Ben Affleck and the Art of Doublespeak
|H/T Ranier M. for the image|
"We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery," he wrote. "It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about." ~ Ben AffleckReally, Ben? You sure about that? Pop quiz: if Sony hadn't been hacked and we didn't have access to the emails, are you saying you would've stepped forward and revealed this info yourself?
Dude...no one blames you for being descended from a slave-owner. That's not how it works. Ancestors are blamed for their descendents, not the other way around. You don't smack a mouthy 10-year-old because his parents are such great saints, Ben; you blame his parents for making the wrong decisions, for being incompetent, for being negligent, for being selfish wastes of skin. So it's not like we believe you were sitting in some cosmic waiting room before your birth, watching Earth's history unfold, clapping your hands and squealing, "That one right there? That's the one for me!"
In a nation where horrific history is constantly being revised, where racism is constantly being downplayed and denied, and the trendy white drone-speak is - quite literally - "My ancestors never owned slaves", you deliberately embraced that unholy trifecta with a single word: edit. See, that's where you fucked up. Benjamin Cole fucked up by practicing slavery. You fucked up by trying to pretend that it didn't happen.
Let me share something with you, Ben (by the way, were you named after him???). I'm what's considered tribal royalty. It ain't no big deal 'cause I ain't got and never had a royal life. But the last time I sat down with a couple of family elders poring over our history, I learned I was descended from six different royal lines going back for only the gods know how long. So I wouldn't be surprised if there was some slave-trading going on among my ancestors. It does not help that some of my maternal ancestors came from Western Asia. With a family tree like that, I'm pretty sure someone somewhere helped let the vampires in. I'm sure they tossed those doors wide open, rolled out the red carpet, chanted, "I summon thee" three times, and helped unleash hell on earth.
Side note: many African leaders are still letting the vampires in...because apparently the last few hundred years were so much fun they want to keep it going clear through the 21st Century.
Look, my point is we can't just edit that shit out, Ben. We can't sanitize it. We're not doing anybody any kind of favors. Look how much worse things are when you do. I Googled you right before I started writing this, dude. You're playing friggin' Batman right now and ain't noooooobody talkin' about that.
Then again, you also played Daredevil, so it's probably best we stick to this.
*sniff* Looks like ole Benjamin Cole finally came through for you after all....
“Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling programme.Dr. Gates, what the fuck were you thinking?
“In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry – including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great–grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.” (Source)
Oh, you thought you'd be exempt??? You? You should have been the whistle-blower on this bitch, Dr. Gates; that leak should've come from you. I mean, yeah... we know Sony told you what to do, and that you've got bills to pay, but damn, Dr. Gates...Ben's not the only one looking shitty right now. Didn't you host a show about African Americans and their roots? Didn't you even make a case for reparations checks? How do you go from the exploration of enslaved ancestors to thinking the exploration of an actual enslaving ancestor is less "interesting" than the mom who conveniently marched for civil rights in the Sixties...the way all old white people seem to claim they did?
Full disclosure, y'all: I'm not a Christian. And for many years, every time I'd hear or read a Christian say shit like, "Everything is a test", I rolled my eyes. But moments like these make statements like that click, because when Ben found out who his ancestor was, that was a test. For a lot of white Americans, that is a BIG test; it's a test so many of them dread. And Ben failed it with flying colors.
When Dr. Gates realized what Ben wanted to do, that was a test. For many brown people, it's a huuuuuuuge test. It's a test so many of us dread: we can either challenge racism, or we can keep our jobs. Granted, Ben was doubly wrong for making a decision which put Dr. Gates in this situation. And the good Doctor did get the first question right; he didn't just edit that ish out right away - he consulted. But ultimately, he failed the test. He chose himself over the souls of Benjamin Cole's victims, who deserve to be acknowledged, in part, by having their tormentor named and revealed to the world.
So then, WikiLeaks uncovered what they did. That was another test. And not just a to-each-his-own test; this time they were both given the same test, basically a shared test. Yet another opportunity to do the right thing. To admit unequivocally out loud what they did was wrong, be honest about the fact they never intended to bring it up themselves,and confess that what they did was out of pure selfishness.
Again, both men failed the test, in perfect sync.
These tests aren't designed to be easy, ladies and gentlemen. You're not supposed to enjoy taking them. They're not going to go away either, so if you choose to keep racking up failures, you are going to feel the effects of them - one way or another. Because these men are not happy campers right now, despite the brave faces and carefully rehearsed doublespeak.