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View Diary: "As a Black Man Like You": Six Words From Barack Obama at Morehouse That Enrage Conservatives (61 comments)

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  •  Very disapointing Chauncey (0+ / 0-)

    I gave you credit for more intellectual vigor than this. Evidently you'd rather ignore or dismiss any data that contradicts your preferred narrative rather than grapple with the questions they raise. There are many ways to describe such an attitude but empirical isn't among them.

    This attitude has led you into a fundamental incoherence in your argument. You are now talking about American democracy as a "work in progress" whereas your initial claim was that "The United States was designed and intended as a White Republic." Are you actually prepared to argue that these are equivalent propositions? The former implies an evolving, ambiguous and contradictory process. The latter asserts an intentional design from the country's inception. I have no disagreement with the first and it really has nothing to do with the second, which is the assertion that I challenged.

    If you now want to argue that US was structured in stages, over time, as a white supremacist republic, I'd say you're on firmer ground but that is not the same thing at all as your initial claim.

    Moreover, you've fallen into misrepresentation:

    If black people were full citizens in the republic why then did they need the 14th amendment? Come now. Sometimes I think you are playing just to get attention and to be contrary.
    I made no such argument. My argument is that the status of black people in the Republic was not a settled question, either politically or legally, from the founding up through civil war. Had it been otherwise, as you claim it was citing Taney's opinion, it would be difficult to explain how Dred Scott's case ever got to the Supreme Court, since, if you were correct, he would have had no standing to bring suit in the first place.

    You've also lapsed into anachronistic argument. You  cite immigration laws that didn't even exist at the time of the nation's founding. Indeed, that didn't come into existence until well after the Civil War.

    I could go on but since you've indicated that you find such points tedious I won't bore you further.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Tue May 21, 2013 at 03:18:16 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Again, I try to be helpful and honest (0+ / 0-)

      "This attitude has led you into a fundamental incoherence in your argument. You are now talking about American democracy as a "work in progress" whereas your initial claim was that "The United States was designed and intended as a White Republic."

      1. You will not engage any of the cogent claims I have made.

      2. I think this is a result of different understandings of what the professional practice of history is.

      3. Your lead was just dismissive and a bit trollish. I have tried repeatedly to be fair and engage you; alas, that has not worked.

      4. The above quote by you lacks so much nuance that I do not know where to begin. One last time. I will try again. The U.S. is very much a work in progress in terms of the expansion of democratic rights and liberties to different groups. As a "historian" I would assume you would grant that most basic of facts. Please explain how I am wrong.

      For its founders and by design "democracy"--thus the repeated use of the phrase "herrenvolk"--was intended as an exclusionary white republic. They saw no contradiction between your/own contemporary understanding of that concept as inclusive and pluralistic and country that was de facto and de jure one predicated on white male supremacy. Again, I have given you the resources and tried to in simple terms explain some of them. Read any of the books I have suggested. Alternatively, reread Olson more carefully and/or read through the parts that you dismissed because they cannot be reconciled with your erroneous understanding of America as not being a racial state.

      I do have to admit that your not engaging the obvious fact about the 14th amendment is funny though. If America was not founded as a white republic why then did you have to a class of people read back into the polity by an amendment to that same document written many decades before? Are you a liberal tea party strict constructionist the constitution is perfect and handed down by god sympathizer and as such I carry a copy of it in your back pocket? :)

      5. As a day-to-day matter the status of black people in the eyes of the law was that to be black was to be uniquely suited for the status of human property. Was there resistance? absolutely. Was the dominant consensus that blacks were not citizens, yes. It took decades of struggle and a civil war to just get to the 13th and 14th Amendments. And even then a century or more of Jim and Jane Crow.

      You keep coming back to Dred. Taney's proclamation summed it up pretty damn well--black people have no rights that whites are bound to respect. If you reject the premise of racialized citizenship as standing law and a fact, read the 1870 immigration law I suggested.

      Read the decisions in the Ozawa and Thind cases which further narrowed how non-whites were excluded from citizenship and thus membership in the polity.

      To remind you, again given that you are so resistant to admitting another basic fact here, by way of Dred one of the whole points and implications of the case was that "free" blacks were assumed not to be unless they could prove otherwise regardless of where they lived in the U.S. Thus, the tragedy of free blacks being kidnapped and dragooned by slave catchers back to the South.

      •  Doubt it will do much good (0+ / 0-)

        but since you've taken the time I will take the time.

        1. You will not engage any of the cogent claims I have made.
        False. For example, I responded directly to your assertion about Taney's opinion. You choose to ignore the response.
        2. I think this is a result of different understandings of what the professional practice of history is.

        l distinguish between the study of events in their contemporary context and myth making in the service of post hoc political agendas, if that's what you refer to.

        If someone has given you the idea that the only problem with the methods of white supremacist and eurocentric historians is that they serve the wrong political values, I'd say they've done you a great disservice.

        3. Your lead was just dismissive and a bit trollish. I have tried repeatedly to be fair and engage you; alas, that has not worked.
        No more so than your suggestion that I hadn't read the Constitution. That was neither "fair" nor engaging, "alas".
        4. The above quote by you lacks so much nuance that I do not know where to begin.
        It's hard to know which quote this refers to since your claim to which I objected is hardly an example nuance. Your latterly shift I addressed in detail, though you choose to ignore it.

        The rest is assertion based on the same old appeals to authority. You make much of your expertise drawn from the study of such. How is it that you can't cite a response that would answer the two specific points I raised in my first post? You've talked around them but you haven't really responded to them directly at all.

        This has some substance though:

        I do have to admit that your not engaging the obvious fact about the 14th amendment is funny though. If America was not founded as a white republic why then did you have to a class of people read back into the polity by an amendment to that same document written many decades before? Are you a liberal tea party strict constructionist the constitution is perfect and handed down by god sympathizer and as such I carry a copy of it in your back pocket? :)
        Very well. Let's look at what the amendment actually says.
        Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  
        You will note that it makes no reference to any specific class of individuals other than naturalized citizens. What it does, for the first time, is establish a Constitutional definition of citizenship and asserts the supremacy of that definition over any state authority. The Amendment served a number of purposes but a primary purpose was to render void Taney's opinion in Dred Scott. As you will know from readimg the decision, Taney's opinion was not based on an existing Constitutional definition of citizenship but on the absence of any such definition.

        In short, the amendment altered nothing in the existing text of the Constitution. It simply mooted Taney's attempted Interpolation.

        I don't suppose this will sway you. You don't seem place much store in the actual wording of documents. An odd thing in a historian.

        5. As a day-to-day matter the status of black people in the eyes of the law was that to be black was to be uniquely suited for the status of human property.  
        Except, of course, in the jurisdictions where slavery was illegal.
        You keep coming back to Dred. Taney's proclamation summed it up pretty damn well--black people have no rights that whites are bound to respect. If you reject the premise of racialized citizenship as standing law and a fact, read the 1870 immigration law I suggested.
        Whereas you keep ignoring the obvious. If Taney's opinion had been the ruling legal consensus of the day, Dred Scott would never have come before the court. Nor would Taney have been excoriated, as he was, for reversing some 60 years of legal precedent in his ruling.
        Read the decisions in the Ozawa and Thind cases which further narrowed how non-whites were excluded from citizenship and thus membership in the polity.
         

        This makes as much sense as arguing that the 13th and 14th amendments "prove" that US was intentionally designed to be a racially egalitarian republic, which is no sense at all.

        To remind you, again given that you are so resistant to admitting another basic fact here, by way of Dred one of the whole points and implications of the case was that "free" blacks were assumed not to be unless they could prove otherwise regardless of where they lived in the U.S. Thus, the tragedy of free blacks being kidnapped and dragooned by slave catchers back to the South.
        I'm afraid you've fallen into misrepresentation once again. Where have I resisted this point? I don't believe I've addressed it at all. In fact, I seem to have completely missed where you brought it up previous to this.

        I regret that there seems no room for give and take in this exchange.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:42:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  see my comment below w. articles (0+ / 0-)

          from your Constitution. I said I wouldn't continue. I am actually curious about where your gross misunderstandings come from. This is an exercise in political theater for you and not serious historiography. Entertaining still.

    •  WB, I tend to agree with Chauncey on this... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves

      issue. You are right the Constitution at ratification didn't specifically disenfranchise African-Americans or deprive them of other rights.

      That's because our 2d class status was considered self-evidently true.
      It wasn't seen as the sort of controversial topic the necessitated specific Constitutional language to provide clarity.

      I don't know if the phrase "White Supremacist settler society" rankles but it shouldn't. Ask a Native-American whether that description is apt.

      •  and I agree, but yes the Constitution (0+ / 0-)

        did specifically single out black people as uniquely subjected to slavery, 3/5th clause, extended the end of the slave trade so that white southerners could recoup their "losses", and had specific language about slave runaways.

        I don't get WB's anxiety about this. I do hope he is not a constitutional or Framer fetishist. The real history is far, far, far more interesting than the lies taught to children.

        •  You really shouldn't make innacurate claims (0+ / 0-)

          about what's in the Constitution. It undermines your credibility. You'd do a lot better if you recognized the distinction between de facto and de jure.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:24:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, I remember your sophistry now (0+ / 0-)

            We did this before. You actually believe that the 3/5th clause did not refer to black Americans held as slaves. You are practicing silliness at this point. I am reminded of why I stopped engaging you. Are you really a properly trained "historian?" At this point your observations sound like something out of that Barton-Gingrich-Beck school.

            You need to read a solid history book that covers some of these matters and their context starting with James Hope Franklin.

            Again, from your own perfect Constitution. Article One, section 9:

            "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person."

            There are several clauses dealing with slavery in the Constitution.

            "No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due."

            That is your fugitive slave clause.

            We can continue if you like. Again, why such a resistance to self-evident facts? What is in the game for you on these matters? Are you offering up the intellectual and philosophical support for the liberal racist crowd here at the Daily Kos with this intentional white washing and misreading of history? Is that your meta game?

            •  Did you mean John Hope Franklin? (0+ / 0-)

              Couldn't find any James Hope Franklin.

              Dr. Franklin was certainly a titan but I don't think either of us can claim his posthumous imprimatur.

              We did this before. You actually believe that the 3/5th clause did not refer to black Americans held as slaves. You are practicing silliness at this point. I am reminded of why I stopped engaging you. Are you really a properly trained "historian?" At this point your observations sound like something out of that Barton-Gingrich-Beck school.
              This was never my point. You're free to disagree but it would be better to have an accurate idea of what it is you're disagreeing with. My point was the unremarkable observation that the Constitution is  a legal as well as a political document. Like a contract or any other legal form it must be read as such. Like such documents, what it doesn't say is as significant as what it does say.

              My original observation was entirely correct in that the passages cited make no explicit reference to race, slavery, human property or life time servitude. Does this mean that the passage has nothing to do with realities of slavery? Of course not. What the absence of such terms does mean is that, as a matter of law, none of them are granted constitutional standing. This is the distinction between de jure and de facto: matters of law and matters of fact.

              I understand that you don't consider this to be a significant distinction. I tell you frankly that you are wrong. This distinction had profound material consequences for the historical development of the US and for the struggle against slavery.

              If the Constitution had explicitly recognized the standing of property in slaves, there could have been no free states for the obvious reason that abolition would have been unconstitutional. It follows that there could have been no legal movement for abolition since such a movement would have been, by definition, treasonous. Lacking such a movement, there would likely have been no effective aid for those escaping slavery anywhere south of the Canadian border.

              It's certainly true that the proponents of slavery argued, as you have, that the distinction was nonexistent. Taney's attempted imposition of this view by judicial fiat was the climax of this effort. However, they would hardly have made such a decades long effort if there hadn't been a vociferous opposition to thatr view and that opposition would have been politically and legally impossible if the Constitution's language had been explicit on the question. It isn't possible to make sense of the history of abolitionism if you do not recognize the significance of this ambiguity to the opponents of slavery.

              The next question is whether such ambiguity was accidental or intentional. I don't see a serious argument for the former. Any assertion about intention and design must take the latter into account.

              To clarify a few other matters; I don't consider the Constitution to be perfect. Neither do I adhere to the dogmas of strict construction or original intent. It is, in my view, a legalistic and political document, written by committee with all the compromises, contradictions, ambiguities and inadequacies that entails. However, if one chooses to make categorical statements about the conscious design and intent of the US, it is unavoidable. At least if one is interested in factual inquiry.    

              Again, why such a resistance to self-evident facts? What is in the game for you on these matters? Are you offering up the intellectual and philosophical support for the liberal racist crowd here at the Daily Kos with this intentional white washing and misreading of history? Is that your meta game?
              There's no resistance to facts on my part. To the contrary. I object to the exclusion of facts when they complicate a preferred thesis. I would suggest that departing from disputing on the merits in favor of attacks on character is poor argument.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Thu May 23, 2013 at 02:46:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  in court, as a practical matter (0+ / 0-)

                and in the writings of the time--and never mind common sense--the 3/5th clause referred to black people. Likewise, the document itself, which I quoted from refers to black people. You are playing games with this it doesn't say "slavery" so it wasn't referring to black bondsmen. That is a tactic better suited for right-wing hacks and racism deniers than in someone with any real commitment to reality or solid historiography. It is also patently dishonest.

                Slavery and the ownership of human property had constitutional standing, was protected by that document, and expanded/protected by it. It took a Civil War to partly resolve those issues.

                Again, why are you playing games? Your claims are the equivalent of someone who believes in the flat earth or that the planet is 5,000 years old.

                Why are you unable or unwilling to concede that there have been several democratic regimes in this country along the color line and the maintenance/partial dismantling of the racial state?

                •  Chauncey, if you insist on substituting (0+ / 0-)

                  things I did not say in place of what I did, in fact say, there's not much point in continuing.

                  You are playing games with this it doesn't say "slavery" so it wasn't referring to black bondsmen.
                  I said nothing remotely resembling this. What I actually said was:
                  Does this mean that the passage has nothing to do with realities of slavery? Of course not.
                  This directly contradicts your misrepresentation. Evidently, you are  either unwilling or unprepared to to deal with the material substance of my post

                  There's no game here, unless it's the game of straw man.

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:19:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  earlier and elsewhere you have repeatedly (0+ / 0-)

                    tried to deflect by saying that--and the key word is "nothing"--there is some other possible reading or interpretation.

                    Again, was the United States founded as a white herrenvolk republic?

                    Were black Americans considered citizens in the U.S. Constitution, and the country more broadly, prior to the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments?

                    Is the Constitution a pro-slavery Southern document?

                    Has the long arc of American history been one of expanding democracy and democratic inclusion for groups that were written out of the social compact/contract?

                    That is pretty easy to answer and will reveal much of your assumptions and understanding of the historiography on the topic.

                    Lots of misreadings of history here too:

                    "If the Constitution had explicitly recognized the standing of property in slaves, there could have been no free states for the obvious reason that abolition would have been unconstitutional. It follows that there could have been no legal movement for abolition since such a movement would have been, by definition, treasonous. Lacking such a movement, there would likely have been no effective aid for those escaping slavery anywhere south of the Canadian border."

                    1. The Constitution does recognize property held in slaves. Just read the clauses which refer to run away slaves, servitude, etc. etc. Heck, look at how the law dealt with such matters in wills, inheritances, taxes, etc. etc.

                    2. The abolitionist movement was looked upon as treasonous by many whites, esp. in the South. You are making some serious errors in thinking through questions of resistance, the public's understanding of the movement, and its trajectory.

                    3. The whole point of the Fugitive slave law and others was to make plain how slaves could not self-manumit under law, that they were property everywhere, and even free people by implication as I hope you know were imperiled by slave catchers in the North.

                    You also wrote "What the absence of such terms does mean is that, as a matter of law, none of them are granted constitutional standing. "

                    This is odd too. Slavery and slave-holding did have Constitutional standing. That was the whole point. Now, the question becomes how do we resolve how the South wanted to appeal to the Constitution when it supported their practices, i.e. the language of "state's rights" and their abuse of federalism, as well as agreeing with decisions like Scott, and then conveniently want to nullify the federal government's decisions when it did not suit them.

                    •  Okay (0+ / 0-)

                      I still never argued that the laws didn't refer to black slaves, only that as written they could apply to others as well. I suggested that this was a strategem made necessary in order to mollify anti-slavery sentiment.

                      1. The phrases property in slaves, runaway slaves appear no where in the text of the Constitution. Something can't be described as having Constitutional standing if it isn't directly mentioned in the text. You'd have a point if "bound to service" could only be interpreted as applying to slaves. However, as written, the language would apply to bond servants or anyone who had reneged on a labor contract.

                      Was it dodge? Of course but a dodge that had the force of law nevertheless. I know it complicates your argument but that doesn't alter the fact that the language is intentionally general and obscurantist. It would be no surprise to discover that it was lifted whole cloth from common law having nothing to do with slavery.

                      2. Name a single instance where anyone was tried in Federal court for treason for advocating abolition. I referenced the fact that proponents of slavery made this argument, so it appears you are skimming. Since you don't specify what errors I supposedly made, your claim lacks substance.

                      3. Issues of property in slaves and self manumission aren't even addressed in the language of these laws. You can argue that  was the practical effect and you'd be right but the claim that they address these issues specifically is factually inaccurate.

                      This is odd too. Slavery and slave-holding did have Constitutional standing. That was the whole point.
                      It was certainly the point for the slave owners. Opponents of slavery could and did argue an opposing view. By your standards the latter were illiterate idiots and/or closet apologists for slavery. I don't agree.
                      Now, the question becomes how do we resolve how the South wanted to appeal to the Constitution when it supported their practices, i.e. the language of "state's rights" and their abuse of federalism, as well as agreeing with decisions like Scott, and then conveniently want to nullify the federal government's decisions when it did not suit them.
                      Not much of a question really. They were a bunch of self serving hypocrites, those that weren't simply cynical parasites and sadists that is.

                      Nothing human is alien to me.

                      by WB Reeves on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:32:05 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I forwarded you the (0+ / 0-)

                        Michigan Law review article. Do please read it.

                        1. The consensus among historians is that the Constitution is a pro-slavery pro-Southern document.

                        2. Blacks were explicitly considered outside of the polity and not U.S. citizens.

                        3. I still don't understand how you can make a plain on the face argument that somehow the Constitution does not explicitly refer to slavery with the various clauses and mentions of it. That I just don't get and it does not compute. Above and elsewhere I gave you the actual language from the Constitution. For example, when it talks about extending the trade in "persons" so that it will not be ended before a certain date, who do you think they are talking about? Turnips?

                        "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person."

                        Why have a 14th amendment if blacks were considered full citizens?

                        4. "The phrases property in slaves, runaway slaves appear no where in the text of the Constitution. Something can't be described as having Constitutional standing if it isn't directly mentioned in the text."

                        The Constitution had a fugitive slave clause that was enforced by slave catchers. On your above point, again, you are playing games.

                        "Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution is popularly known as the fugitive slave clause. The clause directs the return of runaway slaves to the state from where they came. It says “No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”"

                        White indentured servitude was relatively uncommon if not all but eliminated in most of the U.S. at this point. Were the framers thinking of white convicts or were they thinking of the human property that was worth, in today's dollars, billions to them, and those men like Jefferson and Washington who were protecting their self-interest. Were northerners thinking of the vast wealth they were making directly and indirectly from slavery?

                        The fugitive slave law made slavery a national institution.

                        This is becoming an object lesson in white privilege, the white racial frame as it applies to reading history, ahistoricism, and some odd type of constitutional fetishism. Interesting. Ultimately very tedious.

                        I have asked, and will one final time, what is your meta game? Is the Constitution a pro-slavery Southern document? Was the U.S. founded as a white republic and a white settler society?

                        Why are you afraid to answer those questions?

      •  White supremacist settler society (0+ / 0-)

        doesn't rankle at all. Although I would suggest that religion initially played a greater role in settler aggression against native peoples than notions of race.

        I'm curious though. Why would you imagine it might rankle? I don't see how that connects with anything I've said. Is there an unstated assumption here?

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:10:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  One addendum (0+ / 0-)

        I assume that you're aware that, in the early days of the republic, the status of free blacks varied widely depending on the state and locality where they resided?

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:31:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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