Communing with Rastus

What happened was, I came to the Yankee Capital from where I growed up in East Needle, Tennessee, that’s so far back in the mountains that the sun don’t hardly shine and we don’t get too much news about what they do in the flatlands. Mostly people in East Needle just stays where they are. But I weren’t too normal, or anyways that’s what Miss Maisie Stovelid, the teacher lady in the county school said. She said I was smarter than the other kids and she hoped I’d go far, though I reckon she would have settled for the next county over. Most folk just thought there was something wrong with my head.

So howsomever that was, I set out for the Yankee Capital that’s Washington, DC, and I spent near on two years staying with my cousin Entropy McWilliams and learning what was going on in the part of the country that ain’t East Needle, that turned out to be most of it.

Well, I decided that flatlanders was crazier than the possums that used to  eat the throwaway mash from my Uncle Hant’s moonshine still. Anyway, they was all upset about Rachel Tension. I figured she was out of the Bible. The Good  Book is full of Rachels and Jezebels and the preacher in East Needle, that was the Reverent McBilly Oslieber of the  Pure Bible Truth Baptist Church, was always talking about them ladies.  But it turned out Rachel Tension was all about colored people, that we didn’t have none of in East Needle, and that seemed to work pretty good-

Anyways, I was there for about two years and maybe halfway understood people. That’s about all the understanding you can do with flatlanders. So then I heard about some preacher man called Al Sharpton who didn’t like white people, that I thought was pretty much all of us, and i figured out what was going  on in the flatlands. so I called his office.

Well, I guess. The other day In the Washington Post that’s a newspaper,  I found someone called  the Reverent Al Sharpton honking and blowing about how bad white folks is, and how we needed to fess up about our sins, and we needed a open and honest conversation about race. It seemed like a pretty good idea, and it’s sure never been tried, so I called the Reverent Al’s office and said I’d meet him somewhere and we could try it.

Al’s office said he was too important to talk to me. They didn’t exactly say it but it was what they meant. They said they would send his assistant, Rastus Washington, and we could be open and honest.

Rastus turned out to be a black fellow who studied at Harvard, that’s a motingator school and real important. He seemed like a nice guy and so I helped him read the menu, and I told him I’d go first and be open and honest, and then he could take his shot. I got right to it and what I said was:

Now, Rastus, you talk about the lingering–it means leftover–effects of slavery and how awful they are. I agree with you, Rastus. Them effects is bad and I think we should do something about them. One leftover effect of slavery is that I have to buy a new bicycle about two times a year. That’s an effect that I wish would linger som less.

My neighbor Bill Fuse in Arlington, that’s outside of the city, he says he’s a engineer but they ain’t no trains in Washington so sometimes I wonder. He said another lingering effect of slavery was,  “I can’t walk in the cities of my own country unless I wear a armored bathysphere.” I didn’t know what one of those was,  but he said it was getting real hard to find a bathysphere in Washington.

I figured out that lots of cities in America was full of lingering effects of slavery, and most of them have guns and want your car. Well, I wanted my car too except I didn’t have one to want.

Now let’s talk about this slavery thing, Rastus. You want respirations for slavery. That makes sense,I thought, about like lug nuts on a birthday cake. You’ve done convinced me, Rastus. In this very moment I promise to go home and set loose all my slaves, ever blessed one, and they can scuttle in all directions and I won’t pay them no mind.

Just wondering, Rastus, how many slaves do you figure I own? I can’t hardly remember, I got so many.  I don’t need a exact number, but just even hundreds, and I give my pledge to give all of them ten million dollars each. I reckon that might be pretty good respirations for a lot of slavery, what do you figure?

One day I read in the Washington Post that’s more honest even than the Bible  that more’n nine hundred cars got carjacked in the city this year. It don’t sound too civilized. Let’s powwow a little about them cars. I reckon it was mostly old Asian women in walkers and probably on Social Security that done all that. It’s what usually happens. Sometimes they got poison chopsticks so you have to give them the keys. A white man would take a cab. But, you know how those old Asian women are. it’s better to steal a car.

But then I read in this magazine, it was called Natural Geographic, about Africa and how people there did hunting and gathering. That means finding stuff and it don’t belong to nobody so you can just take it and it’s a instinct. It ain’t really stealing. They just can’t tell a car from low-hanging papayas.

And I reckon it’s kind of the same thing with all these blacks that get caught doing that plagiarism stuff, like Martin Luther King and that Claudine Gay woman that was president of Harvard until a while back when she stopped being. I don’t guess they mean to steal anything. It’s just more hunting-and-gathering, but it’s somebody else’s school papers instead of wild bananas. And anyway they aren’t really stealing it. They leave it where they found it, but just make a copy. I mean, if one of those Asian-lady carjackers made a copy of somebody’s car, would you call it stealing?

Now, Rastus, let’s talk about this cultural appropriation that you black folk fuss about. It seems like you do a lot of it your own self. Anytime you talk English, that’s cultural appropriation, though I know  it don’t happen too often. Anytime you count more than ten or wear shoes, or talk on your telephone that we invented or drive on paved roads, or drive a car no matter who you stole it from.  And when you steal all those cars  you’re really appropriating a lot of culture or at least cars. I wish you would leave some for us so we can drive to work.

what i reckon is, Rastus. you ought to thank us for everything we invent and you get to use free. Saying thanks is just good manners. Get some binoculars, that’s’ like two telescopes stuck together like beer bottles,  and go to Dupont Circle in the Yankee Capital, and climb up on the that thing that shoots water everywhere and looks like somebody crazy tried to make a faucet and it didn’t work too good, with all the water coming out every whichaway and look all around, and see if  you can find anything, with a moving part, invented by American Africans.

I don’t know, Rastus. It really  seems to me you ought to thank white folk for inventing all that stuff for you. If it wasn’t for us, what could you steal?

But what Bill Fuse, hes the engineer fellow that don’t have no train, says we could license you our civilization. That’s what Bill Fuse says. He says it would be like software, that sounds like those magazines you get in the bus station under the counter. He says it would take a lot of bookkeeping to license you everything separate–shoes, smartphone, dentists. The bookkeeping would be awful. But maybe we could let you rent the whole thing, for five thousand a year. Maybe we could have family licenses as a quantity discount. that’s what Bill says.

Sometimes I have to wonder about football, where you black folks get twelve million dollars a year to grab something and run with it. And we give you shopping malls to practice in. That looks like black privilege to me, Rastus. What you get twelve million for, I’d get twelve years.

I don’t know, Rastus. These is deep questions. But I reckon if we figure on them hard enough, we might come up with answers. My mother taught me to be polite, so I won’t say it looks like nobody in this whole damn city ain’t got the sense God give a crabapple.  and anyway we’re having a open and honest discussion of race. I guess that’s something anyway. What do you figure?

 

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  • Last week, I saw a rather strange paradox in a Louisiana Antebellum plantation. The tour took us from one slave house to another. Surprisingly, their housing had a fireplace, was clean and somewhat roomy, far preferable to the pioneer prairie sod houses in the North, that my ancestors lived in during the same era. But, the informative placards corrected my wayward impressions, by reminding me of the horrible oppression taking place. More placards kept my thoughts in check, until the last house, which said that after the Civil War, most of the slaves decided to stay there, earning plantation tokens from their labor to buy food and clothing. Hmmm, .. I don’t always put two and two together, correctly, but it seems to me, that if these slaves were so oppressed, why did the ones who lived in plantations that survive the War nearly always chose to stay? Whereas the ones who lived in failed plantations fled north? It reminds me of an account I read by Frederick Olmsted, who toured the South in the 1850s, before the War.

    His first-hand account was a very interesting glimpse into the South. It became widely published during that antebellum era. He said the vast majority of the Southern white population were not slave holders, but rural and small-town residents. Olmsted toured many plantations and small white farms. They differed significantly. The plantations were big business operations, usually well run (not always though) with much income. He noted that the food and clothing provided to the slaves were far superior to the struggling white farmers that he visited. That agreed with the clothing shown in the plantation that I visited. He found many of the small white farmers were barely surviving. Their poverty was beyond awful. The slaves depressed the wages of those poor rural southern whites. So these poor whites were not happy with the slavery institution and the 8,000 or so slaveowners running them, but they were far more deeply opposed to recognizing the blacks as their equals.

    Given this, you might wonder why the whites would not work on the plantations where the black slaves were materially far better off than them. Olmsted said it was because the whites refused to work side by side with the slaves, believing it was too demeaning. Olmsted believed, based on his observations, that the South could have easily supplied all need labor on those plantations by employing those poor white farmers. instead of slaves. The southern economy would have lifted huge numbers of whites out of poverty by abolishing slavery and sending the blacks back to Africa.

    It seems to me that the modern views of slavery aren’t based on first-hand accounts that are based on factual observations. More than likely, many slaves were abused. But, this view is incorrect if it isn’t factual — based on actually statistics, not guesses. We don’t have statistics — only narratives cooked up in peoples’ heads, based on fictional movies or the far-left ruminations of academics who’ve never visited the South. I remember a former president of NPR said he was shocked when he visited the South for the first time in retirement. He couldn’t believe how friendly and well mannered everyone was. He said it conflicted with the view he has always had of Southerners, that was common in NYC where he grew up. I saw that too. Blacks and Whites seem far happier and well mannered in the South than in the North. Just, maybe, it’s the North Eastern Liberals who are self reflecting, when they see oppressors everywhere.

    • Thank you for your write-up. I learned a lot. I remember reading that Louisiana plantation owners, when shipping cotton at the New Orleans docks, hired the dirt poor Irish to load the sail boats. The reason? They didn’t want to subject their valuable slaves to the overwhelming New Orleans heat. It was cheaper to hire the Irish to load/unload ships than to use valuable slaves. Who cared between 1840 and 1865 if an Irishman died of heat stroke? Nobody. They had little value in those days. No responsible slave owner would subject his slaves to that kind of brutal dockside labor. Cheers, Bill

      • Interesting Bill. One of the plantation placards said the owners relied on the value of the slaves to secure loans. The slaves were not only valuable labor, but were also critical as “capital” to finance the plantation and other ventures. So, by treating them well, the slaves increased the value of the plantation. That agrees with your account of them hiring Irish labor to load boats, rather than using the free labor of their slaves.

  • ‘We don’t have statistics …’

    Look at the work of Nobel prize winner Robert W Fogel ‘Fime on the Cross’ and subsequent studies.

  • Every now and then, I read one of your columns and I am disappointed. This column is one of those. I whole-heartedly agree with your rationale, it’s the delivery that disappoints. By adopting the “dumb-ass hillbilly” model in which to base your argument, you’ve actually elevated the liberal argument of “fly-over country”, Hillary’s Deplorables, beer-swilling rednecks who beat their wives when Alabama loses, etc. I know, tongue-in-cheek, right? Right. Wrong. Why not rewrite this column with the intelligence you possess, (I personally believe it to be in the right tail of the distribution) and give your argument the legitimacy it deserves? Why insult the good people of Appalachia, of which there are many ( Nick Saban being one – West Virginia) and most of Scotch-Irish descent? These are good people, not inbred hillbillies…

    • Snowflake. Go to your safe space.

    • I agree with Bill Walker. I have been a fan of Fred for years, although I sometimes strongly disagree with what he has written. This is an important topic, and I fear that some folks would get bogged down in the “over the top” attempt at humor and stop reading. I almost did.

      Fred has the ability to treat a serious topic with just the right amount of humor to make it fun. The over the top attempt at humor made me feel that Fred was not quite comfortable dealing with this topic, and I understand. However, he is a much better writer than this example would suggest.

    • Are you seeing this properly, Bill? Here is very old poem, written by a Hillbilly, describing what happened to a neighboring girl who went off to college:

      Just like a gawky goldenrod she was; and so for play.
      She never seen me but she’d yell “Hey Amos Hey!”
      It wonders me they let her go to that there school, so far;
      With such a commotion al the time, a body gets ajar.
      Yes, well, she came back. Not the same. I can’t just say it right.
      But she seemed so like a fancy lamp, without the light.

    • He has written columns on this topic in regular English.

    • Why not loosen up a bit, Bill? I would hazard to say that Fred has more upstairs than you and I do put together and I am a Navy carrier pilot with 30 years service. I have done a bit of writing my self and it “ain’t” easy to change settings and modes of communication. I grew up in the South and Fred’s take off, I find amusing — down right at home and easy to understand — perhaps more Blacks than you think understand also. It takes all kinds to make the world turn yes….. even hillbillies many, the salt of the Earth. Lord NO! Let’s not offend the Great Nick Saban!

      A good show as always Fred….. You can make some of the people happy some of the time……

      –JB

      • Sigh. I always hate it when I’m drawn into these kind of things – I too, was born and bred in Dixieland, and understand well the ways of the South. “Never wrestle with a pig. The pig loves it and all you do is get covered with mud and pig feces.” – Author Unknown. With that as the backdrop for this post, I also hate responding to someone who wags around something like “Navy carrier pilot with 30 years service”. I know of no reliable correlation between a career as a pilot and intellectual IQ. I do know that you have to be smarter than your average truck driver to be a pilot, but the correlation is a bit fuzzy beyond that. More gauges in the cockpit, I guess. OK, I’ll concede most truck drivers probably don’t have a degree in Engineering. On the other hand, most really smart Engineers don’t waste their lives flying around in an airplane risking their lives; most really smart Engineers stay on the ground and make a decent living DESIGNING and BUILDING the very things the pilots are dumb enough to strap their butts into and take off into the “Wild Blue Yonder”. For those tearing up at the mention, this is probably an appropriate time to play Wild Blue Yonder.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP3whmQ_OZc
        But, please. I’ve played the list-serv dick-wagging game since the old People Link days. At this point in my life, I’m bored with it. Mine is bigger than yours. Just don’t tell your wife… Tallyho!
        “SmartAss Willie”

        • Great Gobs of Green Bugs… Can it be that some juvenile bigot with an awful inferiority complex has dared to challenge the prowess of US Navy carrier pilots! Hey Anon, everyone knows that we literally walk on water and what is more…. When we walk into a bar (any bar) every female head in the place can sense our presence and their heads all (and I mean ALL) swivel towards us! It gets old after a few years. But what is a poor person with a lower IQ to do?

          To bad you could not have made that group to drive your (truck) for months at a time, year after year away from your family to protect the freedom of America (including people like you and all walks of life). Most of us would do it again and never complain.

          Have a Great Day Anon and be careful not to trip over your BIG Complex.

          –JB

  • Bill: I believe Fred has done that in previous columns through the years. Thanks.

    • Good to see your name in print again! I miss the old patcons and your hospitality. I hope you are well. I’m sure Dixie grew up into a great lady.

  • Brock, I know. I’ve been reading the scoundrel since the early ’90’s.

  • Nicely done Fred.

  • Poor Fred, Stuck in mud, hiding out in Mexico.
    Like the rest of us at times, Fred can be “Brilliant’ and at other times, like the rest of us, he can be a “Dimwit”.
    Fred begins 2024 as a Dimwit.

  • To Anonymous – Snowflake? Are you so stupid as to call me a snowflake when you’re too chicken-shit to post your name? Who else saw this “in-the-left-tail-of-the-distribution” Gollum sniping from the bushes?

  • Ten millions per freed slave? I’ve done that, and more! All their children I have sent, full ride, to Princeton…the ones that look like me I sent to Yale….

  • Back in 1922 the CPUSA (D) promised to tear apart the fabric of American society by using Rachel Tension.
    My HS biology teacher showed us the agitprop video made by the internal homegrown Bolshevik CPUSA (D) and gave any snowflakes a heads up and study hall pass up front.
    And here we are because you have to burn it all down by any means necessary in order to fundamentally transform with the hammer and sickle flag flying everywhere.
    Zero second attention span muh cellphone dullards means that this doesn’t end well.
    Mammaw and Pappaw came from coal miner country and never owned a plantation so sad trombone on them there respirations New Civility hive collective comrades, Meanwich Stinkburger on them there economics so get the gibs while you can and learn how to habla at the Mommygov Cargo Cult office.
    Forward! Yes we can.

  • The author of the novel “Gone with the Wind”, Margaret Mitchell, got a lot of flack for her supposedly over romanticised take on plantation – slavery, being accused of straying a long way off the beaten path of truth. I have no time for any kind of slavery, in common with most of us these days, but those who complain, that she wrote of something she made up as she knew nothing about the truth were themselves somewhat off the track.
    It’s often written that it took ten years to write the book. In fact, it took eighteen months. The rest of the ten years she said she spent on it, were spent researching every aspect of the time. She wrote adverts requesting personal letters sent from men at the front, also magazines and other proofs of the social conditions of the time, including the attitude to the slaves that was prevalent at the time.
    She based everything she wrote in the book on the many evidences;’ diaries, letters, daguerreotypes, magazines, reports. And although slavery was clear, so was the care often given to the slaves; how those who broke the rules, such as selling slaves to passing traders, were socially ostracised, how the lady of the house gave nursing care to sick slaves, and why so many poor whites would say that it was better to be a rich mans house slave, than a poor white small farmer. It interested me as it seemed to throw support behind the contention that the war Lincoln waged onthe Confederacy had absolutely nothing to do with slavery, and more to do with his own ideology and ambitions. –

  • Bill Walker, you seems to have missed the scoundrel’s point. But, I reckon, it’d be wise for you to keep praising his intelligence as I figure it’s quite likely he’s got lots of it. Lots more than you and I both put together.

  • Another Star Studded Essay, Fred! Not for all the Carpet Baggars of the North and the Bleeding Heart Liberals who attended the Snotty Look Down Your Nose Northern Colleges. It takes all kinds of stories, people and settings to make sense of a “Free” Society. Best try to throw in a bushel or two of humor and step on a few toes! You do it all very well.

    I grew up with Rastus in the South, during WW II. The members of his family that I knew were appreciative of the advances made by White Americans as well as some Black Americans to our collective standard of living. Perhaps the Blacks of America should take an inventory of the positive items made to America (and the world) and by whom. Give credit where credit is due.

    I was repeatedly told by a mutual friend and a friend of Rastus himself that….the thing that Rastus liked “Bestus” was “Ass Bestus”.

    God bless you my friend whatever you write. Always keep smilin’

    –JB

  • The argument made by some commenters here, that slavery was not as bad as often portrayed by its critics, reminds me of the observations made by naifs returning from visits to the old Soviet Union: things there were not as bad as portrayed by opponents of communism. Both observations are true.

    The objection to slavery, in both its traditional and modern (Communist) forms, is not really to the material conditions of those subjected to either system. If either or both systems resulted in a higher standard of living for those subjected to them, than that of a free society, free men would still oppose both systems.

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