Well, that’s it for Disney for now and the predictable future – anything whatsoever to do with a Disney brand anything for this family. Disney-brand movies, Disney-owned media outlets, toys, games and clothing with Disney characters on them, the parks – the whole ball-o-wax. I was pretty certain I was done with them when I wrote this, almost a year ago. (Disney was already circling the drain with me, the year before, when this posted.) This most recent release of theirs has gone beyond offensive wokery, romped through partisan propaganda and plunged headlong into purveying outright lies – lies about American history, which to me, as a passionate reader of history (as well as a scribbler of historical fiction) is a form of blasphemy. Worse than that – a putrid and manipulative lie.
Slavery did not build this country. The ‘peculiar institution’ as it was described in antebellum writings, in fact rather retarded industrial development in the old South. I will concede that extensive production of cash crops as rice, tobacco, indigo and cotton did depend on slavery. Those enterprises enriched a small, elite fraction of Southern slaveholders and kept the rest of the South relatively poor, undeveloped, and almost medieval in backwardness, although like the medieval nobility, convinced of their own superiority. Industry, innovation, and immigration all inclined to those places North of the Mason-Dixon line, while the South stagnated, even after Northern victory in the Civil War brought an end to chattel slavery.
I will concede that slave labor did play a part in the construction of certain historic buildings and public developments, and in some industries like Richmond’s Tredegar Iron Works. But slaves did not build the Erie Canal, the fabric mills of New England, Samuel Colt’s industrial armory. Black slaves did not create or maintain the telegraph lines which bound the country together, nor did slavery figure in the Santa Fe trail, the Oregon-California trail, the various precious metal rushes which eventually filled up the far West, the Pony Express, the web of stagecoach routes that prefigured the transcontinental rail network, the coal mines and steelworks that dominated industry after the Civil War, the oil industry that eventually powered much of that growth, Thomas Edison’s laboratory and a hundred other manufacturing, mercantile or inventive enterprises … none of that was based on slavery, nor did formerly enslaved people play very much of a part, other than that of employees. To insist, as this wretched cartoon does, that slavery “built” the United States is a pernicious and poisonous lie, a gross distortion.
The Disney company should be deeply ashamed of perpetuating it – I am certain that the late Walt would be. The danger in pushing such a gross misreading of history is that people without much historical knowledge will come to accept it as a fact. It’s a kind of racism every bit as destructive as the distorting fungal infection in the game and series The Last of Us. We have already seen countless instances of black-on-white or black-on-oriental violence, via the so-called ‘knock out game’ – or even outright murder in the city streets, such as in this incident. And now the shambling corpse of reparations returns, yet again. If it weren’t for the fact that most of us genuinely judge by the content of character rather then the color of the skin envelope it’s in – I believe that we’d already be in a race war to the knife. It may yet come to that, if Disney and the rest of the so-called anti-racist brigade of super-spreaders have their way. Discuss as you wish.