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Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Slavery, States Rights, & Secession

So, did the South secede from the Union in the years 1860 to 1861 because slavery was - perhaps - on the verge of being abolished?

Or did the eleven states that attempted to leave do so out of a conviction that their "states rights" were being trampled by the federal government?

Let's decide.

A popular argument sprang up across the South after the war ended in 1865 that fostered and supported the latter. That it was all about "states rights."  Most historians today go with the former.  That slavery was the issue.

I'm reminded of that ongoing debate by an op/ed in today's New York Times, written by Edward Ball:
Gone With the Myths

I can testify about the South under oath. I was born and raised there, and 12 men in my family fought for the Confederacy; two of them were killed. And since I was a boy, the answer I’ve heard to this question, from Virginia to Louisiana (from whites, never from blacks), is this: “The War Between the States was about states’ rights. It was not about slavery.”

I’ve heard it from women and from men, from sober people and from people liquored up on anti-Washington talk. The North wouldn’t let us govern ourselves, they say, and Congress laid on tariffs that hurt the South. So we rebelled. Secession and the Civil War, in other words, were about small government, limited federal powers and states’ rights.

But a look through the declaration of causes written by South Carolina and four of the 10 states that followed it out of the Union — which, taken together, paint a kind of self-portrait of the Confederacy — reveals a different story.

[W]e will likely hear more from folks who cling to the whitewash explanation for secession and the Civil War. But you have only to look at the honest words of the secessionists to see why all those men put on uniforms. [link]
Here's the deal: Is Mr. Ball right?  Was the prime mover that brought on secession the institution of slavery?  Without doubt.  But did Southern politicians in those tumultuous years justify their blocking national legislation (pertaining to slavery in particular, but on other issues as well; see "Tariff of Abominations" as a good example) and ultimately leaving the Union by citing states rights?  Without doubt.

In fact, both sides are right.  Slavery was the underlying issue that drove the South to (attempt to) go its own way.  "States rights" was the mechanism that was used to support the effort.  The fuse, the dynamite, and the match.

It's not an "either/or."  It's both.

But What If He Were a Muslim?

A Christian astronomer?  Does anyone doubt the fact that the University of Kentucky would have passed over him or her in its hiring regimen?  A Christian?

See "Astronomer Sues the University of Kentucky, Claiming His Faith Cost Him a Job" in this morning's New York Times. It's a story about a scientist who was allegedly rejected for a position with the university because he might be ... even worse ... an evangelical Christian!

Before I read it, having looked only at the headline, I thought the possibility of the professor's chances of prevailing in his lawsuit to be remote.  Having read the piece, though, his prospects of triumphing aren't all that bad.

In any case, the mindless bigotry of academia is on display once again for all to witness. 

The university.  Where the religion of global warming is dogma, apostates need not apply.

If Ivory Coast Can Do It ...

... we can do it:

Now. Today. Get out.

Bring It, Jimmy

There's blood in the water.  And the electorate is in a feeding frenzy.  How disappointing it will be if James Webb doesn't give us the chance in 2012 to bounce his liberal backside out of office, choosing instead to slither off into obscurity.

Virginians await the news:
Will Webb run again? Decision to come in early 2011
By Ben Pershing, Washington Post Staff Writer

Webb's decision on whether to run for a second term in 2012 could have a big impact on whether Democrats are able to hold his seat and even control the Senate, as the party braces for a bruising election cycle in which Democrats will have to defend more than twice as many seats as Republicans.

"I'm going to be sitting down with my family through this break," Webb said in a recent interview in his Senate office. "We're going to sort this out fairly soon. . . . We're looking to make a decision during the first quarter [of 2011], if I don't run, out of respect for other people." [link]
Let us help you decide, Jimbo.  Run in 2012.  We want to be able to provide you with some meaningful feedback on election day.

- - -

My favorite line in the WaPo piece:

"Senators just completing their first term in office aren't typically viewed as prime candidates for retirement, but Webb is anything but typical."

"Webb is anything but typical."  You'll always see, in an article about this guy, some iteration of that meme.  Always.  So what does it mean?  In less gentle, less couched, terms: He's weird.

And he's our United States senator.  Aren't we fortunate?

We Are At War

And the Democrats' (and the media's) biggest concern is over the way gays are treated by the military.

They rejoice today.

So do the Taliban.

About whom the same Democrats - who, as I recall, rejoiced with every setback in "Bush's  War" -  could give a shit.

For the love of God, get us out now.