Haley Barbour’s ‘diddly’ sense of slavery’s history

And that’s the problem — Barbour thinks it “goes without saying.” The governor of the state whose population includes the nation’s highest percentage of African Americans believes it is appropriate to “honor” those who fought for the Confederacy. Clearly, he has no problem revisiting the distant past. Yet he sees no reason to mention the vile, unthinkable practices — state-sanctioned kidnapping, torture and rape — that those Confederate soldiers were fighting to protect.

It amounts to much more than “diddly” that so many Americans try hard to avoid coming to terms with the reality of slavery. It wasn’t just “a bad thing.” Littering is a bad thing. Slavery was this nation’s Original Sin, and yet many people will not look at it except through a gauze of Spanish moss.

The Atlantic slave trade was one of the last millennium’s greatest horrors. An estimated 17 million Africans, most of them teenagers, were snatched from their families, stuffed into the holds of ships and brought to the New World. As many as 7 million of them died en route, either on the high seas or at “seasoning” camps in the Caribbean where they were “broken” to the will of their masters.