Transcript of an award winning NPR commentary
by Gary Earl Ross
Pinkham Ross was my great-great grandfather, a slave who became a South Carolina land owner. Thanks to a recent speech written by Republican state senator Charles Davidson of Alabama, I learned how misplaced my pride was in old Pinkham. I now know that slavery was a kinder, gentler institution than history would have us believe. "Nowhere on Earth were servants better treated or better loved than they were in the Old South by slave owners," Davidson writes. If slavery is such a venerable heritage sanctioned by God, as Davidson tells us, why not reinstitute it to address modern social concerns? Servitude could replace the three percent of the federal budget that forms the so-called safety net. Instead of signing up for assistance, the poor, unemployed, and otherwise dependent would sell themselves into bondage. There'd be no need for welfare, affirmative action, or a minimum wage. The proprietor of the Burger Box would staff his franchise with his slaves, as would othger small business owners. Corporate profits would soar and downsizing disappear if companies had no wages to pay. Crime would vanish in the absence of a cash flow. Illegal aliens might think twice about sneaking into a country that forced them into labor without pay when they could actually make a dollar back home. Standardized testing in public schools could be used to track approriate students into servitude preparation programs. Thus, anyone could be a slave. Descendants of slaves could own descendants of slave masters. Nor would modern slaveholding be the province of the gentry. Garages all over America could be converted to space-heated cabins large enough to accommodate six. Divorce would decline, since husbands would be less apt to work late, except perhaps in the garage.
It's hard to imagine any profession that would fail to benefit. Employment agencies could convert to Slaves R Us auction barns. Talented slaves could be put to use in legal, medical, and business offices. Of course, legislators would have to draft a new Fugitive Slave Law and threaten Canada and Mexico with sanctions for harboring our runaways. But mental health practices would flourish as more doctors treated drapetomania, a mental disorder first identified in the 19th Century and applied exclusively to slaves crazy enough to seek freedom. Sadly, Charles Davidson has given up his run for the U.S House of Representatives. Too bad. There is probably a place for him in a Congress determined to restore America to the glory it enjoyed before the liberals took over. A return to the Good Old Days of the Antebellum South should make everybody happy.
Right, Pinkham? Ri-i-ight.
(As I retype this, the SciFi Channel is showing Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which, you may remember, deals with the insurrection that led earth to ape control. The apes were slaves, which just goes to show you that, given a chance, the human animal might reinstitute slavery. I turned the movie on too late to see if Davidson has a screen credit.)
(Second note: A few persons who heard the commentary or read its slightly longer appearance in the Buffalo News--a very few--took the whole thing seriously, which, along with Davidson, just goes to show you that we are not so far removed from the dreadful possibility, at least in the minds of some.)
Take care, everyone.
COPYRIGHT Gary Earl Ross