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As Simple As Black and White: The GOP’s Secessionist Dream
It has been 150 years since the Confederacy of Southern States seceded from the United States of America starting the deadliest war in American history. It should be a time to reflect on the disastrous turn of events that ripped America apart with a view toward never taking that terrible path again, but instead, some southern states are celebrating secession with balls and celebrations. As if celebrating America’s darkest times wasn’t bad enough, new talk of secession and nullification signals a long standing hatred of the United States of America by racists in the south, and the hate is spreading across the country.
In South Carolina, the Secession Ball‘s organizers said the celebration had nothing to do with celebrating slavery. Instead, they claim the ball was honoring the Southern men who sacrificed their lives for their homes and vision of states’ rights. The organizers fail to mention that the states’ rights the South fought for was the right to continue keeping slaves and nothing more. It is true the Confederacy believed the Federal government had no right making laws the states had to follow, but the underlying feeling was that if the South didn’t like Federal laws abolishing slavery, they had the right to secede from the Union.
A Confederate scholar said on MSNBC’s Hardball that the Civil War was fought because Lincoln invaded the South and needed to be stopped. His argument is so obscenely twisted, that the idea of a sitting president invading his own country is insulting beyond belief. But for people defending a war that championed enslavement of Black people, obscene lies are all they will ever have. After the war, writers and historians who were part of the Lost Cause movement claimed the war was not fought over slavery, which they characterized as a benign institution, but over states’ rights. Their attitude toward slavery is quite clear if they considered it a benign institution; an institution they would return to if they were allowed.
Ever since Barack Obama’s election as president, there have been veiled threats of secession by southern state governors and politicians in the guise of states’ rights over the Federal government. Governor Rick Perry (R) of Texas has floated the idea of secession because he thinks Washington doesn’t have the right to pass laws that Texas disapproves of. Perry said that, “There’s a lot of different scenarios. If Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what might come out of that? Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot.” According to Perry, the legally elected representatives and president are thumbing their noses at the American people who elected them, and he mirrors the thinking of many racists and conservatives that Obama’s election is illegitimate.
In Virginia, attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R) has given tacit approval to nullification that says states take precedent over federal law, thus nullifying federal law a state disagrees with. Cuccinelli made headlines for filing lawsuits challenging the legality of the Affordable Health Care act he claims the Federal government has no right enforcing. If that is the case, why hasn’t Cuccinelli attempted to nullify and ignore Federal laws requiring airlines to use licensed pilots, or refused Federal highway funds or National Guard troops during emergencies? Cuccinelli is like all Republicans in that he rejects Federal laws that he cannot personally benefit from.
The Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2, asserts that Federal laws supersede state laws and is appropriately called the Supremacy Clause. Constitution loving Republicans fail to recognize it because it forces them to follow anti-discrimination and civil rights laws that are contrary to their bigoted tendencies. During the civil rights struggles in the 1960s in Mississippi, white racists promised to arrest federal law enforcement officials who were sent to enforce desegregation of schools because they refused to recognize the Federal mandate to integrate.
It is disheartening that 150 years after the Civil War there is still a large part of America that is willing to break the country apart over issues that were settled in the courts and on the battlefield. The issue of a state’s right to ignore federal laws has been settled, and still, it seems that it is the South that cannot grasp the concept of the Supremacy clause or civil rights. As a son of the South and the American Revolution, it is depressing that the idea of a United States of America escapes many from the region that fought the British for independence. It is more disturbing that groups like the Tea Party from all the states feel justified in rebelling against the Federal government with encouragement from Republicans in positions of power and authority.
The recent midterm election brought more instances of politicians like Michelle Bachmann, Sharon Angle, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry suggesting that citizens may need to arm themselves against the Federal government because they don’t like the laws coming out of Washington. It is no coincidence that many racist Americans and legislators are suggesting secession and armed insurrection since the election of Barack Obama. Although there has been enmity between conservatives and Democrats in the past, there have never been calls for secession or violence toward a legally elected President in recent memory, and there is only one reason; a Black man sitting in the Oval Office. Conservatives and Republicans’ rallying cry since Obama’s election has been to take the country back, and now with Southern States celebrating secession, it appears that the goal is to take the country back exactly 150 years; back to the Civil War and slavery.