Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Tuesday, December 17, 2002
THE BANDWAGON GOES OFF THE ROAD...Okay, here go my contrarian instincts again. I'd be as happy as anyone to see Lott go. First, because it will spare me the sight of his prototypical grinning idiot visage when I tune into C-Span, and second, for the same reasons everyone else in the blogosphere has been piling on for the past week. But this morning I see Randy Andy has linked this piece by Hitch called the "Three Stooges". Hitch isn't satisfied to excoriate the racism of the pro-segregation forces. No, he has to go and hold Strom, and by extension Lott, responsible for all of the crimes of the Confederacy--treason, attempting to connive with foreign nations to destroy the Republic, execution of prisoners of war. Am I the only one to think this a bit of a stretch? Did the Dixiecrat platform call for reopening the War Between The States? I don't doubt that they flaunted the stars and bars, and that provides at least some justification for Hitch's rhetorical move. But we're getting pretty attenuated here--I mean, one need not deny the evil that that banner represented to recognize that it's a symbol susceptible of various levels of interpretation. (As is the American flag, which many people insist on regarding primarily as a symbol of all the evil things the Republic has done.) In my book, the attitude described in this article is plentiful reason to ostracize anyone who pays homage to it. And no Hitch, that's not to relegate the issue to the realm of "sensitivity." We're not talking about making an unkind remark about a girl's prom dress. We're talking about the explicit denial of the human dignity of an entire category of human beings. Your piece makes it sound as though that's just silly kid's stuff--what really matters are political crimes against the state. Trouble is, the more you focus on pure issues of politics, the more palatable the Confederacy's position sounds. What made the Confederacy evil isn't that it thought it had the right to secede or to wage war against the Union for not allowing it to, but that it was doing so in order to preserve the privilege of trafficking in human chattel. What's hateful about the Dixiecrat legacy is that a hundred years later it still regarded the former victims of that traffic as, if not still chattel, still not fully human. That's the legacy Lott invoked. It's enough. By trying to saddle him with more you don't help the case against him, you weaken it.

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