Re: A Historical Counterfactual Hi Steve: Thank you for all those insights, as you certainly gave me much to think about. I am asking many of the same questions that you raised, and, admittedly I do not know the answers. You are from the land of Faulkner, William and Walker Percy, as well as Shelby Foote, so in my opinion, the pride is justified -- I know of no literary tradition that can top it. As for the dire circumstances you faced in New Orleans I quite frankly, respect you for your decision to leave. The welfare of children must always come first. Besides, any place has its own special beauty, including Iowa. Who knows…maybe a return to New Orleans beckons at some point in your future. My fiancee took her two sons to New Orleans for a spring trip this year (via the Crescent from Atlanta!) and had a grand time, but I was calling and texting for many of the reasons you mentioned. I got a real kick out of your description of the State of Mississippi, circa 2010, and, from what I can tell, it is accurate. As a bit of comparative analysis: where I live (Atl), the mayor, sheriff, chief of police, district attorney, a great many of the state and superior court judges, my US Representative, the State Attorney General, and several members of the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are all black. So are some of my neighbors. Re: Lysander Spooner.
He fascinates me for many of the same reasons as you mentioned, specifically his rationale for abolition also legitimates that for secession. So he saw the Civil War as a hypocritical venture done to preserve the union and promote special interests. At a minimum, history certainly has vindicated Spooner’s view of the role of the Jacobins during Reconstruction. Moreover, many leading scholars (I believe Yale’s C. Vann Woodward is one of the them, certainly Robert Selph Henry) have proven that the punitive aspects of Reconstruction in the South, ushered in by these very Jacobins, worsened race relations considerably and are the proximate cause for the rise de jure (Jim Crow) law in the South at the end of the 19th-beginning of the20th century. And Spooner, arguably, is correct when he stated that the Civil War, to quote Wiki, “came at a great cost to liberty and proved that the rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence no longer held true…” When I read those words in Wiki, I immediately thought of the 10th Amendment.. Certainly the 10th Amendment (and the right of secession) can provide a strong check on the growth of a tyrannical central government that curbs individual rights and, furthermore, wages imperial wars on the behalf of special interests. And in a similar vein, while I am no expert, I do believe that one can argue in good faith that once one person-one vote became a deeply established principle (via primarily Baker v. Carr and progeny), then the 10th Amendment should have played a greater role in the balance of Fed-State power, on a multitude of issues, including US foreign policy. One can argue also in good faith that one person one vote could have been achieved without the slaughter of 600,000, but that’s a historical argument for another time. However, in light of your comment, I would like to offer for your consideration, the “counterfactual” I referenced above. Suppose, just suppose, the right of State secession was always recognized. Suppose, just suppose, it is 1965 -- a time when USDC Judge Frank Johnson in Alabama was considered the most hated man in the State because of his judicial decisions. Well, even then, I do not believe that the people of Alabama, collectively, would have voted to secede. So if a referendum or some other mechanism had forced the issue, then the people of Alabama would have voted to stay with the union. In other words, the right of secession would have forced a put up or shut up decision. Forcing the issue in such a way could have helped heal our nation. Number one, it would have forced those in Alabama to accept the decision to open up society and proven that it was not a majority of whites who applauded Bull Connor. So, number two, it would have prevented Northerners from generalizing too broadly about all Southerners, which only worsens regional divides. Number three -- and certainly this is important as it ties into your comment -- it would have stopped at least to some degree Northerners from projecting their own racism onto Southerners instead of looking at one’s racism first within, then one’s neighborhood, then city and state. This last point is important because the South in many ways has leapfrogged over the North when it came to desegregation. (actually it probably always was more desegregated, de facto). Attempts at desegregation in Boston -- a progressive stronghold -- met violent resistance nearly 20 years after Little Rock, although few remember. But I was living in Boston at the time (a place I otherwise thoroughly enjoy) and saw the racial violence first hand,. The resistance was much more virulent that what I saw in Atlanta and Georgia. The following image is a friendly reminder. http://tinyurl.com/29qvfad That’s Copley Square, no? And that is a US flag, no? Why isn’t this image seared into US consciousness to the same degree as Little Rock? After all it was nearly 20 years afterwards. With that in mind and simply to confirm your observations, it has been my experience that, in this day and age, a Waffle House in Jackson Mississippi is more genuinely integrated than faculty clubs in the Northeast. But I also recognize there are fracture lines underneath and it will not take much for things to fall apart. Social cohesion in the US, including the South, is all very tenuous, and I do not know if the foundation will hold once things fall apart (and imperial wars, imo, are guaranteed to cause society disintegration.) Shelby -- not Michael -- Steele has courageously described some of the psychological dynamics at play in race relations, at least in his view, and I think they warrant strong consideration. I make this comment, btw, as the son of a former Southern Federal judge who signed many desegregation orders. So I witnessed and experienced much by age 12. It was a unique perspective, one I greatly appreciate. And I graduated from a high school that was roughly 50 per cent white and 50 percent black because of the aforementioned desegregation orders. Not all Northern progressives I have met did the same, for whatever reason. And yet, many of the same belittle many of the white working class people with whom I attended school. And to segue to today, did you see that ol white farmer from South Georgia stand up for Ms. Sherrod? He, arguably, is further along in race relations that Chris Mathews but people are afraid to admit it, apparently. That old farmer standing up for Ms. Sherrod was the storyline but once again, many of those who consider themselves enlightened failed to see it. The beat goes on. Regardless, I think you make great insights and perhaps it is possible that a trend towards the 10th Amendment (and maybe even secession) will truly bring about cultural diversity in a very good way. Let Californians live as they want. Same with those of Idaho, Illinois, and so on. And, just as you suggested, I certainly believe our founding fathers created these constitutional mechanisms to provide a check on the rise of an imperial government operating on the principles of what those today call the unitary executive theory. Such constitutional checks on the rise of an American tyranny are now chaff in the wind or gone with the same. Thanks for you insights,
Sidney O. Smith III