Please, Go

The South shall secede again!

It's just a flag, right?

It's just a harmless flag, right?

Or something like that.

You might have heard about Georgia congressman Paul Broun’s big worry: Our new pres might be angling for a dictatorship (unlike the 8 years of sterling constitutional rule that are coming to an end). In a similar vein (not that I think Broun’s comments were racially motivated), today’s Christian Science Monitor had an article about the fears fueling the rising “white backlash” against Obama’s election. It mentioned the increased traffic at the website for the League of the South, a “nonviolent secessionist group.” One member quoted said the group is looking for more regional autonomy, not outright secession as in 1861.

Too bad.

I know you meant well, but...

I know you meant well, but...

Since the 2004 election, I have been of the mind that maybe we Northern liberal types, and the country as a whole, would be better off today if Lincoln had not kept the South in the Union. Of course, a few million African Americans would have been enslaved a lot longer – assuming at some point the Confederacy would have caught a whiff of modern thinking and abolished it on its own. More likely, it would have taken the kind of international outcry that rose up against South African apartheid during the 1980s to bring change.

But that’s all speculation. What’s real is that a lot of Southern whites are none too happy a strong central government in general and having a black president in particular (see this earlier post for a sampling of popular opinion). And the League of the South had some real problems with our Union even before November 4.

Checking out the LS website was quite educational. (Sorry, no link; you’re on your for this one.) It calls for “a bold, self-confident civilisation based on our British roots.” Ok, pretty harmless so far. The British spelling featured here and elsewhere is a sign of the members’ pride in that Anglo-Saxon heritage. Lots of talk about Celts (not the basketball team) and ads for harp music too. I mean, there is nothing overtly racist here: no “kill the darkies” or talk about Aryans. But lots of Jesus talk, which of course seems to go against the spirit of the Constitution they claim to so love:

“The South still reveres the tenets of our historic Christian faith and acknowledges its supremacy over man-made laws and opinions; that our Christian faith provides the surest means of securing the welfare of all mankind; and that our primary allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.”

So, no racist talk against blacks, but you gotta think Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, etc. are not exactly the folks the LS is hoping will settle below the Mason-Dixon line. Catholics? Well…And then there’s this goody:

“We belief in a Southern society that is structured upon the Biblical notion of hierarchy….Christ is the head of His Church; husbands are the heads of their families; parents are placed over their children; employers rank above their employees; the teacher is superior to his students, etc.”

If you put aside the emphasis on the virtuous nature of the Christian South (because no Southerners have ever committed a crime or acted immorally, except because of the heathen Northern culture foisted on it), a lot of the LS’s views are pretty much in line with libertarian positions. And I understand the appeal that has to lots of people. Of course, when Southerners talk of states’ rights and local control, it brings to mind that certain peculiar institution which they just didn’t want to part with.

What are you callin' peculiar, boy?

What are you callin' peculiar, boy?

And along with emphasizing ties to the family, church, and local community, LS members say their weakest attachments are to “abstractions,” such as the nation, the global community, or the environment. Hmm, the environment is an abstraction. You mean like the air you breathe? The water you drink? The food you eat? Yeah, all pretty abstract and distant, no concern to any right-thinking Southern patriot.  

Still, I can actually agree with some of the points I saw. For all my progressive tendencies, I have some moral conservatism in me. In a “Declaration of Southern Cultural Independence,” some LS members decry “the corrupt and sterile national culture that pervades this land. The national culture of the United States is violent and profane, coarse and rude, cynical and deviant…” You know what, I think our national culture can be all those things, though maybe not in the way the LS thinks it is. And I certainly don’t seek the same solutions. Lots of the coarse and rude folks, the violent, the cynical, they call themselves Christians too. Please, no more of that cure – at least not in an organized, shove-it-down-your-throat, fundamentalist way. Which, gee, just happens to be popular across that honorable, chivalrous South the LS like to idealize. Spirituality, morality based on the Golden Rule – I’m all for it. What passes for Christian morality in too much of this country, and which many Southerners used to justify slavery – no thanks.

Reading on, I see that the member who spoke to the CSM was not being totally forthcoming (what would the LJC say?) Or maybe the recent tenor of the group’s positions has strayed from its original founding statement. But once, the LS didn’t just call for more regional autonomy. It wanted “the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.”

I’m sure lots of people who belong to the LS and who have recently flocked to its site are good people. They would show me some of that famed Southern hospitality if I came to their house (being white probably doesn’t hurt me there), and the lemonade and cookies would probably keep coming as long as I kept my mouth shut about politics. And art. And gays. But if they really wanna secede, who are we Northern liberals to stop them? Obama’s reelection in ’12 would  get a whole lot easier. Maybe even a real progessive could run. And good Southerners like Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia wouldn’t have to worry about that Marxist dictatorship anymore. Please, guys, don’t laugh too hard at us U.S. citizens when we’re waiting in line for our toilet paper.

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~ by mburgan on November 17, 2008.

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