Tuesday, December 27, 2011

There Are Better Ways

I'm working on this comprehensive and quite daunting (for me, at least) post on Ron Paul - on what I like about him and what overwhelmingly terrifies me about him. And then I run across this footage from this old video. Not old as in early-90's or 1980, when Paul's workers/self/whoever collaborated with racists and said some pretty awful stuff about blacks and teh gays even by anonymous Youtube commentator standards, but Tim-Russert-was-still-alive old.

It's about the Civil War and reparations. Not for the blacks who were tortured, raped, whipped, beaten, branded, cut open, savaged, utterly humiliated, who were treated like so much livestock. Who were forced to give birth to children only to have them ripped from them at or shortly after birth. Who were never extended decent civil or human rights that the US Constitution had guaranteed to every other person (read: male) within the confines of the United States of America. Who were not given validity of any sort in courts of law, not paid for their work or allowed a moment's rest, nor to have any freedom of their own.

No, not those folks...

  • RUSSERT: “I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. ‘According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.’”

The idea that the Civil War was fought to release slaves is a Northern Myth. It sure made me feel better about myself as a young Yank, all smug that "my side" was the right side, fighting for valor and justice and human dignity and all that stuff. But, seriously, we're adults now, right? Don't Russert and Paul know that the intention of Lincoln, et. al, was not, originally, to free the slaves? Don't they also know that the war started after several Southern states broke off from the United States to form their own confederacy?

Lincoln's intention was not to free the slaves; It was to keep the Union together. Slaves were a pawn in that game, as far as Lincoln was concerned, and would be used as a moral cover for the economic reasons of the war machine.

I hasten to add, though, that slavery was a major reason for the war from the Southern side even as it's end was not the fundamental reason for the war from the Northern perspective. None of the powerful elite were abolitionists for any moral reasons. They may be labelled loosely as abolitionists in broader terms, as abolishng slavery would help manufacturers competing for wage control in the North and help the North retain popular control in national elections and in the House. Additionally, politically both the North and South were already inolved in bloody wars expanding their powers in the Republic as they stretched out westward.

Though the moral abolitionists began to hold sway with the populace towards the beginning of the strife (helping to elect Lincoln himself), the elite's only concern with slavery was economic. Free wages are so much more damaging to the capitalists than cheap labor.

  • PAUL: “Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone to war.

First, the war wasn't started by Lincoln. The Confederacy, borne to maintain slavery, oppression, and White Supremacy as both an economic engine and a way-of-life, fired first. (Those terrorists!)

To me, all war is senseless. I, as usual, agree with him on this principal. But were the outcomes senseless? No. If you're going to take the horribleness of war, than you should at least have some good come of it. Or, as Ta-Neisha Coles has been saying, we make a big deal about the 600,000 White "brothers" who were murdered, but we tend to stay silent about the several million brothers and sisters who lived in murder.

  • He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was that iron fist…”

This, on the other hand, is the Southern Myth of the Civil War in action. It's familiar territory to anyone hanging around Republicans, Libertarians (especially of the Southern variety), and other assorted conservatives who've bought into the States' Rights rhetoric. But it's not true. That's another way to put the rights of Whites ahead of non-Whites. The most recent, majestically absurd and largess use of this has been in the anti-immigrant laws of Arizona and other Southern States. But we should really look back to the arguments used against "activist judges," "troubling Northerners," and "intervening Feds" surrounding the Civil Rights movement to see it in its full bloom. The truth is that the South started the Civil War in order to protect its way of life - slavery as an economic system, as a culture, as a means of control and dominance.

  • RUSSERT: “We’d still have slavery.”

Conjunctive history. We may or may not. But I can imagine we'd look a lot like the CSA. There were other ways of getting rid of slavery, for sure. But Paul's response to this is ludicrous and insensitive.

  • PAUL: “Oh, come on. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I’m advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. 

Slavery in Haiti was not "phased out." In fact, that was a bloody revolt. But then again, the French charged Haiti for their own independence - under which Haiti has been in heavy financial duress until this very day - because, you know, slaves are property and if you lose your property, then you should be compensated for it and all. But Rep. Paul wouldn't ever suggest such a thing, would he? Nah, that would be c-r-a-z-y. Like Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour racist and crazy type stuff. And this is the sensible and principled man we've all been subject to praise after praise about, right?

  • You buy the slaves and release them.

 Oh ****! Hoooly...

  • How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where the hatred lingered for 100 years? 

But see, Paul's mistaken. He believes that the Southern slave "owners" would have given up their rights to free labor for a price? That they would have given up their entitlement to own laborers and human "beasts" for a measly price? Seriously? Britain did away with it because they found it of little practical value for their work. The slaves in Barbados, etc, were revolting anyway and that was scaring them. And actual members of Parliament were also revolting against the slave trade and then slave ownership. These effects weren't really happening in the US. There was too much at stake for the Southern plantation owner and his ownership of prime Black men, women, and children. They would not have given up that easily unless they were absolutely forced to.

And people like Ron Paul wouldn't force their fine hands in such a result. Wouldn't want to hurt the property owner, now, would we?


  1. Anonymous10:29 AM

    I would like to point out that Ron Paul DOES realize Lincoln did not have the intentions of fighting a war just to end slavery. I personally wish Ron Paul DIDN'T talk about this time in history because it's only causing people to assess him as a president from that era. So, he would have handled slavery differently. Slavery is terrible! No matter how you deal with it, someone's going to be pissed off and hurt. That isn't going to happen in the next four years, so why are we judging him as a president now for something he would have done differently in a situation that doesn't exist?

  2. As Paul is well aware, I'm sure, history has a nasty habit of predicting, well, habits. Paul continues to bait Southern racist voters with this rhetoric and he has the horrible habit himself of comparing people to property. Although he may be against slavery, I wouldn't be convinced by his speeches on the Civil War (or Civil Rights, for that matter...)


Be kind. Rewind.