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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
“It is surprising that so many forceful anti-Negro views could be aired on the frontier and yet escape the scrutiny of so many historians. At the constitutional conventions of almost every western State, the single most pressing question was the admission or status of the black population. “Shall the territories be Africanized? Was the way Senator James Harlan of Iowa phrased it.
Both proslavery and antislavery delegates vied with each other in verbalizing their resentment of black people, and their insistence that equality was entirely unacceptable to white residents of the States. Some even jeopardized their State’s admission to the Union by offering anti-Negro laws that were in clear violation of the wishes of Congress. And, as the slavery controversy grew and civil war appeared more imminent, colorphobia increased in the western States.
The 1850 Indiana Constitutional Convention illustrated the fury of this colorphobia. One delegate argued:
“…that we can never live together upon an equality is as certain as that no two antagonistic principles can exist together at the same time.”
Comments at the 1844 Iowa Constitutional Convention:
“We could never consent to open the doors of our beautiful State and invite [the black] to settle our lands.”
“The ballot box would fall into his hands and a train of evils would follow that would be incalculable.”
“The Negro not being a party to the government, has no right to partake of its privileges.”
“There are strong reasons to induce the belief that the two races could not exist in the same government upon an equality without discord and violence.”
The Iowa Journal of History, Vol. I
(The Black West, William Loren Katz, Open Hand Publishing, 1987, pp. 49-50)
Free Soil Without Black People
What Americans, and President Obama, can learn from the Great Migration South.
I’m a Jersey boy. I was born there, went to high school and college there, and assumed I’d spend the rest of my life there. But though I loved the people and food, the Jersey Shore summers, and short rides through the Lincoln Tunnel to Broadway shows and Madison Square Garden, I gave it all up and moved south. Very far south. I’m not alone.
According to the latest Census figures, and stories in USA Today, the Associated Press, and elsewhere, the South was the fastest growing region in America over the last decade, up 14 percent. “The center of population has moved south in the most extreme way we’ve even seen in history,” Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau, said a few months ago.That migration wasn’t limited to white Yankees like me. The nation’s African American population grew 1.7 million over the last decade — and 75 percent of that growth occurred in the South, according to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. What those stories and studies failed to report were the reasons propelling that migration. The economic and cultural forces driving this migration south have been ignored by the press. And by the Obama administration
So I figured this Jersey boy who now calls Oxford, Mississippi, home could explain why. This Yankee turned good ol’ boy could explain the pull — no, the tug — of the South.
“Have you lost your mind?” is the refrain I heard over and over from friends up north when I told them the news. It was as if I’d just told them I was moving to Madagascar.
I then explained the move. I started with some humor. I explained that we have electricity in Mississippi. And indoor plumbing. We even have dentists. I told them we have the internet in Mississippi. And cable TV. I told them I travel a lot, and Memphis airport has planes, too.
I then told them about the quality of life in Oxford, and how far a dollar stretches. And the ease of doing business. When I show them pictures of my house, and get around to my property taxes, things get positively somber. On a home valued at $400,000, my tax tab is $2,000. My parents in New Jersey pay $12,000. And for a whole lot less house. On no land. When I remind friends about the pension liabilities they’ll be inheriting from the state unions, things get downright gloomy.
I then explain that my work is mostly done by the phone or internet. So where I live has little bearing on how much I earn. But it has a whole lot to do with how much I keep.
Having disposed of the economic arguments, I knew that one big question lurked: “Okay, Lee, but what’s it like living with a bunch of slow-talking, gun-toting, Bible-thumping racists?”
My friends didn’t use those exact words, but I knew it’s what they were thinking. I knew because I thought the same thing about the South before I moved here. Most of what we Yankees know about the South comes from TV and movies. Think Hee-Haw meets Mississippi Burning meets The Help and you get the picture.
But my own prejudices bore little resemblance to the reality I encountered when I moved south. I fell in love with the place. With the pace of life, for openers. Things got done, and done well, but it always seemed as if people had time for one another.
Though I’d never owned a firearm, I learned that the locals took personal protection into their own hands, knowing that a call to a county sheriff wasn’t a solid defense strategy. I also learned how much fun it was to shoot stuff, from targets to tin cans to turkeys.
The Bible thumpers proved to be more caricature than anything. The people I met didn’t impose their religion on me. They tried to live by the standards of their faith. Sometimes they did; sometimes they didn’t. But the pervasive pursuit of those standards made the South a better place to live.
Remember when Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to introduce his American Jobs Act, exhorting them on national television to “pass this bill immediately”? Obama used that phrase in various forms 17 times despite the fact that he didn’t actually have a bill to present to Congress until a week later. And as far as all but two members of Congress are concerned, the bill itself may as well not exist. No co-sponsors have added their names to either the Senate or the House version even after more than a week, although readers have to dig a ways into the Washington Post report to find that out:
Neither bill has attracted any co-sponsors.
And, earlier this week, Reid said that the Senate would not take up the bill when it returns from a short recess. Instead, it would first take up a measure to punish China and other nations for currency manipulation. That bill, in keeping with the Democrats’ strategy, is meant to help several individual senators in manufacturing states, where competition from China is blamed for local job losses.
What about the jobs bill? “We’ll get to that,” Reid told reporters.
Anyone in either chamber can add their name to the bill as a co-sponsor. It’s not as if there are only a couple of Democrats in Congress. The House has 193 Democrats, 192 of which apparently don’t want to be associated with Obama’s job-creation track record. Democrats control the Senate with 51 members and two independents, although on this legislation it looks more like one Democrat and 52 independents.
There are many who argued that The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
I retort that this is not by any stretch of the imagination always true. Sometimes, the enemy of your enemy just means you have two enemies. My reluctance to get involved in championing the "Occupy Wall Street" movement has to do with what I consider to be an essential first determination of which of these two principles is more-likely to be correct.
After all, supporting one is good. Supporting the other is suicidal.
That there is no "cohesive set of demands" may be a good thing, if it's real. The problem is that I'm not sure this is the case. Among some of the "looney tunes" demands I've heard include:
- A $20/hour minimum wage.
- The right to receive it irrespective of whether you work.
- Cancellation of student loan debt (Note: Not bankruptcy discharge, which I support - just flat cancellation without consequence to the borrower.)
- Tariffs to stop wage and environmental arbitrage (good) and wide-open borders (horrifyingly bad and flatly impossible given the first two demands.)
- A right to a college education (not an aspiration, a right - which means irrespective of ability. How has this worked out for our High Schools when we forced everyone, including those who are on the lower end of the bell curve in intelligence, into "mainstream" classrooms? It's been an unqualified statistical disaster.)
Add up all the above and you have a thinly-disguised attempt to demand Communism.
Not socialism - communism.
From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
That not only won't work, it will destroy what's left of America and give rise of a dictatorship from the smoldering ruins of the collapse.
On the other hand we have demands that make perfect sense, such as:
- Prosecute the banksters.
- Your kids (and those not yet born!) are being told they'll have to bail out the crooks.
- The "99%" are against those robbing the nation.
So here's the deal, as I see it.
If the so-called "Tea Party" is going to mean anything at all then it has to get in the middle of this debate and protest movement right now and amplify the voice that represents common ground.
There's a lot of that common ground. The messages we the people must send are:
- Stop the looting and start prosecuting. Not protesters, banksters. Right now. Fraudclosure, fraudulent lending practices, fraudulent securitization, fraudulent accounting here and abroad. It all must end right now with prosecution both for past and forwardly-committed financial scam sins.
- We will not pay for the bailouts and handouts. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever. Nor will our children and those not yet born. We will withdraw consent through our cessation of taxable work product if the government refuses to meet this demand and claw back every nickel of the transfers it already made. That response is lawful and is, in fact, exactly what happened in Egypt. We will bring it here.
- We are the 99%. Yes, some of us are liberal and some of us are conservative on social issues. On this issue - the rule of law - we are united and we stand as one. This crap stops right now; we'll fight about the other issues later.
- There is a process for unpayable debts and it's constitutional. It's called bankruptcy and it must be available to all with unpayable debts. Period. This means medical debt, it means student loans and it means mortgages. All debts. If you want a demand that will collapse the bankster BS game, that's the one. You shouldn't get off if you borrowed foolishly but neither should the lender who lent you money they either knew or should have known you couldn't repay. No bailouts and no handouts on either side of the ledger.
- We know that pulling the deficit spending and "supports" from under the banksters and housing will cause an economic contraction worse than the 1930s. We know the pension funds are levered up with bank debt that must be haircut severely and that stock prices will fall precipitously if financial institutions are forced to tell the truth and "easy credit" is removed. WE NOT ONLY KNOW THIS, WE ACCEPT IT AND DEMAND THAT IT HAPPEN RIGHT NOW ANYWAY. Why? Because we are Americans. We make mistakes. We accept the possibility of bankruptcy for ourselves when we make mistakes but we demand that the jackass on the other side of the desk gets the same punishment for making a bad loan we get for taking one out. We want to buy houses when they're cheap just like we want to buy DVD players when they're cheap. We want American industry to provide jobs, not jobs for Chinese who were tending rice-paddies with the "profits" flowing to executives while Americans go jobless on the dole. We accept that realignment and re-industrialization of America will be painful but the fact remains that wealth disparity that comes from ripping people off is bad while wealth disparity that comes from being inventive and industrious is good -- the latter is how we make progress and the latter are the people who we want to have the money to hire us, not the former!
- We demand that the "cheap money" policies, which in fact are really nothing more than bailouts and handouts across the board along with protectionism for the bankster class and those who offshore jobs, end right now. This means no more negative real interest rates anywhere on the curve and a true zero inflation target with criminal penalty teeth in the law. We're prepared to back this up with the sort of durable protest that we see in NYC and elsewhere and we will expand it as we're able and as is required until the above demands are met.
- We demand tax reform that results in nobody getting a free ride and nobody having loopholes they can exploit. Whatever we do for a tax system the instructions must fit on one 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and be presumptively correct under law when followed. Your "return", if you have to file one, must fit on a postcard. Corporate taxation must be similarly simple and presumptive. We demand that the government bring in via taxes every dollar it wishes to spend in programs in the present tense, not borrowing from the future. We can and will have the debate over exactly what those services are in the public square, as we should, and render our opinions in the voting booth. We will not tolerate one more day of deficit spending. Period.
I don't see anything here that the "Occupy Wall Street" folks could disagree with. Maybe I'm wrong - but if I'm right, these seven points should be what we preach - and what we stand for.
WHERE IS THE TEA PARTY WITH THESE SEVEN POINTS -- SEVEN POINTS THAT, PART OF THE EXISTING PROTEST AND AMPLIFIED, BACKED BY MILLIONS IN THE STREETS WHO PEACEFULLY PROTEST AND REFUSE TO STAND DOWN, WE CAN BRING TO THE FORE AND MAKE HAPPEN IN THE PRESENT TENSE?
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.
A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it."
"If you want the government to intervene domestically you’re a liberal, if you want the government to intervene abroad you’re a conservative, if you want the government to intervene both domestically and abroad you’re a moderate, and if you don’t want the government to intervene either domestically or abroad you’re an extremist."
Nationally-known Fox News contributor, columnist, and blogger Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs has picked up the story of the Gunwalker scandal, stating today on her blog, "This makes Nixon and Watergate look like a prank."
Geller's comments came in response to the Obama Administration's release of certain selected records last evening, indicating numerous contacts between the former Agent-in-Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division and the White House.
The documents show that contrary to previous White House statements claiming that no one in the Executive Branch knew anything about the illegal scheme, also known as 'Operation Fast and Furious,' the White House was actually in constant contact with the alleged perpetrators of the scandal in the Phoenix Field Office.
"The history of the Revolution is written as if those who were fighting it were striving to achieve a strong central government for Americans. This is a lie promoted during the 19th century.
It was true of some Revolutionary soldiers like Hamilton and Marshall. But it was not true of John Taylor, James Monroe, and St. George Tucker of Virginia, Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, or James Jackson of Georgia.
These and many others had fought the Revolution to get out from under a government that was levying taxes and sending troops and bureaucrats to restrict the liberty and prey on the property of Americans.
They did not want to establish a government that had too much power and was too remote from the people even if it was an American government.
And, while New Englanders who had served three inactive months in the militia lined up to claim federal pensions for Revolutionary War service, the Southerners refused to accept money taxed from the people for doing their duty.
Dr. Clyde N. Wilson, speaking of North Carolinian Nathaniel Macon and his time.
My friend Daniel J. Flynn is publishing a book called Blue Collar Intellectuals. One chapter I’ve seen in proofs, “The People’s Professor,” got me to thinking about a development in post-WWII America it is hard to imagine taking place in the present age.
After the war, large numbers of Americans suddenly began to order the classics—ancient and medieval as well as modern—for their bookshelves. At some level, postwar Americans valued what they understood to be the funded wisdom of the ages. Still, an estimated fifth or more of the buyers of “classics collections” never opened the volumes and simply attached importance to having them around. Publisher and book critic Clifton Fadiman joked about people flaunting new editions of such ancient scientists as Apollonius, Nicomachus, and Ptolemy.
To capitalize on this trend, Robert Hutchins, Mortimer Adler, and William Benton—an ad tycoon who was a one-term Democratic Senator from Connecticut—launched an elaborate for-profit project to awaken enthusiasm for the “great books.” Adler, with some assistance from Benton, who was then also producing the Encyclopaedia Britannica, managed by 1952 to put together and market the Great Books of the Western World series. At the same time Adler and Hutchins integrated their business venture into the undergraduate curriculum at Chicago, and professors such as Leo Strauss were brought there to teach the featured works. Adler modeled this approach to learning on the Great Books Program—pioneered by such renowned educators as John Erskine and Mark Van Doren—that Columbia had introduced decades earlier.“After World War II it seemed chic to at least appear to know something about the humanities.”
As a businessman Adler had to deal with an earlier “great works” collection against which his project would be competing—the Harvard Classics that had been assigned to Harvard students for decades. But Adler marketed his collection better. It was longer than the Harvard Classics, came with abridged versions of the windier texts, and it looked great on socially ascending Americans’ shelves. Adler put his collection of old works into the homes of hundreds of thousands of consumers, marketing it shamelessly though any print or electronic medium then available. And everywhere he played up the snob value of owning and displaying the Great Books.
Leo Strauss and his followers must be understood in the context of this craze for the classics. Strauss and the Straussians did not create the trend but with Adler, they rode it to success. The trend may have been driven by postwar America’s longing for cultural continuity. At that time Americans saw themselves standing athwart two forms of totalitarianism—Nazism and communism—while representing some kind of “Western heritage.” For them, “the West” did not come down to a pluralist experiment or some boilerplate about human rights. Interest in “great books,” and even the ones that were unread, overlapped other trends such as revived interest in natural-law theory (which Adler, who became an Anglo-Catholic, promoted) and an obsession with the dangers of “relativism.”
Why did this popular passion for “great books” eventually dwindle? I believe it did not suit most educators, who were narrowly specialized or fixated on political agendas. Why should a professor who knows zilch about the humanities have to teach something he never studied? During my graduate-school years at Yale in the mid-1960s, foreign-language students were more into Marxist or postmodernist theories than the received national literatures they were supposed to be absorbing. If you read the Hungarian communist Georg Lukács, it advanced your career more than reading Goethe, Racine, or Cervantes. An English professor of deep Southern origin once explained to me that while teaching Shakespeare, it dawned on him that we learn more about social justice via Maya Angelou than Elizabethan texts. Core curricula at most colleges no longer provide any serious exposure to the humanities. To the extent that modern instructors present anything other than writing mechanics, it is typically about popular entertainment or designated victim groups’ suffering.
At least one university (Chicago) and several colleges—St. John’s in Annapolis, St. John’s in Santa Fe, and Thomas Aquinas College in California—have continued teaching the classics at the undergraduate level. But most of these programs are run by those providing a specifically Straussian reading of the assigned texts.
By the 1960s Straussians established themselves at many institutions as the authorized teachers of great political works. Strauss and his disciples claimed to be able to find “secret meanings” in classical texts, allegedly ascertained by reading dead white males through the proper filter. Most of the authors they taught were, like the Straussians, religious skeptics. Although one should not dismiss everything that Strauss wrote, he bequeathed to his students—and to their students—a cultish way of approaching texts.
By a process of elimination, those who stay in the field think and teach like their predecessors. The Straussians are far from alone in driving away prospective humanities students. They may in fact be among the least offensive ideologues in a field that has been overrun by them. Other approaches may be even more deadly—for example, listening to a feminist or homosexual professor furnish a “sensitive” reading of a particular text. This may have been a turnoff for many who might otherwise have grooved on such works. Students with differing perspectives, or so I’ve been told, look elsewhere for things to study when they encounter the “usual Straussian grid.”
After WWII it seemed chic to at least appear to know something about the humanities, and people decorated their homes with bound volumes of the classics the way college students now paste rappers’ pictures onto their dormitory walls. During my adolescent years, we made fun of all the “culture vultures.” But for all their posturing and tasteless decor, these nouveaux riches look admirable in retrospect.