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June 19, 2024 20 mins
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(00:00):
I could probably spend entire fifteen minutesjust introducing him, so I'm going to
try to make this short. Mygood friend, doctor Tom cranawitter as PhD
in political science, taught it atHillsdale, taught it here in Colorado.
He's the proprietor of Speakeasy Ideas.You can check that out at Speakeasyideas dot
com. He has a fantastic newsubstact that we will talk about in more

(00:20):
detail in a minute. He isone of the only people who I really
consider to be a mentor when itcomes to the study of politics, history,
political philosophy. And he's a trueexpert in and scholar of Abe Lincoln,
the Civil War, and slavery.There's a lot more. We also

(00:41):
went to see britt Floyd together theother day. Anyway, it's so good
to see you. Thanks for cominginto the studio. Hey, great to
be here. Ross. So Igot I got a listener email that I
wanted to share with you because Ithought it was so on target with today.
And I don't think this listener's emailwas an angry email, but I

(01:03):
think the email is a little bitoff target in a way that I think
a lot of people are off targeton this particular holiday, and you wrote
a substack about it. But thisties in so perfectly to what you and
I want to talk about today.This listener says, I feel like this
holiday is yet more ways to focuson victimhood. Once we get beyond focusing

(01:25):
on being a victim and focus onproducts, I'm sorry on progress possibilities,
how to create positive change, wemay actually strengthen our country. The holiday,
though, seems like another flavor ofreparations. It doesn't change anything.
It only focuses on some Americans.It costs American businesses and government services for

(01:46):
that were shut down, but they'repaid. Most I suspect will not be
celebrating freedom from slavery. But justhaving a vacation supporting victimhood does not do
anything to strengthen the victim. SoI said, very politely back to this
listener, I said, I couldn'tdisagree more, and just so we can

(02:07):
get into our conversation, I'll stopthere. And I just said please listen
at eleven thirty. Yeah, well, thank you for that. Look,
look, let's pick up one pieceof that and sort of sort of see
where this thread leads us. Thatwas the comment that this holiday is only
about some people or some Americans.I disagree, and certainly Abraham Lincoln disagreed.
Lincoln. Lincoln made it a pointrepeatedly throughout his professional political career to

(02:31):
remind Americans that so long as there'sa justification to enslave some Americans, there
will be justifications to enslave any Americans. Any excuse you use, whether it's
the color of skin, or intelligence, or you know, any other characteristic,
can be used by someone. Infact, we have a wonderful little

(02:54):
thought piece that he was writing out. It's unclear if it was a letter
or the beginning of an say,it's just a fragment of writing from Lincoln,
and he says, pick any argumentyou want to justify in slaving someone
else. You say with skin color, You say that people with lighter skin
color have the right to enslave peoplewith darker skin color. Very well,
take care the first person who comesalong of lighter skin color than you has

(03:19):
an argument to enslave you. Ifyou say, oh, well, it's
intelligence, The more intelligent have theright to enslave the less intelligent. He
says, again, take care thefirst person who comes along more intelligent than
you has the right to enslave you. We either stand on the principle of
liberty for every American, or westand on the ground of slavery. This

(03:39):
was the whole theme of his HouseDivided speech. Remember he said in that
speech, I don't think the houseis going to fall, but I do
think the house is going to becomeall one thing or all the other.
If slavery is right, then weneed to stop all this talk about freedom
and individual liberty, and we needto stop that. If freedom is right,

(04:00):
well, then we need to abolishslavery. We can't let say I
mean, slavery is fundamentally intrinsically wrongand it needs to go away. We're
going to become all the one orall the other. So Juneteenth is not
merely a reason for those two hundredand fifty thousand black slaves in Texas who
were you know, they heard thenews by Gordon Granger that they were free.

(04:23):
This is a reason for all Americansto celebrate. When the United States
becomes a regime of liberty, whenit's constitution and its laws align with the
principles the Declaration of Independence, thatis worth celebrating by all Americans. Of
all colors. That's a good thing. So regarding what you said that Lincoln

(04:44):
said about you know, if youthink that people with lighter skin color can
enslave people of darker skin than becareful because someone will come along with lighter
skin than you. So it's right, and it's a logical argument. It's
not important an argument, right.It has nothing to do with the fundamental
nature of all men are created equals. Right. So I guess in that

(05:08):
he's trying to appeal to people forwhom the fundamental argument doesn't work. Yes,
but I think you and I wouldboth say that his argument is right,
but it's not the important one.Yeah, what he was doing,
he's poking holes in arguments that hadbecome popular among those who are trying to
defend slavery, and he's deflating thosearguments, saying, look, every one

(05:28):
of these arguments leads to a reallybad place. The alternative is abandon those
arguments and stand on the principles ofthe American founding. And this is a
big theme in my substack article.There is a contradiction in the United States
between the principles of the Declaration ofIndependence and the existence of slavery and I

(05:49):
say thank God for that contradiction,because that contradiction caused a necessary conflict over
slavery. Necessarily, growing numbers ofAmericans said, realize, this is wrong.
This practice is in direct conflict withour own founding principles. Contrasts that

(06:10):
with most regimes throughout history, theyweren't based on universal human equality, and
therefore most people never viewed slavery asa problem. They didn't see it as
a wrong that needed to be righted. They just saw it as something traditional.
And this is the peculiar thing aboutour political world, our culture today.

(06:31):
We have millions of Americans who thinkthe United States is the worst in
terms of racism and slavery and bigotryand white supremacy and all the injustices connected
with it. When we were thefirst to declare our independence on the true
principles of justice and then take decisiveactions within two generations at unbelievable costs,

(06:59):
costs that you and I and yourlisteners today really cannot imagine. The death
and the destruction of the American CivilWar, and we got rid of that
when other regimes let slavery exist notmerely for generations, but centuries and in
some cases for millennia, and itnever dawned on them. This is a
terrible problem, and we got toget rid of it. We got rid

(07:21):
of it in well to use Lincoln'sdating at Getty's very four score seven years
basically. Okay, So then tocome back where we started this. So
a listener says, Okay, youwere talking about slavery, and we agree
slavery is bad, and we're gladthat it's gone. But help this listener.
And maybe it's the same as thatlistener. I'm not sure I understand

(07:45):
why this is an important holiday today. Well, what it represents, I
mean, it's so in my substactpiece, I make an argument that's very
unpopular in the academic world. Veryfew historians, probably historians would agree with
me. I argue that the Americanfounding stretches from seventeen seventy six, that's
the year of the Declaration of Independence, all the way to eighteen sixty five.

(08:11):
That it's not this short little period, you know, around the Declaration
of the Constitution. That the realfounding of America required bringing the Constitution and
the laws of the United States inline with the Declaration of Independence, and
that didn't happen until eighteen sixty five. And eighteen sixty five, you know,
it's a fascinating period in American history. But there are three events that

(08:35):
really stand out. One is Leesurrendering to Ulysses Grant that effectively stops the
fighting of the war. And that'sApril April of eighteen sixty five. Okay,
June is June teenth. And what'simportant about June teenth is remember this
is before the age of telephones andcell phones and internet rate. News travels

(08:58):
slowly, communication travels slowly. Allthe way out there, Texas was the
westernmost part of the Confederacy, andGalveston's way way way down south. I
mean, it is almost like this. It's almost like a foreign land.
It's so far away. It tookthe Union Army marching all the way out
there to announce to those people,not only are you free, you've been

(09:22):
free for two and a half years. The President of the United States announced
that you were free two and ahalf years ago through Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
That is a joyous, incredible Imean, it's also tragic, right
these people have been living as slaveswhen legally they had been freed by this
proclamation, and they didn't know aboutit. No one of course told them

(09:43):
there are slave masters and drivers weren'tgoing to tell them about it. That
is this incredible moment of human dramathat we Americans should be celebrating. That's
the second event. So you haveApril, you have June in eighteen sixty
five, and finally, in December, Americans ratify the thirteenth Amendment to the
Constitution, formally legally constitutionally abolishing slaveryeverywhere in the United States. So I'm

(10:09):
gonna just myself here tackle one listenerquestion, because this came up a lot
when Congress was ratifying this holiday.And this listener says, no one's arguing
to keep slavery. It's the holiday, another unnecessary reason for federal employees to
not work. And I will say, you know, this doesn't have anything
to do with the principles around gettingrid of slavery. This did come up
as an issue when Congress was debating, and I so, first I will

(10:33):
say, I think this holiday isimportant enough that it overcomes that argument.
But I also think it's a legitimateargument. Right, many Americans work,
not all, but government gets anotherday off another paid holiday for government workers
and all we taxpayers have to paytheir salaries. And this is why Senator

(10:54):
Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, at thetime that Congress was debating whether it be
this national holiday, said yes,let's do this. This is a worthy
holiday, but let's eliminate another one, and he wanted to eliminate Columbus Day.
I would eliminate Columbus Day in aheartbeat. I'm not one of these
people who thinks like Columbus is theworst person who ever lived. I just
don't think we need a Columbus Dayholiday. Also, Columbus Day is a

(11:18):
holiday where typically businesses are open andthe government's closed. Sometimes banks are closed
too. I would add that it'salso not a uniquely American holiday, right
right. Yeah, So look,I think your argument that, you know,
it's annoying to add a holiday wheremany of us work and government workers
get another paiday off. It's alegit argument, but it's it's also kind

(11:39):
of a petty argument compared to theimportance of reminding people what Juneteenth means about
the United States side. Do youwant to add to that? Yeah,
I do, And I'll add this. I'm going to come out from exactly
the opposite angle. Okay, iffederal holidays mean government bureaucrats are not working,
then I'm in favor of adding twoor three hundred federal holidays because more

(12:00):
days they're not working are more daysthey're not harassing. That's a great point.
That's a great one, even ifwe're still paying. Now you understand
why Tom Cranhitter is so awesome.But okay, so Tom Crano witters substack
T cran a Witner. That's twoends and two ts. So t k
r A n n A w IT t e r T Cranewitter dot substack

(12:24):
dot com. But your your thename of your substack is ridiculously nerdy.
It is the nerdiest thing I haveever seen. And this is coming from
a nerd in my life. Sowhat is the title of your substack?
And why? Liberty Lyceum. That'snot that's not real difficult. What I'm

(12:45):
about liberty and and the Lyceum.I chose because that's both Aristotle school he
founded in ancient Greece. He calledit the lyceum, and it was uh.
There was a venue in the earlyUnited States where young people could practice
speaking. It was called the youngMen's Lyceum and Abraham Lincoln. That's where
Lincoln practice his public speaking skills wasat the young Men's I seem now the

(13:07):
subtitle is a little interesting. Itis z tetic questions for the Zeitgeistzegeist is
the spirit of our age. It'sthe culture we live in today's. It's
the movers and shakers, the peoplewho are shaping America today, the most
influential people. The tetic questions meansquestioning those in power, questioning those who

(13:28):
are authoritative. It's a synonym forSocratic questions, right, not just asking
random arbitrary questions, but asking questionsof those who claim to know the most,
putting people like I don't know AnthonyFaucci on the hot seat, right,
and pressing him direct questions did youfund the skin of this? All

(13:50):
of that kind of stuff. Thoseare zetetic questions, and the Zeitgeist means
those who are most shaping our culture, the most important influential people today.
And folks, if you just typein Krana Witner's last name Crano Witner with
two ends and two teas and substackinto the Google machine, Tom's subseycle come

(14:11):
up as the first thing and Iencourage you to subscribe to it. You
are welcome to subscribe for free.You are also welcome on a voluntary basis
to become a paid subscriber and supportTom's important work. Anything you want to
add to that. That's that soundsgreat. Okay, So I want to

(14:31):
switch gears with you here. Weare about five minutes left. Okay,
what do you think, as ascholar of the American Founding of today's situation
in American politics where we are twentyweeks away from an election between I'm putting
aside the third party candidates, betweenthe two major party candidates who both suck

(14:56):
so bad. They both don't careabout the Constitution, they both don't care
about federal spending. Sum are youknow? Trump's probably, you know,
in the aggregate, better on issuesthan Biden is, and a little bit
closer to the Constitution than Biden is. But when Trump is almost by accident,
almost by accident because he's a populistand he's not thinking about the Constitution.

(15:18):
So how should we think about thismoment for those of us who love
the American founding and the Constitution.Man, that's a tough question, Ross,
I'll tell you what concerns me themost when I look at the United
States today as a student of history, the moment in time that it reminds

(15:41):
me the most of that that's mostcomparable today are the late eighteen fifties.
In a late eighteen fifties are aterrifying moment in American history because the volume
keeps getting ratcheted up and up betweenthe people who abhor slavery, and when
I bring it to an end,instantly the people who are defending and justifying
it on with all kinds of ridiculousarguments, the kind of arguments Lincoln was

(16:03):
responding to. And they wouldn't listento each other, and both sides were
convinced that if only they shouted louder, that they could persuade the other,
change the other, And of coursewe know that it didn't happen. That
very much reminds me of the UnitedStates today, and we have these sort

(16:23):
of demagogic actors characters out there inour leading presidential candidates. They really are
cults of personality more than anything,and it's the exact dangerous situation the Founders
warned us against. One of themain arguments in the Federal's papers for adopting

(16:45):
the Constitution. And remember the authorsof the Federals, primarily Alexander Hamilton and
James Madison. Neither of them werethoroughly satisfied with the Constitution. The Constitution
was that, you know, ithad to get through a convention, right,
and it needed other people toreed.So it wasn't their ideal constitution,
but it was pretty good. Andone of the main arguments for adopting the

(17:07):
Constitution is that they wanted to institutionalizepolitical power in these constitutional institutions like a
Congress and a Supreme Court and apresidency, rather than individual leaders. You
know, visionary seers is the waythat Madison put it and warned us against.

(17:30):
And our politics has become almost entirelyunmored detached from the Constitution. There
are no discussions anymore of whether somethingis constitutional or not construted. I mean,
a few nerdy types like you werementioning Ron Johnson he might care about
whether a bill is constitutional or not, but not most members of Congress,

(17:52):
not most modern presidents of the UnitedStates. The Constitution only comes up when
it's a convenient political weapon, whenthey can use it to bash the other
side. Somehow, and so I'mdeeply worried. I'm deeply concerned about the
future of our country. Mandy Connawalked in. You you walked in as
if you like I wanted to dosomething on your mind. I wanted to
hear the rest of the interview.I was listening in my card. I

(18:14):
didn't want to be late for myshow and it's not playing in the hallways,
or I don't come in and bustit. Well, as long as
you've got Krann a winner here,do you have a question? Maybe you
know, I think that the sortof disagreement that this should be a holiday
is a solid one in the sensethat you just made like do we need
another federal holiday when everyone's at workexcept the government. But that being said,

(18:36):
I love the spirit of the holidaybecause if we are going to recognize
the sins of our age, thenwe should recognize the progress that comes along
with it. And nothing says progressmore than celebrating the absolute, finite end
of slavery in the United States ofAmerica. And that's what this holiday is.
And put those two things together,what makes the United States unique and

(18:57):
of all the regimes before the Americanfounding, is first we recognized our sins.
We said, yeah, this iswrong, this practice is wrong.
And then we took great strides andmade great efforts and risks, sacrificed much,
and we got rid of it.What a glorious thing we should be
celebrating. Instead, we have prizewinning national organizations like the sixteen nineteen Projects

(19:22):
and others right making a bunch ofmoney and gaining influence by slandering the United
States, by shaming the young,by saying shame shame on you Americans.
I. If you compare the UnitedStates to the standard of perfection, then
yes we fall short. If youcompare the United States to every other nation
of people in all of history,we're at the top. Show me any

(19:45):
group of people who did more,who acted more decisively, who sacrificed more.
Show me an example where more peoplefought and died to liberate others,
not to liberate themselves, but toliberate others than the the Americans did.
It is this amazing story. Americansshould talk more about it. We shouldn't
be ashamed of it. We shouldn'tbe embarrassed of it. We should be

(20:07):
quite proud. We should wear ashining light, a beacon to the rest
of the world. Tom Cranowitter's newestpiece on his substack is entitled Juneteenth,
a uniquely American holiday. Indeed itis. If you just go to the
Google machine and type in Krana Witterwith two n's and two t's, and
then substack, you will find this. Always great to have you in studio,
Tom, thanks to the rest ofyour holiday

The Ross Kaminsky Show News

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