The Slaves Who Built The White House

You can pry my pistol from me when my hands are cold and dead
And my bigotry is sacred, as the first amendment said
All infringements on our liberty are bad, it’s understood—
But the slaves who built the White House? Well, they had it pretty good.

It’s a time of growing hardship; I have come now, to expect,
When I speak, I am admonished by “politically correct”—
Unacceptably constraining how my online mob behaves
But the slaves who built the White House? Well, there’s slaves, and then there’s slaves.

I’ll protect the constitution, shouting “Liberty or Death!”
Fighting censorship on Twitter to my final dying breath
If my freedom isn’t absolute, I might as well be dead—
But the slaves who built the White House? Decent lodgings, and well fed.

Businesses and churches, corporations, all are free,
So my church can treat folks differently, who do not think like me
But the slightest imposition, and I might as well be chained…
Like the slaves who built the White House…and who never once complained.

After Michelle Obama’s speech mentioned “a house built by slaves” as part of a beautiful rhetorical arc putting the lie to the idea of some fabled perfect America of some unspecified past, the usual suspects have been performing their gymnastics, trying to reclaim the myth of the perfect Founding Fathers. Bill O’Reilly is just one of them, but yup, he uses the phrase “Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” He needs to watch Roots again, but the thing that gets me on these usual suspects is, they so often seem to be the same ones bleating “give me liberty or give me death” when confronted with what seem to me to be constraints that are… a little bit less than actual enslavement.

I mean, sure, rant and rave about intrusions on your rights; they cannot defend themselves. But please, be consistent: don’t minimize actual slavery. The myth of divinely inspired founding fathers obscures the fact that many of them owned other people. Flowery talk about freedom being equal to life itself applied only to people. Not property.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Well, at least some of the slaves had the satisfaction of helping to burn the “Executive Mansion”* down.

    *Theodore Roosevelt changed the official name in the early 20th century.

  2. Die Anyway says

    > “… a little bit less than actual enslavement.”

    Ahhh, the master of understatement.


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