Conspiracy theorists

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An example of a website claiming that historians avoid calling indentured servants ‘slaves’ for political reasons and are consumed by ‘white guilt’.

An example of a website claiming that historians avoid calling indentured servants ‘slaves’ for political reasons and are consumed by ‘white guilt’.

The reluctance to differentiate between indentured servitude and perpetual chattel slavery in these contexts gives succour to ahistorical types, such as neo-Nazis, 9/11 Truthers and White Nationalists. Their propaganda includes a conspiracy theory claiming that historians avoid calling indentured servants ‘slaves’ for political reasons. They protest that historians are not to be trusted and that one should avoid reading ‘biased history books’ about slavery, as they have covered up the ‘truth’. Those inculcated have been persuaded to ignore contextualised history. In an op-ed piece for the Dublin-based thejournal.ie, the three authors of this article were attacked with comments claiming that our ‘white guilt’ was compelling our research agenda. Other accusations of ‘denial’ are intended to have a chilling effect on this debate by co-opting the loaded language usually reserved for Holocaust denial. It is pertinent to point out that Michael Hoffman II (a Holocaust-denier) and the Barnes Review (a Holocaust-denial journal) endorse the ‘Irish slaves’ meme, which does not differentiate between indentured servitude and perpetual chattel slavery.

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