He said it! He actually said it!

Postby Lordjulius on Fri Apr 19, 2002 11:10 pm

Aris Katsaris wrote:

Other than that, calling it "The War of Northern Aggression" is more than saying he has sympathy for the South. It's also a declaration on what *he* feels was the moral character of the war. And that attitude may coincide with some (hopefully few) Southern folk, but I doubt you'll hear it anywhere else on the *planet* and not have it treated as a possible sign for racism.


OK, let's try this: Most Americans consider the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be justifiable acts that saved thousands, maybe even millions of American lives and ended the War with Japan quicker, possibly by years, than it might have dragged on otherwise.

Many Japanese -- and some in other parts of the world -- regard it as a war crime, a heinous attack on a civilian population that went unpunished only because it was perpertrated by the victors, and they decided who would be tried for war crimes and who would not.

There are good arguments to be made for both sides, and those who make the latter need not be apologists for, say, the Japanese conquest of China or the enslavement of Korean women as "comfort girls" for the Japanese troops.

There are many Southerners who firmly believe that slavery was a pretext that the folks in control of the Federal Government used to smash States Rights. Before the Civil War, there was still an argument over whether we were a nation or a collection of independent States. The word State means an independent nation, after all. Each state still has its own laws, its own militia (sort of; not really anymore) and its own elected Head of State called a Governor. France is a State. Nigeria is a state. Alabama is a State. But the latter doesn't mean the same as the other two, really.

Before 1860, many people in Alabama believed it did. So did many people in Ohio and Pennsylvania, for that matter, but it was only the slave states that seceded.

From these people's point of view, the War of Northern Aggression was fought by a powerful centralized government to crush resistance to federalization, to ensure that the states would never again be truly independent, and the fact that they won doesn't mean they were right.

Of course, this is an even more simplistic view of history than the one that says it was The War To Free The Slaves and nothing else. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have an element of truth in it, and it certainly doesn't mean that everyone who believes it is a racist.


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Postby Ashandra on Sat Apr 20, 2002 12:31 am

What a lot of people forget was that the Civil War WASN'T just a war about slavery. Yes, that was part of the package, but had it been only about slavery there would have been states from the North that would have joined the Confederacy.

In fact, the great generals would have been on opposite sides of the battles. Lee HATED slavery. Grant owned slaves. And Lincoln wasn't the abolitionist that everyone believes he is. The Emancipation (I know I spelled that wrong) Proclaimation only freed the slaves in the rebel states. Slaves could still be held in the North.

The thing is that over the years, we've all come to believe that the Civil War was only about freeing the slaves. And it was actually more about differences in political philosophy. The Southern states wanted a decentralized government that gave far more rights to the states to govern themselves. The North, in general, wanted a more centralized government.

Just because you sympathize with the South doesn't mean that you're automatically a racist. Most of the people fighting for the South were poor hill folk who never would have fought just to defend the rights of wealthy owners to have slaves.

By the way...some of my ancestors were those hill folk. That doesn't mean that I agree with everything they were fighting for, but I'm not ashamed of my Southern heritage.

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Postby Aris Katsaris on Sat Apr 20, 2002 4:37 am

On 2002-04-19 23:44, Shatteredtower wrote:
Couldn't resist, could you? :razz: But the answer to your question is my standard for judging people is how they relate to all people - the ones they loathe as well as the ones they like.


Then I'd say that this standard is incomplete - because it must also take into account how often somebody likes and how often somebody hates, and for what reasons. If somebody hates only one person and treats him badly, that's different than somebody who hates the entire world and treats them badly.

Rikk has only felt that hate once, from what we know. And he still had the restrain (though with help from Will) not to strike. And you condemn him for not being an absolute saint who'd go out of his way to reform the person he's hated?

*snort* You call it the moral high ground, if you want - to me, it's nothing but a moral high horse.


If you think that murdering Stu would be a better choice for Rikk to take, fine, go on thinking it.

If you think that in that moment he could reasonably explain in peace the reason that Stu's statements were a bit below human society's standards of due compassion, then you have a much higher opinion of Rikk than I do, funny though that sounds.

He chose not to physically injure. That's all we could possibly demand from Rikk in that moment.

It really almost feels as if you are treating Stu as the only real person there, and all the others as simple personifications.

And that is the problem of the listener, not the speaker.


No, it's not. Words are meant to communicate. Calling it "The War of Northern Agression" communicates meaning about who you believe to have been right and who you believe to have been wrong.

"The American Civil War" is neutral in meaning and most people (including me) prefer it since it lacks moral connotations which usually up distorting communication. Otherwise I might prefer calling it "The War of Southern Hypocricy", which after all I also believe it to be.

Besides, why would anyone else on the planet feel the need for another term for it?


Hello? Internet? People from everywhere on the planet occasionally having to listen to Southern folk also? I never said that they'd *use* the term.
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Postby Aris Katsaris on Sat Apr 20, 2002 4:58 am

There are good arguments to be made for both sides, and those who make the latter need not be apologists for, say, the Japanese conquest of China or the enslavement of Korean women as "comfort girls" for the Japanese troops.


Indeed and since I also kinda-believe the A-bombs (or atleast the second one) to have been a war crime, I can assure you that this doesn't mean Japan was on the right side of the war -- it wasn't.

Ofcourse I didn't call WW2 "The War of Anglo-Franco-American Agression" which makes this whole point irrelevant. We are discussing the "moral character" of *wars*, not of individual actions.

From these people's point of view, the War of Northern Aggression was fought by a powerful centralized government to crush resistance to federalization, to ensure that the states would never again be truly independent, and the fact that they won doesn't mean they were right.


They could use the neutrally moral term "The Civil War" and then go on to explain the reasons that they believe the northern motivations for fighting were wrong, and the southern ones right.

Though in my (simplistic) point of view, it all leads down to "Them damn Northerners didn't have a right to tell us we can't keep slaves."

To which my response is: "Yes, yes, they did. And they do still. If you want Alabama's (or whatever's) governor to reinstitute slavery, the federal government does have the moral right to stop it, using as much force as necessary."

Of course, this is an even more simplistic view of history than the one that says it was The War To Free The Slaves and nothing else.


I've never heard people using the title "The War to Free the Slaves". Most decent folk generally don't use descriptions that carry moral meaning. "The War of Independence" "The Peloponesean War" "The Persian Wars" "World War II". Putting moral context in the simple *name* of a war is the work of propagandists and their followers, not historians.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't have an element of truth in it, and it certainly doesn't mean that everyone who believes it is a racist.


I still can't see how anyone who supports the South can at the same time not believe that the South had a right to slavery.
Saying that North used abolition as a pretext would only get from me the response that it was such a good pretext that it managed to justify North's actions and show South's hypocricy (the right of States to be "free", but not the right of human beings, eh? Pfft.)

South could of course have removed said pretext by also freeing *its* slaves - it'd show the world that slavery's not the issue here, independence is. But it couldn't/wouldn't/didn't. And thus it deserved to fall.

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Postby Maccabee on Sat Apr 20, 2002 6:40 am

On 2002-04-20 01:31, Ashandra wrote:
What a lot of people forget was that the Civil War WASN'T just a war about slavery. Yes, that was part of the package, but had it been only about slavery there would have been states from the North that would have joined the Confederacy.


If the war were only about slavery, only Kentucky would have swung the other way. Proslavery minorities in the Unionist slave states did fight for the Confederacy, but by the end of the war majorities in Missouri and Maryland decided that given a choice between abolition and disunion they'd take abolition -- those states abolished slavery before the 13th Amendment forced them to, and in fact voted for the amendment.

You could even argue the other way -- if the war were only about slavery the south wouldn't have seceeded at all. Only 1 family in 4 owned slaves in 1860. Slavery was a lynch-pin of white supremacy, though, and that non-slaveholding whites would fight for.

To be fair, most northerners initially supported white supremacy too. It took the radicalizing influence of war to create pro-equality majorities outside of places like Vermont.

In fact, the great generals would have been on opposite sides of the battles. Lee HATED slavery. Grant owned slaves. And Lincoln wasn't the abolitionist that everyone believes he is. The Emancipation (I know I spelled that wrong) Proclaimation only freed the slaves in the rebel states. Slaves could still be held in the North.


Didn't stop Lee from owning a few himself. He freed them, but he was legally required to do so by the terms of the will under which he inherited them. He said slavery was bad, but he said trying to do anything to end it was just as bad. On this issue, Lee simply sat there with his thumb up his bum waiting for God to come down from on high and fix everything for him.

And Grant didn't own slaves -- he was too poor. His wife did. She was from a rich Missouri family. A subtle distinction, but a genuine one.

As for Linoln, he always opposed slavery. He voted for its ban in the territories while in congress, proposed a bill (which failed) to allow the District of Columbia to end the institution, and as president signed numerous antislavery bills into law, lobbied slave-state governments to end the instititution on their own, and used presidential patronage to get several key Democrats to vote for the 13th Amendment.

You could argue that Lincoln started closer to Lee's supine position than the militancy of Fredrick Douglas or William Lloyd Garrison (I'd disagree with you, but there is evidence on both sides in Lincoln's early writings), but he moved steadily to the left on the issue throughout his presidency. Lincoln never waivered from the position that slavery was morally wrong and should be ended. He only shifted on how that was best to be accomplished.

The thing is that over the years, we've all come to believe that the Civil War was only about freeing the slaves. And it was actually more about differences in political philosophy. The Southern states wanted a decentralized government that gave far more rights to the states to govern themselves. The North, in general, wanted a more centralized government.


States' Rights is for losers. I say this having been a loser myself. When the "Defense of Marriage Act" passed Congress (for our non-American friends, it's a law saying states don't have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states) I screamed my head off -- "Congress doesn't have the authority to nullify state contracts like that!" I said. "It violates the 'Full Faith and Credit' clause in Article IV!"

But back to the south. They only opposed federal power when it threatened their regional interests. They supported it when it favored their region.

The biggest increase in federal power before the war was the Fugitive Slave Act. It allowed the Federal government to bypass state courts, draft citizens into posses, and ignore restrictions on its power found in the Bill of Rights. The FSA was supported almost universally in the south. When northern abolitionists talked about nullifying the laws southerners (and many northerners too, for that matter) screamed treason.

One of the south's grievances against the north was its refusal to support another extension of central power -- a Federal Slave Code for the western territories. The southern wing of the Democratic party turned against Stephen Douglas when he insisted that the territories decide on slavery for themselves, free of Federal interference.

The only action the Federal government tried to undertake that reduced the internal sovereignty of other states was the Land Grant College Act (which the south managed to block). The LGCA supplied Federal funds to start agricultural and mechanical colleges in the states, but required the states to maintain them. I've never heard anyone argue that people went to war to prevent the establishment of colleges.

Just because you sympathize with the South doesn't mean that you're automatically a racist. Most of the people fighting for the South were poor hill folk who never would have fought just to defend the rights of wealthy owners to have slaves.


That goes too far in the other direction. Most southerners were from non-slaveholding families, but that didn't mean they were poor hill-folk. The flatlands were much more populous, and many of the poor hill-folk stayed neutral or fought for the Union at great risk to themselves and their families.

Not all confederates were racists, I won't argue that point. But the cause they fought for was racist. The south has much to be proud of, and will continue to find new reasons for pride. I cannot think of a good reason to add secession to the list of southern accomplishments, though.

I salute Virginia for the Statute of Religious Freedom. I salute Mississippi for leading the way in married women's property rights. But I will not hesitate to point out that the Dred Scott decision is a stain on Maryland's honor, or that Georgia should be ashamed of Alexander Stephens calling "all men are created equal" a heresy.

We should not demonize the south. Neither should we romanticize it. We should examine it, warts and all, and hopefully we will find more cause for pride than sorrow. The same applies to all human society, of course.

Since I'm veering into pretentious cliches now I should probably stop typing.

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Postby Loxley on Sat Apr 20, 2002 8:48 am

Said Aris Katsaris...
"Though in my (simplistic) point of view, it all leads down to "Them damn Northerners didn't have a right to tell us we can't keep slaves."

To which my response is: "Yes, yes, they did. And they do still. If you want Alabama's (or whatever's) governor to reinstitute slavery, the federal government does have the moral right to stop it, using as much force as necessary." "

To which I say...

No. They didn't. The South was wrong, morally. But *legally* they were right. Precedent and court cases and the Constitution itself were on their side. And the Federal Government is *supposed* to only have the authority deliniated for it by the Constitution (including Amendments), with all other rights reserved for the States. There was NO legal backing for the Emancipation Proclamation, and the North couldn't legally force the South to change their laws (since they were Constitutional on their face). Indeed, a strict interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court would favor the South.

As Macabee pointed out, the Congress can't pass the Defense of Marraige Act and think it'll stay onthe books. The wheels of Democracy grind forward, in the guise of the Supreme Court. They're the ones who keep crazy Presidents and Congresses in line.

It's dangerous to say thigns like "The Government has a moral right to do this or that." Because mores *change*. Best to only give it the powers allotted to it in the Constitution.

Still and all, I'm glad we're over slavery, and I think things worked out for the best.

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Not JUST the Supreme Court

Postby Roscoe on Sun Apr 21, 2002 10:24 pm

Little known fact, but *any* court, jury, or judge can rule a law unconstitutional. The only problem being that if nobody knows, it never happens.

So when you're on the jury for a law you don't believe in, remember that little bundle of joy, and raise hell.
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Postby Aris Katsaris on Sun Apr 21, 2002 11:41 pm

Loxley wrote:No. They didn't. The South was wrong, morally. But *legally* they were right.


Since I'm concerned with moral rights, this doesn't concern me much at all. There have been awful laws in the past, laws of dictatorships and tyrannies and slaveholders, and occasionally they are so awful that they must overthrown with war.

So, yeah, assassinating Hitler or shooting the greek dictator Papadopoulos, or forcing the South to give up on its slavery, may have been illegal. It was also a good thing to do IMAO.

As a sidenote I still don't understand how slavery can have *ever* been considered constitutional... There are some things in the bill of rights such as "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated"... Was this amendment different or something before the Civil War? Or did the South add an invisible word in there, that "people" meant "white people" instead?

It's dangerous to say thigns like "The Government has a moral right to do this or that." Because mores *change*. Best to only give it the powers allotted to it in the Constitution.


It's clear that you live in a country who only ever had one constitution... If a constitution is immoral then it's time to change the constitution. And if a constitution stands in the way of abolishing the slavery, then it's time to throw down the constitution.

But either way, from what I understand so far, the only thing that seemed to need to have been done was the clarification: "You know that thing about the people having such-and-such rights? That *does* mean the people, not just the white people, or we ought to have said so."

Is there an amendment right now which prevents people with green eyes and exactly 1.75m height to be shot on sight? I guess the federal government shouldn't stop any of the states if they decide that the bill of rights doesn't apply to such people.
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Postby Shatteredtower on Mon Apr 22, 2002 6:32 pm

Aris Katsaris wrote:
On 2002-04-19 23:44, Shatteredtower wrote:
Couldn't resist, could you? :razz: But the answer to your question is my standard for judging people is how they relate to all people - the ones they loathe as well as the ones they like.


Then I'd say that this standard is incomplete - because it must also take into account how often somebody likes and how often somebody hates, and for what reasons. If somebody hates only one person and treats him badly, that's different than somebody who hates the entire world and
treats them badly.


Of course, it's incomplete, Mr. Katsaris. We could be here until the sun died, narrowing specifics down, and it's likely that it would remain incomplete. I'm not sure why you're quibbling about this, though.

If I see you treating another person like scum, I will try to determine the cause for that. (I may not do it immediately, but that does not absolve me of responsibility for neglect or rash actions.) But even if I do respect your reasons for it, I'm going to remember that conduct, and it is going to flavour my judgment of you.

Rikk has only felt that hate once, from what we know.


It's a good disclaimer: "from what we know." I don't think it's worth much, though. "He only tried to strike a man in the back of the head once, from what we know." "He's only gotten off on his power once, from what we know."

Rikk's never tried to commit murder (from what we know, of course ;)), but that doesn't justify his behaviour here either.

And he still had the restraint (though with help from Will) not to strike.


So someone intervened to prevent Rikk from doing something stupid to do something else shameless - and you credit Rikk. You're showing quite a bit of bias in your presentation of events here, sir.

[qb] And you condemn him for not being an absolute saint who'd go out of his way to reform the person he's hated?[/qb]


Condemn him? I believe you exaggerate the point. He's in authority - and he's misused it. He did not show restraint - it was placed upon him. He should know better than this.

Sure, I can forgive him - I understand his reasons, after all. But I would take him to task for it.

I don't feel I can take Harry to task for what I've seen of his own conduct towards Stu. Stu knows what he's being called on here, because Harry made it clear to Stu. What Rikk made clear to Stu was that Rikk had power and was eager to use it against him.

(I do see Rikk's point of view and his reasons. I can respect the reasons for his anger, but I do not respect either of the means by which he expressed it.)

*snort* You call it the moral high ground, if you want - to me, it's nothing but a moral high horse.


If you think that murdering Stu would be a better choice for Rikk to take, fine, go on thinking it.


And I thought I was prone to overstatement. :roll: I'm going to assume that you didn't mean to be dishonest in misrepresenting my position this badly, Mr. Katsaris.

Rikk was obviously getting a thrill out of being able to crush a man. I don't care how you go about it, that is low behaviour. I don't care that Stu should be able to shrug it off, either - he could just as easily have shrugged off a blow to the back of the head. That wouldn't have made the punch right, of course.

This was not about the good of the club for Rikk (whether such is the case for others is a different discussion). It was about throwing his weight around. Maybe dismissing Stu could have served the good of the club, but not in the fashion it was performed.

If you think in that moment he could reasonably explain in peace the reason that Stu's statements were a bit below human society's standards of due compassion, then you have a much higher opinion of Rikk than I do, funny though that sounds.


I'm not sure he could have. I do know that he should have - or he should have chosen another moment. I also know that he didn't. Notice that in spite of this, I haven't declared that he is unfit to lead and that he should step down.

(When would there have been a good moment? After everyone's slept on it. The spur-of-the-moment decision is the act of a mob, not of civilization.)

He chose not to physically injure.


After he was disuaded from that choice. Are you intentionally
downplaying the significance of Will's intervention to suit your own purposes?

That's all we could possibly demand from Rikk in that moment.


There must always be accountability, especially of authority. Rikk, like Guth, has tried to make sure that the rules favour his kind of power in the scenes we've seen with Stu. I don't condone that any more than I condone kicking people in the head for offending me.

It really almost feels as if you are treating Stu as the only real person there, and all the others as simple
personifications.


That's funny, because to me, the situation is that you are treating Stu as the only non-person there. That is the convenient illusion upon which so much "civilized" behaviour has rested, after all.

And that is the problem of the listener, not the speaker.


No, it's not. Words are meant to communicate.[/quote]

Or to mislead.

Calling it "The War of Northern Agression" communicates meaning about who you believe to have been right and who you believe to have been wrong.


But it doesn't communicate the why of the matter - nor does it communicate intent. It is too simple a statement to hang the conclusions you have hung upon it.

"The American Civil War" is neutral in meaning and most people (including me) prefer it since it lacks moral connotations which usually up distorting communication. Otherwise I might prefer calling it "The War of Southern Hypocricy", which after all I also believe it to be.


That's fine for you, I'm sure. But what you call neutral some would call "politically correct," in the proper sense of the term. After all, in Quebec, some refer to The Battle of the Plains of Abraham - a "neutral" term, as you call it - as "the Conquest."

And you know something? They're right. I don't think it does them any good to be right, and I don't think they'd have been any better off if the battle had gone the other way - but the adoption of "neutral" terms are usually dictated by the victor.

Had the British quashed the American Revolution, the neutral term might have been "The American Rebellion" - a no less accurate summation of what happened, but one with a very different spin.

The term "The War of Northern Agression" is more misleading, but it is a valid opinion - a starting point - no matter how shaky. But since a Civil War is a war between two sides in the same country, I'd call that a pretty slanted view from a Confederate standpoint.

(And considering what was done with Loyalist families and properties at the end of the American Revolution, as well as the fact that much of the early discontent with the British Empire in the Colonies was about the recognition of French language and Catholic religion in territory acquired from France, I find myself reluctant to whole-heartedly condemn
the secessionist point of view, no matter how opportunistic, to put it mildly, it was.)

Sure, the Confederacy is dead now - does that mean people should forget who killed it? It certainly doesn't mean people get to forget why they killed it, now does it?

Besides, why would anyone else on the planet feel the need for another term for it?


Hello? Internet? People from everywhere on the planet occasionally having to listen to Southern folk also? I never said that they'd *use* the term.
[/quote]

You didn't answer the question, Mr. Katsaris. You said where they may have heard it - you did not say why they'd need the term themselves.

I'm going to have to abandon this discussion - it's taken me two days (and a lot of edits) to send this. I think I've said all I need to say anyway.
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