Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bring Back Slavery!

There is something fundamentally wrong with calling yourself a Republican while trivializing the history of slavery, which Governor Bob McDonnell did (though to his credit later apologized and changed his position).  Which Governor Haley Barbour did. Which former Congressmen J.C. Watts did.  Which Pat Buchanan did.  These people need to recall that the whole purpose of founding the Republican Party was in opposition to the spread of slavery to new territories, and that any attempt to minimize the importance of that issue tarnishes the founders of their own political party.  They need to re-read the history of the decades leading up to the Civil War, in which the only political debate of any consequence was about slavery.  And they need to recognize that the only reason the southern states attempted to secede was because of slavery.  (The only significant difference between the Confederate Constitution and the Federal Constitution was its protection of slavery.)  The Confederacy was not founded in opposition to federal power or in support of states' rights.  If the Confederates had a problem with federal power, they would never have endorsed the vast federal powers of the Fugitive Slave Act, but they were always supportive of federal efforts to retrieve their property from states that did not recognize the legitimacy of that property interest. 

Current attempts to commemorate Confederate history without recognizing that the entire purpose of the Confederacy was to protect the despicable institution of slavery amount to a re-writing of history.  Current loose talk about states' rights and secession and disobedience to federal authority amounts to ignorance of history and the Constitution.  You simply cannot raise these issues without implicitly  supporting the revival of a racist, anti-democratic vision of America.  And that is why it should never be surprising to see white supremacist, hate-filled slogans appearing at Tea Party rallies.  These sentiments represent the true face of the movement, which its leaders cannot seem to succeed in suppressing.

If the current apologists for the Confederacy really want to get people to understand the original intent of the Constitution and the philosophical basis for their movement, they might as well come right out and say they support the re-enslavement of black people.  Otherwise, they are not quite being honest about the implications of their own rhetoric.

(photo from Huffington Post)

2 comments:

  1. The only time Lincoln met with black leaders was to discuss "relocation" (read: deportation) of all members of their race to either Africa or Central America.

    The much vaunted Emancipation Proclamation "freed" only the slaves located in territories still being occupied and controlled by Confederate troops. The document might as well have freed all the slaves in Arabia and China since Lincoln was in such a generous mood.

    If Lincoln could have prevented the South from seceding without freeing the slaves, he would have done so. Northern whites were just as racist as southerners and were known to lynch blacks for decades after the antebellum period.

    "If the Confederates had a problem with federal power, they would never have endorsed the vast federal powers of the Fugitive Slave Act, but they were always supportive of federal efforts to retrieve their property from states that did not recognize the legitimacy of that property interest."

    And in turn, northern states like Wisconsin exercised states' rights and threatened nullification (OMG! States' Rights!) when they refused to abide by the federal powers to return escaped slaves back to their masters. It's funny how selective liberals are with historical events that don't fit their world view. And don't get me started on how Democratic Party condoned slavery for decades...talk about the re-writing of history.

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  2. I think it is pretty clear from the historical record that Lincoln always hated slavery, but you are right VH, that he put Union ahead of his anti-slavery views. It is also true that Lincoln did not have much hope that whites would ever be able to accept blacks as equals in this country. It could be said that he was right about that also, since it took another hundred years after the Civil War for blacks to gain their constitutional rights, and racism still exists today.

    I also don't think there is much dispute that the Democratic Party supported slavery from the beginning, and continued to stand for segregation for decades after the Civil War. Wilson for example, was a notorious racist. I don't think too many liberals these days try to whitewash the history of the Democratic Party to suggest that it was anything but racist until some party leaders began to support civil rights starting in the 1940's. The real change came in the 1960's when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, and almost immediately after that, Southern Democrats began to abandon the Democratic Party and turn Republican.

    What is interesting about that is that these Southern Republicans still trace their lineage not through the Republican Party they adopted in the 1960's and 1970's but to the old racist Democratic Party they abandoned. My point is that it is sad to see Republicans becoming apologists for the Confederate cause, or minimizing the importance of the slavery issue. Those are positions completely contrary to the founding spirit of the Republican Party. I would much prefer to see people like Haley Barbour and Bob McConnell treat Lincoln like a hero and treat the Confederate cause as a shameful one. That would be a truly Republican position.

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