"National hatred is a peculiar thing. It is always the most intense and violent in the lowest levels of a culture. But there is a level at which it disappears completely and where, to a certain extent, one stands above nations and where one experiences the good fortune or pain of one's neighboring peoples as if it were happening to one's self." Johann Wolfgang Goethe, March 14, 1830.

"From which I conclude that the dregs are in charge." Otto, August 8, 2006.

Historical Straight Lines

Bombs, Dogs, Lynching and Empire

James F. Byrnes (1882-1972)
US Sec. of State, 1945-47
Klan Rally
Nagasaki: August 9, 1945
Birmingham, 1963
Rodney King, Los Angeles, 1991
Abu Ghraib, 2004
Continuing the tradition.
Truman's Secretary of State at the time of the decision to use the bomb, and one of the strongest advocates for its use against civilians of an already defeated enemy, was James F. Byrnes. Byrnes was born in Charleston, SC in 1882 and had a long career in local, state, and national politics. He never attended high school, college or law school.

From 1911 to 1925 he was a congressman. It is toward the end of this period that his career intersects with that of W.E.B. Dubois. In the early 20's, when Dubois was the editor of The Crisis, an NAACP publication, and editorializing against lynching, Byrnes made a speech in the Congress critical of Dubois and blaming black people for inciting the lynch mobs.

This argument is the defense that got the LAPD cops acquitted of beating Rodney King, i.e., "King was in control of the situation." If he had stopped resisting the cops they would have stopped beating him. Therefore, King caused his own brutalization by the police.

Byrnes was a life-long segregationist and he played a pivotal role at the very beginning of the McCarthy witch hunt era by providing a legal rationale that enabled the movie studios to evade the California law against firing a person because of his political beliefs.

His career, it seems to me, perfectly parallels the Confederacy's rise from the ashes of defeat to a position of exercising a determining influence over American public policy. And this influence continues to the present day.

One might trace the intertwining of US imperialism and the restoration of the Confederacy in outline as follows:

The inference that there exists a straight line from the Confederacy to Abu Ghraib is strengthened by the fact that, under the leadership of the former Confederacy, the Congress never outlawed lynching. Following the line backwards even suggests that lynching was in fact a covert, but nevertheless official, and, politically, the only possible response to the Reconstruction-induced democratic revolution of the freed slaves for a state bent on imperialist expansion.