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The Left’s Historically Ignorant Attack on Greg Brannon

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Thanks to North Carolina Senate Candidate Dr. Greg Brannon recently acquiring frontrunner status among the Republican candidates gunning for Senator Kay Hagen’s seat in 2014, left wing media outlets have predictably started with their attacks. Among the attacks levied against Brannon, one that is likely to reoccur throughout his candidacy is his stance on nullification. That is, his belief that states can declare unconstitutional federal laws null and void. The left is up in arms over the fact that a leading senatorial candidate could believe this. Of course, in order to convince the rest of the country of the horror of nullification, they must invent historical accounts that never actually happened.

A recent column from liberal website Mother Jones cites a nullification rally Brannon spoke at in October, 2013. The article then claims:

The nullification rally he cosponsored and addressed was designed to make the case that nullification is “the path forward for those who love liberty”—and not only a tool that historically was used to support slavery and racial segregation.

One must conveniently ignore the historical facts when making a statement like this. Clearly that is what Mother Jones would want us to do. When actually examining history, a different story is revealed.

The claim that nullification was used to support slavery is blatantly false. It really doesn’t even make sense to begin with. Since no federal anti-slavery laws existed before the Civil War, slave states never had to resist any federal laws that interfered with their ability to own slaves. In fact, nullification was used by the northern states to nullify The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This was the Supreme Court decision that required that slaves be returned to their masters after they has escaped to non-slave states. In fact, when the state of South Carolina seceded from the union, one of the grievances it cited was the northern state’s continued nullification of this federal level decision.

Unsurprisingly, the Mother Jones article doesn’t provide any links to any evidence that nullification was used in this way (it does provide other links to criticize Brannon on other issues). Rather, it provides links to the nullification event, called Nullify Now!, in which Brannon spoke. The only mention of slavery is in the description of the event where it states:

The mainstream wants you to believe that Nullification
was used to support slavery. This is either ignorance or a lie. Hear
the heroic story of nullification being used to reject federal slave
laws in the 1850s.

Perhaps if readers of this article are able to think for themselves, they might wonder why the only link mentioning how slavery relates to nullification rejects the author’s misguided assertion. After all, if evidence really did exist of state nullification being used to support slavery, wouldn’t there be a link to that rather than the nullification event whose website specifically denied this claim? Alas, I’m probably giving frequenters of motherjones.com far too much credit.

Mother Jones is not the only left wing media outlet blasting Brannon over his embrace of a state’s ability to nullify. An MSNBC panel led by notorious race hustler Al Sharpton expressed similar outrage over the issue. After identifying Brannon as the leading senate candidate in North Carolina and informing his viewers of Brannon’s attendance at the Nullify Now! event, Sharpton then implored his guests to comment on this. First up was liberal talk show host Bill Press, who delivered this gem:

I’m glad you used that word nullification …… because this really takes me back …… to 1860 when John Calhoun of South Carolina came up with this doctrine of nullification which is we don’t have to follow the laws if we don’t believe in them.

The timing is just a bit off, isn’t it? Obviously northern states couldn’t be nullifying federal slave laws in the 1850’s (see above) if nullification was invented by John Calhoun in 1860.

So how far back does nullification go back in American history? Well, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison said in 1798 that the states were “duty bound” to resist the federal government if it went beyond their constitutional authority. Clearly the idea that nullification was invented by a southern secessionist just prior to the Civil War has no basis in reality.

Next up on Sharpton’s panel was columnist Cynthia Tucker. When she was asked why the Republican leadership doesn’t denounce the nullification rhetoric that comes from those like Brannon, Tucker responded by saying:

They’re afraid to go after this rhetoric because they have too many constituents who cheer that rhetoric on. And they have a whole right wing media machine that says the same kinds of things. And you know they’re scared to death of Red State’s Erick Erickson, they’re scared to death of Rush Limbaugh. And Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson are the very types who are out their cheering this kind of thing on.

Let’s try for a reality check. Nullification has not made it into the mainstream of conservative talk radio or websites. The Heritage Foundation resists it regularly. You never hear about it on The Rush Limbaugh Show unless Professor Walter Williams (a black man no less) is filling in for him. And even then, the concept is met with skepticism amongst the right.

The fun thing about all of this is that it’s still so early in the campaign and Brannon’s frontrunner status is still pretty fresh. Who knows what outright falsehoods his enemies will come up with in the near future. But i do know one thing, it will be interesting for those of us who know the truth.

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