HBO has announced that the team that produces Game of Thrones will, when that series concludes next year, take on a new project: a series called Confederate. The premise of Confederate is that the South prevailed in the Civil War, and now, in the 21st century, slavery still exists there.
HBO’s initial publicity for the new program drew some criticism, so the network’s programming president, Casey Bloys, met with the press to defend the show’s concept:
The series, which chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War, takes place in an alternate timeline where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.
Slave-owning conglomerates–that will send a shiver of excitement down Bernie Sanders’ spine.
Bloys explained HBO’s perspective on the slave drama:
“Everyone understands there is a high degree of getting this right. … If you can get it right, there is real opportunity to advance the racial discussion in America,” he said. “If you can draw a line between what we’re seeing in the country today with voter suppression, mass incarceration, lack of access to public education and healthcare and draw the line to our past and shared history, that’s an important line to draw and a conversation worth having.”
Got that? The show will “draw a line” between slavery and “voter suppression,” whatever that means, and mass incarceration–being convicted of a serious crime is just like being a slave, apparently. I’m not sure what is meant by “lack of access to public education and healthcare.” If Bloys is talking about African-Americans, he apparently doesn’t understand that the problem is having public education inflicted on them, not lack of access to it. As for access to health care, HBO apparently considers spending *only* $574 billion on Medicaid to be the moral equivalent of–or, at least, in a “line” with–19th century slavery. This is, to put it delicately, amazingly stupid.
Liberals love to talk about slavery. In fact, kids who go to public schools could get the impression that the only thing that happened in American history between 1600 and 1964 was slavery. Unfortunately, involuntary servitude is long gone, the Republican Party having disposed of it by brute force. So now, apparently, we need a fantasy to bring it back so liberals can pretend they are as heroic as the Republicans of 150 years ago.
Actually, if liberals wanted to create a television series about modern slavery, they wouldn’t have to concoct a counterfactual history. There are plenty of places where the institution of slavery has been translated into the 20th and 21st centuries. They could set their series in Cuba, for example. What does slavery with “no whips and no plantations,” as Bloys put it, look like? Cuba would be an excellent example; they would only need to replace whips with more lethal devices.
Then there is the U.S.S.R., or China, or East Germany, or North Korea. The modern form of slavery isn’t really hard to find. We have been more or less surrounded by it for quite a while. But HBO is looking for left-wing fantasy, not reality.