The Irish vs. The Blacks

We now know longstanding ‘alternative facts’ about the races are penetrating Culture. Proof of this is each time an outlet like the NYT feels obligated to publish stuff like “Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too”:

Historians say the idea of Irish slaves is based on a misreading of history and that the distortion is often politically motivated. Far-right memes have taken off online and are used as racist barbs against African-Americans. “The Irish were slaves, too,” the memes often say. “We got over it, so why can’t you?”

The Alt-Right is so insidious that their memes have even found their way into articles in Scientific American and The Daily Kos!

Personally, I’ve never heard anyone claim, online or in person, that the Irish were ‘slaves’. I have, however, heard that some of them, along with some other European-Americans, were indentured servants, a servile state tantamount to slavery-like conditions for the lengthy duration of the terms. Or that, even as free men, the Irish (from the one European country without a university tradition) were relatively low-skilled and hence naturally siphoned into the most dangerous jobs (e.g., think mining, working with explosives, and other dangerous and life-threatening work.)

The Irish slave narrative is based on the misinterpretation of the history of indentured servitude, which is how many poor Europeans migrated to North America and the Caribbean in the early colonial period, historians said.

Without a doubt, life was bad for indentured servants. They were often treated brutally. Not all of them entered servitude willingly. Some were political prisoners. Some were children.

“I’m not saying it was pleasant or anything — it was the opposite — but it was a completely different category from slavery,” said Liam Hogan, a research librarian in Ireland who has spearheaded the debunking effort. “It was a transitory state.”…

Contemporary accounts in Ireland sometimes referred to these people as slaves, Mr. Hogan said. That was true in the sense that any form of coerced labor can be described as slavery, from Ancient Rome to modern-day human trafficking. But in colonial America and the Caribbean, the word “slavery” had a specific legal meaning. Europeans, by definition, were not included in it.

So, it appears the liberal outrage here is more a question of semantics?

The NYT piece bemoans “the false claim that Irish slaves were cheaper and treated worse than African slaves”. However, the piece provides exactly zero refutations of this charge.

Slaves from Africa had high up-front costs (overhead) and were a relatively expensive ‘investment’. As such, they were put to use in relatively, physically-safer roles: picking cotton is much safer than, say, working with dynamite in a mine. (This was not true in the case of slaves held by the Portugese.) In fact, back in the ‘70s, the economists Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman wrote a book called Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery (1974) which pursued such themes. I read this book years ago and I recall them concluding that, on average, a southern slave ate better, received better medical care, and lived longer than the average free white immigrant. From Wikipedia:

Asserting that slavery was an economically viable institution that had some benefits for African Americans, the book was reprinted in 1995 at its twentieth anniversary. First published a decade after the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, the book contradicted contemporary assessments of the effects of slavery on African Americans in the American South before the Civil War. It attracted widespread attention in the media and generated heated controversy and criticism for its methodology and conclusions…

The book directly challenged the long-held conclusions that American slavery was unprofitable, a moribund institution, inefficient, and extremely harsh for the typical slave…

The authors evaluated oral interviews conducted by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration, United States Census information, and other statistical data to assert that many slaves were encouraged to marry and maintain households, they were given garden plots, the dehumanizing practice of “slave breeding” was virtually non-existent, the quality of their daily diets and medical care were comparable to the white population, and many trusted slaves were given great responsibility in managing plantations. This was in contrast to other accounts of the dehumanizing effects of slavery.

Fogel and Engerman asserted that slavery had a reciprocal economic benefit for slave owners and slaves. They wrote, “[S]lave owners expropriated far less than generally presumed, and over the course of a lifetime a slave field hand received approximately ninety percent of the income produced.”(p. 5-6) They were estimating the value of housing, clothing, food and other benefits received by the slaves and argued that they lived as well in material terms as did free urban laborers; life was difficult for both classes…

Many in the historical community were impressed with the authors’ application of cliometrics. Many in the civil rights movement were outraged by the conclusions that suggested slavery was beneficial for African Americans (some called the book a rallying cry for racism). In general many historians and economists criticized the authors’ findings and methodology.

Back to the NYT piece:

Mr. Hogan said it was upsetting for many Irish people to see that history “used as a weapon” by Americans who claim a connection to the country. He said that for some people, it seemed like the meme was “replacing the actual history of their Irish heritage.”

Ah, yes, there’s that ‘weaponized information’ meme, a favorite trope of the Left these days, which they absolutely adore to use, framing social reality in such a way when it is changing in a direction they don’t like.

It is true that anti-Irish sentiment was present in the United States until well into the 20th century, but that is a separate issue from 17th century indentured servitude, Ms. Harris said. The descendants of indentured servants, Irish or otherwise, did not face a legacy of racism similar to the one faced by people of African descent, she said.

Actually, the Irish, as well as the Chinese, faced a ‘legacy of racism’ that was quite pronounced, but nonetheless managed to put it aside and assimilate.

What this NYT piece again demonstrates is that in the Contemporaray World of Ever-Expanding Victimhood (e.g., transgendered, Latinx, gays, Muslims, etc.), the Blacks must always remain at the top of the victimology pyramid.

To usurp their status there would be, well, racist.

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