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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    It was my understanding that Audubon’s mother was from Brittany, as was his father. I don’t believe that he was of mixed race, thought he did have mixed race sisters, through his father’s other mistress. From all accounts, his father must have been rather randy.

    Liberia is another example of racial differences causing trouble in Africa.

    I used to work around African immigrants as well as American blacks. The American blacks generally didn’t like the Africans. I generally didn’t either.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I don’t put no stock in dead people, especially allegations of mixed race ancestry. All I recall of Audubon is that he was not terribly fond of black people and is alleged to have complained that his mother had been raped by, I believe, Haitians. I retailed the bits of legend only to show to what preposterous and conflicting ideological uses to which such stuff could be put. Beethoven, I have been repeatedly assured by black students, was of mixed background. In the case of Pushkin, the tales are partly true, if it is true that his grandfather had been an Abyssinian slave of the Turks, one Avram Gannibal (as he was called). But Ethiopians do not generally regard themselves as negroes–but that is another story and quite a long one. Anyone who has seen the entertaining film, “The Barbershop,” will recall the ridicule heaped on the poor African and the absurdity of the “whigger.”

  3. Dominick D says:

    Another fine episode, but the dignity of the conversation seems to be above its subject matter. Maybe it would be more appropriate to consider the remaining letters like the two-headed Sesame Street monster:

  4. Dot says:

    Didn’t Thomas Jefferson want to send the slaves back to Africa but decided to leave it to later generations?

  5. Vince Cornell says:

    My own attempts to better understand how the “black community” sees itself have been bewildering. I understand there is a portion, I’m unsure how large, that considers themselves ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery). They believe Reparations are due to them and nobody else. They do not consider African immigrants or Caribbean blacks a part of ADOS, and they strongly reject Obama and Kamala Harris as being non-ADOS (many considers themselves having been played for supporting Obama, and do not believe he delivered on his promises to do anything for the “black community”). In fact, they reject the label of “black” because they believe it wrongly lumps them into the same category as Somali refugees in Minnesota and such (sort of how an Irishman would naturally resent being considered “white” and therefore the same as an Englishman or a Scot).
    An interesting part of the Reparation deal is that they (or at least some) consider thorough research and documentation of their heritage a part of the “tangibles” that would be considered Reparation. They want to have a sort of authentic pedigree do validate their claim of being ADOS, and that enormous research project is how they believe Reparations would only go to them and not “all blacks.” Clearly these folks either have little experience with Federal Government projects or are unbelievably naïve. They also want Reparations due to them in the form of cash. Period. They do not consider any previous programs or welfare (including Affirmative Action or Civil Rights laws) as being actual Reparations. They want a cash payment to “atone” (their word) for the debt they are owed because of slavery.
    The basis for Reparations was interesting. They claim it is a legal debt, not a punitive action. As Dr. Fleming has stated before, General Sherman’s promise of 40 acres and a mule (affirmed by Lincoln before his death) is the quasi-official basis of their claim, but it’s obvious that’s just an excuse as they don’t acknowledge Johnson’s later reversal of that promise as legitimate. They believe that the very foundation of America, the key to her success as a nation, was the slave work of their ancestors. However, they believe their ancestors were never compensated for this work. So they believe they are owed (with interest) that compensation. They (at least some) do not present it as a punishment to whites for slavery, which is how they get around complaints from folks who say “my ancestors never owned slaves or we didn’t immigrate to this country until after slavery was long gone.” They lodge their complaint against America, the nation, as if it were some sort of corporation. It’s America that owes the legal debt, and, since everyone who has participated in America has profited by that experience (ha!) they shouldn’t complain if they now have to pay into the money that’s owed to the folks who made that entire experience possible through their ancestors’ slave labor. They’re even so low as to liken it to how Germans must still pay taxes to Germany which still pays reparations to Holocaust survivors.
    That they, themselves, in any way profited by being a part of the “American experience” seems not to be an idea they’ve considered. That they would be much worse off if their ancestors had stayed in Africa also seems to not have occurred to them. That white people had anything to do with the success of America also seems an inconsequential point. Most absurd of all, they honestly think that white Northerners conspired with white Southerners AFTER the war to disenfranchise blacks. Their knowledge of American history, especially of the War and of Reconstruction, is even more lacking than the typical public-school educated American. Their knowledge of actual slavery in America does seem to be based purely on Hollywood propaganda like “Roots” and “12 Years a Slave.”
    Obviously this is all stuff and nonsense. What I find most disconcerting, though, is that folks who think this way truly do not see themselves as a part of the country, whether they realize that or not. I cannot envision how there can ever be any kind of peaceful co-existence with those who sincerely believe they are an entity that stands apart from everything else. Even now, I’ve heard those who despise the Biden/Harris ticket and who acknowledge how much the Democrats abuse black voters and how openly racist the Democrats are and how terrible they would be for the country . . . BUT, if Biden/Harris promised them “tangible reparations” they would still give them 100% support. It’s like a group on the Titanic that refuses to help bail the water out and says, “hey, if that iceberg promises me a little cash I’ll happily start punching more holes in the ship’s bottom.”
    Sorry for the long comment. It’s been a weird journey for me in attempting to understand how the other side thinks. It has not given me any hope for the future.

  6. Dot says:

    Most blacks have a good portion of white in their ancestry but prefer to call themselves black for expediency. Take the VP running mate on the democratic side. She claimed to be Indian and Jamaican. However she prefers to call herself black.

  7. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Thanks, Vince, for the useful analysis. I had taken up bits of the argument in the first podcast, and Rex urged me to spend more time on the stated arguments of the various groups. Having listened to such nonsense, as you have been doing, since the late 1960’s, I am perhaps too prone to dismiss them as the babble of minds warped by disinformation. Not one in a thousand of BLM advocates, black or white, educated or illiterate, can think through the simplest problem. My method is, for the sake of argument, to grant at least some of their absurd propositions and then ask where do they lead? One can do this with any movement. Back in the 1970’s, when Lionel Tiger was accused of wanting to oppress women, he answered their argument against male supremacy by pointing out that if human females had allowed males to oppress them for hundreds of thousands of years, then they probably deserved it. The same, obviously, can be said of all the whining minorities of the globe. They SAY they only want to be free, but in practice they want me to support them for life. It never occurs to them that in their minds they are still slaves.