Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Saturday, January 24, 2004  

Neo-Confederate libertarian parts with Bush

There is a significant overlap between people who are neo-Confederates and those who consider themselves libertarians. Indeed, the relationship is such that some 'libertarian' think tanks, such as the Ludwig von Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell's have become neo-Confederate bastions. The basic argument of proponents of this viewpoint is that the current government is too intrusive. That's typically libertarian. But, the next step pushes the envelope. Not only is the government too intrusive, according to neo-Confederate libertarians, it needs to be overthrown. Alternatively, some states, usually described as being in the Southern United States, should secede. After the secession, they should create a society similar to that of the pre-Civil War South, which was an ideal republic, they say. Among the persons who hold those beliefs dear is neo-Confederate/libertarian spokesman Clyde Wilson. He has decided he can no longer abide the compromise many American reactionaries make - supporting the Republican Party. According to Wilson, the Bush administration is no better than a Democratic one would have been. Though some on the Right blame neo-conservatives for what they see as a decline in Right Wing purity, he believes the alleged rot goes deeper than that.

Could it be that the neocons are not the problem, but merely a symptom of the problem? Would they even exist in their present form if they had not seen the chance presented by the vast gaping vacuum of ideas and principles that is the Republican Party, and particularly its current leader?

Think back to 2000, when "conservative" spokesmen, some of whom were honest people who should have known better, exhorted us that we must vote for Bush, even if we had to hold our nose. The alternative was unthinkable! The Democrats might get in! Then we would have abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, judicial tyranny, socialized medicine, needless foreign war, massive spending, deficits, and debt! Save what is left of America! Vote Republican! Yeah, right.

I often raised objections in conversation to this exhortation. What reason did we have to think that George W. Bush would avert all those disasters? Exactly none. The evidence was all the other way, massively and conclusively. The best response I ever got from the reluctant Bush warriors (which I still hear all the time) was "at least Bush is a good Christian man" who would cleanse the White House of the sewage left behind by the long incumbency of Clinton. As if Bush were running against Clinton rather than Gore. This about a man who professed a shallow, carnival" tent version of Christianity. A Christian who has subsequently altered the American creed of "Protestant, Catholic, and Jew" to "Protestant, Catholic, Jew, and Muslim." And given his stand on immigration, we will soon have Santeria and Hinduism added.

Wilson also takes issue with the most sacred of cows among many conservatives - the Reagan revolution. He says the revolution never occurred, that it was stillborn because of the meddling of Establishment (read Northern) Republicans, who are also sometimes neo-conservatives.

Nostalgists still hearken back to the Reagan Revolution, which never took place except in imagination. The Reagan Revolution was over before the nomination was formalized, when the bankers forced him to accept a "mainstream" Republican on the ticket. The crusade to restrain the federal government, to correct the fraud, incompetence, insolence, and extravagance of its departments, never even got out of port, much less sailed for the Holy Land. And whatever moral capital was left was picked up by the Establishment Republicans once more. Clearly Bush the Previous had no affinity for the social conservatives he had to pretend to care for. Like his son, his instincts on the social questions were pure northeastern Liberal Republican. Previous Bush’s Liberal Republican appointee to head the National Endowment of the Arts subsidized Mapplethorpe and the other abominations. Out in the provinces there were many very talented, under-recognized artists who might have been encouraged, some of whom had even voted Republican, but of course they were not Establishment.

Not surprising, though I had no idea Wilson is interested in art other than renditions of Confederate flags.

His solution to the problem of the major parties not being reactionary enough is the same as Strom Thurmond's and George Wallace's during their heydays - a far Right third party.

The only hope for conservatism, that is, for preservation of some semblance of civilized order and liberty, is a populist party along the lines of the real Reagan coalition of 1980 - economic freedom and social conservatism. And the first essential objective of such a party must be to destroy and replace the Republican Party. All else is sound and fury.

I can already hear the Bush re-election bandwagon in the distance. "Get on Board! Vote Bush and Save America from Hillary Clinton!" Will the millions of our fellow citizens yet again clamber aboard and hosanna their way down the road to perdition? If so, I fear it will prove that we suffer not from bad leadership but from a fatal defect of national character.

I believe most of us who believe in progressive politics spend much of our time criticizing mainstream conservatives. But, from time to time, it behooves us to remember there is worse than the GOP.

Clyde Wilson is a history professor in South Carolina who has been a major proponent of maintaining a 'traditional' view of the history of the South. His opinions can be read regularly at LewRockwell.Com.

posted by J. | 9:08 PM

Friday, January 23, 2004  

Law: A tale of two sentences

Not long ago we discussed the criminal case of Midwestern, libertarian 'salt of the Earth' politician William Janklow. He had just been convicted of second degree manslaughter in the death of a motorcyclist. Janklow has a long history of speeding and other moving violations. Crashing his car into someone and killing the person was foreseeable. In fact, he had run into another driver at the same site the year before. At the time of the previous entry, I was curious about how the sentencing phase of the case would turn out.

So, we have a defendant who:

  • Caused a death.

  • Has a history of the illegal behavior that resulted in the death.

  • Lied on the witness stand.

  • Shows no remorse.

  • What will become of him? If Janklow were a regular guy, that question would be easy to answer. One could expect him to be sentenced at the high end of the maximum ten years allowed. But, he is not. He is white, reasonably wealthy, and one of the most influential people in his state. We will await Janklow's sentencing and see if justice occurs.

    The favorite son of South Dakota has been sentenced -- to 100 days, with 70 of them on work-release.

    A young man in Georgia has suffered a very different fate. CNN has followed his case.

    ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) - Attorneys for a high school football player convicted of having consensual sex with a fellow student told the Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday that the teen's automatic 10-year sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

    Prosecutors insisted the mandatory prison term was exactly what state law intended for Marcus Dixon, who was convicted of aggravated child molestation and statutory rape. Dixon was 18 at the time; the girl was 15.

    Defense attorney David Balser said Dixon's sentence "so deviates from society's view of sexual conduct that it shocks the conscience." Unless the court overturns the case, any teenager who has sex could potentially face prison time, he said.

    Prosecutor John McClellan defended Georgia law, which classifies Dixon's crime as one of the state's "seven deadly sins" that come with a minimum decade-long sentence.

    . . .At the time of his arrest, Dixon was a senior football player with a 3.96 grade-point average and a scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University. Dixon's scholarship was later rescinded.

    Dixon was enrolled in a home-economics class with the 15-year-old girl. He said he arranged to visit her in a trailer containing classrooms, where she was working as a student custodian. She told school counselors about the incident, and they contacted police.

    Dozens of people packed the courtroom to hear Dixon's case, which has become controversial because he is black and the girl is white. Protesters have said Dixon would not have received such a long sentence if not for his race.

    The Supreme Court of Georgia has months to decide whether this travesty of justice will stand.

    According to the Guardian, Dixon had been the focus of racially charged attention in his home town for some time. He was adopted by white parents at the age of nine, a development that caused a splintering of the family and dissension in the white community.

    So, an inflential white politician will serve 30 days for brazeningly killing a man. A black youth from a disadvantaged background was sentenced 10 years for having consensual sex with a classmate. But, 'the system works,' right?

    posted by J. | 1:09 PM

    Wednesday, January 21, 2004  

    Texas episode spotlights legacy admissions

    Earlier today, I read a thread at a large blog. The discussion was about Mike Rowe, the young web designer in Canada who has found himself in a dispute with Microsoft over the name of his website -- MikeRoweSoft. A Right Winger who made several comments was incensed because he believes Rowe, 17, has gotten out of his place by daring to challenge the king of the hill. That reminded me I had been meaning to blog the controversy over legacy admissions in Texas. The fellow who hates Mike Rowe cannot countenance challenges to the status quo. Questioning legacy admissions challenges embedded tradition.

    First, some background. Legacy admissions allow descendants of alumni to bypass the normal admissions process for colleges. Instead of battling for a seat, legacies are admitted on the grounds of family ties. A purpose of the policy is to encourage donations from alumni. A parent of grandparent is more likely to give money to the college if he knows his son or grandson will be automatically admitted. Because of historical discrimination against nonwhites, recipients of legacy admissions are usually white.

    A college abolished legacy admissions recently. The New York Times covered the episode.

    Last week, Texas A&M abolished its preferential admission policy for legacies, the relatives of alumni, calling it an "obvious inconsistency" in a system that is supposedly based on merit alone. Yet the move has hardly ended the furor swirling around the university's admissions policies.

    Local politicians had been outraged that the university continued to give special treatment to legacies, the vast majority of whom are white, while refusing to give the same consideration to minority applicants.

    But ending preferences for legacies was not their goal. In fact, the same politicians said yesterday that scrapping the policy was a poor substitute for reinstating affirmative action as a way to achieve diversity on campus.

    "This discussion is far from over," said State Representative Garnet Coleman, Democrat of Houston. "They act like they've done something for students of color by eliminating the legacy program. They have not. The new policy takes away the advantage of some students, but it does not remedy the obstacles faced by students of color and women."

    Texas A&M's decision underscores the volatile relationship between affirmative action and legacy preferences. While one has been the center of intense legal struggles, the other has often been cited as no less discriminatory but scarcely challenged in courts.

    I find it impossible to develop an argument that legacy admissions are fair. What I've heard from people who defend the policies is they are economically feasible. But, fairness and ecomomic feasibility are often at odds. A subtext to the defense is that the persons who enter as legacies, being white and at least middle-class, are deserving. The inference, of course, is that most affirmative action admittees, being neither, aren't.

    The Austin Chronicle delved into the differing treatment of affirmative action and legacy admissions at the college.

    Texas A&M President Robert Gates announced in December that the university would not consider race as a factor in admissions -- despite the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in May, in a case involving the University of Michigan, that allows such consideration. Gates said it was because every Aggie should be able to look his classmates in the eye "and know that they all got in on the same basis, on the basis of personal merit, personal achievement, qualities of their person, because of who they are rather than what they are."

    That sounded noble enough, until the Houston Chronicle reported that under A&M's "legacy" policy -- granting favorable consideration to the children, grandchildren, or siblings of graduates -- hundreds of white students had been admitted, far more than the total number of African-American students admitted. (In 2002, 321 whites, 25 Hispanics, and three African-Americans were admitted as legacies, among 10,291 incoming freshmen.)

    Minorities were not allowed to attend the school until 1963.

    Texas A&M is already responding to pressure to retract its opposition to legacy admissions. Considering how conservative the state is, I will not be surprised if the college does. However, I am glad this situation arose. It provided an opportunity for more Americans to become aware of the hidden form of affirmative action that favors white people -- legacy admissions.

    posted by J. | 12:29 PM

    Tuesday, January 20, 2004  

    Blogger explores anti-King myths

    Victoria Pitt at Media Whore has been thinking about the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday and people who oppose it. She believes their reasons for doing so range from biased to just plain ludicrous. As sometimes happens, Victoria has had to end a relationship because of the 'friend's' bigotry. That can be an ambivalent experience. One wants to reach out to the person and pierce her veil of prejudice. But, the effect of continuing such a relationship can be to encourage the bigotry by giving the impression one is not disturbed by it.

    "Now, I bring this up because I have to laugh about a conversation with someone I had that I had once. We were discussion MLK day, and how much she is against it. I was perfectly willing to listen to her reasoning. . . hell, if it is logical, I give it some consideration. However, when you start to nitpick at really silly things, then I cannot help but to wonder about motive. She brought up the fact that MLK received money and was supported by communists. Yeah, so what? The republican party has received donations from an alleged double agent for China. Hey, if I had a cause and needed the money, I would take it from people who were willing to legally give it to me. It doesn't matter if I don't do what they want in the end. . .so is the way of politics.

    She brought up that he plagiarized some of his speeches. Yeah, so? That isn't cool but once again, a lot of people do it. It doesn't make it right but in my opinion, its not enough to toss away the real message of MLK. She then bitched about not being able to buy stamps and use public transportation. Yes. She actually went there. That was when I knew she was reaching. This is an excuse that I hear many say about MLK day. Well, buy friggin stamps and do what you need to do at the post office on Saturday. If you have something that needs to be done, then you plan for it. It's not the government or MLK's fault that you cannot budget your time. I live in Chicago, we don't have a problem with public transportation on holidays. Her transportation issue has nothing to do with the fact that it is MLK day but the fact that her local public transportation sucks and she needs to get people together to petition for some changes in that.

    Presidents' Day is a holiday. Veteran's, Memorial, Christmas, and New Year. These are all days that you can't get stamps and I guess in her neck of the woods, they need to dust off the horse and buggy for a day. There are a lot of people who would rather tha[t] Christmas not be a national holiday since they do not observe it. . . but that is what you deal with if you are an American because those are the holidays that are set by the government. I had another person complain to me that they didn't want their tax dollars going to it. . . Well I don't want my tax dollars going to a lot of things that the government does - Martin Luther King really isn't a big deal to me. It's a nice day off, even is I am so mundane that I don't really think about the significance of the day.

    I have to say after this conversation with her, that was the beginning of the end of our friendship. This conversation, her huge support for Rush Limbaugh, and the fact that anytime she said something about blacks or MLK, she had to preface it or end it with "I don't mean to offend you. . ." I'm mixed and I don't really care one way or the other. People suck no matter what color they are. Still, I got sick of hearing it from her and after putting all the conversations and statements of her's together, I figure she was really not the kind of person that I wanted to associate with."

    As a monitor of hate group sites, I've watched the anti-King rhetoric ratchet up to a crescendo this week. The MLK holiday really sets those people off. The oddest of the cannon fodder I've encountered is a poem about King written by a neo-Confederate woman who may also belong to the Ku Klux Klan.

    Victoria reminds us why the MLK, Jr. holiday is worthy of our contemplation.

    But today, for once I am going to think about MLK Day and what it means for a moment. The message is that today is a day that one should reflect what would it be like if it didn't matter if one is white, black, brown, yellow, male, female. What if everyone was truly equal and there was a bit of peace in the world. Martin Luther King day is not so much about honoring the Man as it is the message. . .as any holiday in my opinion is. Personally, I think that is a pretty cool message. And I love another day off work-:).

    Besides, if we are suppose to be understanding and forgive Rush Limbaugh because he is a drug addict who also happens to actively slander sections of the American Public, I think we can give a day to a MLK who, despite his faults, was looking for a positive outcome where freedom and equality was the order of the day.

    Read the rest of Victoria's entry.

    posted by J. | 4:35 PM