I was having a conversation with a woman today and I made a positive comparison to the style and composition of women in the Antebellum South. An African-American lady overheard me speaking and became extremely angry that I made a positive reference to a time when her ancestors were enslaved. I asked her if she thought the bubonic plague was the only thing going on before the European Renaissance, then I asked her if taxes would be the only reason an American would have stayed loyal to Britain pre-revolutionary war. It was at this point her insecurity and lack of education began showing so I dis-concerned myself with her.

What's y'alls take on respecting aspects of an era of oppression? Why do y'all think someone became so enraged that I pointed out a very beautiful aspect in an era that ALSO happened to condone slavery as the norm? Please add on to this discussion.

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There has been no era that the following era did not think was oppressive. 100 years from now, they'll think we are all backwards asshats, too. How exactly, is hard to discern. But asshats in their eyes, we will be. 

 I wouldn't give it a second thought. 

You couldn't win, exactly, but you still fell into a trap.

This woman had a right to be angry:  not just because slavery was and is evil, but because everybody has a right to any emotion, on any topic.  (You have a right not to listen to it, but we're human; we communicate.)  You had a variety of options:

* Agree with whatever she said that was true, and let the rest slide.  Slavery is evil.  Her ancestors were treated horribly.

* Hear her emotions and honor them.  "There's a lot to be angry about, isn't there?" or "I'm sorry this upset you."

* Get defensive and argue with someone's feelings.  A losing proposition, to be sure.

* Judge her as ignorant and insecure, as you did.

You're right that every culture has nasty and nice in it.  But try glorifying Hitler's vegetarianism and Himmler's wish to be kind to animals in front of a Jewish group and see how well it flies.  You wouldn't do that and then be disdainful of their historical ignorance if they got angry, would you?  I'd say cut the woman some slack.

-- Says this white Southerner.

I'm with Will. 

Will seems most reasonable.

Was apartheid good for whites in South Africa?  Sure.  Was it terrible for blacks?  Absolutely.

I think it's fine to point out an awesome thing in history, even if it happened at the same time as something horrible.  Like, I think the Lynx helicopter is awesome.  It can fly backwards and upside down as the same time.  I regret the wars and military concerns that made its design necessary.

My special favorite topic of history is the Victorian Era.  It would have been AWESOME to live in the Victorian Era .... if you were a really rich white man.  If you were poor you ate potatoes and not much else.  Women were seen as opposed to sex and rich men used brothels and gentlemen's clubs to get away from them.  It was the time of the steam engine, beautiful brass castings more elaborate and made-to-last than anything you see now.  People also rarely bathed and used excessive perfumes and colognes to hide it.  That's why they have a morning dress, a dinner dress, a nightgown -- to keep each set of clothes from getting too funky for its purpose.

I will just point out that this little thing in history is cool/interesting.  BUT, I wouldn't want to live back then and there are horrible, unconscionable things that happened then as well.  Appreciating the steam engine is fine, but that doesn't mean I condone child labor. Medieval or Feudal Japan also comes to mind.

I think 100 years from now people will look at how wasteful we were with the environment/oil/garbage etc. and cringe.  But that at least seems to be a necessary learning mistake of moving forward.  Bad technology comes before good technology (almost) every time.

Was apartheid good for whites in South Africa?  Sure.  Was it terrible for blacks?  Absolutely.

 Well, no. Not a very comfortable fact, but most blacks in south africa were doing better during apartheid than after. Crime was a fraction of what it became after apartheid ended in terms of education and jobs, S.A. is now the rape capital of the world with one in 3 women having been raped, and has the highest incident of child rape in the world. The numbers, when adjusted by ethnicity, are double for black women. Literally, 50 percent of the black women in south africa have been raped within the last year, and over a ten year period, there is effectively not a single black woman who will not be raped to one extent or another. There are on average 50 murders in South Africa every single day. 

  The place is an absolute, unmitigated hell, Mandela was an incompetent, negligent moron who drove his country head first into the ground, It's government and agencies are beyond corrupt, the only people white or black that have any measure of safety are those who can afford to hire private mercenaries to guard them and their families. 

"Was apartheid good for whites in South Africa?  Sure.  Was it terrible for blacks?  Absolutely."

 

"Well, no."

The convenience of oppression VS the risks of freedom is what this boils down to. 

Such is the case for South Africa and essentially every other post-colonial country or country that experiences a drastic regime change. There's a period of uncertainly, chaos, growing pains. Things have to sort themselves out. When the US kicked out the Brits, it wasn't a sudden utopia; the US still eventually went through (among other conflicts) the Civil War before things eventually stabilized. Would we say that it was the benevolent oppression of the Brits that made the US so stable and peaceful and that the Civil War proved that Americans were unable to govern themselves peacefully? Of course not. Yet we're so quick to come to that conclusion when looking elsewhere. 

And for whatever it's worth, none of the South Africans (blacks, whites and coloureds) I know would ever advocate for a return to Apartheid. They accept that freedom comes with risks and they work hard to better their lives and the lives of the people around them, knowing that a certain level of stability and quality of life is a long-term goal that won't be achieved overnight. 

South Africa had their first, true free elections in the 90s. Haïti had their first, true free elections in the 90s. Yugoslavia balkanized into a handful of republics in the 90s and those republic are still balkanizing into smaller republics today. Conclusion: It takes more than 20 years to stabilize after a major regime overhaul. 

Conclusion: It takes more than 20 years to stabilize after a major regime overhaul.

Most of Europe made it back up pretty quickly after World War II, and the fall of the Third Reich would be considered a 'major regime overhaul'.

a) I guess you've never heard of something called the Cold War / the Iron Curtain

b) Most of Europe had the rest of the world collectively investing in it and rebuilding it. This was under the influence of the Marshall Plan. While it was positioned as altruism, its true purpose was to act as a counterbalance against the influences of communism, There's no Marshall Plan in place for South Africa or Haïti, etc.

c) Despite the Marshall Plan, instability was rampant throughout Europe after WW2. Greece had a civil war between monarchists and communists. Ireland / the IRA and the UK were at war well into the 90s. Portgual was a fascist dictatorship until 1974. France and Spain were on the receiving end of countless acts of terrorism at the hands of Basque separatists. Finland was a Soviet puppet state until the fall of Communism. And, you know, the the USSR took over all the Baltic states Eastern Europe and drove them into the ground until the 90s. Even post-communism, and even today, most of those countries are still trying to recover today. Romanians and Moldovans were so desperate in the 90s and 00s that they they started pimping out their kids (mostly boys) to foreign tourists to support themselves.  To this day, there are countless considerable separatist and secessionist movements throughout much of Europe. Greece and Italy have openly fascist politician getting elected. Belgium is contemplating splitting in two. 

So let's not kid ourselves. It's not a case of European exceptionalism. 1) there was a global effort to rebuild Europe as quickly as possible because Communism and 2) even that global effort didn't result in instant, perfect results.   

Meaning, they didn't start off quite as ass-backward, even after taking a horrific wrong turn in the early 20th.  The enlightenment hasn't hit everywhere.


JB

The convenience of oppression VS the risks of freedom is what this boils down to. 

Wrong. without getting to completely removed from the OP, it's about cultural construct. People can only be free when they are good people with a strong cultural construct. When they think that raping an infant is how to cure their HIV infection or raiding a farm is a more noble effort than farming,,,it doesn't turn out so well. 

When the US kicked out the Brits, it wasn't a sudden utopia; the US still eventually went through (among other conflicts) the Civil War before things eventually stabilized.

I don't remember reading about the mass rape of 100 percent of all women within our own tribe. But, maybe my history book was missing a page. 

Would we say that it was the benevolent oppression of the Brits that made the US so stable and peaceful and that the Civil War proved that Americans were unable to govern themselves peacefully?

The "benevolent oppression" was less oppressive than our current actual government is (in some respects. We pay more than twice as much today in taxes as a percentage of our income than the colonists did in 1775) The very premise of your question is so off base as to make the question unanswerable. 

They accept that freedom comes with risks and they work hard to better their lives and the lives of the people around them, knowing that a certain level of stability and quality of life is a long-term goal that won't be achieved overnight.

That statement is comically incorrect and so utterly removed from anything that is actually happening as to almost qualify as one of those wackjobs who call into late night talk radio to talk about how they think their baby is an alien hybrid. 

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