Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."




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Friday, April 13, 2018

BIBLE VERSE FOR THE DAY


Michael Llenos brings up the matter of Ham and slavery.  Not Ham as in Ham and Eggs but Ham as in Noah’s three sons, Shem, Japheth, and Ham.  The curse laid upon Ham by Noah was a standard justification for slavery in the Old South.  Here is the relevant passage from Genesis, Chapter 9:

19These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

Africans were traditionally said to be descended from Ham, and hence destined by God for servitude.

In the Fall of 1993, shortly after I joined the UMass Afro-American Studies Department, I offered an undergraduate course on The Political Economy of Race and Class.  I was the only White member of the department [not the first, but my predecessor was long retired by the time I showed up] and the students did not know what to make of me.  One young Black man from Springfield, who went on to have a distinguished career as a student, sat in on the first lecture to check me out for his four siblings and cousins, all of  whom were students at UMass.  I passed muster, and the rest of the gang enrolled.

Some while into the semester I got to Franz Fanon’s Black Faces, White Masks, and for some reason [I forget now why], I mentioned the story about Ham, who was, I said, “of course not Black.”  One of the cousins raised her hand and said, “But he was Black.”  ‘Now look,” I said, “if his brothers were all White, how could he be Black?”  “I don’t care,” she said, “he was.”  “What makes you so sure?” I asked.  “My grandma told me.”

I was the new boy in the department, and White besides, but I was not stupid, and I knew that you did not call out a person’s grandmother, so I just dropped the matter and moved on.


5 comments:

Acastos said...

You would not have been "calling out a person's grandmother", but rather your student's blind credulity. Ultimately, of course, you would have been "calling out" the proposition your student's belief expressed.

"...I just dropped the matter and moved on" And you're amazed and dismayed Trump is President?

s. wallerstein said...

In my experience if someone says something completely unthinking, but which I, as a non-member of the in-group, imagine is the hegemonic groupthink of the in-group and which, I imagine, should not be challenged, unless I want to end up seen as an enemy of the in-group,
and instead of dropping the matter to avoid problems, I challenge the unthinking groupthink, I am often surprised by how many members of the group in question welcome my challenging of such unthinking opinions and how many people back me up or at least refrain from the inevitable rejection of my questioning by the people directly involved.

I never can tell beforehand how such things will work out, especially and above all, if I have little or no previous experiences with the in-group in question.

Anonymous said...

Since the course was about the political economy of race and class, not biblical exegesis, I also would have dropped it and moved on. LFC

s. wallerstein said...

LFC,

The digressions of someone as critically intelligent as Professor Wolff are often more intellectually and spiritually fruitful than the regular class material, for one's creativity emerges in the digressions from the text book or texts. On the other hand, the regular class material can generally be found elsewhere for it's academic common sense.

By the way, LFC, I'd include you in the class of those whose digressions are most probably more intellectually and spiritually fruitful than your lectures on set academic subjects.

LFC said...

I think that was a compliment, so thank you.
(btw I don't have an academic job, so I don't lecture or digress, at least not in a classroom ;))