Today I had someone tweet me this message: “Nullification is idiotic and unconstitutional.”
Not an unusual opinion, to be sure; it’s held by the New York Times, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton. My critic, such as he is, has simply absorbed all the presuppositions of the modern state, in which nullification is indeed “idiotic.” For the modern state is one and indivisible, with a single, infallible authority dictating orders to all subordinate institutions. My critic believes in the Hobbesian model of political association, as do 99 percent of his fellow countrymen – who, like him, have absorbed it without thinking. They don’t even know they’ve absorbed it, so ubiquitous has it become in modern Western political thought.
So when someone comes along and challenges these assumptions, all my critic can do is shout at the heretic.
I told him that as soon as he can reply to my “Nullification: Answering the Objections,” he should let me know. I will not hear from him again.
What I found especially interesting was this: on his blog, he criticizes people who have written to him with unkind words about Abraham Lincoln. Let me allow my critic to speak for himself:
Not content to recycle the same-old same-old absurd insults (dictator, tyrant, warmonger, racist and so on), some of these ranters cite bogus Lincoln quotes floating around the internet, such as:
“I have no intention of interfering with slavery or freeing the slaves. The white race is supreme and blacks will never marry whites, serve on juries or vote. This is my firm belief.”
Of course, Abraham Lincoln never said this or wrote this or even thought this. Ronald Reagan (R-CA) had these words of advice for anyone who feels compelled to malign Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President:
Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.
And that includes Abraham Lincoln! Reagan’s 11th Commandment. Learn it. Love it. Live it.
Now this is funny. “Abraham Lincoln never said this or wrote this or even thought this”? True, the blogger’s paraphrase of Lincoln is not the precise word order the sixteenth president used. But has he never read the Lincoln-Douglas debates? (I ask rhetorically.) There, Lincoln said:
I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.
As for slavery, Lincoln said in his First Inaugural (you can see I’ve had to dig into some obscure sources to find Lincoln’s views): “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
So poor Grand Old Partisan, as he calls himself, is demolished. Lincoln said precisely the things this critic claims Abe never said, wrote, or even thought. These are facts one could gather by reading any book about Lincoln at all.
At the end of the passage I reproduced from his blog, we’re treated to the Stalinist line that politicians, as long as they belong to a certain political party, should never be criticized. So when your fourth-grade textbook tells you all about your heroic overlords, you are supposed to shut up and salute.
Why am I not surprised that someone with this mentality opposes nullification?