12 Years a Slave: Note that none of these people are smiling. Whats up with that?
  • 12 Years a Slave: Note that none of these people are smiling. What's up with that?

I try not to hate-read conservative racist comments anymore, because they just take up room in my brain and they don't do anyone any good. But Mary Noble at Politix linked to this astounding review of 12 Years a Slave by James Bowman in the conservative American Spectator, and it's forced me to break my self-imposed ban on hate-reading:

If ever in slavery's 250-year history in North America there were a kind master or a contented slave, as in the nature of things there must have been, here and there, we may be sure that Mr McQueen does not want us to hear about it...Yes, there was much cruelty and hardship in the slave-owning South, as there has been in most of the rest of the world most of the time, and Mr. McQueen's camera is all over that. But it strains ordinary credulity to suppose that there was nothing else.

Sometimes, it's worth reading idiotic pieces like this to understand how the other side thinks. The modern Republican Party is so excited by its own contrarianism—the globe is not warming, health care does not need reform—that it's basically become a giant no-producing machine. To the conservative mindset, if a liberal institution like Hollywood comes out with a statement about slavery, then that statement must be inherently wrong. This is what has become of William F. Buckley's famous statement about conservatism:

A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.

Buckley's statement has never been so true than with Bowman's piece. He's trying to rewrite history, because history embarrasses people like him.