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a nation goes to war with itself.

!50 year ago today, at 4:30 in the morning, Confederate forces under General Beauregard commenced firing with artillery on Fort Sumter, thus marking the beginning of the Civil War, at least as we commemorate it.  The first shots had actually been in January, when an attempt to resupply the Union forces under Major Robert Anderson holding the Fort was driving back by shots fired by cadets from The Citadel, the military college of SC.   Lincoln was attempting another resupply of the Fort, knowing the Union forces had only days of supplies, when the Confederates began their barrage.

Our official Civil War would last almost exactly 4 years.   Papers were signed at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.  Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was formally disbanded on April 12.  By then at least 618,000 had died on both sides, perhaps as many as 700,000.  

Today we begin a period of commemoration.   It should not be one of celebration.  And we certainly do not need to be going to war with ourselves yet again, even metaphorically.

And yet -  we hear the martial language from some.  One response to the 9th Circuit's continuation of the District Court injunction against enforcement of SB 1070 in Arizona was a call for a military coup.  

We have had secession balls in December, as if the decision of South Carolina to attempt to remove itself from the national governance is somehow worthy of celebration.

The Constitution, with the phrase "in order to form a more perfect union" in its Preamble, acknowledged that it was a continuation of government under the Articles of Confederation, itself a document which had declared that the several states had entered upon "a firm league of friendship" intended "to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union" -  to secure and perpetuate.    The Articles contained no provision for the dissolution of the Union, nor did the Constitution.  

And why did states beginning with South Carolina wish to secede?  Let us be honest and take them at their word - to preserve the right of some men to own as property other men.  To perpetuate chattel slavery against the fear that Lincoln would move to abolish it.  It is almost inconceivable that people today would want to celebrate such an action, no matter how much the events that followed helped to define our national history.

We still have not solved our American Dilemma, as Gunnar Myrdahl described our difficulties with race.  So often it has been South Carolina - albeit now with a governor of color in Nikki Haley - that has been at the focal point of matters of race.  After all, while we know the desegregation case as Brown v Board of Education of Topeka Kansas, the arguments for segregated schools, made by John Davis, actually came from Briggs v Elliot, the latter being the chair of the Board of Trustees of Summerton High School, in Clarendon County SC.

One wonders how much of the fervor to "celebrate" secession there would be had we a White  rather than a Black man in the nation's highest office, one whose legitimacy continues to be challenged by the likes of Donald Trump, perhaps seeking the Republican nomination to oppose him in 2012.

Yet I cannot help but think of Civil War in another way.  Because metaphorically we seemed engaged in a repetition, one quite capable of destroying the nation even more thoroughly than four years of armed conflict did.

We have those willing to use violence - of action as well as of rhetoric - to achieve supremacy of their ideology.  It may be an ideology of race, to be sure, because that American Dilemma is still a part of the fabric of our culture.   It is also an ideology of class.  It is an ideology of religion - perhaps ironic given that among its leaders in Congress is the highest ranking Congressional Jew of all times.  It is an ideology that opposes science, that caters to fear, that is willing to see millions suffer economically and medically so that those its favors need not have their resources diminished by taxes.  It claims it wants government out of its lives and wants local control, but as a condition of allowing the national government to function not only wants to slash the social safety net but to impose its social morals upon the local government of the national capital city.  

How much the political parties have changed.  In the election of 1860, when Lincoln's victory as President in a 4 way race was as a Republican!.   The other three parties were the Nofthern Democrats with Douglas, who only won Missouri;  the Constitutional Unionists with John Bell, who won Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee;  and the Southern Democrats with former Vice President Breckinridge, who won the rest of the states South of the Mason Dixon Line and East of the Mississippi, as well as Texas and Arkansas.   Breckenridge had won Delaware and Maryland, meaning the national capital city was in  jeopardy of being cut off should Maryland secede.  

I lived through the racism of Southern Democrats, their filibusters against the Civil Rights Act, including that of 1964 - broken when the dying Clair Engle of California was brought in on a stretch and voted to end the filibuster by pointing at his eye -  he could no longer speak.  I saw those Southern Democrats become the heart of the modern Republican party -  over the issue of race.

Ronald Reagan began his Presidential Campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, site of one of worst crimes of the civil rights era, the lynching of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman and their being buried in an earthen dam.   There was no doubt the message he was trying to send.  

His successor, who had been his Vice President, had his campaign run by Lee Atwater of South Carolina, who found other ways of coded messages to appeal to racists.  

But it is not just about race nowadays.  It is also no longer really about secession, despite some fringe elements that advocate such a course, be they in the South or among groups like some militia types in Idaho.   Rather, it is now a civil war for the definition of this nation and society, of the soul of America.

Lincoln saw the battles coming.  It was important to him that the other side fire the first shots, an event which we formally commemorate on this day, 150 years later.

In our time it is hard to find when the conflict began.  It is has been more gradual, intensifying over the decades through which we have most recently past.

There is no doubt a concerted effort to role back the social and economic progress that has benefited many in the past almost 8 decades since FDR ascended to the White House.  Certainly the progress under LBJ and his Great Society is clearly in the crosshairs now, with both Medicaid and Medicare being targeted.  

They are symbols.   For some on our side, they represent a recognition that a society has responsibilities.  Once there was a contentious Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, ironically the city in which Lincoln was nominated.   The young mayor of Minneapolis insisted upon and obtained a civil rights platform, and the Governor of South Carolina  (that state yet again) Strom Thurmond, who became the Presidential nominee of the Dixiecrats and later in 1957 filibustered against a Civil Rights Act for more than 24 hours -  even though by then he had fathered a daughter by the black maid in his family's household.   African Americans were human enough to have sex with, but apparently not human enough for equal rights.  

That young mayor, Hubert Humphrey, had a distinguished career as Senator and as Vice President, narrowly failing to win the presidency in 1968.  He offered a vision of this nation very different than what we now hear from the Republican party,  one I often repeat here:  

t was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

Strom Thurmond's '48 campaign served as a reminder of what the Southern Republicans were really like, when on December 5, 2002, at his 100th birthday, the Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott peeled back the mask from the ugly truth with the words that would force him from public life:  

When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either.

Civil War.   We are not literally taking up arms brother against brother.  Metaphorically we have been embattled for some time.

Too often we think of the glories of war, or should I say the supposed glories.  Slaughter and suffering should not be labeled as glorious.  Much of the death and destruction is the result of stupid decisions by men in charge, be it the slaughter of the Union troops at Marye's Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where Lee supposedly responded by saying that it was good war was so horrible lest men become too fond of it, or the stupidity of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, where when it was beaten back the Union troops taunted the Confederates by repeating "Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg . . . "

A nation that goes to war with itself damages itself.  Some benefit.  Careers are made by military leaders -  think of Grant.  Think of others who became President who served in that war, such as Benjamin Harrison and James A. Garfield.  Others profit financially, as happens in every war.   Oscar Schindler did not discover something knew about profiting from war - we had profiteers during the horrors of our civil war, just as we have had Halliburton and other companies profiting from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In our rhetorical and political civil war we see Wall Street firms and banks benefiting financially.  We see, thanks to Citizens United, that they also benefit politically, a necessary achievement to maintain and increase their financial benefit, and keep them from being accountable, from paying for what they have gotten.

We have our disputes here.  At times they have been heated.  We saw that during primary battles in the 2004 and 2008 cycles.  We are seeing some of that over actions and inactions by this administration, by leadership in Congress on our side of the aisle.

Let us not devolve to civil war among ourselves.  Like it or not we are now engaged in a great conflict politically, upon which the future of this nation depends as much as it did upon the actual conflict that we label our Civil War, the four years of military strife that began 150 years ago today.

Civil War.  Today is an anniversary.  Today I chose to remember the costs of war, not to celebrate nor to point at glory, rather to remind myself that sometimes conflict is unavoidable, sometimes we must take up our side of the conflict, particularly when the other side has fired the first shots.

As happened at 4:30 in the morning, in Charleston SC, 150 years ago today.

And so I offer this diary.

Do with it what you will.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Well done. Have a great day! n/t (5+ / 0-)

      Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

      by LWelsch on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 03:34:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  in transit to school (3+ / 0-)

      will catch iup with this when I can

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 03:54:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Man, I'm SOOOO guilty of this... (8+ / 0-)

      I freely admit...I engage in fights here when I'm angry or frustrated. It's probably my worst character flaw - and in the end, it probably helps absolutely no one.

      Your point regarding the civil war that has seemingly broken out here is very well made - and taken. Our war should be with those who would see us divided...the TRUE political enemies on the Right.

      "How do you 'hold (Obama) accountable' after he wins reelection to his second and final term? Take away his 'lame duck president' parking pass?" -lushlife

      by APA Guy on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 04:23:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really, REALLY want to rec this (8+ / 0-)

        more than once for this part:  

        Our war should be with those who would see us divided...the TRUE political enemies on the Right.

        Fear of blacks has been the cornerstone of the threat that hangs over the AA community. This fear has been stoked and escalated and adjusted over the centuries to give people the stomach to lynch us, deny us equality and other such inhumanity. If we gather for any reason, it is disbanded. The only way to keep them from slaughtering us all is to walk arm in arm together with white people, peacefully.

        I'm not bickering with certain gays over the homophobia that is harbored in some people in the AA community. I denounce the homophobia to the purveyors of it and walk arm in arm with the gays. I am a straight woman. If they ever beat me down like Stonewall, all hell will break loose.

        Fear of blacks, fear of "Indians", fear of gays, fear of Jews, fear of Muslims. THIS is our problem. It's not what we believe as liberals, it's the rest of the world's prejudices that limit the actions of the oppressed, even when they are peaceful. We have to get the rest of America to see how dangerous and menacing the haters are. As it stands, the insanity of even considering the Tea Party as a legitimate complaint/protest against govt. abuses the last 30 years scares the hell out of me. Is America CRAZY to listen to these people?

        Let's turn our anger to THEM.

        "Warm smell of Moulitsas rising up in the air..." -seanwright

        by GenXangster on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:09:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent points all...and you know... (3+ / 0-)

          I was thinking about this very point you make last night:

          As it stands, the insanity of even considering the Tea Party as a legitimate complaint/protest against govt. abuses the last 30 years scares the hell out of me. Is America CRAZY to listen to these people?

          Upon reflection, it doesn't surprise me that the country listens to these clods. Why shouldn't they? These same people look at the modern Democratic Party forever in a state of panic and conflict.

          Compare how our party behaved in 2008 (AFTER the primaries) and 2009 with how we have behaved in 2010 and 2011. I mean really, if you were on the fence, would YOU join and support this party?

          At least the Republican Party can say it is pretty well united with the exception of a few outlier elements (Sarah Palin comes to mind). If nothing else, the teabaggers have served to bring the party closer to its roots.

          The Democratic Party defines frustration and division right now. I have no idea how we will bridge the policy gaps that exist...but I do know one thing: If we don't find a way to come together, 2012 will represent a political return to the Dark Ages of the Bush years - only they will be a thousand times worse.

          "How do you 'hold (Obama) accountable' after he wins reelection to his second and final term? Take away his 'lame duck president' parking pass?" -lushlife

          by APA Guy on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:37:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  regardless of dem dissarray, I would never be GOP (0+ / 0-)

            The dem part is frustrated, but outside of the blogoshpere there is not so much division. Just look at the polling on last week's deal. Most dems approve.

            But regardless, I would never be GOP just because they're united in their hatred of anyone not like them.

            Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

            by Back In Blue on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 08:04:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, this Party once had a set of ideals. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aliasalias

            If and until we reach accord on those ideals, be it to trash them in an effort to stay in power (which it appears to me we are doing), or to join in the fight to preserve them at the risk of losing control of power, this Party shall be divided.

            It's nice to say we should all be focusing on the real enemy - the Right, but how does one go about fighting an enemy without at first having a solid set of ideals to stand on and for?

            The Party must define itself and see who will follow.

            President Obama and a lot of the other elected democrats have only ever played at believing in them and I think that's where the crux of the problem lies. Both here and with the Party.

            Many of the elected are outright power corrupt at this point. That is, they will do any thing, and sacrifice any conviction to stay in positions of power.

            And therefore the problem of division lies with a lack of cohesion and dedication to the Democratic principles.

            IMHO.

    •  you're a teacher (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345

      in VA.

      you've read enough source documents to know this is a gross simplification:

      And why did states beginning with South Carolina wish to secede?  Let us be honest and take them at their word - to preserve the right of some men to own as property other men.

      if tiddlywinks and not slavery had been the basis of the South's economy, they'd have fought for tiddlywinks.

      calhoun spoke at length about the misbalance of power in congress and how the South was facing agrarian colony status in short order, etc.

      and let's not forget the nullification crisis that was still fresh in people's minds.

      and let's not forget that the country was all of 80 years old at the time; the relationship between the feds and states vis a vis balance of power was not so well defined.

      our civil war, like all other wars, was fought over power and money.

      It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

      by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 06:04:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have you ever read the documents .. (7+ / 0-)

        around the secession issue? .. Teacherken is right .. and if you don't believe him .. go through Ta-Nehisi Coates' archives of the past 2 or 3 months

      •  The constitution was written so (5+ / 0-)

        that the South would be overrepresented...what happened was that the Northern states were more successful and had greater economic and population growth.

        And there is no evidence that the North would have taken away tiddliwinks or anything like that...the problem was that a nation founded on the notion of individual liberty yet recognizing legal slavery would always be at war with itself.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 06:36:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lincoln on the cause of the war, in 2nd Inaugural (4+ / 0-)
        One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves. Not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was. somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war, while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

        March 4, 1865

        Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

        by willyr on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 08:22:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do you have a link to the entire speech, (0+ / 0-)

          because that just seems an odd statement without context.

          Even so, it puts the issue of slave labor, at least the expansion of the practice, as a prime reason for the war.

          Though, I still contend, given the passionate abolitionist movement in the North, often led by people of power and influence, that the Congress and Lincoln had been egged on to war by anti-slavery proponents.

          If it had just been about economics and power, it would have been settled relatively peacefully.

          It was the human slave issue that ignited the passion for war.

      •  I think that is naive. (0+ / 0-)

        A lot of people were all too happy to settle the slavery debate once and for all by means of war by the time Fort Sumter was fired on.

        To suggest the slavery issue was practically overlooked is just downright insensitive.

      •  I am a teacher in Maryland (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aliasalias

        I live in Virginia

        which did not originally secede

        there is no doubt why South Carolina, and the other states carried by Breckinridge, seceded.  Just as there is no doubt that Breckinridge was actively pro-slavery

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 09:43:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is more complicated (0+ / 0-)

        but, at bottom, it was the South's perceived need to maintain its slave economy. The complication was exemplified in the tea party figure of his time, Thomas Paine's backcountry Virginia fear of a central government without a Bill of Rights that almost killed the Union and that sowed the seeds of the Civil War. But, uncomplicating the reality regarding Southern slavery, it was Paine's last ditch effort to kill constitutional ratification by injecting fear that the new central government would eventually free the slaves who, Paine and nearly every other rich, white Virginia plantation owner feared, would revolt against their former owners.

        Check out Pauline Maier's Ratification and the biographies of Thomas Paine, like Unger's. Fascinating reading. But I'm just an amateur here. Why aren't there more historians posting historical context for today's events?

  •  Huge confederate flags flew at the 1948... (3+ / 0-)

    DNC, and after Humphrey's civil rights speech, the southern Dems fled to Alabama and formed the states rights party.  

    "The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference." 3/28/11

    by BarackStarObama on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 03:53:04 AM PDT

  •  A house divided (9+ / 0-)

    Reading your excellent post Lincoln's phrase "A house divided against itself can not stand" popped into my head.  

    We may not be engaged in an actual war, but this house is truly divided again.  Dems v Repub, rich v poor, progressives v conservatives.  In the past I took comfort in the fact that more seemed to unite us as citizens than divide us.  I fear this is no longer the case.

    Tipped & Rec'd as always teacherken.  

    In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves. " - Buddha Shakyamuni

    by Actbriniel on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 04:18:38 AM PDT

  •  I like calling it.... (16+ / 0-)

    ....the War of Southern Aggression. It was the south that seceded and fired the first shots. The Civil War was started after decades of increasingly shrill demands from fire-eating southern politicians; abolitionists in the north didn't have a huge amount of political sway. Calling it this drives Confederate apologists through the roof, which is an added bonus.

    •  We have to be the ones who keep history... (8+ / 0-)

      ... true history alive.

      Conservatives seemed to have turned the phrase "History is written by the victorious" on its head. They've wrongly and presumptuously assumed they've won the ideological war in America. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

      This battle is still ongoing and it's for all the proverbial marbles.

      They're trying to write the significance of 'liberalism' out of our children's history books, and just as importantly, rewrite major historical events. One example; the Civil war was fought over state's rights when it was really about the states' right to keep slaves.

      We need to hit back hard every time they try this delusional revisionism.

      The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception -- Carl Bernstein

      by markthshark on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 04:54:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, both sides are guilty of revisionist (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, Victor Laslo, VTCC73

        history. Neither side can claim victory here.

        I'm a woman of color, who grew up in the north (Detroit, Michigan)

        by Boris Badenov on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:58:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, they're not... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aliasalias

          at least not to the same degree. It's not even close.

          Conservatives are trying to rewrite not only liberalism and the impetus for the Civil War, but also evolution, climate change, (and other sciences) what the founding fathers stood for, and a whole host of other issues.

          Sorry, but that false equivalency crap just doesn't work here.  

          The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception -- Carl Bernstein

          by markthshark on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:22:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think you need to go back and look at (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, erush1345, Victor Laslo

      the entire history of how the Civil War got started. This was a war over economics, and the institution of slavery was only a by-product of it. As I remember reading, the state of Maryland was the first state who wanted to secede from the union and the issue slavery was never mentioned. I believe that was in 1837???

      I'm a woman of color, who grew up in the north (Detroit, Michigan)

      by Boris Badenov on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:51:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erush1345, Victor Laslo

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        and who didn't expect the South to fire?  if you send military reinforcements to an outpost in seceded territory...

        It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

        by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 06:10:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  An economy built on the backs of slave labor? (5+ / 0-)

        And you can simply dismiss the slavery part as just a by-product?

        Economic disagreements can be rectified without war, but issues of basic human rights denied and people being treated like farm animals tends to heat the disagreements up 1000 fold.

        War was inevitable so long as the South insisted on driving its economy with the use of human slaves.

      •  not from the standpoint of SC (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aliasalias

        which initiated secession and which fired on the Union.  

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 09:44:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, you're thinking of South Carolina (0+ / 0-)

        This was over the tariff, mostly since in 1837, the slavery issue wasn't front and center, due to the Missouri Compromise still being in place.

        I'm very well familiar with Civil War history and the economics of the Civil War had everything to do with slavery. The economic elites in the South strongly benefited from the continued existence and expansion of slavery. The economic have-nots in the South benefited socially from the continued existence of slavery. So, slavery and white supremacy certainly was front and center. But don't just take it from me, take it from many major Confederate political figures who explicitly said that the Civil War was about maintaining the right to own slaves.

        This whole nonsense about the Civil War just being some economic struggle is misguided at best.

  •  War over the labor of slaves.... (8+ / 0-)

    ...forward to 2011 and there is still a war over labor and fair wages and representation of the citizens.  Economics trump all, it seems.

    Whatever the Foxteapublicans say, the opposite is the truth.

    by Forward is D not R on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 04:44:13 AM PDT

  •  A chilling look (6+ / 0-)

    at parallells from CNN.com

    People call me rude. I wish we all were nude. I wish there was no black and white. I wish there were no rules.

    by kestrel9000 on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 04:59:40 AM PDT

  •  I like this notion (4+ / 0-)

    that all these years later and nothing has changed.

    Eerie, the similarities between Jesuslandia then, and Jesuslandia now.  The biblical references in their speech and the hate behind their ideology.  It's so deeply engrained.

    Honk! If you're writing in Alan Grayson!

    by Detroit Mark on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:00:37 AM PDT

  •  very well done (0+ / 0-)

    thanks especially for the memories of Humphrey in his younger years...thanks.

    Directing the people powered movie starring Howard Dean and YOU!

    by deantv on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:24:03 AM PDT

  •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    Tipped and recommended for a valuable commemoration.

    There's a little typo marring the first word in your second paragraph ("!50").

    "All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks"
    (Sarah Grimké, 19th-century feminist & abolitionist)

    by JayC on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:25:26 AM PDT

  •  Lincoln was nominated in Chicago (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ohkwai, vcmvo2

    Not Philly

    Out of my cold dead hands

    by bluelaser2 on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:48:21 AM PDT

  •  George Santayana (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlb1972

    The brilliant, Spanish born pragmatic philosopher, who found a new life in the new world, teaching and writing at Harvard.

    He was never fully comfortable with the moral contadictions and Babbittry of his adopted home.  His artful and deep thinking is very appropriate today -- most famously:

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
    America is a young country with an old mentality.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:50:40 AM PDT

  •  Great diary. Thanks, Ken. nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  I just wrote a letter to the newspaper (4+ / 0-)

    In response to this:

    On April 12, 2011, the Sun published a letter from C. Lyon of Catonsville, who seemed to portray slavery as an equal opportunity institution, and cited as a fact that there were 3,000 free blacks in New Orleans who owned black slaves.  These slave owners were Creoles, the descendants of French slave owners and their female slaves.  The Creoles were fair skinned and considered themselves white, but, because they had that trace of "black blood", were legally "colored" under Louisiana law.  The Creoles considered themselves superior to the dark skinned slaves.  Several decades after the Civil War, lawyers for a New Orleans Creole, Homer Plessy, would argue to the United States Supreme Court that Louisiana's Jim Crow law should not apply to their client because Mr. Plessy was "seven-eights Caucasian and one-eighth African blood [and] that the mixture of colored blood was not discernible in him."  Eight of the nines justices disagreed, holding, in Plessy v. Ferguson, that it was up to the state to define who was legally "colored."

    C. Lyon also asserts there were black slave owners in other states, including Maryland.  These so-called slave owners were former slaves who had been freed by their owners, and who then were able to earn enough money to purchase their spouses and other family members.  The purchase of this human chattel made them legal owners of their wives, children, or parents.  If the purchaser did not wish to pay for an attorney to file the papers in court and pay the court fees to free his family, he remained, on paper, a slave owner.

    We'll see if they publish it.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 06:58:34 AM PDT

  •  "With high hopes for the future..." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willyr, DianeNYS, aliasalias

    Lincoln's Second Inaugural

    It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

    With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

    "Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible" "Be realistic, demand the impossible." Graffiti from Paris, May 1968

    by absolute beginner on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 07:25:03 AM PDT

  •  oh. THAT Civil War. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    i thought this was going to be a meta diary about "obots" versus "true progressives"

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    I support Bob Massie for MA-Sen

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 07:27:08 AM PDT

    •  Our "botwar" around here could easily be solved (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy

      by a few beers and a pie-eating contest.

      This was the real thing drummed up by Southern Plutocrats trying to keep their wealth and power.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 08:04:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How About a Friendly Divorce (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker

    This country has always had two opposing belief systems tearing at each other: 1) the belief in Enlightenment principles, that people are good enough to self-govern, and 2) the puritanical opposite, that people are innately sinful and need a daddy figure to guide and punish them. IOW, to oversimplify it, the egalitarians vs the authoritarians.

    History cycles between times when this tension is subdued, and other times when it surfaces openly. Slavery was the central bone of contention between these two geographic regions 150 years ago, now other issues have come to the fore. Today it's more about a belief in progress vs a return to the past, and all the myriad ways this plays out.

    This is occuring in a time when technology and social change favors the individual over the group, unlike never before. It's been said that OBL could never have pulled off 9/11 with the technology of fifty years ago - think of it, a small band of individuals suckered the mightiest nation on earth.  Technology has given every person powers that far exceed anything the Founders of this nation had at their disposal. Countries such as the Soviet Union have disintegrated into member states. The trend is toward dissolution and breakup, and toward smaller groups of people, instead of aggregating masses of people together. The breakup of labor unions - masses of workers - whether you like it or not, is another example.

    The trend is toward empowered individuals, not masses of people. You can even hear it in the music of our time - it's about hammering things into disintegration. Contrast this with the harmonious popular music of a few generations ago. A big generalization, I know, but listen for it.

    The hour is coming when the Blue States will get tired of paying the way for the Red States, and their clinging to the past (if you didn't know it, there's a net outflow of tax dollars from blue states to red). I certainly am tired of their excesive influence on politics. I think it's a valid question each side is or should be asking themselves, why do we need these people, and what's the point of staying together?

    This question will get ever louder as the enormous financial trouble our USA has accrued, comes home to roost, and the bills can no longer be avoided. When the bills come due, people will be questioning "why do we need this? and why should I pay?"

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
      Slavery was the central bone of contention between these two geographic regions 150 years ago, now other issues have come to the fore. Today it's more about a belief in progress vs a return to the past, and all the myriad ways this plays out.

      Same thing, really.  Conserving power in the hands of the wealthy and privileged is the only thing conservatives have ever believed in.

  •  "devolve to civil war among ourselves"? Yeah! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tomephil

    I have come to the conclusion that the enemy is not the GOP, or Tea Party  The enemy is both political parties who are at war with those they represent.

    I have become more cynical by the month of late.  Neither party has our interests at heart.  They have one interest only.  Power - and the preservation of it.  People/voters are merely the pawns in the game they play to gain and wield that power.

    Just look back at the last month's battle over the budget.  "Draconian" and "extreme" budget cuts all of a sudden became "reasonable" compromises.

    Harry Reid, now chastises the GOP for  not wanting to raise the debt ceiling.  But, only 5 years ago he made an impassioned speech about raising the debt ceiling calling it "the last thing we should do" and "will weaken our country".

    The hypocrisy is amazing.

    So, civil war here?  Fuck yes!  If Americans don't have disagreements amongst ourselves in search for the truth, we are simply left to believing the lying assholes leading this country... and regurgitating that verbatim here at dKos and elsewhere around the web.

    The Republican Party is not right, but neither is the Democratic Party.  It turns out we are on our own.

    It's time for a third party. Or fourth or fifth.

  •  Lee Atwater on the GOP's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dougymi, DianeNYS

    Southern Strategy:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

    And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger".


    So he says to me, do you wanna be a BAD boy? And I say YEAH baby YEAH! Surf's up space ponies! I'm makin' gravy WITHOUT THE LUMPS! HAAA-ha-ha-ha!!!

    by Cenobyte on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 07:34:52 AM PDT

    •  It's a bazaar irony that a lot of poor whites (0+ / 0-)

      don't even know they're being fire-hosed by the rich.

      •  I know. (0+ / 0-)

        I never really understand why they refuse to see it.

        So he says to me, do you wanna be a BAD boy? And I say YEAH baby YEAH! Surf's up space ponies! I'm makin' gravy WITHOUT THE LUMPS! HAAA-ha-ha-ha!!!

        by Cenobyte on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 09:06:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  W.E.B. DuBois answered this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cenobyte

          in 1935:

          It must be remembered that the white group of laborers, while they received a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage. They were given public deference and titles of courtesy because they were white. They were admitted freely with all classes of white people to public functions, public parks, and the best schools. The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts, dependent on their votes, treated them with such leniency as to encourage lawlessness. Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment and the deference shown them. White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and they cost anywhere from twice to ten times as much per capita as the colored schools. The newspapers specialized on news that flattered the poor whites and almost utterly ignored the Negro except in crime and ridicule.

          and, to boot, their discontent was given a convenient scapegoat upon which blame for everything that ailed society was heaped...

          Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

          by awesumtenor on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:09:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Fiery Trial is a great book on Lincoln (0+ / 0-)

    and American Slavery, published in 2010 and written by Columbia University historian Eric Foner.

    It traces Lincoln's lifelong belief that slavery was evil, and his struggle to reconcile that belief with his commitment to keeping the Union together.

    I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the Civil War.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 08:01:13 AM PDT

  •  The war was about PROPERTY RIGHTS of the RICH. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, MT Spaces, tomephil

    The vast majority of the slaves in the South were owned by a small number of very rich plantation owners... The same people that owned the Southern politicians.

    They didn't want to lose their property (valued at something like $1000/head in 1860 terms), not to mention the value of that labor (can you say "King Cotton?").

    The other part of it was the propaganda to make the poor white Southerners feel that this was an issue that somehow involved them (and to press them into the military).

    The South had less than 1/10 of the industrial might of the North.  Most of that was in Virginia.

    This War was caused by a few for a few.  Gee. That sounds like a recent diary of the 1% for the 1% by the 1%.

    SSDD.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    -Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 08:03:07 AM PDT

  •  The Original Conflict Never Ended (0+ / 0-)

    and that's the root of our problems today.  We have a large minority in out country concentrated in the old Confederacy who never will accept the equality of all.  Since we are saddled with the undemocratic Senate and the Electoral College they are able to stop meaningful progress in many areas and there is no end in sight. They never give up and we support them with our Northern  tax dollar.s The victorious North should have stripped the traitorous states of one senator and any voting in the electoral college and we would all have been a lot better off.

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