Racist Imagery from Coon Chicken Inn

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Huffington Post

Two weeks ago, our Education Director Craig Hotchkiss published an article on the Huffington Post about "Why We are Displaying Hateful Things." The article spurred an interesting discussion in the comments.

It's worth a look.

Here's a sample:

I read as much of Twain as my time allows and have come to treasure his wonderful condemnation of the evils of racial thinking--the things we shallowly lump as "racism." Facts, not a propaganda war, will lessen the vile racism that still percolates in our country, and, as a liberal, I despise hiding realities. As Balzac noted, "Hypocrisy are the manners of a nation." Let us be unmannerly--and real. Let us read Twain and see the destruction he wreaks on the racist reader.

Mark Twain, Samuel Clemmons, was a product of his times. Like many of that age, he wasn't enlightened to our current standards, but was very enlightened for his time. Twain may have been raised a racist, but was able to break free of those ideas.

Yes, some of those thoughts would be considered racist now. It should be noted that many abolishionists, including Wilburforce to some degree, fought for freedom from slavery, but still believed that blacks were still less than whites and shouldn't mix with society.

If Twain had lived into today's world, or transported to this time, he'd have adapted and embraced, as a person willing to be enlightened. So would have Wilburforce.

Apparently there are more slaves now, in this enlightened world, than there were in the 1830s when slavery was outlawed in the UK. Then they cost a fair bit and were kept alive, now they cost almost nothing because they are normally economic emigrants, and when their sexual usefulness runs out after a few years, they are disposed of. 

Twain (Clemens) was always quick to adopt the correct moral position. He initially fought in the Civil War and quickly abandoned that as a nonsense idea. He went to Nevada with his brother and quickly figured out how to join in on the mining, and then quickly left that realizing the futility that many miners had in succeeding. He was quick to jump on the opportunity to travel to the Sandwich Islands (Hawai'i) and used that trip and experience as his first lecture talk in San Francisco. He was also quick in realizing the morally wrongness of slavery and racism, not just against blacks, but against the native indians and the chinese. Read his short story, "A True Story" to learn how he developed compassion for the blacks. Experiences like that changes some people, but only those who are willing to be changed.

A very interesting article, Craig!!! I have always loved Huckleberry Finn -- a great book -- and a wonderfuil mirror of the times! Hnmm, I might question your statement about Twain being born a racist, in that he was born in a time when owning Blacks was no big deal, and after all, who else would there be to work the crops? The above sentence does not make it all right, but that was the thinking of the time, just like treating women like baby factories seems to some to be the thinking of today.

No comments:

Post a Comment