Saturday, September 26, 2009

Confederacy of Dunces

There is a myth in the circles of those who study history that the American Civil War was not over slavery. Rather, those who take this view narrow the underlying casus belli of the Civil War to States' Rights, to a fight of Americans to preserve some sort of freedom.

In a way they are right, but only when the white elephant of slavery, the freedom to enslave their fellow man, is ignored. And to this end it becomes apparent that in order to have made such a cause for war that rich planters, particularly in the Deep South such as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, convinced poor tenant and yeoman farmers from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina to die. And to say it plainly, the cotton moguls of their day convinced the poor whites of the South to die in the hundreds of thousands for the freedom to own human beings and do what they would with this human chattel.

By the grace of God, or despite it, this war of the South was lost, at the most terrible cost in human lives. And none of the enlisted men of the South who fought and died, or were maimed, or just scarred by the carnage of the first industrial battlefield and total war would have ever, in a million years, owned a slave, or a plantation, or ever have been privy to the Southern Gentility they were fighting to preserve. They were fools fighting to preserve the fortunes of tycoons, paying for human flesh in bondage with their blood.

These are the thoughts which raced through my head as I watched my fellow Americans come together in Washington, D.C., on September 12, 2009, to protest the prospect of healthcare reform and a public option, holding signs lauding the absent Glenn Beck and the rude Congressman Joe Wilson, waiving around the Stars and Bars [that rag of Southern treason] and the idea of secession. I kept thinking how these people in their thousands [not the hundreds of thousands or millions, as some would prevaricate] and how many of them appeared to be stolid working and/or middle class. From the twanging accents I heard from those interviewed a lot seemed to come from former Confederacy.

There they were, their great host gathered from across the nation, to protest reform, and to keep the status quo. They were there in the name of freedom: the freedom of gigantic multinational corporations to make medical decisions for them; their freedom to go bankrupt from skyrocketing medical costs; the freedom of insurance moguls to make more money in a week from premiums and denying coverage than the protesters would make in a year. They were protesting for the freedom to die from lack of medical care.

And the cause of Mr. Wilson's absurd outburst, that illegal immigrants might receive medical care, only undercuts all of the Jesus talk and crucifixes, the overt religiosity of these misguided people. Apparently George W. Bush took the compassionate back out of conservative when he left office. How would Jesus vote?

For these normal, workaday everymen to be fighting for the fortunes of billionaires, patently against their own interests, and against the interests of the tens of millions of their fellow Americans who are without medical coverage, makes them the new fools in our new Civil War.

And make no mistake: we are at war with ourselves. When the man who tried to shout down the President in the House Chamber during a joint address is made a hero by the disloyal opposition over this, we are at war with ourselves. When shouting down using bumper sticker slogans ["You lie!"] replaces reason and discourse, we are at war with ourselves. When the de facto leadership of the GOP calls the half black, half white, raised by his white grandparents President a "racist" with a "deep seated hatred for white people or the whole white culture" we are at war with ourselves. When President Obama is described not only as a socialist, but also a Nazi and a "radical communist" without any sense of irony, we are at war with ourselves. When divisiveness is seen as patriotism, and ludicrous lies unquestionably accepted as truth, we are at war with ourselves.

So the new Confederacy of Dunces marches on, led by Glenn Beck and now Joe Wilson, to preserve the fortunes of the already wealthy and guarantee the middle class becomes poor. So we can only hope that by the grace of God, or despite it, the fools lose this war, too. And before we pay the price in the blood of Americans.

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