The Politics of Everyday Evil

Art by Rob Goldstein

The American Civil War was the topic of U.S. History; the teacher asked us to imagine what life was like for a slave.

I was fresh from South Carolina and had just finished reading ‘Mandingo,’ so I raised my hand and said, “I think it would be awful to get bred.”

“Get — bread?” the teacher asked.

“Yes, ma’am. They bred slaves for the babies.”

“Where did you hear that? I’ve never heard such a thing.”

I instinctively knew Mandingo was not a good source, so I said, “Everyonein the South knows how to breed livestock. Slaves was livestock.”

The teacher smiled. “Were,” she corrected. “I’ll research this tonight, and if you’re right, I’ll apologize tomorrow.”

The next day I got an apology.

“By the laws of competition no one can carry on a thriving business in breeding slaves for the market, unless the rights of mothers be…

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