Benefits of Southern Slavery

David Barton and Glenn may be able to continue broadcasting their silly and misinformed shows about American history, but at least we can be guaranteed of a certain number of critical reviews that expose their shortcomings.  Barton’s most recent book about Thomas Jefferson was pulled from store shelves after serious problems with his research methods were revealed.  Hopefully, the weight of commentary has helped to steer a few people away from purchasing their products or thinking of them in any way as educators.

As an educator, however, I worry much more about people like Dan Horn and his new series of videos, titled “Causes of the Civil War” which he sells through a website called Discerning History.  Horn is “is a writer, tour guide, computer programer and pastor based in North Carolina. He is an elder at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and has written several books on theology.”  He has no credentials in the field of history or history education.  Here is what that gets you.

Like many of you who are in the classroom I spend a good deal of time trying to find ways to impart the complexity of slavery and the master-slave relationship to my high school students.  Mr. Horn’s understanding of the subject is not only seriously flawed, it’s dangerous.  From what I can tell his understanding of the history of slavery is based on books written entirely before 1940.  His website looks somewhat professional and the videos themselves will easily seduce those who do not know any better.  This is just another reason why the Internet can be both a blessing and a curse.

It should go without saying that a site such as this without any institutional affiliation and hosted by an individual with no formal training in the field should not be utilized as an educational resource.

18 comments… add one
  • charlie p Feb 4, 2013 @ 12:27

    Horn has a blog entry on Dec. 2, 2011 where he interviews Thomas Dilorenzo. I can only imagine the nonsense they conjure up!

  • bummer Feb 3, 2013 @ 9:30

    This student has tried to only study contemporary accredited historians, the histories of Bummer’s youth told a totally different “tale” of the Civil War and the players. Many published historians of the “old school” often related a jaded and unresearched version of the strife and conflict. However, so much more documentation is available today, it makes for a fascinating adventure.

  • Bryan Cheeseboro Feb 3, 2013 @ 4:41

    I get the feeling this man thinks Black people should STILL be slaves to White people to continue the process to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.”

    I am a Christian and I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sorry, Mr. Horn… but I just don’t see the spirit of Christ- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control- manifested in White supremacy, Black bondage, degredation, emasculation, humiliation, beatings, mutilation, cruelty, rape, separation of husband from wife, mother from child, no legal protection and a government that says “the Negro has no rights that a White man is bound to respect.”

    I believe slaves found Christianity because of the power of the gospel; and not because of any reason White masters needed to pat themselves on the back for.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 3, 2013 @ 5:01

      That is the most insidious part of this particular video. There is a fine line between a flawed historical interpretation and viewing this as supporting the institution of slavery for evangelical reasons.

      • Bryan Cheeseboro Feb 3, 2013 @ 5:32

        Absolutely right, Kevin.

    • Andy Hall (was AndyinTexas) Feb 3, 2013 @ 8:37

      Bryan, maybe you “get the feeling” because Horn is using that exact same arguments that actual slaveholders did at the time, 150+ years ago. The only thing that’s new here is that Horn and other modern slavery apologists preface those old tropes by saying, “We all know slavery is wrong, of course, but. . . .”

      • Kevin Levin Feb 3, 2013 @ 9:09

        Than wouldn’t it be an argument for re-instituting slavery for those outside the Christian fold? He comes dangerously close to implying such a position regardless of how he prefaces his comments.

  • doug didier Feb 3, 2013 @ 2:47

    With an introduction in classroom, Could be an educational resource for teachers to use.. First section slaveholders and southern society’s justification . Second the northern racial attitude.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 3, 2013 @ 2:53

      It can be used to show the continued influence of this type of thinking. It may be helpful in getting students to think about why this is the case. I may use this next year in my course on memory.

  • Mike Gorman Feb 2, 2013 @ 18:47

    Fascinating and depressing stuff. No need for a pointed critique – it speaks for itself. Amazing.
    HOWEVER, devil’s advocate, then, Kevin – what about my website? Not an educational resource? I heartily resist institutional affiliation or interference, it’s hosted by an individual (me) and I refuse to go back to school to add an alphabet to my surname. Shall I ready my gauntlet?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 2, 2013 @ 18:54

      It’s a tough call. I tell my students that they ought to be very careful with websites where the author fails to list his/her credentials. I don’t see any other option. I don’t even want them using my website. I encourage them to stick to .edu sites.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 3, 2013 @ 2:54

      I see that you do have your educational background on your site.

  • Patrick Young Feb 2, 2013 @ 17:54

    Horn asks, if masters were so cruel to slaves, “Why would they have adopted their masters’ religion.” The answer may be that they did not view slave owners as the owners of Christianity. They created their own religion free from racial supremacy and in which Exodus is a central text.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 2, 2013 @ 17:56

      I thought about getting into a formal critique, but it would have taken me all night and that is just one video. There are so many problems that it is hard to know where to begin.

  • Jobu Feb 2, 2013 @ 17:32

    Only in a country that deifies free speech would stupid, evil garbage like this video be permitted.

    • Patrick Young Feb 3, 2013 @ 7:44

      There are plenty of countries without free speech that have stupid, evil garbage like this.

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