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January 6, 2003 7:57 AM   Subscribe

White House Silent on Racial Controversy. Bill Back, the California Republican party's vice chairman running for the top job, sent out an e-mail newsletter in 1999 that reproduced an essay that said "history might have taken a better turn" if the South had won the Civil War and that "the real damage to race relations in the South came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won."
posted by four panels (48 comments total)

 
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/
posted by specialk420 at 8:23 AM on January 6, 2003


I've seen a lot of fuss about Back's inclusion of that article in his newsletter, but nobody's shown what the newsletter looks like to get a feel for the context. Many people put out little digests of e-mail links and articles that they may or may not agree with, but touch on issues of possible interest to the readers. This is getting more play because of the Senator Lott snafu, but it is not comparable. The quote in question was not of Back's own tongue.

You may possibly take Shannon Reeves' comments with a grain of salt, while he is a decent guy, he may have his own aspirations to be party chair or vice-chair at some point, possibly sooner rather than later.
posted by BrandonAbell at 8:27 AM on January 6, 2003


You mean the Republican party still has racists in it? I thought they had rooted them out after that Trent Lott debacle!
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:00 AM on January 6, 2003


Seriously, why is this news? There are racist people everywhere. A great deal in the GOP, but also a fair number in the Democratic party as well. However, most are smart enough not to wear the pointy white hood in public.

There's a good bet that a lot of people out there agree with Lott, Byrd, Back and others like them. They are speaking to their constituancies. The Republicans only want to court the black vote to get the votes, not that they are going to do a damn thing for them. Even less than the Democrats do for them!
posted by aacheson at 9:06 AM on January 6, 2003


Washington Post Silent on Silly Headline Controversy.

What? You don't think it's news that the Washington Post hasn't said anything about this thing I'm interested in?
posted by straight at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2003


Here is a copy of the article so that everyone can decide for themselves whether it is racist or not:

What If the South Had Won the Civil War?
By William S. Lind

CNS Commentary from the "Next Revolution"
Television Program - 8 July, 1999.

If the South had won the Civil War, where might our two countries be today? It is of course impossible to know, and as someone who proudly wears his great-grandfather’s G.A.R. ring-he served in the 88th and 177th Ohio Volunteers, and his diary records the monitors bombarding Fort Fisher as he watched from a Union transport-I’m not entirely comfortable asking the question. But given how bad things have gotten in the old U.S.A., it’s not hard to believe that history might have taken a better turn. Slavery of course would be long gone, for economic reasons. Race relations today in the Old South, in rural areas and cities such as Charleston, South Carolina, are generally better than they are in northern cities, so we might have done all right on that score. When southerners say they have a special relationship with blacks based on many generations of living together at close quarters, they have a point. The real damage to race relations in the south came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won. And since the North would have been a separate nation, the vast black migration to northern cities that took place during World War II might not have happened.

Certainly Southerners would not be living under the iron rule of an all-powerful federal government, as we all do now. Northerners might not be, either; a Union defeat would have given states’ rights a boost in both countries. The Tenth Amendment might still have the force of law even up north.

It is possible that both countries might still be republics, instead of a single empire. That transformation traces to America’s entry into World War I, which might not have happened. Southern sympathy would probably have been with Britain and France, but the North, with a large German population, might well have lined up with the Kaiser (the Irish would have liked that, too).

No American entry into the war would have meant no Communism in Russia and no Hitler in Germany. That’s not a bad bargain. It is highly unlikely that the Confederacy would have embraced the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness that is fast becoming the official American state ideology. So at least part of North America would still stand for Western culture, Christianity and an appreciation of the differences between ladies and gentlemen. Decency might have taken its stand in Dixie, along with some other good things such as an appreciation for the merits of rural life. Perhaps most important, Americans north and south might have a choice. If the North had turned left, as the United States has during this century, Northerners who didn’t care for that development could cross the Mason Dixon line and become Southerners. That’s an option more than a few of us Yankees would appreciate having, even if it did mean having to eat grits. What would my great-grandfather, Union Army sergeant Alfred G. Sturgiss, say to all of this? If he could see the sorry mess the country he fought for has become, I think he might sadly say that he’d fought for the wrong side.
Although I do not agree with the author's view of what the world would be like had the Confederacy won the Civil War, are we becoming so politically correct that we cannot even discuss such topics without being labelled as racist?
posted by Durwood at 9:19 AM on January 6, 2003


What I wonder is why, when any nutcase comes out and says the South should have won the war, why oh why is it a case for racial bigotry, yet nobody makes the case that it could be construed as treasonous? The Confederacy was a collection of nearly a dozen states that wanted to leave the Union. Its acts led to the bloodiest war this nation's ever known and sincerely threatened the sovereignty of the United States of America. Worshipping the South and the rebellion isn't just an issue of race; it's an issue for everybody.
posted by NedKoppel at 9:19 AM on January 6, 2003


I haven't looked at the whole thing, but I think he is condemning reconstruction more than anything. There is a big difference between saying that the US would be better if the South had won the Civil War because there would still be slaves and saying that reconstruction caused many problems in racial relations (which is probably true). Thought I definitely disagree that Reconstruction caused MORE problems than slavery-- that is just silly.
posted by synecdoche at 9:22 AM on January 6, 2003


There's no way the Republican party represents the interests of racists so stop saying that!

I mean, get real, just look at how many black representatives there are in the GOP! None? Oops, never mind.
posted by nofundy at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2003


straight, that's exactly what I was thinking. Why manufacture a headline -- focus on the story (which is interesting enough by itself without having to highlight a totally tangential aspect). The headline could just as easily have said: "White House Silent on Fiesta Bowl Controversy," or "White House Silent on Less Filling/Tastes Great Controversy," or "White House Silent on J. Lo and Ben Controversy," or "White House Silent on Peoria School Board Controversy," or any one of the other billions of "controversies" that the White House is "silent" on.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2003


No American entry into the war would have meant no Communism in Russia and no Hitler in Germany

Um, huh? Virtually all of the claims in this essay range from the offensive to the absurd.

The fact that a big wig GOP operative would be so enamoured by this piece as to send it out to supporters is just creepy.
posted by gwint at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2003


yet nobody makes the case that it could be construed as treasonous?

I am not sure I understand the question. The South then was not treasonous. They wanted to leave the union, which they believed they had every right to do. Treasonous now? I suppose if you swear an oath to preserve the country as it is now, and then work against it. Treason has lost a lot of worth, and it seems pretty easy to be a traitor these days. Fail to support a war, drill in Alaska, or think that the union was not meant to be anything other than a voluntary confederation and he get lumped in with Benedict Arnold.
posted by thirteen at 9:42 AM on January 6, 2003


But given how bad things have gotten in the old U.S.A.

I'm sick of this unamerican crap!
posted by mcsweetie at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2003


Here's the original article but it doesn't say much that hasn't been said:

My favorite part:

So at least part of North America would still stand for Western culture, Christianity and an appreciation of the differences between ladies and gentlemen.

It just wouldn't be white of a person not to want that, eh?
posted by small_ruminant at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2003


thirteen, I'd love to live in your country. It doesn't matter what you believe or what your intent is, the formation of the Confederacy is the dictionary definition of treason (look it up).

Durwood- I have no problem discussing the relative merits of Southern secession, but that "essay" is not only historically inaccurate (African American migrations started much earlier, around the turn of the century, largely caused by the lack of job opportunities for non-white folks in the South), but full of the most absurd wishful thinking about subsequent history I've read in ages.
posted by mkultra at 10:09 AM on January 6, 2003


Hopefully someone will ask Hank about this.

It's surprising how often this song is included in lists of "patriotic" music. I mean, Hank rocks, but it's not up there with "Stars and Stripes Forever."
posted by jmcmurry at 10:11 AM on January 6, 2003


are we becoming so politically correct that we cannot even discuss such topics without being labelled as racist?

I think the problem is that most of what he has to say is conjecture. This is a fictional alternate history, not based on fact, but on what he thinks might have happened. It's impossible to discuss rationally because there aren't any facts to discuss. I think his motivations for writing it, though, are fair game.
posted by toothgnip at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2003


the formation of the Confederacy is the dictionary definition of treason (look it up).

I did and it does not. They were not overthrowing the government, they were separating from it. Given the reluctancy of the founding fathers to enter the union, I do not think they would believe no one had the right to leave it.
posted by thirteen at 10:14 AM on January 6, 2003


There is a big difference between saying that the US would be better if the South had won the Civil War because there would still be slaves and saying that reconstruction caused many problems in racial relations (which is probably true). Thought I definitely disagree that Reconstruction caused MORE problems than slavery-- that is just silly.

It's probably true AND silly?
posted by Witty at 10:27 AM on January 6, 2003


Although I do not agree with the author's view of what the world would be like had the Confederacy won the Civil War, are we becoming so politically correct that we cannot even discuss such topics without being labelled as racist?

I doubt that anyone would argue that it's racist to have an intellectual "what if the South had won the Civil War" discussion, but it seems clear to that what Bill Back sent out was an essay pining for the good old days when darkies and women knew their place, i.e. serving white men.

Man, that essay is fascinating, both as a tour de force in the art of proving your premises with your conclusions, and as a peek into the racist mindset.
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:50 AM on January 6, 2003


Where is the "racial controversy" in this article? As opposed to the Lott situation, this is PC bunk. The author doesn't even make any derogatory remarks about anyone--he's simply extrapolating how things might be had things gone differently in the past (you may agree or disagree with his reasoning or conclusions, but to attempt to read racism into his remarks is weak, very weak).

Seriously, why is this news? There are racist people everywhere.

So, I guess that's okay, then. No need for us to worry about it.

the formation of the Confederacy is the dictionary definition of treason

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." --U. S. Declaration of Independence
posted by rushmc at 10:51 AM on January 6, 2003


It's probably true AND silly?

s/he said it was true that reconstruction caused many problems in racial relations, but silly to say it caused MORE problems than slavery itself.

That essay was nuts.
posted by mdn at 11:02 AM on January 6, 2003


Treason doesn't have to involve violence, simply acting against your understood allegiance to your country. If you want to split hairs, the Confederacy might more properly be called seditious, but either way it's highly punishable.

rushmc- That's part of the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, and thus not part of any legal standard. You may call it hypocritical, but no court would support you.

Why are we even arguing this?
posted by mkultra at 11:03 AM on January 6, 2003


but given how bad things have gotten in the old u.s.a. - article

i'm sick of this unamerican crap! - mcsweetie


Exactly mcsweetie!

Why do racist Publicans hate America so much?
posted by nofundy at 11:18 AM on January 6, 2003


treasonous? i just don't see it. this is just the same old 'good ole days' far-right propaganda.

punishable? what about dissenting speech? ignorant, innacurate speech is sill speech.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 11:30 AM on January 6, 2003


Thomas Jefferson addressed the issue of whether secession is treason when he said:

"If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form. let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

The war was to preserve the Union, which had become fractured on the issue of basic human rights central to its founding principles. (That the North had been, shall we say, selective in its conformance to those principles is another matter.) The south's secession may have been done for ugly reasons, but it's not in itself treasonable.

By the way, I think this statement, which he made in his first inaugural address, is one of the most important ever made by one of the founders of our country, and it's the first thing I think of when someone quacks "treason" at me for suggesting our form of government could stand an overhaul.

Treason doesn't have to involve violence, simply acting against your understood allegiance to your country.

Your definition is no more accurate. From section 3 of the Constitution:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Secession doesn't meet this definition of treason. Suppose, for example, that the US government had been undemocratically taken over by a vicious scumbag with the assistance of family cronies, some of whom abused the power of their offices to do it. If enough Americans stood with this usurper in his mission to (oh, just for example) dismantle the Constitution and essentially hand the nation, its laws and even its citizenry over to his wealthy supporters, then those who remained loyal to the principles of the United States might have no choice but to secede. This would not be treason by any definition.

(Not that I ascribe any such high motives to the Confederacy, mind you.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:30 AM on January 6, 2003


Exactly mcsweetie!

Why do racist Publicans hate America so much?


Gollum?

Treason doesn't have to involve violence, simply acting against your understood allegiance to your country. If you want to split hairs, the Confederacy might more properly be called seditious, but either way it's highly punishable.


And they were punished, but that does not mean it was treason or sedition. Have you read something that makes you believe the South believed they had no right to leave the union? What allegiance did they owe to a country that they no longer thought of as their own?
posted by thirteen at 11:32 AM on January 6, 2003


s/he said it was true that reconstruction caused many problems in racial relations, but silly to say it caused MORE problems than slavery itself.

Why is it silly? Slavery was terrible and wrong... no doubt. But slavery is an absolute; meaning that there either IS slavery or there IS NOT slavery. I don't think there is much room there for discussion on how much damage was caused by slavery. Slavery can't be better or worse... it just is (just was).

Reconstruction, on the other hand, was a clean up effort that wasn't conducted by any manuals or books, there wasn't anyone that could step forward and say "been there, done that". I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to consider the fact that the true damage to race relations... the damage that perpetuates and is handed down from one generation to the next, was born in the few decades following the Civil War.

Slavery, in it's strict definition, doesn't exist in this country anymore. But I'm pretty sure that some of the fall out of post-slavery America still does.
posted by Witty at 11:41 AM on January 6, 2003


OK, at the risk of completely hijacking this thread-

The people who founded the Confederacy did nothing treasonous by their rhetoric (same as you, George_Spiggott, are not treasonous for possibly wanting to overhaul the government). The moment they declared that U.S. land no longer was part of the U.S. and henceforth an independent nation, that made them Enemies of the State, which could be argued to be treason. Again, whatever, we're splitting hairs. How did we even get on this tangent?

thirteen- The people in the Confederacy were free to pack up their stuff and leave any time they wanted. When you seize land and take up arms against the government when they come to reclaim it, it's another story.

Oh, and I'm not sure how far back it goes, but the current Oath of Citizenship demands your allegience as a citizen, no matter what you happen to think of the country. It's the price you pay for not being overrun by barbarians from the north.
posted by mkultra at 12:09 PM on January 6, 2003


"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Thank you George_Spiggot! Let's take this to it's logical conclusion now.

Who fired the first shots? Uh huh, that's correct, the slave holders of the South. Wasn't that "levying war?"
So, by the legal definition found in the Constitution it most certainly WAS treason.

Apologists beware of defending the racists and their fallacious arguments regarding the Civil War. If you listen the next thing they'll tell you is that it was about states rights instead of slavery.
posted by nofundy at 12:14 PM on January 6, 2003


Apologists beware of defending the racists and their fallacious arguments regarding the Civil War. If you listen the next thing they'll tell you is that it was about states rights instead of slavery.

Not to make this about me, but go back and read my posting and see if you really think I was defending racists. I was addressing the topic of secession alone. I defend nothing about the Confederacy, whose vaunted "gentlemanly" way of life was paid for entirely with the misery of others.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:32 PM on January 6, 2003


thirteen- The people in the Confederacy were free to pack up their stuff and leave any time they wanted. When you seize land and take up arms against the government when they come to reclaim it, it's another story.

The early states were sovereign and independent. I do not think it can be said at that point that they surrendered their land to the whole. Certainly not in their hearts. Land settled after the Louisiana purchase could be claimed to possibly be Federal land, but I would disagree since the territories were settled over time and the boundaries were drawn as slowly. The purchase of the land by the government was of dubious legality, and the people living their were free to sell their land, so I think it is fair to say they owned it as far as the government was concerned. You are arguing from a perspective where divorce is forbidden. One person refusing to acknowledge that it is over does not hold it together. I freely admitt that this is no longer the case since the end of the Civil War, but I do not think this is a good thing. The government owns us all now, no question.
posted by thirteen at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2003


Apologists beware of defending the racists and their fallacious arguments regarding the Civil War. If you listen the next thing they'll tell you is that it was about states rights instead of slavery

Erm, that's what is was about, at least at first. Lincoln refused to advocate abolition until it was needed to galvanize northern liberal support.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 1:09 PM on January 6, 2003


OK, reframe my comment in the context of "control" instead of "owning". Regardless of who owns a piece of land within U.S. territory, it's subject to U.S. sovereignty, and all the bonuses and penalties therein. Besides, eminent domain is effectively built into the 5th Amendment, so ultimately, all your bases are belong to U.S.

One person refusing to acknowledge that it is over does not hold it together.

When that one person is a country and you're not, I'm afraid it does.
posted by mkultra at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2003


The early states were sovereign and independent.

Yeah, before the Constitution formed the Union! By early I suppose you mean during the Articles of Confederation days?

Lincoln refused to advocate abolition until it was needed to galvanize northern liberal support.

The Republican Party was founded on the platform of Abolition. The Democrats even tried to polarize voters by putting up Lincoln's old anti-Abolition opponent, Douglas! Granted he didn't Emancipate the slaves until into his term, but you are missing the whole point of the secession by ignoring the whole Abolition issue. Why would the Southern states give a crap about a Republican being elected if it weren't for the fear that an Abolitionist party candidate would tread on what they felt was their sovereign state rights... to hold slaves? Its not like Lincoln ran on an anti-cotton platform! Besides that, you are thinking of the election in terms of a modern election, in those days the Parties' platforms meant much more, a candidate couldn't get on TV or the radio and speak on his individual stance on a specific issue, he ran as his Party's man and the Republicans ran on Abolition and won.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:31 PM on January 6, 2003


More on point here, since when does the White House have to release some sort of statement on every statement made by every member of the President's party? Did Clinton have to hold a press conference every time Al Sharpton opened his mouth? The POTUS is not even the head of his party, he's the head of the executive branch!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:38 PM on January 6, 2003


rushmc- That's part of the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, and thus not part of any legal standard.

I never claimed it was. I was quoting it as a moral standard, and as the defining statement of the values upon which this nation was created.

If you listen the next thing they'll tell you is that it was about states rights instead of slavery.

Wow...have you studied the Civil War AT ALL??

More on point here, since when does the White House have to release some sort of statement on every statement made by every member of the President's party?

That was my reaction to the post as well. But I guess it is a reasonable expectation when Bush is the only one in the Republican party willing to exercise any authority or pretense of leadership. One expects a dictator to express an opinion (or a demand) on every issue that arises.
posted by rushmc at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2003


If you listen the next thing they'll tell you is that it was about states rights instead of slavery.

To many at the time the Civil War was over slavery. To the US government, however, the war was about the rights of the federal government to set import/export tariffs, regulate southern industry and tax state governments. Abraham Lincoln's primary motivation was to preserve the union:
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.(August 22, 1862, - letter to Horace Greeley, New York Tribune editor)
As was mentioned earlier, Lincoln only favored emancipation in order to gain political support from Northern liberals.

More to the topic: This essay doesn't strike me as racist. Period. I wish we could find a tape of W. saying something horrible so we can get rid of him, but using this essay to show racism in the republican party is a dangerous reach. Even though I'm a liberal I feel political correctness is a weak ideology that has only alienated the American populace. Should we restrict any new examination of the causes and consequences of the American Civil War?
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:27 PM on January 6, 2003


First, the article in question doesn't seem the least bit racist to me. Poorly written, yes. But racist? I don't see it.

Second, as Pollomacho noted, why would the President comment on this? It's entirely different from the Lott situation. This guy is a minor Congressman who made the comments to his supporters as historical conjecture. Guess what? He's conservative. He probably does think it's best for women to be stay-at-home moms. I don't agree with this, but its really not that radical of a view. In fact, I'd say a good portion of the country agrees with what the Congressman said, possibly Bush included. While I'm pretty much in the center politically, the rest of the nation is not as liberal as the Post or Metafilter.

Third, slavery and state's rights are more or less the same. Yes, slavery was terrible. But the argument was that it was the state's right (10th Am.) to decide whether to get rid of slavery. Now, there is a lot that can be argued against that - for instance, 1st amendment guarantees and voting laws, which are Constitutionally federal mandates, would seem to say that slavery was a federal issue. But it certainly wasn't clear cut. The Civil War was about slavery, but only a revisionist would suggest that that was all it was about, or even that slavery was the major issue driving the secession.
posted by Kevs at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2003


but only a revisionist would suggest that that was all it was about, or even that slavery was the major issue driving the secession.

the south's way of life was based on slavery. Abstractly, in principle, one can argue that the war was about state's rights, but when it comes to concrete practical matters, what that meant was the southern state's right to continue upholding slavery. There's really no getting around it.

witty, the point is, the damage caused by post-slavery clean up was ultimately caused by the previous existence of slavery! Reconstruction wouldn't have been necessary without slavery, obviously. Sure, maybe reconstruction was a failure in many ways, but it doesn't make sense to view that as the root of problems, and brush aside the fact that white people regularly bought and sold and raped and killed black people as merely a fact from the past that has no connotations.
posted by mdn at 3:55 PM on January 6, 2003


Those of you who are debating the causes of the Civil War might be interested in reading South Carolina's Articles of Secession. It does touch on the concept of states' rights, but mainly to discuss the right of the slave states to continue their abhorrent practice without outside interference.

Reconstruction is another topic about which misconceptions abound. James Loewen has written about it in his books, which are reviewed here and here. More intertesting comments on reconstruction can be found in The Atlantic Monthly from 1867.
posted by TedW at 5:08 PM on January 6, 2003


nofundy- i don't see anyone defending racism on this thread. being quick to dish out such labels isn't very fruitful.

i may be a yankee lib'rul through and through, but i fail to see the harm in discussing "what if the south had won" scenarios. when dealing with difficult subjects, why not accept that a lot of people are going to approach them awkwardly? plus, as in this guy's case, it can allow the hard-core kooks to clearly identify themselves.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 5:23 PM on January 6, 2003


I don't see the harm in discussing such scenarios either, but apparently hard-core kooks cannot, no matter how hard they try, identify themselves clearly enough to some people. Repeating:

When southerners say they have a special relationship with blacks based on many generations of living together at close quarters, they have a point. The real damage to race relations in the south came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won.

If you can't see the racism in this statement, what possible statement can you see racism in? Hint: the complete subjugation of members of one race by those of another is not healthy race relations! It's about as damaged as you can possibly get short of killing all of them! This isn't a case of somebody getting pilloried for the use of the word "niggardly," people. Sober thought experiments about the South winning the Civil War may very well exist but we are not looking at one of them here.
posted by furiousthought at 6:41 PM on January 6, 2003


I cannot prove this, but history supports it: Any social order founded on the brutal subjugation and systematic dehumanization of one group of people by another is going to end in blood and fire.

If the South had won the Civil War, it would have faced an internal conflagration, every bit as terrible, not many years further down the road.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:16 PM on January 6, 2003


As for the "state's rights/slavery, secession/treason" arguments, Plastic covers those pretty thoroughly, I think. (The "most contentious issue" links lead to the detailed discussions.)

If anyone cares for my opinion, I did think that the piece was filled with loaded rhetoric, key omissions, biased shorthand, and out-of-thin-air presumptions. Slavery is supposedly gone, but there's no mention of equality, "special relationship" be damned.

"The real damage to race relations in the south came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction"-- uh, really? Slavery was justified by the argument that blacks were inferior and undeserving of equal treatment, but the people who still harbor these feelings today got the idea from... postbellum legislation? Someone needs to explain that one.

And "appreciation of the differences between ladies and gentlemen" sounds suspiciously like "when women knew their place" to me.

"The North, with a large German population, might well have lined up with the Kaiser (the Irish would have liked that, too)" This is plausible... why?

Illogical? Yes. Deserving of a White House repudiation? Not necessarily. Contained entirely within the Republican Party? Of course not. Completely purged from said party? I really doubt it.

Basically, what gwint said: creepy, absurd and disappointing, but not particularly surprising.
posted by tyro urge at 10:16 PM on January 6, 2003


As regards the Irish, I think he's basing that opinion on the fact that we were neutral during both world wars, mainly to annoy Britain (which we were trying to break away from at the time). President DeValera even issued his condolences to the German embassy upon hearing of Hitler's death.

However, in reality, the Irish were mostly de facto supporters of the British in the second world war, and many Irish people fought voluntarily (when a draft existed elsewhere) and died for the Birtish Empire.

It pisses me off when people claim the Irish were pro-Kaiser/Hitler, just because we were NEUTRAL. I guess these damn swiss are all secretly pro-Nazi too.
posted by thedude256 at 5:44 AM on January 7, 2003


mdn: I'm not saying that slavery didn't cause ANY of today's problems. I also didn't say that Reconstruction was the root of the problem. Obviously, slavery was the root of the issue. I just wouldn't right off Reconstruction as a major player in today's racial issues. It's certainly not "silly".
posted by Witty at 8:59 AM on January 7, 2003


It's certainly not "silly".

reread the argument: it was that it's silly to say reconstruction was a bigger problem than slavery itself. The author of this piece suggests that reconstruction caused the problems of race relations, and that if the south had won, everyone would get along fine. As tyro notes above, he has a similar view about how things should be with women, which is to say, if everyone would just let white men be in charge, there'd be no problems! It is silly.
posted by mdn at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2003


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