At this hour, the U.S. Senate is meeting in executive session to debate the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

If Liu’s supporters are able to muster 60 votes in favor of cloture, which is scheduled to be voted on around 2:00pm ET, this will end the threatened filibuster and result in an up-or-down vote on the nomination itself.

The situation does not look promising for Professor Liu, as three key senators who believe that filibusters should be rare—John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)—have said they will vote to extend debate indefinitely, thus filibustering the nomination.

After the jump, I discuss the controversial video of Liu speaking at one of our events, and what role it does (and should) play in his nomination.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes Cornel West on Barack Obama, CNN anchor Don Lemon coming out of the closet, legacy admissions at Harvard, discrimination against farmers and Ivy League grads, and Goodwin Liu’s nomination for the Ninth Circuit.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to offer their thoughts at the end of the post.

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“Civil War 150th” is a periodic compilation of information related to the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the U.S. Civil War (2011-2015). In keeping with the theme of this blog, the focus is on the often-misunderstood role of slavery and race in the war.

Today’s “Civil War 150th” includes the North’s relationship to southern slavery, battles over the Confederate flag and commemorative license plates, and the complexity of Missouri’s role in the Civil War.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to offer their thoughts at the end of the post.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes the the legacy of the Freedom Riders, an online tool for tracing African-American heritage, the significance of President Obama’s birth certificate, an update on Goodwin Liu’s nomination, and new research on race and health.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to offer their thoughts at the end of the post.

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I have an opinion article up today at CNN.com, co-authored with Katrina Browne, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War at Fort Sumter.

The subject is the mythology about the war that still lingers on both sides. For the South, that mythology has received ample attention over the years; it’s the myth of the “Lost Cause,” which centers on a romantic vision of the rebellion which excludes slavery as the primary motivation for southern secession.

For the North and the rest of the country, myths about the Civil War, and particularly about the role that slavery and race played in the conflict, remain less well explored and are therefore worth examing.

Here is how the article begins:

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, a war that redefined national and regional identities and became an enduring tale of noble resistance in the South and, for the rest of the country, a mighty moral struggle to erase the stain of slavery.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces opened fire on the beleaguered Union garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. By April 14, the fort had fallen and the war had begun in earnest.

By the time Fort Sumter was again in Union hands, following the evacuation of Charleston in the closing days of the war in 1865, the war had become the bloodiest in the nation’s history — and has not been surpassed. Yet the relationship of the North to the South, and to slavery before and during the war is not at all what we remember today.

The reality is that both North and South were profoundly complicit in slavery and deeply reluctant to abolish our nation’s “peculiar institution.”

To read the rest of the article, go to “Civil War’s dirty secret about slavery” at CNN.com.

This week marks the second anniversary of remarks by actor and activist Edward James Olmos on the subject of race as a social fiction on a panel at the United Nations.

For the third year in a row, and as I prepare to speak tonight on a similar panel at the United Nations, I’m reposting these remarks, because I have still never heard this idea expressed with more power and conviction: the emperor has no clothes. The notion that we as a people are divided into several different races is, and always has been, a dreadful lie.

Despite the danger inherent in advocating what we might call color-blindness, what Admiral Adama of the Battlestar Galactica says here is undeniably correct, both historically and sociologically, and remains true to this day:

There is only one race … that is the human race.

So say we all!

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In the aftermath of the terrible shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others at a constituent event in Tucson this weekend, there’s been a great deal of heated rhetoric about … well, heated rhetoric.

What do we actually know about whether incendiary political rhetoric can inspire violent acts?

Even before anything was known about the shooter, many people reacted to the news by arguing that whatever the motives of this particular shooter, the tone of our political discourse is at least partly to blame. Those making this argument cite the extreme and polarizing tone used by many politicians and media commentators; the especially troubling use of  the rhetoric of violence in some quarters; and the heated tone invoked to discuss certain topics that Rep. Giffords was prominently involved in, including immigration and health care reform.

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Today is the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War.

On January 9, 1861, shore batteries in Charleston, South Carolina opened fire on the steamer Star of the West as that merchant ship attempted to reach Fort Sumter with fresh troops and supplies. The Star of the West was hit and forced to retreat, setting the stage for a wider conflict to break out in April, when Fort Sumter would run out of food and be forced to surrender if not reinforced.

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By now, most readers will no doubt have heard that the “n-word” has been removed from a new edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by NewSouth Books, replaced throughout the book with the word “slave.”

I’ve been asked repeatedly, over the last several days, what I think of this idea. The answer, which may surprise some, is that I entirely support the idea of censoring Huckleberry Finn to remove the “n-word”—as long as the word is actually censored (blacked out, blanked out, replaced with square brackets, etc.) rather than replaced with a very different word like “slave.”

Why the distinction, and why am I willing to see Twain’s work altered at all?

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Today marks the 150th anniversary of another Civil War milestone: the proposal by Mayor Fernando Wood to the city council that New York City secede from the Union, in order to continue its relationship with the South, just as southern states were beginning to declare their secession.

I’ve co-authored an opinion article coming out soon describing this event, and discussing its broader significance for our understanding of the Civil War and the role that slavery and race played for the North and the South. In the meantime, I’d like to offer a quick picture of the role of slavery in New York up to the time of the Civil War, as a counterweight to the myth that the North at the outbreak of the war consisted of free states eager to abolish the scourge of southern slavery.

First, a side note: I’m currently attending the four-day American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting in Boston, and in particular, a multi-session workshop on slavery and public memory. I plan to report back here  on some of the latest scholarship related to slavery, race, and public history, all themes directly related to this blog and my work at the Tracing Center.

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