Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our Sainted Founders

Mr. Charlie Pierce posts a paragraph from the great James Madison, written in 1789. Supposedly the words of Madison and the rest of the founders are little less than pure gold to the conservatives of our mighty land. Perhaps if we simply read some of the things they said and committed to the ages, we'll have a deeper understanding of why the destruction of the Voting Rights Act by our current Supreme Court is such an abomination. Fox News prattles daily that our civil rights leaders are but charlatans, than America's issues with race are somewhere back there, that everything is hunkydory and people who say otherwise ought to just shut up. And maybe not get to vote either. That's what North Carolina is saying these days, and it's a national trend: Mrs. Schafly said the same thing yesterday, and Ms. Ingraham ended a clip of John Lewis's great speech in '63 in mid-sentence, with a gunshot sound effect. Haw haw. Here's the right honorable Mr. Madison:

It only remains then that some proper external receptacle be provided for the slaves who obtain their liberty. The interior wilderness of America, and the Coast of Africa seem to present the most obvious alternative. The former is liable to great if not invincible objections. If the settlement were attempted at a considerable distance from the White frontier, it would be destroyed by the Savages who have a peculiar antipathy to the blacks: If the attempt were made in the neighbourhood of the White Settlements, peace would not long be expected to remain between Societies, distinguished by such characteristic marks, and retaining the feelings inspired by their former relation of oppressors & oppressed. The result then is that an experiment for providing such an external establishment for the blacks as might induce the humanity of Masters, and by degrees both the humanity & policy of the Governments, to forward the abolition of slavery in America, ought to be pursued on the Coast of Africa or in some other foreign situation. -- James Madison, Memorandum On An African Colony For Freed Slaves, October, 1789.

It is worthwhile to read Mr. Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural--the part engraved on the Memorial, the part which floated like a cloud behind all those speakers in '63, and yesterday. Before the ink was dry on the coverage of the '63 March on Washington, the counter-revolution was underway. I glimpsed a flicker of it when those Klansters minced past me on that park bench at the Old NC State Capitol in December, '63. Grown rednecks in dresses: it was as funny as a Southern Baptist drama of the Easter Story, except of course for the fact that the Klanies were and are packing heat, these days quite legally of course.

There was a good interview with Taylor Branch last night on MSNBC, which the current New Yorker reports is failing in its ratings battle. What will happen when the waters close over us and all we can find to listen to is the right wing myths. That's their goal. Mr. Branch said that America seldom confronts it's racial problem headon--the March on Washington in '63 being the exception that proves the rule. They got the laws passed (a fact I maintain had more to do with the Kennedy assassination than with the March--the country was simply in shock for about the length of a Congressional term). Then the forces of denial and revision and outright bigotry and class privilege took up their implements and began to dig. And in 1980 the country elected Ronald Reagan.

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