Liberals Need to Stop Calling for War

New York Times columnist Charles Blow delivers a genuine polemic, a "warlike speech," in reaction to the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh.  Apart from the declaration of hostilities in the title of the piece, it concludes with this admonition to liberal foot soldiers: "Stop thinking you're in a skirmish, when you're at war." 

In elucidating the "war" to which he refers, Blow explains that "Kavanagh is just one part of a much larger plan by conservatives to fundamentally change the American political structure so that it enshrines and protects white male power even after America's changing demographics and mores move away from that power."  And for these conservatives, "Trump is just a useful idiot, a temporary anomaly."

Blow's reference to conservatives trying to change fundamentally the "American political structure" is perhaps a little disingenuous.  Who is trying to effect a "fundamental transformation" of the nation, in the words of a former president, and who is trying to preserve its venerable traditions and foundations?   

The present reality that Blow would hold inviolate he calls "America's changing demographics" and later the "statistical eventuality" of an altered racial majority.  This ongoing change is in Blow's mind somehow the status quo ante, and anything that obstructs it seems to him radical and pernicious.

Blow, therefore, decries "the extreme measures on illegal immigration and even the efforts to dramatically slash legal immigration."  He assigns to the latter category proposals to eliminate the visa lottery program.  This apparently is to be accounted an "extreme measure" because according to Pew Research – Blow cites its study – in the last fiscal year the most lottery visas went to Africans while the number awarded to Europeans and Asians (categorized with the Europeans, it would seem) decreased.  Hence, anyone objecting to the lottery visa system, on the grounds, say, that it makes little sense to admit people arbitrarily and without regard to their qualifications or possible threat to national security, really seeks "to preserve America's white majority, against the statistical eventuality, for as long as possible."

Blow's position, stripped of euphemism, is that a white majority in this country is immoral.  It is no longer a question of minority rights.  Being in the minority is oppression, and it is time at last for the oppressor and the oppressed to change places.  And if, after the population becomes majority non-white, the government does not follow, well, we all know what that is called: apartheid.  Would some further adjustment on the South African model not be required? 

The "statistical eventuality," then, actually is more than a mere anthropological phenomenon, such as the migration of Asiatic peoples across the former land bridge from Siberia to North America.  It undertakes the character of God's will, from a biblical perspective, or of history's dictate and momentum, from the more relevant Marxist one.  The obverse circumstance (a fantasy, to be sure) of millions of Northern Europeans migrating to Nigeria, waving the flag of "diversity" and changing the racial majority there would be a different matter.  That would be racism, colonialism, and imperialism – regressive and on the "wrong side of history."

All of this brings us back to the Kavanaugh nomination.  The racial component of the left's attack (the "old white men" on the senatorial committee, the similarly unflattering references to the nominee's race) caused some perplexity on televised conservative talk shows.  The nominee and all of his accusers were the same color, so what had race to do with it?  While the question was eminently reasonable, the answer is no great mystery.  The scrupulous enforcement of the Constitution that Kavanaugh promised was, to such detractors as Blow, a scheme of white supremacy, for the Constitution itself represents such a design by its framers.

Consider Mr. Blow's response to Leonard Leo, president of the Federalist Society, when Leo defends textualism and originalism in constitutional interpretation:

But, when I think of originalism, I think this: Many of the founders owned slaves; in the Constitution they viewed black people as less than fully human; they didn't want women or poor white men to vote.  The founders, a bunch of rich, powerful white men, didn't want true democracy in this country, and in fact were dreadfully afraid of it[.] ... Now, a bunch of rich, powerful white men want to return us to this sensibility, wrapped in a populist 'follow the Constitution' rallying cry and disguised as the ultimate form of patriotism.

A different interpretation of the Founders' intention, though with specific reference to the Declaration of Independence, will be found in Lincoln's speech on the Dred Scott decision.  He rejected Chief Justice Taney's conclusion that "all men are created equal" really meant "all white men."  Lincoln affirmed that it meant all persons of all races, although the equality the Founders mentioned was not that of ability, intellect, size, or strength:

They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal – equal in "certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  This they said, and this they meant.  They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them.  In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon.  They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as the circumstances should permit.  They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all,  and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.

The Constitution was written to effectuate, if imperfectly and in due course of time, the "standard maxim for free society."  Lincoln's view of the Constitution's relation to slavery is found, among other places, in his argument at the seventh and last of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.  There, he famously concludes that the authors of the Constitution intended to place slavery "in the course of ultimate extinction."  In substantiation of this, Lincoln cites the end of the slave trade, clearly prepared in Article I, Sec. 9, the omission of any reference to "slavery," "slaves," or the race enslaved in the text, including the three constitutional provisions reflecting the institution, and the decision of the same leaders to prohibit slavery in the territories, through the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

In our recent history, leftists have endorsed wholesale the interpretation of the Founders' intention enunciated by Justice Taney and rejected that of Lincoln.  The irony of this has been   noted elsewhere and for some time.  But in dismissing the Constitution as a slave document and the Declaration as pious hypocrisy, and in seeking their displacement (by something never defined with great precision, but certainly inimical to freedom), men like Blow indeed declare war on the country bequeathed us by the Founders.      

War, as such, is inconsistent with law.  Inter arma silent leges ("In time of war, the laws are silent") was the maxim of the Roman statesman Cicero.  Even if no massive conflict of the kind that rent the nation in the mid-nineteenth century appears imminent, the pattern of politicized violence, rhetoric effectively justifying it, and calls to tear up parts of the Constitution is alarming enough.

Despite the absence of armed conflict, the Constitution and the way of life it upholds are under attack.  We who value them are appointed their defenders, even if only in the small ways available to most of us.  We are appointed by the times in which we live and by our obligation to those who came before and gave us what we have.  The solace of quietude and the private life will prove ephemeral if Mr. Charles Blow and his like prevail in the war on which they are set.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow delivers a genuine polemic, a "warlike speech," in reaction to the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh.  Apart from the declaration of hostilities in the title of the piece, it concludes with this admonition to liberal foot soldiers: "Stop thinking you're in a skirmish, when you're at war." 

In elucidating the "war" to which he refers, Blow explains that "Kavanagh is just one part of a much larger plan by conservatives to fundamentally change the American political structure so that it enshrines and protects white male power even after America's changing demographics and mores move away from that power."  And for these conservatives, "Trump is just a useful idiot, a temporary anomaly."

Blow's reference to conservatives trying to change fundamentally the "American political structure" is perhaps a little disingenuous.  Who is trying to effect a "fundamental transformation" of the nation, in the words of a former president, and who is trying to preserve its venerable traditions and foundations?   

The present reality that Blow would hold inviolate he calls "America's changing demographics" and later the "statistical eventuality" of an altered racial majority.  This ongoing change is in Blow's mind somehow the status quo ante, and anything that obstructs it seems to him radical and pernicious.

Blow, therefore, decries "the extreme measures on illegal immigration and even the efforts to dramatically slash legal immigration."  He assigns to the latter category proposals to eliminate the visa lottery program.  This apparently is to be accounted an "extreme measure" because according to Pew Research – Blow cites its study – in the last fiscal year the most lottery visas went to Africans while the number awarded to Europeans and Asians (categorized with the Europeans, it would seem) decreased.  Hence, anyone objecting to the lottery visa system, on the grounds, say, that it makes little sense to admit people arbitrarily and without regard to their qualifications or possible threat to national security, really seeks "to preserve America's white majority, against the statistical eventuality, for as long as possible."

Blow's position, stripped of euphemism, is that a white majority in this country is immoral.  It is no longer a question of minority rights.  Being in the minority is oppression, and it is time at last for the oppressor and the oppressed to change places.  And if, after the population becomes majority non-white, the government does not follow, well, we all know what that is called: apartheid.  Would some further adjustment on the South African model not be required? 

The "statistical eventuality," then, actually is more than a mere anthropological phenomenon, such as the migration of Asiatic peoples across the former land bridge from Siberia to North America.  It undertakes the character of God's will, from a biblical perspective, or of history's dictate and momentum, from the more relevant Marxist one.  The obverse circumstance (a fantasy, to be sure) of millions of Northern Europeans migrating to Nigeria, waving the flag of "diversity" and changing the racial majority there would be a different matter.  That would be racism, colonialism, and imperialism – regressive and on the "wrong side of history."

All of this brings us back to the Kavanaugh nomination.  The racial component of the left's attack (the "old white men" on the senatorial committee, the similarly unflattering references to the nominee's race) caused some perplexity on televised conservative talk shows.  The nominee and all of his accusers were the same color, so what had race to do with it?  While the question was eminently reasonable, the answer is no great mystery.  The scrupulous enforcement of the Constitution that Kavanaugh promised was, to such detractors as Blow, a scheme of white supremacy, for the Constitution itself represents such a design by its framers.

Consider Mr. Blow's response to Leonard Leo, president of the Federalist Society, when Leo defends textualism and originalism in constitutional interpretation:

But, when I think of originalism, I think this: Many of the founders owned slaves; in the Constitution they viewed black people as less than fully human; they didn't want women or poor white men to vote.  The founders, a bunch of rich, powerful white men, didn't want true democracy in this country, and in fact were dreadfully afraid of it[.] ... Now, a bunch of rich, powerful white men want to return us to this sensibility, wrapped in a populist 'follow the Constitution' rallying cry and disguised as the ultimate form of patriotism.

A different interpretation of the Founders' intention, though with specific reference to the Declaration of Independence, will be found in Lincoln's speech on the Dred Scott decision.  He rejected Chief Justice Taney's conclusion that "all men are created equal" really meant "all white men."  Lincoln affirmed that it meant all persons of all races, although the equality the Founders mentioned was not that of ability, intellect, size, or strength:

They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal – equal in "certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  This they said, and this they meant.  They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them.  In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon.  They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as the circumstances should permit.  They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all,  and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.

The Constitution was written to effectuate, if imperfectly and in due course of time, the "standard maxim for free society."  Lincoln's view of the Constitution's relation to slavery is found, among other places, in his argument at the seventh and last of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.  There, he famously concludes that the authors of the Constitution intended to place slavery "in the course of ultimate extinction."  In substantiation of this, Lincoln cites the end of the slave trade, clearly prepared in Article I, Sec. 9, the omission of any reference to "slavery," "slaves," or the race enslaved in the text, including the three constitutional provisions reflecting the institution, and the decision of the same leaders to prohibit slavery in the territories, through the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

In our recent history, leftists have endorsed wholesale the interpretation of the Founders' intention enunciated by Justice Taney and rejected that of Lincoln.  The irony of this has been   noted elsewhere and for some time.  But in dismissing the Constitution as a slave document and the Declaration as pious hypocrisy, and in seeking their displacement (by something never defined with great precision, but certainly inimical to freedom), men like Blow indeed declare war on the country bequeathed us by the Founders.      

War, as such, is inconsistent with law.  Inter arma silent leges ("In time of war, the laws are silent") was the maxim of the Roman statesman Cicero.  Even if no massive conflict of the kind that rent the nation in the mid-nineteenth century appears imminent, the pattern of politicized violence, rhetoric effectively justifying it, and calls to tear up parts of the Constitution is alarming enough.

Despite the absence of armed conflict, the Constitution and the way of life it upholds are under attack.  We who value them are appointed their defenders, even if only in the small ways available to most of us.  We are appointed by the times in which we live and by our obligation to those who came before and gave us what we have.  The solace of quietude and the private life will prove ephemeral if Mr. Charles Blow and his like prevail in the war on which they are set.