Friday, April 16, 2010

Just for Fun Friday

Just in case...

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.

U.S. Income Taxes Should Not Be Compared to Slavery

To most people, the title of this post probably seems rather obvious. However, within certain libertarian circles, usually among the anarcho-capitalists, saying this is akin to pissing in the punch bowl. I understand what the people who use the "Taxes=Slavery" metaphor are trying to say, but I think it's about the dumbest thing someone can say to attract people to their way of thinking.

Messaging doesn't happen in a vacuum and, thus, messengers should be aware of the context in which they are putting forth their ideas. In the United States, with a still-unresolved legacy of racism and chattel slavery with origins that predate the Founding, throwing around the "S-word" so shamelessly is offensive whether it comes from the Left, the Right, or somewhere in between.  Given the free exercise of so many rights that we all take for granted, invoking slavery in a contemporary setting trivializes the true suffering of slavery's victims, undermines its very real legacy that remains in our culture, and makes whomever uttered such narrow-minded nonsense look like an ass with no sense of historical propriety. To those of us who can trace our lineage to slavery within four generations and have living relatives who grew up under the racist legal and cultural legacy of American slavery--comparing that history to paying income taxes seems just a bit fucking trite.

Taxes and the government they fund are real problems that need to be addressed by serious people. However, using brazenly lopsided metaphors such as "Taxes=Slavery" amount to nothing more than libertarian Godwin moments.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This is What Entrepreneurs Look Like

By now, you're probably familiar with my annoyance with scapegoating entrepreneurs and imposing half-assed stereotypes on businesspeople as heartless bastards out to become Skeletor's right-hand ghoul. To combat these ninnies, my friend Caleb Brown just released this video about the Grape & Bean, a coffee house/wine bar in Alexandria, VA. It is a pleasant reminder that the economy is full of hardworking, well-meaning folks and not dominated by the rent-seeking monsters that inhabit this town.

Please share this video with those who appreciate liberty and those who need to be reminded what American businesspeople really look like.

Take the White Man, Kill the Nigger

So, in honor of my current governor Bob McDonnell's declaration of April as Confederate History Month, I thought I'd note a couple of the more overlooked battles of the "War of Northern Aggression." The first is the Battle of Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864:

A Union report of that day:
All the wounded who had strength enough to speak agreed that after the fort was taken an indiscriminate slaughter of our troops was carried on by the enemy with a furious and vindictive savageness which was never equaled by the most merciless of the Indian tribes. Around on every side horrible testimony to the truth of this statement could be seen. Bodies with gaping wounds, some bayoneted through the eyes, some with skulls beaten through, others with hideous wounds as if their bowels had been ripped open with bowie-knives, plainly told that but little quarter was shown to our troops. Strewn from the fort to the river bank, in the ravines and hollows, behind logs and under the brush where they had crept for protection from the assassins who pursued them, we found bodies bayoneted, beaten, and shot to death, showing how cold-blooded and persistent was the slaughter of our unfortunate troops.
War is hell, obviously. But there was something different about this battle. Most of the "unfortunate troops" that had been slaughtered--many of whom were murdered after surrender--were black. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate lieutenant general who ordered the attack on Fort Pillow and the future co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan, said:
"It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that nigra soldiers cannot cope with Southerners."
In his report to his superiors, Forrest wrote:
We captured 164 Federals, 75 negro troops, and about 40 negro women and children, and after removing everything of value as far as able to do so, the warehouses, tents, &c., were destroyed by fire.
And the Union accounts of the forces inside Fort Pillow before the attack:
Our garrison at Fort Pillow, consisting of some 350 colored troops and 200 of the Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry, refusing to surrender, the place was carried by assault about 3 p.m. of 12th instant.
Such gentility. Such honor. Such...a remarkable disparity in the race of the dead.

That summer, at a battle known as "The Crater" near Petersburg, Virginia, a trapped regiment of black soldiers--along with many whites--threw down their weapons and surrendered under intense Confederate fire. The Southern response: "Take the white man, kill the nigger."

And so they did.

As I've noted before, there is a strand of libertarianism that defends the South, secession, and the Confederacy--some go so far as to hold the Defenders of the Lost Cause to be beacons of liberty. The federalist rhetoric employed by the Confederacy does not hold up to scrutiny, (ahem, Fugitive Slave Law). Furthermore, it is astonishing to me that federalist principles are held to be more meaningful than the plight of the millions of people in bondage--and, indeed, as they were invoked by the CSA to maintain that bondage--by modern day apologists, and audaciously in the name of "liberty."

Cloaking the murderous racism and slavery of the Confederacy in terms of liberty is offensive to me, and should be to all people who hold the integrity of the individual as something dear to them.  Slavery is anathema to liberty, and the facts clearly show that the Confederacy was founded to preserve chattel slavery. Any good points Confederates may have made about federalism while furthering their crimes can never negate the original evil that undergirded the Confederacy's foundation and existence.