Bill O'Reilly, one of the supposedly " sane" Republicans, felt the need to defend the use of slave labor by the US Federal Government during the construction of the White House. This was precipitated by First Lady Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic Convention Monday night when she said "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."
"Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz."
O'Reilly has made assumptions that since these slaves were hired by the Federal government, they were well treated. There is little evidence of how they were treated since the voice of slaves were silenced. Remember of course that they were considered " property" not people. The facts are that 9 of the first 12 US Presidents, our founding fathers, owned slaves. Many of the people contracted to work on the White House used slave labor and no one can say how they treated their slaves.
None of that really gets to the point though. Is it so hard to accept the premise that an African American woman, herself a descendant of slaves and living in a building slaves help construct as the First Lady, would be moved emotionally by that achievement? Not very long ago the idea that the US would ever elect a black man as President would have been unthinkable. Yet it happened.
What America should be doing is celebrating the fact that we have indeed come a long way. A person of color can aspire to be President. Young women can dream of becoming President.
Instead, O'Reilly and others feel the need to downplay the significance of the First Lady's statement, simply because of who said it. Very sad Bill.