Guest post: Better to be a rebel than gripe on Twitter

Guest post by Chris Clarke.

Apropos of the Emmeline Pankhurst T-Shirt thing.

1) American slavery was a genocidal atrocity, and I fully support reparations for the descendants of former slaves. Full stop, as they say.

AND: slavery as an institution and concept is not limited to its American context. As someone with British and French ancestry, I am almost certainly descended from slaves. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans, perhaps millions, were kidnapped into slavery along the Barbary Coast as recently as the early 1800s. (Google “Baltimore, Ireland” for a chilling example.)

The very word “Slave” is essentially a forgotten ethnic slur, after the Slavic people who were kidnapped into slavery in Spain a thousand years ago.

This isn’t intended as an “all lives matter” kinda argument: I’m just saying that when people say things like “white women never had to endure slavery,” which I’ve seen frequently of late, they’re spreading a falsehood and erasing a historical reality. Racist slavery in the Americas was unique in many ways, and its legacy still shapes our society. But restricting the word “slave” to that particular near-endless atrocity erases literal millennia of injustice and suffering, especially of that people who lent their very name to the concept.

2) I think the degree to which the word “Rebel” is assumed to signify only the armies of the racist Confederacy speaks volumes about the state of American progressivism these days. The IWW were rebels. The SDS were rebels. Women Strike for Peace were rebels. The Panthers and the Attica Brothers and the occupiers of Vieques were rebels. It’s sad that so many progressives claim that the label automatically allies you with the worst elements of American history. What path does that leave us? Griping on Twitter, apparently.

3) The expectation that the entire world needs to hew to American sensibilities is a form of colonialism.

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