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Culture War Games

March 1, 2010

Fill in the blank:

The days of Dred Scott have returned. _________ now are the ones are being confined on the plantation, and warned about being too uppity.

For those who don’t remember the finer points of US Supreme Court history, Dred Scott was a slave whose master moved from Louisiana, a slave state, to the Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was prohibited. When Scott attempted to purchase his freedom, his master refused.

Turning to that most American form of problem-solving, Scott sued. The case wound its way through state and federal courts, eventually landing before the Supreme Court. Justice Roger “cunt head” Taney wrote for the majority, holding that:

[African Americans are] beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect…[Finding in Scott’s favor] would give to persons of the negro race, …the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, …the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

To this day, the decision in Scott v. Sandford is an object lesson in the moral depravity of institutionalized racism and the notion that a human being can be owned as chattels. It has no redeeming qualities. Though its holding has been contradicted by subsequent Supreme Court decisions, it has never been expressly repealed, a fact that stands out as a nagging sore that won’t fully heal.

With this in mind, let’s return to the quotation above. What group in contemporary American society is so ill-treated as to justify comparison to the utter horror of African American life in the era of slavery? The quote in full:

The days of Dred Scott have returned. Christians now are the ones are being confined on the plantation, and warned about being too uppity.

What prompted a Christian writer to compare his co-religionists to slaves? A rescinded invitation.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was invited to speak at a prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base. When it became clear that Perkins would speak about the necessity of purging the military of homosexuals, contradicting the intentions of the Commander-in-Chief and the top civilian and military leadership, the Air Force decided his opinions would not be welcome at the event. Boo fucking hoo.

There are countless reasons to restrict speech on military bases. Indeed, the broad protections afforded by the First Amendment do not apply in a context where strict adherence to a chain of command is a matter of life and death for individuals and security for a nation.

If conservatives are as dedicated to national security as they claim to be, they should understand this far better than a peace-loving liberal like me. Perkins admits that he intended to advocate a position in defiance of the goals of the President of the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense. He’s well within his rights to do that anywhere but on a base.

For the author to ignore this simple truth is stupid, but forgivable in the heat of an argument. Had he stopped there, he would have simply been wrong. But Fischer worked himself into such a rich, frothy lather that his rhetorical inertia carried him well beyond the bounds of rational discourse and decency.

Does it really have to be stated that none of the ugliness of the Dred Scott decision actually applies to any Christian in this country?  Has the Supreme Court brazenly stated its desire to prevent Christians from owning guns or publicly airing their political views?  By comparing Christians’ current role in American society to the low position to which African Americans were relegated until the second half of the 19th century, Fischer belittles centuries of unspeakable suffering.  That he even had opportunity to make his shitty argument is proof that it is incorrect.

Also, I hope he chokes on a dick.

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