Hate and Ignorance at Vanderbilt
Print Friendly and PDF

Just before Thanksgiving the editor of the Nashville newspaper, The Tennessean, and Vanderbilt University professor Jonathan Farley teamed up to commit a hate crime.

Farley wrote, and the Tennessean published, an article that attacked the United Daughters of the Confederacy for what Farley calls "honoring traitors." Farley's article brims with hatred of Confederate Army soldiers and their descendants.

Farley wrote: "Every Confederate soldier, by the mores of his age and ours, deserved not a hallowed resting place at the end of his days but a reservation at the end of the gallows. . . . Indeed, the race problems that wrack America to this day are due largely to the fact that the Confederacy was not thoroughly destroyed, its leaders and soldiers executed and their lands given to the landless freed slaves."

Farley feels this way even though he is the child of West Indian immigrants whose ancestors were not part of America's Southern history.

Farley's fuse was lit when the UDC objected to the removal of "Confederate" from the name of a building, Confederate Memorial Hall, which the UDC raised money to build in the 1930s.  The UDC want their money back, but Farley wants it paid as reparations to descendants of black slaves.

Considering the offense Senator Trent Lott's tribute to centenarian Strom Thurmond caused blacks, how might southern whites feel about getting the finger from Professor Farley?

Perhaps Farley would be less intolerant if he were better informed. He thinks the Civil War was about slavery, and that the Confederacy was about persecuting and torturing blacks.

It is hard to believe, but in a number of northern states free blacks had fewer rights than slaves in the South.  Historian Charles Adams reports that Indiana and Ohio prohibited free Negroes from entering the state. Lincoln never spoke against the Illinois law (1853) that barred black people from residing in that state. The Oregon constitution (1859) prohibited blacks from coming into the state, holding property, making contracts or filing a lawsuit.

Northern states that permitted black residency did not permit blacks to attend the theater or school, nor could blacks be admitted to hospitals. De Tocqueville wrote that the southern people were "much more tolerant and compassionate" toward blacks than were northerners. In 1862 the North British Review wrote that "free Negroes are treated like lepers" in the north.

President Lincoln made it abundantly clear that the Civil War was not about slavery. He invaded the Confederacy in order to maintain the union and the revenue base for his expansionist plans.

In 1862 Lincoln wrote a public letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."

When Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation as a war time measure hoping to stir up a slave rebellion in the South (northern slaves and those in Confederate territory under Union control were not freed), Union General "Fighting Joe" Hooker wrote to Lincoln that "a large element of the army had taken sides against it, declaring that they would never have embarked in the war had they anticipated this action of the government."

Pulitzer Prize winner David Herbert Donald documents that Lincoln, "well into his presidency," wanted to solve the "Negro problem" by sending all blacks back to Africa. Lincoln had a colonization scheme for sending blacks to Liberia. This would keep blacks from migrating to the northern states "where they would compete with white laborers." Lincoln justified his scheme in terms of "restoring a captive people to their long-lost father-land, with bright prospects for the future."

If Lincoln had not been assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, he might have carried off his scheme. The northern states would have whole-heartedly supported it, and perhaps the defeated southern states as well.

Lincoln had the power to implement his scheme. He had acquired dictatorial powers early in the war simply by asserting them. He ignored rulings by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, suspended habeas corpus, arrested state legislators and newspaper editors, and exiled a U.S. Representative. Indeed, it was his exercise of dictatorial power that caused his assassination.

As a Vanderbilt professor, Farley should know that slaves were brought by European colonists to the South prior to the existence of the United States. Slaves were brought there not because the Confederacy (which did not exist at that time) wished to mistreat blacks, but because there was no labor force to work the fertile agricultural lands.

The black slaves brought to North America were captured and sold into slavery by other blacks. The African slave market in Dahomey was operated by blacks. The southern states emerged from colonies in which slavery was an established institution. As economic historians have noted, [PDF] slavery was on the way out as a growing population provided a free labor market.

Farley calls the people of the old South "cowards masquerading as civilized men" who visited "tyranny and evil" upon millions of blacks. What virtues did The Tennessean see in this ignorant hate-filled diatribe? Where is the apology for the offense it gives?

Paul Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.


Print Friendly and PDF