Friday, November 02, 2007

88 percent believed in slavery. Except when they didn't.

Right now, state diplomats have a huge problem on their hands.  A large number have been called to service in Iraq, a position that several are a less than great idea. Considering that the last time diplomats were called in large numbers to serve in a dangerous place, it was called Vietnam, and 30 of them died.

Add to this that several of the state department diplomats didn't know they'd have the possibility of serving until they read about it in the Washington Post, and you can imagine they're a little put off.

Then, we get this moment.

Thomas took full responsibility for the late notification but objected when AFSA President John Naland said a recent survey found only 12 percent of the union's membership believed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was ``fighting for them.''

``That's their right but they're wrong,'' Thomas said, prompting a testy exchange.

``Sometimes, if it's 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct,'' Naland said.

``88 percent of the country believed in slavery at one time, was that correct?'' shot back Thomas, who is black, in a remark that drew boos from the crowd. ``Don't you or anybody else stand there and tell me I don't care about my colleagues. I am insulted,'' Thomas added.

So, let's ignore that basically, this gentleman was equating that not wanting to go to a dangerous area of the world, where there are people actively kidnapping, beheading, and blowing up Americans becuase they really, *really* don't want us there - evidently, that viewpoint of not wanting to get blowed up is the same thing as slavery.

Hey, why not.

But did 88% of the country really believe in slavery? Let me just think off the top of my head. 50% of the country was made of "free states", 50% of the country was made of "slave states".

Most of the population has always been in the northern states, so let's pretend that the ratio was 65% of the population living in Free States, 45% in the Slave States.

Then, you have to figure that there were a lot of slaves in the south. Probably as many as there were white people, possibly more, but let's pretend about the same. So now you've got the south, which is 50% white, 50% slaves.

I think I can make a safe assumption that slaves didn't really *believe* in slavery, as much as slavery believed in them.

So, now we've got 50% of 45%, which is 22.5% of the population which, up until the civil war, believed in slavery as a "good principle". Which means that only 22.5% of the population once believed in slavery.

Which is still lower than George Bush's 25% approval rating today.

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Mark said...

Well, I just had to comment that those numbers aren't quite accurate, in that not everyone who lived in the south would have believed in slavery, and quite a few of the people who lived in the north did believe in slavery. In fact, most of the people in the North were pretty ambivalent about the subject. The actual abolitionists at the time were pretty strongly outnumbered.

Your overall argument is still intact, as it was definitely less than 88%, and might even be less than 50%, but I just wanted to say your picture was a bit simplistic.

John Hummel said...

Well, I was shooting for simple, so I guess I hit ;).