Latter Day Leftist Secessionist

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Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has an unforgettable look at a book written by splenetic Leftist, Chuck Thompson, who wishes that the South would secede:

It may interest you to know that a significant number of those Americans who think that Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was a devastating tragedy, maybe even most of them, reside north of the Mason-Dixon Line and probably have never been to, have no ancestors from and have no interest in visiting that large area south of it.

If a leftist Yankee travel writer named Chuck Thompson, author of Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, ever put together a list of the worst American presidents, George W. Bush would probably come in second behind Abraham Lincoln.  In the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim reviews the book:

On the first page, the author wonders why the American electoral system must be “held hostage by a coalition of bought-and-paid-for political swamp scum from the most uneducated, morbidly obese, racist, morally indigent, xenophobic, socially stunted, and generally ass-backwards part of the country.” You expect him to let up, to turn the argument around, to look at the other side of question. But he never does. For more than 300 pages, Mr. Thompson travels through the South observing customs, outlooks and people and subjecting them to an unremitting stream of denunciations.

The American South is certainly not above criticism or satire.  And many writers from other parts of the country or the world have visited the South and written useful and interesting books about their experiences.  Thompson, on the other hand, made up his mind beforehand and went looking for what he thought he needed to see.

Now, the South—I say this as a Southerner myself—ought to be fertile territory for any writer with even a modest talent for exposing inanities. From “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (1876) to the Englishman Nick Middleton’s “Ice Tea and Elvis” (1999), the American South has provided writers of satire with a ready source of targets: genteel hypocrites, proud ignoramuses, religious fraudsters. But unlike others from outside the South who have written about it—think of Jonathan Raban’s marvelous “Old Glory” (1981) or V.S. Naipaul’s “A Turn in the South” (1989)—Mr. Thompson didn’t set out on his travels to discover things he didn’t know before. He went to see the ridiculous and dreadful things he knew would be there, which is a different approach altogether.

In six essay-like chapters—on the South’s religion, politics, race relations, public education, economic policies and its obsession with, as he thinks, the region’s overrated college football teams—Mr. Thompson tries to show that the American South is so culturally detached from the rest of America as to constitute what really ought to be its own country. He deserves some credit, in these days of lazy punditry, for actually traveling to the places he writes about: Memphis; Columbia, S.C.; Athens, Ga.; Mobile, Ala.; Little Rock; and a lot of little places in between. But typically he just makes a beeline for some small-town gathering, a church or a bar, finds someone with cranky opinions, gets into an argument about politics or religion, and—at least in his own retelling—slays his opponent.

Thompson’s imaginary Confederate States of America is a LOT bigger than the original.

You begin to sense that something is seriously awry when the author, evidently unable to find enough cranks and simpletons to fill out a whole book on the South, keeps looking beyond the Confederacy’s borders for material. First he zings House Speaker John Boehner for some offense. Isn’t Rep. Boehner from Ohio? Yes, from Cincinnati, but that’s just across the Ohio River from Kentucky, so he counts as a Southerner. We hear about a public-school teacher who urges his students to believe the Bible infallible. This takes place in Cleveland, but because the teacher had once attended a seminary in Kentucky, it’s an instance of Southern “biblical literalism” infecting the entire country. Mr. Thompson derides U.S. Rep. John Shimkus for citing Genesis as a reason not to worry about global warming. Isn’t Mr. Shimkus from Illinois? Yes, but he is from “an area of southern Illinois settled almost entirely by farmers from Kentucky.” By the book’s halfway point, it’s clear that Mr. Thompson’s problem with Southerners isn’t that they are insular, angry or prone to illusions. It’s that, with exceptions, their political views are insufficiently left-wing.

Thompson ignores or dismisses anyone who dissents from the narrative.  Like African-Americans who’ve moved to the South and like living there.

He is outraged, for example, to discover the close proximity of poor black and middle-class white neighborhoods in Southern cities. Of course, he is hardly the first outsider to notice it. Naipaul, in “A Turn in the South,” recalls riding in a car with a black woman near Greensboro, N.C.: “Hetty knew the land well,” he writes. “She knew who owned what. It was like a chant from her, as we drove: ‘Black people there, black people there, white people there. Black people, black people, white people, black people. All this side black people, all this side white people.” The intermingling of black and white neighborhoods can unsettle an outsider, true enough. Still, it’s not obvious to me that this is more reprehensible than the way in which many American cities outside the South contain vastly populated areas of racial uniformity.

Here’s how Mr. Thompson treats the same subject: In Laurens, S.C., he’s shown the street that “where stately, well-manicured ‘Southern Living’ mansions become Tijuana in the time it takes to run a red light.” Places like Little Rock and Memphis, he says, “are arranged along the lines of Third World horror shows; wide streets lined with opulent, plantation-style homes sitting just around the block from apocalyptic Negro wastelands.” Leave aside Mr. Thompson’s rather too superior descriptions of poor black neighborhoods (did he really use the term “Negro”?). More disturbing is his refusal to take seriously any evidence that Southern racism has diminished, even when that evidence comes from African-Americans themselves.

He is aware of reports in the New York Times and elsewhere that black Americans are moving to the South in record numbers. A black New York native living in Oxford, Miss., tells him, “I love it here.” But Mr. Thompson dismisses what he calls “breathless predictions of a post-racial South.” They just make him look harder for racism—and of course he finds it. He makes his way to the Redneck Shop in Laurens, a place that openly sells white supremacist paraphernalia.

Some of the customer reviews of this book at Amazon are interesting.  Here’s a Yankee.

I earned a master’s degree at LSU. I also grew up in an area of southern Ohio that Thompson correctly refers to as “Little Dixie.” I know first hand what it’s like to live in the South.

The South is a political sewer. There’s no way to sugarcoat this fact. Its political culture is shaped by a bunch of political criminals and treasonous rednecks who are still licking their wounds over the fact that they got their butts kicked in a war 150 years ago. They imagine that their Civil War cause was “pure and just”, then moralize their failure as resulting from some type of higher purity that the barbaric, heathen North was able to exploit.

I’m getting sick and DAMN tired of being governed by these psychotic, right-wing lumpenproletariat. Lincoln’s heart was in the right place, but his brain was out to lunch. Let’s correct his mistake and kick them out of our Union. The new C.S.A. will, in short order, become a Third World cesspool that will make Haiti look like a shining example of modern governance.

Here’s another one.

At first I thought this book would be a humorous rant about southern foibles. It’s not; it’s deadly serious and its statistics are accurate, I have checked many of them. Chuck Thompson’s writing style is, I admit, strong to the point of offending people with genteel sensibilities, but in view of the extreme seriousness of the situation, his tone and language is well chosen to bang some heads with a two-by-four. Until I read this book, I was dumbfounded as to why some people consistently voted against their own interest by buying into the vacuous apple pie and motherhood of today’s conservative politicos and distorted Fox “news” shows. I thought it was simple manipulation of voters on single issue hot buttons, smart marketing by “suits” who made a fast buck by selling out their opinion manipulating skills to well funded political interests. But that’s just the egregious, visible tip of the iceberg. Chris Mooney’s “The Republican Brain”–another book I read to try to understand the success of this phenomenon–helped to understand the psychological dichotomy that explains it. But what “Better Off Without Em” documents is a much more overwhelming, powerful, long-lived and insidious philosophy that overarches simple opinion manipulation based on carefully crafted misinformation. Thompson documents the downright corrosive influence that has festered in the south since before the civil war and has been leaching out into other parts of the country even as it hypocritically leeches resources from the north. I, and I suspect, many other people growing up in western states never really thought much about the south except to think that there was some good reason the north didn’t want to see it leave the Union. I knew the south consistently ranked lowest in support for education and that it was the bastion of strange “revealed wisdom” notions in conflict with what science has learned about the earth and the universe. But I encourage everyone to read Chuck Thompson’s book. Once you do, you’ll see how the current political polarization is actually due to the increasing influence of the anti-common man “plantation” mentality of the southern elite–the southern “1%”. Enabled by the Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court’s politicized conservative majority, this elite is now funneling huge sums into political campaigns to bring Plantation America to all of us. I truly feel sorry for the 99% in the south who, although well-intentioned, have been used badly and duped into thinking that they are where God wants them to be and that everyone needs what they have. What the southern mentality represents is an abomination. Chuck Thompson has done a tremendous public service by developing this book. I encourage all concerned Americans to read it and see why I say that.

And here’s a Southron.

I would be glad to part ways with the North. Let’s see how quickly they come crawling back when they are starving.

During one or another of this country’s oil crises, I remember hearing about Texas bumper stickers that read something along the lines of “Drive 90.  Let the Yankees Freeze in the Dark.”  And thereby hangs the problem for guys like Chuck Thompson.

Thompson doesn’t seem to realize that the values he quite obviously despises have spread far beyond the borders of the original Confederate States.  Missouri and Kentucky would definitely be part of a new CSA this time around while Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming are as “Confederate” as states can possibly be.

Go here to read the rest.  As an unreconstructed Yankee and one of Abe Lincoln’s biggest fans on the net, I am appalled by this book.  The type of raw vitriolic hatred that passes for political discourse on the Left in this country bodes ill for domestic tranquility in this nation.  What these losers never comprehend is that if there was another Civil War in this country along ideological lines, they would quickly find themselves at Appomattox and wondering if they got to keep their lattes after they signed the surrender documents.

This tome is directly contrary to what Lincoln, a child of the South, strove for:  one nation and one people, in which the sections worked together in mutual respect.  It was what Lincoln meant when he said that the Confederate States had never been out of the Union, and that nothing vengeful should be done to the South, with civil government re-established in the former Confederate States swiftly, and Congressional representation of those states to follow immediately.  It would have been a Herculean task to accomplish this and protect the civil liberties of the newly freed former slaves, but the bullet of John Wilkes Booth stopped Lincoln before the work had barely begun.

The hatred and contempt that Chuck Thompson has for the South was utterly foreign to Lincoln who, when asked by Grant what surrender terms he should give to Lee’s army advised, “I’d let ’em up easy.”    Thompson forgets the great lesson of the Civil War, that we are one people.  Besides that, the South is a magical place in comparison to a more prosaic North, and the country would be so much more boring without it!  Some of this magic was summed up by William Faulkner in Intruder in the Dust:

“For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is stll time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago….”



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As faithful readers of this blog know, I was a very reluctant, and late, supporter of Donald Trump in 2016.  I grudgingly


  1. I used to read CW books. I recall one by a pair of university (a southern U., I don’t remember which) academics who worked up two hypotheses. One, most Confederates were Scotch-Irish, and two, their psyche favored the offensive. The authors went on to prove that the tactical offensive was more costly in casualties and the South could not afford to lose the numbers of men.

    Anyhow, hoard your Confederate money, boys! The South shall rise again.

  2. “… the region’s overrated college football teams …”

    When it comes to “overrated college football teams”, I’m sorry, but you can’t do much worse than the Yankee teams that make up the Big 10. Consistently overrated, and consistently underperforming against teams in other conferences, especially against teams from the South. And I say that as a Big 10 fan.

    And Mr. Thompson is just as off in the rest of his assessment of the South and of where the real problem lies.

    But here’s where Mr. Thompson will, ultimately, prove to be correct in the long run: his conclusion that one part of the country is better off without the other, he just gets it backward.

    I am sadly and reluctantly coming to the point where I believe the South (and other parts of “red state” America) would be MUCH better off without the blue states and the cultural crap they shove down our throats. I am becoming more and more convinced that we do live in two separate countries, and things like the whol Chik-fil-A brouhaha drive that home. Folks in the South (and other red states) see that kind of stuff and they hear the “Chicago values” nonsense and say to themselves “Those people live in a completely different world than we do.”

    I’m sort of at the point of concluding there will be no winners and losers in the “Culture War”, just a parting of the ways. It may not be in my children’s lifetimes, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see it happen in my grandchildren’s lifetimes.

  3. At Gettysburg and in response to the question “what right did the South think they had to break up the United States,” a tour guide stated that secession has a long legal history and that it was proper to see the American Revolution as a secession, no more lawful or right than the secesson that started the Civil War.

    Do you share this view Don? (The “rightness” of the cause interests me)

  4. Absolutely not. The American Revolution was a revolution as Mr. Jefferson noted in the Declaration of Independence:

    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”

    That is the right to revolution against an oppressive government.

    Secession is the assertion that under the United States Constitution there existed a right for a state to unilaterally withdraw from the Union. I agree with Robert E. Lee that no such right exists:

    “Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution. . . . Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved, and the government disrupted, I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people; and, save in defense, will draw my sword on none.”

  5. General Lee’s statement is surprising. How does one get from that to leading a secessionist army!?

    He must have been a pretty conflicted leader if he simultaneously thought the secession unlawful and wrong and yet had to lead a people into battle who believed their cause honorable and right. There is a missing piece of the puzzle here.

    I appreciate your patience with the questions. I gather you are a bit of a “Civil War buff” (that Seinfeld episode aside) and I’m sure it would tax any historian’s patience to have to give enough background on line for others to understand their point. Perhaps I can persuade you to, instead, recommend a book that explores Lee’s seeming contradiction. (Winter is coming and the TV increasingly irritates me.)

  6. If I were so disposed, I could do what Chuck Thompson did…in a matter of speaking. However, I would go after the hard-core “blue” areas (how ironic is it that the semi-communist areas are referred to as “blue”) and show the sheer political and cultural stupidity that infests them. I would not have to go far. Albany, Philadelphia, New Jersey, the entrenched Democrat control of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Detroit, Chicago, Madison, Wisconsin…..

    Thompson’s drivel remind me of Bill Maher.

  7. “General Lee’s statement is surprising. How does one get from that to leading a secessionist army!?”

    Lee also had no use for slavery. It all came down to one word: Virginia. When Virginia went with the Confederacy Lee went with her. Outside of God and his family, Virginia was the only thing that Lee loved more than the United States of America.

  8. Penguins Fan, You lump together very different cities in your critique. As a fellos Pennsylvanian, I take exception to putting Philadelphia and Detroit in the same category. Besides, there is a lot more going on in former manufacturing centers than government is the cause of – at least not local government alone.

    Maybe you can be more specific?

  9. Don, I suppose it is hard to get a sense of state loyalties back then. I’m a Pennsylvanian and immensely proud of where I come from. However, where does my provincial loyalty lie in the list of loyalties?

    At an intellectual level, I suppose it would go God, country, family, state, then the Eagles. (This year is our year. Really!) But the intellectual response doesn’t tell us much about how a person would react to the actual choice if forced to make it.

    If Pennsylvania outlawed government support for sports teams, would I follow the Eagles to another state? Probably not… Well, maybe South Carolina, Louisiana, or Arizona… If they did it in February or something. More to the point, would I abandon the United States or take up arms against her if she became tyrannical, if she, for example, set aside the First Amendment and outlawed the practice of our faith? I like to think that I would not.

    Perhaps this approximates Lee’s torment?

  10. In Lee’s day most Americans lived their entire lives in their home states, with only brief forays outside of it, unless they moved West. Lee was unusual in that he had seen quite a bit of America during his military service. State loyalties were much more pronounced than they are now, and in the South since 1820 there had been an emphasis upon the rights of states against a Union that was perceived as threatening the Southern states.

  11. “Would I abandon the United States or take up arms against her if she… set aside the First Amendment and outlawed the practice of our faith?”

    It depends. Our own ancestors “abandoned” other countries because they became too oppressive and tyrannical, or simply because they offered less hope of economic advancement. I can think of several religious orders with a substantial presence in Central Illinois that were founded in Germany or France in the 19th century and came here to get away from anti-clerical governments that hampered their ministries. Another order arrived in the late 1940s from Slovakia after the Communists took over. If they could emigrate when things got bad (and they didn’t have to get Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia-type bad), then I see no reason why individual Catholics in America would not be justified in doing the same.

    If it got to the point where Catholicism was explicitly outlawed and churches shut down, or even to the point where Catholics still had “freedom of worship” but it became impossible for a practicing Catholic to make a living, obtain an education or other essential services, or care for their family without compromising their faith, then I’d want to bail out of here as soon as I could. (Of course, where to go and how to get the money/resources to emigrate would be another story)

    A more likely scenario, I think, could be that even if egregiously anti-Catholic or anti-Christian laws were passed at the national level, they would not be enforced equally in every state. You might have Catholics “emigrating” from hardcore blue states where Church ministries have been forced to cease and anyone who doesn’t endorse abortion or gay marriage is driven out of public life, to red states where that is not the case. In fact, I am beginning to think I may have to do just that someday, given the direction Illinois is heading. Unless, of course, everything south of I-80 secedes and becomes a brand new “red” state, which is yet another story.

  12. Don, I suppose it is hard to get a sense of state loyalties back then.

    Well, England is about 50 and 1/3k sq miles in size– you’ve got to get clear down through Louisiana in size before you hit a state smaller than that. (Mississippi.) Scotland is about 30.4k sq miles, or between South Carolina and West Virginia in size. Northern Ireland is only bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island.

    I don’t think I need to explain to anyone here that the Scots very much had their own loyalties.
    So maybe it’s more a matter of down-sizing our idea of “the state” to a state level, and figuring that loyalty to the entire group is kinda like loyalty to, oh, NATO?

    More to the point, would I abandon the United States or take up arms against her if she became tyrannical, if she, for example, set aside the First Amendment and outlawed the practice of our faith?

    If America wasn’t America anymore, I also think I wouldn’t abandon her– I’d fight to fix her.
    Over on Ricochet, someone brought up the notion of “Who would you vote for, if the options were Hitler and Stalin”? The idea was justifying a third party vote, but they totally ignore what real Americans would do in that case– revolt. If things are so broken that we have two of the biggest mass murderers of the last century as the two main options, the system need rebooting.

  13. “If America wasn’t America anymore, I also think I wouldn’t abandon her– I’d fight to fix her.”

    Indeed. This country was born in armed strife and has been fought for ever since. I would not have this country go down without a fight.

  14. As Foxfier points out, our states are bigger in size than many countries, and many of them have economies comparable to entire nations. Strange Maps has an interesting map in which each U.S. state is tagged with the flag of a country with the same population, and another in which each state is matched with a country of the same Gross Domestic Product:

    The GDP map, for example, shows that (as of 2007) California and France have about the same GDP, as do Illinois and Mexico; Texas and Canada; New York and Brazil; and Ohio and Australia.

    Also, even though the feds have taken over or dictated a lot of things, states can still do pretty much everything an independent country can other than declare war, sign treaties and print money. Most of the laws that govern everyday life — traffic laws, business licensing, criminal codes, etc. — are state level laws. So in many ways, states are still equivalent to mini-nations.

  15. And here’s another site which compares nations to the size of U.S. states:

    According to this site, Cuba is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania; Greece is slightly smaller than Alabama; Israel is slightly smaller than New Jersey; the UK is slightly smaller than Oregon; and Mexico is only three times bigger than Texas.

  16. “Folks in the South (and other red states) see that kind of stuff and they hear the ‘Chicago values’ nonsense and say to themselves ‘Those people live in a completely different world than we do.'”

    Yep. Born and raised in the South from a very southern family. It takes me 8 generations back to find one relative from somewhere outside the South (and that person was from Scotland). That’s one ancestor from one great-grandparent. I can’t even find relatives outside the South or the US from any other grandparent. So I’m VERY Southern. I just don’t understand a lot of what comes out of the NE corridor and the West Coast. It’s like they live on a different planet.

    And look, the South did some bad things. I’m not a revisionist so I know things have not always been fantastic here for minorities. But I’m 32 years old and I have spent my entire life around minorities. I have never lived in a neighborhood or went to a school that did not have a substantial minority presence, and I have never been anything other than middle class. It blew my mind the first time I ventured up North. I have step-family in Ohio and when we visited I literally did not see any black people where they lived. It was bizarre. When I said something about it, my aunt said they all lived in the city and that the suburbs were where the white folks fled to back during desegregation and that it just always kind of stayed that way. Now, I don’t claim to know whether that’s the case in the whole of the North, especially outside of the big cities. But I can say that I’ve visited almost all of the major metropolitan areas in the NE and it was a pretty identical experience.

    So it’s kind of baffling to me when people claim the South is still this horrible, segregated, racist place. I know there are still racists here, but that’s mainly because people are sinners and you’re going to find that kind of thing (hopefully limited) anywhere you go. It just is not a huge part of the culture here anymore and has not been for as long as I can remember.

  17. Mandy,

    I grew up in a small town in Ohio. There were zero blacks there. Many rural areas in Northern states have few, if any, black people. The same applies for most suburbs of Northern cities.

    G-veg….your city and metro area is very different from mine. As you know, Philadelphia is a large Northeastern corridor city, and there are more people in the Philly suburbs in the counties that surround Philadelphia than in the city itself. Ed Rendell ran for Governor on a platform of having cleaned up Philadelphia – to a point – and the Philly ‘burbs supported him as well. The level of corruption – that I have heard about – from Philly has amazed me. Fumo, Perzel, Ed $pendell’s shenanigans as Governor.

    Southeastern Pennsylvania – Philly and the surrounding counties – have no coal mining, no oil, no shale gas, unlike the rest of Pennsylvania, and SEPA is much more like the other cities of the Eastern Seaboard. Pittsburgh is more like a Midwestern city. 300 miles, mostly of hills and mountains, are still a huge cultural divide.

    Allegheny County usually would vote for Hitler, Stalin or Satan if they were running as Democrats. Allegheny County residents, by and large, still vote as if it were the 1930s and FDR was on the ticket.

    My point is that once-great cities have been laid low by Democrat incompetence and malfeasance – and I am tired of their influence on elections.

    Oh, one more thing, G-Veg….the Eagles will not win the Super Bowl. The Steelers of the ’70s have more players in the Hall of Fame than the Eagles do in their history (I had to get in that dig).

  18. And look, the South did some bad things. I’m not a revisionist so I know things have not always been fantastic here for minorities. But I’m 32 years old and I have spent my entire life around minorities. I have never lived in a neighborhood or went to a school that did not have a substantial minority presence, and I have never been anything other than middle class. It blew my mind the first time I ventured up North.

    My Godfather was a Basque, who lost his father in the last Indian raid in Cali.
    He never did understand why mom (daughter of two Kansas kids who met in Oregon) was so horrified about him asking “who’s the marker?” when a black guy walked into the local diner. (A “marker” is a black sheep put in a group of sheep; I think it was one to every hundred, but wouldn’t doubt that different bands did different metrics. Roughly, one black sheep= Xhundred white sheep.)

    He knew that there weren’t any black folks in the valley right then, but there were both types of Basque, Italian, Indian, Scots, a scattering of Spanish and English– those were what would probably be classed as “white” as much as anything– and there had been black cowboys and (more respectable– IE, call a them a “cowboy” and that’s fighting words) ranch hands for most of his life.
    It was no more a big deal than asking “who’s the carrot?” would be if a redhead had walked in. (None of those in the valley, either, from memory.)

    Mom had grown up in a situation where she was slapped and scolded for trying to touch a black lady’s arm in a “Lady’s Club” in a large town. (She was very small, and fascinated by someone who was darker than any tan she’d ever seen.)

    My personal exposure to the “race” thing was in high school, where there were two folks who “looked black.” One was a brilliant girl who was my favorite teachers’ favorite student (because she ragged him WITHOUT END, and did it well) and the other was a one-man crime wave, and the sort that breaks into places that have been closed for years to raid the cash register.
    They were siblings. She identified as “My dad was from the Caribbean,” and he identified as “YOU HATE ME BECAUSE I’M BLACK!”

    My second experience with “race” was bringing in all my (takes after the Scot side) sunburn aids because LCPL Winter found out that even black guys who’d grown up in Miami could get sunburnt if they hadn’t had sun on their backs for nearly two years, then fell asleep on a Florida beach. (Poor SOB.)

    I, funky sort of idealist that I am, think that folks are most likely to segregate based on philosophy.
    Thing is, bloodline is really important for philosophy, at least the bloodline you play up.
    Thus, a “black” lady who looks the same as a “Hispanic” lady or just a random lady (Hello, Ms. Jennifer Lopez) will fit in with whatever group she chooses, and the overall effect will back up that philosophy.

    Sure, you’ll have outliers that don’t even kind of fit the standard– but they’ll just be exceptions, like the “obviously black” couple in a “white” community.

    This theory might be biased because I grew up, as I said, in a valley with a lot of Basque– the lady who best exemplifies that is one I’d challenge anyone to class beyond “dried up nasty old harpy with the most nasty old poodle you ever met.” (A real poodle, not a toy.) Bias admission: she’s one of those folks who looks for old ladies that are going to die soon and are neglected by their families, and gets them to give her “gifts.” She tried it on my grandmother, who threw her out on her ear.
    The lady in question has vaguely tanned skin, dark hair (dyed, I think, but matches when she was young), hazel-dark eyes, local accent. Some sort of relative to my godfather, but I think it was via his granddaughter… the blonde, freckled, blue-hazel eyed girl in my grade.

    I guess my point is that a lot of the “segregation” we see is based on what folks expect to see. If someone is “too white” and gets attention from the wrong folks, they leave. If folks move into an area and don’t attract attention, they’re not comment-worthy– if they do get law type attention in relation to established racial problems, folks suddenly notice how they look like the folks who drew that attention.

    Sucks crazy hard, but there it is.

    For heaven’s sake, my mom grew up knowing as common knowledge that Indians in their area had a lot of Black blood, based largely on the whole “Buffalo soldier” thing; if you met someone who was clearly angelic, and there wasn’t a thing about man-and-wife-are-one-flesh, why would you not try to get some angelic blood in your tribe? (“Angelic” is as close as I can come to conveying what a “totem” is– it’s power, and good.)

  19. “Absolutely not. The American Revolution was a revolution as Mr. Jefferson noted in the Declaration of Independence”

    I disagree with Don. I see the American “Revolution” as a “War of Independence”. For all their talk of the “rights of Englishmen”, the American colonists, after almost 200 years of virtual self rule, had come to see themselves primarily as “Americans”, rather than British subjects.

    And, if the cause is just, secession is entirely justified, at least if you believe in the concept of self determination (which I do, wholeheartedly). There was no just cause for secession in 1861, but that doesn’t mean there can never be just cause for secession.

    Still, even without a just cause, had I lived in those days, I am fairly certain I would have made the same decision as Lee made. When it comes to state vs. national loyalty, I feel MUCH more loyalty toward the local than I do to the remote. I am far more loyal to the states I consider my “home states” – Texas and Virginia – than I am to our Nation. If there ever were another sectional split, I have no doubts that my loyalties would go first with Texas, then with Virginia. (I may feel that way some day about my current state, Ohio, but I haven’t quite acquired the loyalty for the Buckeye State that I feel in my heart and in my gut toward the Lone Star State and the Old Dominion.)

  20. To no surprise to either of us in this area, Jay, we will have to largely agree to disagree in this area. The Revolution was a revolution. It not only cast of the British monarchy, but established an entirely new basis for governmental power as Mr. Jefferson so eloquently set forth in the Declaration. Judging from their writings the Founding Fathers understood this, that they were bringing something new into existence on this planet. That is why on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782 they put the motto: Novus Ordo Seclorum (a new order for the ages) Nothing is more revolutionary in the history of Man in secular terms than what was proclaimed by the Founding Fathers. So it was in 1776 and so it remains today.

    As for secession, it is not to be confused with Mr. Jefferson’s right of revolution in the Declaration. No mechanism for secession being set forth in the Constitution, the only way it could be done except by revolution would be legislation in Congress, or, more properly I think, a Constitutional amendment. In both cases it would then have approval of a majority of the country presumably.

  21. I suppose then, like Lee (“Secession is nothing but revolution.”), I see the distinction between secession and “revolution” as semantics. Self-determination is what we’re really talking about. Once one group of people, for just cause, no longer wishes to be attached to or governed by another set of people, they have the right to break away under the natural right of self-determination.

    Once those people decide they no longer wish to bound by the Constitution, and have just cause for making that determination to no longer be bound, the fact that the Constitution is silent on the matter of secession seems to me to be wholly irrelevant.

    As for whether the Revolutionary War was more of a “revolution” or a “war of independence”, yes, we will just have to agree to disagree. Althought the Founders were influenced by the English and Scottish Enlightenments (which, by the way, had also firmly taken hold in Great Britain, and British subjects were the free-est people in all the world), my reading of the conflict, at least by July 1776 was that they were primarily motivated by a desire for independence and to rule their own affairs (see, e.g., John Adams). That’s not to say that Enlightenment ideals didn’t flower their speech and writing as justification for that desire for independence, nor indeed that they weren’t also heavily influenced by said Enlightenment. But let’s not forget that it was a rather conservative transformation as far as “revolutions” go. In fact, as late as the early 19th century, there was still quite a bit of debate between Republicans under Jefferson and Federalists under Adams and Hamilton as to whether the Revolution had gone far enough (but for the wisdom of one man – George Washington, we might very well have replaced one king with another).

    It’s just too hard for me to accept the notion that the American Revolution was a “revolution” in the truest sense of the word, as opposed to a war for independence. I can’t help but read Amercan independence in light of other wars for independence fought against the English, such as those in Scotland and Ireland. The social order (see, e.g., English Common Law as the basis of the legal systems in those nations) really didn’t change all that much (when weighed against revolutions in France, Italy, Russia, etc.)

  22. This liberal loon (I just insulted a bird) is expressing the fascist busy-bodies’ execrable disgust with the uses many Americans make of their freedoms, their franchise, and their property.

    Here is a modest proposal. Blue, bankrupt states should be expelled from the Union. They can be territories. Erstwhile state governments would be closed and the felons imprisoned. All contracts would be dissolved and debts and liabilities repudiated: bankruptcy is federal law. President Romney would appoint territorial governors to operate vital governmental functions: police, fire. The failed states’ congressional delegations would be expelled.

    When citizens of the territory write a constitution with sufficient safeguards to convince Congress that bankruptcy will never happen again, it could then rejoin the Union.

  23. The English Civil War and the so-called “Glorious Revolution” are more aptly title “revolutions”, at least in my view of things, than is the American Revolution. (Note that the 4th of July is “Independence Day”, not “Revoultion Day” or “Enlightenment Day” or “New World Order Day”.)

  24. The English Civil Wars Jay ended with the Merry Monarch on the Throne. The so-called Glorious Revolution I have a hard time taking seriously. The real diminution of monarchical power occurred after the death of William, an able soldier and king, and was a consequence of the fact that Queen Anne was a featherhead and the Hanoverians were all blockheads.

  25. Yes, but during the years of the so-called “Commonwealth”, it most definitely had the effect of “Revolution”, and, indeed, led to a real revolution in the way the monarchy was viewed (at least ultimately).

  26. The main effect of Cromwell and his cronies Jay, the rule of the Major Generals, was to give England an abhorence of standing armies. They attempted to pull off a revolution, but it had nothing to do with freedom, turned out to be abortive, and ended with the status quo ante. If the Stuarts had been wiser, I think the English Civil Wars would have less significance in English history than the Wars of the Roses which caused a change of dynasties.

  27. “If the Stuarts had been wiser, …”

    The Stuarts were replaced because of their “Romish sympathies”. The only “wisdom” they might have embraced in order to hold on to the Crown would have been the wisdom of men, which is foolishness to God.

  28. Jay and Don,

    In sum, I think Jefferson understood revolution to be a natural right under certain circumstances pursuant to Divine law, whereas Jeff Davis et al viewed secession as a legal right by election or choice pursuant to positive law (i.e., the Constitution). Regardless of the merits of these views, the distinction cannot be dismissed as simply one of semantics.

  29. Jay-
    I very much understand using a word with different meanings, I just get royally steamed when folks talk dismissively of “semantics.”

    Over at ricochet I recently argued about the meaning of “why”- “that is how it objectively is when you look at it” vs “Because x, Y and Z.” (example 2+2=4. objectively true, but what makes it so?)

  30. Mike,

    I’m not advocating Davis’ positive law view of secession. I’m advocating a view of self-determination as a natural right, whether achieved via revolution, secession, or under whatever circumstances it might be achieved, so long as their is just cause for upsetting the present legal order.

  31. Foxfier,

    I wasn’t trying to be dismissive of semantics, but rather pointing out that in the context of the natural right of self-determination, perhaps the distinction that was being made between “revolution” and “secession” was not dispositive. Don had made the distinction, but then followed up with a quote from Lee in which Lee dismisses the distinction. My point, as I just indicated to Mike, is that I’m not sure that the distinction is all that meaningful when what I’m really talking about is the natural right to self-determination.

    I apologize if my lazy shorthand got you steamed.


  32. “The Stuarts were replaced because of their “Romish sympathies”.”

    No, James was pretty much a blockhead no matter his religion. He was as dumb as his brother Charles was clever. That his Catholicism was hated by most of his subjects is a fact. However, that was insufficient to lose him his throne. His ineptitude accomplished that feat.

  33. Understood, Jay, thanks. It appears that we all may be in agreement regarding the lack of any secession right under positive law. But I agree that natural law trumps positive law in these matters, and if the South had a natural right to secede, then I expect Don (and I) would agree that its efforts amounted to a revolution consistent with the Jeffersonian understanding, albeit a failed one. My assumption is that Don would hold that the conditions predicate for the assertion of the right (i.e., the just cause to which you allude) were not present, and I would agree with Don on that. You apparently disagree, a disagreement I’m confident we won’t resolve via this blog thread. 🙂

  34. Jay-
    I honestly can’t say with impressive-enough-to-compare-here where I stand on “revolution” vs “secession”; I just know that semantics are HUGELY important.
    It’s like someone yelling “Bah, you crazy lady, you think that words have some sort of meaning!” when folks do the old shucks-and-shoo about “semantics.”

  35. Penguin Fan, One of the great things about being a Pennsylvanian is that looking East or West, you see great sports. I would prefer Philadelphia but I’ll take another Steelers win over, well, just about anyone else. This may well be our year. Any given Sunday my Western friend, any given Sunday.

    As to the propensity to corruption ans mismanagement, I wonder if we aren’t seeing the effects of single-party politics, not the result of a sort of collective failure on the part of all Democrats. What I mean is that competition is necessary in American politics. A party left to its own devices is easily led astray, corrupted by extremism from within and predators from outside. Competition makes us clarify our positions, adhere to principles, and serve our constituents.

    I think we may see Democrats running cities into the ground because they have no reasonable competition. Paul is in a batter place to say but I seem to recall this argument as underpinning the 1980s’ movements to expand cities to encompass their suburbs.

  36. Oh, come now – Aaron Rodgers and Co. are going to win the SP. Wisconsin’s on quite a roll this year, in case you hadn’t noticed 🙂

    Gee, what will this south-hating bigot – bless his heart – say when Packer Land and (here’s hoping) other northern states turn red in November? I note the GOP ticket has 2 candidates who do not exactly speak with southern drawls. And what about the Mountain West and Great Plains? Although Colorado has, unfortunately, made a leftward turn (a Colorado friend bemoans the influx of Californians who have fled the Golden State but continue to vote for exactly the same sort of policies that are driving California off the cliff), Arizona, Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas are expected to remain red. Not to mention the “red areas” of blue states. Much of California is pretty red, but they are outvoted by LA and SF. Same goes for IL, and it looks like it’s happening in VA, because the bureaucrats in the DC ‘burbs are overriding the votes of downstaters.

    The divide isn’t as neat as it was in 1861 (and even then, it wasn’t all that neat, because of the border states and the Copperheads in the North). The breakdown isn’t North and South, it’s urban vs. rural and suburban.

  37. Please don’t call it “Packer Land.” The Packers are the least endearing thing about New England.

    Besides I’m betting Rhode Island will sweep football, hockey, and baseball.

  38. I hate the I-Pad!!! I accidentally hit Return. I was going to go on with a Patriots in Wisconsi reference and other “clever” stuff but te moment is lost. It probably wouldn’t have worked anyway.

    Don, save me. Please delete both before I make a bigger fool of myself 🙂

  39. Aaron Rodgers and Co. are going to win the SP. Wisconsin’s on quite a roll this year, in case you hadn’t noticed

    Well, that is unless they have to play the Giants in the playoffs again.

  40. No, the least endearing thing about Wisconsin is Dane County, the Berkeley of the Midwest.

    Paul, the memory of that wretched, infernal playoff game, after such a spectacular season, induces severe pyschological anguish and trauma in all cheeseheads. Charity demands that we do not speak of it. Half on the state probably had to go on Prozac the day after.

  41. P.S. Paul, it’s bad enough that I spent baseball season in agony, repeatedly watching the now-dismal Brew Crew bullpen find new and creative ways to blow leads in the 8th and 9th innings. I need some glimmer of hope on the horizon – and so I set my sights on football season.

  42. Donna V, you should know that a spectacular regular season in the NFL guarantees a playoff spot…and nothing more than that. The 1998 15-1 Vikings, the 2004 15-1 Steelers, the 2007 16-0 Patriots….

    As for baseball, I put up with 20 years of lousy Pirates teams….

    Back to the topic….Chuck Thompson is a bigot. The left wing frequently accuses those they disagree with of the sin that they, the left wing, are as guilty of as sin. What a shame that he has the same name as the late Baltimore Colts and Baltimore Orioles broadcaster. Tolerance, scream those who are the most intolerant.

    I, for one, would not give up on Virginia being conservative. The DC suburbs have their leftists, but the rest of the state isn’t nearly as so…..well, go there and figure it out.

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