Saturday, January 21, 2012

Also, Ron Paul would have given the slaves low cost medical exams, so it's okay

This came across my G+ stream today. In case you don't want to sit through it, it's a video put out to show support for Ron Paul's opinions regarding the Civil War (he didn't think it needed to come to war, but since it did, he supported the Confederacy), and apparently the best way Ron Paul supporters have come up with to respond to the inevitable "What the fuck" reaction by sane folks is to claim that Lincoln was the biggest racist ever and he just started the war because he's just a big old federal asshole and if he'd just left everything alone the confederacy would have abolished the institution of slavery the following Tuesday or something along those lines.

The sad thing is that I can't even tell anymore if this is sincere or a pretty brilliant attempt at trolling. I'd like to think it's trolling, I mean, you have to be at least a little amused by a smug-looking Lincoln hovering over images of dead confederates (I realize that some of these folks were roped in by other means, but still, it just reads "Aw damn, look at all those poor dead slave owners being all dead and shit!" to me). It seems kind of strange to put out a video pushing the idea that Lincoln was the real racist and slip in an "inspiring" speech by Ron Paul set in front of a confederate flag, talking about what a total waste the civil war was. And the jokes kind of write themselves - printed quotes that are pretty racist from a political actor in the 1800s should have you shaking your head at the shame of racism in this country but quotes from the 90s from a political actor? IT'S JUST AN ATTEMPT BY THE HATERS TO DISCREDIT A GOOD MAN IT WAS A GHOST WRITER GOD WILL YOU JUST LET IT GO ALREADY IT WAS LIKE 20 YEARS AGO.

But much like they do every primary season, some Ron Paul supporters become so unhinged that it becomes parody. So I'm thinking that this is sincere, yet another attempt convince the idiot public made up of folks like myself that blindly accept things called "facts" or "voting histories" or "published newsletters", that we are not thinking these things through - so certainly this YouTube video that features emotional images, inspiring quotes, and heart-string pulling melodies will free us from the confines of simple-minded propaganda. And people, if we just accept Ron Paul's completely false and re-written history of the Civil War, then we will totally see that he's not a racist, and that ending slavery was actually one of the biggest abuses of civil rights that the federal government has ever carried out!

Right. So let's just clear up a few things really quick before we get back to basing our entire political philosophy on inspiring 5 minute YouTube videos.

Yes, the civil war was costly, damaging, and devastating to human life. So perhaps one should ask why the Confederacy decided that keeping and expanding slavery was so important to them that they had to wage it. A funny thing that Paul and his supporters keep failing to mention is that the Confederacy started the Civil War, when they fired on Fort Sumter. I suppose you could say that the North goaded them into it, which in turn I'd have to point out that you could easily make the argument that the South goaded the North into goading the South into war what with the ownership of human beings and.... whatever. The idea that slavery would eventually just go away if we did nothing not only makes no sense at all (if someone starts a war to keep and expand slavery, doing nothing obviously would not have made it go away at that point), and the claim that everyone else avoided war in getting rid of it is false. What is really hilarious here is that Paul's claim that we didn't need a war, that we could have ended slavery by buying the slaves and freeing them? Well, Lincoln actually tried to do that, with little success.

Yes, the civil war was about protecting the right to enslave the black population. That this was based in economics (obviously the loss of free labor would mean a huge hit in profits) does not change this.  Alexander Stephen, the Vice President of the confederacy, put it pretty fucking plainly in what we know as the "Cornerstone Speech" back in 1861:

"Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition."

I have a hunch that this one won't end up in any of the YouTube videos.

And yes - the idea that we could just wait around is a statement of extreme privilege, to the point that it is too absurd to even entertain. If you are not in any danger of every being enslaved merely by the virtue of where and to whom you were born, it's pretty fucking easy (and incredibly lazy) to just ask those that are to be patient, grin and bear it as their spouses and children are raped, killed, or sold off to the highest bidder (funny how in that video we don't see any of those pictures) because eventually we think that society will totally figure it out, you know, maybe in a few decades or centuries or so. What is amusing is that I have a feeling that those that support Ron Paul because of his "Liberty!" shtick would be the first to scream bloody murder if I even suggested that perhaps they should do that.

Anyway. The rewriting of history that claims it was over "State's Rights" or an abuse of the federal government came decades later, because apologists for the white supremacist movement realized that blatantly supporting slavery and racism just wasn't as appealing to the public anymore and instead, they needed to code that shit into dog whistles. And what a successful PR move that was; for even though the history is right there for anyone to read, it appears that once you throw in a Hot Air Balloon and an avalanche of emotionally tear-inducing YouTube videos that feature inspiring images set over dramatic music and randomly cherry-picked and out of context quotes about liberty and then some scary pictures of police in riot gear, it apparently can dupe a lot of people even today.

Is it really so much to ask that people at least learn a little bit about this subject before they attempt to appropriate it?  For a movement that claims to be so intellectually above it all, that portrays itself to be the truth-speakers throwing us a rope to save us all from drowning in the a sea of propaganda, they sure set themselves up as useful little tools for the white supremacist attempt to turn this country back to a time where your basic civil rights ended at the state line.

But no war, and weed, and all that old shit.