Confederacy of Dunces: MSNBC Still Fighting Civil War

It’s good to see the left finally upset about treasonous threats to the United States. Never really able to get worked up about communist spies, domestic terrorists or radical mosques, lefties – at least the ones at MSNBC – are sounding the alarm over … The Confederacy.

Everywhere the hosts and guests of MSNBC look they see gray and butternut – secessionists and white supremacists, wild-eyed states’ rights absolutists and grim Confederate holdouts plotting to dissolve the Union. Driven by racism and distrust of Washington, they form a “confederacy of hate.”

Allusions to the Confederacy have been a staple at MSNBC since Obama took office – a slanderous shorthand for any and all small government advocacy while the nation’s first black president was in office. And with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, the network’s southern obsession has been acute. Just since Oct. 1, MSNBC hosts and guests have talked about the Confederacy, secession, nullification, slavery, etc. at least 47 times.

Any vocal opposition to President Obama’s massive expansion of the federal government is tantamount to opposing the 13th Amendment. A single protestor waving the Confederate battle flag in Washington during the government shut down was the result of Republicans’ “racially charged and racially coded rhetoric.” Conservatives fight under “the stars and bars” embracing tactics from the ant- bellum South.

To MSNBC, there can be no principled opposition to liberalism that’s not based in nostalgia for slavery and the Old South.

Secessionistas

In fairness, there has actually been secession talk outside MSNBC’s studios. This month, several rural counties held a referendum over leaving Colorado (it failed), and western counties are making noise about leaving the People’s Republic of Maryland. In both cases, the secessionists said that they have less and less in common with the liberal urban areas that now dominate the politics of the state, that they are voiceless is liberal statehouses. In short, they view secession as the remedy for de facto taxation without representation.

And yes, some conservatives speak favorably, though theoretically, about secession from Washington. The notion is rooted in legitimate alarm over the erosion of liberty, over federal policies that look increasingly unconstitutional, and over the unmistakable disdain the elites of both parties show for ordinary tax payers. But it is just talk.

That doesn’t matter to Chris Matthews, who’s desperate to caricature the president’s opponents as unreconstructed rebels. “Just as the Southern states began moving towards secessionin the victory of Abraham Lincoln, those with the same mentality today began meeting on ways to sabotage this new president`s program even before he uttered it,” Matthews intoned on Nov. 1. “This has been a concerted effort. It is very much like when you read about Lincolncoming to Washingtonthrough Baltimore, sneaking into town because the secessionmovement has already begun.”

Except for the fact that Obama got everything he wanted in his first year or two in office, from stimulus to “Cash for Clunkers” and the Republicans had neither the numbers nor the political will to sabotage much of anything. And except for the sneaking part. And the secession part. But otherwise, it’s a boffo analogy.

Matthews, afflicted with Civil War tourettes, can’t seem mention conservatives without referencing the CSA. Here he is on Oct. 27, rambling about a split in the GOP. “But there is an unusual division going on, where you can actually see across the Mason-Dixon line, it`s almost – the South is very much insurgent right now.” It’s not just Matthews, of course.

On Oct. 21, Lawrence O’Donnell played a clip of conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz saying of the government shutdown, “To use an analogy if the House of Representatives was marching into battle, I think the Senate Republicans should have come like the cavalry to support them.”

“Which Cavalry?” O’Donnell sneered. “The Union cavalry or the Confederate cavalry?”

Cruz has been singled out as a member of what Matthews called “the insurgent Confederate party.” On Oct. 27, Matthews called Cruz “the very figure who fired on Ft.Sumter.”

Al Sharpton, who should be more concerned about who fired up Freddy’s Fashion Mart than who fired on Sumter, is incensed that states have threatened to ignore some federal laws. On Nov. 4 Sharpton warned of an “ugly trend,” saying, “The coded language of the Confederacy is back on the big Republican stage.”

It seems Missouri Republicans want to reject any new federal gun regulations, and South Carolinaconservatives are considering ways to opt out of ObamaCare.

“So the right wing`s big new idea is to embrace one of the oldest and ugliest ideas in our political history: Nullification,” said Sharpton. “It dates back to the 1820s. South Carolina politician John Calhoun came up with nullification as a way to let slave-owning states ignore potential anti- slavery laws from Washington. It was a terrible idea then, and it`s a terrible idea now. Critics have said the GOP is stuck in the `50s, and they`re right. The 1850s.” Clever, Al!

Racism is the Reason

Sharpton’s guest, Eric Dyson of Georgetown University, didn’t mince words. The Tea Party, he said, would “do anything to subvert the principle of the application of [ObamaCare] no matter what it takes. Even if it’s harkening back to very troubling and I would argue racist beliefs.”

Dyson was just warming up. Apparently, Joe Biden isn’t the only one who thinks conservatives are “gonna put y’all back in chains.”

To Dyson, the Civil War was the “bloodiest battle over the future of this nation and the destiny of this great nation which was about would we allow people to be enchained and entombed in slavery or to rise free and be able to maximize their potential as American citizens.” Right. Got it. “So here these secessionists again are so willing to just gut the heart of American democracy and to re-read the constitution through the narrow lens of their bigotry.”

Wow, they must be evil! Of course, nobody has seriously proposed seceding, and having respect for the actual contents of the Constitution is hardly bigotry. And it’s an awfully long way from opposing ObamaCare to wanting anyone “entombed in slavery.” But why let truth trip up a grandstanding liberal?

But Dyson sounded almost conciliatory compared to Sharpton’s Nov. 4 guest, the odious Bill Press. “Remember that the Tea Party is essentially a racist organization,” the liberal radio host told Sharpton. “Let`s just be honest about that. We saw it from the very beginning with the white face they used to wear at the rallies, with the posters that they used to hang around, with the confederate flags that I saw at Tea Party rallies here on the Washington mall, and the source of that Tea Party movement is that they`ve never been able to accept Barack Obama as a legitimate president.

They were discussing Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator who’s mounting a Tea-Party backed primary challenge to Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. According to left-wing rag Mother Jones, McDaniel had spoken to a “pro-secession” group that’s actually a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It was enough to give most of the MSNBC hosts the vapors.

Rachel Maddow in particular harped on the McDaniel story, as he’d gotten the endorsements of several conservative groups. When an opposing campaign accused McDaniel of having voted Democrat years before, McDaniel called foul. Maddow sneered on Nov. 14, “The whole treason against the United Statesthing – no problem. But if you might conceivably have had a bipartisan impulse at one point in your life, get out of here!” (Again, it’s worth mentioning that the president Maddow so tenaciously defends is buddies with a guy who actually bombed the Pentagon and Capitol within our lifetimes, and isn’t sorry he did. Selective outrage?)

Matthews said of the group McDaniels spoke to, “these are not just guys who celebrate the history of the Confederacy.These are guys who think there ought to be a Confederacynow. They fly the Confederateflag and wear Confederatebattle uniforms, not just because they like that the South seceded once, but because they want the South to secede again, and for pretty much the same reasons that they did the first time.”

So they can keep their slaves? Maybe. Matthews has a super-human ability to know what others are thinking, especially when it comes to race and the Civil War. On Oct. 18 he said, “I once heard this older man standing at the Robert E. Lee mansion in Virginia, calling to another to keep up the fight. I overheard exactly what he meant. He meant the old Confederate fight against change, the lost cause brought back in the 21st century to battle anything marked Obama, anything that says this man was elected president of the United States.”

He went on divining the intent of racist conservatives: “Now in this third battle of Bull Run – for them, it`s Manassas Creek – the rebel cry and stars and bars are rejoining the cause. They speak again of secession and nullification and all the old language leading up to the war between the states.”

Matthews was talking about the government shutdown, but it would be nice if could at least be historically accurate while slandering conservatives. There is no Manassas creek. Manassas is a town. The rebels named battles after towns, the Union after water or topographical features; ie. Sharpsburg vs. Antietam (Creek).

But wait, there’s more! Bludgeoning his analogy into senselessness, Matthews went on: “Alongside the battlefield where the women and children once watched, we see the Limbaughs and the Ericksons turned out to cheerlead, the right-wing camp followers plying their trade like the women who got their name back in the earlier time from General Hooker.” So conservative pundits are prostitutes? Has anyone told Sandra Fluke?

Matthews ended his tirade making as much sense as ever: “Yes, there`s money in war, even this phony war of faux filibusters and televised jibes at park police, a confederacy of hate.”

That was the second day in a row Matthews manned the rhetorical ramparts of Ft. Sumter. On Oct. 17, Matthews said of the conservative movement: Its battle flag is the stars and bars [creativity is not his strong suit], its religion the notion that somehow, the minority who back Cruz and Lee and the rest are the real Americans. That`s their job, to take it back from the other, those people who live in big cities, minorities and liberals and others who to them constitute the enemy.

And Matthews job is tell us all the dark, scary racist things he just knows Cruz and Lee and millions of Americans are really thinking.

Most of those Americans are mercifully unaware of this Southern resurgence, since more people died at Gettysburg than watch MSNBC on a given night. But the network’s lazy, vicious slander and casual accusations of racism are enough to make the most enthusiastic Unionist to rethink his position if only to be free of MSNBC.

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture