Jack Kerwick

“The truth is harsh.”

So spoke the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, back in the 19th century.

On no topic is the truth harsher than on that of race.

The Eric Holders of the world incessantly bemoan the absence of an “honest discussion of race” in America. But such a discussion, beginning, as it must, with a discussion of slavery, is actually the last thing that they could afford to have, for such a discussion would include facts that would undermine much of the ideologically-invaluable conventional wisdom concerning this topic.

For instance, the very word “slave” stems from “Slav,” i.e. a reference to the experience of millions of (white) Slavish people who endured centuries of slavery at the hands of African Muslims. This, of course, is a most inconvenient truth, for it is a most Politically Incorrect truth. But it is the truth.

Yet the Slavish aren’t the only whites who spent centuries in captivity: Europeans of various backgrounds were enslaved by African Muslims as well. All of this is heavily documented in such neglected pieces of scholarship as Robert Davis’, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800, and Paul Baepler’s, White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives.

Nor is it just that millions of whites in Europe were made to toil in bondage for hundreds of years. Don Jordan’s, White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America and Michael Hoffman’s, They Were White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America, impeccably establish that whites were enslaved in colonial America as well. Moreover, these brave authors show that the conditions that whites, including, most tragically, white children, had to endure both in route to the colonies as well as once they arrived were at least as dreadful as those experienced by Africans.

This last point would as well be included in an honest discussion of slavery. The word “kidnapping” that is so often, but erroneously, used to describe the circumstances that allegedly resulted in the transportation of Africans to the New World derives from the fact that British children—kids—were regularly “nabbed’ off of the streets of England and sold into slavery in America.


Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at jackk610@verizon.net or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.