American who have and are sacrificing their lives to serve and defend America? Are they all fools? Suckers? Should they be mocked instead of celebrated?

    It’s convenient to call this “political” but this isn’t like a socialist teacher ranting about health care or a Randian tirade on income taxes. If this teacher really did blather on about all the students being illegal immigrants, it wasn’t just an error of education or knowledge.

    Mike

    6
  2. michael reynolds says:

    I’m of two minds on this. The teacher is certainly right to point to slavery and the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Native Americans. I don’t have a transcript here, but it sounds about as accurate as a 6th grade history class is likely to be, and certainly more accurate than my 6th grade class in Virginia history, circa 1960’s. In general we do a piss poor job of teaching history.

    The truth is that we built this country by conquest, expropriation and ethnic cleansing. This does not differentiate us from many countries, but that’s the point, isn’t it? We aren’t special. We stole this country at gunpoint, just like lots of other countries, empires, etc… So, “illegal immigrants?” Unwanted immigrants, certainly. Brutal immigrants absolutely. And as we were stealing most of North America from the Indians we stole still more from the people who’d already stolen from the Indians. California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada were taken at gunpoint from the people who’d taken it at gunpoint from the Indians, and we took it for the purpose of extending slavery. Sort of like ripping off a stolen goods fence in order to finance your meth cooking business.

    We kept our economy growing by the importation and later breeding of slaves. And it was a very brutal form of slavery, with whites depriving slaves of ever more liberty. For example, passing laws against manumission. Even at the end the slave states were actively working to make slavery even more vile. A typical slave in ancient Rome was better off and had more rights than a black slave in the American south.

    So, slavery, ethnic cleansing, genocide and wars of conquest. When slavery died we replaced it with Jim Crow.

    All that having been said, I’ve worried for many years about the loss of unifying narrative in American society. We’ve deconstructed the religious, quasi-religious, and historical lies that formed our national story. We are much closer to understanding something like objective truth when it comes to our history. But in the process we’ve lost the narrative – pilgrims to founders to civil war to cowboys to saving the world in WW2 to landing on the moon to Apple and Amazon. Every part of the narrative was false in whole or in significant degree, it was clumsy fiction, but it worked as a national myth, at least for the majority population.

    So my concern is this: can this nation founded on wonderful ideals but propped up with lies, survive without those lies? Can we hold together without our bogus mythology? 46% of American voters apparently think the answer is no.

    18
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    We all *came* from somewhere else, every single one of our forebears emigrated here from another continent. What trump is proposing now is IGMFY based upon racial resentment. I find the demonization of illegal immigrants of color rather instructive. Just try to have a constructive factual conversation with a MAGA person on the subject. Everything is the fault of immigrants, they cause measles epidemics in wealthy enclaves (not the parents who aren’t vaccinating their children), they are *stealing* our jobs (you can not steal a thing that can’t be owned) (they never condemn the American who hires them, funny how that works), killing the English language by speaking Spanish (Freedom of speech anyone?), coming here for their SNAP benefits (for which most don’t even qualify), just basically ruining America with anchor babies, etc etc etc.

    10
  4. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Like slavery, the conquest of the country and the systematic forcible migration of the aboriginal peoples to the West and reservations are original sins of our society. But the “we’re all illegal immigrants” line simply doesn’t make factual sense. And, yes, it’s a hard line to draw between an honest portrayal of American history and the nation-building requirements of civics education. At the higher levels, I think it’s easy: The Declaration was an aspirational document and we’ve slowly moved in the direction of reaching those aspirations, if not always in a straight line. And we’ve come closer to it than just about any other country and, certainly, closer than any country with comparable diversity and power.

    @OzarkHillbilly: I agree with most of that but the “we all came from somewhere” argument annoys me. Many of us were born here. We did nothing to deserve that but it’s a fact. We can’t simultaneously say that children born here to illegal aliens are natural-born citizens and that white children born here to fifth-generation citizens are immigrants. It’s just nonsensical.

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    But landing a man on the moon wasn’t great? Saving the world from Nazism and Comminism wasn’t great? Building the Panama Canal? Overthrowing a system of slavery created by Europeans? The Civil Rights Movement?

    Oy, what a list. You know, @Bung, your list is an eloquent refutation of your thesis.

    We get credit for greatness because we sacrificed 600,000 American lives in a war that ended slavery, but only as a byproduct rather than as a goal? And we also get credit for the Civil Rights movement which, a century after the end of slavery, had to do it all over again? Yay? I stopped beating my wife, I’m special!

    And how exactly did we save the world from Naziism? Did it involve sitting on the sidelines while the Brits and the Communists did the fighting and dying, then swooping in to claim ownership of the whole war, but only when the Japanese left us no alternative?

    The moon landing, absolutely. That will be the first line in our national obituary some day. But man, that is a thin list to balance against slavery and genocide. Sorry about the three centuries of slavery, and the wars of conquest and the genocide, but hey: rocket!

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  6. DrDaveT says:

    This unfortunate incident affords us to opportunity to remind our educators of the importance of keeping any potential political bias out of lessons for students of any age.

    While I certainly agree with you about the dubious effectiveness of ranting at 6th graders, this particular ship has sailed. The GOP made a deliberate choice to politicize facts — facts about climate change, facts about immigrants, facts about crime, facts about racial bias, facts about police bias, facts about gun violence, facts about the biology of gender identification — so that now simply acknowledging those facts has become a political statement.

    Keeping politics out of education won’t be possible again until you can teach the current scientific or historical consensus without making a partisan statement.

    (And, seriously, you should have left the “all illegal immigrants” line alone. I’m not sure which is worse: the first silly legalistic argument, or the “people who came later complied with the laws the original thieves had established” argument.)

    10
  7. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    (And, seriously, you should have left the “all illegal immigrants” line alone. I’m not sure which is worse: the first silly legalistic argument, or the “people who came later complied with the laws the original thieves had established” argument.)

    I fully acknowledge that our forebears conquered their way to ownership of most of North America and used ethnic cleansing, if not genocide lite, to get there. It’s just rather silly to call that “illegal immigration.” And those born here aren’t immigrants regardless of what happened centuries ago.

    5
  8. Timothy Watson says:

    @michael reynolds: It’s worth mentioning that our success with rocketry was the direct result of us welcoming Nazis into the United States to help, including one, Arthur Rudolph, who we ended up kicking out of the country when he became a political liability due to suspected war crimes.

    16
  9. mattbernius says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Keeping politics out of education won’t be possible again until you can teach the current scientific or historical consensus without making a partisan statement.

    I think the mistake is pretending that there was a time that politics were *not* part of education. The reality is that the moment that you are choosing and assembling facts into a narrative, politics will always enter the equation (as Orwell, among others, was always quick to point out).

    So it’s far better to acknowledge and own the politics of education than for either side to pretend it isn’t there.

    3
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    We can’t simultaneously say that children born here to illegal aliens are natural-born citizens and that white children born here to fifth-generation citizens are immigrants. It’s just nonsensical.

    I agree, but then, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is “every single one of our forebears emigrated here from another continent.” and now people want to beat up on the “Johnny come lately’s” for trying to do the same.

    I’m just really tired of the bashing of immigrants who come here for the same reasons our ancestors did. And all too many of them have made far more sacrifices than most Americans can even imagine for the opportunities we take for granted, suffering rape, beatings, kidnappings, etc etc on the long road up here, not to mention paying thousands of $s just to get across the border and under constant threat of deportation once they get here, working far harder for less money than most Americans would even think of to get enough money to feed, house, and clothe themselves here and their families back home and maybe bring a brother, sister, wife up here to help and doing all of it without any guarantees or any kind of social safety net if something should go wrong. (Unemployment? HA! Food stamps? HAHA! Workmen’s Comp? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHEEheeheehee…. I crack me up)

    And many of them arrive wanting to go back home after a few years but life happens, there is never enough money and one starts putting down roots, getting married, having children and the next thing they know they aren’t the same person who came here a decade ago. And of those who come with no intention of returning, you wouldn’t either if you had that waiting for you.

    I know these people, worked the same job sites of more than a few in 35 yrs of construction, enjoyed the company of many after their returns to Mexico. I admire them, because if anything they are deserving of admiration.

    We have an illegal immigration problem in this country, I’m not saying we don’t, but demonizing desperate people who are just trying to survive is not the solution.

    16
  11. James Pearce says:

    “Because,” Benton continues, “when it comes to minorities, America has never been great for minorities.”

    My big problem with this is taking a 21st Century understanding of the world and trying to send that back into the past. Minorities? C’mon…

    Some of the best years for “minorities” in America came in the hundred or so years after 1492, when conquering an empire earned you an encomienda. When the Mayflower landed, when Jamestown was founded, who was the “minority?”

    And this:

    So every person in here — unless you’re a Native American, and I sure don’t see any in here, I could be wrong — we’re all immigrants

    is understandable, but it’s ignorant. The Native Americans migrated here too, and –shocker– once they got here, they kept migrating.

    I can appreciate what this teacher is trying to do, but the proper way to explode the myths of colonialism is not to buy into them in the first place.

    3
  12. michael reynolds says:

    I can appreciate what this teacher is trying to do, but the proper way to explode the myths of colonialism is not to buy into them in the first place.

    Bingo. The problem we have is narrative. Everything we teach anyone – kid or adult – is contained within a larger narrative. Above we see @Bung clinging to the heroic narrative he learned in school. The old saw goes, “Every great nation was founded on a knife and a lie.”

    People incorporate narratives and once they have, no amount of contradictory evidence is likely to sway them. Most people do not have a ‘delete’ function. Most people do not revise or update. This is natural if you take a sort of architectural view of the human mind, with foundations and supporting walls and the rest. In that world view tampering with the foundation brings down the whole structure.

    This is why I wish we built education on the scientific method: observation, experimentation, replicability. But this necessarily involves people accepting uncertainty and God knows Americans need their smug certainty. In reality everything, almost literally everything, is subject to revision when new data comes along. But a population raised on Bible stories and Washington’s cherry tree massacre is not prepared to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty, nuance. . . I’m beginning to suspect that a significant portion of the population does not have the computational power to cope with anything but certainties.

    7
  13. Gustopher says:

    First, it’s dubious to call the initial wave of white settlers to North America “illegal immigrants” given that the continent’s aboriginal peoples didn’t have any concept of immigration law.

    It’s called a metaphor, James.

    12
  14. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We get credit for greatness because we sacrificed 600,000 American lives in a war that ended slavery, but only as a byproduct rather than as a goal? And we also get credit for the Civil Rights movement which, a century after the end of slavery, had to do it all over again? Yay? I stopped beating my wife, I’m special!

    It’s all in the phrasing.

    Our country was founded on principles of liberty and equality that we didn’t meet at the time, and still don’t meet, but continue to aspire to. We have risen above our basest instincts, time and time again. And we will probably continue to do so.

    We are a nation founded on ideals rather than ethnicity, and because of this we mistreat our minorities less worse than nearly every country on the planet — we mistreat our minorities less worse than many countries treat their majorities. It’s why people will travel thousands of miles, and uproot their family to be here, despite the discrimination.

    People vote with their feet, and the numbers don’t lie. It’s better to be second class in America than to be a poor person in Mexico, either a Tootsie or a Hutu in Rwanda (I can’t remember which is which), nearly everyone in Syria, a Muslim in Myanmar, or apparently even a software engineer in India.

    America is the land of opportunity and no death squads (police shooting black and brown people at a higher rate than whites notwithstanding).

    —-

    See, it’s all in the phrasing.

    5
  15. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oh, I absolutely agree. Recall the famous clip of Reagan and Bush debating this topic in the 1980 primaries and falling all over themselves with how decent the migrants themselves were and how they should be admired rather than demonized.

    2
  16. James Joyner says:
  17. Monala says:

    @James Pearce: Europeans didn’t always live in Europe, either.

    2
  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Whatever happened to those kinds of Republicans? Is it really as simple as FOX?

    1
  19. teve tory says:

    And how exactly did we save the world from Naziism? Did it involve sitting on the sidelines while the Brits and the Communists did the fighting and dying, then swooping in to claim ownership of the whole war, but only when the Japanese left us no alternative?

    A lot of the ‘if it weren’t for us you’d be speaking german’ people have no idea that in WW2, France lost 50% more people than the US did, and the USSR lost 50 times the number the US did. Just to mention a couple facts.

    7
  20. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The problem we have is narrative.

    Yeah, or more precisely, with competing narratives. Regarding the Native Americans, they were once considered barely human savages with no civilization desperately in need of some Jesus–obvious BS– but then it was countered with a narrative that says Native Americans are the most civilized, that they lived in harmony with nature and never knew war or cruelty or inequality until their cultures were contaminated by the Europeans. And that’s BS too.

    And it’s like, stop the BS. Reality is sooooo much more messy.

    @Monala:

    Europeans didn’t always live in Europe, either.

    True, and for the first tens of thousands of years at least, they weren’t what we would consider to be “white” either.

    3
  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @teve tory: The day Hitler invaded the USSR was the beginning of the end.

    @James Pearce: Cheddar man: First modern Britons had ‘dark to black’ skin, Cheddar Man DNA analysis reveals

    2
  22. steve says:

    The rant was inappropriate by the teacher. She should face some consequences. It is a shame since she missed a great opportunity. Go through our history from some point in the past, say our founding but it could be another time, then ask them if our country was better then than now, then ask about of whom it was better.

    Steve

    1
  23. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Regarding the Native Americans, they were once considered barely human savages with no civilization desperately in need of some Jesus–obvious BS– but then it was countered with a narrative that says Native Americans are the most civilized, that they lived in harmony with nature and never knew war or cruelty or inequality until their cultures were contaminated by the Europeans. And that’s BS too.

    What’s important to note is that both those narratives were created by… well… white folks.

    That’s part of the issue of being a historic minority — you don’t have the institutional power to set your own “official” narrative (itself an aspect of colonization).

    12
  24. george says:

    When was America ever great for poor people? Did I sleep through that week of its 240 plus years?

    8
  25. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    That’s part of the issue of being a historic minority — you don’t have the institutional power to set your own “official” narrative

    Maybe, but then I think back to all the pre-Columbian literature we could be reading if the Spanish, who were still a minority at that point, hadn’t destroyed it all.

    I guess my point is that oppression and injustice is not always a case of the majority smashing on the minority. In some of the most egregious cases, especially in the colonial era, it’s the minority smashing on the majority. I’m aware of how that sounds to liberal ears, but is it not true?

    The British never landed somewhere, be it in America, Africa, India, Australia, or Asia, and found themselves subjugated. You know?

    1
  26. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    The British never landed somewhere, be it in America, Africa, India, Australia, or Asia, and found themselves subjugated. You know?

    Interesting contrafactual possibility: had the North American Indians not already been largely wiped out by diseases for which they had no immunity, the early settlers might well have found themselves the slaves. Arquebuses were only a marginal improvement on the bow and arrow and had the Iroquois for example had the equivalent of the English longbow the Europeans would have had no advantage at all except in set-piece battles.

    5
  27. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: I think it was Hillaire Beloc who stated it as:

    We have the Maxim gun
    And they do not

    What differs the U.S. from almost all other countries in the world is the idealism and the idea “hey, I can move to a different country in order to remake myself and my family for a better life.” The fact that it also allowed people to pretend that they were Russian nobles on the run from the Revolution (as not a few people notoriously did in Hollywood and elsewhere) is a side effect.

    We are insistent on having “a frontier” and “land of new opportunity.” It used to be geographic–then for a long time we’ve been able to do it technologically (which is why a lot of people moved out to places like Silicon Valley.) Now–we’ve lost the frontier and the realisation that we’ve got to live check-by-jowl with People We Don’t Get Along With is driving us nuts.

    4
  28. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you missed the best part of Bungles’ response — that we are great because we wonderful Americans rose up and ended the system of slavery that was entirely the fault of those icky Europeans. That’s right — all those Southern slaveholders desperately wanted to end slavery, it’s just them sneaky Europers kept forcing their hands to pick up those whips.

    9
  29. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So, a lesson in critical thinking in a classroom environment becomes national news.

    Slow news weekend.

    4
  30. TM01 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: so you’re saying other places are shitholes?
    Maybe we should encourage people to fix their own countries. You know, by adopting everything that’s great about the US.
    Freedom. Capitalism.

    At least we try to live up to what is in our founding documents. Many nations don’t even do that. Even RBG would look to other nations over ours if writing a new Constitution. WTF.

    We had slavery. Democrats pivoted to Jim crow when the was gone. Then they switched to destruction of the black family and a culture of dependency once Jim Crow went away.

    Do, yes. True that we’ve had a bad history there.

    And speaking of politicalization of education, the Left now churns out people from school who think the US invented slavery, that Republicans fought the civil Rights act, and who think that the Constitution says blacks are 3/5 of a person.

    Is this country perfect? Are we totally innocent? Of course not. But we’re still a far cry better than any other nation, as evidenced by the amount of people wanting to come here.

    As an aside, I’m old enough to remember Democrats tripping over themselves to prove they were tough on illegal immigration, all to help the American worker.

    2
  31. TM01 says:

    @James Pearce: a narrative that says Native Americans are the most civilized, that they lived in harmony with nature and never knew war or cruelty or inequality until their cultures were contaminated by the Europeans.

    Yeah. I love that one.

    NA was a big frakking Disney Movie until the White Man showed up. Talk about racist. “The native Americans were simple folk, free of the concerns and troubles that plague the vastly superior white man.”

    Goes along with that map making the rounds showing the territories of Native American tribes, as if it would still exist that way today because the Simple Native Americans would never change or evolve their ways.

  32. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Maybe, but then I think back to all the pre-Columbian literature we could be reading if the Spanish, who were still a minority at that point, hadn’t destroyed it all.

    May different forms of pre-encounter texts still exist. It’s simply that the people writing the history/doing the education ignore them. Because that’s their power, which gets too..

    I guess my point is that oppression and injustice is not always a case of the majority smashing on the minority. In some of the most egregious cases, especially in the colonial era, it’s the minority smashing on the majority.

    Sigh — if you control the guns, you are not a historic “minority” in any meaningful way. Playing with “majority” and “minority” in this way really misses the much bigger point. And quite frankly does a disservice to actual historic minorities.

    @michael reynolds:

    North American Indians not already been largely wiped out by diseases for which they had no immunity, the early settlers might well have found themselves the slaves.

    Perhaps though the story definitely shifts depending on which section of NA we are talking about.

    The fact is that tribal politics and the “novelty” of the new settlers allowed Europeans to get a foothold in the areas that became US and Canada. The fact you had a lot of different nations settling the same area helped as well (as different tribes made different deals with varying settler groups). That began a death by 1,000 cuts — Indian’s loosing land and power — until the Settlers had overwhelming military technology in place.

    And, with the Spanish — in Mexico and Central America — it was partially disease. But a lot of it had to do with (again) politics and the fact that the Catholic Church supported the slave trade started by Columbus. And the fact that Columbus and his successors were far more ruthless in terms of surpressing any sort of rebellion.

    4
  33. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @teve tory:

    the USSR lost 50 times the number the US did

    Well and good, but don’t forget the role that Stalin played in that statistic, ok?

  34. PJ says:

    @MBunge:

    But landing a man on the moon wasn’t great? Saving the world from Nazism and Comminism wasn’t great?

    How about landing a man on the moon by saving a lot of Nazis?
    Operation Paperclip

    Operation Paperclip was a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) largely carried out by Special Agents of Army CIC, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were recruited in post-Nazi Germany and taken to the U.S. for government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party.

    Nazis like Hubertus Strughold:

    For fifty years, from 1963 to 2013, the Strughold Award – named after Hubertus Strughold, The Father of Space Medicine for his central role in developing innovations like the space suit and space life support systems – was the most prestigious award from the Space Medicine Association, a member organization of the Aerospace Medical Association.

    During his work on behalf of the Air Force and NASA, Strughold was the subject of three separate US government investigations into his suspected involvement in war crimes committed under the Nazis. A 1958 investigation by the Justice Department fully exonerated Strughold, while a second inquiry launched by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1974 was later abandoned due to lack of evidence. In 1983 the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations reopened his case but withdrew from the effort when Strughold died in September, 1986.

    Following his death, Strughold’s alleged connection to the Dachau experiments became more widely known following the release of US Army Intelligence documents from 1945 that listed him among those being sought as war criminals by US authorities.

    Further questions about Strughold’s activities during World War II emerged in 2004 following an investigation conducted by the Historical Committee of the German Society of Air and Space Medicine. The inquiry uncovered evidence of oxygen deprivation experiments carried out by Strughold’s Institute for Aviation Medicine in 1943. According to these findings six epileptic children, between the ages of 11 and 13, were taken from the Nazi’s Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre to Strughold’s Berlin laboratory where they were placed in vacuum chambers to induce epileptic seizures in an effort to simulate the effects of high-altitude sicknesses, such as hypoxia. While, unlike the Dachau experiments, all the test subjects survived the research process, this revelation led the Society of Air and Space Medicine to abolish a major award bearing Strughold’s name. A similar campaign by American scholars prompted the US branch of the Aerospace Medical Association to announce in 2012 that it would also consider rechristening a similar award, also named in Strughold’s honor, which it had been bestowing since 1963. The move was met with opposition from defenders of Strughold, citing his massive contributions to the American space program and the lack of any formal proof of his direct involvement in war crimes.

    But, yeah, landing a man on the moon was great! Totally worth it!

    4
  35. PJ says:

    My comment is in moderation! Only two actual links….

  36. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Interesting contrafactual possibility: had the North American Indians not already been largely wiped out by diseases for which they had no immunity, the early settlers might well have found themselves the slaves.

    I’ve often wondered how history would have went had Cortes not survived La Noche De Triste. The official language of Mexico might still be Nahuatl. Sure, maybe some other Spaniard or group of Spaniards, or maybe the Portuguese, the Dutch even, may have conquered them eventually.

    But the Commanche went from a band of rogue Shoshones to a virtual empire in a few hundred years after they got their hands on the horse. Imagine the Triple Alliance …with cavalry.

    @grumpy realist:

    Now–we’ve lost the frontier and the realisation that we’ve got to live check-by-jowl with People We Don’t Get Along With is driving us nuts.

    You may be right. I think the big problem isn’t necessarily the loss of a frontier but perhaps the idea that the world can be separated into “us” and “them,” and that’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves.

    It’s just “us.”

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  37. James Pearce says:

    @TM01:

    NA was a big frakking Disney Movie until the White Man showed up. Talk about racist.

    I don’t think it’s racist, per se, just a little fanciful. A lot of native history has been lost, some intentionally and some not, so people fill in the gaps with fantasy. I get it, but it’s still wishful thinking.

    @mattbernius:

    May different forms of pre-encounter texts still exist.

    There are four. Four books. There are inscriptions and stelae, but only four books in the classic Mayan language.

    There were thousands. But only four remain.

    Playing with “majority” and “minority” in this way really misses the much bigger point. And quite frankly does a disservice to actual historic minorities.

    This is exactly what I find objectionable in Benton’s rant. History is more complex than “European white people subjugating non-European brown people.”

    1
  38. Megan McArdle says:

    @michael reynolds: Ummmm, having recently spent a bit of time studying up on the ancient near east, this seems *awfully* unlikely to me. Iron weapons and stirrup-mounted troops proved pretty decisive time after time against stone or even bronze. And AFAIK, there’s no evidence of smelting in pre-Colombian America. Some flint arrowheads are reputed to have had great penetrating power, but that was against mail, not plate, as I understand it; even cotton/leather considerably reduces its stopping power. And flint arrowheads are comparatively slow to make, which is a problem if you’re up against people who can smelt arrowheads in batches of hundreds, and turn out metal stabbing weapons in a variety of shapes and sizes without worrying about excessive weight or brittleness. Obsidian and flint are limited in the shapes you can make, both because of snapping/brittleness and (IIRC) because of weight. Steel doesn’t have that limitation.

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  39. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @PJ:

    How about landing a man on the moon by saving a lot of Nazis?

    How about some moon Nazi’s?

    I strongly suggest “Iron Sky” as a suspension-of-disbelief-Sunday movie.

    preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jth4yATniS4

    2
  40. An Interested Party says:

    We had slavery. Democrats pivoted to Jim crow when the was gone.

    Nice try, but the common link there was Southerners, not Democrats…

    Then they switched to destruction of the black family and a culture of dependency once Jim Crow went away.

    It’s always amusing when this argument is made…if Democrats are so horrible for black people, why are so many Democratic politicians black and why do black people vote for Democrats in such overwhelming numbers…perhaps you think black people are just stupid…

    And speaking of politicalization of education, the Left now churns out people from school who think the US invented slavery, that Republicans fought the civil Rights act, and who think that the Constitution says blacks are 3/5 of a person.

    Oh my, do you have links to prove all of this bull$hit that you have typed…

    4
  41. James Pearce says:

    @Megan McArdle: That’s all true, and unmentioned is smelting out nails, from which they made ships. I don’t think Cortes could have taken Tenochtitlan without the brigantines he deployed on Lake Texcoco. The city was designed to resist a land invasion and he knew that because he almost got stuck in it.

    But what mitigates the weapons discussion, a little bit, at least in regards to the conquest of Mexico, is that Cortes had thousands of native allies from neighboring cities and they were outfitted with the same old obsidian weapons they always had. I presume the Spanish let them do much of the fighting.

    His men, and women, he kept close. The boat builder shipwright, closest of all.

    1
  42. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MBunge: That was an extremely wordy way of saying she was right.

    1
  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @An Interested Party: It’s always amusing when this argument is made…if Democrats are so horrible for black people, why are so many Democratic politicians black and why do black people vote for Democrats in such overwhelming numbers…perhaps you think black people are just stupid…

    Siiiiighh, because if you have to choose between getting run through with a sword or punched in the face. You’ll take your chances with the face punch. We can survive Democratic prejudice–Republican racism is terminal. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party–the 45 and under crowd isn’t drinking the kool-aid. Ask Hillary Clinton.

    The Party will have to figure out a platform that speaks directly to the concerns of the black community–“vote for us because republicans are racists” will no longer cut it. Not only did HC see a huge drop of support from the 45 and under black demographic that came out to support Obama…but Trump out-performed every Republican candidate in black voters since Bush 2004. That should NEVER EVER have happened. I don’t know what to tell Democrats–until I hear something about reigning in the War or Drugs, Police Reforms, and improving integration of blacks in occupations controlled by cartels…(i.e. Medical & Law Schools) I consider the Party to be– Prejudice Lite.

  44. Jim Brown 32 says:

    This is one of those scenarios where you let your dog take a $h1t in the neighbors yard and the neighbor catches you and you yell out “bad dawg!” for the benefit of the neighbor before apologizing to them. As you walk off…you tell your dog, “good boy…”

    All the years white teachers told black children they would never amount to $h1t–and now there’s righteous indignation because a black teacher told white kids that the country aint never been great for minorities–a demonstrably factual statement. GTFOH

    I challenge anyone, especially Bung…to name ONE…ONE 10 year period in this country’s history where it was great to be black. I don’t care about Russia, Japan, Saturn, Mars, Pluto…wherever. Im American…so I care about American History.

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  45. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Interesting contrafactual possibility: had the North American Indians not already been largely wiped out by diseases for which they had no immunity, the early settlers might well have found themselves the slaves.

    I doubt it. Amerindians were more likely to kill White Colonialists than to enslave them.

    1
  46. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Oh, no, I saw that. But it was so obviously absurd I was kind of baffled as to how to take it on.

    Hey, I may be a co-producer on a feature (which I can’t name.) Literally no idea what that means but I assume it’s the credit they give to on-set drug dealers, brothers-in-law and enthusiastic groupies. So naturally I’m chuffed, as the Brits say.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Megan McArdle:
    My kind of person. In another tab I’m actually shopping for a sword. When I wrote about WW2 I assembled the whole GI kit and fired the infantry weapons in Vegas. (Where else do you go to fire Thompsons?) Now I’m writing a medieval-ish story and thinking I’d best have myself a sword. High carbon steel, natch. I’m thinking of the Henry V replica. I’ll be able to drive my wife slowly mad, stomping around the house with my sword while quoting lines from the play.

    1
  48. Fog says:

    Let’s give the Native Americans their due. They made short work of the Vikings, iron and all.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @TM01:

    Maybe we should encourage people to fix their own countries.

    Yeah, after we and other western colonial countries, raped and pillaged them and their land for all we could get and our corporations continue to do so until they will just inevitably pick up and take their riches home leaving the locals to deal with the ruins and pollution they leave behind while we “shareholders” reap the benefits.

    Right.

    4
  50. Megan J McArdle says:

    @michael reynolds: Ha! The reason that I’ve been reading about the ancient near east is that I, suddenly and for no apparent reason, decided to spend my spare time writing a science fiction novel with sword warfare in it (though technically, as I learned while writing it, mostly spear/axe/bashing/finish-them-off-with-a-knife warfare.)

    2
  51. mattbernius says:

    @michael reynolds, @Megan J McArdle:

    Now I’m writing a medieval-ish story and thinking I’d best have myself a sword. High carbon steel, natch. I’m thinking of the Henry V replica. […]

    for no apparent reason, decided to spend my spare time writing a science fiction novel with sword warfare in it (though technically, as I learned while writing it, mostly spear/axe/bashing/finish-them-off-with-a-knife warfare.)

    Be careful going down those rat holes lest you end up like Neil Stephenson:

    https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/17o77krgcocv6jpg.jpg

    Or rather his failed Historic Eurpoean Martial Arts (HEMA) sword fighting video game:

    https://qz.com/268852/neal-stephensons-failed-500000-video-game-and-the-perils-of-using-kickstarter/

    The pull quote:

    It turns out that after two years of work, the game that Stephenson and his team, Subutai, delivered was boring. “The prototype was technically innovative, but it wasn’t very fun to play,” [Stephenson] said, adding that “I probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment.”

  52. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “Hey, I may be a co-producer on a feature (which I can’t name.) Literally no idea what that means but I assume it’s the credit they give to on-set drug dealers, brothers-in-law and enthusiastic groupies. So naturally I’m chuffed, as the Brits say.”

    Think you’ve got it pretty well figured out. (For further explication, see the discussion of the associate producer credit in Mamet’s State and Main…) Basically the credit means they wanted your book enough to give you the title. It could mean more if the producers want your help, but basically what it gives you — aside from a nifty title card, if the movie gets made — is a floor for the credit part of your next feature negotiation.

    As I said — exactly what you’ve already figured out. But still very cool. Congratulations!

    1
  53. KM says:

    @TM01:

    Maybe we should encourage people to fix their own countries dying one-horse towns instead of moving. You know, by adopting everything that’s great about the US nicer urban areas.

    Now, go peddle that in rural America and see how it flies. Or substitute “conservative rural area” as needing fixing and “liberal hipster gentrified spots” as the solution. Or how about “poor white trash in trailer homes” and “rich gated neighborhood” – that should go over great!

    I hate to break it to you, but you don’t have the right to stop people from seeking out a better place to live. Most people move away from sh^tholes if they can rather then fight to make them better. Isn’t that whole concept of “white flight” or “movin’ on up” – that there’s somewhere better you can buy a home so save up your money and move away from whatever troubles displease you?

    What makes America such a great place to live for you and me is what makes it somewhere they want to live. People want the best for their families and I can’t blame them. Maybe we should stop being pissy people actually believe in the mythos of the American Dream and want to get a piece of that pie. We market the idea, they want to buy it and we get mad? Extremely illogical.

    5
  54. KM says:

    And speaking of politicalization of education, the Left now churns out people from school who think the US invented slavery, that Republicans fought the civil Rights act, and who think that the Constitution says blacks are 3/5 of a person.

    The US institutionalized slavery into the foundations of our government so yeah, we invented American slavery. There were plenty of things unique to the system make it it’s own beast so that’s a matter of semantics rather then ignorance.

    “Republicans fighting the Civil Rights act” comes more from the fact that Southerners refuse to admit they were Democratic just a few generations ago. Dem=lib is so ingrained in our modern imaginary that if you ask someone in the Deep South what party their ancestors were, they’ll give you the current political alignment and refuse to admit grandpappy cheerfully voted Dem to order to keep the darkie down. Dems are commies, there’s no way their beloved Meemaw could have been a commie so she *must* have been a Republican!! *Southerners* fought the Civil Rights act so if you can get them to admit that, no matter the party they didn’t want blacks to have rights, you’ll see this misapprehension clear right up.

    “Constitution says blacks are 3/5 of a person.” Umm, it did. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3. Legally, that means if you didn’t meet the criteria listed, you were equal to 3/5 of a person that did. As blacks did not count as “free Persons” since they tended to be slaves, you can logically deduce the outcome. Why are even questioning this? Quite a bit of our history involves this concept because it determined governmental representation and influenced whether a state would be free or slave. That’s not politicization, that’s just fact. Yes, it makes the Founders look like terrible people. Yes, it makes those who supported the system and all the Compromises that derived from it look like terrible people. That’s because they kinda were terrible people in this aspect. Founder worship be damned, they weren’t perfect and this is a great example of it and the hypocrisy of the times. We want to own people and deny them rights but damnit you better count them somehow so we have power in the government equal to that of a free population!

    6
  55. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Yeah, it’s a book series of ours and we basically bullied our way into the script-writing process. As you know, book authors are highly, highly, highly respected in Hollywood from the very first moment they read the coverage right up until the ink is dry on the deal. Suddenly we have three different books/series in various states of pre and actual production, which in the hierarchy down south places us just below Pilates instructors, so we’re on our way, baby!

    We’d have happily stayed clear but there’s a big fan base out there and we are determined to protect the essence of the property for them. This particular fan base made our careers – we owe them more than just taking the money and running.

    2
  56. george says:

    @PJ:

    Nazis are horrible. But if you want to avoid everything resulting from the work of some of them, you’re going to have to turn off your computer. Heisenberg (who’s uncertainty principle, among others things is behind the solid state physics that your computer – and in fact most modern technology – runs on) was a member of the Nazi party. And Shockley, one of the key figures in the invention of the transistor, was into eugenics.

    The point being, use the best of what an individual has to offer, because if you use a purity test you’re going to be left with almost nothing – I suspect every scientist from Newton on would fail a purity test on one ground or another. I’ve never understood discarding the best of someone has to offer because they also do horrible things; if an evil person makes an important scientific discovery, invents important technology or writes a beautiful peace of music I’m going to use it, just as I’ll discard their bad elements.

    America has never been good for the poor or minorities (and there’s a good overlap in those as well); its even been bad for the white middle class at times (Vietnam war draft for instance). But its good elements remain good, just as its evil elements remain evil. The good doesn’t erase the evil, the evil doesn’t erase the good.

    1
  57. Tyrell says:

    This could have been a good discussion and teachable time in class. While the country has had problems with minorities and other groups, there has been efforts and progress: The Civil Rights Bill, the Voting Rights Bill, Lincoln freeing the slaves, women’s suffrage, labor laws that forbid child labor, and other efforts. Compared to other countries? There is no comparison.
    What would the reaction be to a teacher who talked favorably of Trump for fifteen minutes?
    USA #1

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    Compared to other countries? There is no comparison.

    Yeah! When did the British outlaw slavery??? 1833!!!

    Wait a minute….

    2
  59. teve tory says:

    “Megan McArdle says”

    You shouldn’t use someone else’s name to post your own opinions. It’s rude. And if you’re actually Megan McArdle, you just shouldn’t post your own opinions.

    4
  60. Matt says:

    @Megan McArdle:

    even cotton/leather considerably reduces its stopping power.

    Gambeson is pretty darn effective at stopping even relatively high draw european warbows (with iron arrowheads). The short bows used by the native americans with even flint arrowheads would of performed far worse.

    It’s kind of funny how often people underestimate gambeson.

    @michael reynolds: Albion makes some great swords for the price.

    1
  61. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: In general, they will respect you exactly as much as the contract forces them to.

    1
  62. wr says:

    @Tyrell: Are you aware that not only did Britain outlaw slavery before us, they also allow women to vote, forbid child labor, have laws protecting minorities (and only fail to have something like our civil rights act because they never had Jim Crow laws in the first place)? And that many other countries share those attributes — except that they never permitted slavery in the first place?

    8
  63. KM says:

    @wr:
    American Exceptionalism, baby – we’re exceptional at needing to correct laws our bigoted ancestors passed and our recent forefathers clung to. For a country that likes to brag about being the Land of the Free, our history proves we’re kinda late to the party on a lot of important issues……

    3
  64. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: Beat you to it. I have to admit your comment was far more accurate on the particulars. but I think mine was a much better slap down.

    1
  65. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Won’t argue with you there, my friend…