Monday, April 18, 2016

Telling Truths on Plantation Tours

It wasn't that many years ago when I finally got it through my skull that all of the U.S. was built on the backs of enslaved people, not just the South. That enslavement was at the core of our economy and that after it officially ended, its remnants were still largely in control of large swaths of our nation.

About 15 years ago, before that realization, I visited the plantation (i.e. labor camp) home of Henry Clay in Lexington, Kentucky. I wondered a bit why the tour guide didn't talk much about the slave residents of the place, but I admit, it didn't distract me too much.

These days, it sounds like that has changed on most plantation tours, which is a good thing. But some visitors don't like it one bit. No sir, they do not. Here are two articles on that topic.

The first, from Vox, is called I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery. The writer shares some of what she heard from white visitors as they tried to excuse and even defend slavery.

The second is from The American Conservative (appropriately named), and it's called Will History Only Remember the Founders as Slave Owners? Here's one choice quote:

Calhoun’s home lies in the heart of Clemson University. The home is beautifully maintained, and gives visitors the impression that it is still lived in, with one exception: poster boards with pictures of slaves and their stories are everywhere, even in the doorways of bedrooms, so you are forced to look around them to see the room. I mentioned to the docent that their placement was a distraction, and she agreed, but admitted there was nothing she could do about it.*
Awww, poor old John C. Calhoun. He's being overshadowed by a "progressive agenda" that includes telling what happened to the enslaved people who lived, worked, and died in his labor camp. It's not enough that he has a lake named after him in Minneapolis (for no particularly good reason, since it already had a name when it was surveyed by the U.S. army in the early 19th century). He has to be singled out and glorified as the great man he was, and anything that puts that in context is unwelcome "political correctness."


The author of those words, Suzanne Sherman, "is a licensed attorney who spends her time home schooling her two sons and lives a homestead lifestyle in the mountains of Northern Utah." Big surprise.

No comments: