For three decades the United States has been descending into a feudal legal order.
In the ancient feudal system, the differential rights in the legal system were class-based. In the new feudal order, rights are determined by race, gender, and handicapped status. In the old feudalism, the people with the most rights were descendants of warriors. In the new system, it is the victim who has superior rights.
This difference aside, there are many similarities between the two feudal legal systems despite the many centuries that separate them.
In the old feudal system, there were no First Amendment rights. The legally privileged were free to engage in hate speech and to verbally harass others, but any commoner who replied in kind could be sued or have his tongue cut out.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott still has his tongue, but just barely. He used his tongue in a way that gave offense to the new aristocrats.
Black Americans have been granted the right to be offended by any words they don't like and to extract retribution. The offending speaker finds himself forced into contrition and humiliating apologies. Often the penalty is a destroyed career.
At a birthday party for Strom Thurmond, a 100-year old retiring U.S. Senator, Senator Lott said that if the country had voted for Mr. Thurmond's States Rights party in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years."
It was Senator Lott's way of doffing his hat to the longest-serving Senator.
Before the new feudal age, Senator Lott's words would have been understood as tribute to a centenarian. But we are so thoroughly conditioned to the new feudalism that race-baiters Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton scarcely needed to open their mouths before "powerful" white males, including the President of the United States and the editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, were doing their job for them, denouncing Senator Lott for being a segregationist and giving offense to blacks.
Republican pundits fell in line, demanding more apologies from Lott, while Senator Don Nickles (R, OK) saw an opportunity in Lott's discomfiture to gain the Majority Leadership position for himself.
The spectacle proves—if proof is any longer required—that the First Amendment has been trumped by the race-based privileges of the new feudalism.
Contrast the excoriation of Senator Lott for his harmless remarks with the respectful reception given a few days before to black Vanderbilt professor Jonathan David Farley's hate-filled outburst against white southerners:
"The problems that wrack America to this day are due largely to the fact that the Confederacy was not thoroughly destroyed, its leaders and soldiers executed . . . Every Confederate soldier deserved not a hallowed resting place at the end of his days but a reservation at the gallows."
Noel Ignatiev, Professor Farley's counterpart at Harvard, is not content with exterminating only southerners:
No one demanded apologies and resignations from Mr. Farley and Mr. Ignatiev. The presidents of Vanderbilt and Harvard responded to the blatantly hateful speech with assurances that the hate-mongers were free to speak insensitively as long as it was about whites.
Michelle Malkin, a rare voice of intelligence in the Fourth Estate, noted the skill with which the "race Mafiosi" and big government Democrats maneuvered Lott's contrition to their advantage. Lott will be forgiven if he delivers more minority set asides, more subsidized housing, a minimum wage increase, and a prescription drug benefit.
It was left to the libertarian, Llewellyn Rockwell, to point out that, fundamentally, states' rights is about the Tenth Amendment, not segregation. Thurmond's political movement sought a return to the enumerated powers guaranteed by the Constitution to the states.
Some supporters of Strom Thurmond's presidential candidacy in 1948 saw states' rights as a way to continue segregation. Others, however, saw it differently.
Murray Rothbard, the founder of modern libertarianism and certainly no segregationist, saw in Thurmond's states' rights party an alternative to the centralizing socialism of the Democrats and the Republicans. In a 1949 letter, Rothbard wrote that it was "the myriad invasions of states rights" that were destroying the constitutional order, everywhere substituting federal coercion in place of freedom of conscience, reason, persuasion, and the will of the people.
Senator Lott's tribute to Senator Thurmond is easily defended on principled constitutional grounds. However, to speak against the neoconservative Republican and liberal Democrat ideal of a powerful central government is as impermissible as to utter words deemed to offend the legally privileged.
The only parts of the Constitution that still exist are the amendments that permit the income tax and direct election of senators, amendments that centralized power in Washington.
The land of the free is a lost civilization.
Paul Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
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