COUP WATCH: Restoring the Confederacy -- From Red Rock Eater News Service
COUP WATCH: Restoring the Confederacy
-- From Red Rock Eater News Service
By Phil Agre
Fri, 12 Jan 2001 12:55:45
[The movement to restore
the Confederacy is really picking up steam. John Ashcroft's alliance with
a wide range of far-right groups is but the tip of the iceberg. I
was particularly struck by Gale Norton's comments lamenting the defeat
of the Confederacy. Is she advocating the restoration of slavery?
Probably not. But she is certainly part of the movement to undo the
legal reforms that overthrew Jim Crow. The pattern is clear. You
will recall that the conservative wing of the Supreme Court, in its breathtaking
concurrence with the decision that ended the vote-counting in Florida,
twisted the Court decisions that overturned States' Rights defiance in
the South into an instrument for deciding the election. And that
was just the culmination of a long-term trend.
Until now, the States'
Rights party has been sufficiently marginal that we haven't had to look
hard at their arguments. But now they control the country, so we
have to start looking more closely. And when you look closely at
the arguments of States' Rights and Property Rights proponents, you generally
find something surprising: despite what they say in their headlines, they
are not actually claiming a right to be left alone. Quite the contrary,
they are arguing for a right to inflict harm on others. Gale Norton
worked for an industry- backed legal foundation that supported so-called
property rights in environmental cases. She also strongly supported
similar positions as attorney general of Colorado. But in most cases
those "rights" consist of activities that cause pollution to enter other
people's air and water, or that cause erosion of neighboring land or beaches,
or that harm migratory animals that had provided benefits to others long
before such a thing as property existed. And as Nathan Newman points
out below, the controversies over slavery that led to the Civil War were
not just a matter of permitting southern whites to buy and sell human beings
without interference from the north; in fact they were attempts by the
southern states to compel northerners to abet these evil practices.
Of course states have
rights, and so do property owners. Nobody is contesting that.
The real controversies begin when the exercise of putative "rights" spills
over the borders and property lines and affect others. That is why
we have a federal government, and it is why we have laws, and democracy,
and a judicial system. The "leave me alone" party is, in fact, the
"do unto others" party. Their modus operandi is to go around hitting
people while yelling "stop hitting me". This was entirely clear during
the election, and it is becoming plain as day right now.
Here are a few more related
Southern Partisan: "Setting
the Record Straight"
Ashcroft Appearance on
Schlafly's 1997 Conspiracist Video
1998 article on Ashcroft
The President Elect Sails
into the Storm
Considering a Convention
to Propose Constitutional Amendments
Thanks to everyone who
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Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
From: "Nathan Newman"
HOW SOUTHERN VIOLATIONS
OF STATES RIGHTS CAUSED THE CIVIL WAR
The comments of Interior
Secretary nominee Gale Norton talking about the "loss" of states rights
due to the Civil War just once more highlights the lie that the Civil War
was fought over states rights, rather than fought to preserve slavery.
In fact, if anything,
the Civil War was caused by Southern States using their control of the
Congress and the Supreme Court to use federal law against Northern states
which resisted slavery within their own territory.
The primary example of
this was the Fugitive Slave Law used by the federal government to force
free states to return runaway slaves to their masters in the South.
In fact, Southerners took
this law and assumed the right not only to go to court to force the return
of slaves but would go into Northern states and kidnap blacks, often not
even slaves, while claiming that they had the right of "self-help" in recovering
In 1842, the US Supreme
Court in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 41 U.S. 536, made this right of southerners
to defy Northern laws against self-help kidnappings IN NORTHERN STATES
a constitutional right. The decision explicitly repudiated Northern
states' rights to regulate their own affairs in regard to kidnapping in
their own borders. This repudiation of states rights is clear, as
Justice Story wrote: "It is scarely conceivable, that the slave-holding
states would have been satisfied with leaving to the legislation of the
non-slave Holding states, a power of regulation, in the abscense of that
of Congress". Where Southern interests in slavery mattered, they were all
for extinguishing local state power in favor of that of the federal government.
The next blow to Northern
states rights was of course the much more famous 1857 Dred Scott decision
which declared that Southerners were free to bring slaves to free states,
and yet keep those slaves as slaves in defiance of Northern anti-slavery
laws. The Court declared that no state had the right to grant freedom
and citizenship to such slaves or prevent them from being brought in to
their states. The case makes a big deal how such control is vested
solely in the federal government.
It was the South that
declared war on states rights in the North, using the Congress and the
US Supreme Court to de facto extend slavery into Northern states.
It was the reaction in the North that three years after Dred Scott elected
Abraham Lincoln into office, not on a platform of abolishing slavery in
the South, but of refusing to allow the South to extend it anymore to the
And the South reacted
to this threat to slavery, NOT TO ANY THREAT TO STATES RIGHTS, by seceding.
It was the South that had abused states rights to support slavery and when
it looked like they could no longer do so, they protected slavery by seceding.
It was all about slavery
and racism. Nothing more, except possibly the North being the ones
asserting their states rights against the abusive power of the federal
government that had been controlled by the slave states.
In a similar manner, those
who talk about "states rights" are the ones who are the first to support
a rightwing US Supreme court intervening in the Florida election, the first
to support federal government in interfering in state tort claims, the
first to support the federal government in overturning laws like the Massachusetts
Burma law to resist buying goods from that human rights violating country.
Conservatives talk about
states rights, but when local governments do anything they don't like,
they are the first to invoke federal power to overturn those state laws.
This is usually done for the sake of property rights, and that is the real
tradition of the Confederacy - the supremacy of property rights over human