This month on the Space-Cast!, we’re investigating a difficult topic — the representation of slavery in board games. To help navigate these waters, we’re joined by Patrick Rael, Professor of History at Bowdoin College, to discuss how board games have depicted slavery in the past, what they’re doing right now, and how we can use them to learn about sensitive historical issues.
Today on the Space-Biff! Space-Cast!, Dan is joined by Tom Russell, who answers questions about his controversial title This Guilty Land, discusses research and responsibility in crafting board games, and answers the two most difficult questions of them all: what is your favorite dinosaur, and what is art?
In October of last year, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly mentioned in an interview on Fox News that “the lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War.” Perhaps he was thinking of Henry Clay’s Missouri Compromise of 1820, Compromise Tariff of 1833, and Compromise of 1850. Because, hey, they all had the word compromise in them, and likely postponed the war for years! After all, according to Senator Henry S. Foote, had there been another Great Compromiser like Clay in 1860, the Civil War might have been averted.
Except we’re talking about the same Henry S. Foote who served in the Confederate Congress, which promoted a treasonous war to preserve the enslavement of nearly four million people — a practice that violated human bodies and freedom, abused the rights of citizens and states alike, and turned to violence the instant the tide of public opinion shifted against them. The nation was torn asunder despite decades of compromise. Because that word has dual meanings. Too many compromises and you begin to compromise yourself.
Such is the thesis of Tom Russell’s This Guilty Land, stated without reservation or hesitance: slavery was morally poisonous, any compromise that allowed it to continue was unsustainable, and the American Civil War was inevitable.