Rachel Maddow Displays Puzzling Ignorance About Basic American History

How is it that MSNBC's Rachel Maddow toiled for years as a student before before earning a doctorate in political science at Oxford -- yet managed to avoid studying the American Civil War? 

How else to explain Maddow's commentary last Thursday in response to tea party protests nationwide against dubious tax policy and runaway government spending?

Here's what Maddow said in previewing an upcoming segment --

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, appears to have his sights set on higher office. What is higher office if you're already governor in Texas? Of course, that would be president of Texas. The return of Confederacy in American politics as seceding from the Union comes back into Republican fashion.

Yeah, I laughed too -- "Republican fashion"? Those pundits at MSNBC make the darndest claims, don't they?

Onto the Maddow show segment after next, which begins with remarks from Perry, followed by this commentary from Maddow --

Who knows what might come of it (echoing Perry's words). That was the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, flirting to the point of adultery with the idea of his state seceding from the Union. What the governor's argument has in political potency is perhaps making up for its lack of historical accuracy. The Texas constitution does not actually grant the state the right to secede from the country, a fact that even the Texas Secede! organization acknowledges.

It looks like there's plenty of that "lack of historical accuracy" to go around. Maddow, for example, suggested minutes earlier that it was mid-19th century Republicans pushing for secession in this country. Hard to believe any sentient person older than 12 would make such a claim. Harder still that a person having done so would then snarkily criticize someone else for ignorance about history. Not hard to believe in the least you might see this any given night on MSNBC.

The coup de grace for Maddow that evening was still to come. In the very next segment, she described a "holy mackerel" story that further undercut her assertion about alleged Republican enthusiasm for secession leading to the Civil War. Here's what Maddow said this time around --

In the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol complex in Washington, D.C., there's representation from every state. The state of Virginia, for example, is represented by the commander of Virginia's Confederate forces, Robert E. Lee. The state of Utah sent a statue of the Mormon leader Brigham Young. Representing the state of California are Father Junipero Serra and Thomas Starr King.

Now, Thomas Starr King, once called the orator who saved the nation, is getting replaced -- by the Gipper. In June a 500-pound bronze statue of President Ronald Reagan in a business suit will replace the once-famous Unitarian minister. Abraham Lincoln credited Thomas Starr King with his impassioned, pro-Union, patriotic, fiery speeches as the man who brought in and kept California in the Union during the Civil War.

Despite its liberal reputation today, California had a strong pro-Confederate contingent at the start of the Civil War. Thomas Starr King traveled all around the state, drawing huge crowds to his speeches and thereby, sort of, maybe saving the country in the process?

You know, from all those Democrats in the South, California and elsewhere for whom secession was all the "fashion," back when it actually happened, while Republicans led by Lincoln fought to oppose it.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts