One from Ta-Nehisi Coates

Looking forward to reading his new book. David Brooks was not so pleased with it. I think one commenter (Timmy) was onto something when s/he said that Coates's book could not "penetrate David's heavily fortified worldview":
For Brooks, it all comes down to “individual choices.” It is what permits Brooks to willfully ignore Coates’ revelations of the structural problems of violence, poverty, and prejudice that plague the nation. 
I don't necessarily agree with Timmy on this as I think Brooks's points are worth more consideration than that, but I was interested to think that so many of today's polemics are subsumed under the problem of free will. From what I've read of Brooks, he certainly is concerned more than most about "individual choices", which is a line of argument I'm used to hearing conservatives make. Is he then held to a firm belief in free will, whereas those concerned more with the effects of "structural" forces are held to a theory of determinism?

I cannot shake the feeling that underlying this debate is a more abstract philosophical one going back to the Stoics.

But anyway, for now, on Ulysses S. Grant:

Here is an excerpt from Grant's writing that Coates has quoted.
There was a time when slavery was not profitable, and the discussion of the merits of the institution was confined almost exclusively to the territory where it existed. The States of Virginia and Kentucky came near abolishing slavery by their own acts, one State defeating the measure by a tie vote and the other only lacking one. But when the institution became profitable, all talk of its abolition ceased where it existed; and naturally, as human nature is constituted, arguments were adduced in its support. The cotton-gin probably had much to do with the justification of slavery. 
And also.
Mr. Buchanan had in his cabinet two members at least, who were as earnest--to use a mild term--in the cause of secession as Mr. Davis or any Southern statesman. One of them, Floyd, the Secretary of War, scattered the army so that much of it could be captured when hostilities should commence, and distributed the cannon and small arms from Northern arsenals throughout the South so as to be on hand when treason wanted them. The navy was scattered in like manner.
Written on July 17, 2015