Chomsky: 'A Century of Slave Labor Camps are a Large Part of the Basis of White People's Wealth and Privilege'
From [Democracy Now]
From [Democracy Now]
IN 1856, just five years before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company printed a pamphlet offering slave owners in six Southern states the option of insuring the lives of their slaves.
For just $2, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee residents, for example, could purchase a 12-month policy from the Hartford-based insurer on a 10-year-old domestic servant that would yield $100 if the slave died. Policies for older slaves, like a 45-year-old, were more expensive, costing the slave owner $5.50 a year.
Though the company no longer exists, these policies are drawing increasing attention nearly 150 years later because of a lawsuit that was filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, in late March against Aetna Inc. and two other companies, claiming that they profited from the slave trade.
In Connecticut, where insurance has long been a principal industry, the documents exhibit a painful reminder of the past, especially in a Northern state that is proud of its abolitionist ancestors like John Brown.
''It's not pleasant to talk about it today, to put it mildly, but slaves were insured just like any other thing that the farmers owned, that the slave owners owned,'' said Tom Baker, director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law. ''If you were selling insurance in slave states to people who had plantations, that was one of the things that you sold.
''It was very common,'' he added. ''Basically, insurance and slavery go all the way back as far as American history.''
From March 4, 2000 [HERE] In 2000 Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, head of the nonprofit Restitution Study Group of Hoboken, New Jersey, disclosed that from approximately 1853 to approximately 1860 Aetna had issued life insurance policies to slaveowners covering the lives of their slaves.
Aetna, Inc., the nation’s largest health insurer, apologized Thursday for selling policies in the 1850s that reimbursed slave owners for financial losses when their slaves died. [includes rush transcript]
"Aetna has long acknowledged that for several years shortly after its founding in 1853 that the company may have insured the lives of slaves," said Aetna spokesman Fred Laberge. "We express our deep regret over any participation at all in this deplorable practice."
Aetna’s public apology was prompted by an inquiry from activist Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, who earlier this year contacted the Hartford-based company to seek an apology and reparations.
Aetna, which noted that the slave policies were legal before slavery was abolished, said it plans to make no reparations. "We have concluded that no further actions are required at this time," Laberge said. Aetna said its records show the company wrote no more than a dozen such policies to slave owners. The company said it previously acknowledged having written slave policies in a report prepared in 1956.
Conservative Senate argued that compensating eugenics victims could open the door for post-slavery reparations in the United States.
The effort to give each victim $50,000 passed the House, but the Senate never gave the measure consideration. Republican lawmakers in that chamber said the state didn't have the money in such a tight budget year to make up for misguided, decades-old procedures. Legislators also feared paying the victims would lead other groups, such as descendants of slaves, to seek reparations.
"If you could lay the issue to rest, it might be one thing. But I'm not so sure it would lay the issue at rest because if you start compensating people who have been 'victimized' by past history, I don't know where that would end," Republican Sen. Austin Allran said.
Most states had eugenics programs but abandoned those efforts after World War II when such practices became closely associated with Nazi Germany's attempts to achieve racial purity. Scientists also debunked the assumption that "defective" humans could be weeded out of the population. North Carolina stood out because it actually ramped up its program after the war. Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina forcibly sterilized about 7,600 people whom the state deemed "feeble-minded" or otherwise undesirable. Many were poor black women. [MORE]
There are millions of reasons why African-Americans deserve reparations. In this article, I intend to present a literary and linguistic investigation to buttress my belief that reparations are long overdue. In tracing the autobiographies and fictional reenactments of Black thought, behavior, and action, one finds a surplus of information that demonstrates the psychological dysfunctions, confusions, sub-humanity, brutality, and terror that occurred when remaking humans into beasts. This debasing process is the systemic procedure enslavers engaged in to turn Africans: Mandingo, Ibo, Fulani and others into negroes, complete with the lowercased "n." Before approaching the literature, however, I want to point out the horrible and genocidal contemporary results of monolithic, collective racism that began in the defilement of Africans, enslaved in America.
We begin with the police. The contemporary police own a long history that originates in enslavement of the African. The first policemen were not referred to by that name. The mostly young White males who nightly guarded the roads on the look out for escaping Blacks were called patrollers, which the enslaved coined into patterollers (Hadden, 2001; Williams, 1987). Normally racists, the patterollers believed in and upheld the institution of slavery. Like most Americans during this epoch, they figured that Divine Providence had made Africans a lesser group. In fact, the Blacks were akin to animals, literally in this psychology of White supremacy. Over time, when the legal humiliation and physical abuse of the African overturned because of abolitionism, escapes, a quiet and loud war (untold rebellions and civil war, respectively), slavery was abolished. Yet, the mindset that allowed and encouraged this peculiar enterprise to roll on for centuries never dissipated or disappeared. Hence, segregation, media mockery, lynching, (now police killings) restricted employment, unfair wages, and other outrages proliferated throughout Black America.
Psychological warfare can be defined as "operations carried out during war that aim to achieve victory through mental changes in the enemy" (Martin-Baro, 1994:138). In what is tantamount to an extended or never ending psychological warfare, American psychiatry and psychology have significantly contributed to maintaining and establishing White supremacy domination over the nonwhite American populations (Azibo, 1993; Citizens Commission on Human Rights, 1995; Guthrie, 1999; Thomas and Sillen, 1972). To whatever extent these professions have contributed to this race-based domination, it would seem straightforward that mental health workers overall are indictable as unethical to the same degree.
When issues of United States national interest are center stage mental health professionals show a penchant for winnowing what is ethical as for example abetting interrogations at Guantanamo Bay (e.g., Democracy Now, 2006) and attacking African-U.S. activists with psychological tactics (Obadele, 2003; Rhodes, 2008; United States Senate, 1976). Sometimes there is no debate at all. With the exception of Azibo (1989:191-194) there was scarcely any hue and cry from the mental health professions about the brainwashing and psychological warfare perpetrated on the citizens of Grenada.
It still may elude mental health workers exactly why their professional activities as impacting people of African descent can be branded unethical because the ethical codes "make no mention of longer-term or more subtle negative implications of psychologists' actions and decisions" (Brown, 1997, 52). By elucidating 40 perpetrations of a psycho-cultural nature visited on U.S.- African descent people, I aim to make the unethicalness of it all self-evident and thereby establish the warrantableness of reparations for psycho-cultural damages. The idea that the mental health profession prides itself on a fundamental compassion in the face of all human suffering rings hollow when viewed with complete cognizance of psychology's and psychiatry's peccadilloes and perpetrations visited on U.S.-African descent people.
Over the last several decades, reparations theorists have continued to justify reparations as an amelioratory policy that fulfills America's democratic potential. Most recently, Roy L. Brooks has developed this optimism in America's democratic reformism into a theory of atonement. Unlike previous models, Brooks holds that reparations is justified solely by its ability to make America a racially reconciled society. This article argues that such hopes in America are illusory. Following the structural-colonial analyses of racism laid out by W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., and contemporary social scientists, I argue that America is not capable of moral transformation concerning racism, because racism is a permanent and necessary feature of our American society. While it is the position of the author that reparations is justified politically, it cannot be justified as a moral charge to an immoral white supremacist society. As such, I call for an anti-ethical deliberation on the issue of reparations-a consideration I hope will continue future debates on the subject.
For many, the achievement gap is considered the social justice issue of the 21st century. What the average Black student knows upon graduation, the average White student mastered in the 8th grade. Ironically, resolving this issue might begin by addressing one of the more controversial unresolved issues in American history-reparations. Within the Black community alone, there is noticeable variation in how to address the issue of reparations that tend to evoke feelings of anger and morose regardless of the individual position. Outside of the Black community, feelings of guilt sometime accompany the aforementioned feelings. By using the concept of forgiveness and the theory of stereotype threat, it will be argued that the resulting climate created by the current discourse on reparations has a negative impact on the achievement gap. Recommendations for how to address reparations to reduce the achievement gap will be provided.
The social movement for reparation for the enslavement of Africans in America is examined, as well as conceptions regarding lingering effects of enslavement. The concept of co-dependency and its relation to racism and racists is explored, in the context of criticism of reparative efforts by the descendants of enslaved Africans, and the absence of comparable criticism and negativity regarding reparative pursuits by other groups. Particular attention is given to criticism of reparative actions by descendants of enslaved Africans.
A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step towards combating continuing and systemic racial discrimination.
James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by the tribes.
Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and "numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination".
Racism extended from the broad relationship between federal or state governments and tribes down to local issues such as education, Anaya said. "For example, with the treatment of children in schools both by their peers and by teachers as well as the educational system itself; the way Native Americans and indigenous peoples are reflected in the school curriculum and teaching," he said.