NewsOne now brings to light a YouTube video in which Ron Paul gives a “South was Right” speech to an evident gathering of Confederacy nostalgists. No date or place is offered, but this supposed “libertarian” is speaking against the backdrop of a giant Confederate battle flag! The video was apparently first placed on YouTube by a neo-Confederate channel with the slightly ironic name “Patriot Review.” In it, Paul regurgitates several of the usual revisionist tropes—he dismisses slavery as an “excuse” and “rabble-rousing issue” that “really wasn’t the issue of why the war was fought”; he suggests differences over “protectionism” and the “banking system” were really behind the war; he points out that other countries “got rid of slavery without war” through “legislation” (as if the abolitionists hadn’t fought generations for that!) or (of course, the free-market solution) “literally buying slaves’ freedom.” Et cetera. NewsOne adds:
Paul also fails to bring up the fact that it was the South that started the war by attacking the North in 1861. [Actually, attacking the federal Fort Sumter off Charleston, SC]
Ron Paul was also was the only member of congress to vote against honoring the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in on its 40th anniversary in 2004. Paul would also claim that he wouldn’t have voted for it at the time, putting him on the side of the racists in both the fight against slavery and the fight against Jim Crow segregation, the two defining struggles of Black people in America.
Several Ron Paul supporters have asked that the video be taken down from the pro-Confederate channel, Patriot Review, but Patriot Review believes that the video could help Paul win South Carolina.
We have already noted Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act, as well as birthright citizenship, which was instated by the post-Civil War 14th Amendment. Further elucidation is provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog, which noted some of the unseemly types Paul invited to testify last year before the House subcommittee he chaired that oversees the Federal Reserve bank:
One of the witnesses invited to testify was Thomas DiLorenzo, a longtime activist in the neo-Confederate hate group, League of the South (LOS). The LOS advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “Anglo-Celts”—that is, white people. LOS leaders have called slavery “God-ordained” and described segregation as necessary to the racial “integrity” of black and white alike. DiLorenzo also is an economics professor at Baltimore’s Loyola College.
According to the Washington Post, “when Paul opened up the hearing to questions from committee members, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) directly took on DiLorenzo for his membership in the League of the South,” pointing to the designation of the LOS as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Clay also cited DiLorenzo’s many revisionist works about the Civil War and Lincoln, including “More Lies about the Civil War,” “In Defense of Sedition,” and “The First Dictator-President,” which examines “how Lincoln’s myth has corrupted America.”
“After reviewing your work and the so-called methods you employ, I still cannot understand you being invited to testify today on the unemployment crisis, but I do know that I have no questions for you,” Clay concluded.
Would that everyone would be so short with these cranks. One of the more maddening things about Paul’s YouTube spiel is his invoking of the New England individualist-anarchist Lysander Spooner, who he said despite being an abolitionist, “when it came down to the war, he identified with the South and said ‘the South is on the right side…'” This is an utter distortion of Spooner’s actual position. Let’s see what the official Lysander Spooner website, maintained by Georgetown University legal scholar Randy E. Barnett, has to say. Here’s what. Spooner devoted years to anti-slavery agitation, and sent copies of his book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery to every congressman, convinced that if he could reach the masses, they “would march up to the cannon’s mouth in defense of the principles of my argument…” Nonetheless:
The Civil War, however, never aroused Spooner’s enthusiasm as John Brown’s adventure had. He felt the war was fought on the false issue of union; it should have been fought squarely on the issue of slavery. In 1864, he published an analysis of the [war] in [a] Letter to [Massachusetts Sen.] Charles Sumner. Spooner argued that: “the slaveholders would never had dared, in the face of the world, to attempt to overthrow a government that gave freedom to all, for the sake of establishing in its place one that should make slaves of those who, by the existing constitution, were free.”
…In agreeing that the Constitution protected slavery, and by proposing compromises in 1861 to prevent [secession], Sumner and others only weakened the moral position of the North. Against the Northern politicians, generally, Spooner charged that “upon your heads, more even, if possible, than upon the slaveholders themselves, (who have acted only in accordance with their associations, interests, and avowed principles as slaveholders) rests the blood of this horrible, unnecessary, and therefore guilty, war.”
So Spooner certainly did not take the side of the South, but argued that the North should have been more forthright in its opposition to slavery—which he certainly did recognize as the root cause of the war!
As, by the way, all the Confederates did at the time. It is only their contemporary apologists who try to obfuscate this point. A corrective perspective to the revisionists is provided by Yale constitutional law expert Jack M. Balkin on his Balkinization blog. Balkin quotes from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’ “Cornerstone speech” of March 21, 1861, boasting of the new Confederate constitution:
The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists amongst us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact.
Balkin also notes that the Confederate constitution specifically codified the “right” to hold slaves:
Article I, section 9, clause 4:
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
But even for those gullible (and unread) enough to fall for Paul’s revisionism, his whole conciliatory attitude towards human bondage should gross you out. He’s never grasped the message of Martin Luther King’s “Why We Can’t Wait.” If preaching patience to the oppressed is ugly, it is infinitely more so to do so the enslaved! Which is what Paul implicitly does when he looks to “legislation,” or compensating the slave-owners for their illegitimate human “property”! This mental midget and moral monster has no business invoking the great Lysander Spooner!
“Libertarian”? Friend of freedom? Fascistic wackjob is more like it.
Wake up, Paul-suckers!