I haven’t done one of these general News & Opinion links in a while. I came across some interesting stories this week, so I thought I’d share them.
Mitt Romney debates Martin Luther King, Jr. Romney doesn’t fare too well.
Before he dropped out of the presidential race, Rick Perry said at a debate that South Carolina is at war with the federal government. [Huffington Post] Since that wasn’t the first time Perry alluded to secession (for those who forgot, South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union at the start the Civil War), shouldn’t he be considered un-American?
Whether or not Jay-Z will stop using the word bitch in his music, would he need to do more? [Guardian] By the way, will he stop using “nigger,” too?
Administrators at a Utah high school reject the use of a cougar as its mascot because of the word’s meaning. Not the mountain lion definition, but the other “derogatory” definition. [SportsGrid]
South Carolina: “The non-slaveholding states … have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery” and “have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.”
Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. … There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union.”
Georgia: “A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia.”
(By the way, the Disunion blog on the NYTimes.com chronicles and analyzes the events of the Civil War as they happened 150 years ago. It’s fantastic!)
A couple of weeks ago on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore took on the folks who celebrate secession and think saying slavery caused the Civil War is politically correct. No, “It’s correct correct.”
If you know me, you know that I love history and that I truly believe having a complete understanding of history is important so we’re not doomed to repeat it (as the saying goes). Understanding and celebrating history, though, are two different things. So, the fact that several states are currently having Confederate History Month boggles my mind.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell came under fire earlier this month for leaving slavery out of his declaration of April as Confederate History Month. He apologized, put slavery in the new declaration and the story died shortly after that. I don’t think the controversy should have been about why was slavery left out of the Virginia declaration. The controversy should have been why is Virginia, as well as Georgia and Alabama, having Confederate History Month at all?
The Civil War wasn’t a noble struggle for states’ rights. The only state “right” the Confederacy defended was slavery. The Civil War was only about slavery. Defending slavery wasn’t just about perpetuating a the slave labor system (which, even if Lincoln hadn’t ended it, probably wouldn’t have been able to sustain itself anyway). It was about having a population that boosted slave states’ representation in Congress and the Electoral College. Even though slaves couldn’t vote, they counted towards 3/5 of person toward representation in Congress. Not only did that influence the passage of laws, it influenced the Electoral College which elects the president. Southern states seceded because they saw their voting power and economic way of life being threatened by abolitionists and the balance of power toward the free states in North. The balance of free and slave states was maintained by the Compromises of 1820 and 1850 and helped keep the Union together. But numerous events in the 1850s began to shake this fragile balance. One event was the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act which empowered the federal government to capture, try and return escaped slaves to their masters, even in free states. Slave-holding states didn’t care about “states’ rights” when it came to getting their slaves back.