Sunday, May 26, 2013

The American right and racism.

 Why I can't support the right in America. 
 
"Racism has been a consistent thread weaving through the American Right from the early days when Anti-Federalists battled against the U.S. Constitution to the present when hysterical Tea Partiers denounce the first African-American president. Other factors have come and gone for the Right, but racism has always been there.

Though definitions of Right and Left are never precise, the Left has generally been defined, in the American context, by government actions – mostly the federal government responding to popular movements and representing the collective will of the American people – seeking to improve the lot of common citizens and to reduce social injustice.

The Right has been defined by opposition to such government activism. Since the Founding, the Right has decried government interference with the “free market” and intrusion upon “traditions,” like slavery and segregation, as “tyranny” or “socialism.”

This argument goes back to 1787 and opposition to the Constitution’s centralizing of government power in the hands of federal authorities. In Virginia, for instance, the Anti-Federalists feared that a strong federal government eventually would outlaw slavery in the Southern states.

Ironically, this argument was raised by two of the most famous voices for “liberty,” Patrick Henry and George Mason. Those two Virginians spearheaded the Anti-Federalist cause at the state’s ratifying convention in June 1788, urging rejection of the Constitution because, they argued, it would lead to slavery’s demise.

The irony of Henry and Mason scaring fellow Virginians about the Constitution’s threat to slavery is that the two men have gone down in popular U.S. history as great espousers of freedom. Before the Revolution, Henry was quoted as declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Mason is hailed as a leading force behind the Bill of Rights. However, their notion of “liberty” and “rights” was always selective. Henry and Mason worried about protecting the “freedom” of plantation owners to possess other human beings as property.

At Virginia’s Ratification Convention, Henry and Mason raised other arguments against the proposed Constitution, such as concerns that Virginia’s preeminence might not be as great as under the weak Articles of Confederation and that population gains in the North might erode Virginia’s economic welfare.

But the pair’s most potent argument was the danger they foresaw regarding the abolition of slavery. As historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg wrote in their 2010 book, Madison and Jefferson, the hot button for Henry and Mason was that “slavery, the source of Virginia’s tremendous wealth, lay politically unprotected.”

The Slavery Card

At the center of this fear was the state’s loss of ultimate control over its militia which could be “federalized” by the President as the nation’s commander in chief under the new Constitution.
“Mason repeated what he had said during the Constitutional Convention: that the new government failed to provide for ‘domestic safety’ if there was no explicit protection for Virginians’ slave property,” Burstein and Isenberg wrote. “Henry called up the by-now-ingrained fear of slave insurrections – the direct result, he believed, of Virginia’s loss of authority over its own militia.”

Henry floated conspiracy theories about possible subterfuges that the federal government might employ to deny Virginians and other Southerners the “liberty” to own African-Americans. Describing this fear-mongering, Burstein and Isenberg wrote:

“Congress, if it wished, could draft every slave into the military and liberate them at the end of their service. If troop quotas were determined by population, and Virginia had over 200,000 slaves, Congress might say: ‘Every black man must fight.’ For that matter, a northern-controlled Congress might tax slavery out of existence." [More]

Thoughts?

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Between you, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chauncey da Vega I am learning more about America in the last two years than I have learned in the last sixty years as a mid-sixties white man. Thanks

Anonymous said...

My takeaway from this history lesson is that preserving an evil institution inevitably leads to more evil, among which are the 4th amendment and its perversions. No other society has such an amendment, and no other law here has been used to such perverse rationalizations, e.g., the "right" to bear arms in bars, national parks, etc. etc.

another 500 years and we should be finally rid of this ugly legacy...

—anotherbozo

pluky said...

@?Anonymous (Anotherbozo?)

Hoping for 500 years is futile. I'd be amazed if we last another 50.

The Purple Cow said...

Y'know, if David Simon ran America - the world would be a massively better place to be.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2013/may/25/wire-david-simon-war-drugs-video-interview

Whitey's Conspiracy said...

"Henry and Mason worried about protecting the “freedom” of plantation owners to possess other human beings as property. "
----------------
And the right to exercise some sort of dominion over others remains at the heart of South's definition of freedom in their uber reactionary authoritarian culture

MrCharlie2 said...

All completely true, but aren't you defining Jefferson as the leader of the right ?

Ivyfree said...

Interesting! However, I would expect most people who lived 250 years ago would hold some opinions that are 250 years out of date. The Founding Fathers weren't perfect, but they did manage to set up a system that, with a push and a shove, adjusts to changing conditions. That was their genius. They left a lot up to us.

field negro said...

"The Founding Fathers weren't perfect, but they did manage to set up a system that, with a push and a shove, adjusts to changing conditions. That was their genius. They left a lot up to us."

This may be true, but isn't the problem with the right that they don't want to "adjust to changing conditions"?

parvenu said...

Field your latest post serves an excellent historical introduction into the latest controversy concerning the intent and purpose of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Thom Hartmann a news analyst for Truthout an Internet news and opinion site wrote a widely circulated article which was headed "The Second Amendment Was Ratified to Preserve Slavery". It is Thom's viewpoint that the 2nd amendment was provided to allow southern slave states to maintain complete control over their militias which he contends were essentially slave patrols which were designed to monitor any signs of a possible slave rebellion and provide the white manpower to quickly subdue any possible slave uprising.

Professor Paul Finkelman wrote an article opposing the premise offered in Thom Hartmann's essay on this subject. Finkelman's piece was published by The Root's website on January 2013. Finkelman points out a number of inaccuracies in the historical time line in the Hartmann article. One important point he makes is that Virginia ratified the Constitution after New Hampshire and since New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify that was all that was required to make the Constitution the law of the land, and hence Virginia's ratification was not technically necessary.

The discussions presented by both Hartmann and Finkelman are too extensive for coverage here so I will simply conclude by saying each man's essay hold a certain measure of historical truth regarding the purpose of including the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Finkelman essentially puts most of the drive for the inclusion of the 2nd Amendment on the Northern states who have virtually no slaves and were concerned that in the event of a widespread slave uprising in the south the Northern state militias would be forced by Congress to march south and fight to put down the rebellion. The Northern states wanting nothing to do whatsoever with slavery in the south therefore was responsible for pushing Madison to write the 2nd Amendment. Hartmann's premise is that the southern states wanted the 2nd Amendment to make sure they maintained local control over their slave controlling militias irrespective of Congress.

I tend to agree with Hartmann, but not in respect to his argument that the 2nd Amendment was written to win Virginia's ratification of the Constitution. I believe that it was written by James Madison as a political expedient of the times. I feel sure that all of the southern slaves holding states were well aware that the 2nd Amendment would not only be written but would definitely be included and ratified by Congress as the Bill of Rights.

In essence what I contend that the real quid-pro-quo here is that the 2nd Amendment had to be included in the 10 Amendments in order to PERSUADE Congress to RATIFY the ENTIRE PACKAGE of the 10 Constitutional Amendments TO BE the BILL OF RIGHTS. Also the legislative text defining the relationship of state militias to the Federal government being positioned in the body (of the 10) Constitutional Amendments as the 2nd AMENDMENT is also highly significant in terms of its relative importance politically speaking at the historical time of its writing (1789).

MrCharlie2 said...

It seems artificial to assign Patrick Henry to the right. Does that make Washington and Adams the left?

I think of Patrick Henry as something of a populist: all the white guys could have slaves, not just rich guys like Washington (and Jefferson).

Can't argue with your facts, but the projection on current situation is very tenuous.

Anonymous said...

"Ironically, this argument was raised by two of the most famous voices for “liberty,” Patrick Henry and George Mason. Those two Virginians spearheaded the Anti-Federalist cause at the state’s ratifying convention in June 1788, urging rejection of the Constitution because, they argued, it would lead to slavery’s dem"

The fact is that Patrick Henry and George Mason were just playing politics, knowing fully well they would lose. Inside, they wanted slavery to end in VA but had to look like they didn't want it to end. That's the truth.

Anonymous said...

Field, I could be wrong but I think Melissa H Perry is very supportive of E.W. Jackson for Lt Gov. of Va.

Sorry, Mr Field and fans.. But You'll get over it.

mancala said...

"Racism has been a consistent thread weaving through the American Right from the early days when Anti-Federalists battled against the U.S. Constitution to the present when hysterical Tea Partiers denounce the first African-American president. Other factors have come and gone for the Right, but racism has always been there."

Utter and complete nonsense.

The "Right" never was associated with slavery.

The Democrats were the party of slavery and Jim Crow.

The word racist wasn't even invented until Trotsky did so in 1920's.

Today, it is the Left that is obsessed with race. The Right supports principles that are race-neutral. It is the Left that codifies racial definitions and apportions rights and responsibilities based on race.

The Left does this to divide society and marginalize those that oppose it's agenda. Case in point the Tea Party movement, which became a significant threat to the Left's statist agenda and was summarily tarred as "racist" through a campaign of lies and misinformation.

The concept of "racism" in 2013 has become a tool of control of the Left, comparable to being accused of witchcraft in Salem in the 1600's.

Wake up, fools.

Anonymous said...

The concept of "racism" in 2013 has become a tool of control of the Left, comparable to being accused of witchcraft in Salem in the 1600's.

Wake up, fools.

1:08 AM
--------------------
You are exactly right. Even Field uses racism, which he calls "chasing the big R", to further the agenda of the left. Unfortunately, his FN fans follow him like brainless automatons. This has got to stop. This is post-racial America but those lefties are destroying a good thing.

The Purple Cow said...

"I could be wrong but I think Melissa H Perry is very supportive of E.W. Jackson for Lt Gov. of Va."

Never heard of either of them.

field negro said...

PC, check my sidebar for more on E.W. Jackson. :)

I see some very good comments with this post.

T2P said...

Is opposition to Obama all based on race?

To believe that one must believe...

If a white male democrat (john edwards, joe biden, etc.)won the democrat primaries and the general election that republicans would gladly support left wing policies. Like they did with white male democrat bill clinton.

Oops, bad example.

Maybe one of the resident race baiters can explain their logic.

Bacopa said...

Would have been cool if the Congress had been able to draft every black man in Maryland and Virginia to fight in the War of 1812 and then free them and their families when the war was over. Brothers would have been swimming in the Chesapeake to attach bombs to British ships with that kind of deal. Total FNB!

But seriously, LBJ knew his backing of Civil Rights would drive the South away from the Dems. LBJ was an optimist. he thought it would just be 20 years. And here we are 40 years later and the GOP has fully embraced the racist crazy.

janinsanfran said...

Didn't Lincoln do something like what Mason suggested: issue the Emancipation Proclamation in order to deprive the Confederates of labor and to enlist the former slaves in the Union Army? Ended up with about 180,000 black soldiers, ten percent of the army. Way to put down a rebellion!

Anonymous said...

Good post Field, been reading "1493", quite the eye opener regarding slaves and rebellions, it was not as rare as people have been led to believe....


gaz

Frank said...

The underlying concept is "theft of labor."

Stealing the work of others is what is all about. The rest is rationalization for theft of labor.

MatanzasGV said...

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/tampa-bay-area-has-a-long-history-of-violent-heinous-crimes/1200222

The first 3 listed cases have been a part of our lives for about 3-yrs
And each one has given me more SALT! and reasons to distrust the shitrem

When i look at the case where the FBI murdered a man whom they assumed had connections to the Boston Bombers, and then made up storiers? i know for sure that i have made the right choice
if not me then who?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/30/us-usa-explosion-florida-idUSBRE94T03S20130530