I thought this was an excellent article, giving historical balance to the issue of slavery:
Slavery is a classic example. The history of slavery across the centuries and in many countries around the world is a painful history to read – not only in terms of how slaves have been treated, but because of what that says about the whole human species – because slaves and enslavers alike have been of every race, religion and nationality.
If the history of slavery ought to teach us anything, it is that human beings cannot be trusted with unbridled power over other human beings – no matter what color or creed any of them are. The history of ancient despotism and modern totalitarianism practically shouts that same message from the bloodstained pages of history.
But that is not the message that is being taught in our schools and colleges, or dramatized on television and in the movies. The message that is pounded home again and again is that white people enslaved black people.
It is true, just as it is true that I don't go skydiving with blacks. But it is also false in its implications for the same reason. Just as Europeans enslaved Africans, North Africans enslaved Europeans – more Europeans than there were Africans enslaved in the United States and in the 13 colonies from which it was formed.
The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves picking cotton. But there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to "Roots," and our schools and colleges don't pound it into the heads of students.
The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. There is no need to hide it, because there are lessons we can learn from it. But there is also no need to distort it, so that sins of the whole human species around the world are presented as special defects of "our society" or the sins of a particular race.