Episode 29: Defective Knowledge

In the 18th century St. Croix was a sugar colony in the Danish West Indies, with a population of Danish, Dutch, and English speakers, along with enslaved and free West Africans. In this creole mix of population, historians have shown how African and Afro-Caribbean identity endured despite the mask of slavery, especially in the documenting of personal names on church baptism records and runaway slave ads. These names offer evidence that enslaved men and women had their own sense of personhood, separate and apart from the masking of enslavement and the prejudices of enslavers, and maintained elements of both their African past and their new creole identities as they struggled for freedom and dignity in the New World.

Our History

The results are in, the car horns have all honked, and by the width of a pencil thin mustache, the competent stewards of a failed system have defeated the real estate grifter and his racist minions. Sort of. On November 3, voters said the name: Rumpelstiltskin! all right, but to no one’s surprise, that short-fingered vulgarian refuses to leave the Tower, and instead soils the presidential bedsheets while gorging on filet-o-fish sandwiches. And for the next four years? The soul of America will dad dance to the unlistenable schlock of Hall and Oates 80s studio pop. Yeah, say the Saucy Boys, it’s a bitch girl.

The whole revolting spectacle finds us in a contemplative mood, thinking about the lies we tell ourselves as a country and the true names we refuse to speak. Are we really a shining City Upon a Hill, or just the unabomber’s cabin burning in the light of another wildfire?

Listen in with episode 29 as we toggle between joy and despair, between the sensible centrists and baskets of deplorables. We can only conclude friends, that Mad Magazine had it right all along: the soul of America really is blecch.

To hear Episode 29: Defective Knowledge, click on the link below:


Sources Referenced and Items of Interest

Sarah Abel, et al., “From Enslavement to Emancipation: Naming Practices in the Danish West Indies” (April 2019 Comparative Studies in Society and History)


Pankaj Mishra, “The Western Model is Broken” (Oct. 2014, The Guardian)


Elizabeth Schmidt, “Erasing Slavery (February 11, 2011 New York Times)


Rebecca Solnit, Call Things By Their True Names


“And so the centuries of civil war, imperial conquest, brutal exploitation, and genocide were suppressed in accounts that showed how westerners made the modern world, and became with their liberal democracies the superior people everyone else ought to catch up with.”

Pankaj Mishra

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