Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shame On You, The Atlantic!

While I'm no fan of Bill O'Reilly, I'm also no fan of dishonesty from his opponents in making rhetorical points.

The Atlantic has an online post with this heading:

                How Abigail Adams Proves Bill O'Reilly Wrong About Slavery
and  purports to prove that with this excerpt from one of her letters:
Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, ... to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast.
 Notice the ellipsis after the word "cloathing".  As you can see from the reproduction below, the entire sentence reads:
Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, or fit for Mayfare, to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast, Such is the case of many of the inhabitants of this place.
Now we can see what Mrs. Adams was really saying.  A careful reading of her words show that she is pivoting from  a description of White House work habits to a generalization about slavery: that all of them, whether "half fed and destitute of clothing" (in truly wretched condition) to "fit for Mayfare" (fed and dressed well enough for Mayfair, London's most fashionable district) have the same thing in common - they "labour, while the owner waches about idle".  She is saying nothing one way or the other about the condition of slaves working at the White House.

Leaving out the "fit for Mayfair" section completely distorts Mrs. Adams' meaning.  The Atlantic should be ashamed.



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