Last night during her powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama made the very real and very devastating point that the country's first black president and his family all live in a house that was built with slave labor.
While the veracity of Obama's historical reference has been widely confirmed and backed up by a number of historians, that did not stop Fox News Radio host John Gibson from penning a tone-deaf blog post bemoaning the fact that the First Lady did not mention the white laborers who also participated in the construction of the White House.
"A couple relevant facts: it was 1792. The land for the District of Columbia was ceded to the federal government by two slave states. Slaves lived in the area and were employed in building much of the capitol," Gibson wrote. "What, then, is the purpose of appropriating the construction of the White House to black slave workers, neglecting to mention other workers?"
What Gibson, like so many other racist revisionists, fails to understand is that slaves cannot be "workers" in the sense that they signed up for a job with the expectation of financial compensation and fair treatment. To compare slave labor to the work done by free white laborers is to erase the fact that slaves were subjected to lives of disenfranchisement, horror, and systemic abuse.
What's more, Gibson tries to make the false claim that there were just as many white laborers as slave that worked in the White House's construction. According to the White House Historical Association, while there were free white laborers who worked on the White House and other government buildings, the vast majority of the labor was completed by black people (both enslaved and free) because the city planners couldn't really find enough white people to hire.