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Professor Asked His Students What Would They Have Done In Slavery Times If They Were A White Southerner, Students Delivered
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History, People2 years ago

Professor Asked His Students What Would They Have Done In Slavery Times If They Were A White Southerner, Students Delivered

Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor, recently asked his students what their position would have been if they were white and living in the South before the abolition of slavery in 1865. Of course, the students said that they would be abolitionists.

So, they would have all been against the state of culture, society, and politics of the time, namely against slavery, claiming that they would have worked tirelessly to oppose it.

However, Prof. George doubted such an answer. And he explained why in a 5-piece Twitter thread that has since gone viral.

More info: twitter.com

One of the main tactics of teaching students is asking them challenging and thought provoking question

Image credits: UC Davis College of Engineering (not the actual photo)

So, Princeton Professor R.P. George asked his students a hypothetical: what would their stance be as a white person in the South before the abolition of slavery?

Their answer ended up being the right thing to say, but not one that would be likely given the context

Image credits: McCormickProf

Professor Robert P. George is an American legal scholar, political philosopher, and public intellectual serving as the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University who lectures on constitutional interpretation, civil liberties, philosophy of law, and political philosophy.

His doubt in his students’ claims was based on considering the context of the times. Prof. George explained that it was very likely that many of them would have gone along with the established system, and, in fact, would even happily have benefited from it.

That was because when someone goes against that which is considered the norm, they immediately become an outcast. This comes in the form of becoming unpopular among peers and even being abandoned by friends, being loathed by the influential figures and powers of the day, and even being denied professional opportunities.

The thread sparked a healthy discussion, with some sharing how they do an analogous exercise

Image credits: McCormickProf

Image credits: LordBarak

Image credits: LibertyJen

Image credits: pattonboysdad

Image credits: bluepointfish

Others discussed the question, its nuances, and shared their thoughts on the matter

Image credits: MulierCare

Image credits: Adzzy_77

Image credits: upthere4thinkin

Image credits: gbworld

Image credits: DerekJensen63

Image credits: meganrbg

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While it’s easy to claim what one would have done, it’s not so easy taking on that claim and the risk, and even danger, that comes along with it. After all, it was quite likely that nobody would risk their well-being, their loved ones, and even their lives if they can just live through it as neutrally as possible until it’s no longer a thing.

The thread gained a significant amount of attention online, garnering over 6,000 retweets and nearly 22,000 likes on Twitter, and sparking a discussion in the comments section among those who also tried asking an analogous question. The tweets also found themselves on Imgur where they got another couple of thousand upvotes with 127,000 views.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Kathy Baylis
Community Member
2 years ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We tend to look at history through a modern lens, which is a mistake. We are the products of our time, conditioned to think and behave in specific ways in order to matriculate our way through society without losing our place in it. As a woman, in the mid-nineteenth century I wouldn’t even have had a voice, much less a vote, in pushing for change. I would’ve been outcast for it, at a time when few women who weren’t born rich could make a successful living on their own. Being so powerless and dependent, I probably would’ve been careful never to voice my beliefs because, if my husband or father didn’t share them, he was legally free to thoroughly beat them out of me, his chattel. So, though we like to think we’d be heroes and stand up for others, chances are we wouldn’t have had the courage to take that risk. We would’ve held back and left it up to the few truly brave individuals to take those risks and take the beatings, imprisonment, and disenfranchisement for it (repeated often, to try and break them) by those who benefit greatly from the status quo. Sound familiar? Yeah, it still happens today. Eventually the rest of us cowards reach our limit of what we’ll allow to happen, and join the heroes whose heads are bloody but unbowed, until we finally represent the majority. That kind of power is necessary to significantly change the status quo, and eventually society itself.

Jennifer Crompton
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Your statement is extremely well written and has obviously been thoroughly thought through. It's also painfully honest. Thank you for sharing it and I completely agree

Load More Replies...
Christopher Callahan
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We are not all in outrage of chinese child labor, yet we openly support it because we buy made in china stuff cheap, we don't say let me pay a few extra bucks so a child can have a break today

K O
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

So true, no-one cares when it suits them. I don't consume/buy animal products, I avoid buying anything from China - I don't even like companies that sell in China because of the awful animal abuse laws there, I avoid high street shops that I've seen exposed as modern day slavery. I consider the environment when shopping...people think I'm extreme - I'm sat here on a phone from China because I wanted the pretty pictures...it suited me

Load More Replies...
Catlady6000
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Excellent discussion and opportunity for honest self examination

Load More Comments
Kathy Baylis
Community Member
2 years ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We tend to look at history through a modern lens, which is a mistake. We are the products of our time, conditioned to think and behave in specific ways in order to matriculate our way through society without losing our place in it. As a woman, in the mid-nineteenth century I wouldn’t even have had a voice, much less a vote, in pushing for change. I would’ve been outcast for it, at a time when few women who weren’t born rich could make a successful living on their own. Being so powerless and dependent, I probably would’ve been careful never to voice my beliefs because, if my husband or father didn’t share them, he was legally free to thoroughly beat them out of me, his chattel. So, though we like to think we’d be heroes and stand up for others, chances are we wouldn’t have had the courage to take that risk. We would’ve held back and left it up to the few truly brave individuals to take those risks and take the beatings, imprisonment, and disenfranchisement for it (repeated often, to try and break them) by those who benefit greatly from the status quo. Sound familiar? Yeah, it still happens today. Eventually the rest of us cowards reach our limit of what we’ll allow to happen, and join the heroes whose heads are bloody but unbowed, until we finally represent the majority. That kind of power is necessary to significantly change the status quo, and eventually society itself.

Jennifer Crompton
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Your statement is extremely well written and has obviously been thoroughly thought through. It's also painfully honest. Thank you for sharing it and I completely agree

Load More Replies...
Christopher Callahan
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We are not all in outrage of chinese child labor, yet we openly support it because we buy made in china stuff cheap, we don't say let me pay a few extra bucks so a child can have a break today

K O
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

So true, no-one cares when it suits them. I don't consume/buy animal products, I avoid buying anything from China - I don't even like companies that sell in China because of the awful animal abuse laws there, I avoid high street shops that I've seen exposed as modern day slavery. I consider the environment when shopping...people think I'm extreme - I'm sat here on a phone from China because I wanted the pretty pictures...it suited me

Load More Replies...
Catlady6000
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Excellent discussion and opportunity for honest self examination

Load More Comments
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