Patterico's Pontifications


Robert Stacy McCain’s Suggested Bumper Sticker About Whipping Slaves: Just a Joke

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:22 pm

R.S. McCain pops up his head to tell me: “FUCK YOU, SIR.” What’s he upset about? That I mentioned a posting of his — which he wrote on a Civil War listserv — in which he proposed, in a thread about bumper stickers for the discussion group, this bumper sticker:

Have you whipped your slaves today?

I’m guessing that, when he made the comment, he didn’t realize I already had a post drafted up that defends him against the charge that this comment is racist.

The key is context. The context here suggests a joke.

Charles Johnson portrayed this statement without any context, saying only this:

Here’s Robert Stacy McCain in a humorous mood, dreaming up some hilarious Bumper Stickers . . .

May 21 1996, 12:00 am

I’d rather be wenching in the quarters


Have you whipped your slaves today?

On its face, this might seem UNABASHEDLY RACIST!!!!1!! (as Charles Johnson suggested.) But I think the truth is a little more subtle. I arrived at this conclusion by reading through this alt.war.civil.usa listserv:

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

My view of the “bumper sticker” is informed by my reading through these threads, and my conclusion is that Johnson’s cartoonish characterizations aren’t on the mark. In context, McCain’s proposed bumper sticker appears to be a joke, mocking Northerners’ views of Southern slaveholders, told by someone who appears to argue that those slaveholders weren’t such bad folk after all.

Reading through the threads, one can see that McCain is clearly an unabashed fan of the Confederacy. He questions the conception of slavery as a “Holocaust” in which slaves are routinely whipped, raped, and otherwise violently mistreated. For example:

I keep running into a certain conception of slavery the source of which I have been unable to determine. It seems like there is some major and influential book about slavery that I’ve never read or even heard of, or as if — in the 15-20 years since I left school — the texts have been rewritten in regard to slavery. Most of this new view is centered on inhumane atrocities which are alleged to have been frequent, even mundane, occur[r]ences in the antebellum South: Slave women raped with impunity on a nightly basis, the men castrated, slave family life systematically undermined, women and children purposefully sold away from their husbands and fathers, religious activity banned or suppressed, slaves bred like cattle on special plantations devoted to such practices, runaways hunted down and tortured or killed, and the most brutal methods of oppressive generally prevailing throughout Dixie.

McCain is clearly skeptical of this view of slavery, and asks his fellow discussion group members to provide proof of this version:

But, as I’ve said, it seems there are people — politicians, playwrights, journalists, scholars — who have access to some popular account of slavery which contradict the books I’ve been reading, and it is apparently a book which lays great emphasis on this “slavery as the Holocaust” theme, for I hear the same charges repeated over and over from a variety of sources. If someone could give me the title of this book — which I must have overlooked somehow — I would be greatly obliged.

I do not mean to touch upon the question of whether people should be subject to being bought and sold, or to get into some labyrinthine elaboration of the psychological trauma induced by “paternalism,” and I know that people sometimes do bad things to other people, but I merely want to find out where I can get my hands on this one book.

In other words, rather than focus on whether slavery is right or wrong, he seems to be focusing the discussion on the particular aspect of slavery that interests him in this thread: whether slaves were otherwise routinely mistreated with beatings, rapes, and such.

When other members suggest books such as “The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass” or “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” McCain rejects the suggestions as “Yankee abolitionist propaganda.” He says of one book, “Twelve Years a Slave”:

I suspect that, whatever element of truth if any it contains, the story might properly be classified, like Douglass’ work, as Yankee abolitionist propaganda. Remember, these folks wanted to sell books, and “abolitionist” was a full-time job for some people.

And he says of the Frederick Douglass autobiography:

Well, DUH! As Douglass was from Maryland, and as Maryland remained in the Union, this is hardly an indictment of the Confederate states. And as Douglass was a leading abolitionist writer, it certainly behooved him to paint slavery in the worst possible light, didn’t it? Just as it behooves me to make the worst of the oppressive yoke of Yankee bondange [sic] which binds my homeland involuntarily to a nation that is viciously biased against me, right? (See how this works?)

Or this, regarding the same volume and Uncle Tom’s Cabin:

I read an excerpt of Douglass’ autobiography in my college AmLit anthology, but that was 15 years ago and I don’t remember much. I recently bought “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and have tried to read it, but can’t stop laughing hysterically: These people sit around all day and never talk about anything else but “Negro this” and “Negro that,” as if it were the only possible subject of discussion. A similarly laughable obsession is detectable in “Roots: The Miniseries.” How absurd, that 100 percent of the Southern population sat around all day, year after year, and discussed the circumstances of 35 percent of the population. An abolitionist idee fixe, I suppose.

Here is the passage that I found to be the most revealing regarding the bumper sticker:

Jews were responsible for slavery, but to no greater extent than were Arabs, Africans, Portugese, Spanish, Dutch, French, British and Yankees. What cooks me — and a lot of other Southerners — is the constant portrayal of slavery as “a Southern thing,” its collateral ironclad association with the Confederacy and the acceptance at face value of the view that every antebellum Southerner was a wenching, slave-driving brute. Anyone protesting against this purposeful stigmatization is classed (by Mark, anyway) as a racist, anti-semite, Holocaust-denying, gun-wielding militia goon.

The bolded language indicates McCain’s desire to rebel against what he clearly sees as unfair stereotypes about Southerners. Note the twinned references to “wenching and “slave-driving” — indicating that he saw these two stereotypes as going hand in hand. And indeed, those stereotypes appear paired together in two of the bumper stickers that he proposed at the same time:

I’d rather be wenching in the quarters


Have you whipped your slaves today?

When I read that, I concluded that McCain was responding to Northern stereotypes of Southerners — and drafted up a post along those lines. Stashiu and DRJ know this because I discussed it with them by e-mail.

In his recent “FUCK YOU” comment to me, McCain addresses the bumper sticker . . . and his explanation is rather similar to the conclusion I had already reached in my draft of this post. McCain now says:

The other day, Frey quoted a (purposefully) offensive bumper sticker slogan that I suggested during a 1996 exchange involving Mark Pitcavage on a Civil War discussion board. To invoke Goldstein’s “intentionality,” my intent was to mock Pitcavage’s habit of turning every thread into an excuse for South-bashing. Pitcavage’s attitude was a particularly hideous example of a worldview that I call boreal supremacy.

The slogan “contest” was prompted by a Civil War re-enactor who’d seen a humorous historic-themed bumper sticker, and who suggested a few examples of other possible slogans. Pitcavage then jumped in with several unfunny slogans, predictably including a few of the South-bashing variety.

On that discussion board, Pitcavage displayed an annoying habit of hijacking threads to reiterate his vindictive theme: Every Confederate soldier was motivated exclusively by pro-slavery sentiment and therefore any defense of the South is de facto racism. You could be discussing whether a certain cavalry regiment was armed with repeating carbines and, next thing you knew — WHAM — Pitcavage would hijack it with his “Secret Protocols of the Learned Elders of Dixie” crap. And he did this while a Ph.D candidate at Ohio State University!

Therefore, intending to mock Pitcavage’s obsession with the blood-guilt-of-the-South theme, I offered up two purposefully offensive slogans intended to express Pitcavage’s conception of the Confederate cause.

Truth be told, I regretted it about 1/10th of a second after hitting the “send” button. Even if Pitcavage was asking for it, it was undignified to let him bait me into responding with a gesture equivalent to mooning. Of course, I can easily understand why any reader would be shocked and horrified by those expressions: “WTF? He’s making light of slavery?” But the shocking nature of the slogans was meant as a mockery of the obnoxious arguments of Pitcavage, and were published on a discussion board whose readers were a few dozen history buffs.

I’m inclined to accept this. Where McCain goes off the rails is in claiming that I invoked this statement as an example of McCain’s racism. To the contrary, when this bumper sticker was pointed out to me, I found the quote facially disturbing — but didn’t want to blog it until I had had a chance to review the context and confirm it was McCain’s quote. In the context of explaining why I was not calling McCain “a racist,” I cited the bumper sticker as an example of an allegation that I had not examined, and that I therefore did not want to include as evidence of racism, because I had not looked at the full context.

I have now had a chance to do that, and the context reveals it to be something quite different from that which it appears to be on its face.

Reading through the various threads, you get a picture of McCain as someone who strongly believes that slavery was not quite the horror that it is portrayed to be by modern society.

Another aspect of these threads that gained some attention from Charles Johnson was McCain’s description of the Jim Crow era:

I have interviewed former sharecroppers and tenant farmers and am myself the son of a land-poor Depression-era Southern farm boy who was only too happy to escape the tedium and drudgery of mule-powered agriculture.

For all their suffering, however, these people usually are able to remember happy times from their experiences and to reflect that no one was really to blame for their condition. Even black people talking about the days of Jim Crow, without defending segregation, will often say: “That’s just the way things were. We took it for granted.

How you react to this language will probably depend upon your background — but, as Jeff Goldstein would say, the key is what McCain meant. I am reliably informed that there is some truth to McCain’s description of the Jim Crow era. Now, I would prefer to see discussions of the Jim Crow era more explicitly acknowledge how very wrong “separate but equal” was. But a speaker’s failure to discuss that as extensively as you might like does not make him racist.

What’s more, even if you see Jim Crow as an evil, it is critical to recognize that correcting exaggerations about the deeds of evildoers need not be intended as a defense of the evildoer, but rather may be simply a defense of the truth. As I have argued before, if someone says Hitler killed a billion Jews, it is not neo-Nazism to note the error.

Maybe there are reasons to question Frederick Douglass’s book. Maybe there are reasons to question certain prevailing narratives of Southern slaveholders. I’m sure I wouldn’t phrase everything the way McCain did, but raising such questions does not make one a racist.

P.S. I do not write this post to get a pat on the head from Robert Stacy McCain. He has declared me an enemy and told me “FUCK YOU” and I’m fine with that. I don’t have to associate with everyone I meet on the Internet. They don’t have to like me.

But I tell the truth about people who don’t like me, as well as those who do. And here, the truth — considered in full context — makes McCain look better than he does when you merely read the statement, devoid of context, at Little Green Footballs.

So says me.

P.P.S. Let me address the inevitable objections that it doesn’t matter what my conclusions are . . . the very notion of my setting myself up as the judge is offensive, regardless of the conclusion. A rather hysterical and exaggerated form of this argument can be found in McCain’s “FUCK YOU” comment:

Frey has evidently become so accustomed to a prosecutorial role that he now arrogates to himself the duty to arraign me, to unload a dossier of “evidence,” to compel me to defend myself, and to cross-examine me in an effort to catch me in a perjury trap.

Or in this post:

It strikes me as ironic that the Internet, which has been hailed as a liberating force of First Amendment freedom, has been hijacked by some people for the purposes of conducting a Star Court inquisition, so that I have been compelled to spend so much time explaining myself.

I “hijacked” the whole Internet? It’s a “Star Court inquisition”?

What a bunch of crap. I am just a blogger, talking about some things another blogger once voluntarily wrote on a public message board. You are free to consider what I say or ignore it. You are free to agree or disagree. But let’s not pretend I’m anything more than just a guy with a web site, giving his opinions.

Star Chamber? A blog? Get real.

P.P.P.S. Another pre-emptive rebuttal: anyone who agrees with me here will likely call this a “walkback.” Some baselessly claimed I did so before, when I hadn’t. And I’m not doing so here. This is a separate analysis of a separate quote.

128 Responses to “Robert Stacy McCain’s Suggested Bumper Sticker About Whipping Slaves: Just a Joke”

  1. Robert Stacy McCain asserts that he has an absolute right to write any shit he wants. To that I respond,

    nk (df76d4)

  2. Basically speaking, it does take a racist cocksucker to revision the Civil War. It was about slave states keeping their slaves and willing to break this great country in two if they could not.

    nk (df76d4)

  3. My high school history teacher was no racist, and he taught that the Civil War was not primarily about slavery, but economics.

    Patterico (64318f)

  4. Well, yes, cheap labor is always a good thing.

    nk (df76d4)

  5. Our slavery was race-based slavery. Can anyone deny that?

    nk (df76d4)

  6. I was taught at my very liberal high school slavery was a genocide equivalent to the Jewish Holocaust. When I objected and said the two things were not the same, I was told to “think again.” I pointed out that if they wanted to show genocides with regard to blacks to teach us about Rwanda and other African nations. I was shot down again and essentially told to STFU. I was also told that since I’m not black, I have no say in the matter. (I’m Asian and not allowed to play “who’s more oppressed” I guess.)

    My less liberal but still Democrat history teachers have taught me two versions of the cause of the War of Northern Aggression. Some said it was about states’ rights (economics), others said it was slavery. I’d say it’s really both.

    wherestherum (d413fd)

  7. Will you please tell what you mean by economics?

    nk (df76d4)

  8. I think anyone who tries to boil the Civil War down to one simple, concrete cause is not trying to understand what happened at all. Being born north of the Mason-Dixon line doesn’t keep people from being racist and being born south of it doesn’t make you one.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  9. nk,

    It’s fuzzy to me now, but it obviously was RELATED to slavery. I think the point was the divide between an industrial and an agricultural economy.

    Patterico (64318f)

  10. My Texas high school teachers made the same point, nk: That the Civil War was more about the South trying to protect its cotton-based economy than about slavery.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  11. The North had immigrants and Eli Whitney’s machines. The South had people that it could whip to death if they did not work hard enough. Is that economics?

    nk (df76d4)

  12. Remember: my teacher was Texan too.


    Patterico (64318f)

  13. I’ve also had a couple history professors teach that the Civil War was “not about slavery”, it was about “state’s rights”. My own extensive Civil War-related reading suggests that this view requires one to ignore large swaths of evidence, including direct quotes from formal Confederate/Southern resolutions. But I would never assume that the person propounding the view was a racist, just because he liked to believe his view was more nuanced and sophisticated than that of the unwashed masses.

    Linus (0569d9)

  14. Oh, and for comparison, I went to high school in Idaho.

    Linus (0569d9)

  15. The new revisionsism lately is that if the South were to be rid of its slaves, what would it have done with them?

    In any case, slavery is a worse thing than secession, but secession was a very bad thing in my opinion. And it cannot be justified. FUCK YOU, TOO, MR. McCAIN.

    nk (df76d4)

  16. The South had people that it could whip to death if they did not work hard enough.

    This is the view I think RSM was speaking against and from some things I’ve read, I have a problem with it too. Slaves were expensive so whipping your slave to death isn’t cost effective, to put it coldly. You don’t want to kill your slaves because new ones are expensive. They’re your workhorses. You don’t want to work them literally to death. At least, not right off the bat.

    Slavery is unjust for sure, and no one but the crazies would defend it, but I do think the revisionists have gotten hold of the narrative and completely turned it into racial politics. They also conveniently eliminate any mention of Muslim slave traders and African tribes selling their war prisoners.

    wherestherum (d413fd)

  17. Well, I always said that the statement was too vague, and too clearly in a joking context to think he necessarily approved of slavery.

    But on the other hand, i am deeply offended by his pro-treason stance. I especially consider it ugly that he would assert that Douglass was just making shit up.

    Slavery was evil. First, because it was slavery. that is enough. but yes, there were rapes, some destruction of family (although as a rule families were kept together, not out of kindness, but to keep the parents from running). And yes, it was a holocuast-level evil. it was not as intense as the orgy or murder represented by the holocaust, but the totality of human misery was in that zone that its hard to compare, but either way it was incredibly fucking evil.

    I find it especially galling and sad that he discounts the testimony of a black man on the subject. You know it used to be that black people in that time were not allowed to testify against a white man, period. Apparently McCain has mimicked that view, deciding that the good slave holders should not be impugned by one of their victims.

    And why is Douglass biased? Oh, right, because he hates slavery and wanted it to end. Okay, but where did his hate come from? If his stories were all made up, then what was there?

    But the facts if you care to pay attention tell a different story. It was illegal in the south to rape a slave, mind you. But since the witnesses were generally black, and it was illegal for a black person to testify against a white person, as a practical matter, how would you ever prosecute that conduct? And of course the rules made rape easier in another sense, in that they declared that the child of a slave was a slave, no matter how white that child appeared; a single drop of black blood was enough. Its funny that the rule ensured that if a master raped his slave and had a child, that there would be no question that the child would be a slave, too. And then there were the numerous slave harems that the masters kept, with mulatto children all around.

    And gee, let’s try a little bit of logic too. Do you really think that if a man was made to believe he owned a woman he would be chivalrous toward her? Sheesh, folks, let’s think on that a second. Let’s look today at all the pig male bosses who sexually harass their subordinates. Is this really so hard to believe.

    Only if you have decided that somehow the actions of your ancestors are your own. Then like mccain, you try desperately to ignore the reality, because you feel it reflects so badly on you.

    A.W. (a2b7d1)

  18. he taught that the Civil War was not primarily about slavery, but economics.

    I don’t think the people who were enslaved would agree with this view. They were Americans, too, and for them, that’s what the war was all about.

    I also consider it unlikely that a war would have resulted if not for that hot button issue, which stood out among all others. But we’ll never know.

    Lastly, you could argue that every war is ultimately fought over resources. Hitler for instance wanted more land and made up whatever he had to make up to justify a power grab. But in some conflicts — such as World War II and the Civil War — there are larger issues of freedom and justice involved.

    Overall, I agree with Stashiu3 in comment 8 and Linus in comment 13.

    As for DRJ’s teacher saying the “Civil War was more about the South trying to protect its cotton-based economy than about slavery”

    The two were inextricably linked, and southern plantation owners had no interest in trying to separate them — that is separating enslaved workers from cotton production. In fact, it was a slave-based economy that produced cotton.

    Myron (998393)

  19. I have read that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe he told her, “So you’re the little lady that started the Civil War”. I always thought that it more appropriate to Eli Whitney.

    nk (df76d4)

  20. Cotton is highly subsidized.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  21. I love that RSM is so hostile to political correctness. I think that’s an undercurrent often in his mind. He was pressing a button here, and with the natural revulsion quote, and some other times, where he sends an “F You” to people who take offense.

    Of course, to realize that he’s not some kind of crazy bigot, it takes giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not like you can give that kind of scrutiny to everyone all the time. It probably took several hours to get to this ‘he was after truth, not laughing at whipping slaves’.

    Even after that, he’s joking about something that’s messed up. The target of the laughs isn’t the slaves, but still, if he’s going to say FU at someone just observing that it needs some analysis, he’s being unfair.

    I feel the same way sometimes about the PC police. Why should I prove that I’m not racist, or even stay off the eggshells? It’s fun to poke the PC cops without actually crossing the line, too.

    so RSM messed up with an actual racist quote about natural revulsion, and told an insensitive joke about whipping slaves, and even now, he’s not being called ‘racist’ by the fella he’s angrily denouncing.

    Sure would be nice if that door swung both ways. RSM should offer a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to the crazy guy who made this a whole lot harder with his charges of antisemitism and threats. If he really wants to poke the PC police, or demonstrate his interest in fairness in this whole drawn out mess.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  22. “The two were inextricably linked, and southern plantation owners had no interest in trying to separate them — that is separating enslaved workers from cotton production. In fact, it was a slave-based economy that produced cotton.

    Comment by Myron ”

    Myron, she knows that and is saying that. But it’s a little different to say they were trying to keep the chance to whip their slaves than to say they felt that was needed to maintain their way of life, as unjust as it was.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  23. Myron agrees with me? Let me look my comment over again…

    Damn it. Reads okay. Myron is trying to mess with me, isn’t he? 😉

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  24. nk #11,

    The North’s cotton gin vs the South’s slaves? I was taught that Eli Whitney’s cotton gin was one important reason why slavery expanded and made the South’s slave-based economy even more pervasive — because the cotton gin made it profitable to grow short-staple cotton on inland lands.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  25. Myron,

    I agree cotton and slavery are linked but, as suggested in my comment #22, the more the South expanded cotton production and became a single-crop economy, the more difficult it was to abandon slavery.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  26. So basically Robert Stacy McCain is to the Confederacy what Pat Buchannan is to the fascist regimes of Spain and, god help us, Nazi Germany, or what Noam Chomsky is to Stalinist USSR and Maoist China. That is to say, he isn’t a pro confederacy or pro slavery, he is anti anti confederacy and anti anti slavery. He never condones either, per se, but only seems to get worked up by those who are opposed to the regime in question.

    Sean P (4e8ea3)

  27. I don’t think there has ever been a war that was fought for just one reason – unless it was pride and honor. It certainly wasn’t that way for the South.

    It was economics, it was slavery, it was pride, it was ignorance, it was states rights. It was, for Lincoln, mostly about the Union. For many it was the fulfillment of the curse that God had put on the country for the evil of slavery.

    In a civil war nothing is ever simple.

    Colorado (b81d6e)

  28. The US Navy could whip you to death for what amounted to laziness in those years.
    If slave ownership was legal in a time where corporal punishment was legal and prelevant, then I’d say you’d have to prove that slaves were beaten at a rate that exceeded the norm

    SteveG (11baba)

  29. prevalent

    SteveG (11baba)

  30. The two were inextricably linked, and southern plantation owners had no interest in trying to separate them — that is separating enslaved workers from cotton production. In fact, it was a slave-based economy that produced cotton.


    Nobody here is defending it, you know.

    Patterico (64318f)

  31. Now that the furor is dying down…
    (and, if this is a thread hijack, let me know and I’ll move it over to the “Jury”.)

    Below is a quote that leaped to mind when I read the “original” thread. I’m wondering how it would/should be interpreted in light of the analytical methodologies we seem to be settling on. I’ve included several paragraphs and some will no doubt recognize the speaker and setting. Please set that aside for a moment, and tell me whether you think it is a racist statement. Is there any difference in the conclusions Jeff and Patterico would draw? I’ll contextualize it in a few minutes:

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing
    about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.

    And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

    I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”
    [denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone.”

    fat tony (9a2e5c)

  32. As a westerner (Utah) who grew up in the south (Texas and Virginia), I was always taught that it was mostly about states rights (in the sense that the US was a confederation of states and not a federal union). With that said, it’s obvious that slavery was the test case that made the argument so important to the south.

    Saying it was just about slavery is a clear oversimplification. The fact that Lincoln freed the slaves in the rebellious territories and not the Union (initially) is indicative.

    The South felt (and still feels) that the industrial North was trying to control them and that the slavery issue was just one way in which they were getting the shaft.

    NK, I hardly think I’m a “racist cocksucker” because I don’t think that the Civil War was exclusively about the noble North setting the slaves free from the depredations of the evil southerners.

    Do I think the South was wrong to rebel, yes. Do I see any way to justify slavery other than the lame “that’s the way it always has been” excuse, no. However, the South had legitimate complaints and the North had dirty hands as well.

    Dr T (324d86)

  33. fat tony,

    I’m going to guess that’s Lincoln?

    Patterico (64318f)

  34. I’m going to guess that’s Lincoln?
    Comment by Patterico — 12/18/2009 @ 9:21 pm

    Pretty sure it’s Byrd.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  35. Yes, I believe it is a racist statement.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  36. fat tony,

    I swear I didn’t look that up first. It’s just that, here I am on Main Street, and I saw that comin’ down it.

    Patterico (64318f)

  37. Actually, strike that part about Jeff and Pat. I wasn’t trying to “go there”.

    And, rather than make a game about it, I’ll just reveal that the speaker was Abraham Lincoln at the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate.

    fat tony (3b6d31)

  38. Up next someone will tell us that Nidal Hassan is the reincarnation of Robert E. Lee: An officer who turns on his country because of his beliefs. And if you don’t agree? RAAAACIST!

    imdw (c5488f)

  39. I was wrong, oops! Still a racist statement. Thought it might be part of Byrd’s Senate filibuster against the Civil Rights Act.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  40. imdw,

    I don’t get the Hasan analogy but it reminds me: Hasan is out of intensive care and will be in rehab for 2 months to learn how to deal with his paraplegia.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  41. The South had people that it could whip to death if they did not work hard enough.

    Imagine you lived in the South, didn’t own slaves, in fact thought slavery was an absolute evil. Would you be more likely to speak out, or less, after watching the rich guy who owns the plantation bordering on your hardscrabble, whip a couple of his field hands to death?

    My point is that’s an oppressive situation for all involved. The overlord wouldn’t think twice about doing damage to the non slave owner if he stuck his head up. And who would there be to tell him nay? The government, courts, and sheriff supported the despot.

    papertiger (e9a2a0)

  42. Back to the topic for me. I agree with Patterico’s analysis in the post that McCain seems to be interested in “whether slaves were otherwise routinely mistreated with beatings, rapes, and such.” In context, I don’t view these statements as evidence McCain is endorsing or excusing slavery.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  43. #29

    Even though I knew Lincoln was not a fan of slaves, only that he thought it wrong they were enslaved, I thought that was Robert Byrd.

    Here’s another question. In relation to context, is his quote racist? Sure, by today’s measure that quote is despicably racist. But was it racist for 1860?

    wherestherum (d413fd)

  44. “I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”

    Abe Lincoln aligning with the “consensus” of science – 1858.

    papertiger (e9a2a0)

  45. Exactly right, Patterico.

    I was too lazy (and cowardly) to jump in earlier, but I think this quote is susceptible to the same analysis McCain’s original quote was. After you posted your analytical criteria the other night, this quote jumped to the forefront again.

    Stashiu’s view is eminently reasonable. This quote is very troubling viewed in a modern context. But it was spoken about a man who Frederick Douglass himself said (I paraphrase) had not a racist bone in his body.

    Was the statement racist? Well, it was designed to assuage an audience that might harbor these fears, but it was uttered in the cause of abolition.

    I think the “J” and “P” methodologies would reach the conclusion that the statement is not racist.

    fat tony (3b6d31)

  46. Pretty simple:

    No slavery, no secession, no Civil War.

    Now, there was a view in the South that Northern bankers and such were trying to cheat the South, and also a feeling in the South that the North was losing touch with “American” values for various reasons, and that Northern culture was coarse and voracious and aggressive and was trying to consume the allegedly more civilized and polite Southern way of life and replace it with crass commercialism.

    But all that is much the same kind of stuff that “divides” our nation today, even if the specific issues are different. What wasn’t the same kind of stuff we have today was the slavery issue. Racism, all the ills associated with aristocratic societies, and a bunker mentality combined to harden opinion in the South, while in the North people became more and more convinced that slavery was a curse on the Republic that would ultimately destroy the dream of the Fathers and change the country into something the Fathers would have rejected.

    The North and South had very different ideas of what the Fathers meant for their country. The North had more quickly overcome the pre-war inter-colonial rivalries and cooperated together more closely as a union in fighting the British than the South had; the North in time found Hamilton’s ideas about a strong federal government much better suited to the interests of the money men of New York and Boston (and later Chicago) while the South found that its own economy was much better suited to having a weak federal government that didn’t mess around with tariffs and other various stickings of its nose into what the Southern people saw as their business and their business alone. The Nullification Crisis was aptly analyzed after all was said and done by President Jackson: “the next pretext will be the negro or slavery question,” he said, and he was exactly right.

    This is getting long and even it is barely scratching the surface of all the different currents seething through America before the Civil War. My point is that there were a lot of things that created ripe conditions for a secession movement to arise in the South – all it needed was a sufficient cause to get Southern blood up enough to actually take the fateful step of secession. Slavery provided more than enough heat to get that blood boiling.

    The fact is that it was a very small number of men – 3,000 to 5,000 – in the South, the upper crust of the planter aristocracy, that were responsible for the 30 years indoctrinating the Southern people into believing that the North was hell-bent on running roughshod over them in every way imaginable, and those same few thousand who had the political power and made the decision to secede (which, if you read reports from the time, was greeted with wild enthusiasm and near-total support through most of the South, though there were notable exceptions).

    And why did they spend 30 years indoctrinating the Southern people that the North was their enemy? Why did they decide to secede? Because for almost all those few thousand men of the planter aristocracy, no slavery = no more planter aristocracy.

    They knew that there were millions of poor white men in the South who lived lives barely better than that of slaves – some of them worse.

    They knew that many of those poor white men, just about the only thing that kept them from being pissed off at the rich white men was the fact that they could say “well at least I’m not a nigger.”

    They knew that the only reason they were rich white men and not poor white men was the system of slavery.

    And so they seceded. The institution of race slavery caused the Civil War. The men responsible for secession – responsible for the war – made their decision based on their reasoning that they were going to lose their money and lose their social status if they didn’t secede. There’s no other honest conclusion. Slavery.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  47. I wish I could remember where I’d read it, some long ago history text, but indentured servants were treated worse than slaves. Slaves you keep until they die. Indentured servants you keep for the length of their contracts and those last couple of years were the worst for them. That’s usually when they were beaten the most.

    wherestherum (d413fd)

  48. “spoken BY a man”

    fat tony (3b6d31)

  49. The North had union busters who’d beat people to death. Perhaps more people lost their lives due to Northern beatdowns than due to Southern slaveowners whippings (remember that slaves were property whereas labor was cheap and purchased by the hour… it was much harder to replace a beaten to death slave than an hourly employee)

    SteveG (11baba)

  50. There are a lot of things that people are saying here that aren’t really accurate, most of them about Lincoln. I’d suggest reading Carl Sandburg’s THE PRAIRIE YEARS and THE WAR YEARS biographies of Lincoln. The reason Lincoln only initially freed the slaves in CSA-controlled territory was twofold: one, he thought that abolishing slavery entirely required a Constitutional amendment, and two: he was afraid that if he moved too fast on the slavery issue, he would lose the North, possibly face riots and revolts like those in New York in July of ’63, etc. The opposition press blasted Lincoln for, as time went on, referring to blacks as “negroes,” then “intelligent contrabands,” then “free Americans of African descent.”

    Unlike the politicians of today, Lincoln tried to shape public opinion without going out and making a million hope and change speeches. He was for abolition all along. He once asked someone about Wendell Phillips upon seeing him at a White House reception or function, (I think it was Phillips), something to the effect of, ‘is that the man from Boston who’s been tearing me apart in the abolition papers?’ Upon being told yes, Lincoln said, ‘well, tell him to keep it up. Tell him to get the country behind abolition, and I will follow.’

    Lincoln really was a grandmaster of 11-level chess. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t move too slow, didn’t move too fast, he already had a third of the country in revolt against him and he couldn’t afford to have any more. The “Copperheads” made today’s defeatist Democrats look like little children. Secret societies of thousands of members formed to resist the draft and the “war for niggers.” Lincoln had to walk on eggshells every day wondering if a decision of his would cause the North to divide against itself as the entire country already had with the Southern secession. He had a very thin tightrope to walk and he managed it.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  51. I think reading certain abolitionists “anectdotal” accounts of slaves ‘beaten to death’ is comparable to John Kerry’s reading of Vietnam atrocities.

    SteveG (11baba)

  52. Back to the topic Charles Johnson is searching the Arpanet for hit piece quotes against RS McCain.
    Damn do we have to get scramblers for our cell phones now?

    CJ pull your f’in head out jerk. Get that CAT scan sooner rather then later, before the brain tumor becomes inoperable.

    papertiger (e9a2a0)

  53. Anybody have some gasoline?

    We probably should have shot some more of those slave owning bastards while we had the chance. Sherman was one of America’s greatest heroes.

    Oh, and of course: Jaffa

    Fritz (b04970)

  54. “Patterico has done a front-page post on how racisty RSM is for having made that bumper sticker comment.”


    Them intentionalists at Protein Wisdom reed reel gud.

    Patterico (64318f)

  55. Fritz

    maybe they should have travelled back in time and shot Washington and Jefferson too

    SteveG (11baba)

  56. SteveG,

    They were damned, dirty traitors too? Washington and Jefferson at least had the decency to be rank hypocrites.

    Fritz (b04970)

  57. Patterico – I thought they were all too busy over at PW backtracking by inventing new ways that language worked when the old ones they served up didn’t work. Like dicentra’s post today – We shoulda been arguing structure, not structure and concept, two different things or something, D’oh! New outburst of self-congratulatory masturbation breaks out among the commenters, yeah, we were looking at it all wrong, D’oh!



    Stay tuned for the next installment of how language works (AKA, makin’ shit up as we go along), brought to you by Protein Wisdom.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  58. “Yet in his desperate attempt to justify his own righteousness, Patrick Frey resorts to this to make a guilt-by-association attack on Jeff G”

    Where is his evidence of anything even resembling that?

    oneisnotprime (e25cc0)

  59. Evidence, oneisnotprime? What are you, some kind of fucking LAWYER?!?!

    These are BLOGS. We don’t need EVIDENCE.

    Patterico (64318f)

  60. I guess while you were crawling around up inside McCain’s ass he scratched too early.
    You were in his ass… he gets to scratch whenever he wants.
    if you don’t want to hear “Fuck you”, then don’t climb up his ass.

    SteveG (11baba)

  61. I released that from the filter. Not quite sure why. Charming, that is, SteveG.

    Patterico (64318f)

  62. Causing curse words to make comments go in the filter. Smartest thing I ever did.

    Patterico (64318f)

  63. That, and buying Apple at 30 cents.

    Patterico (64318f)

  64. Gee, another flame war with a fellow conservative blogger. I bookmarked this site for its intelligent
    discussion of contemporary issues. The personalization of the argumentation diminishes both
    the credibility and attraction of this blog.

    Michael Ordonez (b305dd)

  65. Gee, another flame war with a fellow conservative blogger.

    Actually, a defense of a fellow conservative blogger.

    You kind of suck at reading. You coming from Protein Wisdom, are you?

    Patterico (64318f)

  66. Well then fuck Apple too I guess… since evidently it’s germane.
    I mean it’s your blog.

    LA DDA Patrick Frey is (probably not) a racist

    UPDATE: Frey answers our finding that he is probably not a racist with : “Fuck You Sir”

    Update (2) I hereby retract my statement that LA DDA Patrick Frey is (probably not) a racist

    Interesting that someone who has been anything but charming lately would address me as “charming” for using language he regularly employs.

    You crawled up someones ass and he said fuck you… grow up and cowboy the fuck up. What did you want? A cookie?

    SteveG (11baba)

  67. That’s not… an accurate characterization of our Protein Wisdom friends I don’t think really about the sucking at the reading. Myself I got almost all the way through page 16 of New Moon.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  68. Slartibartfast said I called Stacy McCain racist in this post, happy.

    Patterico (64318f)

  69. And I think you mean “Good Night Moon.”

    Patterico (64318f)

  70. And I think you mean “Good Night Moon.”
    Comment by Patterico — 12/18/2009 @ 11:54 pm

    Oh, I know this one! It’s “New Moon” from the Twilight books, right happyfeet? This makes up for the quote mistake earlier. :)

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  71. exactly, Stashiu… she really loves Edward a lot was the takeaway

    Good Night Moon is an awesome book too…

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  72. oh wait… not too in the sense that New Moon was an awesome book cause it was at best perplexing… the 16 pages I saw anyway…

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  73. Comment by DRJ — 12/18/2009 @ 8:48 pm

    Re Eli Whitney. He did more than invent the cotton gin. He invented mass production. The Texas Colts, invented by Sam Colt, that went to the Texas Navy (those were the Pattersons) and to Captain Walker’s Texas Rangers (those were the Walkers) were made at Whitneyville. Not each handmade but assembled from mass-produced parts.

    I have a book with a story about him assembling ten muskets from disparate parts for President Washington. (I won it as a prize for reading a lot.)

    nk (df76d4)

  74. And for those who try to excuse our slavery (and not by “just look over there”), can you point to a law, federal, state, or local, that prevented a slave owner from skinning his slave alive, slicing a a piece off him, and cooking it and eating it in front of the slave’s lidless, dying eyes?

    nk (df76d4)

  75. well, nk, regardless of your outrage you need to seek professional help and a map that will get you to America in the 21st century.

    vanderleun (444f85)

  76. Why no, I don’t suck at reading. I was commenting
    on the trend I’ve seen on this blog in the last few days. Please , less back-biting and more straight
    foreward commentary.

    Michael Ordonez (b305dd)

  77. well, nk, regardless of your outrage you need to seek professional help and a map that will get you to America in the 21st century.

    Comment by vanderleun — 12/19/2009 @ 3:47 am

    Where a Coloradan would-be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle gets to redefine language and do all kind of other over-the-internet schtick. Got it.

    nk who is sleeping alone tonight (df76d4)

  78. They knew that there were millions of poor white men in the South who lived lives barely better than that of slaves – some of them worse.

    How did poor white southern men make a living during the days of slavery? How do you bid a job while the slaveholders can under bid you and use their slaves to do the job? You pretty much would have to agree to do the job for the same price. No wonder that all these poor white men joined up to fight for the plantation owners…they needed jobs!

    The illegal aliens of today are analogous to the slaves of old. They benefit the very rich while driving down the standard of living for the working class citizens. The poor working citizen, in his desperation, looks for a lifeline; fighting for the plantation owners or voting for Democrats. Both created your desperation and then benefit by the desperation they created.

    From the North’s economic perspective, not to attack the South would be like living with a China at your border. The North would never be able to compete with the cheap labor force of the South.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  79. From the North’s economic perspective, not to attack the South would be like living with a China at your border. The North would never be able to compete with the cheap labor force of the South.

    Comment by j curtis — 12/19/2009 @ 5:07 am

    And how long would that have lasted? Sooner or later there would have been a Haiti. Where the black slaves had slit their owners’ throats. The remnant of America in the North would not have had a China, it would have had a Haiti on its border.

    nk who is sleeping alone tonight (df76d4)

  80. In ANY context that’s bigoted.

    JEA (1a9417)

  81. Yeah writing as an apologist for slavery as a context for writing things like no one wants a black woman as a sister in law – gee who would be thinking the two were even remotely related?….

    EricPWJohnson (9b7688)

  82. FWIW, I heard most of the same arguments that McCain makes — minus the bumper stickers — from my eighth-grade Social Studies teacher, a CT liberal, way back when. The gist then — and, it seems, in McCain’s writing — wasn’t that slavery was okay, but that the causes of the War were complex, and that folks on the abolitionist side tended to label not-uncommon behavior as pretty much invariable. I didn’t come away from that, as an impressionable kid, thinking that slavery was just peachy-keen; just that the whole thing was more complicated… than could fit on a bumper sticker.

    Joel Rosenberg (bf5cce)

  83. You this is getting really old. I used to like reading this site and RSMcC…but not anymore.

    A pox on both your houses…

    MunDane68 (54a83b)

  84. Pat,
    I am a long time reader, and very infrequent commenter. However I find these blog wars tedious. I very much enjoy your site, it informs me. I also enjoy RSM’s site for the same reason. I am not a fan of Goldstein, but to find post after post after post (today is not so bad) of of bashing other bloggers is discouraging, and uninformative. Frankly I have gone from reading 2x a day to 2x a week. Perhaps it is just me, maybe this “war” is increasing your traffic, if so good for you. If your traffic is down perhaps you might consider this as a reason.
    Best regards

    Vmaximus (799643)

  85. I’m not following this well:

    “Here’s another thing RSM says that’s racially provocative, but I’m not calling him a racist or anything.”

    Techie (43d092)

  86. JEA is a mental midget, in any context.

    JD (7f74c4)

  87. I think some people don’t read past the first sentence of the post before commenting.

    Slartibartfast is not alone.

    Patterico (64318f)

  88. I’m not following this well . . .

    Apparently not.

    Patterico (64318f)

  89. By the way, blogging from me will probably be light until January 5. It should be mostly DRJ and Karl until then.

    So it will be safe to comment, and the carpers here won’t have any criticism (or defenses!) of other bloggers to disturb their tender sensibilities.

    Patterico (64318f)

  90. “I don’t get the Hasan analogy ”

    Both of them treasonously attacked their fellow soldiers.

    imdw (f8211e)

  91. Patterico on 12/18:

    “I’m guessing that, when he made the comment, he didn’t realize I already had a post drafted up that defends him against the charge that this comment is racist.

    The key is context. The context here suggests a joke.”

    The key may also be timing.

    Patterico at LMA on Dec 16:

    “My commenters noted him suggesting a bumper sticker reading “Have you whipped your slaves today?” on a Civil War listserv.

    I mentioned this in a post. I don’t know if it’s his quote or someone pretending to be him.”

    I pointed out the context in a following comment at LMA but there was no acknowledgement or response.

    It’s easy to miss a spirited defense when one has already commented with no regard to context, implying the statement is racist but only questioning whether it was McCain who actually said it.

    In regards to McCain’s motives, is it so terrible to insist that the history of any subject (esp one as controversial as slavery) be accurate? If you read the history of slavery in Africa you find that Africans owned Africans and it quite often it was blacks (and middle-easterners) selling blacks to others, but this never seems to find its way into modern-day US textbooks. Why is that? Is there a more important meme to be presented of whites (and particularly southerners) being much more terrible and culpable than any other group of people?

    Do we perpetuate the Kunta Kinte legend long after Alex Haley was exposed as a fraud?

    This ridiculous circus of providing moonbat blogs with choice (yet inaccurrate) accusations is getting very tiresome.

    harkin (f92f52)

  92. whoever said that the southern labor system of slavery was superior to the northern system of exploited free labor needs to bone up on their history. The south was economically disadvantaged thanks to slavery in every field of industry save agriculture, which is what kept the planter aristocracy rich, which is why they seceded, fearing that it would be taken away by lincoln. The difference between ohio, a free state with a vigorous and developing 19th century economy gearing up for the industrial revolution, and kentucky, a slave state with a stagnant 17th century economy, was obvious. And all that separated them was a river. And slavery. Men like robert e. Lee believed that slavery was a worse curse on the whites of the south than the blacks – and in a sense, they were right. But only in a limited sense.

    chaos (7c068a)

  93. That is to say, he isn’t a pro confederacy or pro slavery, he is anti anti confederacy and anti anti slavery. He never condones either, per se, but only seems to get worked up by those who are opposed to the regime in question.

    That seems about right.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  94. If you read the history of slavery in Africa you find that Africans owned Africans and it quite often it was blacks (and middle-easterners) selling blacks to others, but this never seems to find its way into modern-day US textbooks.

    Well, you know, Africa is Africa and America is America. Ne cest pas? They do what they do and we do what we do.

    nk (df76d4)

  95. Or as my mother often said, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  96. “If you read the history of slavery in Africa you find that Africans owned Africans and it quite often it was blacks (and middle-easterners) selling blacks to others, but this never seems to find its way into modern-day US textbooks”

    And if you try to teach modern day kids more about africa….

    imdw (26110f)

  97. “1.Robert Stacy McCain asserts that he has an absolute right to write any shit he wants. To that I respond,

    Yeah, fuck that First Amendment! FUCK IT, I say!

    stuiec (890f1b)

  98. Comment by imdw — 12/18/2009 @ 9:28 pm

    REL considered himself a Virginian first, and an American second; which is why he resigned his commission
    (IIRC he respectfully declined Lincoln’s offer of command of the Army of the Potomic),
    and accepted command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  99. Whipping slaves, and other non-economic acts…
    An anecdote from a contemporary diary from a Mississippi slave-holder is interesting.
    It seems that slaves were used to transport cotton bales to a bluff overlooking the river, where they man-handled them over the precipice.
    Awaiting the falling bales on the shore below, were Irish immigrant workers hired for 10-cents a day, who would stop the bales from falling/skidding into the river,
    and then load them on to the waiting river-boats/barges.
    Why would they use paid labor instead of slaves?
    It was a dangerous, often fatal job, and you didn’t have to pay for a dead Irishman (you just hired another who was waiting in line),
    whereas you had to pay real money to replace a dead slave.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  100. Ohio had better access to transportation to Eastern markets than Kentucky did. Kentucky has other problems that keep it economically disadvantaged to this day.
    The south was kept at economic disadvantage by heavy import and export tariffs that favored the north over the south.
    The deeper south also had climate and soil that was good enough for year round agriculture but lacked the infrastructure to move goods to the large northern markets overland. The tariffs were applied to seaports, so the south was locked into paying to “export” goods.

    Transitioning rapidly out of a slave labor based economy (which in previous generations was perfectly acceptable culturally and morally by the standards of their day) was problematic. It is easy to sit here in judgement viewed through the lens of 21st century sensibilities.
    Most historians caution against doing that for obvious reasons.
    “Put yourself in their shoes and empty your mind of what you know now” is the best advice I ever got in history class.

    Another good argument to have is whether slaves were better off under southern style paternalism or under the northern style of using slaves up and discarding them.
    Northern cities had to pass laws against the dumping of the old, the sick, the injured slaves onto the streets. Brick makers in Philadelphia worked their slaves to death shackled leg and neck.
    When slaves were freed in the north, they still were subject to assault, beatings and murder in their workplace and on the streets due to job competition with whites and just outright racism.
    There was a time when slaves in the south were arguably safer than freemen in the northern cities.
    The races in the North segregated strictly on racial lines for safety and those lines were not crossed by blacks without risking a beating or even murder.
    Some of those black enclaves exist to this day in our major northern cities and the sighting of a white person in an unofficial capacity within those boundaries is still rare (unless the whites are looking for someone slinging dope of course)

    Slavery is a blot on whatever civilization that practices it. In the past that evened out somewhat by the ebb and flow of power… one day you were the slaveowner… the next you and your slaves were both now subject to some new conqueror. But somehow we turned a corner away from the festering boil of slavery and have forged a new order. But in the process of forging that new order, some men found the world change underneath them and all around them…. what a generation ago was common practice amongst the leading and revered figures of the day… our founding fathers, was now being vilified.
    To reverse a practice that probably began as soon as man walked upright in two generations is a remarkable achievement.Some people had a hard time wrapping their heads around the problem of the coming change.
    That shit happens. Good people can be slow to realize that something was still legal, accepted, and constitutional could now be wrong.
    Or take a guy like Robert E Lee. Obviously a patriot to his nation, but what the heck was up with his loyalty to Virginia? What is the backstory on that?
    Why did individual states feel they had the legal right to secede and figure out their problems internally without fear of attack?

    SteveG (909b57)

  101. Comment by SteveG — 12/19/2009 @ 1:46 pm

    Pre-Civil War, they held this quaint notion that the U.S. was a Republic composed of Sovereign States,
    and people identified with the State of their birth, or of residence.
    Mr. Lincoln disabused them of that ridiculous notion; and that their political betters resided in DC, and they better remember it.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  102. The confederate constitution had line item veto, term limits, no vague “general welfare” clause and that bills where to be clearly defined one item bills… no pork, no riders.

    Then the poor dumb bastards included slavery… while banning all new importation.
    Whether they expected to transition out of slavery due to age attrition or breed them… I dunno.

    I relistened to the vaunted ALAN COLMES interview.

    Context expanded…
    A. Colmes seems to be interviewing Lynn Vincen(?) and McCain calls in.
    B. This can’t be a spontaneous call in by McCain because Colmes has an ambush prepared although McCain clearly thinks the subject to be discussed was something else.
    C. Colmes reads a lot of stuff we’ve already seen here and asks McCain if these are his words. McCain doesn’t seem to deny writing the words, but vehemently denies that those words are “his”.
    His “intent” it seems was to describe “other” peoples internal dialogue that he refused to judge as “racist”.
    D. Colmes asks a dumb question as to whether refusing to do business with a black bank clerk is racist, when clearly it is not and McCain rightly says he does not know. If Colmes had narrowed his terms… refused to do business with a black clerk due to race and race alone, OK.
    But black clerk with giant green booger right after lunch… not so much.
    E. McCain rightly asks for a definition of racist… because if merely refusing to do business with a black person is racism, then we’d all be forced to see green boogers (if our black teller happens to be sporting one) just after lunch just so we don’t get branded “racist”

    SteveG (11baba)

  103. “The confederate constitution had line item veto, term limits, no vague “general welfare” clause and that bills where to be clearly defined one item bills… no pork, no riders.”

    They also limited states rights. Notably:

    “Then the poor dumb bastards included slavery”

    Yup. A state didn’t have the “States right” to be a free state in the confederacy.

    imdw (7c85b9)

  104. nk made this challenge (#74 — 12/19/2009 @ 1:27 am):

    And for those who try to excuse our slavery (and not by “just look over there”), can you point to a law, federal, state, or local, that prevented a slave owner from skinning his slave alive, slicing a a piece off him, and cooking it and eating it in front of the slave’s lidless, dying eyes?

    I do not excuse or defend slavery. It would pain me to be misunderstood here to be doing either. But there were indeed some state and local laws that purported to protect slaves from murder at their masters’ hands. See, e.g., W. Rose, A Documentary History of Slavery in North America (1999), at 210 et seq. (italics in original):

          During the nineteenth century the penalties for the homicide of a slave were raised, and in cases of premeditated death of a slave the death penalty was assigned. In South Carolina, where such legal reforms came later than in the other states, this law was not enacted until 1821. Under its operation white persons, even masters, were occasionally executed for murder of slaves, but in most instances whites indicted for this crime escaped lightly.

          The difficulties of enforcement of the law, and securing a conviction of offenders, were enormous, because of two factors: the law assigned the masters an almost unlimited power to chastise slaves; and slaves were legally incapable, except under very restricted circumstances, to witness against white persons. A conviction against the master for murder of his slave was hardest of all to secure, since the law assumed that the master’s property interest would deter him from harming his own slave unnecessarily. It is significant that in such instances as convictions were won, the murder had been accompanied by torture or extreme cruelty, inescapably identifiable as “cruel and unusual” punishment.

    I can’t vouch for this source, but it’s to like effect and includes some references that look plausible at least at a glance:

    After the Revolutionary period, the law in the South strengthened slavery as an institution. Ironically, one way of strengthening slavery was to make it less harsh, because this would make slave rebellions less likely and undercut abolitionists’ critiques of the institution. Thus, in the 1820s South Carolina prohibited branding, dismemberment, castration, and other barbaric forms of punishment that had been legal in the colonial period. Similarly, by 1860 all Southern states recognized that anyone, even a master, who killed a slave in cold blood could be charged with murder. In State v. Hoover (1839) the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a master who tortured his slave to death. Shortly before the Civil War, a few Southern states made rape of a slave a crime, although there is no instance of a white man being prosecuted for such a crime.

    Despite my quibbles with you on this historical point, you and I are, I think, otherwise probably in agreement about slavery and its role in the Civil War. I think (and hope) that Patterico is right in saying that no one here is defending slavery or attempting to excuse it; and as also was the (unfortunately necessary) war which ended it, the institution of slavery was plenty awful without the need for anyone to exaggerate its horrors.

    Beldar (e296b5)

  105. Well, it doesn’t prohibit free states, it seems to protect an individuals right within your “free” state… rendering it simultaneously more free for ther individual(slaveowner) and less “free” as a state.

    The slaves of course remain without much of a voice

    SteveG (909b57)

  106. Looking forward to Patterico’s multi-post inquisition to find out if Garrison Keillor is truly anti-semitic.

    harkin (f92f52)

  107. Beldar, that jibes with Bruce Catton’s statement in his great Civil War trilogy that slavery had become relatively benign, although still a great wrong. Catton also wrote that war was probably the only way to end slavery, because the South built its whole economy around it and would not voluntarily give it up.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  108. I would never describe slavery as “benign,” not even in a relative sense.

    Beldar (e296b5)

  109. Understood, Beldar.

    I found the quote, and it was actually, “comparatively benign,” in discussing the black experience antebellum:

    “But for the Negro it had been different. The trip itself was worse—fearfully, unspeakably worse—and what came after it was very little better than the trip itself. The institution of slavery had become comparatively benign, to be sure, but it was still slavery: a vast system of forced labor that sustained the economy of half a continent, offering to those who labored no prospect whatever for a better life. To the Negro, hope was denied. There was only survival bought at the price of surrendering human dignity. The Negro had to remain what he was, his mere presence a mocking denial of the nation’s basic belief in freedom and the advancement of the human spirit. He was the one man in America who could not be allowed a share in America’s meaning.” p. 81.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  110. “Well, it doesn’t prohibit free states, it seems to protect an individuals right within your “free” state… rendering it simultaneously more free for ther individual(slaveowner) and less “free” as a state.”

    Maybe this wasn’t clear. I understood “Free state” to mean states that didn’t have slavery. Under the confederate constitution, a state couldn’t ban slavery within its borders. A state did not have the “State’s right” to be a free state, to choose for slavery or against it.

    imdw (cd4b7a)

  111. Sure

    You can have a free state…. until individual rights supercede it.
    Let’s be real. If a “free” state joined the confederacy, they’d have to know that they would have to allow an individual to own slaves… so by joining the confederacy, the free state would be in effect, freely giving up its free state status…

    SteveG (909b57)

  112. Alternatively a free state or a slave state could secede and choose to stand alone.
    Maybe Texas could have pulled this off, but I dunno

    SteveG (909b57)

  113. “You can have a free state…. until individual rights supercede it.”

    Can one say that you can have a slave state, until the individual rights (of the slaves) supercede it?

    “Alternatively a free state or a slave state could secede and choose to stand alone.”

    Like I said. No states rights.

    imdw (cd4b7a)

  114. serr8d, take a chill pill. This is one of the most reasoned and dispassionate posts I’ve seen on a topic like this. Point me to one at your home blog that is more professional than this. You won’t find it.

    Now, I’ll tell you what would mess up Patterico’s career: threatening to break someone’s ankles because he lost an argument. Or defending someone who Frisched out like that.

    But come on, did you even read this post? This isn’t the first time he’s posted repeatedly on the same thing. Remember the Kozinski scandal? Remember the LA Times? Polanski? Pelicano? People he was embarrassing always said he was out of control, but strangely, only when it benefited them for him to shut up.

    i’m tired of the PW crap too. Case is closed on that nut. But your question, how long until his cracks up, shows you haven’t been paying much attention. He’s always haranguing someone. Not that I’m pretending this isn’t a vice… it is. But it’s not some sudden breakdown, francis.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  115. Interestingly, Patterico didn’t take a ‘vacation’ from posting spam comments to Protein Wisdom, the latest being at

    Comment by Patterico on 12/19 @ 10:52 am #

    “Well, you suck at it.”

    I may have to step it up later. I have other things going on right now. Sorry.


    But a vacation, yes, he needs one!

    By the way, DRJ, I haven’t seen you comment one way or the other on this all-enveloping bloggy madness. Are you filled with trepidation too, like Karl is?

    serr8d (f1a903)

  116. […] Publication American Renaissance” in Chinese characters. Frey, meanwhile, has spent a great deal of time in analyzing a couple of the less damning charges; it is admirable that he has looked into a few things with much care, and he is certainly correct […]

    A Reply to Donald Douglas and a Restatement of My Offer to R.S. McCain - Barrett Brown - The Great Pundit Hunt - True/Slant (b57c44)

  117. Please.
    Why would a “free” state want to join the confederacy?
    Obviously the status of “free” wouldn’t be as valuable as the association. Rights can be traded.

    If a confederate state wanted to become a free state, it could move to secede.

    That is states rights at the gut.

    As noted above, this was also about consolidating power in the federal government and although the cause was just, the result was federal intrusion into every day life on a scale that would have been unimaginable to any state legislature of that day.

    SteveG (909b57)

  118. If Lincoln had not been assassinated and replaced by two alcoholics in succession ….

    nk (df76d4)

  119. “Why would a “free” state want to join the confederacy”

    Because they believed the BS that this wasn’t about slavery but was about state’s rights? But this about confederate states deciding to become free.

    “As noted above, this was also about consolidating power in the federal government and although the cause was just, the result was federal intrusion into every day life on a scale that would have been unimaginable to any state legislature of that day.”

    So a free state that agreed with this would find no home in the confederacy.

    imdw (c5488f)

  120. I think that if you plop a lot of the people that get all sanctimonious today; without their 21st century sophistication and enlightenment down in Biloxi in 1830, they’d own slaves and be a**holes to them.

    A successful lawyer of the day born into South Carolina… perhaps arrogant and caustic, would have servants, household staff.
    That staff would be black, and they’d be owned by someone.

    Enlightenment is usually acquired in process and I call BS on people who say “I’d never have done… if I lived in Georgetown, SC in 1855″
    BS. You have no exact formula for who or what you’d be without the 21st century forces that shape you now.
    Kind, generous, moral people owned slaves in 1855 and they treated them well according to the culture of the day.
    So if you are kind, generous and moral now, maybe that’d be you.

    Arrogant, superior men owned slaves and were dicks about it.
    You know who you are…

    Maybe you’d just be agnostic about slavery as you are running a team of mules and a wagon hoping some day your son could go to school instead of having to help you load and unload… you’d probably have some of the more common forms of racial prejudice from your era as you go with the flow of 19th century life. You might see your son volunteer to “fight for South Carolina” whatever that meant and you’d be proud, scared.

    Today we would judge those common beliefs (blacks were somehow inferior etc) as evil. We’ve actually gone further and now hold the 19th century soldier boy as evil and put him on the docket as if to charge him with 21st century war crimes.

    The south paid a bitter price for its stubborn refusal to bow fast enough to the coming change in the constitution.
    I admire the refusal, the spirit of rebellion… just not the cause.

    I wonder what the left thinks about Jimmy Carter restoring citizenship to Robert E Lee

    SteveG (909b57)

  121. “I wonder what the left thinks about Jimmy Carter restoring citizenship to Robert E Lee”

    I think this is a good response to confederate idolatry. I say the left should do more things like this which more explicitly remind us of their treason. Much better than like naming highways and shit like that.

    imdw (688568)

  122. Wasn’t Robert E. Lee married to a Washington girl?

    And he fought to break apart the great country her grandfather risked hanging for?

    nk (df76d4)

  123. Lincoln offered him command of the Army but he refused it and it went to the hapless McClellan. Lee could have been the real hero of the Civil War, saving the cream of America’s youth, 500,000, from that senseless butchery.

    nk (df76d4)

  124. nk wrote (#120 — 12/20/2009 @ 6:21 am): “And he [Robert E. Lee] fought to break apart the great country her grandfather risked hanging for?”

    Yes, and more: He fought to preserve his home-state’s decision to join in the claimed breaking apart* of the great country he himself had repeatedly risked his own life for — very conspicuously as among the bravest and most valuable junior officers in the Mexican-American War, then again on the frontier, and again in suppressing the John Brown Rebellion just before the onset of the Civil War. The whole war, of course, was a truly epic tragedy, and a uniquely American one; and the threads in it like Robert E. Lee’s are both glorious and yet deeply sad and tragic.

    (*Lee wasn’t a secessionist himself so far as I know; I’m reasonably sure that he tried to stay out of the debate while he was still on active duty with the U.S. Army, and I don’t think Winfield Scott offered to recommend Lee to Lincoln until Virginia had in fact announced its purported secession and formal joinder in the Confederacy. But this is a quibble too, and ultimately I think your formulation — that he fought to break the country apart — isn’t materially inaccurate.)

    Beldar (8106e9)

  125. (Lee also didn’t need his wife’s connection to Washington to share in Revolutionary War heritage, himself being the son of former Virginia governor, Congressman, and cavalry officer Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who later led the forces that, at Washington’s directive, put down the Whiskey Rebellion.)

    Beldar (8106e9)

  126. So I ‘m guessing the “Obama Highway to HELL” is out?
    Maybe if I form a non profit under that name and then buy a sign for a mile of California freeway cleanup?

    SteveG (6fa662)

  127. Don’t forget that Arlington National Cemetary is land that belonged to Mrs. Lee’s family since the Revolution, and was confiscated during the War by the Union.

    AD - RtR/OS! (1217bb)

  128. The Art Of War…

    …A post I read a while ago over at…

    The Art Of War (c7b4d9)

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