Saturday, October 13, 2007

Southern Slavery on the Electronic Bulletin Board

If you want to get a direct read on the temperature of Moscow during the slavery scandal, then you have to familiarize yourself with the archives of the local listserv Vision 20/20, because it became the primary location where Douglas Wilson and Doug Jones (as well as several of their monkey boys) engaged the community after the story broke. There you will see Wilson at his rhetorical best and worst, as he changed the subject, accused the community of intolerance, and blame-shifted responsibility for his piece of historical trash. There you will also see some of the brightest lights on the Palouse nail him. And among those bright lights I especially recommend the posts of Melynda Huskey and Rosemary (Donald) Huskey, who had (and still have) Wilson’s number and refused to let him off the hook (Melynda Huskey is a former classmate of Wilson’s from the University of Idaho, which must have made her posts particularly humiliating to Wilson). I also recommend Joan Opyr’s posts, which are simply hilarious; she is, perhaps, the most creative writer on the Palouse.

For example, after the story broke, Wilson posted an op-ed (appended below) to the listserv, which Melynda Huskey, Ph.D., demolished with two posts (appended below) that Wilson never answered. Note well that when Douglas Wilson does not answer an argument it’s because he cannot the answer the argument. This axiom applies not only to Southern slavery, but to Federal Vision and every other controversy that has embroiled the man.

[Vision2020] Aaaaaa! Slavery!
Sat, 11 Oct 2003 11:46:05 -0700


Below please find a response to this morning’s article on slavery.


Douglas Wilson

Your “Slavery Revisted” article in this last weekend edition unfortunately requires some response. First, the commendation: the article was objective in that it contained statements (from me, at any rate) that accurately stated my position, and that denied the ludicrous charges of racism against me. As a “did too/did not” article, the thing was fair enough.

But at the same time, the impression left by the mere fact of the article is still troubling. Your average reader could be left thinking that whether Wilson is a racist or not is a matter of legitimately disputed opinion. He somehow thinks he is not, but the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) takes a different view. By the way, I prefer to call that organization MDPB (Morris Dees’ Piggy Bank). But let’s take this out of the “did too/did not” realm. I would like to mention a few things that show this is not a matter of opinion at all. The question before us is actually a matter of fact, which can be readily determined by a number of items, many of which were supplied to this newspaper before the article ran.

The article did not mention the booklet we published another booklet alongside Southern Slavery: As It Was, a booklet entitled The Biblical Offense of Racism. The article did not mention that Christ Church is a multi-racial congregation. The article did not mention that we have multi-racial families in our congregation. The article did not mention that Steve Wilkin’s congregation is integrated. The article did not mention the public printed debate that I had with a white separatist, in which I argued that Moses married a black woman (Num. 12:1), and that the church in Antioch had a mixed race leadership (Acts 13:1). The article did not mention our published attacks on racism in our magazine Credenda Agenda. The article did not mention that one of our elders (part of our governing board) lives in the Ivory Coast, and that our church funded and built a community center for the Bakwe people there. The article did not mention that our elders have determined that 10 percent of all the money raised for our church’s building fund is committed to capital expenditures overseas, most likely among the Bakwe. The community center there was funded by this means. The article did not mention that our church has a ministerial training hall, and that one of my ministerial students is a black man who came here to train for the ministry.

I grew up in a segregated town in the South, and when the Supreme Court struck down the separate but equal nonsense, I attended school in a racially charged situation, and my sister was one of one or two other white children in her entire elementary school. This was because we refused to participate in the “white flight” to private education. There are many good arguments for private education, but racism is not one of them. It is a point of honor that our household had nothing to do with such racism when it would have been easy to give way to it. I honor my father (Jim Wilson) particularly for how he taught us as children during that time.

So, for the record (again!), racism is a sin. Because I am not an ethical relativist, it is not an “it all depends” kind of sin. God hates it, and will judge it along with all other sins on the last day. Because God hates it, so do I. Racial animosity and the more (superficially) benign racial vainglory are both loathsome. God created from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth (Acts 17:26). This means that we are all cousins, all of us created in the image of God. I say “created” as a convinced creationist, and as one who wants nothing to do with the racialist implications of the theory of evolution. If evolution is true (which it isn’t), and if evolutionary progress is a coherent concept (which it isn’t either), then how is it possible to escape the implication that one race of men can progress faster (depending on environment) than another race? That is what Darwin taught, but if you are looking for an institution that teaches both premise one and premise two, you will have to look at places like the University of Idaho, and not at any educational institution that I have anything to do with.

In short, I am willing to place our record on race relations (and our lived-out racial mix) against any local so-called progressive group. If you really want an example of Little Norway you will not be able to come to Christ Church for it. Why not look instead at the candidates for city council endorsed by the Moscow Civic Association? I am afraid that there are many who would be cheered up considerably if I were a racist, and they would really, really, really like it to be true. But alas, it is not. And so my counsel to them is to go yell up a different rain spout.

Anyone who is interested is certainly welcome to register for this year’s history conference, and registration forms are available from Christ Church. As you are filling it out, you may notice that there is no little box to check for your racial or ethnic background. You see, we don’t care. Can the same be said by those registering for classes at the UI?

Oh, and by the way, in response to a column of a few weeks back, we are not interested in burning people at the stake in Friendship Square. Sheesh.

[Vision2020] Aaaaaa! Slavery!
Melynda Huskey
Sat, 11 Oct 2003 16:41:53 -0700

Doug Wilson has furnished us with many evidences that he is acquainted with black people (not that we asked). Unfortunately, he could not furnish us with any evidence that he didn’t write and publish a pamphlet which reflects fondly on the good old days of the antebellum South, Christian civilization at its most refined pitch in American history. You know, when a white man could purchase, brand, whip, rape, breed, and profit from the sale of his own children, while serving as an elder in a Presbyterian church.

What possible purpose could such a tract serve *except* to pander to the pervasive racism of our region? I await a similar pamphlet defending the high value and respect the Nazis had for motherhood.

Melynda Huskey

[Vision2020] Aaaaaa! Slavery!
Jack Van Deventer
Sat, 11 Oct 2003 21:03:47 -0700

Melynda, if Doug Wilson is so intent on pandering to racism, how do you explain the abundance of his writings against racism? And how do you explain the attendance of various races at Christ Church, at NSA, at Logos, and at the annual history conference?


[Vision2020] A Question for Doug Wilson:
Sat, 11 Oct 2003 22:01:26 -0700


Andreas asks

Is that which is made permissible by the Bible required to be made permissible by a Christian society? That is: if a Christian society wished to forbid the practice of marriage, which is made permissible by the Bible but not demanded of Christians, would it be permissible (according to the same standard) for it to do so?

I would answer that it is not necessary to make mandatory that which the Bible merely permits. The real question is what is what the best way to eliminate slavery was — the way of massive bloodshed the way fire-eating abolitionists insisted, or peacefully, the way every other slave-holding nation did it. If Robert E. Lee was the moral equivalent of Hitler, then war it must be. But if not, and the rhetoric of the abolitionists was overdone, then a moderate anti-slavery position was possible.

My belief is that Christians of that time had a moral obligation to subvert the institution of slavery — without revolution — the way the apostle Paul did in the book of Ephesians. I am sorry to disappoint those who would like to debate a Doug Wilson more to their liking. But he doesn’t exists.


Douglas Wilson

[Vision2020] Aaaaaa! Slavery!
Melynda Huskey
Sun, 12 Oct 2003 16:09:28 -0700

Dear Doug,

Several books of the OT, notably Leviticus and Deuteronomy, do indeed legislate the terms on which the Israelites may hold slaves. But in my readings of the Bible, not a single state of the Confederacy is mentioned. The title of your tract is not A Defense of Slavery among the Hebrew Peoples, so why bring in U.S. slaveholders at all, if the Bible is your concern?

In fact, if Biblical law was indeed your primary concern, you *might* have written a book which condemned slavery in the antebellum South. For example, African slaves were not taken as prisoners in battle. African women were not married to their white owners, as is required by Biblical law, or set free after being raped. Southern slave-owners did not free their slaves after causing them permanent disability, such as the loss of a tooth or an eye. Southern slaves couldn’t inherit their owner/father’s property. Any of these failures to observe the Law could have served as a starting point for a fine denunciation of the evils of Southern slavery, even while you defended Biblical slavery — if you really felt it needed you to undertake its defense.

Instead, you chose to write about the splendid lives enjoyed by Southern slaves — about the abundant food, the simple pleasures, and the tender care they received. You chose to write about what a fine thing it was for those black people to held as property, to be forbidden to contract legally binding marriages, to be taken from their children to tend their owner’s homes and children, to watch their children sold away from them, to be bred against their wills to one another, to be beaten and branded and chained. That’s apparently your idea of the best race-relations in the history of the world.

And you’re surprised that the subtle anti-racism of your position isn’t clear?

If Nazi womanhood doesn’t appeal, may I suggest polygyny and concubinage as your next growth industry? There’s a Biblical warrant for it every bit as robust as the one for slavery, and I’m sure you’d find plenty of takers.

Melynda Huskey

P.S. Jack wonders why there are people of color attending Doug Wilson Inc and its subsidiaries if the CEO is a racist. Well, I can imagine a number of alternatives: they don’t know quite how bizarre his position is; they think he’s deluded on this point, but pretty good on some others (not unlike, say, Colin Powell or Condaleeza Rice on the Republican Party); or they find some advantage accrues to them if they’re willing to ignore this one thing (you might call that the J.C. Watts position). I suppose it’s even possible that there are some people of color who agree with him (James Meredith worked for Jesse Helms, after all.)

Note that none of those reasons precludes Doug’s defense of slavery from being racist. The old “Some of my best friends are black” defense no longer holds much currency.

Wilson never answered Melynda’s arguments, neither did he surrender the Stars and Bars.

Here are the links to Vision 20/20’s archives from that period:
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004

Additionally, Rosemary Huskey has archived her Vision 20/20 posts on her blog, beneath the category “Uncle Doug’s Cabin.” She is a trained historian, a brilliant writer, a devout Quaker, and a well-known authority on Christ Church antics.