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Thursday, December 14, 2017, 6:33 p.m.

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OPINION

Independence hypocrisy

By Walter Williams

This article was published December 7, 2017 at 3:09 a.m.

Officials in Catalonia, Spain's richest and most highly industrialized region, whose capital is Barcelona, recently held a referendum in which there was a 92 percent vote in favor of independence from Spain. The Spanish authorities opposed the referendum and claimed that independence is illegal. Catalans are not the only Europeans seeking independence. Some Bavarian people are demanding independence from Germany, while others demand greater autonomy. Germany's Federal Constitutional Court ruled: "In the Federal Republic of Germany . . . states are not 'masters of the constitution.' . . . Therefore, there is no room under the constitution for individual states to attempt to secede. This violates the constitutional order."

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WhododueDiligence says... December 7, 2017 at 6:56 a.m.

"Isn't it double talk for members of the EU to condemn independent movements today, given that they welcomed and supported independence movements for states that were members of the communist bloc?"
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No, given Europe's bloody history and the fact that Russia remains a powerful threat, that is not double talk. Breaking apart the Soviet states was good. Breaking apart European nations is not good because it leaves Europe weaker and more vulnerable to once again being divided and conquered.

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WhododueDiligence says... December 7, 2017 at 7:56 a.m.

The last paragraph of this column is revisionist and wrong. Tariffs are often mentioned by historians as a contributing cause of the Civil War and as the only cause of the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s. The fact that tariffs were a contributing cause doesn't change the fact that the primary cause of the Civil War was slavery. Yes, tariffs helped the manufacturing economy of the North and hurt the agrarian economy of the South, but the South's agrarian economy was heavily based on KIng Cotton which heavily relied upon slavery.
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The Compromise of 1820 was about slavery. The Compromise of 1850 was about slavery. the Kansas Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and Bleeding Kansas were about slavery. Thomas Jefferson had foreseen the coming turmoil over slavery. The secession documents from the states which seceded were about slavery. So it's clearly wrong to say that the abolition of slavery is used as an "excuse" to explain the Civil War in order to make the North look better. During the Civil War, northern attitudes toward blacks were also largely negative. Northern treatment of labor was also often abusive. And northern incidents like the New York draft riots of 1863 in which blacks were murdered was also atrocious. When history is written by actual historians rather than by revisionists with some axe to grind, neither North nor South come out looking good from the bloody Civil War.

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WhododueDiligence says... December 7, 2017 at 8:13 a.m.

"Using the abolition of slavery as an excuse for a war that took the lives of 620,000 ..."
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At the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln's primary goal was preserving the Union. Abolition of slavery was not the primary goal largely because the institution of slavery was protected by the Three-Fifths clause of the Constitution and by the Dred Scott decision which endorsed the spread of slavery northward and westward. So in that limited sense Williams is somewhat correct and somewhat excusable in his use of the word "excuse" but later in the war the abolition of slavery did become the goal--to abolish slavery and end the issue once and for all through the process of constitutional amendment.

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Lifelonglearner says... December 7, 2017 at 3:59 p.m.

It never ceases to amaze me how you can create a connection between two totally different events in order to make your point. Then again using your own examples, if Russia succeeds in its disinformation campaigns to break up the countries that oppose it, it will be a version of how the different the world would be if the USA was still divided between North and South when Germany and Japan started their military campaigns for world domination.

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WhododueDiligence says... December 7, 2017 at 9:02 p.m.

Yes, Lifelonglearner, that type of attempt at a historical connection (over centuries even) never ceases to amaze me, either. Following the right-to-secede argument (which is now popular on the extreme right) of this column to its logical conclusion, today's world would likely be a lot different and a lot worse than it is. If the United States had been split apart in the Civil War there would be nothing resembling today's USA. Instead there would be at least two countries and more likely three or four (or five if the lone star state of Texas would have later seceded from the Confederate States of America). And as you suggested the world would then have been more vulnerable to domination a century or less later by Germany in the western hemisphere and Japan in the eastern.

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WhododueDiligence says... December 7, 2017 at 9:17 p.m.

(meant to say Japan in the Far East)

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WhododueDiligence says... December 7, 2017 at 9:22 p.m.

Lifelonglearner's comment about Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns is also an excellent point.

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