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Friday, June 23, 2006

History is hard

Inspired by the thought of women in chains, Mrs. Smitty rambles:

Vox seems to suggest that western feminists somehow eradicated the Judeo-Christian tradition in former Soviet block countries where the sex-trafficking victims in the article are from. Hm. Was it feminists or um, male autocrats who tried to break the hold the church had on the masses, comrade? Giggle. I’m not sure. I’m just a girl.

And because she's just a girl, it will surprise no one to note that she attempts to mock the point while simultaneously managing to miss it entirely. Typical, I'm afraid. But since she's just a girl, I will attempt to explain it slowly and clearly enough for even her smaller female brain to follow it.

Since the matter under discussion is one of a particular set of societies where the sex slavery is currently taking place, it makes no difference where the "victims" are from. Whereas Christian Germany did not approve of prostitutes, much less sex slaves, from anywhere, post-Christian Germany cheerfully accepts them from Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and Asia. (Of course, Western feminists, as always, are only concerned about the college-educated white ones.) The women cited in the article were not enslaved in the former Soviet bloc, they were enslaved in Germany, a Western society that fully subscribes to feminist equalitarianism. One is embarassed to find it necessary to remind Smitty that while nineteenth-century America's black slaves were largely from pagan Africa, the only reason they are of any interest to us today is due to their enslavement in the United States and I rather doubt she would similarly point her finger at the African pagans instead of American Christians in that case.

Vox and his admirers might be interested in finding out how many of those former Soviet block countries contain masses of Catholics and other Orthodox Christians. Romania is hardly the “New West” or a bastion of feminist thought.

Again, the slavery in question is taking place in Germany, the UK and other Western, feminist, post-Christian European countries. Would Smitty find it meaningful to discuss historical American slavery by considering the religious customs of Africa? Furthermore, those Eastern European countries have been forcibly secular for five decades, so attempting to blame a much-persecuted church just smacks of silliness.

It’s a fault in logic to say something that happened at the same time as something else caused that something else. Correlation is not causation. One might just as glibly and plausibly argue that global warming increases sex slavery. Doesn’t make it a good argument. Unless you can show that Christian values are inherently better than feminist values for protecting humans from other humans, and that there indeed *was* a shift from Christian to feminist values in the places under discussion, you haven’t got a leg to stand on.

Ah, the creaking canard of the maleducated. A more accurate statement is to say that while correlation is not necessarily causation, it is a good indication of where to begin looking for it. However, anyone with any reasonable grasp of world history knows that the only culture to have not only rejected slavery but forcibly stamped it out in others is nineteenth-century Christian Britain. And those who are aware of the way in which practices such as the international slave trade, thuggee and suttee were forcibly stamped out know that it was driven solely by Christians motivated by religious zeal, not the practitioners of any other religion or philosophy.

The unfortunate truth about Christianity is that, roughly since its inception, it has been used to justify and condemn the same outrages; slavery is one of those things, and there was this…thing? …in Salem? The Inquisition was got a bit messy, too, I hear. It’s impossible to pull out a scorecard and say how many times so-called Christians were good and how many times naughty. To argue about whether or not it was the Christians who kept slavery around (say in the American South) or the ones who abolished it is stupid when just about everyone claimed to be Christian in the US in the 1860’s, including the pre-feminists. Whether ChrisH likes it or not (I think he likes it), Christianity has traditionally kept women at a political disadvantage. Something about women shouldn’t talk in church–which the apostle probably thought was a mere expedient considering how soon Jesus would be returning. That little expedient was used to devalue women’s talk and thought: thou shalt not vote. Or own thy own property. Or own they own body. Shockingly, after a couple millenia or so, women got tired of this, and piggybacked (in the US and in England) their “liberation” movement onto both the democratic movements in Europe in the late 18th century and later the anti-slavery movement. When poor men and slaves got rights, women wanted some, too.

The fact that Christianity was also used to justify slavery does not change the fact that Christians were the only ones to reject and eliminate it. Buddhists didn't. Hindus didn't. Moslems didn't. Atheist freethinkers didn't. Nor does it change the fact that slavery is creeping back into post-Christian Europe. Now, one might argue that these are all coincidences, of course, one might also be shocked speechless that the sun has risen again. In either case, one would be an ignoramus.

As for the Inquisition, it was the most humane institution of its time, it had no blood on its hands - executions were performed by the State, not the Church - and in any case, fewer people were executed at its behest than drown in buckets every year in the United States. To cite it as a historically infamous abuse of human rights is to demonstrate one's historical ignorance and susceptibility to fact-free propaganda.

Some feminists go too far in their claims and do treat men shabbily. The so-called liberation of women has had, like Christianity and just about every single belief system/movement in history, some good and some bad results. There’s no “war on men” any more than there was a need for the Vagina monologues. We do need to rethink our systems for raising children–including who takes care of them and why AND (ChrisH) whether the differences between girls and boys are biological or social, and how we might handle the very real biological differences.

But blaming sex slavery in Eastern Europe on western feminists is stupid.

The feminist system for raising children has already failed, as the aging and declining populations of Europe demonstrate quite clearly. It is less rational and self-sustaining than Communism, which is impressive. And while blaming western feminists for sex slavery in Eastern Europe might be stupid, blaming them for sex slavery in Western Europe is perfectly reasonable.

I am, of course, always prepared to learn what the good results of feminism have been. As yet, I've yet to be informed of any that are not tautological.

And finally, Nige, we do (and should and always will) use humor to rebuke stupid people and try to deter them and others from duplicating ridiculous (root word ridicule, right?) behavior. I think what TLQ means, though, is that the consequences–for this woman and others–of their mistakes are not laughable. If you really *watched* a woman be beaten and raped and deprived of her liberty, and you laughed, because she’d made some stupid mistakes….? I’d divorce your ass. My feminist foremothers fought to give me the right to do that, too.

One has to wonder if Mrs. Smitty would also divorce the long-suffering Nigel for daring to laugh at the popular Darwin awards, wherein more serious and lasting consequences are awarded for equally stupid mistakes. Or is it only the crime of finding amusement where she finds none that is divorce-worthy?

1807
British Parliament bans the Atlantic slave trade.

1810
British negotiate an agreement with Portugal calling for gradual abolition of slave trade in the South Atlantic.

1815
At the Congress of Vienna, the British pressure Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands to agree to abolish the slave trade (though Spain and Portugal are permitted a few years of continued slaving to replenish labor supplies).

1817
September 23: Great Britain and Spain sign a treaty prohibiting the slave trade: Spain agrees to end the slave trade north of the equator immediately, and south of the equator in 1820. British naval vessels are given right to search suspected slavers. Still, loopholes in the treaty undercut its goals. Slave trade flows strongly, 1815-1830. Slave economies of Cuba and Brazil expand rapidly.


From Wikipedia: The Slave Trade Act (citation 47 Geo III Sess. 1 c. 36) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed in 1807 the long title of which is "An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade".

The people who pushed the act through were a group of Evangelical Protestants allied with Quakers and united in their opposition to slavery and the slave trade. The Quakers had long viewed slavery as immoral, a blight upon humanity. By 1807 the anti-slave-trade groups had a very sizable faction of like-minded members in the English Parliament. They controlled, at their height, some 35-40 seats.


As far as I am aware, Japan is the only other nation besides Great Britain to have abolished slavery without external pressure, although that appears to have been more a matter of individual conscience on the part of shoguns like Toyotomi Hideyoshi instead of cultural pressure, as the Japanese mass enslavement of Chinese and Koreans followed the abolition of slavery in Manchuria by only six years.

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