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Monday, November 06, 2006

Slavery, Property, and Miscegenation

In 1662, the Virginia legislature passed a law that read, "Children got by an Englishman upon a Negro woman shall be bond or free according to the condition of the mother." Seems otherwise innocuous, but this statute reversed English common law under which the status of the child frollowed that of the father.

The implications were huge. It meant that slave owners could impregnate as many slave women as they wanted secure in the knowledge that the children that resulted would become their property, increasing their wealth and slave population. This provided a huge incentive for white men to sleep with their slave women.

This intertwined sex and race and led to the powerful taboo of black men marrying or even looking at a white woman. The long-term result of this taboo was the epidemic of the lynching of black men.

Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson

Sunday, November 05, 2006


"There's no doubt in my mind as a soldier that part of the responsibility for Abu Ghraib and for Afghanistan belongs with the secretary of defense and the president of the United States. There's an old aphorism: Keep it simple, stupid. KISS is the acronym. You always have personalities in uniform--I had them in Vietnam--who will take advantage of any ambiguity, any lack of clarification in the rules of engagement, and kill people, or whatever his particular psyche is liable to do. You don't have rules for your good people. You have rules for that five or six percent of your combat unit that are going to be weird. You need those people, because sometimes they're your best killers. But you need the rules. And when you make any kind of changes in them, any relaxation or even a hint of it, you're opening Pandora's box. And I fault Gonzalez, the president, the vice-president, the secretary of defense, the chain of command, Myers, Abizaid, Sanchez, the whole bunch of the them."

An administration official who had served in Vietnam explaining Abu Ghraib. Quoted by George Packer in The Assassin's Gate.