In many of the recent articles published about slavery, I get the impression that today, people believe that the only ones ever enslaved were Africans. It should be pointed out that slavery records date back to 8000 B.C. The philosophical, freedom-loving Greeks had slaves as far back as 1600 B.C. The Romans built an empire on taking captives from Britain, France, Germany and Eastern Europe, bringing them to Rome as slaves. Julius Caesar lists the number of slaves in the thousands in his accounts of the Gallic Wars.
There are records of Muslim raids on Spain and Portugal in the 12th century where thousands were dragged to Muslim countries as slaves. Slavery was the backbone of the Viking economy from the sixth to the 11th century. They raided the British Isles; Germany; Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe. They took so many Slavs that it is believed that the word “Slave” came from them.
Slavery was an established institution in the economics of the whole world. Apparently, no one could imagine any other system. And evidently anyone who did was quickly eliminated. Consider the kingdoms of Europe. Everyone was a slave of the king or queen. He or she had total control of you and everything that was yours: wife, children, property, even your life, without any legal recourse by you. That was slavery. And they were all Caucasians.
The history of slavery on the continent of Africa parallels the northern world. Africans enslaved Africans. In the 15th century, Muslim slave traders were exporting African slaves, captured by fellow Africans, through Dutch dealers, to the new world.
So now they want to remove any monuments that pertain to anyone who had any connection to slavery. So where do we start? Did any Greek philosopher — Aristotle, Socrates, Plato — speak against it? Should we ban their writings? Remove anything that pertains to Julius Caesar, including taking July from the calendar since that refers to him? Or maybe the whole Julian calendar? Should we eliminate anything that hints of the Vikings, including “Hagar the Horrible”? What about the touchy situation of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on the currency, or their monuments? Does anyone really believe that any of these actions will do anything but waste time and money that could be better used elsewhere?
If anyone is really concerned about slavery, they should be interested in helping to free the estimated 20,000,000 people worldwide who are presently enslaved. Removing our reminders of the past will do nothing to help them.
It has been said you cannot change the past by removing its record. But by doing so, you run the risk of repeating the errors.
Toby J. RuSSo