I'm spending a Sunday afternoon watching Twelve Years a Slave with my family. Wow. Powerful movie, excellent acting. Well-deserving of an Academy Award (I saw Gravity last night-- good movie, but not as good as Twelve Years.)
Something I was thinking while watching it: Christianity was depicted as hypocritical vile doctrine used to justify any kind of horror perpetrated against the slaves. Of course, many horrors have been perpetrated in its name, but obviously ownership and abuse of human beings is not Christian in any actual sense. Early Christianity tolerated slavery (not chattel slavery, but the slavery that was extant in Roman civilization at the time) as the real long-standing state of affairs, and worked hard to endow it with as much humanity and charity as the social system would allow (c.f. Philemon). Over the next few centuries, Christianity wiped slavery off the map in lands in which it held sway. By the early Middle Ages, it was gone from Christendom, but remained everywhere else. Chattel slavery in the New World was a decisively un-Christian reversion to brutality and sin. Slavery in the New World was condemned by the Catholic Church repeatedly and decisively: in 1537 by Sublimis Deus, which was accompanied by Pastorale Officium which imposed a latae sententiae excommunication on slave owners and traders. Slavery was condemned by the Congregation of the Holy Office (otherwise known as The Inquisition, for you Catholic-haters) on March 20, 1686, and repeatedly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example in Pipe Gregory XVI's 1839 Papal Bull In Supremo, which reiterated the Church's consistent centuries-old condemnation of slavery. In 1888 and 1890, Pope Leo XIII again condemned slavery and demanded that it be eliminated throughout the world as it had been eliminated in Christendom.
So watching the movie, I was perplexed by the insinuation that Christianity was a rationalization for slavery. While many slave-owners invoked Scripture to defend slavery, there was massive, consistent, and ancient opposition to slavery from the Catholic Church and from many courageous Protestant denominations. In fact, Christians formed the core of the anti-slavery movement-- William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, John Newton, William Lloyd Garrison and countless other Christians as well as entire congregations of Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists-- are exemplars of the devout Christians who worked passionately to free slaves. And Christianity played a central role in the spiritual lives of slaves themselves-- they understood that Christ was on their side and that they were all God's children.
So why was Christianity portrayed so dishonestly in the movie? The reason, of course, is that lying about Christianity is de rigueur in Hollywood. The screenwriters just went with the flow.
But here's what was missing: slavery was the core public policy of the Democrat Party during the ante-bellum era. Democrats were the slave-owners party. The Democrats were only cured of their slave lust by Union armies in the bloodiest war in American history (caused entirely by Democrats fighting for slavery). After the Civil War, Democrats created the Ku Klux Klan, enacted Jim Crow and created the largest Progressive government program in American history-- segregation.
Leading Democrat politicians like Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace and a host of lesser Dems (countless senators, governors, congressmen and the like) either overtly supported and enacted segregation or worked in collaboration with fellow segregationist Democrats to beat, lynch, and otherwise degrade and abuse black Americans for a century. Today, the worst fate a young black man can suffer in America is to be raised in a Democrat-controlled city like Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, and scores of other crime-infested Democrat municipalities. The violent mortality of young black men growing up on the streets of Detroit is almost certainly higher than the violent mortality of young black men growing up in the antebellum South.
Only 21st century Democrats can kill more black people than 19th century Democrats.
Here's the rub: you never-- never-- see slave-owners in superb movies like Twelve Years a Slave talking about their beloved slave-holding Democrat Party, or how they live by Democrat Party pro-slavery principles, or how they have to take time out from flogging slaves to go to their Democrat Party meetings.
Odd how the intimate correlation between slavery and the Democrat Party is never mentioned by the entertainment cognescenti, but there's always a slave-raping Christian pastor lying about Christian teaching on slavery. Yet all slave owners were Democrats, passionate Democrats nearly always, and hardly Christians in any meaningful sense.
Why is Christianity's tangential (and contradictory) relation to slavery, but not the Democrat Party's essential bond with slavery, invariably the only ideological connection to slavery offered in movies and popular culture?
No slave owner was a Christian, in any honest spiritual sense. Every slave owner was in a state of mortal sin. The abolitionist movement was run from Christian churches, as was the Civil Rights Movement. Yet every slave owner-- and nearly all KKKers and segregationists-- were Democrats in good standing.
The reason is that Hollywood elites-- Progressive Democrats to their cocaine-marinated bones-- are the moral and political descendants of the slave-owners, and the central frantic endeavor (largely successful) of Progressive Democrat elites since the mid 20th century has been shoving their direct responsibility for slavery and segregation down the memory hole.
Movies about slavery that don't mention Democrats are like movies about the Holocaust that don't mention Nazis.
Think about that while you watch Twelve Years a Slave.