Neo-secessionists are all around us… and free speech gives them a cozy blanket of protection. Rick Perry insinuating Texas could secede rather than adhere to the federal healthcare law, Todd Palin belonging to a political association advocating Alaskan secession, and Sharron Angle talking about ‘second amendment remedies’ to handle disputes with federal authorities are all examples of dangerous secessionist rhetoric permeating through modern discourse. The media focuses our attention at Civil War reenactors and pick-up trucks with Confederate flags flying on them. But public figures are influenced as well, by academics who struggle to perpetuate a most dangerous brand of revisionism. Thomas DiLorenzo is a pseudo-academic trying desperately to justify secession and rewrite American History.
DiLorenzo wants to deconstruct Lincoln’s legacy… and in doing so, change long-held beliefs about secession. DiLorenzo deemphasizes slavery in his arguments despite the fact that none of the Confederate leaders he idolizes were willing to do so. Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, described the purpose for creating the Confederate government, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” States rights is one of the greatest fallacies ever hoisted upon the American public…there was one right, the right to own people as property (arguing about tariffs displays ignorance, for the Constitution is clear on that.) By arguing that secession was just and Lincoln destroyed the country with the war (“paragon of wickedness, a man secretly intent on destroying states’ rights” ), DiLorenzo displays his dubious scholarship in the name of stain upon our national character. He is far more dangerous than any red-neck flying the Stars and Bars.
America needs to relegate charlatans like Thomas DiLorenzo to the distant fringe. The Civil War was caused by slavery. Lincoln saw the truth by his second term, “Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” The terrible price our country paid had to be for something higher than a discredited political ideology like secession. DiLorenzo and his ilk will never accept this reality. He will continue to use his credentials as an academic to provide a veil of legitimacy to his duplicitous message.