In the recent Alabama Senatorial Election, an old theme that most of us hoped had been thoroughly discredited reared its ugly head again: STATES’ RIGHTS.
STATES RIGHTS are almost always trumpeted as an excuse for a State to do some wrong to a portion of its population for a reason that will not stand examination under the light of day.
It was championed by Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy (or the seditious traitors to the sovereignty of the United States if you want an accurate label).
The fact that it has no traction is that All States signed the Constitution which has that pesky Bill of Rights that no state, even if they vote by 99% to 1% to do so, is allowed to violate.
These spats often end up with such outcomes that they would be comical if not for the tragedy visited mainly upon the bystanders, less so on the perpetrators. We slaughtered 600,000 of our own young men without significant interference from outsiders in the Civil War. The issue was slavery, though the self-styled Southern Intelligentsia called it States’ Rights. It wasn’t — it was States’ Wrongs.
The comical aspect came at the end: after Grant had placed over 300,000 negro troops in the Union Army and given them the most difficult assignments in battle and they brought glory to the North, Davis announced a plan whereby any slaves who took up the Confederate cause would be freed at the end of the war. The Southern Troops who had been besieged and starved (Southern farmers, by and large, would not provide food unless paid up front, showing that their support for “the Cause” was a mile wide and an inch deep) thought, correctly, that they had been fighting to retain slavery and now their leaders wanted to take slaves, give them arms, and eventually free them? What had they been fighting for these four years of blood and loss? Davis was eventually captured attempting to escape dressed as a woman. What most Southerners don’t seem to know: it was never a “Solid South”. Seventy-two counties refused to secede from the Union. Every southern state except South Carolina furnished at least a Battalion of troops to the Union.
When someone invokes “States’ Rights” as a battle cry, you will not have to look far to find some person or group whose fundamental Constitutional Rights are being violated.
The worst offenders in the South today are organized Religion. My grandfather was a Southern Presbyterian Minister married to the daughter of the Treasurer of the State of Virginia (poet laureate as well) who sent his daughter to Wheaton College where she roomed with Billy Graham’s future wife. Nearly every thinking politician in the history of this country (granted a near-extinct species) has warned in no uncertain terms of allowing religion and government to mix. The temptation for a majority religion to inflict pain on those of different faith and especially no faith is just too great.
The Bill of Rights is necessary to protect people from their own basest instincts. It would be nice to think that church-goers espouse the ethics of Jesus but Mammon has overtaken Christ, as regards their conduct, just as it has others. I am glad that grandfather Robert King is not around for this. He pulpited one of the largest congregations in Knoxville but a local reporter noticed finding him several times scuttling down alleys with a container or two of coal to deliver to less-fortunates.
I wonder whether many evangelicals even believe in a God and a heaven — if so, how will they account for how they acted here on earth?
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