The following two quotes have been floating around on my desktop for a few days. I finally put them together and noticed something that I thought was with considering.
September 1854: U.S. Senator David R. Atchison (D-MO) letter to U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis:
“[O]ur people are resolved to go in [to Kansas] and take their niggers with them…. [Within six months we will have] the Devil to play in Kansas… We are organizing. We will be compelled to shoot, burn, and hang, but the thing will soon be over: we intend to “Mormonize” the abolitionists…. In a public speech, I advised the squatters in Kansas and the people of Missouri to give a horse thief, robber, or [murderer] a fair trial, but to hang a Negro thief or abolitionist without judge or jury. This sentiment met with almost universal applause…”1981: Lee Atwater, one-time chair of the Republican National Committee and member of the Reagan administration:
“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger’. By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ – that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing [and] states’ rights. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites … obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘nigger, nigger’.”It appears as though all that has changed in over the past 150 years in American politics is the name of the political party and nature of their rhetoric. (I am sure you noted that "liberal" is the stand-in for "abolitionist" today)
I believe these two quotes could just as well open about every discussion attempting to describe current conservative political philosophy and the positions taken by the modern Republican Party.
Atchison and Atwater in these statements demonstrate the unbroken power of fear and hate in the contest for political power in the United States as well as the efficacy of this type of rhetoric. Rhetoric, like ideas and actions, have consequences.
Those who seek to possess or preserve wealth or power through the political process can rarely gain it in a democratic society unless it can ally itself with the fears and hates of those in the majority whose economic and social position is more tenuous than theirs.
Although, we can take just about any issue of current political significance to demonstrate how Atwater’s insight works, let’s take gun control:
Does anyone still really believe the gun control debate is about the Constitution, freedom or liberty?
Forget for a moment the influence of a few large gun manufacturers who in one way or another fund the lobbying and public relations activities of the NRA, does anyone believe that gun control regulations will prevent hunters from hunting?
No one, not even the NRA believes that unlimited access to firearms will protect school children from crazy white guys with assault rifles. As unrealistic as it may be, even they propose, highly trained and most likely regulated armed guards as a means to safeguard children while they attend classes.
Would anyone really feel safer if everyone on an airplane carried a gun instead of the occasional trained Air Marshall?
Does anyone believe that our armed forces will suddenly go AWOL so that a squad of Muslim Al Qaeda terrorists will invade and take over the country? Or even a part of it, like say South Dakota?
Is it believable to conceive even the possibility that the nations domestic public safety apparatus will be commandeered by Barak Obama in order to impose his brand of Bolshevism on the country?
As for protecting ones homes and businesses, there has never been a credible proposal that would prohibit trained and licensed individuals from access to guns with which to protect their homes and businesses.
So, if it is not about hunting, foreign invasion and domestic revolution or protecting one’s home and business, what is it that has those who oppose any form of gun control so frightened of that they no longer trust the police to assure public safety?
Violent crime, has been decreasing in the US and, outside of the South, localized in most part to a few large cities. The vast majority of crimes of violence are domestic squabbles exacerbated by access to guns (especially in the South where they seem to kill and maim their spouses and relatives with shockingly more regularity than people in the rest of the country).
How about, nigger, nigger, nigger or spic, spic spic?
Freedom, liberty, anti-terrorism, public safety and protection from criminals, are they abstract enough for you?
TODAY'S QUOTES, by Trenz Pruca
On the Role of Civil Society:
Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that it’s citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?On Scoundrels:
The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism but the claim that no one could see it coming.On Corporations:
Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels, only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.
The only country that a corporation has allegiance to is its own management.On Free Enterprise:
Corporations were created to carry out specific goals of the state. Now the state appears to exist to carry out the specific goals of the corporations.
Corporations would not exist if their investors had to assume the same economic risks as any other individual in a free society.
The goal of every business enterprise is not to maximize profit but to separate risk from reward.On Governmental Priorities:
The most important goal for any democratic government should be to avoid removing risk from enterprise. Yet it currently appears that the only function of government is to shield enterprise from risk.
It is interesting to note how much easier it is today for a government to abandon its promises to its people but not to its creditors.On the Republican Party’s political playbook:
As with most fundamental freedoms, preventing those who wish to abridge the fundamental rights of others is a more important role of government than encouraging the exercise of those rights. Exercising our rights are our individual jobs, protecting us from those who would abridge are rights is the duty we collectively give to government. If government is not the guarantor of Freedom then it is a tyranny.
Nothing is so inconsequential that it cannot be used by the Republican Party as an opportunity to hold the nation at ransom in an effort to bring down the opposition party.On Populism:
Historically, Populism like most mass movements scours up both the worst and the best in a society as it scrapes across its depths. Prompted by a deep mistrust of a community’s most powerful individuals and institutions, its adherents believe those individuals and institutions have misused and mishandled the trust they had been granted by society; violated the social contract if you will. As the indefatigable realist Machiavelli pointed out, on the broad areas of public policy the general populace is almost always more reliable than the élite.