Chapters 1 & 2 are an overview of prior history of ancient Greece and the “climate theory” of Aristotle and then the Genesis 9:18-29 “curse of Ham” (son of Noah) as the early roots of racism. It then moves into the slave trade of Portugal with Zuarara, Ibn Khaldūn, Las Casas, a Leo Africanus’ writings and their effect on the roots of modern racism.
Given the politics of the day, its curious to note that so many Republican party members would simultaneously be climate deniers on the one hand, and climate believers on the other.
As I look at the title of the forthcoming chapter 3 “Coming to America”, I can’t help but think about the potential ironies of the relationship to the text and the Eddie Murphy film of the same title.
On page 21 Kendi writes:
As strictly a climate theorist, Ibn Khaldūn discarded the “silly story” of the curse of Ham.
Here he references this to The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History by Ibn Khaldūn, Franz Rosenthal, and N.J. Dawood (Princeton University Press, 1969). I’m curious exactly where the “silly story” portion stems? Is it from Ibn Khaldūn directly in translation or from the more modern book? Given that Ibn Khaldūn lived from 1332-1406 and certainly didn’t write in English, I’m curious about the original translation by which the phrase “silly story” comes about. Silly has an archaic meaning of “helpless; defenseless” (roughly around the time of Shakespeare) prior to its modern definition, and prior to that it derived from the Old English word “seely” which meant “blessed”. Given that the phrase is used to describe a passage from Genesis, it’s entirely possible that the word “silly” held the “blessed” connotation here, but it’s not obvious from the context or the reference which is the proper meaning to take. Certainly taking the modern definition on its face seems like the wrong path to take here. I wonder if Kendi could shed some additional light on his sources to clarify the issue?
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