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Huckabee: Keep Confederate Flag; Ban Smoking

Update: Apparently Gov. Huckabee changed his mind two days ago on the smoking ban. (HT: M.Z. Forrest in the combox)

This just in: (HT: Crunchy Cons)

"You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," Huckabee said at a Myrtle Beach campaign event. "In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

Later, in Florence, he repeated the remarks. "I know what would happen if somebody comes to my state in Arkansas and tells us what to do, it doesn't matter what it is, tell us how to run our schools, tell us how to raise our kids, tell us what to do with our flag — you want to come tell us what to do with the flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole."

In August 2007, Governor Huckabee said he supported a nationwide smoking ban. Juxtaposing these two commitments, what would Huckabee do with someone who wants to smoke tobacco rolled in the Confederate Flag?

Comments (40)

The nationwide smoking ban is a much bigger problem to my mind than the comments about the flag.

He has recently stated that he would be against a national smoking ban.

[See the story, here - FJB]

Thanks M. Z.

So, we should expect once the campaign moves North again, he'll change his mind on the flag as well.

BTW, his comments about "our schools" and Arkansas is really bad, given the entire Little Rock segregation issues and the federal government's intervention. Huckabee, I am sorry to say, is really clueless. No wonder the Democrats want to run against him.

*Sigh*

The flag remarks are of small or no consequence to me, aside from the basic fact that discussion of the question is probably superfluous. Beyond that consideration, however, I simply fail to see the point of permitting any segment of the population to decree that a symbol possesses a single, univocal meaning, whether that segment of the population happens to be a group of ignorant bigots, or African-Americans rightly pointing to the association of the former group with the symbol. We ought not regard the doctrine of state's rights, or agrarianism, or anything else associated with the Old South, as irremediably tainted by virtue of the fact that the Old South maintained the wicked institution of slavery, and followed it with Jim Crow - this, because I believe we should reject total depravity theories of culture. Discrimination in the judgment of our past is inescapable, and the flag ought not constitute an exception; if the Old South cannot be reduced to a mere cipher for injustice, than neither can the flag.

On the other hand, smoking bans are just so.... liberal, in the sense of embodying the ethos of the social contract: physical health becomes the sine qua non of a society that has eschewed the transcendent in favour of the pursuit of material well-being as its faux-transcendence.

The Democrats would probably bang Huckabee like a drum in the general election; then again, I suspect that would be the fate of any Republican this time around.

physical health becomes the sine qua non of a society that has eschewed the transcendent in favour of the pursuit of material well-being

Maximos--

I agree. Do you also, then, favor the legalization of marijuana and other recreational drugs?

The Old South? As for flags bearing the Confederate insignia, do you really believe that it's "over" down there and that this symbol is a dead museum piece, belonging soley to history? I'm afraid that that is very far from being true. How do you feel about those who go around wearing Nazi insignia? To paraphrase, if the German Reich cannot be reduced to a mere cipher for injustice, then neither can the swastika.

I think you're being hard on Huckabee. This is coming from a guy who came pretty close to endorsing him but didn't. Both sides pretty much acknowledged that he managed to show up Bill Clinton on the anniversary of the Little Rock schools desegregating. He is a gifted speaker. From the purely argumentative standpoint, any Yankee who give a rip about the confederate flag probably wasn't going to vote for a Southern Baptist preacher from Arkansas. That admittedly is speculation on my part.

Do you also, then, favor the legalization of marijuana and other recreational drugs?

I favour the legalization of any 'recreational' drug that can be utilized in much the same manner as alcohol; if, when used in moderation, it does not induce a state of altered consciousness likely to result in destructive or criminal behaviours, then it ought to be legal. Such, at least, is my criterion, on the basis of which marijuana ought to be legalized and PCP retained on the list of proscribed substances. A kid caught a third time with a dimebag does not merit a 20-year sentence, or whatever injustices are meted out; the Rodney Kings of the world, hopped up on PCP, on the other hand...

And, for that matter, I don't grant any analogy between the antebellum South, or the Jim Crow South, and Nazi Germany, inasmuch as it seems true, a priori, that genocide is a graver evil than either enslavement, the imposition of second-class legal status, or the degradation of even that minimal rule of law in the form of vigilante (in)justice - even though I've no objection to the designation of slavery as America's original sin. The extermination of a people is a graver evil than their oppression, which observation, objectively, does nothing to exculpate those complicit in slavery.

Moreover, the swastika represents a regime, and its animating ideology, for which imperial expansion and militarization, having as an integral component an eliminationist anti-semitism, were altogether more central than slavery, however important, was to the cause of the Confederacy - unless, of course, one wishes to maintain, ahistorically, that in the minds of the approximately 95% of Southerners who had no connection with the 'peculiar institution', the issue was really all about that institution, and not about self-determination, the intricacies of Constitutional jurisprudence, differing economic policies (industrialism and the tariff vs. agrarianism and free trade with England), cultural divergences, and the simple patriotic defense of native soil.

If there obtains any analogy between the South and Germany, that analogy would be between the institution of slavery itself, to which the entire society could not be reduced, and the Nazi regime, to which the entirety of German history and culture could not be reduced. State's rights, agrarianism, and the like do not become evil merely because the South for which they were important institutions and causes also maintained slavery, any more than Goethe and Beethoven become evil merely because a society in which they were apotheosized lurched into the abyss with Nazism.

I don't grant any analogy between the antebellum South, or the Jim Crow South, and Nazi Germany, inasmuch as it seems true, a priori, that genocide is a graver evil than either enslavement

You don't grant any analogy? So, then, I understand it to be your position that for an analogy to be valid, there must be a perfect, one-to-one, correspondence between the two sides of the equation. Following from that, then, would be the conclusion that an African-American person has no right to be offended by the sight of a Confederate flag, since it is a symbol (in part) only of several hundred years of slavery, oppression, degradation, and murder, whereas a Jew would be justified in his disgust at the sight of a Nazi flag, since it symbolizes (in part) the attempted genocide of his people?

An African-American is certainly entitled to feel himself offended; he is not entitled to deny the polyvalent significance of the the flag, its essential cultural contestability, which qualities the swastika does not possess. Having known both Southerners who revere the old flag, and are bereft of racialist instincts, and encountered people for whom the swastika symbolizes a sort of perverse ontology, this seems rather obvious to me.

Rodak must truly be ignorant of the fact that slavery pre-existed the Southern Confederacy; if he is not, then his rhetorical crudities lead him inexorably to the view that men like Jefferson and Washington may be rightly set up as in some degree analogous to the Nazi leaders, and indeed that Old Glory may be rightly set up as analogous to the swastika.

I've no objection to the designation of slavery as America's original sin.

Maximos,

Slavery is addressed in the Scriptures and it is not condemned. Therefore, on what grounds do you call it America's original sin? Liberal grounds?

The penalty of execution-by-stoning was stipulated for obstreperous children under the Mosaic code, and I explain the incompatibility of this with Christian orthodoxy by recourse to the progressivity of revelation, which culminates in Christ and His Church. In this manner I explain the Scriptural references to slavery; if slavery is not categorically prohibited, then it is at least acknowledged to constitute a grave moral hazard, a probable occasion of moral offenses and injustices - and on this basis its abolition is consonant with the Christian revelation.

Rome had the chance to address slavery during the Civil War. While Rome was generally supportive of the South, there wasn't movement until the South offered to end slavery.

Rome had the chance to address slavery during the Civil War. While Rome was generally supportive of the South, there wasn't movement until the South offered to end slavery.

Thanks for mentioning this; it is a piece of information hitherto unknown to me.

it is at least acknowledged to constitute a grave moral hazard

Where is this stated or implied? The only reference to slavery I can think of in the New Testament is where St. Paul admonishes slaves to obey their masters. (I'm not saying you're wrong. I just can't recall whatever it is you are referring to.)

Another thing about slavery: slavery is just a particular and highly institutionalized instance of treating human beings as property. Human beings can be and often are treated as property without a formal institution of slavery, which doesn't stop being evil simply in the jettisoning of its institutional character. And of course treating human beings as property is itself a species of treating human beings as things rather than persons. The servant-slave distinction as we understand it today hinges on exactly this: that the servant is treated as a person subject to a contingent earthly authority, while the slave is treated as nothing but an object the sole purpose of which is to provide utility.

I've argued (or at least asserted) in the past that even property shouldn't be treated as property: that is, that our concept of property has become damaged by modern philosophy, which treats property as things subject to arbitrary will as opposed to things falling under legitimate jurisdiction in carrying out a mandate of stewardship. Modern people detest this idea, because modern people detest the idea that they cannot be God, and they especially detest the idea that they cannot be God even in little circumscribed "personal" domains.

I'm presupposing the invalidity of Sola Scriptura, that species of textualist positivism, as a theological methodology; hence, the broader teaching and dogmatic tradition of the Church is salient in this case.

I associate myself, in blog parlance, with Zippy's remarks.

the broader teaching and dogmatic tradition of the Church is salient in this case.

Really? Since what date? In the case of American race slavery, it seems to have been primarily Protestant (if not sola scriptura) moralists who formed the abolitionist vanguard.
With regard to the New Testament, however, it would seem that the teaching is: if it is your lot to be a slave, be a good slave, know that you are equal to your master in the eyes of God, and look to the next world for your freedom.

Rodak: one of the challenges in reading Scripture, or in understanding the Tradition for that matter, is in accepting the things directed at onesself. The NT passages directed toward slaves as slaves are exactly right; but they are addressed to slaves, not to masters. Another notorious example is St. Paul's admonitions to wives and husbands. Oddly, husbands tend to be more interested in what was addressed to wives, and wives more interested in what was addressed to husbands, then either is in what was addressed to themselves.

Yes, because America was a primarily Protestant nation. How could it have been otherwise?

And the latter point is inapposite, inasmuch as a)we have already dispensed with the doctrine of sola scriptura; and b)early Christianity was apolitical, in the sense that the Church did not seek to provoke a pagan imperial apparatus - an apparatus already visiting persecution upon the Church - by advocating various social revolutions; and c) early Christianity, some scholars argue, had a sort of eschatological orientation, and several generations were required for proper interpretations of passages referring to the Second Coming to sink in: Christ was not going to return within the frame of the generations then living, rendering concern with temporal affairs irrelevant.

Zippy's en fuego

Yes, because America was a primarily Protestant nation. How could it have been otherwise?

Maximos--

Well, because Maryland (a slave state) was heavily Catholic, for one thing. And because by the 19th century there were plenty of Irish Catholics in America, for another.

Christianity was apolitical, in the sense that the Church did not seek to provoke a pagan imperial apparatus - an apparatus already visiting persecution upon the Church - by advocating various social revolutions

Understood. I don't, however, see how that consideration would have kept Christian slaveholders from privately and quietly freeing their own slaves. Nobody is suggesting that it would have been prudent for Christians to organize and lead a universal slave revolt.

I don't think that George R.'s question has been answered.


I'm still confused as to how slavery was original sin in the Bible.

"The NT passages directed toward slaves as slaves are exactly right; but they are addressed to slaves, not to masters."

OK, but if anything, that gives implicit moral approval for slavery. Otherwise, it would state "masters, free your slaves."


--------------------

On a side note, bravo to Maximos for the noncriminalization of the recreational usage of marijuana. I could not agree more. :)

early Christianity was apolitical, in the sense that the Church did not seek to provoke a pagan imperial apparatus - an apparatus already visiting persecution upon the Church - by advocating various social revolutions

True. But we know from the Scriptures that even Christians owned slaves and this was not condemned as sinful.

In the Christian states, to be sure, chattel slavery was to fall away. But this, I believe, is a case of an imperfect relationship giving way to a more perfect one, and not a case of abolishing the sinful bonds of servitude.

Zippy's remarks on slavery and property seem accurate. But they do not address whether slavery is considered by the Church to be sinful per se.

But they do not address whether slavery is considered by the Church to be sinful per se.

Well, "slavery" isn't strictly speaking an act or intention at all, and only acts and intentions can be sinful. Treating a person as a thing in an intention or concomitant act is sinful. I don't doubt that people have (in perhaps rare cases) held the position "master" as a juridical matter under civil law without sinning, but that hardly amounts to a concession that slavery as an institution is endorsed, or that holding slaves - even ones that (say) one happened to inherit or whatever - is anything less than gravely morally hazardous. Viewing a pornographic picture can be done without sinning too, in principle and sometimes even necessarily in practice under odd circumstances, but that is hardly an endorsement of pornography as an institution or of viewing pornography as an intentionally prurient act.

I highly doubt that the practice of slavery as we know it from our U.S. History books was ever condoned in Church doctrine. There were other common forms of slavery that were tolerated more or less, but not the grisly and inhuman practice that the Civil War abolished here. There are those who would argue that current practices (wage slavery) are not much different than many of the more common forms of "slavery" through history.

You need to understand that "slavery" meant different things at different points in time and history. It is difficult sometimes to avoid projecting your own understanding of the term and the practice -- particularly given our history in this country with the slave trade -- onto the understanding and practice of a first or second century Christian. Second, there is a difference between condoning and advocating, being silent and teaching. Third, acceptance of slavery as a historical fact that will not change in one's lifetime does not mean that one is condoning, much less advocating, slavery as a good thing. To teach that a slave owner should treat his slaves (again, whatever that term means) with justice and dignity, does not necessarily equate to teaching that slavery is ok.

But again, consider that you can give full assent to a teaching that slave owners should treat their slaves with justice and dignity. Such a teaching says nothing about whether owning slaves is good or bad, or slavery in a particular context is good or bad.

I guess I am somewhat ambivalent on the smoking ban, depending upon what the ban exactly bans. I could support a ban on smoking in public places. I would rather that private establishments open to the public decide for themselves whether to allow it and under what circumstances (eg, designated areas). As a nonsmoker myself, I would simply vote with my feet.

I (a reformed smoker, btw) don't see anything wrong with a ban on smoking in public places. Smoking annoys other people, and second-hand smoke may be harmful. Certainly it is harmful to persons with various respiratory conditions. That said, people should be allowed to put anything into their bodies that they want to--in privacy. No drug even comes close to alcohol for generating anti-social and dangerous behavior, including violent crime; and it is addictive. All arguments that would put alcohol into a separate category from other psychotropic drugs are patent nonsense and make the those who propose them look utterly clueless.

Note: If any of you would like to rough me up over at my place, you can do so on the topic of Mr. Huckabee . If you decide to take the plunge, I promise that your words will not be redacted, regardless of how many kinds of fool you call me.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, slavery belongs to the right of nations. (Summa Theologica II:II:57:3)

One of the mistakes that the Southern theologians made was to equate the NT's tacit approval of slavery per se with their defense of American chattel slavery. Some of the more 'moderate' theologians took great pains to point out this error. Those abolitionist theologians in this camp who respected Scripture (many didn't) argued that Southern slavery did not reflect the Biblical view of slavery and thus should be abolished. Some moderate Southern pro-slavery theologians, on the other hand, argued a sort of converse view of this: Southern slavery had a right to exist, but needed to be reformed on Biblical grounds -- slave owners needed to stop mistreating slaves, breaking up families, etc., and they had to give slaves the opportunity to earn their freedom, be educated, etc.

As Maximos implies above, sola scriptura with its corollary of private interpretation was definitely one of the culprits here. You had what historian Mark Noll calls a 'cacophony' of views on the issue, all of them ostensibly based on "what the Bible says," along with the opinion of some of the radical abolitionists, that if the Bible could be used to defend slavery at all, then the Bible needed to be thrown out.

Rob G--
Your analysis does not take into account the racist theories that held black Africans to be literally subhuman. A Roman with a slave from Germany or Britain knew that his slave was a human being, in the fullest sense of the word, and capable under certain circumstances of becoming a citizen of Rome. This was not the prevailing view, in most American circles, of black Africans. That Africans were essentially inferior to Caucasians was a wide-spread assumption, often expressed in mainstream writings in this country, well into the the 20th century. This made Africans candidates for chattel slavery in some ways that "classical" and "biblical" slaves, usually part of the booty of war, never were. It could even be argued by slave holders that, once removed (perhaps mistakenly) from the "jungles" in which God had placed them and introduced to the modern world, it was more humane to care for them as domesticated animals are cared for, rather than to release them into a world with which they were not equipped to cope. I think that this "scientific" view of chattel (or race) slavery was more important to the controversy than were varying interpretations of scripture on the morality of the "peculiar institution," per se.

Rodak --

What you say is somewhat accurate, but then you must also take into consideration the opposing view which said, basically, "Because Negroes are inferior to whites, God has instituted slavery as a pedagogical tool to help civilize them."

The scientific view of race that you mention was prominent, but as far as I can tell it did not affect the theological arguments directly, since, as you say, it was a "fact" that most everyone took for granted. Both the slavery defenders and the abolitionists (most of them) were working from this same assumption, so when it comes down to the Biblical arguments, it seems to be a moot point.

Because Negroes are inferior to whites, God has instituted slavery as a pedagogical tool to help civilize them.

Rob G--
That may express the "liberal" view, but it does not express the prevailing assumption that Africans were the "sons of Ham," blackened by their sin, and cursed by God to be slaves. If a race is viewed as essentially inferior, it is not viewed as susceptible to being fully "civilized." This is the "biblical" justification of the "scientific" basis for race slavery. It is also the element that separates race slavery from the slavery that is considered to be morally licit in the New Testament, where it is mentioned.
I think, therefore, that race is far from being a moot point in the theological constroversy over slavery in America.

Rodak, I didn't say that race was a moot point, but that the notion that blacks were racially inferior, as a general assumption, was a moot point, given its universality. For the sake of the present discussion it doesn't matter that the "moderate" view I mentioned was a minority one. It followed from the same presumptions as the other more common views, but came to a different conclusion. As in most cases, there was a continuum of views on the subject and the moderate views tended to get drowned out by the extremists on both sides.

As in most cases, there was a continuum of views on the subject and the moderate views tended to get drowned out by the extremists on both sides.

Rob G--
We are in essential agreement I think. My discussion has, in large part, been an attempt to respond indirectly to Paul Cella's surprisingly hostile comment of January 18, 2008 11:05 AM, to which I thought it best--having "counted to ten"--not to respond directly at the time.


I'm just glad there is a presidential candidate who is proud of his Southern heritage and has a good understanding of what the flag stands for, contrary to the average American.

The Confederate flag, like any other symbol, stands for whatever associations a given individual makes when he sees it. This may be pride for the members of one group. But it may be shame, or anger, or fear, for others. These reactions are spontaneous, reflexive, and conditioned by past experience. As such they cannot, by their very nature, be "unfair." The moral quality of the "average American" can, in part, be judged by how he reacts to any given symbol.

Id kick there ass for abusing our flag

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