If you’ve spent much time in Civil War discussion groups you’ve probably run into the argument that slavery would have ended in the South without the Civil War; therefore, the War hadn’t needed to be fought. Indeed, occasionally some southern apologist will insist that the South was well on the way toward giving up slavery and would have done so freely had the statist, Big Gubmint damnyankees not pushed the issue prematurely.
Well, certainly, by now slavery would have ended, although probably not by the free will of the slave states. It more likely would have ended by constitutional amendment once enough “free soil” states had entered the Union to form a majority.
In fact, that is what the plantation owners feared. And in 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected on a platform of keeping slavery out of the territories, which would ensure that new states entering the Union would be free soil states. Thus the election of Lincoln touched off the secession crisis, which in turn took the nation to war.
The southern plantation class, which controlled the South economically, politically and socially, was certain that the abolition of slavery would ruin them. They were prepared to fight to the death (or compel non-slave-owning whites to fight to the death in their place) to preserve slavery. The Declaration of Causes documents adopted by the states of Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas make it clear that secession was all about preserving slavery.
And may I suggest that a people determined to fight to the death to preserve something are not on the brink of giving that something up?
Anyway, the South started the war when South Carolina fired on the federal military reservation of Fort Sumter, and ever after they have blamed Lincoln for making them start it (that’s why it’s called the “War of Northern Aggression,” see; the damnyankees fought back). And after the war the former secessionists blamed Reconstruction for making them engage in race riots, lynchings, and other violence perpetrated upon the freed African Americans (even though much Reconstruction policy was enacted in reaction to the race riots, lynchings, etc.). Had the white plantation class been allowed more time to change their minds about slavery and end it on their own, which they would have done someday, then white southerners wouldn’t have been left with all those hard feelings that made them so violent. And then there wouldn’t have been a Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow or any of that stuff.
But after the war those damnyankee carpetbaggers conspired to temporarily disenfranchise southern white men just because they had engaged in armed rebellion against the government and thereby forced through the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. And then the poor downtrodden southern white people just had no choice but to form the Klan and enact Jim Crow laws, because they hadn’t been given enough time to adjust.
Those of you who are much younger than I am and/or did not grow up in hollerin’ distance of Dixie might not have been exposed to this line of reasoning much, but believe me, it was common. Still is, in some circles.
Fast forward to today’s anti-abortion rights movement. Fetus People like to see themselves as the heirs of the abolitionists, and they compare the struggle to protect fetii with the stuggle to end slavery. And they like to evoke the Dred Scott decision, which declared that a black man could not be a citizen and could have no standing to bring suit against a white man. The “antis” want fetii to be given full citizenship status; those who would deny them that status are bad people, just like the justices who ruled against Dred Scott.
But in truth, the anti-choicers more and more remind me of the old white supremacists and Klansmen, not the abolitionists.
First, the line of reasoning that blames the abortion wars on Roe v. Wade (see previous post on abortion) and not on a faction of fanatics who will try to stop abortions by any means is just too much like saying the 13th Amendment was responsible for the formation of the Klan. Let’s pretend that tomorrow Roe is reversed. Does anyone seriously believe that states which allowed abortion to remain legal would not be descended upon by Randall Terry and the screaming culture of death hoardes? Puh-leeze …
The Right argues that the Roe v. Wade decision amounted to judicial activism and judges “ruling from the bench,” which is exactly the same thing they said about Brown v. Board of Education. Many on the Right insist they don’t really want to impose a ban on abortion; they just want the question to be decided by elected state legislatures according to the democratic process. Does anyone really think that if Roe were overturned tomorrow, and abortion given a full and fair debate in every statehouse, and the 50 states separately wrote abortion law that reflected majority opinion in each state, that the Fetus People would accept any state’s decision to keep abortion legal?
The Fetus People simply do not accept any position on abortion but theirs, and they will not give up until their will is law. For the past 33 years these people have engaged in systematic intimidation and terrorism to impose their will. Let me repeat this passage from Eyal Press’s “My Father’s Abortion Wars” …
The flip side of the desire to rid the world of evil in accordance with your spiritual beliefs is the impulse among some of those convinced of their righteousness to demonize, and in extreme cases to want to eliminate, anyone who does not subscribe to them, something that, as I saw up close in Buffalo, is not a mind-set unique to Islamic fundamentalists. When the police removed protesters from a clinic in Buffalo one time, a spokeswoman for the local branch of Operation Rescue likened them to Nazi storm troopers. When a group of local religious leaders sympathetic to abortion rights held a meeting on another occasion, a protester assailed them as “ministers of Satan.” Driving past my father’s office while still in high school, I saw the signs emblazoned with his name. “Murderer!” “Baby-Killer!” On several Jewish holidays, including Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, a group called Project House Call organized demonstrations in front of doctors’ homes, choosing as their targets two local physicians who happened to be Jewish: my father and Slepian. Later, during the Spring of Life, radio ads blared, announcing: “Some doctors deliver babies. Some doctors kill babies!” My father and several other physicians were singled out by name. On the corner of Maple and Exeter Roads, a quarter-mile or so from my parents’ home, a six-foot red banner reading “Press Kills Children” was unfurled. In case anyone missed the banner, leaflets were distributed throughout the neighborhood.
These are not people who give a bleep about debate or the democratic process. And they are the cause of the abortion wars, which would be waged Roe v. Wade or no.
Some might argue that the pro-privacy Left is just as adamant to have its way, but when has anyone on the pro-privacy Left committed arsons and bombings, butyric acid attacks, and murders to get their way? In the 90 or so years in which abortion was illegal in most states — abortion didn’t become illegal until the late 19th century — I do not believe activists for abortion rights killed anyone, bombed anyone, or issued fatwas against the opposition. Instead, they worked within the system, which includes court challenges.
Let us revisit the old plantation slaveowners and ask another hypothetical question. Let’s say they’d been allowed more time to decide to give up slavery. Surely another generation, probably two, maybe more, of human beings would have lived their lives enslaved. And even if the slave states had been given more time, there is no guarantee that all slaveowners would have given up without a fight, or that slavery would not have left a residue of white supremacy no matter where or how it ended.
Today some on the Left argue that giving up Roe v. Wade would be smart strategy. Republicans have hidden behind Roe v. Wade long enough, they say. Without it, they’d be forced to deliver on their promises to ban abortion, thereby alienating the majority of voters. Or, they’d be forced to disappoint the Fetus People and forfeit their votes. Yet this would not end the abortion wars, and many women would suffer. And where abortion becomes illegal, the Fetus People will press for more — banning birth control and sex education, for example. The war will continue as long as the Fetus People choose to wage it. They will not be appeased.
So let’s stop kidding ourselves that there is anything that can be done to end the abortion wars. Like extremist Islamic terrorists, the Fetus People believe in their own absolute righteousness and will not stop fighting — to the death — to get their way. Like the slaveowners of earlier times, there is nothing else to be done but oppose them.
See also: Fetus People Follies.