Smacked with the Race Card

I have to confess; it gets under my skin when people call me a racist.

Most things people throw around in political debates roll right off my back. But the racist charge stings.meandc

It really shouldn’t. When an opponent screams “racist,” or its first cousin “neo-confederate,” it clearly indicates he has no leg to stand on in the debate. It represents ad hominem at its pinnacle. After all, why would you listen to anything a racist says? If my rhetorical opponent can convince everybody I harbor racist attitudes, it relieves them of any obligation to refute my arguments. So, yelling “racist” is really nothing more than a below the belt tactic to score political points.

Never-the-less, it really bothers me when somebody slaps down that race card. Let’s be honest. It’s mean. And as tough-skinned as we might be, meanness can burn.

I experienced this over the weekend.

These days, I generally try to avoid getting too involved in Facebook threads. I really don’t have time. But sometimes it provides an opportunity to feel out the arguments of the opposition. It also serves as a platform for others who might read through the comments. I realize I probably won’t change the mind of the person I’m debating, but I hope that others reading along will recognize the stronger of the two arguments.

With that in mind, I commented on an article by some history teacher from Indiana named Mark Thomas. He wrote an anti-nullification op-ed. Nothing surprising or original. It was typical blathering revolving around Calhoun and segregationists, with the obligatory “neo-conferderate” charge thrown in for good measure. In my initial comment, I pointed out that his history was a bit one-sided because he failed to mention northern nullification of the fugitive slave acts. I concluded with a little challenge.

This is the challenge I always offer up to the federal supremacist so fond of citing Supreme Court cases: read the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and take apart Jefferson’s logic.

Mark responded by inferring that Jefferson’s view was irrelevant because he had “no part in creating the Constitution, right?” and demanding to know “which state legislature ‘nullified’ the Fugitive Slave Act?”

Notice that he didn’t take up the challenge. He went the ad hominem route and tried to marginalize Jefferson. I couldn’t help but point out that Mark Thomas “had no part in creating the Constitution” either, so perhaps we should disregard all of his analysis as well.

I also listed the states that nullified the fugitive slave acts, drawing from the South Carolina Declaration of Causes for secession. The South Carolina delegates listed northern nullification – and they used the word – as a chief complaint. I also restated my initial challenge.

Jefferson’s whereabouts at the time of the drafting and ratification of the Constitution have exactly ZERO impact on the actual substance of his argument. If it is SO wildly off base, refute it. The challenge remains – unravel Jefferson’s logic.

At this point, things turned ugly.

Mike Maharrey , you seem angry.

As for citing South Carolina’s claim to help justify both defending slaver and committing treason, that’s not exactly the level of “evidence” a historian would accept. I’m not sure what type of group this “Tenth Amendment Center” is, but I can sure see why it’s (sic) members get touchy when neo-confederacy issues are exposed to light. Thanks for bolstering the theme of my op-ed piece!

Notice that Mark never even attempted to address Jefferson’s argument. He can’t. So, he slapped me hard across the face with the race card. At this point, I decided to press the issue. You’ll notice that our intrepid historian likes to play coy. He infers that my motives must be steeped in racism, but doesn’t come out and say it. Quite frankly, I find this somewhat cowardly. Just say what you mean! So, I pushed him to explain what he meant by “neo-confederate” issues. After some prodding, he finally showed his true colors – kind of.

Perhaps you should ask Ron Paul for a truly slippery answer to your slippery question. Otherwise, be guided by the saying, “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and advocates the same tools used by Strohm Thurmon (sic) and George Wallace…

You have to love the delicious irony of some white guy in Indiana comparing a man married to a black woman with Strom Thurmond and George Wallace. You also have to love the fact that our history expert doesn’t know how to spell Strom’s name.

I lit Mark up pretty good and mentioned that he apparently had no idea what a fool he was making of himself. Had he bothered to take a close look at my profile photo included with all of my posts, he would have noticed the beautiful black woman standing next to me. I mean really, I make a piss-poor racist. At any rate, he tried to back-peddle a little bit – sorta. It seems, at some level Mark realizes that out-and-out accusing somebody of racism is mean. He clearly wasn’t comfortable with that, so he tried to keep it all shrouded in innuendo.

The point of my column was that those trying to pass off frauds, be they requests for money or adherence to debunked notions of nullification/secession, can be easily identified by those with a decent knowledge of American History. As for your identical use of rhetoric shared with ‘historic figures’ who opposed civil rights, if the shoe you’re wearing fits…

This final comment leads me to the crux of this post. It illustrates the base level of political debate in America. In this long thread of comments, Mark never once engages the argument at hand. Notice, he still hasn’t addressed the fact that northern states used nullification and appealed to state sovereignty to fight the fugitive slave acts. This undeniable historical truth obliterates his entire argument. Sadly, this man who proudly wears the mantle of “historian,” writes a blog focused on history and apparently teaches the subject in some school somewhere, appears absolutely oblivious to this indisputable historical fact. He’s either woefully ignorant and needs to invest in some big-boy history books, or he’s intentionally deceptive to protect his point of view.

Either way, he’s pretty lame.

I summed this up in my final comment.

Your argument seems to be that slavers and segregationists talked about nullification, therefore all people who talk about nullification must sympathize with slavers and segregationists. First off, this argument is non sequitur. Second, northern abolitionists appealed to state sovereignty and nullification to protect the rights of blacks. The fact that you seem oblivious to this fact doesn’t reflect well on your credibility as a historian. Quite frankly, I find it offensive that you feel compelled slap down the race card…whether overtly or by innuendo…to make your point. I long ago accepted that I would get tarred with this brush by ignorant people like you, but that makes it no less frustrating when it happens.

With that, Mark claimed victory

Mike Maharrey, thanks for sharing. You’ve enlightened a number of people about the “Tenth Amendment Center.”

Yes, Mark. You got the best of this racist fool, ignorant of American history. Thanks for the lesson.

For an in depth article on the moral implications of nullification and race, click HERE. And for a deeper look at nullification of the fugitive slave acts HERE.

9 Responses to “Smacked with the Race Card”

  1. Doug T.March 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm #


    Every once in awhile, we have to roll up our sleeves and engage these fools. The left has owned academia and the media for so long that Mark represents the average standard bearer for their level of knowledge and ability. Good on you that you didn’t let him get away with it. His bailout in the end was indicative of another tactic of the left – after dragging people through the mud, name calling, and downright lying, they close with a nice “thank you” and thereby attempt to claim the moral high ground too. It’s predictable and sad. Chin up and keep after em’!

    • Michael MaharreyMarch 11, 2014 at 7:25 pm #


  2. gary dunstonMarch 12, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    This Is Classic Communist/Progressive agenda & nonsense , as you pointed out they cannot win the argument with any factual references , as they have no truthful factual references to support their arguments .. They do Have a Multitude of Propaganda , a ton of both nonfactual and untrue references , a plethora of outright lies and innuendo , and a multitude of both illusions and delusions in support of their false arguments and out right lies … This agenda is out of the now classic Cloward / Priven manifesto of so-called progressive war tactics … Accomplish your objectives be any means necessary ! Accomplish your Means by any Deeds Available , and all the time continuously repeat the lie to yourself ; ‘that the Ends you seek and accomplish will always justify the means/deeds that were ‘necessary’ for the cause.

  3. Thomas R. EddlemMarch 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    I’m a history teacher too, but I teach real history … unlike your adversary. Among the primary source documents I require my sophomore high school students to read are: the Kentucky Resolutions, the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification, a short selection from the Hayne-Webster debates, and the Wisconsin Judiciary’s explanation of the Ableman v. Booth cases.

    My students would be able to refute the arguments of this history “teacher” in a heartbeat.

    Keep up the fight!

    • Michael MaharreyMarch 12, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

      I love you! Not in a weird way. But…yes!!

  4. Mark ThomasMarch 14, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    While I’ll be mildly surprised if you post this response, it’s worth just enough time as I sip my coffee to share with your “readers” the issues you avoid.

    In the same thread, joined by several claiming current or past association with the “10th Amendment Center,” (a website cluttered with “donation” requests), I did, in fact, explain how Jefferson, (whom one of your associates described to my amusement as the “Father of the Constitution”), and Madison, (yes, THAT Father of the Constitution), represented in their resolutions arguments made during the Constitutional Convention – and rejected by the body.

    Both the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves represent, not interpretations of the Constitution, but losing points considered and discarded by the majority at the Constitution. Call it sour grapes, but don’t call it interpretations of the final product, our Constitution.

    As for your less than sly, if not piteous argument anyone disagreeing with your fringe world view is playing the race card. There exists a self-described mountain of evidence neo-confederates embrace the identical arguments you make about nullification and 10th Amendment. There also exists a historic record from 1948 through the time of landmark civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s that segregationists also used the exact same arguments you’re currently selling, (apparently on any page of the 10th Amendment Center’s website).

    Your calling any reference to these historical facts “playing the race card,” a term frequently used exclusively by those with “peculiar” attitudes about race, does not negate the evidence or arguments based upon that evidence.

    I thought your “readers” should know the truth.

    • Michael MaharreyMarch 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

      Surprise!! Mild or otherwise.

      Why wouldn’t I post your response? I’m more than happy to contrast your point of view with mine and let people come to their own conclusion.

      “As for your less than sly, if not piteous argument anyone disagreeing with your fringe world view is playing the race card.”

      I never made such an argument. My argument is that somebody who says, “Perhaps you should ask Ron Paul for a truly slippery answer to your slippery question. Otherwise, be guided by the saying, “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and advocates the same tools used by Strohm Thurmon (sic) and George Wallace…” is playing the race card. To steal a phrase, If the shoe fits…

      “There exists a self-described mountain of evidence neo-confederates embrace the identical arguments you make about nullification and 10th Amendment. There also exists a historic record from 1948 through the time of landmark civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s that segregationists also used the exact same arguments you’re currently selling.”

      The fact that somebody embraces an argument for an evil purpose does not negate the validity of the argument itself. The fact that some people use hammers as murder weapons does not negate their usefulness for pounding nails. And, as I’ve already pointed out, northern abolitionists used identical arguments in their efforts to protect fugitive slaves. My abolitionists trump your segregationists. My guys used it first.

      “Both the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves represent, not interpretations of the Constitution, but losing points considered and discarded by the majority at the Constitution. Call it sour grapes, but don’t call it interpretations of the final product, our Constitution.”

      First off, I would contend looking at the debates in the Philadelphia Convention will not lead one to the original meaning of the Constitution. We find that meaning in the ratifying conventions. Madison himself made this assertion. Kevin Gutzman Ph.D., considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on Madison, summed it up in his book, “James Madison and the Making of America.”

      “Some had committed the ‘error’ of ‘ascribing to the intention of the Convention which formed the Constitution, an undue ascendancy in expounding it.’ The authoritative source, he said, was not the Philadelphia Convention, but the ‘State Conventions which gave it all the validity & authority it possesses.’

      I ran your assertion by Gutzman just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. He confirmed my understanding.

      “BS. The Resolutions represented the original understanding. Their opponents, the Federalist Party, were voted out at the next presidential election and never won another. Within 25 years, they were defunct. Nationalists lost in Philadelphia, and they then went out and sold the Constitution as creating a government with a few enumerated powers.”

      The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions flow out of that reality.

      I highly recommend Gutzman’s book.

      At any rate, what I would really like to see from you is an actual argument against nullification based on founding era evidence. All I’ve seen from you so far are unsubstantiated generalization and Ad Hominem attacks.

      P.S. Why did you put “readers” in quotes? That’s just weird.

  5. John LambertMarch 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    Just for the record….

    As the person who accidentally stated Jefferson was the “Father of the Constitution”. I am well aware that Madison is often given that title by many historians.

    I was trying to state Jefferson as the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence AND (Note AND) Madison as the “Father of the Constitution” in the same sentence and I wrote a poor sentence since BOTH men were involved with the Resolutions of 1798.

    I will also point prior to this, there are numerous times I have pointed out that historians refer Madison as the “Father of the Constitution.”

    My only defense is the writing overall poor article written by “historian” Mark Thomas and reacting emotionally without double checking the post.

    However, I would argue that my sin was more from a one shot mistake out of frustration, so what is Mark Thomas’ excuse for such a historic poor article?

    The exchange between Mark Thomas/Michael Maharrey and Thomas’ total disregard from addressing Maharrey’s points is clearly self evident that Thomas either isn’t qualified to discuss the subject or he is a liar.

    I can claim that in my error, I wasn’t being deliberately deceptive and was an honest mistake. Something that I don’t think Mark Thomas can honestly claim.

  6. Milo TownsendMarch 16, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    As one of Mike’s “readers” (I agree, Mike, that was weird), and as a proponent of a robust and oft-utlized 10th amendment, I would like to take this opportunity to make a few comments. Really, I think Mike and others have already said enough to thoroughly bury Mr. Thomas’ flaccid intellectual position, but his assertions, shrouded as they are in the mantle of pompous academic superiority, irk me so much that I can’t resist the urge to reply.

    First off, does Mr. Thomas even realize what is being discussed here?? The Tenth Amendment Center merely claims that the words that compose the Tenth amendment mean precisely what they say: “Powers not delegated to the federal government… are reserved to the states and to the people, respectively.” If these words don’t necessarily give merit to the only reasonable, practical means of their enforcement – nullification – then the Tenth article of amendment is nothing more than a toothless superfluity taking up space. If, indeed, there is supposed to be some other, more effectual and immediate means of enforcing the meaning and intent of the Tenth amendment, then by all means, please enlighten me, because I must be missing something important. Surely one wouldn’t be naive enough to suggest that the federal government will define its own limits and self-censure its scope of activity… because that’s worked out SO well already! So, if the states aren’t supposed to enforce those limits, and since the federal government either can’t or won’t adhere to them, who, pray tell, is left to define them and enforce them, and by what legal means? We’re quickly running out of constituent components and lawful mechanisms to serve this essential purpose. Or does Mr. Thomas really mean to say that he simply doesn’t believe there need to be any hard and fast limits on the scope of federal activity – that the Constitution is really just a quaint, humble ‘suggestion’ of governmental limitations, but in truth carries no attendant means of enforcement? Wow, and here I thought that all government rested on the consent of the governed! My mistake.

    “Our Constitution?” Indeed, it IS ours, and the Tenth amendment is an integral part of it which underscores one of the most fundamental notions of its overall design. Which leads one to believe that not only did the idea of nullification have overwhelming favor in the ratifying conventions (prior to the drafting of the Bill of Rights), as Professor Gutzman clearly pointed out, but moreover it had significant traction in the subsequent Congress that drafted and submitted the Bill of Rights, and in the popular culture of the states that ratified THOSE amendments. In other words, there were obviously multiple opportunities for the founding generation to explicitly reject the notion that the states had the ultimate authority to keep the federal government in line, but rather than rejecting it at all, each of those opportunities passed with the states and the people actually affirming this notion and enshrining its principles into the supreme law of the land. That really doesn’t leave much room for question as to the intent of the creators of OUR Constitution: they pretty much didn’t have any doubts at all about the role and sovereignty of the states within the constitutional order of their federal republic.

    And lastly, I would like to put the shoe on the other foot for Mr. Thomas. By his own logic, his anti-nullification stance makes him a supporter of federal fugitive slave laws and, therefore, a “Proto-confederate sympathizer”! The knife cuts both ways, Mr. Thomas; I hope you don’t find your own label too unsavory.

    Truthfully, I don’t even know what one means by “neo-confederate.” What characteristics are necessary or sufficient for someone to fall under that appellation? A wistful longing for the bygone institution of slavery? Or merely a penchant for racist bigotry? Because these characteristics were both shared throughout the country, both North & South, before during & after the Civil War, so I fail to see how they define a quintessentially “confederate” point of view. Or perhaps the necessary quality pertains to one’s views on secession? But then that’s not what the Tenth Amendment Center advances, and secession is something entirely distinct from nullification, so again, I fail to see the connection. But the truth is (and we all know it, even though Mr. Thomas is reluctant to admit it) that this stigma-laden label is really just a tongue-in-cheek way to sling mud at someone whose arguments are too strong to crack otherwise. It’s really too bad that this kind of “discourse” is what passes as the norm for debate in American society today. Especially when it involves a self-proclaimed academician.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: