Last one on's a rotten egg!
No sooner had Virginia's Governor, target-of-the-day du jour, apologized his way out from under the pile than a new target showed up, another big pile o' brick in the harbor mouth, as't twere, and Eugene Robinson pointed him out: Mississipps Governor Hale Barbour.
Gov. Barbour's crime? Why, he said "it should go without saying," that "slavery is a bad thing." And by "go without saying" he doesn't mean "don't say it," but that it's obviously bad. Which is obvious to everyone except Mr. Robinson, who launches into a high-and-mighty polemic about how there's no way no how nobody should ever, ever honor the soldiers of the Confederacy. (Who, he tells us, were fighting solely to preserve slavery, which would have come as a surprise to most of them). ...On that basis, somebody needs to get over to Germany, stat, and wipe out all of their military cemeteries from WW II, too....
Readers are also treated to a Harriet Beecher Stowe-esque litany of the horrors endured by slaves, as though those were the issue. No, wrong; the immorality here is treating humans as property, an injustice from which privation and cruelty, to a greater or lesser degree, must inevitably follow. There's not a damn thing he, you or I can do to for the individuals who suffered under slavery; they're all dead. But there's something we can do about the conditions and attitudes that made their suffering possible and we have done it: the institution of slavery is now seen throughout this land as unspeakably grotesque.
And as for the young men -- and older ones, too -- who died in the terrible rift, they went to war thinking they were doing right; like you, me or most syndicated columnists, they wanted to preserve their world, even make it better. Some of 'em were on the losing side. All of them are just as dead as the last freed slave and the society they all molded is the one we've got today. It seems worthwhile to set aside a day, a week, a month to stop and remember, to bring to mind the entire history and all the people who died in bringing it about.
There is no honor in dissing the dead.
1. That's a joke, a joke, I say.
2. Like, say, Charleston harbor.
3. Well, mostly: 13th Amendment, "Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."And y'know, it's possible we might wanna revisit that clause. You'd think a guy like, oh, gee, Eugene Robinson, with deep-rooted feelings on the topic an' a place from which to get word out, would take that cause up, wouldn't you. ...Wouldn't you? [...crickets...]
CHICAGO RAILROAD FAIR, 1948
1 day ago