Slavery In America – With Matt Walsh At Patriot Academy: At what point can we have a fruitful dialogue concerning racism? Was slavery in America BEFORE the white Europeans showed up? Did Americans start the slave trade? Was the kind of slavery practiced in America more brutal and inhuman that what was common across the globe? Do you know what happened in modern-day Peru BEFORE Europeans showed up? What about the practices of the Aztecs. Does the history taught in our schools need a bit more context? What is a truly unique aspect of America’s relationship with slavery that is hardly ever discussed? Tune in to hear this eye-opening interview with Matt Walsh from Patriot Academy and learn the important answers to these questions and much more!
Air Date: 10/13/2020
Guest: Matt Walsh
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
This is the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live, and we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith and the culture, always from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective, normally, with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder, at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, speaker, pastor and president of WallBuilders. And you know, usually it’s the three of us, and our guest, or we’re doing Good News Friday.
But today, we got a special program for you, we’re actually bringing you Matt Walsh, he was at Patriot Academy this year speaking to the students, and we want to share that presentation with you. You can listen to Matt’s podcast over at the Daily Wire, read his articles there, always has something great to say about what’s happening in the culture, and he takes a very straightforward approach to it. I actually appreciate that, dry humor, you got to appreciate that as well, but a very brilliant analysis of what is happening in the country today, and he does the same thing. He looks at it from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective.
So we enjoyed him at Patriot Academy, thought we would share him with you here, our WallBuilders listeners. And so we’re going to jump right into that presentation, that discussion that he had with Patriot Academy and give you a chance to hear that. We missed the very first part. So my introduction of him and all that at Patriot Academy and his first few remarks which we didn’t get, and so we’re diving in a little bit, not in the middle, but right up front.
We just missed his first couple of comments. And what he’s talking about is this misnomer, this ridiculous history that’s been foisted upon the American people by the 1619 Project by Senators like Tim Kaine out in Virginia standing on the US senate floor saying that America invented slavery, just crazy stuff. So that’s what he’s talking about when we dive right in. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Walsh at Patriot Academy.
Welcome Matt Walsh
…redundant and unnecessary statement. The more obvious and direct interpretation is that Tim Kaine believes or at least wants us to believe that the institution of slavery itself was designed and implemented by Americans, and many people in this country, especially college students, it seems like are under this impression.
There was in fact, a university professor, few years ago polled his students or actually, for years, have been polling his students on their basic historical knowledge, and found that a vast majority hold this very belief that slavery is unique to our country, and we carry almost all the blame for it systemically racist, unlike so many other countries we’re unique in that way. That was what a lot of students thought.
And this is the message that’s sent loud and clear by the mobs, tearing down statues and the BLM activists demanding that white people kneel and apologize and all of that, and the Leftists who degrade Western civilization and its achievements. White Westerners, it is said, have a unique reason to apologize because we are the descendants of history’s greatest villains, and any discussion of historical atrocities should begin and end with those villains.
Now, this is all nonsense, of course. For one thing, I think it needs to be said that nobody is responsible. This is the kind of thing that shouldn’t need to be said, but these days it does, that nobody is responsible for the actions of their ancestors. And you know, one man cannot and should not apologize to another man for events that occurred before either of them were born.
To apologize for something is to take responsibility for it, but you obviously can’t take responsibility for things that were done at a time when you didn’t actually exist. Now, you can express sadness and you can express sympathy for bad things that happen that you didn’t do, but you can’t apologize for them. Which is why a lot of the apologizing we see people do now is I think sort of a performative self- flagellation, or at worst it’s a show of sincere and delusional self-loathing that I think a lot of people have. In either case, it is not healthy.
Did the USA Invent Slavery?
For another thing, the United States did not in fact invent slavery or racism, it turns out, white Europeans didn’t invent it either. If the guilt of slavery can be inherited from one generation to another, then we have all inherited it. We are all stained by it, every single person on earth. The institution goes back 10,000 years or more into the Neolithic Revolution. As long as human society has had agriculture, it has had slaves to do the work, which is a sad statement about humanity, for sure, but it’s not so much a unique statement about the United States of America.
The soil on every continent on Earth, except for Antarctica so far, has been tilled by slave. Slavery was a common and almost unquestioned, ubiquitous practice everywhere all over the world among nearly all people for thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of yours. Now, if Europeans did not invent slavery as we’re told by the Left, can they at least be blamed for the formation of the slave trade? Well, no slaves were traded as commodities, as far back as Ancient Egypt even further back than that.
For centuries before the transatlantic slave trade, Arab traders would conduct their own raids into Africa, capturing African villagers, shipping them back to the Arabian Peninsula for sale. That was going on 1,000 years before the transatlantic slave trade. Was slavery in United States of the colonies more brutal, more inhumane than other iterations of the practice? Again, the answer to that is no. It was brutal and inhumane to be sure, but it would be hard to argue that it was worse morally than the forms of slavery common across the globe.
For example, in the SubSaharan slave trade established about 1,000 years before the unite United States came into being, young boys were routinely castrated and then sold into forced labor in Asia, Middle East, or even within Africa. That again, was 1,000 years before there were any slaves in America. Can we at least blame Americans or Europeans for bringing slavery to North America? Can we say that that was the unique evil that they perpetrated?
Slavery Throughout the World
Once again, the answer is no. Slavery was commonplace in the Americas well before European settlers showed up. Native American tribes enslaved each other often by conquest and capture, which is just exactly what people also elsewhere in the world were doing. This is the point. This was the way the world worked.
Those who wish to make the slavery practiced by Europeans seem appreciably worse than other forms will often claim that Native American slavery was more humane and it wasn’t permanent, like the kind of slavery you found here. Now, this was true in some cases, but certainly not all.
In Mesoamerica, during this period, a slave would have sometimes ended his period of slavery by being butchered as a human sacrifice, which was a widespread practice across the region for hundreds of years. The Chimú in modern day Peru carried out the worst mass sacrifice of children ever to occur on Earth as far as we know. Over 140 children were slaughtered probably by having their hearts cut out of their chest while they were still alive. And that happened before Europeans ever showed up.
In another particularly Grizzly episode, the Aztecs who sacrificed thousands of people every single year, they sacrificed 84,000 humans in a span of four days to christen one of their temples. And you got to think about what that would take to do that before the advent of modern weaponry. It’s horrific to even think about.
In fact, Native Americans took part in African slavery as well, which is something they don’t tell you in public schools. But by the time of the Civil War, 15% of the Cherokee population was comprised of black slaves. Indian tribes could also be quite brutal to their black slaves just as white people could be.
Now, the point here is, I’m not arguing that the slavery practiced by white Americans was less bad just because other people were doing it. I learned a long time ago from my parents that just because other people are doing things doesn’t make them okay. Slavery in America was a horrid abomination, of course, which is why we celebrate its abolition. And that is an abolition that came only 90 years after the formation of the country.
How is America’s Relationship With Slavery Unique?
The United States as a nation had legal slavery for less than a century. And for some reason, we’re talking about the unique aspects of America’s relationship with slavery. That is one unique aspect that’s never brought up, that we had it for a shorter period of time than almost any other country in existence.
Now, for comparison’s sake, China has slavery for 3,000 years as a country, 3,000 years. And they only officially abolished it in the 20th century, in the early 1900s. Though, unofficially, it still exists even today in sweatshops in other places.
So this, again, does not lessen the brutality of American slavery or mitigate the evil of the institution. But it does go to show that the exclusive focus on slavery in America and the insistence that white Americans have inherited unique guilt because of it is simply wrong. It’s historically illiterate. And I think a lot of people that do this, they know better, but what they’re really trying to do, their actual goal is to undermine the idea of American exceptionalism. They don’t want us to be an exceptional country, so they’re trying to think of ways that well, if we’re exceptional at all, we are exceptional in evil ways.
Now, if there ever comes a time when we’re ready to have a mature, nuanced discussion of slavery, racism, and their legacies in the modern day, then I for one will be eager to participate in that discussion. After all, we cannot understand where we are or anticipate where we’re headed as a people until we know where we’ve been.
So this is also not an argument on my part saying that we should just leave it in the past and not talk about it anymore. No, it is still something worth talking about. But that kind of discussion, the thoughtful, nuanced, fruitful discussion is only possible and can only be worthwhile if we look at history with a wider lens, and we understand the context of the institutions and attitudes that we’ve rightly reviled today.
You know, if we’ve already decided from the outset that whatever happened in history, white people must have been especially bad and evil, and whatever evil they committed must have been unique to them, then there’s no point to the discussion, we can’t have any discussion. Because then we’re like children making reality into a cartoon.
Looking Honestly at History
But I think if we’re prepared to look honestly at our history as a species, and see that we are descendants of deeply flawed human beings who are often brutal, and bigoted, and we’re that way for thousands of years, and who until very recently had no concept of inherent human dignity, little notion of racial tolerance, but who also struggled mightily and made great sacrifices and achieved great things for our sake, then perhaps at that point, we can have a fruitful dialogue, and we can actually get somewhere with all of these discussions of racism and everything else. But until that point, there’s just nowhere it can go. And so that’s why I would recommend that when this…
You know, one of the point I want to make I mentioned American exceptionalism, that I kind of realized, as I was saying it that what I was saying was wrong, because I said that the Left wants to undermine American exceptionalism, but actually, it’s sort of the opposite. They’re doing it a sort of weird, inverted form of American exceptionalism where they want us to believe that the only exceptional things about America are the bad things.
And that, as I said, is really the objective. And that’s why I think we need to be forceful in responding to this narrative, and just introducing some truth where usually there’s nothing but lies and false narratives. That’s all I got, guys. Thank you.
Well, you know, and Matt, I’m going to ask you the first question that other people are throwing them in there, and you really close that with it. I mean, if you can’t start a conversation with truth, then how do you have a meaningful discussion about the major issues of the day, because right now, it’s hashtags and mutton and slogans, and just a total disregard for facts or our truth? So how do you deal with that when you’re in discussions with people?
Emotion or Facts
Yeah, well, it is, of course, impossible. I mean, our discussions are these days ruled by emotion, and we’re supposed to believe that emotion overrules facts, which, of course it doesn’t. I think the only thing that we can do is just, look at the outset of a conversation, you introduce the facts, you lay them out, if someone is not interested in facts, then I think just you presented the facts and you move on.
If you’re talking on a level of facts, and you’re talking to someone who all they ever do is go back to well, I feel this way, this is how I feel about it, then there’s nowhere else you can go, there’s no point in engaging. You’ve engaged as far as you can, and hopefully you’ve presented some facts, maybe you’ve planted a little seed.
Another thing we have to realize is that in a debate, I mean, even a debate with an intelligent person who’s being thoughtful and is interested in facts, very rarely is someone going to in the moment say, oh, “You’re right, actually, I’m wrong.” Only very rarely have I heard anyone ever do that. But that doesn’t mean is that what you’re saying isn’t making an impact, it’s just that out of pride, people might, you know, what you’re saying they remember it, that you plant the seed in their mind, and maybe later, days later, hours later, years later, it might sprout into something. So you lay the facts out, if someone’s interested in the facts, then you move on.
And then the other big thing, I think is if you want to have any hope of making an impact out there, then you have to get to a point where people shouting labels at you makes no difference to you, you have to sort of be impervious to it. Because on the Left, that’s really their primary tactic and an argument is just to label it, you know, they’re going to label you in East or a phobia or in Islam or whatever. You have to get to a point where that just doesn’t mean anything to you.
Because if someone’s labeling you a bigot or something like that, and you know that it’s not true, then that’s all that matters. And the fact that they’re saying it should make no difference.
Do Your Research
That’s one that definitely needs to sink in, because I think that’s why so many are cowering right now. In fact, you did a whole podcast on this, the worst thing that could ever be called is a racist, so they’re doing everything they can to prevent from being called that. Somebody had asked where they could go for… one of the things we really challenged them to do is go do homework, and so they asked for where they could go to study the American Indians owning slaves, is there a good resource we can send them to on that? Oh, Google…
Yeah, well, I was going to say, well, Google is the first place that I often start. But there are a few books I’ll just throw one book at you that’s worth reading. Is a book called believe it’s just called Cortes by I think the author is Richard Lee Marks. And it’s a book about Hernando Cortez and the Conquistadores and their encounter with the Aztec civilization. It’s not just about slavery, of course, but it’s worth reading, because it gives you an idea of, and we hear a lot about the sins of the Conquistadores and the terrible things they did, and they did do some truly terrible things. But you also have to understand what a lot of these men encountered when they came here.
And for her Cortes and Conquistadores, they encounter the Aztecs of civilization, which as I said, they were ripping the hearts out of human beings, thousands every year, just absolute, unspeakable brutality that the Spanish man would, they’ve never seen anything like that before, they didn’t know what to think of it.
And I think that’s worth seeing, so we can understand, again, in historical context, the things that happened, and we can stop trying to see this as a really simplistic good guy versus bad guy dynamic. So Cortes by Richard Lee Marks is a good book to read.
Everyone Can Understand the Facts
And that is Richard Marks, not to be confused with the 80s pop singer. Richard Marks…
Yeah, no, different guy, I think. Yeah.
I think. Okay, next question. How would you respond to someone who states that “As a white person, you cannot have an opinion on racism, because of your inherent white privilege?”
Yeah, well, it’s the same thing you hear about as a man you can’t have an opinion on abortion, so called women’s issues. There are a lot of gatekeepers on the left to try to, another way they try to win the argue the argument is by just disqualifying anyone who might try to argue with them, it’s a good way to win when you only allow people into the discussion who are going to agree with you, then what do you know, you win the argument because there isn’t one. So how do you respond to? You know, you just ignore it, that’s all, you ignore it.
And when it comes to the facts of the matter, whatever the matter is, you don’t have to be in a certain demographic to understand basic facts, and that’s what we’re talking about. Yeah, if we’re talking about the emotional, subjective experience of a certain group of people, whether it’s black Americans or women or whatever the case may be, yeah, they’re the only ones who can speak to their own personal experience, and we should listen to that, as an important thing to listen, to the listen people’s experiences. But when it comes to the objective facts of the world, and what’s going on, that’s a discussion that anyone can participate in.
A Victimhood Culture
Yeah. Okay. Next one is, do you have any thoughts on what has caused this generation to become a self-victimization culture? It seems like people feel duty bound to self-flow than hate Americanism. What can my generation do to bolster the American spirit again so we appreciate our heritage? So there’s a lot packed in there, leading with why is this generation more self-victim mentality?
Well, you have to understand that we’ve been in the middle of a process of devolution as a culture for many decades, nothing that we’re seeing now is new. It’s the continuation of something that’s been going on for many decades.
And I think also, I know my generation, the millennial generation, we were raised to believe that victimhood is power. I think a lot of people in my generation, and they’re now the parents of the next generation, so what are they teaching their kids? But I’ve been raised to believe that the way you win an argument is to be the most offended one.
Now, if I really wanted to get psychological with it, and get into psychotherapy with, maybe I would postulate that there’s also something to the fact that a lot of people in my generation grew up in empty homes, broken homes, divorced homes, both parents working, went home to empty homes. And I think that a lot of them learned a way to get attention from their parents was to act out, which is what we’re seeing a lot with the looters and rioters now, or to be offended, be upset, get attention that way. So I often wonder if there’s some of that they brought into adulthood.
But beyond that, it’s this victimhood is power mentality that has been growing in our culture for many decades, and it’s only going to get worse. What’s the second part again?
Understand American History in Its Proper Context
How can they be a part of bolstering their generation to believe in? Or how can their generation before the American spirit again?
Well, I think part of what I was trying to talk about today is understanding American history, I think that’s the best thing we can do. That’s why it’s great you guys are all involved in Patriot Academy, continuing your exploration of American history. Unfortunately, what we’re told in the mainstream, what you hear in the media, what you hear from Hollywood, you can’t trust that.
So to go on your own and like read whole entire books about American history, getting different perspectives, and I think when you do that, you’re going to discover that yeah, there’s a lot of our American heroes were flawed men, I mean, they all were, everyone is flawed, so a lot of our heroes had glaring flaws even. But what they accomplished was truly world changing, and I think when you do an honest study of our history, you really appreciate that.
Yeah. Last question. While I agree that we are not responsible for our ancestors’ actions, as Christians, we also believe in inherited original sin. We are found as guilty of sin as Adam and Eve, now why slavery and racism were not instituted by us, can an apology be a way to empathize, sympathize, and deeply feel the pain of others as a way to begin constructive remedy?
So probably two questions here, we could spend all day on the theological question, and whether it’s our own sin as well. But specifically, what do you think about the idea of apologizing? I think you hit this at the beginning, though, there’s a difference between an apology and empathy.
Apologies and Empathy
No apology is definitely not the way into a productive dialogue at all, it’s not the way to begin. Because you’re starting on an irrational foot, you can’t open a conversation by being irrational. That’s not going to…
You’re building it on a lie at that point, right?
Right, building it on a lie. An apology, it’s the whole point of an apology. Apology is when you’re expressing contrition for something you did. That’s the only thing you could be contrite about, it doesn’t make any sense.
It’s like if your neighbor Jim punched you in the face, and you told me about it, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to say, oh, I apologize, I apologize for that. Now, I might say I’m sorry that happened to you, but that’s a phrase we use. That’s not an apology. That’s another way of saying sympathy. But for me to say I apologize for that, it means nothing.
You might appreciate my sympathy, but I’m not the one who did it. If you’re going to get an apology, it has to be from Jim because he’s the one, I cannot take responsibility for it. It’s not just that I won’t, is I can’t, unfortunately, that’s not something I can do. And so that’s what it is. We have to draw this distinction, like Rick said, between empathy and contrition.
And so when it comes to the historical plight of black Americans, I think there’s, of course, a lot of room for empathy there that we should express. But that doesn’t mean that we personally are taking responsibility for things that happened before we existed on the earth. And I think that’s the difference.
Matt, I promised you 20 minutes, you stayed an extra 4, thank you, brother. I appreciate all that you do. We want to encourage folks to listen to your podcast, follow you at the Daily Wire. By the way, how you liking living in the real America since you moved from behind enemy lines into, what do you move to, Tennessee?
Not Tennessee, but we did move kind of out into the country and no, love it. I have no desire to live in a city. You know, I love just being out in space. I feel a lot safer now, and it’s nice living in a small town, so I highly recommend it to anyone that can do it.
Do you ever go out there to LA and do the backstage show with them in person, or you?
Yeah, I sometimes, but these days with COVID and everything, we kind of shut down travel for a while. But and also now to be honest, I just have no desire to go to Los Angeles…
I hear you, man.
But yeah, it’s nice being…
That was Matt Walsh at Patriot Academy. Stay with us, folks, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
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We’re back here on WallBuilders Live, just about out of time for today. But we want to thank Matt Walsh for joining us today, we want to thank you for being here. I want to encourage you to do your part to help save America’s constitutional republic. This is a time of action in our nation.
This is no time to sit on the sidelines. We need you engaged in the culture. We need you to be getting students to go to Patriot Academy or go to the WallBuilders leadership training program, helping, as John Jay said to teach the rising generation to be free. You can do that by hosting a Constitution class in your living room or your church or on Zoom or learn how to do that at constitutioncoach.com.
The Founders and the Bible at the Forefront of the Culture
If you’d like to send young people, our military veterans to Patriot Academy, then check that out at patriotacademy.com. There is so much that each and every one of us can do. Don’t miss out on being a part of the solution. I realized these are trying times in our country, there’s crazy things happening in 2020.
But you know, the Bible speaks to everything you could imagine possibly happening in your culture. It speaks to everything with your relationships with your spouse, with your children, with your employer, employees. It speaks to everything in the culture in terms of our leadership, how government should work, what do we do in a time of crisis? How do we deal with the cultural conflict like we’re dealing with right now? How do we deal with race? How do we deal with our differences? All of those things are addressed by the Bible.
Slavery In America – With Matt Walsh At Patriot Academy
And that’s what the Founding Fathers were so adamant that the Bible be at the forefront of the culture. They said, where the Bible of balance, we’ll have political prosperity, we’ll have cultural prosperity, meaning success and freedom and all the things that we want in a culture. It’s when we have a biblical perspective and we apply those biblical solutions that that happens. That’s why we do what we do here at WallBuilders. We sure appreciate you being a part of that.
If you’ve never donated to WallBuilders, I’m going to ask you to consider doing that this year. You know, our message of truth is needed more than ever, and you could donate right there at wallbuilderslive.com. That’s our radio website. It can be a one-time or monthly donation. But when you do that, you’re investing in freedom, you’re investing in our ability to get this message of truth out there, and to help more Americans become a part of the solution and help save our constitutional republic.
Thanks for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.