How far

Nostalgia for slavery. Well naturally, right? Who wouldn’t miss that?

[14 years ago] Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves.

But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston,stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company.

Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

I wonder how he treats his support staff.

In that state, it is not considered a stain to have fought passionately to keep the Confederate flag flying on top of the Capitol dome, or to have appeared on a notorious white-nationalist radio program in 2007. (All of this is meticulously chronicled on the website of the invaluable Southern Poverty Law Center.)

No reputational damage was done even when Mr. McConnell, a well-known Civil War re-enactor and then president pro-tem of the Senate, appeared in a 2010 photograph dressed as a Confederate general, standing between a black man and a woman dressed as slaves. The man was wearing a floppy hat and holding a washboard; the woman wore an apron and a bandanna. When black leaders protested, Senator McConnell said the photo actually showed how far the state had come in race relations.

Ooh ooh I know this game! I can play too. “The fact that I can call you a bitch and a cunt shows how far the world has come in gender relations.”


  1. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    ‘[T]he practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible.”

    Slavery? That’s nuthin’. I’ll see your slavery and raise you to omnicide.

    Of course in the story of Noah, it is the character of God who gets to righteously kill off pretty much all the biosphere. There are a lot of lessor horrors that this God character commands, allows or approves in the rest of the bible that I’m sure Mr. Bessinger would not have liked to have been done to him. I guess it all depends on which side of the power difference one finds oneself.

  2. AnotherAnonymouse says

    A dear friend of mine who’s unfortunately a member of a mega-church recently shared with me that slavery in the Bible was EXACTLY like being an employee, and therefore slavery isn’t bad at all. She’s otherwise a lovely person and I can’t imagine how she can believe such nonsense.

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    Christians like to tell each other that, in the Bible, slavery was more like indentured servitude, with a specified end to it upon which the indentured went free. So it was more like primitive welfare, see, than actual slavery or even actual indentured servitude, really (not that indentured servitude is necessarily a BAD thing in their minds). This sort of thing is suggested here:

    Leviticus 25:39-42 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee ; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile. And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.

    “The year of jubile”, or “Jubilee” was every 7 years.

    Because Christians are notoriously ignorant about the contents of their Bibles, they’re just repeating what other Christians have told them, and honesty is not nearly the virtue within Christianity that lying is. Take a look at THIS passage:

    Leviticus 25:44-46 Thy bond-men and thy bond-maids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land. And they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession, they shall be your bond-man forever.

    How is THAT ^ anything other than the explicit definition of chattel slavery?

    Also, while that first passage suggests that the Hebrew “indentured servant” can take his children with him when he leaves, the passage below says that the only way for him to keep together any family he created while enslaved is to submit to public mutilation and then permanent enslavement for himself, as there is *NO WAY* to get his slave wife and children out of slavery:

    Exodus 21:2-6 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

    It’s quite horrible any way you slice it. Nothing “kind and gentle” about Biblical slavery. Notice that there is no place in the entire Bible where it says that slavery is bad. Likewise, there is not a single verse that sets down any basic, fundamental human rights. Jesus’s parables frequently feature an all-powerful master/ruler/boss/owner who does whatever he pleases to those unfortunate slaves/servants who displease him, to the point of mutilating and killing them.

    Luke 19:27 “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.”

    ^ Jesus’s words.

  4. says

    Hell, I get a bit queasy every time I see some show that puts bits of the “Historic South” on display, because they can’t show you anything that isn’t slavery-related. Fuck well-preserved, burn the fucker down. And then there is the word “plantation” of which some groups are so enamoured, as if it were quaint. It was never quaint, and rather carries quite a lot of baggage, none of it good, from various times and places.

    The nostalgia for that damned flag, the “Stars and Bars”, is also pretty damned ahistorical, given that it was never one of the umpteen versions of a Confederate flag flown by a state, and something that lasted a fistfull of years is hardly worth fighting for as a symbol of your historical past. Proudly preserving that stuff only means one thing.

  5. freemage says

    A lot of Christians will cite one of Paul’s letters as part of their “The New Testament is different” push when talking about slavery. However, that particular letter (and I seriously cannot be arsed to look it up again) is quite clear that the only reason Paul wants one particular slave freed is that he thinks the slave will make an effective evangelist; if he weren’t a charismatic Christian, Paul would happily let him languish in bound servitude. (It’s worth noting that Paul doesn’t tell the slaveowner either to free his other slaves, or to not replace the one Paul’s claiming for his traveling preacher show.)

  6. Silentbob says

    @ 3 Blanche Quizno

    Luke 19:27 “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.”

    ^ Jesus’s words.


    Much as I dislike Christianity, I don’t approve of blatant misrepresentation. The passage you have quoted is Jesus quoting a character in a story…

    A certain nobleman [whose] citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
    Luke 19:12-14

    If I were to tell the story of the Three Little Pigs, it wouldn’t be accurate to say “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down” were “Silentbob’s words”.

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