Ben Affleck, PBS, hide actor’s family’s slave-owning past

Ben Affleck likes hanging out with guys named Gates. (Getty Images)

Ben Affleck likes hanging out with guys named Gates. (Getty Images)

Should a son pay for the sins of his father? Should you be held responsible for something your ancestor did more than 150 years ago?

I’d say no. I don’t know what my ancestors were doing way back when, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame me for something someone did centuries before I was born.

Actor Ben Affleck, who pretends to be a superhero, isn’t that brave.

According to multiple media reports, the one-time Georgian who recently filmed a movie at Georgia Tech asked PBS to hide his family’s slave-owning past in a TV documentary that aired in 2014.

Details of the agreement between the star actor and the the PBS program were among hacked emails stolen from Sony Pictures and made public by Wikileaks.

The Guardian tells us Affleck’s request “troubled prominent professor Henry Louis Gates, host of Finding Your Roots television show.”

It didn’t trouble Gates enough to reject the request, however.

“We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?” said Gates.

Being a history professor at Harvard, Gates knows what to do, of course, but he elected to do something else. That’s not how history is supposed to work, but, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, history is written by the victors — or the wealthy and powerful — because some who make documentaries think it is best to appease the powerful than tell the truth.

Instead of mentioning the one slave owner in Affleck’s family tree, the program focused on “a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great–grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.”

Did Affleck, who has thus far refused comment on the documentary, need to hide his ancestor’s ignoble past?

I don’t think so, but he was likely advised by his agent and a PR agency. And surely they know what is best for a publicly-funded documentary on movie stars.

 

 

 

 

 


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