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For my graduate work at Seton Hill University, I have to write reactions to various books. I also read LION'S BLOOD, and thought I'd post my own comments about it.

WARNING: Some language gets a little strong.

This was a hard book to read. To me slavery is a hot-button issue. When I read about it in a historical context, I get angry and sad and horrified at the things human beings did to other human beings. The person I admire most in all of history is Harriet Tubman. Her courage and her mind-boggling cleverness just leave me standing.

Slaves in the American south were whipped, raped, sold away from their families, and even boiled alive. The mind-twisting psychology required for the whites to do this still astounds me. They claimed that blacks were unintelligent animals, a belief that allowed them to treat slaves as less than human. Yet it was patently clear that the whites didn’t really believe any of it. If blacks are stupid, why forbid them to learn literacy? If blacks are lazy, why believe they’d run all the way north to freedom?

If blacks are animals, why fuck them?

That slave owners and overseers often treated the female slaves as their own private brothel is well-documented. Not only was it acceptable, it was expected. Yet these same white slave owners, who claimed that blacks are nothing but animals, did not have sex with the other animals they owned – horses, goats, pigs, and sheep. Or if they did, it wasn’t recorded – it was unacceptable.

Why can you have sex with one animal but not another? Answer: because you know the animal in question isn’t an really animal. It’s a lie you tell yourself to make you feel okay about what you’re doing.

In Lion’s Blood, Steve Barnes makes a small change to world history. Instead of agreeing to commit suicide as he did in our world, Socrates fled Greece to Egypt, taking many of his followers with him. As a result, Egypt became a great center for learning. All the major technological advances were made there. Europe was left in the dark ages. And the continent we call America became known as Bilalistan. It was colonized not by Europeans, but by Africans. The Aztec empire spread up to the border of our Texas, and a group of Vikings ruled the north, but Africa controlled the center, and Bilalistan enjoys the best technology and great wealth. The predominant religion is Islam.

And the Bilalistani plantation owners buy European slaves.

The Vikings, who have gunpowder given them by the Africans, make regular raids through Europe, especially in Ireland and England, where the Celtic people live in the bronze age. The Celts are virtually helpless against the firepower of the Vikings, who ship Celts by the thousands to sell at the slave markets down in Greece.

Aidan is an eleven-year-old Irish boy whose village is hit by the raids. His father is killed. His sister is sold away, and he and his mother are bought by a wealthy African plantation owner in what would be Texas in our world. In Bilalistan, the roles are exactly reversed between whites and blacks in our world. Whites, or “ghosts,” are treated like animals, bought and sold like cattle, whipped, raped, and worked to death for their black masters.

This book, I think, is the most powerful tool imaginable to illustrate the outrage of American slavery to modern whites. I get upset about American slavery and the associated racial prejudice, but I see it from the white point of view. I’m not black and don’t know what it’s like to be black. My outrage is ultimately second-hand. Barnes shows us whites exactly how it works by simply holding up a mirror to history.

The black slave owners point out that whites are stupid and lazy. Look at the conditions they lived in back in Europe – thatched cottages, bronze tools, no knowledge of modern medicine. And their religion is pure superstition. The slavers are doing them a favor by bringing them over here, where we can provide for all their needs and where they can live useful, productive lives. We teach them a real language instead of that rough, unintelligible mess they grow up speaking. If it weren’t for us, they’d be living like savages in the forest, killing and eating each other like the animals they are.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Because the enslaved characters are white instead of black, it automatically makes it easier (and inevitable) for white readers to see what it’s like and to feel the pain and helpless of slavery and prejudice. When Aidan’s wife and son are sold away from him as the result of a casual bet placed by his owner, it’s more powerful for me than when Kizzy is sold away from Kunta and Bell in Roots, despite the fact that the latter is real and the former is fiction.

Unfortunately for the whites in this book, there is no Civil War brewing, no movement to free the slaves, and no real place for them to run if they want to seek freedom. When war breaks out between Bilalistan and the Aztec empire to the south, slaves who are willing to fight are promised freedom for themselves and their families, but that’s the closest to our history any of that comes. And naturally the slaves are used as cannon-fodder. Most of them die horribly in battle. A few of them die because the military commander uses them as opponents in training exercises.

I’m only scratching the surface. This is a brilliant book that explores not only the mentality of slave ownership and prejudice, but also gives the startling premise that, given the chance, blacks would have been oppressive slave owners just as whites were.


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Wow. He plays football, in an enitrely voluntary role, and receives $10 million in compensation. I think it's time to review the institution of slavery. The propaganda that has been conveyed does not match the reality as perceived by some. I mean if Peterson asserts a life of mostly leisure is equivalent to slavery, then it must be true, it's got to be true, and I too want to be a slave. Where do I sign?I may also have to reassess the merits of involuntary exploitation. O man, I am so confused! Is it voluntary or involuntary exploitation which is considered immoral by nearly all people?Anyway, to review, voluntary exploitation is bad, while involuntary exploitation is good. I have seen the light, and am prepared to submit to the secular cult. La-la land will yet be mine!your team seems to whup itselfThat's probably a voluntary action and, as we have learned, voluntary exploitation is bad.Anyway, it's people like Peterson who keep us laughing all the live-long day. I suggest his kind deserve a reward for their extracurricular efforts to amuse the free people.

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