22 April 2009

The Left's Hypocrisy Over Secession


"Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent defense of the 10th Amendment has unleashed a flood of liberal outrage. To our friends on the left, those who mention the word secession and federal government in the same breath are about as sophisticated as "beady-eyed stump jumpers" to quote from one of Mike Royko's old columns. In other words, only a knuckle-dragging right-wing extremist could find a way to oppose President Obama's benevolent and compassionate autocracy." So says American Thinker contributor, Ed Kaitz, Ph.D.



In recent days, we've seen the predictable hand-wringing and eye-rolling from the "incredulous" left over Perry's defense of the 10th amendment and Texas' alleged right to secede. Some Civil War blogs are also taking Perry to task and mocking him for daring to suggest that the constitutional principle of States' rights has any legitimacy in this federal nannyism, elitist, "we know better than you" age. Perry and his supporters are being accused of anti-Americanism and are being portrayed on some blogs as cartoonish buffoons. Yes, according to some on the left, only wild-eyed, Confederate flag-waving, "neo-Confederate" kooks ever bring up secession and/or the 10th amendment. So let's all have a good laugh and relegate Perry to the kook corner.

Not so fast. As Dr. Kaitz duly notes: "The modern secessionist movement however has been a mostly left-wing phenomenon."

And as I noted on another blog the other day:

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I do not think secession is a good idea, -at least no yet - :o) - but I believe its irrefutable that many of the Founding Fathers wanted it to remain an option . . . Furthermore, I remember quite clearly a number of liberal commentators and others suggesting secession was an option after the election of 2004:

“These sentiments were so pronounced that they migrated into the mainstream. Speaking on ‘The McLaughlin Group’ the weekend after George W. Bush’s victory, panelist Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer, noted that blue states subsidize the red ones with their tax dollars, and said, ‘The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government.’ A shocked Tony Blankley asked him, ‘Are you calling for civil war?’ To which O’Donnell replied, ‘You can secede without firing a shot.’”

The above quote is from Salon Magazine, 16 November 2004

Also, Bob Beckel who was, at the time, a Senior political analyst for Fox News and who has also worked as a Democratic Party strategist and consultant, made the following comments after the 2004 election:

“‘I think now that slavery is taken care of, I’m for letting the South form its own nation. Really, I think they ought to have their own confederacy,’ Mr. Beckel said on the ‘Fox and Friends” program.’”

The above quote is from the Washington Times, 9 November 2004

Are these folks neo-Confederates as well?
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And then there was the "Let's Ditch Dixie" piece that appeared in Slate Magazine after the 2000 election. That piece included these comments:

"The United States doesn't have to refight the Civil War to set matters right. Rather, North and South should simply follow the example of the Czech Republic and Slovakia: Shake hands, says it's been real, and go their separate ways. And if the South isn't inclined to leave anytime soon, then we should show them the door by seceding unilaterally."

And . . .

"Economically and socially, secession will be painless for the North. The South is a gangrenous limb that should have been lopped off decades ago." (How nice. Shows what many elites really think about Southerners, doesn't it?)

The author of the Slate piece was Mark Strauss, not someone who could be easily dismissed as some left-wing, hack-blogger. (Left-wing, yes. Hack, no.) He's a journalist and senior editor at Smithsonian Magazine and has written for a number of other left-leaning publications including The Washington Post and The New Republic.

But isn't it interesting that those criticizing Perry conveniently overlook those on the left who make the same secessionist threats when things don't go their way? I find it not only interesting, but quite instructive as well. The left's lack of credibility is always exposed by their double standard on just about every issue they discuss.

Kaitz, in the American Thinker piece, further observes:

"College campuses across America are breeding grounds for secessionists. In all my years in academia I've rarely seen Old Glory displayed proudly in an office or a hallway, but I've seen plenty of images of Che Guevara and Karl Marx. I even had to endure a life size portrait of Mao Tse Tung in a colleague's office for some years during graduate school. It comes as no surprise then that secessionists like Noam Chomsky are the favored speakers at our universities, not patriots like David Horowitz."

Kaitz concludes with these remarks:

"My guess is that if Texas does decide to secede, it will remain more 'American' than the ravaged carcass it will have left behind."

Evidently, the left is not really concerned about secession talk, as long as the political philosophy of those doing the talking is left-wing radicalism; which is where the real kooks are and where real anti-Americanism resides.

(You can read *the whole piece by Dr. Kaitz here. And for some interesting perspectives on secession, search Amazon's site.)

*As always, links to articles and other blogs/sites do not necessarily mean I endorse anything nor everything found there.

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In a related matter, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 51% of the American people view the growing "Tea Party" protests favorably. But those who opine that the modern Tea Parties are only about taxes are either grossly misinformed or dishonest. Also worth noting, Rasmussen says the "political class strongly disagrees" with the Tea Parties. What a surprise. Who is the "political class?" For the most part, elitists who populate government at all levels, Hollywood, and much of academia.

20 comments:

chaps said...

"Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer, noted that blue states subsidize the red ones with their tax dollars, and said, ‘The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government.’ "

Precisely the main cause of the War Between the States.

James F. Epperson said...

It is amusing to read all this rhetoric --- from both sides --- about secession. There is a minor problem: The Supreme Court, in Texas v. White (1867), held that secession was unconstitutional. Now, there is a lot to complain about in that decision, but it is on the books. Anyone actually trying to secede will be acting against established case law.

(PS: The hypocrisy of lefties who wrote wistfully --- albeit with tongue in cheek, I believe --- of secession in 2004 compares well to the hypocrisy of men like Henry Wise of Virginia, who supported secession in 1861, but fulminated against John Quincy Adams for daring to try and present a petition from constituents asking that the North secede from an unholy union with slaveholders.)

James F. Epperson said...

"Precisely the main cause of the War Between the States."

Not quite. That the main concern of the secessionists was slavery is borne out by the numerous documents to that effect. A selection can be seen on the website linked to my name.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"The Supreme Court, in Texas v. White (1867), held that secession was unconstitutional."

Since when does a Supreme Court ruling make law permanent? I certainly wouldn't bet the farm on an 1867 Court ruling!

I really don't think the lefties were writing tongue in cheek. I believe they would love to dump the South if they could.

chaps said...

Mr Epperson-

Southern leaders had a lot to say about preserving slavery, true enough. But ending slavery was not the prime reason that the North made war upon the South. They did it to preserve their revenue.

James F. Epperson said...

"But ending slavery was not the prime reason that the North made war upon the South." --- Absolutely true.

"They did it to preserve their revenue." -- Absolutely false. There is very little evidence that this was what drove the Federal response to secession. For one thing, the Northern consumer market was *much* larger than the Southern market, so would generate much more income from the tariffs.

Border Ruffian said...

Chaps-
"Southern leaders had a lot to say about preserving slavery, true enough. But ending slavery was not the prime reason that the North made war upon the South. They did it to preserve their revenue."
===============================

But that was only the tip of the iceberg.

The North profitted greatly from the 'Union' arrangement.

They dominated the import-export business. The principal export was cotton and the principal customer of imports- Southerners. Most of this business flowed through New York City.

They sold $250,000,000 worth of goods to the South (with an assist from the tariff). This was 15-20% of their total manufactures.

All of this dried up with the new arrangement- Southern Independence.

Results for the North- 6,993 business failures in 1861.
A record number to that date.
The Panic of 1857 was mild in comparison.

My analysis of those facts brings me to the conclusion that the war was to re-establish the old arrangement...and its profits.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

About your most excellent post ever, and you always have good ones. I'm blogging this one. Keep on standing for truth and justice!

Spencer

Border Ruffian said...

James F Epperson-
"There is very little evidence that this was what drove the Federal response to secession. For one thing, the Northern consumer market was *much* larger than the Southern market, so would generate much more income from the tariffs."
================================

It cannot be proven one way or the other who (North or South) purchased the majority of imported goods and thereby providing the majority of the revenue...but the origin of the exports and the port of entry for imports can be proven.

The South provided 2/3 of the exports (cotton, tobacco, rice, etc) but 80-90% of imports came through northern ports.

From this imbalance I can only conclude that Northern merchants were siphoning off a great deal of Southern wealth.

However you look at it -whether the South purchases the majority of imports or not- the South is getting the Shaft.

James F. Epperson said...

"They [the North] dominated the import-export business." --- Not sure what you mean. Most of the exports were Southern, of course, and most of the imports went to the North's larger market. Northern hulls did most of the carrying, which may be what you meant.

If 15-20% of Northern manufactures were sold South, then the South (based on its size) was not carrying its load as a market, since the South was about one-third of the country in population.

The notion that the North went to war over market share no doubt is a satisfying idea to some, but it flies in the face of the historical record, IMO. Prior to the attack on Fort Sumter, there was little enthusiasm for going to war, although there was some concern expressed for the commercial consequences of secession. After Sumter, there was a huge wave of enthusiasm to put down the rebellion. My conclusion from this is that the "insult to the flag" is what motivated people to make war on the South. (Incidentally, a friend of mine who is a minor author is of the opinion that firing on Sumter was the Confederacy's biggest mistake.)

James F. Epperson said...

"From this imbalance I can only conclude that Northern merchants were siphoning off a great deal of Southern wealth." --- How is this possible? If a great deal of Southern wealth is "going North," it has to be because folks in the South are making purchases of Northern goods. Who is to blame for that?

Arthur B. Breedlove said...

Mr. Epperson-

In regards to Texas vs. White, you wrote:

"Now, there is a lot to complain about in that decision, but it is on the books."

Yeah, like that the fact the Supreme Court was stacked with Lincoln appointees. Also, the decision came only after the Confederacy was defeated and the South remained under a military dictatiorship. Hardly an unbiased and objective decision by any standard.

You wrote:

"Anyone actually trying to secede will be acting against established case law."

Sir, where is it written that the Supreme Court is made the final arbiter on Constitutional matters? It has certainly arrogated to itself that power, but without the consent of the people. Both Madison and Hamilton denounced that assertion(that the Supreme Court was the final arbiter) in the Federalist papers. Jefferson even went so far as to say that the people would be living under despotism should the Supreme Court become the final authority on Constitutional matters.

Even your beloved Abraham Lincoln, made statements condemning such assertions.

James F. Epperson said...

The Supreme Court at the time of Texas v. White was not "stacked," it had the usual complement of judges. Many of them had been appointed by Lincoln, true, but that wouldn't have happened if the Southern judges hadn't resigned in 1861.

The popularity of the Supreme Court tends to correlate with its decisions. When it is issuing conservative [liberal] decisions, conservatives [liberals] love the Court. Otherwise, they don't.

My point in my post a few days ago was to point out that the decision is on the books, a fact that will complicate any modern secession attempt.

Arthur B. Breedlove said...

Mr. Epperson-

Your words:

"My point in my post a few days ago was to point out that the decision is on the books, a fact that will complicate any modern secession attempt."

I am quite clear on what point
you were trying to make. In response, I will pose this question yet a third time(Mr. Williams posed it the first time). Where is it written that the Supreme Court is made the final arbiter on Constitutional matters?

You write:

"The popularity of the Supreme Court tends to correlate with its decisions. When it is issuing conservative [liberal] decisions, conservatives [liberals] love the Court. Otherwise, they don't."

That is certainly the case now, however it doesn't begin to answer any of the major points of my post. If anything, it just reinforces my view that the Constitution shouldn't be at the mercy of idealogues. That is precisely what many of the founders feared would happen.

You write:

"The Supreme Court at the time of Texas v. White was not "stacked," it had the usual complement of judges. Many of them had been appointed by Lincoln, true, but that wouldn't have happened if the Southern judges hadn't resigned in 1861."

Again, how does this refute my main thesis that the Court was partisan? You admit that the court had "many" judges appointed by Lincoln. The fact that the Southern judges resigned does not detract from the principle of secession. Your comments reinforce my point that the South had little say in the matter.

You seem to have cherry picked my comments, while ignoring the rest. What about the statements made by prominent founders like Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson and later even Lincoln against the Supreme Court having the final authority?

Sir, are we at the mercy of an unelected tribunal? Is that your idea of republican liberty?

James F. Epperson said...

We are not at the mercy of "an unelected tribunal." The Court can only render a decision in response to a legal action being filed, and progressing its way through the court system.

Much of the Court's authority has indeed evolved over time. The Dred Scott case was, I believe, only the second time an act of Congress was struck down by the Court, and this had a lot to do with the animosity toward the Court at the time. (It didn't help that Taney's decision was so flawed.)

I don't have a problem with the Court, except for the views of some specific justices. I think we need to have an entity like the Court.

Arthur B. Breedlove said...

"We are not at the mercy of an unelected tribunal". The Court can only render a decision in response to a legal action being filed, and progressing it's way through the court system."

I am well aware as to how the Court renders it's decisions. However, the legal action filed in Texas vs. White was not intended as a challenge to the legitimacy of secession. It was instead a case concerning the status of Texas bonds. It was Salmon P. Chase who decided to turn it into a test case because of the absence of a Constitutional
Amendment forbidding secession.

"I don't have a problem with the Court, except for the views
of some specific justices. I think we need an entity like the
Court."
In none of my comments did I even suggest that the
Supreme Court should not have a role. My point was to
define it's PROPER role within Constitutional boundaries.
Should it be the final arbiter pertaining to Constitutional issues, and are they irrevocable? Questions you have yet
to provide any answer.

James F. Epperson said...

"Should it [the Supreme Court] be the final arbiter pertaining to Constitutional issues, and are they irrevocable?"

Yes and yes. (Caveat: No Supreme Court decision is truly irrevocable, because if the decision is sufficiently unpopular, it can be overturned by a Constitutional Amendment.)

Yes, Texas v. White was fundamentally about bonds, but the legal issues depended strongly on whether or not Texas was a state within the United States at the time, and that is why Chase rendered the decision as he did.

Border Ruffian said...

James F. Epperson-
"If 15-20% of Northern manufactures were sold South, then the South (based on its size) was not carrying its load as a market, since the South was about one-third of the country in population."=====

Believe it or not, the South did produce some goods for its own consumption. The rest was supplied either by the North or by imports (most of this through New York City). Still a 15-20% chunk is no small matter.

A decrease in sales usually results in a similar decrease in production and jobs.


JFE-
"The notion that the North went to war over market share no doubt is a satisfying idea to some, but it flies in the face of the historical record, IMO."=====

And to some 'fighting against slavery' and 'preserving the Union' are satisfying ideas. They look a lot better in the history books than plain old greed.

Market share was not the only item at stake for the North.


JFE-
"Prior to the attack on Fort Sumter, there was little enthusiasm for going to war, although there was some concern expressed for the commercial consequences of secession. After Sumter, there was a huge wave of enthusiasm to put down the rebellion. My conclusion from this is that the 'insult to the flag' is what motivated people to make war on the South."=====

In March 1861 the Federal government was strapped for cash. It had no money to wage war.

Then on March 29 Lincoln made the decision to reenforce Fort Sumter. Just a day or two before he had a meeting with a committee of New York merchants and bankers.

I wonder what was promised at that meeting.

"We learn through private sources that there are indications of a marked change of sentiment on the part of those connected with the great commercial interest of New York city. Heretofore that class have been the staunchest upholders of the pro-slavery policy of the Democracy....
But these great interests have become seriously alarmed at the present aspect of commercial affairs....By the adoption of a lower tariff of duties than is in force in the United States, foreign imports are likely to seek the ports of the seceding States, and the commercial supremacy of New York is seriously threatened. This is more than the flunkeys of that city bargained for or expected. The objection to enforcing the laws is daily growing weaker. The very men who clamored so lustily against their execution thirty days ago, now begin to ask, 'Have we a Government?' We shall be surprised if, within the next thirty days, the merchants of New York are not calling loudly upon the Administration to enforce the laws, to blockade the ports of the rebel States, to reinforce the forts, and to disperse the rebels who have taken up arms against the Federal Government."

Chicago Tribune, March 27, 1861

Border Ruffian said...

James F. Epperson-
"From this imbalance I can only conclude that Northern merchants were siphoning off a great deal of Southern wealth." --- How is this possible? If a great deal of Southern wealth is "going North," it has to be because folks in the South are making purchases of Northern goods. Who is to blame for that?=====

...then was the South wrong in trying to free itself from those connections?

James F. Epperson said...

"was the South wrong in trying to free itself from those connections?" --- I think so, yes. A man named Jefferson once wrote that revolutions should not be embarked upon "for light and transient reasons." If the reason for the South's rebellion in 1861 was that too much Southern commerce was flowing North, then ISTM this is the epitome of "light and transient reasons." But it is just my opinion.