Thanks, Lew and Joe, et al.

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Dagnabbit!

Four
score and seven hours ago, I had some interesting things to say.

And,
as many as the number of hours that have passed I had points to
make on the subject of the Sobran-Jaffa (and, uh, Kemp) debate.
But, as I suspected, as I survey this weekend's postings, 96.6%
of these points have been made.

Alack!
Childhood admonitions regarding my procrastination bubble to the
surface.

Nevertheless,
I did indeed just return from a trip, and am about to depart for
another, and I had to complete my taxes, and there's a hurricane
in the Gulf of Mexico. Really!

But
enough of my excuses.

It
would be very difficult to add to the erudition of the past three
and some days. Truly, I celebrate that these points are made so
freely, responsibly, and eloquently — which reminds me of a recent
incident.

Not
long ago when visiting a friend of mine and his family living in
the far reaches of The Empire, we were discussing the history of
tyranny and the like, so naturally Abraham Lincoln entered the conversation.

Well
it so happens that, some time prior, his wife had entered into a
“discussion” with a female member of her church – we'll call
her The Church Lady. Now of course, since my friend and his family
attend A Good Christian Church, The Church Lady was in agreement
with all points of The Received Text of The Civil War.

To
boot, it turns out that the father of The Church Lady was an historian.
But despite the fact that The Court Historians print history like
The Court Economists print legal tender, it sounded as though my
friend’s wife more than held her own, and felt pretty fired up about
it.

She
said that The Church Lady seemed ready to Lay on Hands to heal her
errant Sister in The Lord. She said, “I'm just fortunate to have
a Southern Boy for a husband!”

Well,
of course she is, but I immediately had the following thought:
She should also be thanking Lew Rockwell.

I
probably first heard something other than The Received Text from
Mel Bradford, then Pat Buchanan, and later in the pages of Chronicles,
but it's difficult to even begin to assess the impact of a web site
like LewRockwell.com.

I
have passed along many, many articles from LewRockwell.com
(a great many of those regarding the "Civil War") to my
friend (and others), at least some of which I know in turn were
passed along to his wife. It was very satisfying to see the results
of this work.

In
addition, LewRockwell.com has become quite a reference volume.
There's a whole lot one can learn by clicking on that button: "Search
lewrockwell.com." This Very Average Reader uses it as a resource
quite often.

Now,
I will make the very difficult attempt to not rehearse what others
have already said about this most immediate debate.

First,
I would like to respond to Jaffa's ad hominem attacks on
Sobran.

Ad
hominem attacks, generally, and charges of racism, specifically,
seem to be the favorite of Straussians, Neocons, and other Leftists.
And oh please help me they're always the same. Here's Jaffa
playing the race card:

The
head and front of Sobran's indictment of Lincoln is that he
"launched a bloody war against the South, violating the
Constitution he'd sworn to uphold." This is the kind of
wild and mindless assertion that those of us in this business
associate with unreconstructed Confederates, and old line politicians
of the Jim Crow South.

Oh
dear — unreconstructed Confederates and old line politicians of
the Jim Crow South — we all know what that means!

I
particularly like "unreconstructed Confederates." I would,
in fact, take that as a badge of honor. But Jaffa shouldn't fret
— our re-education camps (The Public School System) are far more
successful than even Pol Pot could have dreamed. If only he'd had
a little more patience and a little more time.

But
this from Jaffa I found incredibly ironic,

To
understand [colonization] however requires some historical imagination
— putting oneself in the place of someone in an earlier age
— something Sobran seems unable to do.

Someone
as I, who has never met Harry Jaffa or Joe Sobran, can only attempt
to know them by what they say and write (notwithstanding the necromancers
and diviners that discern the unspoken thoughts of those long since
passed).

Here's
a Jaffa quote from Sobran's 20 April 2001 column: "Never, perhaps,
since the drama that began in Bethlehem, had someone risen from
so low an estate to play so high a role in deciding the fate of
mankind." And another: "And Never since Socrates has philosophy
so certainly descended from the heavens into the affairs of mortal
men."

This
goes well beyond hyperbole. Are these the words of a responsible
historian?

On
the other hand, we have Joe Sobran. What has always struck me about
Sobran is his even-handedness, his abundant honesty and fairness,
and his ability to capture the many facets of any human being. His
descriptions never appear flat — and they always seem to
ring true.

Sobran's
18 July 2001 column on Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone
With The Wind
is a good example. Sobran calls it "The
Great American Novel," but says "Gone With The Wind
is anything but a glamorization of the Confederacy; just the opposite."

Even
more revealing is Sobran's 29 June 2001 column:

In
my recent columns and speeches on Abraham Lincoln, I've several
times repeated the story that in 1861, shortly after taking
office, Lincoln issued an order for the arrest of Chief Justice
Roger Taney. If true, it's one of the most high-handed acts
of any American president.

Now,
to my chagrin, this story has been called in question. Mr. Joseph
Eros of New York City has done some intense research, and he
finds it very dubious.

Now
there's an honest historian for you! (Sadly, this should
not be that remarkable.)

Anyone
that has read Sobran's work could not help but be impressed at his
ability to "[put himself] in the place of someone in an earlier
age." And, I might add, it's impossible to do if one is an
ideologue.

Now,
David Dieteman and others know vastly more than I about contracts
and rights, but This Humble Reader has a few things to add. Jaffa
writes:

Consider:
marriage is a voluntary agreement, or contract, between a man
and a woman. Prior to the marriage, each is free to contract
alliances with other parties. After marriage, they are entitled
to no such freedom. To say that a partner in marriage can end
the union, and co-habit with another partner, is in effect to
deny that there ever was a marriage at all … Under the law of
contracts, obligations freely undertaken can never be disavowed
unilaterally.

This
is a terribly odd argument. Isn't he making our argument for us?
That is to say, all contracts are contingent upon both parties
adhering to the contract, aren't they? Isn't that the point, that
the government of the United States, among other things, imposed
absurdly disproportionate taxes upon the South? From The Declaration
of Independence:


That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among
Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of
these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
it, and to institute new Government …

That
seems pretty clear, doesn't it?

Even
The Lord God Almighty enters into contracts in like manner:

If
ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall
yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their
fruit … But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do
all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes,
or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all
my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will
do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption,
and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause
sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your
enemies shall eat it … [Lev. 26:3-4,14-16]

Well,
you get the idea.

And
of course, even the Mosaic Law allowed for the dissolution of marriage
— would He allow the dissolution of the most critical form of human
government, but not lesser forms (which radiate outward from man
and wife)?

It
appears that the Straussians still believe that The Declaration
of Independence is The Founding Document of United States Government.
(You might even say that Lincoln was a Straussian before being a
Straussian was cool.)

But
I'll play along. Regarding rights and equality, Jaffa states that

Lincoln
… believed that all men are created equal, and that because
of this, the just powers of government are derived from the
consent of the governed … In nothing was greater perfection
to be sought than in having the American people understand that
the rights for whose vindication they fought in the American
Revolution were rights they shared with all men everywhere —
that there were no "inferior races."

It
is so profoundly obvious that Jefferson was not speaking to some
kind of genetic equality, but to English Rights under
The Law.

If
Jaffa had only read down a little further in The Declaration of
Independence:

[The
King] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has
endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the
merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Does
this sound consistent with the egalitarian blather of Jaffa?

And
oh yes, it was Merciless Yankee Savages "whose known rule of
warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and
conditions."

Was
there ever a person with less revolutionary spirit than Edmund Burke?
Yet, he abhorred The Revolution in France, but sympathized with
United States independence. Why? On the basis of English Rights
under The Law.

Is
it credible that the colonies had a legal and moral right to secede
from a state that had evolved for millennia, but not a confederation
of states whose constitution had existed for only three-quarters
of a century?

One
final point: Jaffa took great exception that Sobran accused Lincoln
of "violating the Constitution he'd sworn to uphold."
Of course, this can be taken in the context of the North or the
South.

In
the North, Lincoln suspended habeus corpus, instituted the
draft (followed by draft riots), jailed tens of thousands of dissenters
without due process (including the mayor of Baltimore, a Maryland
congressman, various editors, etc.), centralized the bank, instituted
the income tax, etc. (Thanks to Karen De Coster, et al., for much
in this list.)

And
those were the people he liked.

In
The First War of Humanitarian Intervention, he gave the modern world
the gift of Total War, targeting (murdering and starving) civilians,
including women and children. This is considered a war crime in
the context of the modern nation-state. (Read "small nation-states
only.")

Then
there was Reconstruction …

Before
closing, I feel I must say a few kind words for Jack Kemp, since
no one else has had anything to say about him at all.

Indeed,
even though the original debate (in this most recent branch) was
ostensibly between Kemp and Sobran, I do believe he was quoted not
even once during this entire exchange. Even Professor Jaffa only
mentions Poor Jack in the first paragraph, then lists his own books,
over and over and over …

But
to be fair, Kemp shares a lot with The Great Emancipator. I remember
someone once saying that Kemp knew a lot about race relations. After
all, the speaker shared with us, "Jack has taken showers with
more black men than most of us have shaken hands with."

(I
believe Jack belonged to some kind of athletics club.)

This
was about the same time that Kemp was telling us all about Free
Enterprise Zones. I didn't attend any rallies, but I can only imagine
the enraptured faces of the welfare bums as he shared his Vision
of The Future.

Perhaps
he is sitting peacefully at home. I wish him well and hope he's
having many Great Thoughts.

August
7, 2001

Brian
Dunaway [send him
mail
] is a chemical engineer and a native Texan.

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