Friday, September 23, 2011

A Review: Rob's Cry-Baby Letter to Seven Days and His Contribution to a Secessionist Collection of Essays About Their Alternate Historical Universe

Recently Rob Williams, a journalist poseur, wrote a scathing letter to the editor to Seven Days (fourth letter down) claiming that,
"For years... [he claims that he has been the victim of] ad hominem slander... [being] accus[ed]... of “racism” (for talking with other independence-minded groups of different political stripes), “anti-Semitism,” (for criticizing the Israeli government’s harsh treatment of Palestinians and D.C.’s powerful pro-Israel lobby) and “neo-Confederate-ism” (for pointing out that Abraham Lincoln used the Civil War to radically reinvent the U.S. Constitution by centralizing federal power at the expense of individual states — Vermont included)."
Actually, Williams is a dyed-in-the-wool neo-Confederate because of his ongoing neo-Confederate four-way with the likes of neo-Confederates Donald Livingston, Thomas DiLorenzo, Kirkpatrick Sale and the baas of the Second Vermont Republic, its Dixie singin' "scholar," the Magnolia Vermonter, Thomas Naylor. Additionally, he's just contributed to a soon-to-be neo-Confederate bible, "Rethinking the American Union for the 21st Century," (already steeply discounted despite being more than a month from its October 31 release date) along with fellow neo-Confederates like the book's editor, Donald Livingston, contributors DiLorenzo, Kirkpatrick Sale and other cranks that are normally found palling around at Livingston's neo-Confederate "think tank," the Abbeville Institute. (NOTE: Secesher "scholars" all seem to need to call some spare room in their home a "think tank"; "think" Thomas Naylor's Second Vermont Republic "think tank"; Kirkpatrick Sale's Middlebury Institute "think tank.")

In 2009 The Chronicle for Higher Education had an excellent profile of Livingston and his Abbeville Institute (read it, it's well worth the time) here.
"(Livingston) started the Abbeville Institute, named after the South Carolina birthplace of John C. Calhoun, seventh vice president of the United States and a forceful advocate of slavery and states' rights. The institute now has 64 associated scholars from various colleges and disciplines. They gather to discuss topics about the South that they feel are misrepresented in today's classrooms. Feeling a chilly reception to its ideas—officials of the Southern Poverty Law Center say its work borders on white supremacy—the group has kept a low profile. Mr. Livingston's own (Emory philosophy) department chair, as well as a number of Emory history professors, say they have never heard of it."
The Chronicle's piece also says of the Abbeville Institute's "scholarly" work,
"(O)utsiders who have heard of Abbeville (Institute) tend not to like what they hear. One historian, whose research includes the cultural history of racism and white supremacy in the United States, and who asked for anonymity to avoid becoming a target of "Southern identity groups," says the lectures he has listened to on the Abbeville Web site ( are dominated by racialism and are "ideological, through and through." There is the condemnation from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil-rights group. In 2005, Time magazine pegged Abbeville as a group of "Lincoln loathers."
SPLC had this here in 2004 on Donaldson's basement, er, "think tank":
"(T)he Abbeville Institute but located in Georgia, is led by former LOS board member Donald Livingston, an Emory philosophy professor. Its Web site describes it as devoted to the "Southern tradition," including the allegedly ignored "achievements of white people in the South."

"About 30 people are listed as institute scholars, a staff that overlaps heavily with the LOS institute's staff."

"What these institutes teach is commonly portrayed as the fruit of an intellectual tradition that goes back to the 19th century and even, at the earliest, the colonial era — the line of thought known as "the Southern conservative tradition."

"The Southern conservative tradition stretches all the way back to Thomas Jefferson's belief in the superiority of an agriculture-based society to one built on commerce. Its giants include men like John Calhoun, the preeminent antebellum theorizer in favor of states' rights."

"To many, the tradition includes palpably racist thinkers such as Robert Lewis Dabney, who was chaplain to Civil War Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Thomas Dixon, whose 1905 novel The Clansman helped spark the 20th century rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan."

"The tradition also boasts of the Nashville Agrarians, a dozen Vanderbilt University-connected essayists who wrote I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition in the 1930s."

"Essentially, this intellectual tradition celebrates Southern agricultural life as Edenic, and contrasts its religious and tradition-bound ways with what is seen as the vulgar materialism of the industrializing North. It is, in the view of many, hopelessly romantic, tied more to an imagined golden age of Southern culture than to an honest appraisal of rural 19th century life as it really was."

"Be that as it may, strains of racism have been intertwined with this tradition almost from the start. In the South, a defense of "tradition" has a habit of ending up as an apologia for slavery."
Despite Williams' Lincoln-hating historical revisionism the fact remains that the slave states seceded to defend slavery and said so in many of the Articles of Secession.

Here's just one of the many, many articles by non-deluded Southerners that amply put the lie to the story that the Civil War was a war of Northern aggression and not about slavery. Transplanted northerners to South Carolina like Kirkpatrick Sale today peddle the lie that the war was not really about slavery.

In his book Livingston makes the anti-Federalist argument that "the virtues of republican life (self-government and the rule of law) were possible only in small polities.” The anti-Federalists, like Livingston and Williams, opposed the US Constitution and its eventual results. That argument was lost nearly 225 years ago. And try as he might, Williams (along with longtime SVR advisory board member and Lincoln historical revisionist, Thomas DiLorenzo) can't successfully argue that Lincoln started what was really started in 1787 and was then continued in the 1830's by Andrew Jackson - the long march of federalism.

Certainly, Williams' complaint about being linked to anti-Semitism and racism can't be taken seriously since he's published material from DiLorenzo (who's had his work published in a Holocaust denial journal and who cites racist sources in his critique of the SPLC ), Paul Michael Craig, Carol Moore (a raving anti-Semite), just to name only a few of these creeps. If he isn't anti-Semitic himself, he's definitely an anti-Semite enabler. When he was advising Connecticut native Dennis Steele's utterly failed gubernatorial campaign last year on the topic of "the Israeli Mafia" he wrote:
"I realize that the Israel plank is near and dear to Thomas (Naylor) - and he'll no doubt mail me another pointed letter scrawled in green pen with more information about the US/Israel connection and tell me that, because I am raising questions here, he will decide to push the "Israeli Mafia" phrase even MORE."

"However, Thomas is not running for office. You are."

"And, the thing is - I agree with Thomas re: Israel."

"I just don't think it makes much sense to use "Israeli Mafia" as a "talking point" for a Vermont independence campaign."

"Why? Three reasons immediately come to mind:"
"#1 - Since most Americans have been conditioned by years of corporate media training to associate anti-Israeli sentiment with Anti Semitism, talking about the Israeli Mafia smacks of antiSemitism blah blah. Holocaust, SVR are racists, etc ad nauseum. I have spent 4 years defusing the SVR/LOS nonsense and it is finally done, even in the blogosphere. Why go there again?" (So how's that working out for you, Rob?)
"#2 - MORE IMPORTANTLY, why not keep our eye on the ball - the United States?"
"#3 - Finally, the "Israeli Mafia" phrase sounds CANNED when it comes out of your mouth. EVERYTHING ELSE YOU SAY sounds like Dennis Steele talking, and kicking ass."
"So - if you decide to continue to use the phrase "Israeli Mafia," then I am asking you to help me think of something to say to Cairn, and others, when they ask."
Years ago, when he was confronted about Livingston's neo-Confederatism and strong links to white supremacists, Williams responded:
"Is ("Don") a racist? I don't know. And frankly, it is none of my damn business"
Williams is an enabler of racialism and bigotry for having invited the white supremacist League of the South and the virulently homophobic hate group, Christian Exodus, to the "talk(s)" that he's sponsored "with other independence-minded groups" over the years in Vermont.

Is Rob Williams a racist? While I have my own opinion on that, that's really more the "damn business" of every Vermonter who Williams proposes to lead into his brave new world of deliberately non-specific proposals for an unlikely "independent" Vermont that Williams would ally with racists, homophobes, anti-Semites and the like.

Williams has also said,
"Secession (began) as a (serious) conversation in New England, (not) in the south. This, also, is a historical fact." (Rob's ALLCAPS deleted)
What our self-professed historian Williams omitted from that statement is that Vermont and its delegate, like the rest of the nation, didn't support the short-lived notions of the Hartford Convention of 1814. Moreover, the three week meeting in Hartford ultimately spelled the end to the - guess who - Federalist Party! That's the group that Williams, Livingston, Naylor, DiLorenzo, Kirkpatrick Sale, et al, ad nauseum so vehemently oppose. That's also an example of the devious nature of Williams and his "small community" (according to a SVR founder and a "Vermont Commons" publisher emeritus or some such nonsense, Ian Baldwin) of Vermont seceshers who routinely twist and pervert the historical record to suit their needs.

In his letter to Seven Days, Williams, whose print publication has failed for five years to convince Vermonters that he and his secesher buddies were nothing more than fringy, ineffectual, batshit crazy, whackjobs, never disclosed that the day before he crafted his recommendations to a real journalist, he'd folded his journal propaganda rag that is more the type of thing that was commonly found on an old fashioned shithouse nail before Charmin came along.

As for his umpteenth sorta invitation to converse,
"Accept invitations to discuss differing political points of view in public dialogue."
I don't meet or chat in bars, as you've so often suggested we do, with Aryan Nation types, neo-Nazis, Liberty Counsel douchebags and other fundie creeps, Southern/Northern/Eastern/Western white supremacists or their enablers. Get it?

(Extra credit reading for secesher scholars like Rob here. It's a piece by a real scholar, James W. Loewen.)

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