History: neither here nor there

July 28, 2006 at 5:58 am (Blogs, History, Personal)

One of the courses I took while in college was American history. I expected the course to be the regular regurgitation of liberal claptrap: whites are evil, they enslaved peoples, so on and so forth. But I needed to take the course for a distribution requirement.

I was actually quite surprised. The latest post of Matthew Brown of Socrates’ Classroom, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time, er Truth Is?”, actually reminded me of this.

The one issue that was perhaps most indicative of how history ought to be taught was how the professor and his TAs dealt with the issue of slavery. We read a number of accounts and versions of the issue, which truly opened my eyes. Whereas I was wary of the old “white men enslaved the black man” canard, I truly did not expect to become aware of how racially nuanced this issue actually is. (It also made me begin smirking when Americans of African descent said they converted to Islam (or to the Nation of Islam) as their ancestral religion, shaking off the shakles of the white man, when Muslims in Africa were some of the primary enslavers and slave traders in Africa. The much-maligned “white man” bought the slaves from other Africans, Africans who enslaved other Africans. My, what a tortured story we weave in society nevertheless!)

History is truly something quite marvellous to study. It helps to view issues from different perspectives and to keep in mind that various debates continue to rage within the academic community regarding history: what happened, how important it was, and so on.

I recommend reading Matthew Brown’s post.


  1. HayZeus said,

    I’m also highly amused by the stiflingly narrow view that is perpetrated in regards to slavery, especially since the originial immigrant on my father’s side of the family was rather unwillingly spirited away to America.

  2. Muslihoon said,

    I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but would you entertain a request to write a post on this? This is new information to me, and I’d like to know more about it. I am sure others would appreciate such new information (and the new perspective it would bring) as much as I would. In any case, thanks, HayZeus!

  3. Dex said,

    Thomas Sowell’s latest book has a very long chapter on this topic and a boatload of endnotes you could follow up with. I wouldn’t mind reading HZ’s take on it too…

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