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Ta-Nehisi Coates on HBO’s ‘Confederate’: ‘Skepticism Must Be the Order of the Day’

The upcoming series from "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss has had a controversial unveiling.

Ta-Nehisi Coates


As you might expect of an alternate-history TV series in which the South won the Civil War and slavery has yet to be abolished, “Confederate” hasn’t come as welcome news to many. The upcoming show from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss has already been protested on social media, with many hoping to stop the show from even being made; the most eloquent take comes, unsurprisingly, from Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic.

“Hollywood has likely done more than any other American institution to obstruct a truthful apprehension of the Civil War, and thus modern America’s very origins,” writes Coates, who argues that the HBO drama doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and that “skepticism must be the order of the day.” The show has yet to be written, but the premise involves slavery becoming a “modern-day institution.”

Anticipating comparisons to other alternate-history fiction in the vein of “The Man in the High Castle,” Coates calls such points of reference “fatuous” for the simple reason that, while Nazi Germany’s “surviving leadership was put on trial before the world, not one author of the Confederacy was convicted of treason. Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was hanged at Nuremberg. Confederate General John B. Gordon became a senator.”

HBO has said that, though it has “great respect” for those who have expressed opposition to “Confederate,” the network hopes that they’ll “reserve judgment until there is something to see.”

More to the point, he writes, “African Americans do not need science-fiction, or really any fiction, to tell them that that ‘history is still with us.’ It’s right outside our door. It’s in our politics. It’s on our networks.” Read the full piece here.

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