Thursday, November 09, 2006


Why I am not a fan of Virginia's new Senator: from The Claremont Institute: The Remedy

Webb's comments:
"And so I am here, with you today, to remember. And to honor an army that rose like a sudden wind out of the little towns and scattered farms of a yet unconquered wilderness...That gave every ounce of courage and loyalty to a leadership it trusted and respected, and then laid down its arms in an instant when that leadership decided that enough was enough. That returned to a devastated land and a military occupation. That endured the bitter humiliation of Reconstruction and an economic alienation from the rest of this nation which continued for fully a century, affecting white and black alike.
I am not here to apologize for why they fought, although modern historians might contemplate that there truly were different perceptions in the North and South about those reasons, and that most Southern soldiers viewed the driving issue to be sovereignty rather than slavery. In 1860 fewer than five percent of the people in the South owned slaves, and fewer than twenty percent were involved with slavery in any capacity. Love of the Union was palpably stronger in the South than in the North before the war—just as overt patriotism is today—but it was tempered by a strong belief that state sovereignty existed prior to the Constitution, and that it had never been surrendered. Nor had Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in Kentucky and Missouri when those border states did not secede. Perhaps all of us might reread the writings of Alexander Stephens, a brilliant attorney who opposed secession but then became Vice President of the Confederacy, making a convincing legal argument that the constitutional compact was terminable. And who wryly commented at the outset of the war that "the North today presents the spectacle of a free people having gone to war to make freemen of slaves, while all they have as yet attained is to make slaves of themselves.""


Robert C. said...

I'd like the South to give up on glorifying parts of their racist past, too -- but apart from the recommendation for Alexander Stephens, is there much really reprehensible in that speech? (There are some points on which Webb is wrong, but that's different from being racist. To me, this sounds like a mainstream Southern view of the Civil War.)

Senator-elect Webb was not my favorite candidate, but I wouldn't worry too much about this statement in particular.


I should also say: Much of the pride Southerners take in their rebellion is steeped in racism and is inextricable from the shameful and bitter history of slavery in this country. To them, it doesn't seem that way, but I just don't see how you can separate the two.

I wouldn't want to hold Senator-elect Webb to a lessor standard than Senator Allen, whose own statements during the campaign and personal history were disturbing. I only mention that to say this: if there's something I'm missing here, tell me what it is.

Dane said...

Robert, I agree with you, and I once had a Professor explain the Civil War in a logical manner. He told of his arguments with relatives and how carrying out a discussion with "Southeners" was futile, even with "facts".

I'm just surprised that they are still trying to pass the buck in 2006.

Stephen said...

Follow the link and read on.

dcat said...

Let's keep in mind that his opponent was an unreconstructed Confederate apologist known to have enjoyed using the N-bomb in comversations, who on at least one occasion harassed a black student in Charlottesville, who was a member or supporter of actively neo-Confederate organizations, and who within the last two months used a word that he knew to be a racial slur (twice) against someone he also wanted to "welcome to America" despiute the fact that the guy was a native Virginian (unlike Allen).

Given a choice, then, I'll pinch my nose and say that the right guy won if our issue is race.


Stephen said...

In that race, I think we all lost.

dcat said...

Yeah -- Democrats rejoicing over Webb probably ought to be a bit more muted as they do so.

That said, you lost a little bit more than I did! (Were I the type to use emoticons I'd insert one of those smiley face things here. I think people who use emoticons ought to punched about the face and shoulders, however.) The problem with supporting a party is that you sometimes have to hold your nose as you do so. We don't have the convenient out that Independents, real and imagined, get to exercise.


Stephen said...

I understand the nose-holding. I've done my share.