Rather than discussing race in isolation, Mr. Berry argues that our history of prejudice needs to be placed in a larger context. Just as a man suffering from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity would do well to see the connection among his ailments, so too, Mr. Berry argues, we would do well to see our sad history of racial prejudice as one expression of the tendency to exploit—to use up and discard—our land, our animals, and our people. In this sense, though slavery was one especially egregious expression of the tendency to exploit, it has not been the only one. And while slavery and legal segregation have thankfully come to an end, other forms of exploitation have not. Indeed, they have become so ingrained in our culture, so normalized, that most of us don’t perceive them at all.
If the South’s embrace of slavery was one form of exploitation, the industrialism of the North was another. Indeed, one result of the Civil War was the expansion of Northern industrialism into the South. Today we accept the ubiquity of the industrial worldview unquestioningly, as if it were inherent in human culture itself. But Mr. Berry knows better.
Read all of "Wendell Berry on Patriotism & the History of Prejudice" by Justin Naylor at The Imaginative Conservative.