Turns out Michael Medved thinks it’s not that important a part of the American experience. Read Sadly, No! for a better making fun of than I could possibly provide. I would like to highlight this passage:
THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT TODAY’S AFRICAN-AMERICANS WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF THEIR ANCESTORS HAD REMAINED BEHIND IN AFRICA. The idea of reparations rests on the notion of making up to the descendants of slaves for the incalculable damage done to their family status and welfare by the enslavement of generations of their ancestors. In theory, reparationists want society to repair the wrongs of the past by putting today’s African-Americans into the sort of situation they would have enjoyed if their forebears hadn’t been kidnapped, sold and transported across the ocean. Unfortunately, to bring American blacks in line with their cousins who the slave-traders left behind in Africa would require a drastic reduction in their wealth, living standards, and economic and political opportunities. No honest observer can deny or dismiss this nation’s long record of racism and injustice, but it’s also obvious that Americans of African descent enjoy vastly greater wealth and human rights of every variety than the citizens of any nation of the Mother Continent. If we sought to erase the impact of slavery on specific black families, we would need to obliterate the spectacular economic progress made by those families (and by US citizens in general) over the last 100 years. In view of the last century of history in Nigeria or Ivory Coast or Sierra Leone or Zimbabwe, could any African American say with confidence that he or she would have fared better had some distant ancestor not been enslaved? Of course, those who seek reparations would also cite the devastating impact of Western colonialism in stunting African progress, but the United States played virtually no role in the colonization of the continent. The British, French, Italians, Portuguese, Germans and others all established brutal colonial rule in Africa; tiny Belgium became a particularly oppressive and bloodthirsty colonial power in the Congo. The United States, on the other hand, sponsored only one long-term venture on the African continent: the colony of Liberia, an independent nation set up as a haven for liberated American slaves who wanted to go “home.” The fact that so few availed themselves of the opportunity, or heeded the back-to-African exhortations of turn- of-the-century Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey, reflects the reality that descendants of slaves understood they were better off remaining in the United States, for all its faults.
Fuck the heck? First off, as S,N! mention, so what? Slavery was still horrible, and yes our practice of it was a blot on our record. Beyond that, maybe the slave trade that the U.S. took a part in (especially the early years of the republic, but Americans still participated in the slave trade in other countries after importation was banned here) played a tiny part in why Africa is in such a state today. A lot of those colonies especially on the West coast of Africa were set up to get slaves to the United States and the rest of the Americas. Also, perhaps it would be worth mentioning the fact that the former slaves lived as second class citizens in large part of the country even when slavery ended.