Ben Carson isn’t the only GOP 2016 hopeful who thinks literal slavery is the answer to something. While the GOP’s current favorite among its small stable of interchangeable apologists thinks that enslavement is the answer to undocumented immigration, former Arkansas governor and friend of child molesters everywhere Mike Huckabee has another great as to how to improve Americans’ lives through slavery.
While you may assume, given his extreme-right leanings, that he might suggest African-Americans as the ones who should be in chains, Huckabee has a better idea: If poor people are caught stealing, they should be sold into slavery — even if, as it says in Proverbs, the Bible would command him to forgive a thief who steals to eat. On Wednesday during an appearance on Iowa morning radio program Mickelson in the Morning, the program’s host complained that the “criminal justice system has been taken over by progressives.”
To win this imaginary war with folks who believe people have rights, Jan Mickelson explained, we need look only to one book — no, not a book of laws. He means the Bible, of course. Suggesting the book of Exodus as a proposed basis for our laws, Mickelson explained that “if a person steals, they have to pay it back two-fold, four-fold,” and “if they don’t have anything, we’re supposed to take them down and sell them.” Exodus 22 reads:
“When a man steals an ox or a sheep and butchers it or sells it, he must repay five cattle for the ox or four sheep for the sheep. 2 [b]If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed.3 But if this happens after sunrise,[c] there is guilt of bloodshed. A thief must make full restitution. If he is unable, he is to be sold because of his theft. 4 If what was stolen—whether ox, donkey, or sheep—is actually found alive in his possession, he must repay double.”
So, yes, it’s no secret that the Bible is incredibly pro-slavery — but this is 2015, and no one is really stealing ox or sheep anymore, and we do have a little document Republicans pretend to revere called the Constitution that makes selling thieves into slavery impossible. Nevertheless, Huckabee latched on to the “sell the poor into slavery” idea very quickly.
Mickelson explained that jails are a “pagan invention” inferior to the proud tradition of slavery. “We indenture them and they have to spend their time not sitting on their stump in a jail cell, they’re supposed to be working off the debt,” the host said. “Wouldn’t that be a better choice?”
“Well, it really would be,” Huckabee answered almost instantaneously. “Sometimes the best way to deal with a nonviolent criminal behavior is what you just suggested.”
Of course, as Think Progress notes, slavery is not a viable solution to much of anything in America — not anymore:
But U.S. law, unlike biblical penal prescriptions, forbids selling human beings like chattel. The United States also bans debtors’ prisons and the Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to imprison people who are too destitute to pay court fines. (Contra these bans,manylocalities are being sued for still running debtors’ prisons.)
In August, Mickelson pre-emptively agreed with Ben Carson that immigrants who can’t display their papers should become “property of the state,” and “then we start to extort or exploit or indenture your labor.” When a caller pointed out that “it sounds an awful lot like slavery,” Mickelson replied, “Well, what’s wrong with slavery?”
Unfortunately, we’re dealing with a party that has trouble recognizing the moral failings of a pro-slavery stance. This is why it is important to get out and vote next year. Thanks to voter apathy on our side, we now have both chambers of Congress filled with people who share these, and other horrible viewpoints. The GOP can’t even elect a Speaker of the House because the House of representatives is held hostage by a group of about 40 extremists who will only vote for someone if they agree to gut social programs and defund women’s health care.
If you’re not registered to vote, do it. If your state has repressive voter ID legislation in place, get all necessary documentation so you are not deprived of your rights. This upcoming election is, perhaps, the most important in recent history because if we lose there, we will lose everything we have achieved over the past sixty years.
Hear Huckabee’s terrifying remarks, below:
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.