Torture is not part of our American mythology of goodness and justice for all.
“It’s not who we are,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in response to the CIA Torture Report.
“…It’s contrary to our values,” asserted our first African-American President.
“…a stain on our values and history,” lamented Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Now wait just one cotton pickin’ minute!
America’s sense of moral superiority has already been blemished by that “peculiar institution” slavery- the stubborn stain we just can’t whitewash away.
But not for lack of trying.
A Stained Page out of History
Over the years Americans have told themselves varying stories about enslavement of blacks presenting slavery as perhaps wrong but not such a bad thing.
What child of the late 1950’s wouldn’t enjoy coloring in a jolly picture of a happy slave picking cotton in the Ol’ South.
The illustration featured above was a page straight out of history. A 1958 coloring book of American History whose pages are filled with other fun-loving, morally defining American history moments such as the Atomic Bomb explosion.
In a 1937 textbook called “Our Nations Development” slavery was as painfully whitewashed as you could get: “Nor was the slave always unhappy in his cabin. On the contrary he sang at his work …if his cabin was small there was shade trees about and a vegetable garden nearby.”
The truth of course was tortured.
This “peculiar institution” had some “peculiar” torture.
Blacks were routinely tortured by flogging, whippings and subjected to medieval devices such as thumb screws, metal collars with spikes, and other disturbing instruments of torture used on Black People by slavers to control their kidnapped victims.
Just like in a coloring book, the message was clear – stay within the lines. The consequences were brutal.
It turns out the truth hurts.
Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved