- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2014

Noam Chomsky, author and political theorist, called the United States a “very racist society” and then slammed one of its most beloved presidents, Ronald Reagan, as a prime example of a very racist man during an interview on GRITtv about Ferguson-related issues and race relations.

“This is a very racist society,” he said, Raw Story reported. “It’s pretty shocking. What’s happened to African-Americans in the last 30 years is similar to … happen[ed] in the late 19th century,” as described by Douglas Blackmon in “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.”

The Blackmon book details the “age of Neoslavery,” Mr. Chomsky said, referring to how blacks may have won legal freedom, only to face involuntary servitude in the justice system.

“The constitutional amendments that were supposed to free African-American slaves did something for about 10 years, then there was a North-South compact that granted the former, the slave-owning states, the right to do whatever they wanted,” he said, Raw Story reported. “And what they did was criminalize black life, and that created a kind of slave force. It threw mostly black males into jail, where they became a perfect labor force, much better than slaves.”

Mr. Chomsky said that blacks then had a period of about 20 years where they were granted the ability to enter American society — when “a black worker could get a job in an auto plant, as the unions were still functioning, and he could buy a small house and send his kid to college,” Raw Story reported.

But then came the 1970s and 1980s, and all that opportunity crumbled, he said.

“It’s called the drug war, and it’s a racist war,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist — though he denied it — but the whole drug war is designed, from policing to eventual release from prison, to make it impossible for black men and, increasingly women, to be part of society.”

Mr. Chomsky said blacks, by and large, have only had between 30 and 40 years since 1619 — when “the first slaves came over,” he said — of “limited degree[s] of freedom,” Raw Story reported.

And that freedom was in the degree of “not entirely, but at least some,” he said.

“[Now], they have been re-criminalized and turned into a slave labor force — that’s prison labor,” he said. “This is American history. To break out of that is no small trick.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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