A few weeks ago, the Gunfighter family took a vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was spring break in our local schools, and we wanted some concentrated family time, away from commuting household duties, and everything else.
Williamsburg is one of our favorite places, because Mrs Gunfighter and I are real history geeks. Wait, that isn't quite accurate. Mrs Gunfighter loves history and is a professional historian... I'm a history geek (the difference being that she is trained and has a Doctorate in the discipline... I'm just an oddball with books). Anyway, one of the things we love about Williamsburg is the plethora of good bookstores. Indeed, one of the first things we usually do after getting into town, is to go straight to the Books-A-Million that is near the college of William & Mary (where we REALLY want soccer girl to go).
Well, when we got to Williamsburg this time around, we did the exact same thing. Went to the bookstore. While we settled in and browsed in the various sections, a man came up to me to hand me a flyer, which I accepted. I noticed right away that this fellow was dressed in a black quasi-military outfit that was part Chairman Mao...
and part Che Guevara
Anyway, he said "have a look at this" and walked away. When I looked at it, this is what I saw:
For those that didn't know, the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the settlement of Jamestown, which marked the beginning of the colonization of North America.
Now, I'm not ignorant of history. Far from it. Neither am I ignorant of the horrors of slavery and some of it's lingering effects. I'm not ignorant of slavery's brutal practices, and I don't think that raising the level of awareness of these things is bad.
Having said all of the above, I think that; A) Celebrating the establishment of the settlement that eventually led to the creation of the United States (and Canada) is a good thing; and B) Suggesting that the celebration makes a mockery of the brutality of slavery is wrong-headed.
I'm not one of those "slavery-happened-then-it-went-away-get-over-it" people, but I think a little perspective is in order. Most of the information that you can find regarding the history of Jamestown and about the establishment of a slavery culture in America has been very sensitive to the incredible importance of the contributions of slaves and free blacks to the creation and the early economic viability of the United States.
No one should think that racism isn't still a problem in this country. It is, and when it rears it's ugly head, it must be attacked.
The celebration of the founding of Jamestown isn't racist, and it shouldn't be attacked.
When I see that manifesto of the idiots in the The New Black Panther Party. I see a group of people that would have better spent their time actually learning their own history before displaying their ignorance.
There are many problems in this country, folks. The Jamestown celebration isn't one of them.
I hate historical stupidity.