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Dan Davis <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 12 Jan 2011 11:58:05 -0500
text/plain (49 lines)
"We're all damned fools."

Quite possibly the most appropriate comment I've seen so far. Suddenly
everything falls jarringly into place...


-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Effgen, Alex
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 11:35 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: I thought 2010 was the Year of Mark Twain...

Just when I thought business would slow and I'd have a chance to gear up fo=
r the centennial of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward's passing (1844-1911) now =
I'm cross-eyed keeping up with this Huck Finn hullabaloo. I feel like the U=
ndertaker in Life in the Mississippi.

I can add two things to the conversation. One is the link to Jon Stewart's =
coverage of this controversy on the Daily Show:

And in case the Daily Show link expires for some reason, a transcript of th=
e coverage:

And finally my haypenny of opinion: a few years ago I worked with an Africa=
n American charter school dedicated to science and technology in Cambridge,=
Massachusetts. This school made a point to encourage its students to refer=
to their social ancestors not as "slaves," but as "enslaved peoples." It m=
ay sound PC, but their point was similar to the one Larry Wilmore brought u=
p. To be a slave is to describe a position much like a profession--while to=
be an enslaved person is to remove the active quality of slavery and show =
that the enslaved had no choice in life and no autonomy in society.

It would be more comical if Prof. Gribben chose to use "enslaved person" in=
stead of slave, let alone nigger. But any euphemism removes some of the sta=
in, and we're all guilty of needing soap and a towel before we (want to) lo=
ok in the mirror. I'd like to thank the publishers of this new text for bri=
nging the debate to the forefront of popular conversation. As long as they =
don't remove the socially acceptable violence of Twain's work I don't think=
they remove Twain's primary thesis.

We're all damned fools.

Yours truly,
Alex Effgen=