Justice of the Peace Says Main Reason for Civil War Was Banks, Not Slavery (There’s More)

Michael G. Swingley, Helena Justice of the Peace

Swingley Angry About Plan to Add Educational Plaque Near Confederate Fountain
Upset over a discussion of a confederate fountain in Helena, a local Justice of the Peace has written an angry screed to city commissioners saying that the main reason the Civil War was fought was not slavery but rather “banks.”

Swingley, who is pictured above, also decrees that there are no race issues in Helena.  With no apparent awareness of the deep irony at work here, Swingley also makes it apparent that anything Arabic offends him greatly. He also says that white southerners “discovered” Helena. (Despite the fact that the many tribes who were the First Montanans had been here for generations.)

In a letter to city commissioners opposing a proposal to add some educational signage about slavery and the Civil War near a Confederate Fountain, Lewis and Clark County Justice of the Peace Michael G. Swingley writes:

Keep in mind that slavery was only one issue that caused the Civil War.  The largest portion was economic based war as the southern states wanted to separate and begin printing their own currency, and detach from the banks of the United States.

Swingley, who says, “That fountain is a symbol of success,” adds that:

There is no issue in Helena Montana with race wars, no Nazi White fundamentalist, no problems that raise issue to this ridiculous idea….Helena is a great place to live, with virtually no racism,

Swingley continues:

I request that you remove the Arabic writing from inside the Civic Center. It reminds me of the Arabic writing on the flag of ISIS and as 99.9% of the terrorist [sic] in the world have turned out to be Islamic fundamentalist [sic] and Arabic speaking, it offends me that Helena would allow such a symbol. I realize that the history of the Civic Center was that of a Masonic/Shriner’s temple, that aligned themselves [sic] with the far east and had a large Arabic influenced theme.  But if we are going to rewrite and ignore the facts of history, we need to be fair and remove that symbolism as that conflict is still active and Christians like me are being killed daily by Arabic speaking fundamentalist [sic] who show those characters on their flag.

Swingley appears to be displeased that Helena is having a conversation about race instead of the issues which concern him, including such important matters as overgrown shrubbery:

 My own children have to walk in the street to school because there are no sidewalks on Hauser Blvd where we live and the City has allowed the residents to landscape the city right of way to the point that you can’t even walk unless you are on the street.

You can read the entire letter Justice Swingley sends from his official Lewis and Clark County email account  here. 

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75 Comments on "Justice of the Peace Says Main Reason for Civil War Was Banks, Not Slavery (There’s More)"

  1. The more these people talk (or write) badly, the more they prove the deep-seated issues with race that are still so problematic, even in our little town. We might have our own miniature version of Judge Cebull here. Maybe the IR could look into that, when they’re not writing up slideshows about Helena history.

  2. A fascinating judicial temperament.

  3. While I would question the points Mike made about northern racism and the motives behind the secession of the south during the Civil War, upon reading the entire letter I found that the sections being painted as most disturbing in this article were taken grossly out of context. I fully understand Mike’s frustration with the city’s tendency to focus on optics issues over more pressing matters, like Helena’s serious methamphetamine and mental health crises. I’m disappointed by this publication’s attempt to paint an exceptionally competent man as a fool through intentional misinterpretation of his words.

    • Care to explain how is racist comments were taken out of context? I read the letter too. The racist comments against Arabs and equating all Arabs to terrorists is in a third “point.” The first two points were completely serious, and lacking in any sarcasm. The third point is the same way. While he might claim later but he was kidding, that certainly is not how the r The first two points were completely serious, and lacking in any sarcasm. The third point is the same way. While he might claim later but he was kidding, that certainly is not how the letter reads. The letter is a vitriolic rent, and the racist portions are not taken out of context in this post at all.

    • The guy may be your uncle, but he chose to sit down and type out words indicating that he is a bigot. There is no sarcasm in that letter — it is pretty obvious that he actually believes what he is saying when he equates all Arabs to terrorists. And he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt because he is a judge. There’s no reason any Arab person, or anyone who even “seems” Arab, should think they can get a fair shake in his court. Assurances from his niece don’t really cut it.

      • No really. That was sarcasm. I’m a pretty intense liberal and disagree with my family about a lot of things, but I’m not actively looking to distort a point just to find something to be riled over. His point was to illustrate the silliness of rewriting local history just to appease over sensitive people. That’s very clear.

        • Just because he was using the Arab writing in the Civic Center as an example to compare to what he viewed as an absurd act by the city commission doesn’t mean he is exempt from the bigotry and racism he displayed when he did so. In drawing those two comparisons, he evidenced clear by us in drawing those two comparisons, he evidenced clear bias. But no, despite the fact that he is a judge, let’s require Arabs to be in front of him in court because his niece says he’s OK.

          • Use of a Reductio ad Absurdum argument offers no evidence that the user actually holds to the ridiculous notions therein, save to those who the argument is directed at in the first place.

            • That isn’t necessarily true — false comparisons in a Reductio ad Absurdum argument can reflect the author’s biased thinking.

              • Yes they can. They also may not. That’s why Reductio’s are often considered fallacies, not because the truth value is indeterminate, but because the user’s intent is indeterminate.

      • I also note that you’re not using your name as you post your knowledge about my family ties.

        You must be very brave.

        • Let’s say for a second, that Swingley letter is poorly written sarcasm. The fact remains to me, and this is only my opinion, that it does seem to smack of Racism.

          Secondly as a white man he writes he sees no overt racism in Helena. I find it clearly lacking a black man or Arabs voice in this…. and since both parties mentioned in the last sentence– have been pummeled, and verbally attacked by the white man historically, we might never know their true feelings on this matter. Because the whole idea of racism is to keep them from speaking from their point of view.

          As Americans today we have to err on the side of diversity. So after I read the letter I found it offensive. I also feel it is offensive to take a white man’s view only about race.

          I can infer from articles I have read, from the perspective of blacks, and after consulting my two sons, who are black… Such a fountain is offensive to them and seeing crap like this isn’t in their best interests. It proves whites haven’t put the Idea of subjugating another color of people away. the civil war didn’t quite do its job.

          Michael my eldest son called these discussions without a black mans experience “Rusty chains looking for a black American’s leg to attach itself too”

          He reminded me of a town we use to live in called Pleasanton Ca., its history and name came from the civil war. There is still a number of places, underground were the Chinese, and blacks were forced to work and live in in the early 1900’s until dark. They were not supposed to be seen during the day. Oh they were free, to work and raise their families yet forbidden to stand in the sun and breath in fresh air, because of the color of there skin.

          And that town in those days always said it didn’t have a race problems either.

          Thats what this conversation yesterday and today reminds me of. The old Pleasanton…. and yet Pleasanton managed to evolve into one of the finest examples of diversity today. unlike this conversation

          As for the Arab writing, it should stay!

          • Micael Searalika | July 13, 2015 1:38 AM at 1:38 AM |

            How do Montanans say they have no racism in the state?

            Didn’t you subject massacres upon the red mans race? Didn’t whites in Montana do everything in their power, to kill off as many Indians as possible before pushing them on 13 reservations to die? Didn’t you whites give them blankets infected with small Pox and measles to make them sick? force the children of Montana Indians into religious boarding schools to change their religion? Didn’t you steal as much of their terrestrial home as humanly possible?

            Yeah, your distant relatives at the start of the Montana territories were some Racist SOB’S…..Haven’t you also tried to erase black Montanan’s history as well? Of course you have!!

            So you don’t see many black men in your state anymore.

            They came into Montana to help build roads, preserve parks like Yellowstone and Glacier with the conservation corps in the mid 1930’s.

            They were treated pretty much the same in Montana as Jim Crow laws treated them in the south. Only 1 of 200,000 blacks in the CC was given an administrative role. the bosses were all white. The blacks were segregated from white workers, but payed equally to whites… more than the American Indians who worked with the CC in Montana and South Dakota. Most of those red men who worked got little or no pay, just a place to sleep and three meals a day for 6 months. Little more than slaves in Montana themselves.

            Your vision and history of other races in your state is limited to your color of white and your color only.

            The first fur trading fort was built by a black man in Montana on the Yellowstone river by the name of Edward Rose.

            None of you whites did that.

            The American Fur Co., owned by blacks was the first to build Ft. Benton on the Upper Missouri River deep in Blackfeet country. Wonder why no one talks of their Pioneer spirit?

            In 1866 Haitian-born barber Samuel Lewis settled in Bozeman where he erected several other businesses, besides barbering. His own home, in Bozeman, is on the National Register of Historic Places. But erased from the white man take on blacks in their history

            IN 1870 183 Blacks lived in what was called Montana Territory (20,595 total population); 43% reside in Helena with 10.4% & 8.9% residing in Virginia City & Ft. Benton, respectively…. etc etc etc.

            Bet you don’t know that Montana history, let alone even celebrate it. You celebrate Lewis and Clark but not “York” the black slave who traveled through Montana with them.

            Or Isaiah Dorman, a U.S. Black Army interpreter, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Does anyone mention him?

            How about Black man Charles “Smoky” Wilson, a Crow language field interpreter at Ft. Custer & later who served in various federal government capacities at the Crow Agency for the remainder of his life in Montana.

            What about Mattie Bost? She gets married to a white freighter John Castner in Helena. They reportedly build the first cabin in Belt which evolves into a hotel, restaurant & stage station. she later operates a good sized cattle ranch. No? you don’t recall that Black pioneer woman either?

            None of those Blacks who contributed to Montana’s history would ever have liked to see a Confederate Fountain Built in Helena anymore than I would. Its a reminder of how montana has treated the blackman in this state….That’s a black man’s perspective of you white montana who thinks the civil war was of no consequence.

            Not only did you try and kill the indigenous people of this state. You spent a lot of time also burying the black mans history in this state as well.

            (Snark)White Montanans racist???? Not a chance.

            Lastly, and off topic… Have any of you seen Rob Kailey’s Blog. Not only has he trashed my Mother for the last four years on his site, he now trashes the Moderator of Cowgirl as well.

            If you don’t want to look… I will post it for you here, his exact words:”

            MT Intemperance is completely fucking out of control. Off the reservation. A fucking loon.”

            Now you can see why Moderation was needed with People, the likes of him as a commenter at Cowgirl!

            I guess I have to start posting again. I can’t promise to be here all the time because I still serve in the Marines. You know, protecting Americans outside our great country regardless of their color… but I will try because you need a black mans prospective in that state of Montana….badly.

            • Micael,

              Thanks for the Link!
              Poor guy. Seems to project his shortcomings,
              and not even realize it!
              Worse yet, he got used to being rewarded,
              for Posting hate speach!

              • No, Bob wasn’t trying to pick a fight at all …

                • Right Rob
                  i was not picking a fight.
                  I was responding to Micael’s Post,
                  as on old person might to a Marine!

                  Just a thankyou line,
                  and four short lines to welcome him back
                  and hopefully help him understand a bit more
                  of your years of text attacks on his mother.

                  So I offered Micael some old duffer talk,
                  also to see if he could understand my language,
                  and help me sometimes see a bigger picture.

                  • See Mr. Kailey this is a problem with you. You believe he was talking about you, and you can’t just let go…. Can you?

                    Maybe you should just stop speaking to Bob as well and stay on topic. This: “I have to have the last word” Commenting style isn’t amusing anymore. Last Warning.

            • Micael, your comment is appreciated, even by those you don’t like. I posted today how you have a valid reason for anger that I agree with, not that you need my agreement, though I remain unconvinced it should be directed at me.

              The issues between your mother and I should likely remain between your mother and I. If she is the person you see her as being, then nothing I can say will ‘hurt’ her, will it?

    • This man is doing an outstanding job, ALL BY HIMSELF, of looking foolish.

  4. Louis N. Klarke | July 10, 2015 5:46 AM at 5:46 AM |

    Yes, JP Mike, lets not forget it was the jewish bankers of the north that brought dishonor and shame upon the south for what was nothing more than the benign and benevolent business practices of the freedom loving southern gentlemen.

    No doubt he’s exceptionally competent, so much so that there would appear to be a very bright future in politics for him. He should throw his hat in the ring for governor where he could lead the nation in outlawing sharia and saving Montanan’s from old men wearing silly hats marching in parades.

    Better yet, maybe he could join Trump’s national dialog on race?

  5. It’s concerning that a judge holds these kinds of beliefs about people. I would question his ability to be impartial with views like this. Didn’t Cebull have to resign after his racist emails and bigoted views were disclosed?

  6. Dissing the person can lead to missing our big picture!
    There’s a large and possibly growing number of people in Montana,
    with broadly reinforced negative emotions about Islamic practises and peoples.
    Talk with them. Get beyond shunning. Get beyond phobia of Islam/phobias.

    • Please, that would require putting down the torches and pitchforks. And then what? Do you really want to see this blog go a couple days without any “news?”

      Issues like this fountain are important. They give those with nothing to do something to do. They feel like they’re helping, changing the dialogue, moving the country forward. Getting rid of all vestiges of that flag or that Confederate idea is the way to go. When that happens, we won’t need to worry about any more shootings. That’s great, because so many seem to be alienated by the idea of gun control. Now we don’t have to worry about that – by getting rid of the confederate flag, that will never happen again.

      It’s good we’re talking about these things. Now that the Helena fountain will have a new plaque, I’m sure the overt racism I experience every time I visit that town will be gone. Wow, that’s a relief – it was really bothering me.

      I’d also like to add that I’m extremely happy we never had to talk about the immense amounts of poverty and ignorance that young shooter lived with. I mean, I for one never thought that his 8th grade education was the reason for his ideas, and I never believed that his lack of work or purpose in life ever would lead to what he did. And to talk about the drugs he was talking? I’m thankful our corporate and Big Pharma controlled media never had to look under that stone. We all know it was the flag, and I’m thankful we never went off on any red herrings that might have distracted us from the real issues.

      Thank God for this site and the wisdom it espouses. We should all be thankful for that, and how it moves our state forward.

      • I think in the future you should note when you are using sarcasm, Greg. There are readers here who might not understand.

        • Was just gonna say, but you nailed it.

        • I honestly view this as no different from George W. Bush telling us to go shopping after 9/11. We could have changed then, too, but instead we went off on a wild goose chase. We had the world with us, and we could have done anything. But we were told to go shopping.

          We could have looked at poverty, lack of education, our insatiable need for drugs, and even gun control. But we chose to look at this flag instead. I think it’s a tragedy, I really do.

      • Mr. Strandberg, this is your first Warning!

        Is this like the umpteenth time you have bashed this blog? Is it time to say, if you dont like it here, to stay on your own piece of the internet?

        Why yes it is.

        Please refrain from bashing this blog in the future or you might find your comments edited out of existence. Capiche?

        Frankly we would like to give others here a chance to comment first as well.

  7. Hmmm. Seems to me that a large portion of terrorist acts in the US are by white wing Christians.

    • Therefore, by this Justice of the Peace’s logic, we should remove all signs of the English language from public places.

  8. The South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas petitions to secede from the Union prior to the Civil War. The only economic issues presented in these petitions are ones where non-slave holding states wouldn’t return “property” to the slave holding states. All references and grievances are in regard to maintaining slavery. No mention of banks. After reading these it would take some pretty convoluted and twisted “reasoning” to believe the Civil War was about anything BUT slavery. http://civilwarcauses.org/reasons.htm#SouthCarolina

    • This seems to be the meme from the right these days: the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. The Missoulian printed a letter today that mimics Swingley’s talking points.

      “It is phenomenal that most people now think that the U.S. Civil War was all about slavery.”

      Talk about revisionist history! Slavery was exactly what the Civil War was about. Here’s the entire letter:

      http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/american-history-don-t-bury-mt-ties-to-south/article_deecda89-cef7-5b0c-bca6-2adc86f13008.html

      • The thing is, even it wasn’t exactly about slavery, that still doesn’t absolve the South from the sin of slavery. Swingley maligns racists as being ‘neo-nazis’ but if you think about it the second world war was not about the ‘Jewish Problem’ or the ‘Final Solution’. For the Germans it really was about economics and land. But still we abhor the nazis for their amoral racism that happened during the war, just as we should abhor the Confederates for their amoral racism. Denying that the war was about slavery doesn’t get them off the hook.

      • Shackling the mystic chords of history to thesis driven pronouncements only demonstrates the failings of real understanding while hobbling the ability to progress forward.

        If not for slavery, would the southern states still have found cause to issue ordinances of secession with only timing being the variable?

        • Your saying, Craig, that the South would have pushed secession without the matter of slavery? Seriously?

          • Hi Rob, When someone seemingly immediately swoops in and responds negatively to every single comment someone else makes, it comes across as bullying, and yes, it would be better to stop. Thank you very much, Cowgirl

            • Such public admonition comes across as selectively defensive. I can’t remember when Norma has done otherwise than respond negatively every time to my comments when she has responded. It’s your shop, and I respect that you make the rules and apply them as you choose.

          • I wonder, Pete. The southern colonies had developed culturally different from the North long before the Civil War. Bringing those colonies together to loosely act in concert was the original Articles of Confederation. Anything more centralized and United States wound not have been born. The South viewed our national government as a body to complement rather than impose “northern law” upon them in their “sovereign borders.” An imperfect example today would be the European Union.

            • That “northern law” would be the abolition of slavery. And “an imperfect example” is an understatement.

              • Actually “northern law” such as The Tariff of Abominations that protected northern manufacturers at the expense of southerners who purchased European goods. No one thing but rather the cumulative effect of laws that benefited one region over another. http://history1800s.about.com/od/1800sglossary/g/Tariff-Of-Abominations.htm

                • Craig, these laws were instituted because of slavery. no one wanted goods pick by the subjugation of another, the south had absolutely no industry in place except for raw goods.

                  “It is difficult for modern Americans to understand such militant commitment to the bondage of others. But at $3.5 billion, the four million enslaved African Americans in the South represented the country’s greatest financial asset.

                  And the dollar amount does not hint at the force of enslavement as a social institution. By the onset of the Civil War, Southern slaveholders believed that African slavery was one of the great organizing institutions in world history, superior to the “free society” of the North.”

                  From the Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/what-this-cruel-war-was-over/396482/

                  The slaveowners mindset at that time was completely against Industry, as it might empower not only the intelligent black but the poor white.

                  From an 1856 issue of Alabama’s Muscogee Herald:

                  “Free Society! we sicken at the name. What is it but a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, filthy operatives, small-fisted farmers, and moon-struck theorists? All the Northern men and especially the New England States are devoid of society fitted for well-bred gentlemen. The prevailing class one meet with is that of mechanics struggling to be genteel, and small farmers who do their own drudgery, and yet are hardly fit for association with a Southern gentleman’s body servant. This is your free society which Northern hordes are trying to extend into Kansas.”

                  They thought themselves above the fray, they thought themselves royalty

                  • Nothing could be further from the truth but I will leave it there given your special protected status as advised by CG.

  9. In the laste 50’s I was in two sequenced American History courses, in two colleges 2,000 miles apart. By then, study of build up to Civil War was already monopolized by sociology,
    and very, very revised. Like much study about all contributing forces of socio-economic society BUT slavery rarely even quantified,studied.

    Please consider Posts about what experienced with recent classes in American History of Civil War. That would be valuable news indeed!

  10. for someone who professes to hate this site so much I do find it interesting that your comments appear under nearly every post…

  11. I have to admit, having studied the American Civil War fairly extensively, the idea that it was “about” currency and banks is really kind of a new one to me. That the Confederacy wanted to create their own currency separate from the Federal Reserve is not a mystery, but that it caused the war? That doesn’t wash.

    However, it seems that many want to boil all of this talk about the “about” of the Civil War down to either/ors. There were many causes for it, and yes, they all boiled down to a slave economy in the Southern states of a representatively democratic nation expanding too quickly. The South had been accommodated in their delusion since before the writing of Jefferson’s little Declaration of war. When they felt that the demands of a majority of free-states would begin to dictate their economy to them, they did what they saw their forefathers do against the British. They took their ball and went home, declared themselves free of majority oppression. Regardless of how outrageous the morality of slavery is, the ‘states rights’ argument has a good amount of weight to it, specifically because the North was complicit in that moral sin until 1860. The Constitution itself, ratified by the Southern states, accommodated slavery, and an executive order (after the South had split) to end it. That is the simple view, but it is as one commenter called it, ‘realism’.

    All of that is history. It’s not a re-write or a distraction. It’s what happened. Startlingly, though, many people seem to equate a legal structure with racism, and want to blame only a particular bunch of folk for that. I suggest that many if not most in the ante-bellum North were just as racist as the Southerners they subsequently defeated, and they did so to protect the Union of states, not out a deep seated love of diversity. Please note that black slaves never got any acres or mules when the war was over. Again, that’s history.

    Human beings possess amazing cognitive abilities and one of them is this: we can understand and even sympathize with a thought, opinion or ideal without accepting or condoning it as our own. It appears to me that some “possess” ideals so strongly that they forget others can do that too, and become outraged at the idea of disagreement. They rail against the very notion that they can be disagreed with. It also strikes me that when that happens, humans confuse the legal and historical with moral opinion, and self-righteousness becomes the order as opposed to the aberration. Not all people who understand what the Civil War was “about” are racists or defending racism, in any way. Most certainly, not all opinions are informed in the same way. By my thinking, that should be a call to educate folks instead of derided and blaming and turning them into monsters. What brought down the Confederate battle flag, a true symbol of racism, this morning and sent it to a museum was not shaming people and blaming them for history. It was rather growth of understanding, and representative democracy working as it should. That was diversity in action.

    Greg, having now been warned by our comment overlord, is right to call out those packing pitchforks and fire. This is Montana. We weren’t even a state until well after the Civil War was over. If we have a racial problem, and I personally think we do, no *demands* for diverse voice or erasure of past is going to lead to a solution. No solution at all will be found in discussing what the Civil War was “about” without the distinction and acceptance of what the Nation was about when institutional racism was written into our Constitution. Blaming heathen redneck Southerners certainly won’t do it. Claiming that anybody who doesn’t jump on the PC bandwagon won’t do it. Pointing to a Helena justice screaming “burn the witch!” absolutely won’t do it. Forcing people to accept a particular view is not a path to follow in a democracy. James Conner in his post today is correct. Solutions come with better education.

    (My ‘beliefs’ for the record directed at the Ad Hominem crowd: Slavery is evil, racism is wrong, the Civil War was fought because the practice of slavery made it inevitable, no one person’s opinion requires a diverse counter-point, and I don’t really care if you like my commenting here or not.)

    • Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • hmm the subject of the sin of slavery is above Posted, and Christianity is soon forgotten by turning away from the sins of slavery, while long viewing in a cave dark reflections of many static figures and caricatures. Some of them breathing out fire, with pitchfork in hand.

        Truly a long teaching about straw men with pitchforks,
        followed by a texted, perhaps emphasized, form of the word AMEN.

        What the hell happened? An on-line sermonette. Followed by free expression of a personal nature, by a text variation on the term AMEN. Maybe nothing more than that!

        Much, much more important are the community experiences of realism
        while reading/understanding many of the above inclusive disclosive informative Posts!

        Those are the Posts i’m still chewin on!

        • Don’t fret, Bob, your monsters will still be there for you in the morning.

          • Mr. Kailey you have been told to stop Bullying, that means everybody.Second warning.

            • I am extremely, honestly and sincerely confused. Bob has baited disagreement, needlessly “attempting to start an argument” in your parlance, an argument with me several times now in multiple threads, and I’m to blame for “bullying” posting a toss off response? Are you actually serious?

              • I see no attempt to start a argument Mr. Kailey from Bob Williams. He named no one in particular. It seemed a thought out loud. Please reavaluate your answers on this blog to people.

            • Craig Moore you have been banned, until you send a letter of apology to Cowgirl. She hired me to moderate and stop the attacks on commenters here….. and also to help keep the conversations civil.

              • To clarify; my 7/11 comment was more than a thought out loud. I was trying to work forward with the valuable comment about the sin of slavery.

                How odd it was obviously overlooked. No AMEN to that!

              • Drunks for Denny | July 13, 2015 9:52 PM at 9:52 PM |

                This is a sorry state of affairs. While I believe Craig to be a shill for the Republican party and disagree with about 90% of his posts, he has always been respectful of other posters. I see nothing uncivil in his remarks in this thread. This, coupled with lame accusations against the Flathead GOP in the LGBLT thread, shows an alarming deterioration in the quality of the content of this site.

                • His comments were okay until he decided to be nuisance to the moderator. So he gets a sit-down to cool off…. all he has to do is apologize.

    • Drunks for Denny | July 10, 2015 10:36 PM at 10:36 PM |

      Nicely stated. Good work.

  12. Well said, and indeed the North had troops motivated to fight to PRESERVE the Union, not so much to sacrifice themselves for slavery. Watch the brilliant and moving film ‘Glory’ and it brings it home vividly, and also ‘Lincoln’ for primers. Both movies far more accurate than the travesty of ‘Birth of a Nation’ which was brilliant propaganda by the ‘Lost Cause’ (cant’ get over it) fanatics who perpetuated Jim Crow and the KKK and white citizens councils.

    • I would also suggest watching “Amistad”, if for no other reason than Anthony Hopkins and his portrayal of John Quincy Adams. There are historical inaccuracies, such as that many in the North felt a civil war was inevitable (they didn’t). However, in his on screen oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Adams points out that cases of violence tend to erupt when people have what they see as their rights and liberties taken from them, foreshadowing the disgruntled Southern states. In his very real life, John Q. Adams had come to the conclusion late in his life that a war was inevitable, and frequently expressed disappointment in his father and his father’s rival/friend Thomas Jefferson, that such eloquent men were unable to deny the right to own people as the Declaration of Independence suggested.

      For historical clarity, it is worth noting that 12 American presidents owned slaves at some point in their lives, including 10 of the first 12 (the exceptions being the strongly abolitionist John Adams and his equally abolitionist son, John Quincy Adams). That list also includes Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, and General Ulysses S. Grant, admittedly before the Emancipation Proclamation. There you have it, the Father of our Country, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the author of the Constitution and the Hero of the Civil War, all slave holders.

      In truth, that’s why I find John Adams and his son so fascinating. They were the politically incorrect voices of their time.

  13. The flag that was taken down in Columbia SC was put there in (I think) 1961. It was explicitly racist in that it was in defiance of racial integration and political efforts toward civil rights legislation. It had little to do with what caused the Civil War.

  14. Why oh why do we have JPs without at LEAST a BA? It is so typical of people like this whose sole education outside high school was at the Law Enforcement Academy. At least if he had a degree in sociology/criminology he might have been exposed to some education about race/ethnicity, gender, class, and other subjects that might have a bearing on his job as JP, as well as a U.S. history course which might have required some actual study and attention, as well as learning the rudiments of critical thinking.

  15. We need to do something before it’s too late.

    “Seven people were killed this morning when a Confederate flag walked into an Alabama shopping mall and started shooting.

    According to local reports, the flag entered Cherrywood Mall outside Huntsville armed with two AK-47 assault rifles, a P 228 handgun and several grenades. It immediately proceeded to unload its ordinance on unsuspecting shoppers.

    In addition to those killed, 23 people were injured and are currently being treated in area emergency rooms. Several are in critical condition and not expected to survive.

    The flag’s motivations are uncertain at the moment. However, according to witnesses the flag did specifically target White people with Northern accents.

    “The flag chased us down the hallway screaming ‘Die, Yankees Die!’, says Justin Anderson, an aeronautical engineer originally from New Hampshire. “Luckily flags don’t move very fast, so my girlfriend and I managed to outrun it.”

    Lucy Patterson, a homemaker from New Jersey wasn’t so lucky. Both her legs were blown off when the flag lobbed a hand grenade at her feet.

    “It looked straight into my eyes, pulled the pin, and threw a deathball my way,” she says. “It was so cold-blooded. Almost as if it weren’t human.”

    Shortly thereafter the flag turned the gun on itself, shooting itself in the pole several times. Rushed to Huntsville Beth-Israel Medical Center, it was pronounced dead on arrival.

    Confederate flags have increasingly been committing mass shootings in the South. Although retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon have belatedly banned their sale, the existing stockpile of flags should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

    “It’s a real tragedy,” says Bret Michaels, the CEO of retailer Wal-Mart, “We should have stopped selling Confederate flags sooner. Think of how many flag-on-human shootings we could have prevented.””-The Daily Current.

  16. SophieBlue – JP’s are bound by statute. Period. While it would be nice to have higher educated individuals in all facets of government I am more than happy with one who just does their job and follows the laws of the State.

    • JPs are are better equipped to follow the law if they have degrees in law, have been admitted to the practice of law, and are members of the bar in good standing. That’s a reasonable minimum requirement.

      Our present qualification for JPs, more or less shared by many states, is a holdover from frontier times that ought to be retired.

  17. Jewish Princess | July 13, 2015 9:23 PM at 9:23 PM |

    This is terrifying. How can he be a judge? How can he be so stupid? *Goes on a racist tirade, finishes with “There is no racism in this city.”* WTF????????

    I suggest the commissioners focus on getting rid of this guy.

  18. I read Michael Swingley’s letter. I disagree with some of what he had to say, but I can understand his frustrations. I disagree in part with how Montana Cowgirl has presented its criticism of what he wrote, particularly in using his unpolished writing skills to poke a finger in his eye. That ain’t right. My point, nonetheless, is to say I have heard at various times and places here in our state during the past decade astounding derogatory comments made about Black people. These comments erupted most cruelly when Barack Obama first ran for election to the presidency, and they have continued, even by a federal judge in Billings. It is deeply troubling to know there are fellow Montanans who hold hateful opinions about others because they are different, racially or otherwise. You would think bigotry would go away as the older generations die off, but hate finds its way. I wonder who taught South Carolina killer Dylann Roof to hate Black people? His middle name is Storm. How ironic.

  19. Mr. Connor: What attorney is going to take a JP position in a rural county that pays roughly 40-45 thousand dollars a year? Would it be good to have a degree holding JP? Sure. Is it realistic based upon the financial strain on counties and the judiciary? Not even close.

    • Find a way to pay more. Or get rid of the office of justice of the peace.

      • Neither is a realistic possibility at this point in time. County budgets are already incredibly tight. The state can’t afford to assume them as they don’t have the money to take care of the district courts to the extent that it needs to be. As I’m sure we both realize, it’s easy to complain about things but considerably harder to make an effective change that benefits the public. Getting rid of the JP will not in any way improve the judiciary in this state anx would in fact create an undue burden on other departments that are already struggling.

    • Exactly James, every county in this state has the use of Traveling Judges. JP’s in the state are not all lawyers either. which can be a problem in itself…. The problems are broader than just JP’s.

      Take the medical examiner job for Montana as a for-instance. They should pay more and yet they can’t with the conservative view on Taxation. Part of Property taxes go to paying for a JP police force, County employees, etc….

      Montana unfortunately is gonna have to start looking at other forms of Taxation soon. and Montanas legislature needs to get in and help with this. we are pretty far behind the rest of the nation in bringing in the best people for the jobs.

      There is a finite amount of good people who come here for the state’s natural beauty. and you’re gonna lose those people if the conservatives keep trying to allow Corporations in to trash the state, without better environmental protocols. Actually a lot of the states problems stem from under enforcement of current law as it is.

      The balancing act of our economy in this state should be more like a checkbook and less of JP Morgan Bookkeeping. So far we have been better than most states, but how long will that last if we keep allowing Mining companies in instead of Tech and renewable?

  20. EugeneInSanDiego | July 21, 2015 5:14 PM at 5:14 PM |

    By his expression, Mr.Swingley appears to be constipated; some fiber in his diet might help, but probably it is the indigestible faux history southerners – along with Mr. Swingley and his ilk – have been serving up in the hope that we are all too stupid to access the huge amount of historical documentation from confederate officials (traitors all!) that absolutely nails the cause of secession to slavery.

    Just look at the Declarations of Causes for the secessionist states.

    Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor (Slaves) supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.”

    Georgia’s declaration of secession mentions slavery thirty-six times – they cite the fugitive slave law that required escaped slaves found in all non slave states to be returned to their captors – they excoriate the unfairness of the prohibition of slavery in territory taken in the Mexican war and conclude with this:

    “Because by their (The Federal Government, in other words) declared principles and policy they have outlawed
    $3,000,000,000 of our property (Slaves in other words) in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and out of the protection of Federal law everywhere”…(They wanted to create more slave states).

    “Because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society (End slavery that is) and subject us not only to the loss of our property (Slaves again) but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides. To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquility (War in other words – because of slavery).

    “The Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union” stated: “Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and
    liberty (For whites) to her people. . . . She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as Negro slavery – the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits – a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race (After they betrayed their oath of allegiance to Mexico, because of slavery, that is. Treason clearly runs in Texan veins.) of, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy.”

    State by state all of the secessionist states mention, directly or indirectly, the Fugitive Slave Law, they all identify the free labor of slavery to be the main source of their economy and even pronounce slavery to be an absolute moral good They cite the refusal of free states to allow more slave states to be created and the danger to themselves from freed slaves, who would seek surely seek revenge against the great favor that had been granted them by being rescued from savagery and godlessness and then forced to work for free by the great Christian White Race.

    And finally:
    Alexander H. Stephens, the Confederate vice President said:
    “Our new government is founded upon . . . its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition.”

    Mr. Swingley is either deliberately falsifying history for political advantage, or he is an unrepentant racist.

    EugeneInSanDiego

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