David Cole writes:
That said, let’s face an uncomfortable truth. Colonizing African nations and using the locals for slave labor was a bad idea, a stupid idea, an idea born of white hubris. And what doomed it was the belief that the “inferior” races would eternally submit to white domination. Over time, any people subjected to oppression and humiliation will get pissed. Even a supposedly lesser people will get pissed. So call blacks inferior if you’d like, but at the end of the day, who made the truly stupid choices? European whites in the age of colonialism thought they could continue the subjugation of indigenous blacks forever. And American whites in the aftermath of the Civil War thought that newly freed blacks could be kept uneducated and servile for perpetuity. There’s a moment near the end of Thomas Dixon’s 1902 novel The Leopard’s Spots (one of the two books used as the basis for D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation) in which two characters bicker over what to do with the emancipated blacks. The “extremist” urges immediate “repatriation,” whereas the lead character explains that the hard labor of blacks is necessary for the economy of the South, and he reassures the extremist that if blacks are simply kept uneducated and intimidated, they’ll happily plow the fields for generations to come. Although Dixon’s book is fiction, this was an actual debate that took place after the war. And we all know which point of view won.