I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Politico story about Governor Barbour’s statement about the civil war

There’s an article on Politico by Robert McElvaine, history professor at Millsaps, remarks from Governor Barbour about the Civil War.  The key quote:

But he has now made a forthright declaration about the events swirling around what some Southerners still call the War of Northern Aggression. “Slavery was the primary, central, cause of secession,” Barbour told me Friday. “The Civil War was necessary to bring about the abolition of slavery,” he continued. “Abolishing slavery was morally imperative and necessary, and it’s regrettable that it took the Civil War to do it. But it did.”

The article goes on to talk about attitudes from Mississippi leaders in the early sixties about the Civil War, and note that Barbour’s quoted remark amounts to a sea-change and big news:

It’s significant for two reasons: First, it sounds like Barbour is indeed running for the GOP presidential nomination. Second, it suggests that Mississippi has changed considerably since the 1960s.

Online reactions vary from Ta-Nehsi Coates, who thinks the remarks commendable, to Matt Yglesias, who Coates says “smirks” at this quote.  Strangely, Yglesias then goes off on a very odd tangent about what might have happened had Henry Clay won the election the 1844 election– hey, maybe no Civil War! Separate countries for California, Texas, and Deseret (that would be Utah)!  I have to ask what brought that on.

And while on the subject of odd predictions of the future (or whatever Yglesias’s counterfactual tangent was), there’s Newt Gingrich’s remark this weekend , which make an interesting contrast to Barbour’s calm and sensible statement about the Civil War:

I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.

Should someone ask Newt if those secular atheists he’s predicting are also the radical Islamists, or is it that in the secular atheist future they’ll have no idea what it once meant to be a radical Islamist?

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