Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Did he say anything new? Hardly. But what he omitted spoke volumes!
The real test of the effectiveness, of his speech, however, will come, not from the Media, or those millions of passive Americans and most of the Congress that have supported his war, but among the youth ranging from some of the "red" states of the South and the Mid-west, to the inner cities ghettoes and barrios. Will these young people, inspired by the President's rhetoric, buy into the notion that Iraq has been worth the cost? Bottom line: will they enlist in Mr. Bush's War?
I rather think not!
They are more likely to heed the warnings of some of our more cautious and realistic military men that the insurgency will last years, a position even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged with the statement that it might take a dozen years.
Bush is hoping that the Iraqi army will begin to shoulder the overwhelming burden of the war, and mentioned the figure of 160,000, as if it was the sheer number that mattered, rather than morale.
The most perceptive observation made on the "Charley Rose" show discussing the speech, was that the US was having trouble finding middle echelon officers to staff the Iraqi army, and that we intended to put in a number of American officers into those positions.
Now, it is certainly true about the importance of the middle echelon officers in any war, especially an insurgency, where the nature of the warfare demands instant decisions, without the time for debate or consult with those of a higher rank, up the chain of command.
It has been clear for months now, that this crucial sector of Saddam's old army did not, nor has not yet, come over to the side of the new government sponsored by the Americans.
I would not want to be in the shoes of, say, an American captain, thrust into the midst of an Iraqi unit. We know the insurgents have infiltrated men into these units. How difficult would it be for one of these men to frag the American officer, or simply shoot him in the back?
Fragging was, of course, a problem in Vietnam, and there has already been at least one case in Iraq. A newspaperman friend of mine from the Vietnam era told me there were rumors that Max Cleland, the triple amputee war hero, and later Senator from Georgia, attacked by Republicans for his lack of enthusiasm for Iraq, had actually been fragged. If this is true, it makes the cover-up of Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire look almost tame in comparison.
Certainly, the morale and training of the middle echelon officers is critical. Some military historians have suggested that in WWII, the creative, and gung-ho 11,000 or so young recruits in that position were a great weapon in achieving victory.
There are already indications that some of our best young officers, often West Point graduates, in which the country has a considerable investment, are opting out of the Army for commensurate managerial jobs. Perhaps the task of integrating with the Iraqi army will fall to the mercenaries hired by companies such as Halliburton.
In Vietnam, quite apart from the fragging, the increasing disillusionment of the middle echelon officers was an early sign the war was not going well. Anyone who has read many of the letters of these middle echelon British officers in the American Revolution, often young Scots, who wrote back to their families about going out into the wilderness, perhaps never to return, will recognize this pattern. The British referred to the area around Charlotte, North Carolina, as the "hornet's nest," and it was the defeats around that area which led to the retreat toward Yorktown.
Clearly, a segment of the American military shares the administration's hope that it will be possible to build a US supported regime, perhaps on the model of what was done in the Philippines over a century ago; not that that nation has been a great example of economic development of late.
Americans seem amazed by the degree of solidarity among the insurgents, that some are willing to not only die for the cause, but to do so as a suicide bomber. Part of the Media approach has been to glorify the whole idea of "Empire." A new television show of that title aired June 29th, in which we are suppose to identify with Julius Caesar's heir, Octavian, soon to be Caesar Augustus.
The Founding Fathers of the American Republic, despising Empire as they did, would not have admired that whole theme. Their heroes were Brutus, Cassius, Cicero and Cato. It is well to remember that a wounded Cato ripped off his bandages so that he might die, so much did he hate the notions of Despotism and Empire. Suicide was preferable to life in the Empire.
As in the Philippines, we have found no shortage of bureaucrat Compradors, ready to be our "willing executioners" of their own people, in running "our" Iraqi government. Whether we can find American recruits as well as Iraqi officers to continue the war in the face of a growing public disenchantment, is the major question facing the Bush administration in the months ahead.
So-called"urban renewal" programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. (Emphasis added.)
Aside from the accurate classical-liberal class analysis, note two things. Thomas questions eminent domain per se (it's"bad enough"). And he debunks the very possibility of just compensation. Why does subjective value preclude just compensation? Because the only test of the justice of a given level of compensation is the owner's voluntary acceptance, which is missing from contested eminent domain. In other words, what makes a transaction just and legitimate is not compensation but consent.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Having seen various recent blog posts on Islam and secularization (including this one by Jason Pappas), I found this morning's NY Times essay by Abbas Milani of the Hoover Institution an interesting read. In"The Silver Lining in Iran," Milani argues, in essence, that the tightening of reactionary forces in Iranian politics is actually a sign that the reigning mullahs are in their death throes. For Milani, the ruling" cabal of conservative mullahs and Revolutionary Guards who have absconded to ivory towers with their dogma and greed for power" have ignored"serious signs of crisis [as] they masterminded Mr. Ahmadinejad's victory." This is the same President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that is being fingered by former US hostages of the 1979 embassy crisis as one of their captors.
Nevertheless, contrary to the common perception, this election is not so much a sign of the Iranian system's strength as of its weakness. Last week's presidential election is only the most recent example of the tactical wisdom and strategic foolishness of Iran's ruling mullahs. ... In the process they may have unwittingly opened the door for democracy - because their hardball tactics have created the most serious rift in the ranks of ruling mullahs since the inception of the Islamic Republic. The experience of emerging democracies elsewhere has shown that dissension within ruling circles has often presaged the fall of authoritarianism.
Mr. Ahmadinejad's presidency will force a crisis not only in Iran's political establishment but also, and even more important, in its economy. Only a huge infusion of capital and expertise, along with open markets, can even begin to address the country's economic problems, which include high unemployment, a rapidly increasing labor force, cronyism and endemic corruption.
And only an"infusion" of"security and the rule of law" will help, says Milani. But the president-elect is too busy opining"that the stock market is a form of gambling with no place in a genuine Islamic society. Not surprisingly, Mr. Ahmadinejad's election brought about the single greatest plunge in the Iranian stock market's history. The day is already known as Black Saturday, and the president-elect has been scrambling to undo the damage since." As the ruling clique turns to"the old populist slogans of revolutionary justice, economic autarky and pseudosocialism, ... they have helped bring Iran one step closer to democracy."
When certain groups are threatened, it is only natural that they will fight that much harder to retain or expand their influence. I think an argument can be made that this is indeed the case in Iran, but the regime still has a lot of mileage left in its gas tank and can do a lot of damage to the growth of opposition forces.
I know that it's comparing apples and oranges to some extent, but I wish I could be as optimistic on the home-front, especially with regard to the US's own home-grown reactionaries among the religious right. One would like to think that in their successful attempts to bolster their own political power, their influence too is waning.
In any event, it will be very interesting to see how the anti-mullah, more"democratic" movement among Iranian youth (noted here in a number of posts) will proceed.
Cross-posted to Notablog.
Fortunately the Liberty Fund has put much of the Bastiat library online. Don't neglect this valuable resource.
If you'll forgive the self-promotion, I've written a biographical/bibliographical essay about Bastiat for the Liberty Fund. It is here.
Modern market societies -- ownership societies -- are the paradigm of interdependent, mutually advantageous cooperation, and are as far as can be imagined from the society of atomistic predators Obama invokes to stir the disdain of the fresh-faced graduates of Knox. Market societies -- ownership societies -- are wealthy because they rely on and reinforce a high level of social trust and norms of cooperation.Along the lines of using Kelo as a way to talk to the left about the importance of property rights, emphasizing the cooperative nature of markets is another possible strategy.
Aeon J. Skoble
Kenneth R. Gregg
1. Peter S. Onuf and Eliga Gould's Empire and Nation : The American Revolution in the Atlantic World (Anglo-America in the Transatlantic World) (Johns Hopkins U. Press; 1993). I've been an admirer of Onuf's works on Jefferson for some time; Jefferson's Empire and Jeffersonian Legacies are two of my favorites. The most interesting recent writings on the American Revolution have focused on the transatlantic nature of the Revolution, which has been something I've looked at since Robert R. Palmer's brilliant Age of the Democratic Revolution first came out. Very curious about Onuf's take on the subject.
2. Philip S. Gorski's The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2003). This work is a dialectical analysis of the rise of the modern state in Europe during 1500-1700 a.d. (shades of Chris Sciabarra), focusing mainly on the Dutch and German experiences. What he does remarkably well is place religion within this context, pointing out how Calvinism influenced social discipline and allowed for forms of social control to strengthen both the ecclesiastical polity and the political realm. I've always felt that the Rothbardian line about Pre-, Post- and whatever else Millennialism misses the mark on the role of religion on politics, and Gorski fills in the gaps and integrates ecclesiastical effects on political society in a much clearer manner. Almost done reading this. Couldn't wait.
3. John E. Moser's Right Turn: John T. Flynn and the Transformation of American Liberalism (New York: NYU Press; 2005). I've read some of Moser's previous essays and expect to find an accurate understanding of both Flynn and classical liberalism with, hopefully, some perceptive insights.
4. Robert Lomas' Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science (Gloucester: Fair Winds Press; 2003). The reviewers say that it details the history of the rise of The Royal Society under Charles II through the efforts of Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren and, primarily, Sir Robert Moray. And yes, it probably has some sort of claims for Masonic involvement or conspiracy or some such, but it may well have a few gems of insights here and there.
5. Before Robert V. Andelson's untimely death, he edited the two volume Critics of Henry George: an Appraisal of Their Structures on Progress and Poverty (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing; 2003-4). This is a wonderful compilation, many written by libertarians, of examining the claims of the critics of Henry George. Included are commentaries on Individualist-Anarchism, F.A. Hayek, Spencer Heath, Murray Rothbard and Robert LeFevre, as well as essays on most major economists and many minor ones. A lot of good material here.
6. Gale Ahrens' Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality & Solidarity, Writings & Speeches 1878-1937 (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co.; 2004). The three major women in the anarchist movement at the turn of the last century were Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Lucy Parsons. Goldman and de Cleyre have had numerous collections of their essays available and are currently in print. Only Parsons has not had her writings available save in a few collections of anarchist or feminist writings. Now, with this publication, this has changed, and an updated biography (albeit too short) is provided by the editor. For those interested in anarchist activism and thought, this is a valuable asset.
7. Sharon Presley and Crispin Sartwell's Exquisite Rebel: the Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre--Anarchist, Feminist, Genius (Albany: SUNY Press; 2005). Along with The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader and Gates of Freedom : Voltairine de Cleyre and the Revolution of the Mind, this year has been a phenomenal one for de Cleyre collections. Because Exquisite Rebel contains an essay on de Cleyre by Presley, whom I've always respected as a libertarian feminist, I've decided to start with this one. Why are there so many books on de Cleyre? Because she was a great writer and poet. She deserves the acclaim.
8. Jessica Warner's John the Painter: Terrorist of the American Revolution (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press; 2004) When the Scot and former emigre to America, John Aikens, set fire to the Royal Navy dockyards of Portsmouth and Bristol, he brought the American Revolution home to the British. The terrorists of yesterday are forgotten today. This is the story of one.
9. Michael R. Hill and Susan Hoecker-Drysdale's Harriet Martineau: Theoretical & Methodological Perspectives (New York: Routledge; 2003). A collection of essays on Martineau's life and theories of sociology covering many aspects of her voluminous writings, from history to disability. I wish this had been available years ago when I first studied Martineau.
10. Ray Raphael's The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord (New York: the New Press; 2003). Raphael argues that the American Revolution began in small communities in which control by the British authorities had already been lost to Americans and that the later skirmishes were attempts by the British to take back control. The transfer of political authority to the American patriots by 1774 (and the loss by the British) was the real revolution making the later clash in April 1775 a British counter-revolution to regain lost territory. Interesting thesis and I'm looking forward to reading this work.
OK, there's my top 10. Any other suggestions for this summer?
Just a thought.
Aeon J. Skoble
N. Stephan Kinsella has a compelling article that discusses issues of the 14th Amendment and federalism, and argues that it would have been bad in the long run for liberty for the Supremes to overturn local eminent domain measures.
Very interesting stuff. I will comment on this soon.
Hope you can make it!
Kenneth R. Gregg
"She had a powerful face, beautiful, strong, clear, blue eyes, a nose that was not Jewish, and a strong, firm jaw. She was somewhat nearsighted and wore heavy glasses. Her hair was blond and silken and she wore it in a simple knot on the back of her head."She was an inspiration to her admirers. Margaret Anderson, founder of the avant-garde Little Review in Chicago would say of her that
"something tremendous has dropped out of life with her going. The exasperating thing about Emma Goldman is that she makes herself so indispensable to her audiences that it is always tragic when she leaves; the amazing thing about her is that her inspiration seems never to falter. Life takes on an intenser qualith when she is present; there is something cosmic in the air, a feeling of worlds in the making..."Born in Kovno, Lithuania, Emma Goldman was, in the words of one of her biographers,"an almost mythical figure, the archetypal woman activist." In 1882 she moved with her family to the Jewish ghetto in St Petersburg where she started reading the radical literature of Turgenev and Chernyshevsky. When her father tried to force her to marry, she left with her sister, Helena, to America.
In 1886, Goldman emigrated to Rochester, New York, earning her living by working in clothing factories. The Chicago Haymarket Bombing soon transpired. An unknown assailant tossed a bomb into a throng of riot police, killing one instantly. In the chaos that erupted, seven policemen were killed, sixty injured, and civilian casualties were likely as high. The event marked the anarchist movement as violent and made Chicago known as a center of labor conflict. The event affected and divided both the labor movement and the anarchist movement, not only nationally, but also throughout the world.
In 1892, she conspired with Berkman in his failed attempt to assassinate Henry Clay Frick (in retaliation for Frick's role in the attack on strikers at Homestead). Berkman eventually served 14 years in Western Penitentiary for his crime; her guilt over Berkman's sole responsibility for a crime they both participated in remained a major influence for the rest of her life. Following the failed assassination, Emma gained not only national prominence, but became prominent in the anarchist movement as well. In 1895 she traveled to Vienna to study medicine, attending lectures by Freud. As a trained nurse, she would later spend years among the needy prostitutes in New York's brothels. In London, she met her ideological mentor, Peter Kropotkin. Returning to America a year later as a trained nurse, she made frequent cross-country speaking tours over the next few years.
In 1904, while working as a nurse, she had opened up a"Vienna scalp and facial massage" parlor which was intended as a supplement to her income. Upon a chance meeting the next year with a troupe of Russian actors would change the direction of her life. Their lead actor, Pavel Orleneff, needed a manager and interpreter, which she was happy to undertake. Her return would be a benefit performance to raise money for a magazine which she had thought about for many years"to combine my social ideas with the young strivings in the various art forms in America," and the $250.00 box-office take was enough to start with.
Mother Earth (1906-17) was a true accomplishment of Emma Goldman's tireless work for the next decade. She originally had hopes of publishing a periodical under the title,"The Open Road" (from Whitman's poem), but found out at the last minute that another literary publication with that name had already started and was threatening a lawsuit if she used the same name. Fortunately, on a buggy ride in the countryside in February, she noticed the early signs of spring,"indicating life was germinating in the womb of Mother Earth." The rest was history. The first issue on March 1, 1907, 64 pages long. The first printing of 3,000 was sold out in a week and another 1,000 printed. She closed the massage parlor and never looked back. With the help of many of her friends and lovers, the publication had a base of talent to keep the publication running with a high level of quality in both prose and poetry. With Benjamin Tucker's Liberty coming to a close due to a fire in slightly more than a year, Mother Earth would become the primary outlet for American anarchism for the next generation.
Goldman published a broad spectrum of anarchist and libertarian thinking as well as many literary writings. While she was regarded as an anarchist-communist, in part from her background with Most and Kropotkin, in my analysis of all of her written essays in Mother Earth completed some years ago, it was clear that she was strongly influenced by American political thinkers. She referenced George Washington more than anyone else, and the next most-referenced thinkers were Alexander Hamilton(!), Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. The European activists and authors, such as Kropotkin, Bakunin and Reclus, were hardly mentioned. Upon reflection after my original studies, it may be that, since she was writing for an American audience, that she emphasized American libertarians, but I think it doubtful. Her inclination was to be quite forthright and open on such matters. Also, the writers in Mother Earth were often individualists, or defenders of individualism--Voltairine de Cleyre (who was perhaps the finest of her contributors), Leo Tolstoy, Bolton Hall, among others.
The articles and fiction were generally on topical matters as well as general commentaries on specific issues--feminism, birth control, free speech, civil liberties, education, literature and prison reform. She also kept a running correspondence in the pages on her lecture tours (which helped to finance the publication), as well as social events for anarchists (Masquerade Balls--she once came as a nun, and"Mid Summer Dance and Ice Cream Party"--"Tickets, 20 cents, Hat Check, 10 cents").
Several authors who became better known began writing in Mother Earth. John R. Coryell, who frequently wrote under the name Margaret Grant, was the originator of the"Nick Carter" detective series and the"Bertha M. Clay" romance novels. Eugene O'Neill's first printed piece, the poem"The"American Soveriegn"," was in the May 1911 issue of Mother Earth. O'Neill first discovered the periodical while browsing in Benj. R. Tucker's Unique Book Shop in New York as a college dropout, became a regular reader and would continue to correspond with Goldman long after her deportation in 1919 (his editor at Random House was Goldman's nephew Saxe Commins).
Goldman was jailed in 1917 as a result of her work in the No-Conscription League and her anti-war stand against World War I, also causing Mother Earth to be shut down by the government. Her niece, Stella Comyn, would continue it for a year as Mother Earth Bulletin and later publish the mimeographed"Instead of a Magazine," but Goldman was unable to help.
Goldman and Berkman were deported in 1919 to Soviet Russia after incarceration for two years. At first, Goldman was excited to see first hand revolutionary Russia, but she quickly realized that the Bolsheviks and the massive dictatorship created by Lenin was crushing the"spontaneity of the masses." In 1921, Libertarian sailors revolted at Kronstadt against the Bolshevik government. The suppression of Kronstadt by the Communists was too much for Goldman and Berkman and they left Russia in a state of disillusionment. For the next few years, traveling from country to country as she would get permission, she wrote a long series of articles and two books about her experience in and the ideological contradictions she perceived within Soviet Russia.
Goldman married the British James Colton in 1926 for the convenience citizenship offered. She lived in seclusion for a few years in France in order to write her autobiography, which was published in 1931. During this long exile, Goldman continually sought to return to the United States. In 1936, Alexander Berkman committed suicide after prolonged agony caused by an aggravated case of prostate cancer. For the next three years, Goldman committed herself to the support of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists and their fight against Communists, Republicans and Fascists in Spain.
Goldman died from a stroke in Toronto in 1940 while attempting to save an Italian anarchist from deportation, where he faced certain death in Fascist Italy. Only after her death was she admitted back into America, where Emma Goldman found her eternal resting place at Waldheim Cemetery in Chicago, buried near the Haymarket martyrs.
Aeon J. Skoble
Aeon J. Skoble
Representatives of the Imperial President have traveled to the far eastern region to “negotiate” strict limits on exports. Although the recent surge in shipments of badly needed inexpensive clothing from traders in the region has raised the living standards of low-income people in the home of the Imperial Government, it offends well-connected Trade Federation interests. During the negotiations the far eastern leaders hold firm against the Empire’s intimidation and pressure. A trade war looms. Back in the capital of the Empire —
Hold on a minute. This is not the beginning of the next installment of Star Wars. It’s the latest news of the Bush administration’s attempt to get the government of China to rein in its apparel exporters.
More at The Future of Freedom Foundation here.
“Thomas also wrote an excellent dissent which I’m sure had Jane Jacobs nodding approval. He called the decision"far-reaching and dangerous," and noting correctly that those displaced by urban renewal and"slum clearance" over the years have tended to be lower-income members of minority groups."The court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution".
“Liberals love eminent domain, as much as conservatives love the death penalty, and like many liberal passions it destroys far more lives than the gas chamber or the lethal needle.”
Read the full story here.
Ralph Nader on the Kelo decision:
“The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v City of New London mocks common sense, tarnishes constitutional law and is an affront to fundamental fairness.”
Read the full story here.
It is the" corporate-funded" libertarian organizations like Cato (who filed an amicus brief in the case) and the Institute for Justice (who represented the plaintiffs) who sided with the low and middle-income home owners over the land-grabbing corporations, here (not to mention the elderly who, because they tend to value the sentiment attached to their homes -- where they raised their kids, for example -- over the money they might get for them, tend to be disproportionately affected by eminent domain).
It is the Elite Left who sold those people out in favor of big government.
And it is libertarians like Cato Senior Fellow Randy Barnet, for example, who represented Angel Raich and the cancer, AIDS, and MS-stricken patients just like her before the Supreme Court. It is the Elite Left who, along side the major pharmaceutical companies, abandoned Raich and thousands just like her in favor of a more powerful federal government.
There's no better example of how the Elite Left's absurd allegiances have led it to obscene policies than this editorial from the Washington Post.
The Post's editorial board argues that had the court ruled differently in Raich it could not rule as it did in a subsequent case, GDF Realty Investments vs. Norton. There, the USSC refused to hear a case in which lower courts had ruled that the Endangered Species Act prevents the building of a hospital on land inhabited by a 1/8-inch cave-dwelling bug that exists only in the state of Texas. Tying the two cases together, the Washington Post argues that this exercise of federal power is well worth making Angel Raich and thousands just like her suffer, deteriorate, and possibly die -- because it's imperative that the federal government have the power to force states to protect obscure species of bug with no economic value.
I wish I were joking:
Medical marijuana and cave-dwelling insects may not seem to have much in common, but federal authority over both depends on the same constitutional principle: Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce. The court over the past decade has reminded Congress that this power, while broad, is not infinite; a valid exercise of it must have some relationship to commerce. This reminder is healthy, but it also poses dangers, and the court has left key questions unanswered: What about an endangered species that lives only in a single state but is threatened by commercial activity? This is the question posed by GDF Realty and some other cases pending in the lower courts.It doesn't get much more black and white than that. The left once dismissed the"you care more about spotted owls than you do about people" line of argument as a caricature of its position.
The decision not to hear it suggests that the justices are not itching to radically redefine the balance of power between Congress and the states. This is good news for those who believe in strong federal environmental protections, the policy area likely to be most devastated by a revolutionary approach to federalism.
No more. Eighth-of-an-inch cave bugs get to live. Cancer patients who rely on medical marijuana to keep their medicine down can suffer and die, for all the Post cares.
Actually, it's worse than that. The cancer patients must suffer, so that the federal government can adequately protect the bugs.
I can't envision a scenario that better illustrates the perverse values embraced by the big government left.
The UK government may soon face a terrible clash of Silly New Laws: not only has it vowed to protect witches from discrimination, it has also vowed to clamp down on witches. The Wiccans are apparently following in the footsteps of their historical predecessors in seeking to slaughter children, although gingerbread houses appear not to be involved this time round.Of course, it almost certainly isn't really happening--it's the oldest urban legend in western civilization--but you never can be too careful when children are involved. Read the whole thing at The Sharpener.
This clash should be fairly easy to resolve in reality: we'll come to some kind of compromise. The government will issue empty statements and impose scary new laws as part of its War On Baby Eating, which will make a large proportion of the Wiccan community believe that we fear them and want to burn them at the stake. However, to make sure they don't lose the Wiccan vote, the government will also issue empty statements that most witches are perfectly OK, and impose scary new laws that make it illegal for anyone to suggest that witches eat babies. Nobody will be prosecuted under any of them, but at least satirists won't be left short of material.
However, we should be worried about the Metropolitan Police's clampdown on witchcraft for reasons that go well beyond lame analogies with the War on Terror. The story, according to the Met, is that young boys are being smuggled into the UK from Africa in order to be slaughtered as part of the spell-performing ritual at some of London's black (as in African, rather than Satanic) churches. I think we can probably agree that this would be pretty awful, if it were happening.
David T. Beito
He makes a good case. The Democrats certainly have a lot to apologize for. No party did more to defend slavery, create Jim Crow, fight lynching legislation, and promote disfranchisement.
In an interview yesterday, Perryman said he asked Howard Dean to support a formal apology from the party. He said that Dean spurned the suggestion without explanation. Not surprisingly, Dean and many fellow Democrats (who are normally enthusiastic about apologies of this type) don't want to draw attention to the dark past of their party.
As an alternative to such an apology, I suggest that the Democrats seize the opportunity to emphasize substance rather symbolism. There are two actions that they can take right now which will accomplish far more than more flowery words to better the lives of ordinary blacks.
First, the Democrats can come out strongly against continuation of the drug war. For nearly a century, this war has fostered disorder, death, and decay in countless urban black neighborhoods. It has also ruined the lives of thousands of black men by confining them to prison.
A second way for the Democrats to show that are sincere in their desire to help blacks is to condemn the Supreme Court's Kelo decision in no uncertain terms. Better yet, they can support state laws to ban the use of eminent to subsidize"development." As in the drug war, the primary victims of eminent domain are urban dwellers, many of them black, who lack political clout. Update:
Interestingly, Clarence Thomas's dissent in Kelo cogently stresses how eminent domain projects since the 1950s have disproportionately harmed blacks:
Those incentives have made the legacy of this Courts public purpose test an unhappy one. In the 1950s, no doubt emboldened in part by the expansive understanding of public use this Court adopted in Berman, cities rushed to draw plans for downtown development. Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were nonwhite, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them. Public works projects in the 1950s and 1960s destroyed predominantly minority communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland. In 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely lower-income and elderly Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of the General Motors Corporation. Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; [i]n cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as Negro removal. Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the slum-clearance project upheld by this Court in Berman were black. Regrettably, the predictable consequence of the Court’s decision will be to exacerbate these effects.
Interestingly, Clarence Thomas's dissent in Kelo cogently stresses how eminent domain projects since the 1950s have disproportionately harmed blacks: