Thursday, June 20, 2013

Confederate History Month Celebrates Racists, Traitors, And Slavers

"Confederate History Month: Celebrating Racists, Traitors And Slavers," by Justin "Filthy Liberal Scum" Rosario, is an unapologetic piece at, and ushers in the suspense brought about by a challenge to Southern pride and racism, Shelby vs. Holder:

"Now, this isn’t like the descendants of World War II vets (and the surviving vets themselves) commemorating a long and bloody war; these people are celebrating the side that lost. You know, the one that attacked the very country Southern conservatives claim to love more than life itself? And let’s be honest, most of the people who fly the Confederate flag are not liberals. These are the people who long for the 'good ol’ days' when the South was a decent proper place where a white man could whip a black slave just for fun.

"Oh, did I offend? Tough noogies.

"This is about the time that some jackass insists that the Civil War was about “state’s rights.” You see, this is a story that Southerners enamored of the Old South tell themselves, and anyone in earshot, to avoid the reality that they are “proud” of a heritage inextricably bound to slavery and treason.

"Take a moment to enjoy the sound of right-wing heads exploding.

"Now, there are a numbers of ways to debunk this fairy tale that the South was all about state’s rights and 'freedom' from an oppressive central government and it’s hilarious watching traitor-worshipping conservatives contort themselves to avoid the truth. So let’s make a list!

"1. Declaration of Causes of Seceding States:
"Georgia 'For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.'
"Mississippi 'Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.'
"South Carolina 'Those [non-slaveholding] States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States.'
"Texas 'They [non-slaveholding states] demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.'
"Does it get any clearer than that? Yes, actually, it does.

"2. The Cornerstone Address (I wrote about this in brief on my blog so it might seem a bit cribbed):
“'The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the "storm came and the wind blew, it fell".' 
“'Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.'
"This speech was delivered on March 21, 1861, by the VICE PRESIDENT of the Confederate States of America, Alexander Stephens. But what the hell did he know? He was just the VICE PRESIDENT. Do keep in mind, dear conservatives, that this was over one hundred years before Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin. Vice Presidents generally had to be reasonably intelligent.

"3. This is all crap! The Confederacy was all about FREEDOM™ and State’s Rights™ (FREEDOM and State’s Rights are both trademarks of the Angry Ignorant White Man Coalition, also known as the GOP)!!!

"Well, OK, if that were true, then the newly-minted CSA’s constitution would reflect that. Heck, if states wanted to abolish slavery on their own, then FREEDOM™ and State’s Rights™ would demand they be allowed to do so:
"Article IV Section 9(3) The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.
"Soooooo, no state could join the Confederacy unless it allowed slavery? What if they didn’t want it or changed their minds later? Well, that was just too bad. You HAD to allow slavery. Why? Because the central government would have forced you to. Just to make this crystal clear, a central government forbidding the enslavement of other human beings is 'tyranny,' but a central government forcing states to adopt slavery is “FREEDOM™?” Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

"There you have it, in their very own words; the traitors of the Confederacy attacked the United States and caused the bloodiest war in American history for the sole purpose of preserving their 'right' to treat other human beings as property. Anyone that flies the Confederate flag, reminisces about 'better times' or insists that 'The South Will Rise Again!' is celebrating racists, traitors and slavers. If you celebrate a culture based on the most immoral of all crimes against humanity, you are, by definition, a racist asshole. If you try to pretend that slavery wasn’t so bad or that the 'War of Southern Scumbaggery' was about FREEDOM™, you are a lying racist asshole. If you actually believe the right-wing whitewashing of the Civil War, you are delusional but not necessarily an asshole (although the odds against this are not good).

"Is it any wonder so many of these assholes find their way to the Republican Party?

According to the Wikipedia article, the South tried to reinstitute racism through Jim Crow laws via "...state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. De jure segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States. Northern segregation was generally de facto, with patterns of segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices, and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices for decades.

"Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated.

"These Jim Crow Laws followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans with no pretense of equality. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] and the Voting Rights Act of 1965."

And for "...ten of the most astonishingly racist Supreme Court rulings in American history, in chronological order," we reprint this short piece from, decisions you may have heard about, but have forgotten:

"1. Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856)

"When a slave petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for his freedom, the Court ruled against him--also ruling that the Bill of Rights didn't apply to African Americans. If it did, the majority ruling argued, then African Americans would be permitted "the full liberty of speech in public and in private," "to hold public meetings upon political affairs," and "to keep and carry arms wherever they went." In 1856, both the justices in the majority and the white aristocracy they represented found this idea too horrifying to contemplate. In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment made it law. What a difference a war makes!

"2. Pace v. Alabama (1883)

In 1883 Alabama, interracial marriage meant two to seven years' hard labor in a state penitentiary. When a black man named Tony Pace and a white woman named Mary Cox challenged the law, the Supreme Court upheld it--on grounds that the law, inasmuch as it prevented whites from marrying blacks and blacks from marrying whites, was race-neutral and did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling was finally overturned in Loving v. Virginia (1967).

"3. The Civil Rights Cases (1883)

Q: When did the Civil Rights Act, which mandated an end to racial segregation in public accommodations, pass? A: Twice. Once in 1875, and once in 1964.

"We don't hear much about the 1875 version because it was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Civil Rights Cases ruling of 1883, made up of five separate challenges to the 1875 Civil Rights Act. Had the Supreme Court simply upheld the 1875 civil rights bill, U.S. civil rights history would have been dramatically different.

"4. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

"Most people are familiar with the phrase "separate but equal," the never-achieved standard that defined racial segregation until Brown v. Board of Education (1954), but not everybody knows that it comes from this ruling, where Supreme Court justices bowed to political pressure and found an interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment that would still allow them to keep public institutions segregated.

"5. Cumming v. Richmond (1899)

"When three black families in Richmond County, Virginia faced the closing of the area's only public black high school, they petitioned the Court to allow their children to finish their education at the white high school instead. It only took the Supreme Court three years to violate its own "separate but equal" standard by establishing that if there was no suitable black school in a given district, black students would simply have to do without an education.

"6. Ozawa v. United States (1922)

A Japanese immigrant, Takeo Ozawa, attempted to become a full U.S. citizen, despite a 1906 policy limiting naturalization to whites and African Americans. Ozawa's argument was a novel one: Rather than challenging the constitutionality of the statute himself (which, under the racist Court, would have probably been a waste of time anyway), he simply attempted to establish that Japanese Americans were white. The Court rejected this logic.

"7. United States v. Thind (1923)

"An Indian-American U.S. Army veteran named Bhagat Singh Thind attempted the same strategy as Takeo Ozawa, but his attempt at naturalization was rejected in a ruling establishing that Indians, too, are not white. Well, the ruling technically referred to "Hindus" (ironic considering that Thind was actually a Sikh, not a Hindu), but the terms were used interchangeably at the time. Three years later he was quietly granted citizenship in New York; he went on to earn a Ph.D. and teach at the University of California at Berkeley.

"8. Lum v. Rice (1927)

"In 1924, Congress passed the Oriental Exclusion Act to dramatically reduce immigration from Asia--but Asian Americans born in the United States were still citizens, and one of these citizens, a nine-year-old girl named Martha Lum, faced a catch-22. Under compulsory attendance laws, she had to attend school--but she was Chinese and she lived in Mississippi, which had racially segregated schools and not enough Chinese students to warrant funding a separate Chinese school. Lum's family sued to try to allow her to attend the well-funded local white school, but the Court would have none of it.

"9. Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)

"During World War II, President Roosevelt issued an executive order severely restricting the rights of Japanese Americans and ordering 110,000 to be relocated to internment camps. Gordon Hirabayashi, a student at the University of Washington, challenged the executive order before the Supreme Court--and lost.

"10. Korematsu v. United States (1944)

"Fred Korematsu also challenged the executive order, and lost in a more famous and explicit ruling that formally established that individual rights are not absolute and may be suppressed at will during wartime. The ruling, generally considered one of the worst in the history of the Court, has been almost universally condemned over the past six decades."

And here's why this is important:  "At ‘Shelby v. Holder’ Hearing, Debate Over Southern Racism and Congressional Power," an article at by Brentin Mock, we see, "After sitting in the U.S. Supreme Court building listening to 90 minutes of oral arguments in Shelby v. Holder, it’s still hard to predict how the high court will rule on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. As we’ve reported, Shelby County, Ala., is challenging the constitutionality of Section 5, which requires certain states, counties and towns with strong legacies of race-based voting discrimination to obtain federal approval (“preclearance”) for every change they want to make to their election laws.

"During the hearing Section 5 supporters on the Supreme bench made a good case for why Shelby makes a poor witness given the county’s recent voting rights violations.

"Meanwhile, Act skeptics on the bench repeatedly wondered if Section 5 should either be applied to the entire country or nowhere at all. Attorneys representing the federal government argued that blanket Section 5 coverage is not what Congress intended or desired, as it would weaken enforcement by spreading the Justice Department too thin.

"As usual, the lone black Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas—whose own seat was made possible by historic civil and voting rights victories—said absolutely nothing.

"The Court isn’t expected to make an official judgement until this summer. In the meantime, five takeaways from yesterday’s hearing:

"According to Justice Scalia, The Supreme Court doesn’t like to talk about race.

"Late in the hearing Justice Antonin Scalia announced that “this Court doesn’t like to get involved [in] racial questions such as this one.” Congress should deal them, he reasoned. But Scalia contradicted himself when he attributed the 2006 congressional reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and its 98-0 favorability among the Senate to 'a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement' rather than a matter of doing the right thing.

"After the hearing, Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, called Scalia’s comment 'outrageously' insensitive. 'It just shows a lack of comprehension of where we are as a nation,' she continued. 'No one is saying, "Treat me special." No one is saying, "Double my vote." We are just saying, "Make it so we’re not discriminated against." That’s all the law says. How does that become an entitlement?'

"Shelby County’s lawyer believes that race-based voter discrimination no longer exists.

"With a straight face Shelby’s attorney Bert W. Rein told the justices, 'I think the problem to which the Voting Rights Act was addressed is solved.'

“'Who gets to make that judgement?' Justice Elena Kagan challenged.

"Congress could address the issue, Rein said, but it was up to the Supreme Court to 'determine whether the problem indeed has been solved.'

"Kagan shot back: 'Well, that’s a big, new power that you are giving us, that we have the power now to decide whether racial discrimination has been solved.'

"Later it became apparent that Rein didn’t understand that racism was the fundamental problem that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was designed to address. He seemed to think Section 5 was just about the historic practice of requiring black people—who had been legally barred from reading throughout their enslavement—to take literacy tests to determine their voting eligibility.

"Justice Stephen Breyer had already identified the central issue of Voting Rights Act as 'the denial or abridgement by a state of the right to vote on the basis of race and color.'

"But since they had competing visions, Breyer asked Rein, 'How do we decide what the problem was that Congress was addressing in the Voting Rights Act?'

“'Registration and voting,' Rein restated, and 'the use of [discriminatory] devices' like literacy tests, which are no longer in use.

"Rein seemed to truly believe that thousands of civil rights activists fought and died just to get rid of literacy tests, but not the racism fueling them.

"Chief Justice Roberts can’t see the difference between Massachusetts and Mississippi.

"At one point Justice Roberts peppered the U.S. government’s lawyer, Donald Verrilli, with statistics showing that Massachusetts has larger racial disparities in voter turnout and registration than Mississippi does. The numbers, said Roberts, implied that a New England blue state was more racist than a Southern red state once notorious for its violent suppression of the black vote.

"It was a curious comparison. One could argue that in a solid blue state like Massachusetts with few electoral votes to offer that there’s less incentive for black people to register or turn out, unless they’re in the Republican minority. In a red state like Mississippi, there is a much greater incentive to vote if you are black, if only to upend its long history of racist policies.

"Roberts also asked the U.S. lawyer point blank if the South was more racist than the North, a question Verrilli ducked. Anita Earls, director of the Southern Coalition for Southern Justice, said afterward that she wished Verrilli had drawn from her amicus brief, which is chock full of evidence that when it comes to voting, the South is in fact more racist than the North

(This may prove to be the most important omission in the case, as Earls, "...a former Justice Department civil rights attorney, noted that Southern states covered by Section 5 continue to have a higher prevalence of voting access barriers—voter ID, felony disenfranchisement and proof of citizenship laws—than other states.

Wrote Earls, 'Across all varieties of institutional measures to restrict voting rights, states that are fully covered by Section 5 are more than twice as likely as non-covered states to adopt policies that make voting more difficult for citizens.' -- Joyce, Jnr.)

"Justice Scalia thinks Congress members can’t be trusted to overcome their fear of being called racist.

"When Scalia made the 'racial entitlement' comment he went on to imply that in 2006, senators voted unanimously in favor of the Voting Rights Act out of white guilt and a fear that they’d seem racist if they didn’t. Perhaps, he said, 'this is not the kind of a question that you can leave to Congress.'

"Despite his inquiry, the Constitution gives Congress explicit and exclusive authority to enforce the 15th amendment, which forbids racial discrimination in voting. And the Supreme Court has upheld congressional authority four times, including six months after the Act was passed.

"When Scalia questioned why the U.S. Congress rather than the high Court should be trusted to handle voter discrimination, Verrilli explained that when the House and the Senate reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006—after nine months of testimony through 28 hearings—they also made 'predictive judgements about social conditions and human behavior,' and that those judgments were 'about something that the people in Congress know the most about, which is voting and the political process.'

"Translation: Members of Congress have to campaign for and win people’s approval to take office, and then, a few years later, do it all over again. Y’all up there on the bench get appointed and then you’re set for life.

"Elise C. Boddie, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a Section 5 supporter, later agreed. 'The core question is this: [Which] institutional body is best equipped to evaluate the social conditions on the ground and make predictive judgments about the continuing need for Section 5? Unquestionably Congress is that body.'

"High Court conservatives pay only lip service to the lingering legacy of race-based voter suppression.

"The Supreme Court’s conservative justices held a polite distance from the civil rights history that made the Voting Rights Act possible, honoring it in rhetoric, but questioning its relevance today. Later I asked Rep. John Lewis, a central figure in the bloody fight for voting rights, if the justices critical of Section 5 were truly aware of the history. 'Sure, they’ve been reading the literature,' he said. 'They know something about the whole struggle and how the whole Voting Rights Act came into being.'

"Yet conservative justices didn’t spend much of yesterday’s hearing probing the regional racism at the root of federal authority under Section 5. Ultimately, only Congress can strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Given its current priorities like immigration reform, gun violence and the so-called sequestration, the House and Senate will likely need sustained public pressure to do so. A negative Supreme Court ruling on Section 5 might just might trigger that pressure. Still, if the high court does uphold Section 5, this time around, the fight is far from over: Texas has already loaded a Section 5 challenge onto the Supreme Court docket in defense of its voter ID bill."
The last shot of the Civil War has yet to be fired by the Conservatives within the South -- and from without.  Only when Conservatism is made illegal will racism and bigotry be given the final body blow.


"I intend to live forever. So far, so good."

Steven Wright