Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

My visit to the Confederate graveyard

July 16, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 16, 2015

I’ve lived the past decade and change in North Carolina, and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed it. This is not a knock on Henderson or Vance County, but I’m much better suited to Durham, and Durham is much better suited to me, than the small community where I lived for four years when I first came to the state.

My point here, however, is that despite those 11 and a half years, I am not a Southerner. I grew up outside New York City, went to college in Northern California, and returned to New York before moving to North Carolina.

As a result, my opinions on the Civil War are very different than they might have been had I been raised here. I view the Confederated States of America as a rebellion, not any kind of noble or lost cause. To me, symbols of the Confederacy stand for a group of secessionists who fought to maintain the cruel institution of slavery, not liberty-minded individuals who were standing up for states’ rights. Not until I had long been an adult, frankly, did it ever occur to me that any rational individual would think in the latter fashion.

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North Carolina Republican tries to tarnish Obamacare for the crime of … mandating maternity coverage!

June 21, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 21, 2014

A short item that Tara Culp-Ressler posted at Think Progress caught my eye on Thursday.

Mandy Cohen of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who is due to give birth in about three weeks, recently appeared at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing entitled “Poised To Profit: How Obamacare helps insurance companies even if it fails patients.”

During her testimony, Rep. Mark Meadows pressed Cohen about a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to include maternity coverage in all new plans that they sell. The Republican representative, whose district covers the mountainous western corner of North Carolina, asked if there other coverages that insurers must sell (and which ipso facto consumers must buy) because of Obamacare.

Cohen: It depends on your personal family situation and your medical situation. I’ll say as an internist, and a primary care doc, that sometimes you don’t know what that medical situation will be going forward, and that’s the nature —

Meadows: But maternity is one that you can probably analyze pretty well for someone who’s in their 50s.

Cohen: Right, but it’s a minimal essential benefit we wanted to make sure every American has.

If this is going to be one of the GOP’s main points of contention about the Affordable Care Act, then the law could well have a very rosy future. Is it unfair for people (read: men) to pay for coverage that they aren’t going to use? Perhaps so, but that’s also a fundamental component of insurance.

And let’s remember what the health-insurance market was like before Obamacare mandated maternity coverage. The National Women’s Law Center released a study in early 2012 that captured many unsavory aspects of those not-so-good days.

Back then, gender rating — that is, charging women more than men for comparable coverage — existed without restriction in 36 states. Businesses with mainly female work forces were “routinely” charged more than others, the center reported. This disparity affected many hospitals, medical offices, pharmacies, community-service organizations, and home-health-care and child-care businesses, all of which skew female.

But gender rating may have had the biggest impact on the individual market. “Even with maternity coverage excluded, nearly a third of plans examined charged 25 and 40-year-old women at least 30% more than men for the same coverage,” the report stated (emphasis added).

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Exploring the original American sin: Documents on slavery

June 3, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 4, 2014

The other day, I collected a number of passages from American history rebutting conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s unqualified assertion that the United States was “founded under the premise that we are all created by God and we’re all created equal.” That may have been the spirit that motivated our Founding Fathers, but when it came to wide swathes of American residents — say, the nation’s African-American slaves — the principle was honored more in the breach than in the observance.

I’m not a serious student of history, but it was not at all hard to find numerous resources on American slavery. I ultimately pulled all of the historical texts in last week’s post from this resource page for “Africans in America,” a Public Broadcasting Service project. The page features nearly 250 illustrations and documents about what has euphemistically been labeled the peculiar institution.

Here are some other pages that inquiring minds can visit if they wish to delve deeper into the American experience of slavery:

• “Slavery and the Making of America”: These resources, evidently compiled for a 2004 project created by PBS’s New York City affiliate, Thirteen/WNET, cover a variety of topics. There are links to books for students, the texts of slave narratives, and audio clips of reminiscences of former slaves that were recorded by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.

Primary source collections — slavery and abolition: This page, hosted by Newton Gresham Library at Sam Houston State University, links to about three dozen different archives. Some collections document slavery in a particular place, such as Delaware or Texas; others feature images related to slavery. One link leads to a map that uses Census data to show the spread of slavery in the United States from 1790 through 1860. An Emory University initiative linked to here contains information on more than 35,000 slave voyages between the 16th and 19th centuries, including the names, points of origin, and places of disembarkation for more than 91,000 captured Africans.

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On equality and America: Rush Limbaugh vs. the historical record

May 30, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 30, 2014

I have no sermonizing for you today; simply snippets of transcripts and documents.

I ask, dear reader, that you do one thing: Contrast the way in which conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh describes the founding principles of the United States (particularly the passage that I’ve highlighted below) with actual historical evidence about how America’s founders and esteemed citizens viewed and treated the African-Americans who labored for them.

~~~

“The story of humanity on Planet Earth since the beginning of time has been tyranny and bondage. Most people who have lived did not have very much freedom or liberty.

“They did not have the right to own property, and they certainly didn’t have a whole lot of economic opportunity. The vast majority of people who have lived on this planet have had really hard lives. They lived under tyranny, authoritarianism, dictatorship, you name it. There never was a nation before the United States, which founded itself and organized itself on the belief that the citizen was the center of the universe.

“The free, liberated citizen was the engine. Every other nation on earth that had been formed or every other population — even if it was not a nation with borders, just any population group — was always dominated by brutal, tyrannical, dictatorial leaders who led by intimidation, punishment, brutality. The United States came along and was the exception to all of that.

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Will the future resemble the past? Our changing atmosphere and our peculiar institution

May 23, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 23, 2014

I’ve spent a significant amount of time over the past few days reading about two disparate issues. One, climate change, is very contemporary; the other, slavery, continues to affect American society despite the fact that the practice was outlawed about 150 years ago.

Let’s start with climate change — specifically, with Bill McKibben’s 6,200-word essay on the subject from a 2012 edition of Rolling Stone. It is subtitled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” and it focuses on three numbers: The amount of temperature rise that the planet might — might — be able to sustain without triggering catastrophic environmental and geopolitical changes, the number of gigatons of carbon dioxide that scientists estimate humanity might be able to pump into the atmosphere while still retaining a chance of keeping below an unsustainable temperature rise, and the number of gigatons of carbon dioxide that would be added to the atmosphere if all known reserves of coal, oil and gas reserves are extracted and used.

McKibben focuses on those three numbers, as stated, but the most frightening part of the article can be boiled down to one sentence: Known fossil fuel reserves are capable of producing roughly five times the amount of carbon dioxide that the atmosphere is thought to be able to absorb safely.

Consider the other topic for a moment — slavery, which has euphemistically been called America’s peculiar institution. The Atlantic has just posted a comprehensive feature article by Ta-Nehisi Coates titled “The Case for Reparations.” The work comprises about 15,000 words; it’s also accompanied by “An Intellectual Autopsy,” a 2,100-word addendum (that I have yet to read) in which Coates explains how his opposition to reparations changed over the last four years.

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A portrait of modern bondage: New report estimates that there are nearly 30 million slaves around the globe

November 23, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 23, 2013

Last week, I visited DocuTicker.com and stumbled upon The Global Slavery Index 2013, a first-of-its-kind report published last month by Australia’s Walk Free Foundation.

Being aware of modern slavery, but knowing few if any specifics, I decided to delve into the 130-page report. Reading it left me with mixed emotions.

First, a few positives. In general, wealthy, highly developed nations — especially those in Europe — have relatively low prevalences of slavery. The Index profiles the nations with the 10 highest and the 10 lowest prevalences; of the latter group, all but New Zealand are in Western or Northern Europe. These nations tend to have specifically designated government units, education programs and plans for identifying and responding to human trafficking and forced labor. They have also evaluated the efficacy of their response mechanisms.

Unfortunately, the report is filled with dismaying information. The Index estimates that there are 29.8 million enslaved people in the world, with by far the largest number of those — perhaps 14 million — located in India. Another 2.9 million slaves are estimated to be in China, and at least 2 million more are thought to be in Pakistan.

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