Nikki’s Lost Cause

What happened in late December to Nikki Haley when she answered a question during a New Hampshire townhall about why the Civil War took place tells more about the state of this country than it does about Haley or the quality of her response.

“I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms in what people could and couldn’t do,” she responded. “I mean, I think it always comes down to the role of government.” The Anti-Federalist Pa... Best Price: $1.48 Buy New $4.89 (as of 04:45 UTC - Details)

Haley was immediately attacked in the media and by her rivals for her failure to mention slavery in her response. One is no longer allowed to provide historical explanations that contradict the narratives of our media betters or their interpretations of reality; therefore, it might be best to read the gibberish on Wikipedia to learn the politically correct explanation for what’s been going on in the Western world for the last several centuries.

If someone asks you in public about what caused the American Civil War, the now obligatory response is to bleed all over the floor about the evils of slavery and then rave against the white racists who inflicted this unprecedented inhumanity on hapless blacks. Anyone who fails to meet this PC test will be slammed, not only by the utterly partisan mainstream media, but also by the conservative establishment, which I’ve aptly described as “the late coming Left.”

Never mind that the slaves who reached our shores were sold by the black, not white, rulers of African slave empires and that the relatively small number of slaves that were brought to America lived much longer and in far better circumstances than those who were kept in Africa or sold to South American, not to mention Muslim masters. What may be equally relevant is that no matter how garbled Haley’s syntax, her answer was essentially correct. Our civil war had more than one cause; and the role of the central state was certainly a bone of contention between the two sides. The Anti-Federalist Pa... Best Price: $1.48 Buy New $4.89 (as of 04:45 UTC - Details)

It was by no means an accidental consequence of the war, as Lord Acton noted in a famous letter to Robert E. Lee in November 1866, that a consolidated regime emerged from the Union victory. Acton “saw in States Rights the only available check on the absolutism of the sovereign will.” It’s quite possible to cheer the disappearance of slavery while utterly deploring the rise of a highly centralized regime, which by now has morphed into an all-powerful, perpetually mischievous deep state armed with media propagandists. That development came from reducing American states to creatures of the central government, which was the eventual result of the Civil War.

Since race has now become the only filter for understanding the Civil War, which is known, not at all incidentally, in French and German as “the War of Secession,” the debates over states rights and federal power in the antebellum period and even after the war, have become at best irrelevant and at worst symptomatic of systemic white racism. The Encyclopedia Britannica now attacks the impeccably anti-slavery, pro-Union historian James Ford Rhodes for his “racist” account of widespread corruption in the military occupation of the defeated Southern states. Instead of wasting our time on this polluted history, we are urged to read the supposedly more objective account of leftist historian Eric Foner.

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