May 21, 2004

On the Care and Feeding of Copperheads

The American Copperhead is a North American poisonous snake renowned for striking without warning.

It's also a political label:

The Copperheads were a group of Northern Democrats who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement. They were also called Peace Democrats. They were against emancipation, formed groups to persuade Union soldiers to desert, and helped Confederate prisoners of war escape. The name Copperheads was given to them by Republicans, explicitly comparing them to venomous snakes that strike without warning.

I'd previously noted that there's a delicate balance between labeling members of the loyal opposition too harshly and letting people get away with disloyalty, hiding behind the skirts of honest opponents. The encyclopedia article really provides a good working definition. Copperheads self label as Peace Democrats, seeking a cut and run, pull out end to the war. They don't want to liberate the muslims or arabs and may be self-interested in doing so or bigots who do not subscribe to the general american proposition that all men are created equal.

At the same time, we need to do better than Lincoln, who suspended habeus corpus and arrested Copperheads to influence an election. The nation survived but the incident is rightly viewed as a blot on our national honor. We must not fall into that trap again.

Posted by TMLutas at May 21, 2004 09:26 AM