Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: "One interesting thing in this material was Buchanan's groaning about how he was discriminated against in Navy Officer training relative to Yankee Ivy Leaguers. Herman Wouk's recent passing stirred me to reflect on this process. As was mildly fictionalized in the Caine Mutiny, Work was outstripped in his training class by none other than Jim Tobin. Yes, both Wouk and Tobin were northern 'Ivy Leaguers' (Wouk Columbia and Tobin Harvard). But the Jew from New York and the Irish kid from Illinois would surely not have seen themselves as more on the 'inside' than Buchanan who, after all, had the same name as (an admittedly wildly unsuccessful) US President...

IMHO, what Buchanan is complaining about is this: Harvard and Columbia could and did turn people like Wouk and Tobin into effective WASPs by teaching them to turn down the accent and soft-pedal the Blarney and the Yiddishkeit. Middle Tennessee State Teachers College and the University of Tennessee were not in that business at all.

Now after spending World War II out in Hawaii on Admiral Spruance's staff and marrying Anne Bakke, a Norwegian-American nurse and then getting your Ph.D. in 1948 at the University of Chicago—after that you don't have to identify as a southerner, a governor's grandson, from a family whose land had been "ruined" by the Civil War (actually, land is hard to ruin: livestock, buildings, orchards, and most of all slaves can no longer be yours afterwards, but the lady is still there); you could identify as whitish-bread American meritocrat—like Wouk and Tobin—who happened to have been born in the shallow south. I don't know whether he thought that would have been a theft of his identity, or whether he would have taken that road if his first jobs had been in Vermont and Wisconsin rather than Florida and Virginia.

Or maybe his complaints about discrimination against him were a con, an intellectual judo move: I'm not an oppressive white establishment southerner—I'm being oppressed!

When one reads "From that day forward I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination..." and "'fairness' assumed for me a central normative position...", one does expect it to be followed by "and so I marched with King". One does not expect it to be accompanied by "and so I worked hard to devise plans whereby Virginia's public-school tax collars could be diverted to segregation academies..." It's hard for me to see to contemplate such a total lack of awareness of self and context to make "I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination..." anything other than an intellectual judo move...



  • That your grandfather Governor John Buchanan campaigned against federal voting rights acts, raised the poll tax, and established pensions for Confederate veterans—that all that goes unmentioned in the context of "I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination...

  • Wikipedia: James M. Buchanan: "Buchanan completed his M.S. at the University of Tennessee in 1941. He served in the United States Navy on the staff of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in Honolulu during the war years, when he met Anne Bakke, whom he married on October 5, 1945. Anne, of Norwegian descent...

  • Tennessee Encyclopedia: John Price Buchanan: "The war ruined his family's land, and Buchanan moved to Rutherford County, where he established a livestock farm on Manchester Pike. Buchanan's political life was entwined with the rise of the Farmers' Alliance...

  • Wikipedia: John P. Buchanan: "He campaigned against the federal Lodge Bill, which would have provided protections for voting rights for blacks in the South.... [He] enacted a measure providing pensions for Confederate veterans. Buchanan strengthened the state's poll tax, and enacted several voting restrictions aimed at suppressing the African-American vote...

  • Wikipedia: "The Lodge Bill... of 1890 was a bill drafted by Representative Henry Cabot Lodge (R) of Massachusetts, and sponsored in the Senate by George Frisbie Hoar; it was endorsed by President Benjamin Harrison. The bill would have authorized the federal government to ensure that elections were fair. In particular, it would have allowed federal circuit courts (after being petitioned by a small number of citizens from any precinct) to appoint federal supervisors of congressional elections...

  • James M. Buchanan: Economics from the Outside in: "Better Than Plowing" and Beyond https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1585446033

  • James M. Buchanan (1997): Has Economics Lost Its Way?: Reflections on the Economic Enterprise at Century's End

  • HET: James M. Buchanan


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