Opportunism, thy name is Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Take their vascillation or irresolution on the Confederate flag, about which more anon.
Seven score and four years ago, the Confederate States of America (including Arkansas) sought to bring forth a new nation conceived in moral sin and dedicated to the proposition that blacks possessed no rights that white men or women were bound to respect.
Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, was crystal clear that the Confederacy was about permanent white supremacy:
“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea [of racial equality]; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
Slave labor was every bit a cornerstone of the Confederacy as it is today in North Korea.
President Abraham Lincoln elaborated the moral imperative of the Civil War in his Second Inaugural Address:
“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”
Accordingly, there is no ambiguity about the Confederate flag. It celebrates white supremacy and black subjugation in all its ugly moods and tenses.
In 1987, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton confronted a choice between moral courage or political opportunism regarding the Confederacy. Mr. Clinton was presented with Act 116, which proclaimed, “The blue star above the word ‘Arkansas’ [in the state flag] is to commemorate the Confederate States of America.” The definition of commemorate is “to pay homage to,” even at Yale Law School.
To sign the bill would be to honor White Supremacy like D.W. Griffith’s racist “Birth of a Nation.” To veto the bill would be to risk political backlash. Mr. Clinton signed without dissent from the first lady. The Arkansas flag today continues to pay homage to the Confederacy.
During his 1993-2001 presidency, Mr. Clinton could have issued an executive order prohibiting federal government travel to any state capitol where the Confederate flag was flying on state grounds. He could have urged Congress to enact a law under the 13th Amendment to prohibit such displays as badges and incidents of slavery under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v. Mayer (1968). Mrs. Clinton could have done the same during her 2001-2009 service as a U.S. senator from New York. But the two refrained from invoking federal power (in contrast to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Little Rock, Arkansas) to put the quietus on an indefensible salute to slavery.
Leadership is made of sterner stuff!