Saturday, June 11, 2005

Is the Filibuster An Artifact of Racism?

That's the implication of this post by Captain Ed. The good Captain reviews the use of the filibuster to sabotage anti-lynching legislation and to stall civil rights legislation. So far, so good; we can all use a history lesson. Then he goes further:
What I would like to know is what lives the Senate saved through the filibuster? What overarching principle has the filibuster ever protected that would counter the cost of the innumerable victims of lynching that the filibuster allowed? The only principle the filibuster has ever protected, as far as I see, is naked partisanship and in the case of lynching, racial oppression and terror. And yet, these same modern-day Senators stood with a man who used the filibuster to keep blacks from voting and justified its use against confirming judges to the appellate court.
I'm afraid this argument just won't fly. The filibuster is a rule adopted by a legislative body, no more, no less. To imply that it enabled lynching is absurd; the racial attitudes, regrettably, of my native southland at the time led to the lynchings, not the the filibuster. Captain Ed seems to go one step further, though, and suggest that the filibuster's purpose is to foster 'racial oppression and terror' and provide for naked partisanship.

Is a gun responsible for a murder, or is a person? Gun rights advocates have said for decades that guns don't kill people, but rather criminals do. How does that differ from the filibuster's use for nefarious purposes in a certain instance? Taking the proposed principle to an absurd extreme, did college football kill Nicole Brown Simpson? After all, it provided a ladder to the NFL, giving O.J. the financial means to live in Brentwood and the lifestyle that Nicole was no doubt attracted to. The cause and the effect simply don't match.

Captain Ed is a fine, smart blogger, and he knows better. He even proves it in the same post:
The Senate has the right to set its own rules, including the filibuster for its internal processes, including legislation. That doesn't make the practice glorious or righteous.
No, it doesn't; but neither does a broad slander against the Gang of 14 prove that the judicial compromise was a bad deal. There are good arguments against the filibuster, and good arguments against the deal, and no doubt the Captain has made and will continue to make them. This, however, is not one of them...

UPDATE 3:25 p.m.: To say that the Commissar is not pleased would be a gross understatement: read his considerably harsher take here...and thanks to Captain Ed for the link; that shows a lot of class to link back to those who take issue with one of your posts. I salute you, Captain!...

UPDATE 2 7:17 p.m.: Beth is none too pleased, either, and makes an impassioned plea for rhetorical moderation, in her own inimitable fashion, lest we resemble the Kossacks. Music to my ears, needless to say. The Captain has again updated his post, and (1) is big enough to admit he was a little angry and perhaps excessive when he wrote it, and (2) he doesn't really take it back, since his point was that having former KKK member Robert Byrd crowing about saving the Republic while employing a tactic used to harm African Americans is more than a little hard to take. AJStrata summarizes the controversy here...

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