Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Excuse Me, I Have To Go Stick My Head In An Oven

Some dipshit over at Faux News made the audacious claim that Abraham Lincoln started the Civil War over slavery, when he could have just bought them.

For decades after 1776, there were many Southerners who advocated a form of compensated emancipation combined with repatriation to Africa.  Usually these were Southern men of education and means who owned a lot of slaves but understood the moral implications of it.  Men like James Madison, for instance.

Once Northerners and free blacks started advocating for the end of slavery, about the same time Nat Turner made his "statement" against the peculiar institution, the South went from the "necessary evil" argument to the "positive good" argument.  They began to defend slavery and demand its unfettered expansion.

By the time Kansas was given the ability to choose whether or not to have slavery, Southerners and a few Northerners were willing to kill and die over the issue.

But it was the South who seceded.  It was the South who opened fire on Ft. Sumter.  And, as Jon Stewart notes, Lincoln did actively try the "buy and free" plan on the border states.  Lincoln had been an advocate of compensation and repatriation for decades before the Civil War.

Ultimately, the Civil War was about the spread of slavery into the West.  It was about whether Southern plans to annex places like Cuba should be patronized to extend the number of slave states in the Union.  This was not in dispute at the time.

And, you know, slavery was a great moral stain on this country.

Which makes Andrew Napolitano's screed on Fox a telling indictment of the wingnut understanding of our own history.  They have created not just an alternate news universe on Fox, but through the various right wing publishers and TV channels, they have created an alternative history.

Now, as I tell my students, history is not fact, it is interpretation.

But what is distressing is how people like Napolitano have to change the facts to support their interpretation.

But then that IS the modus operandi at Fox on all things.

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