One thing I’ve learned after ten years of very active participation in on-line Civil War discussion groups is that there are a few topics that never, ever lead to anything good, and which should be avoided at all costs. The primary one, of course, is the question of whether the secession of the Southern states in 1861 was illegal. Normally, I avoid that one like the plague, but yesterday, I made the mistake of jumping into that discussion in one of the e-mail groups to which I belong. Big mistake. I used some purely legal analysis to rebut the argument that just because the Constitution does not specifically address the topic does not make it legal.
Today, the following neo-Confederate hooey was posted in response:
“Eric, there is no law against secession; therefore you are going to prosecute the perpetrators? For what crime are you going to prosecute them? If you are indeed a lawyer, then you should know that your saying an action is wrong does not make it so. Many legal minds of the day, both before and after the Civil War stated there was NO LAW against secession. There is none. The writers of the Constitution did not consider the fact. Nobody stood over any of the 13 Colonies with a club and told them they had to agree to accept the Constitution. They were not forced to agree to accept it and they could reject it at any time. It is not ‘Confederate hoey’, thank you very much. It is history. In the end, states really do have rights.
You know, it was people in the role of leadership who thought they could make up their own rules as they went along that led to the Civil War to start with. Do any of you know any facts about the causes and the effects of the American Civil War or are you just talking?”
It bears noting that the author of this wonderful little neo-Confederate rant misquoted me. Nowhere did I write “Confederate hoey.” What I very specifically wrote was “neo-Confederate hooey.” Obviously, there is a significant difference.
Now, it’s my fault for violating my own rule and engaging in this discussion. I accept responsiblity for that bad decision on my part. So, to the extent that I did something stupid by engaging in this discussion, I guess I deserved a response, and perhaps even a neo-Confederate rant in response. However, there are few things that irritate me more than neo-Confederate hooey. These neo-Confederates have an agenda–the Lost Cause, at all costs, including disregard of the historic truth–and have no qualms about letting the truth get in the way of accomplishing that agenda.
I responded the only way I know how, in an equally insulting and snotty way that was intended to remind this person that she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does:
“I choose not to waste my valuable time arguing subtle nuances of the law with someone who is not a lawyer and has neither the professional training nor experience to do so. I have a busy practice to worry about, a publishing company to run, and a book manuscript to complete. I have no time to waste in engaging in fruitless and eminently frustrating exercises that accomplish nothing but pissing me off.
I likewise choose not to waste my extremely valuable and all too rare free time engaging in an endless debate with you over this issue.
You have your opinion. I have mine. Leave it at that. And yes, if it was up to me, the leaders of the illegal secession movement, most prominently Jefferson Davis, would have been prosecuted for treason.
And, to answer your very insulting question about whether I know anything about the causes of the Civil War, you should be aware that I have spent more than 35 years of my nearly 45 years on this planet engaged in the intensive study of the American Civil War. After a two year break, my eleventh book on the subject is about to go to the printer, with another one due out at the end of June. My books have won awards. My record of Civil War scholarship speaks for itself, and I will not allow you, or any other neo-Confederate espouser of the Lost Cause, to insult me simply because you don’t agree with me. When the duration and intensity of your study, and your record of accomplishment in the field approximates mine, then you will have the privilege of insulting my professional work. Until then, I invite you to keep your opinions to yourself.
As a closing note, Trish is absolutely correct about Texas v. White.
You need not bother responding, unless you really feel the need to, as I will not respond to anything further posted by you about this topic.”
I signed the e-mail with my professional signature–the law firm’s full name, address, etc., that shows my name as a named partner. Now, I fully realize that this was really snotty and probably made me sound like a bit of a pompous ass, but I wanted this neo-Confederate to understand that her little games were not going to work with me, and that I’m not going to be intimidated by these sorts of arguments. It remains to be seen whether this will put this to rest for now, but I continue to fight the neo-Confederate wars every day of my adult life. It will flare up again. Of that, I have no doubt.
It’s kind of like the Bush White House–never let the truth get in the way of a good story or a good justification for doing something that it was going to do no matter what anyway.
In any event, I digress.
My point is that there are few things for which I have less patience and which irritate me more than people who are bound and determined to push their agendas and the truth be damned. I have made the correction and baiting of these people one of my life’s goals, and I usually wait until I know that I have a good point to make that I can support to pounce, and when I do, it’s swiftly and it’s aggressively. I despise these neo-Confederates who wouldn’t see the truth if they tripped over it, and I will continue to do this sort of thing whenever the opportunity presents itself.Scridb filter