A recurring feature in the Washington Post's weekly Outlook section is a column devoted to "Five myths about" a particular topic.
The feature for January 9 -- "5 myths about why the South seceded" -- happened to address a timely historical topic considering this year marks the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the U.S. Civil War.
Yet the author, sociologist James W. Loewen, couldn't resist the opportunity to lump modern-day Republicans and conservatives with non-slaveholding whites in the antebellum South who may have aspired to slaveholding.
Addressing the myth that "Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, so they wouldn't secede for slavery," Loewen argued that:
...Americans are wondrous optimists, looking to the upper class and expecting to join it someday. In 1860, many subsistence farmers aspired to become large slave-owners. So poor white Southerners supported slavery then, just as many low-income people support the extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy now.
It's pretty clear that the liberal author worked in a gratuitous and in this case despicable partisan attack line for either the amusement of the paper's mostly liberal audience or the annoyance of any conservatives reading, or both.
But in so doing, Loewen cheapened his argument and undermined his own credibility by lumping conservatives of any socioeconomic level with supporters of slavery, an immoral and unjust system antithetical to the core beliefs of economic conservatives.
If the Post wants the "Five myths about" feature to be popular with readers, it would do well to avoid giving the task to writers who set out to defame a significant portion of the American body politic in the process.