17 July 2008

Is Dr. Walter Williams a "Neo-Confederate"?

According to some hand-wringing, knee-jerk reactionaries, he is. Actually, he is the former chair of the economics department at George Mason University. Dr. Williams still teaches at George Mason. Dr. Williams is not exactly your typical defender of Southern Culture & Heritage. From his website:

"Dr. Walter E. Williams holds a B.A. in economics from California State University, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from UCLA. He also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Union University and Grove City College, Doctor of Laws from Washington and Jefferson College and Doctor Honoris Causa en Ciencias Sociales from Universidad Francisco Marroquin, in Guatemala, where he is also Professor Honorario. Dr. Williams is the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader's Digest, Cato Journal, and Policy Review . . . Dr. Williams has received numerous fellowships and awards including: Foundation for Economic Education Adam Smith Award, Hoover Institution National Fellow, Ford Foundation Fellow, Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor, Veterans of Foreign Wars U.S. News Media Award, Adam Smith Award, California State University Distinguished Alumnus Award, George Mason University Faculty Member of the Year, and Alpha Kappa Psi Award . . . Dr. Williams has participated in numerous debates, conferences and lectures in the United States and abroad. He has frequently given expert testimony before Congressional committees on public policy issues ranging from labor policy to taxation and spending."

Not quite your average, Confederate flag-waving, good ole' boy, huh?

However, Dr. Williams did write this recently on Townhall.com--one of the most popular, mainstream conservative sites on the internet:

"One of the unappreciated casualties of the War of 1861, erroneously called a Civil War, was its contribution to the erosion of constitutional guarantees of state sovereignty. It settled the issue of secession, making it possible for the federal government to increasingly run roughshod over Ninth and 10th Amendment guarantees. A civil war, by the way, is a struggle where two or more parties try to take over the central government. Confederate President Jefferson Davis no more wanted to take over Washington, D.C., than George Washington wanted to take over London. Both wars are more properly described as wars of independence."

(You can read the complete article here. The piece is also on Professor Williams's page at GMU here.)

Certainly not a politically correct view. Is Dr. Williams ignorant? Hardly. Uneducated? Hardly. Uninformed? Hardly. Unsophisticated? Hardly. (Well, maybe John Kerry would think he is.) Is he an apologist for the Confederacy and the Civil War's aftermath of prejudice and racism in the South, as well as the North? Hardly. Does he just write this type of commentary to placate those who hold power over him? Hardly. I believe that addresses all the excuses.

Dr. Williams is simply a man (born in Philadelphia by the way) who thinks for himself and couldn't care less what liberal academics think of his opinions. He's even earned their begrudging respect with his intellect and accomplishments. He refuses to follow their script and mold his views to fit their politically correct template. I've heard him debate various issues on different occasions (once in person) and he has quite a command of American history and economic theory. I've exchanged emails with him. Dr. Williams is a libertarian and I don't agree with all his views, but he is quite formidable and I know of no liberal intellectuals who could match him in a debate.


Steven said...

I am a GMU grad and used to listen in on his economics classes in the lecture hall back in the early 80s (he was one of President Reagan's economic advisors). His classes were always far more interesting than the ones I had signed up for!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Steven. I make a point to listen to Professor Williams whenever he subs for Limbaugh. I also had the privilege of hearing him speak at a local college a few years ago. He's great!