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Muslim and Western Slavery

Reader comment on item: Slave-Holding Muslim Immigrants in the West
in response to reader comment: The nerve of the Prosecutors!

Submitted by herzpj@hotmail.com (United States), Jul 13, 2013 at 16:34

Maybe I don't have the right to butt into this conversation, since my folks came to the States a little too late to have been stakeholders in the slavery system, but...

Who says white Westerners weren't bothered by slavery? There were Western people of conscience (often theological) who wrote and agitated against slavery almost from its beginnings. Indeed, Bartolome de las Casas, who first proposed African slavery when he saw the Indians dying off (as a Spaniard, he knew about enslaving Africans from the Moors' 700-year tenure in his native country), lived long enough to have deep regrets about his proposal, and ended up pestering the Spanish crown with attacks on the trans-Atlantic African slave trade he had helped to initiate.

Among Anglophones, the Puritan judge Samuel Sewall, who is better known as one of the judges of the Salem witches, wrote against the slave trade as an un-Christian evil, too. Nor was he alone among his co-religionists in both the colonies and Europe. Let's not forget the Quakers' early decision to bar slaveholders from membership. There's also Wilberforce's life-long parliamentary crusade to end slavery in the British Empire--a movement which had numerous North American admirers and imitators.

And, speaking as someone with family ties to the non-European world, I am chiefly impressed how Western Christians caught themselves in evil acts, and sought to change and reform. When, after Wilberforce's crusade against slavery succeeded, a British envoy tried to get Morocco's Mulay Ismail to help stamp out the slave trade, Mulay Ismail replied that he refused to go against the revealed will of Allah. In short, for Christians (and, apparently, Jews), the trans-Atlantic slave trade was a cause for a very serious theological as well as political conflict; but for Muslims, it appears that the slavery question is settled--in favor of slavery.

As for reparations, Lincoln said it best when he noted how every drop of blood drawn by the lash was answered by more drawn by the saber in 1861-1865. Roughly 600,000 white American men, North and South, were killed in that conflict. It left the slave-holding South crippled for generations, and the more than "300,000 Yankees dead in Southern dust" left room for a lot of the rest of us to fill the gap through immigration. Indeed, if you added up American casualties of all wars, it takes them all through the Viet Nam conflict to outnumber those of the Civil War.

In any case, if there should be reparations for the South's "peculiar institution", who should pay it out to the descendants of the slaves? The owners and traders are all long dead; their descendants have started to emerge from economic ruin only within my own lifetime; a large number of non-African Americans descend from people who came to the country after slavery ended; and a very good many white Americans with family ties to the period when slavery existed don't have to search very far in their family trees to find someone killed or maimed trying to end slavery between 1861-65. And, are we gong to collect the reparations from the descendants of Louisiana Gens de Couleur or some old South Carolina heirs of Free People of Color who were also slave owners, too?

I refuse to excuse slavery in the New World. It was an evil institution and it is good that it died. But I strongly suspect that one of Dr. Pipes' concerns in posting this information about modern Islamic slave trafficking is to be sure that widespread slavery doesn't get re-institutionalized with another group of people.

While I'm at it, as a scion of East African Muslims (unless Frank Davis was his real father), President Obama had slave hunters, traders, and castraters (a lot of eunuchs for Middle Eastern harems were caught among the Zanji) closer in his family tree than any white American now living. It wasn't until "perfidious Albion" colonized the land that would become Kenya that slavery was suppressed there.

Submitting....

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