Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Professor & the Slave-mongering Republicans

The Lexington [Ky.] Herald-Leader seems to pick a University of Kentucky professor about each month or so to deliver a liberal/anti-republican/rant about something-or-other (doesn’t matter much just what…anything goes). In the 17 February issue, history professor Ron Formisano was the agitator du jour, using as his subject (at least in the headline) “states rights.” Of course, “slave past” also appeared in the headline, so one could see where this was going, especially during “black history” month.

In the H-L of 21 December, UK professor Robert Olson delivered the rant du jour, making the statement that four million people died during the Civil War to save the Union. They were located in the North, of course, which had a population then of 22 million, meaning close to a fifth of the Northerners died at a ratio of about one white northerner for each freed slave. Olson’s field of expertise is the Middle East, so perhaps he could be cut some slack as a history revisionist, such activity being in vogue on campuses these days. I’m still laughing, though.

Formisano: “During the decades before the Civil War, the slave South became obsessed with states' rights and stepped up its demands to limit Congress's ability to regulate the spread of slavery. … This [current] obsessive outcry, located primarily (and ironically) in the Republican Party, recalls the posture of the slavery-dominated antebellum democracy.”

A caveat is in order, to wit, my great-grandfather and two great-uncles arrived in Kentucky from England in 1857, could not by law be drafted, owned no slaves and volunteered in the Union army. My resentment, as a white person, at being constantly blamed for slavery because of my forbearers – especially during the month of Washington and Lincoln, now known as “black history month” – knows no bounds.

My great-grandfather was wounded once and critically ill once, affording him a pension. Moreover, the consensus probably is that only about 26% of all households in what Formisano calls the “slave South” actually included slaves. So, that other 74% of confederate soldiers were actually fighting for states rights, Formisano’s denigration of them notwithstanding.

Formisano: “The conservatives among the nation's founders wanted a strong central government. But these nationalists, in crafting our constitution, realized that widespread opposition to what contemporaries called ‘consolidation’ existed throughout a new republic born in rebellion against an empire.” The first part of that rant is patently untrue, as proven by the second part. Revising history is ugly on its face but Formisano is not much good at it.

The last thing the founders wanted was inordinate power in the hands of the few in federal government. All one has to do to discover this is read Article I, Section 8, and all of Article II of the U.S Constitution. The federal government was designed to provide for taxes, currency, foreign affairs, interstate issues, courts, and especially defense (the vast preponderance of the section) and little else. Amendment 10 awarded the responsibility of about everything else to the states (states rights, in other words).

Formisano is s-o-o-o unoriginal. When folks want to denigrate an entity, they sometimes juxtapose it/him/her with Hitler. Formisano used this tactic in comparing the evil Republican Party of today with the “slavery-dominated antebellum democracy” or with the “slave South.” One wonders why he didn’t throw in Mao-Tse-Tung while he was at it, or maybe Barack Obama, who by executive order last March started his own massacre in Libya, announcing it on his vacation in Brazil and then leading from behind. That’s real class.

Inordinate centralized government has become such a problem now that the big news of the week happened in North Carolina, when a government agent blew into an elementary-school cafeteria for a spot-on inspection of lunches the pre-school children had brought from home. A four-year-old was guilty of having only a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice, which sounds quite nutritious but the intrepid inspector insisted that the girl eat three chicken nuggets. At least she didn’t have to eat two Turtle Doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.

It would be hard to make this stuff up but the government czars in Washington are running just about everything now from how much salt can go into a hamburger to legalizing light-bulbs to the proper procedures to follow in helping old codgers decide when they’ve had enough and would just as soon opt out, part of the wondrous Obamacare.

The federal government is overwhelmingly too big now, not least because it’s run mainly by career politicians, not statesmen, as was the case with the founders. The solons made sure in Amendment XXII in 1951 to limit the president to two terms, but made just as sure not to do that for Congress-people, whom they (especially themselves) deemed to approach near divinity status, not to mention greedily grasping great salaries and unbelievable perks, which they and their followers in the august halls have awarded to themselves.

Federal responsibilities in the Departments of Education, Energy, HHS, and HUD could be far better handled on the state level. The “No Child Left Behind” fiasco is a good example of just how the federal government can completely botch an enterprise. For good or ill, Kentucky has been granted an exemption from that or some form of it. The damage has been done, of course.

One suspects some of the students at the university can read Formisano and also read between the lines, discovering fringe-lunatic liberalism, the socialist approach championed by Obama, for the subversion it is.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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