Thursday, April 23, 2015

The education of Ben Affleck


Sam Harris and Bill Maher schooled Ben Affleck on Islam above (also see this). Now we learn of Affleck's admittedly foolish attempt to delete part (below) of the Finding Your Roots TV program where he learned that he had an ancestor who owned slaves. He would have gotten away with it if not for Wikileaks republishing those Sony email messages.

One almost sympathizes with movie star Affleck, who, unlike the rest of us, must in effect undergo his education in public, especially since my understanding is that there were slave owners in my family on my mother's side.

GATES: This is the slave schedule of the 1850 Census. In 1850, they would list the owner of slaves in a separate Census.

AFFLECK: There’s Benjamin Cole, owned 25 slaves.

GATES: Your third great-grandfather owned 25 slaves. He was a slave owner.

GATES (in voiceover): These holdings put Benjamin Cole among the southern elite. Only about 10 percent of all slave holders owned 20 slaves or more.

AFFLECK: God. It gives me kind of a sagging feeling to see, uh, a biological relationship to that. But, you know, there it is, part of our history.

GATES: But consider the irony, uh, in your family line. Your mom went back fighting for the rights of black people in Mississippi, 100 years later. That’s amazing.

AFFLECK: That’s pretty cool.

GATES: That’s pretty cool.

AFFLECK: Yeah, it is. One of the things that’s interesting about it is like we tend to separate ourselves from these things by going like, you know, oh, well, it’s just dry history, and it’s all over now, and this shows us that there’s still a living aspect to history, like a personal connection. By the same token, I think it’s important to recognize that, um, in looking at these histories, how much work has been done by people in this country, of all kinds, to make it a better place.

The edited version of the program below:


Later: See also this from Salon.

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