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Saturday, January 19, 2013

History hates Republicans — or what wingnuts are freaking out about today

Raw Story:

Actor Danny Glover said that the Second Amendment was written to strengthen the institution of slavery and help take Native American land, in a discussion with Texas A&M students on Jan. 17, according to video of the talk posted by a conservative student group.

The event was honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. as the national holiday in his honor takes place on Monday.

“I don’t know if people know the genesis of the right to bear arms. The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect, to protect themselves from slave revolts and from uprisings from Native Americans. A revolt from people who were stolen from their land or revolt from people whose land was stolen from, that’s what the genesis of the Second Amendment is,” Glover said.

The conservative student organization that took the video of Glover speaking wrote an online petition criticizing the university, and the group’s president called the statement a “far left message.”

One thing I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now is that conservatives talk about the founders as if they were all in complete agreement about everything. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were plenty of contentious issues they were forced to deal with through compromise and the most contentious was slavery.

There’s a good piece on the historical argument that the 2nd Amendment protects slavery here, but the short and skinny is that Patrick Henry wanted the Constitution to abolish slavery outright. That didn’t fly, so he crafted a Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights with entirely different language than we have now. It spoke of the need for militias to protect against invasion, but the pro-slavery legislators noticed it said nothing about a slave revolt. So they asked Henry about that: He answered:

Not domestic insurrections, but war. If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress insurrections. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress… Congress, and Congress only, can call forth the militia.

In other words, if a majority of congress felt the slave insurrection was just, a slave state facing revolt would be on their own. Needless to say, this didn’t fly either. So the current language — which protects slave states against slave rebellion — was adopted as one of those messy and awful compromises we still see in congress today.

But actual history doesn’t help the conservative cause of selling buttloads and buttloads of guns. So an alternate history is declared sacrosanct and anything that disagrees with it becomes heresy. It’s not history the right loves, it’s a sort of revised American scripture, where Madison came down from the mountaintop with two tablets of the Ten Articles of the Bill of Rights, inscribed by the very hand of God Himself, Praise Jesus. Amen..

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