I meant to write this earlier, but I got occupied with Full Circle.
There’s a joke about a Scottish woman who paid £1000 to have someone research her family tree … and about how she had to pay another £1000 afterwards to cover it up.
It isn’t very funny, is it? I don’t think Ben Affleck finds it very funny either. He’s the actor who pressured an academic into covering up part of his family tree, including the fact that two of his ancestors were slave-owners.
I confess, the first time I heard of this particular incident, my inclination was to shake my head. I don’t know much about Ben Affleck, beyond the fact he’s an actor who campaigns for the Democratic Party and claims to be a mild liberal, but this made me roll my eyes. How exactly is this Affleck’s fault?
According to Wikipedia, Affleck was born in 1972. How exactly is he responsible for the sins of his ancestors? I’m pretty sure that there aren’t ‘many’ people out there who don’t have something embarrassing, disquieting or just plain weird in their family trees, if someone looks back far enough. Our ancestors accepted a great many things as normal that we now see as repulsive. Is there anyone willing to take the chance that their ancestors were without modern-day sin? Or to start throwing stones when said stones could easily be thrown at them?
So, why exactly should Affleck want to cover this up?
Call me a cynic, but I think it may have something to do with social justice.
The overall curse of ‘social justice’ is that you cannot escape either your society or your past. Social Justice Warriors blame the white man for every little injustice, past and present, in the world – not individual monsters, not people who didn’t know any better, but white men who are alive and well today. There is no logic whatsoever in attacking Affleck because a couple of his relatives traded in slaves, but would someone care to lay odds on it not happening? SJWs turn on their own at the drop of a hat.
This is absurd, of course. Affleck is not responsible for the crimes of his ancestors, any more than I am responsible for mine. It spits in the face of justice to suggest otherwise. But SJWs aren’t about justice, but revenge. Punishing the descendents of slavers – or people who merely share a gender and skin colour – only makes sense if you assume that ancestors are inseparable from their descendents.
And really, what sort of sense does that make?
If I’m being forced to be honest, I don’t really have much respect for Affleck. I don’t really approve of celebrities involving themselves in political matters. No matter how good an actor someone is, that doesn’t automatically qualify them to offer political advice. Nor do I approve of pre-emptively trying to duck the blame for daring to have unfortunate ancestors. But blaming Affleck for his ancestors is just pointless. So was trying to hide them.
Affleck is not responsible for their crimes. And if anyone claimed otherwise, he could have challenged them and demanded to know why it was his fault. Because such arguments simply don’t hold water when exposed to the cold light of day.