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The Intercollegiate Studies Institute recently held a very interesting debate at the University of Virginia on state nullification, between Allen Guelzo of Eastern University and Donald Livingston of Emory University. You can watch it or listen to it. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the question period, when things got very interesting. A person in attendance wrote to tell me what happened:
Eventually a female student raised a question: the American colonists said they were defending the rights of Englishmen against usurpations of Parliament. She asked couldn’t it happen that the central government could become oppressive in the same way and that the States could step forth as the colonial governments had done to check the tyranny? Guelzo paused for a long time and asked whether she thought the central government was a tyranny. She rephrased the question. He persisted twice, and demanded that she answer. She did, and said she thought it was a tyranny. The audience clapped! After which a long silence. Guelzo said, after some other words, that she was a “traitor.” [Another person whose recollection was sent to me recalls that he said, before calling her a traitor, “There was a man not too long ago with a similar response and his name was Benedict Arnold.”] One of her teachers, the Dean of Honors Students, jumped up to protest, and was physically restrained. A gentleman in the audience said, “Professor, that was a cheap shot.” Others protested. The moderator, a professor of international law, had to call for order.
This was a confirming instance of my darkest thoughts about nationalist ideologues. Guelzo was a Lincolnian Jacobin who would have had no problem leading war against civilians, including the honors student at UVA.
cross-posted from the LewRockwell.com blog
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