Wed. Jun 19th, 2024


To answer the question before you even ask, yes, there will be “a point” to this brief “history lesson:” stay tuned…

Early AM reflux doth not a sleeping Ken make. So I got up and turned the big screen TV on. It just happened to be on a channel featuring a series on the history of the American people, mostly sans Native Americans… unfortunately. American history often lacks much about the first real Americans: “first Americans” we conquered and then placed in those euphemistically labeled “reservations.”


Reflux gets better. Bed. Reflux increases. Get up. Reflux gets better, gets worse. Go back to bed then get up again. So I saw most of the episodes aired that night.

Triple, acid pitted esophageal, “groovy.”

Oh, Prevacid, where art thou? I did take you. Did you decide to go out on a date with my twin “daughters” both called “Kidney?” Is that the other reason I have to keep getting up? Bring them home safe, and not too late.

Too late: it’s 5am.

Eventually the series reached the end of the Civil War and on to Reconstruction, so I was was about to turn it off. I know this era fairly well, or so I thought.

I knew the start of Reconstruction was very unkind to poor southerners who were the fodder for the cannons, the mini-balls, swords, horrid battlefield conditions. Then they came home to burned down houses, dead family, no infrastructure. “Home” to compete with a supposedly freed, large, workforce; a “workforce” they were taught to think little of, look down upon. “Hard” for the gentry: watched by their not so former foes, no slaves to work their farms, no female slaves to rape or have illegitimate children with… had to be a bit of a nuisance, no?

Or where doth one go to gets ones wick waxed other than the wife now, oh, slave master?

Maybe that, and the other “problems,” can be solved by creating a system worse than slavery? Ah: a workforce of prisoners who will labor for free; yet you can make money off their sweat: taking jobs poor southerners might have taken… while blaming all on those “damn Yankees” and “lazy niggers.”

Ah, pitting folks against each other, encouraging even more animosity: something the gentry are famous for even today. Amazing how little tactics of oppressors, those filled with hate, change, eh?

Maybe that’s the point of this edition of Inspection? Maybe: stay tuned.

As bad as it may have been for some white Southerners, what the Southerners did to their former slaves as Reconstruction faded was far worse. Of course we all know of the Klan, church burnings, lynchings, yet little is told of the box former slaves were put into: a “box” far worse than the obvious excesses of slavery.

The answer to their problems?

Put your “problem” in prison by whatever means possible and then profit from their free labor.

Those who performed acts as minor as just spitting in public were given long prison sentences. You didn’t even have to spit: just be charged with anything, like not paying a fictional debt… a debt “owed” to a former slave master who now runs a prison and can profit from your labor.

The courts sided with the local whites.

Prisons were privatized: often those who profited from the labor of former slaves were also the ones making bogus charges aimed at free slaves. Some of them were even former slave masters. Prisoner work hours were sun up to late at night working the worst jobs, like manual labor deep in the mines. They were paid for each prisoner’s labor: even young children. Huge profits were to be made. Is it a surprise that prison sentences were extended perpetually by further bogus charges?

A hellish Catch-22.

The difference being that slaves, once having some value and necessity to keep in good order like one doesn’t let a car run out of oil, or drop a plugged in/turned on toaster into a sink, now had no value except to be used up and spit out. Replacing them was easy: just blame another “nigger” for something he, or she, didn’t do.

Gassing them might have been marginally more humane rather than working them to death under hideous conditions.

Why this history lesson?

The Right is fond of excusing what we have done to those only accused of possibly, remotely, being connected to terrorism by talking about WWII and what we did to American citizens of Japanese and German heritage. But those camps were Heaven compared to the excesses of this war on an ism. The citizens were even allowed to gather and honor Hitler, for example, if they wished, choose their own meals.

No one pissed on their Mein Kampfs. They weren’t forced to climb naked on top of each other, or had live electric wires attached, or forced to stay in trailers under hot, boiling sun. Forced labor is one step beyond, one step I have no doubt is at least in the planning stage.

No, the closest comparison would be what the South did to that era’s undesirables once they were “freed,” and how they were kept in those hell holes by any means.

For over 10 years we have heard stories of prisons being built across the country and elsewhere: empty prisons waiting for… what? Prison construction is indeed up and getting to prison is a bit easier these days. As books like Kafka Comes to America have explained, all needs be done is be remotely connected… maybe, sort of, kind of… to a suspected terrorist or terrorism. Contribute to an organization not knowing that on some list, somewhere, is listed as possibly helping terrorists. Suspicion, even suspect: all too convenient suspicion, is good enough “proof.”

Citizens are encouraged to rat out citizens for any “suspicious activity…” presumably some “ratted out” because the neighbors simply don’t like them, or their politics, or their religion.

This kind of justice by suspicion can get real petty, vengeful and, well, convenient.

“Tree huggers,” animal rights advocates, have been likened to terrorists and are considered such by some. If we listen to Breitbart anyone associated with OWS might be included: after all they’re all supposedly rapists and murderers, and, yes, terrorists.

And the rhetoric the the Right revels in too often makes anyone even slightly to the left of them to blame for damn near everything, just like that freed man walking in the track was accused of not paying a debt to the former master who know runs the prison. The only way to talk to us is “with a baseball bat.” Or the “only mistake” the pilots in the planes made on 9/11 was not target the New York Times instead.

The hatred is real, just as real as the Southerners hatred for their former slaves who took their jobs, left their plantations and the damn Yankees. Just like hatred for anyone who dares to disagree, for Muslims, for a Black president, for immigrants.

Meanwhile Republican candidates are having a “I can steer further to the extreme Right than you can” contest.

Can you see where I’m going?

In The Turner Diaries we were driven towards our destination where anyone not radical Right or White was executed in public by violent, yes, terrorist, means. Yet maybe they “don’t need no stinkin” Revolution. Just keep steering in the direction the Right wants to go.

We assume they’re driving us all off a cliff.

But maybe they’re eager to escort undesirables to Auschwitz?

And there we will be gathered together: Black, White, Native American, Hispanic, Atheist, Agonostic, GLBT, Liberals, moderates, anti-frackers, ecology and animal rights activists: anyone deemed undesirable. In other words: anyone who dares to offend the extreme Right by their mere existence. Since the first in that list, Blacks, have been here before maybe they’ll be able to guide us through what their ancestors barely tolerated.

Damn, I hope I’m wrong. It’s a dark, foreboding, future, I hope never comes to pass. But if I do meet you in one of these prisons, concentration or reeducation camps, don’t forget to say, “Hi.”

But please don’t tell me I was right.

I won’t want to be reminded.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years.Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2011
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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