Thursday, 19 January 2012

"Oh, Carry Me Back. . . "

Rick Perry went for the Confederate vote in the run-up to Saturday’s South Carolina primary by saying that the state was ‘at war’ with the federal government. Perry probably should have been born a couple of centuries back when that was literally true, but nostalgia aside, the message was pretty unmistakable: it’s time to revisit the idea of secession.

No accident, either, that Perry’s remark came after a question from the lone black guy, Juan Williams, about suppression of minority voting rights.

If Perry is playing General Beauregard firing on Fort Sumter, Obama has not yet shed his imitation of President Buchanan, the antebellum incompetent who did everything he could to appease the seditious southerners, to no avail. In the face of a nationwide campaign to subvert democracy by keeping unwanted voters away from the polls with photo-ID laws and the like, Obama and his fully complicit Democratic Party can’t bring themselves to name and shame it.

There has been a raft of book reviews and academic debates lately chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s evolving feelings about slavery and emancipation, and it’s disturbing to remember how the guy was dragged kicking and screaming to the historic Proclamation that ended the national shame only in the rebellious states (the slave-holding border states were exempt). It was only after the Civil War that the constitutional amendments codified minimum equality for all citizens, and nearly 200 years later the fight still isn’t over.

Today’s latest—Newt Gingrich’s announcement that he would ditch the annoying Constitution and ignore Supreme court rulings—is further confirmation that our nation is heading toward a new confrontation in which a rewrite of the verdict of the War between the States is on the table. The rebel states were forced to accept federal domination and recognize the human rights of former slaves until Reconstruction was abandoned under President Hayes and Jim Crow segregation began. Newt is saying we should repeat that happy history.

This is the real culture war of today—when the Republicans denounce the errors of the ‘60s, turns out they’re not referring to Woodstock. They mean the 1860s.

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