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(Cross-posted at

The following was in response to a right-wing poster who had “steam coming out of (her) ears” over some left-wing commentator suggesting that “conservative values” was code for racism. She ended by saying that “we have to take back this country, or we are all screwed!” A historical tour through the Constitution, "States Rights," John C. Calhoun's "Union and Liberty," the Civil War, the Great Depression, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, modern American anti-Latino-immigrant hysteria, and "The Great Recession" put her admonition into historical perspective....

You’re right Susan: “Conservative values” isn’t code for racism; “taking back this country” is.

The United States was born with slavery, fought a Civil War to get rid of it (against people who adhered to a very strong “states’ rights” political philosophy, much like a certain political faction of today), then endured another century of Jim Crow, which was abolished in a Civil Rights Movement confronting a new version of that extreme “states’ rights” perspective (much like a certain political faction of today), and has since fought an uphill battle to address the social injustices that remain embedded in our political economy, against a faction which clings to a strong “states’ rights” philosophy.

Or is it “liberty”? A great antebellum statesman wrote a tome called “Union and Liberty,” about the threat of federal tyranny to the liberty of minorities. His name was John C. Calhoun, the minority he was concerned about was southern slave owners, and the “liberty” that was being threatened was their liberty to own slaves. There’s a long tradition in America of using the word “liberty” to mean preserving the advantages of the few at the expense of the many.

You doubt that that’s what today’s use of the word means? Do you know the two peaks in the last century of the concentration of wealth, peaks in the inequitable distribution of wealth and opportunity? I’ll give you a hint: Both dates are notable for being immediately followed by the two largest, catastrophic economic collapses of the last century. And both dates are also notable for following a decade or two of the ascendance of a notion of “liberty” which favored unregulated, unchecked, predatory redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the extremely wealthy. Those two dates are 1929 and 2008.

And from whom, exactly, are you “taking the country back”? Blacks (except for the few who have become exactly like you)? Hispanics? Gays? Muslims? I see conservative threads insisting that every act of Sharia law somewhere in the world is proof that we’re being taken over by it, or every act of respecting the free exercise clause of the United States Constitution (which conservatives revere by crapping all over) is proof that we’re being taken over by it. And the uber-lame argument is that Islam isn’t REALLY a religion, but rather a plot for world conquest, which distinguishes it from Christianity by being spelled with fewer and different letters.

Probably the most infamous racist movement in 20th Century world history was one in which a whole nation spiralled down into a belligerent hysteria over a group perceived to be “foreigners” living among them, who needed to be rounded up, detained in unpleasant detention centers, and removed, in order to preserve the purity of the nation. And it’s also well on its way to being an infamous racist movement of the 21st century, across an ocean and among people who take offense at being called “racist.”

Yeah, you keep right on “taking the country back,” because we sure don’t want it stolen by all of those “others.” Right?

Yeah, I get it. You mean “take it back” from the “socialists.” The people who helped ensure that the United States Constitution empowered Congress to tax and spend in the General Welfare (you know, the Founding Fathers?). The people who 80 years ago started to put into place the administrative structure and welfare state that has formed a part of the foundation of every single country that partook of the post-WWII explosion in prosperity. The people who passed an overdue Civil Rights Act that established that “liberty” and “property” don’t mean the right to discriminate against people on the basis of their race (a law that Rand Paul said he wouldn’t have been able to support). You want to take America back from the Americans who founded it, who fought for it, who have molded it, and who are it. That’s not “taking it back.” That’s just “taking it.” And we’re not going to let you.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Boy, I am SO going to steal this the next time (4+ / 0-)

    the subject comes up in my little world.  I'll be sure to give you full credit, of course, but those people who inhabit my little world will probably get confused (a frequent problem for them, I will admit) and assume I meant 'Paul Harvey'. Please accept my apology in advance for my future intentional failure to try to correct their confusion to advance my own insidious evil ends...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 09:12:51 PM PDT

  •  She takes offense because she wants to keep the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Shirl In Idaho

    pretense of being a fine upstanding moral human being who just happens to dislike the other, wants to control others behaviors to make them more usable to her and wants to maintain her status. Even to the point of watching children die of starvation or being shot for being the other while at same time opposing abortion for others. They love claiming to be righteous and upright while most things they support are really ALL ABOUT THEM. About thier right to control everyone to make them feel more comfortable and to feel safer from retaliation against thier support of truly indecent or immoral behaviors. They love war and the defense industry. They love feeling righteous while destroying peoples lives to make more money than they need. They are fond of the war on drugs while drinking themselves into rehab or using thier prescriptions to blunt the reality of what they are. They go to church and they don't even begin to understand what they read but that may be  because so many of thier ministers and priests choose what to tell them so as to control politics and gain power to choose other things for everyone.

    I am sorry but I am so enraged by the shooting of this kid in Florida. It has me so angry, frustrated and sad I feel like kicking everyone of the jerks who pass these murder legalization laws in the head. THOU SHALT NOT KILL and they pass a law allowing murder for feeling nervous or afraid. Well hell, I am afraid of these loons taking the whole thing down. Not just our democracy  but our civilization followed closely by the environment we need to sustain life of not just humans but all life on earth. Monstrous self centered creatures who glue morality markers on themselves to hide thier foulness. But we are smelling them now.

    Take back thier country indeed. From whom ... those who legally elected a black man? It was fine for thier supreme court to select Bush over the man who won more votes... even in Florida.  Take it back from who? THE MAJORITY????  No, they mean take it back from a black man. But sad to say for thier inability to see the other as just as human and moral as themselves the other is becoming the majority and they are making thier party unaccepting of any but those who seek peace by service to the controllers.  

    Too bad you are a morally bankrupt party at this point in time. You are hypocrits, you are racist, you dominionists, you are authoritarians ( on a scale to rival the Germans in WW2), you are denialists, you are finely dressed church goers just pretending to be decent and moral.

    I am in a state of rage and not likely to be nice any more until these indecencies and immoral acts stop. Have the republicans become drunk on the most darkest side of life?

    Proud Slut...Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 09:20:49 PM PDT

  •  Great Post!! Tip/Rec'd/Hotlisted. Excellent points (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Shirl In Idaho

    to remember. Thank You!!!

    Sig seen on Redstate: ABO Anybody But Obama. Sorry, I'm stealing that.... Another Barack Opportunity. Vote Obama/Biden 2012!

    by mrsgoo on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 09:31:44 PM PDT

  •  I always mention on "my" local yokel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    web board (that I don't own), that when Wingnuts use the word "Freedom" they mean the Freedom to fuck over workers. Freedom from minimum wage. They mean the freedom to put women back in their place. They mean Freedom from taxation. They mean the Freedom from government regulation. They mean the absolute Freedom to exercise Ayn Rand Capitalism. They mean Freedom from not having to deal with or mingle with the 99% on any level. They mean... everything but what the word actually means.
    As usual.

  •  and , of course, there's yet another definition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Twocents, JDsg

    the "liberty" to lie about anything and everything if it doesn't fit their dangerously limited world view.  Seriously, these are the people who got all exercised over Rev. Wright even though they believed the President wasn't a Christian -- how they managed THAT act of cognitive dissonance escapes me.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 11:48:11 PM PDT

  •  Actually, the South was against states' rights (0+ / 0-)

    but they did see themselves as preserving their liberty and property rights, but most importantly their "way of life".

    The Dred Scott decision was about enforcing slavery even in free labor states.  And the Articles of the Confederacy explicitly contradicted the 10th amendment by stating that the decisions of the Confederacy overruled any moves of the individual states.

    Of course, present-day right-wingers also always favor federal domination whenever they can get it.

    •  I think (0+ / 0-)

      you're mistaken about the South and states' rights. The Conederacy re-enacted a version of The Articles of Confederation, weakening their own ability to consolidate their political power. They were the culmination of a movement that lasted from the Revolutionary War until (and beyond) the Civil War, opposing any federal ability to impose laws on the states, a movement informed by what was then called "nullification doctrine" (that states have the right to "nullify" federal law if they disagree with it). In fact, the Civil War wasn't technically fought over slavery, but over the right of the federal government to impose anti-slavery laws on southern states, on the basis of states' rights doctrine. I'm not sure where you got the idea that the south was against states' rights, but as a former U.S. History teacher, I can assure you that it's not a mainstream understanding, and not what my studies have ever revealed. But, if you know something I don't, please email me (; stranger things have happened!

      We're all in this story together. Let's write it well.

      by Steve Harvey on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:07:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess it's just that they were against other (0+ / 0-)

        states' states' rights.  Don't know where I got the 10th amendment thing, but Dred Scott is clearly anti-states' rights, at least for other states, since it called on Federal law to impose their state laws on other states.

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