ACHTUNG, BIGOTS! Out-of-uniform Ku Klux Klan oafs unfurl the stars-and-bars flag of the Confederate States of America during a 1957 demonstration against racial integration of public schools in Nashville, Tennessee.
So Leave, Already!
The modern case for Southern secession
By Thomas Adcock
Copyright © 2013 – Thomas Adcock
Seven score and four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln might say were he alive by some trick of time, the Confederate States of America was quashed in a nineteenth-century civil war that pitted the abolitionist, industrial North against an agrarian plutocracy of the South demanding secession from the union. The high caste of Southern rebels were linen-suited, sarsaparilla-sipping, white plantation squires grown outlandishly wealthy thanks to the wage-free labors of kidnapped black Africans purchased at slave auctions.
At war’s end, in 1865, a sunny legend of antebellum gentility overtook the immediate sourness of defeat: the honorable “Southern way of life,” as sweet and slow as molasses, was served up as righteous contrast to fast-talking Yankees of the urbanizing North with their vulgar factories and banks.
Legend became Elysian myth. A school of Southern novelists and florid newspaper writers waxed poetic of cotillions graced by the finest flowers of femininity, and the most courtly of gentleman callers; the heroism of a Confederate army under the command of General Robert E. Lee, a dashing equestrian with manfully silver locks and whiskers, carefully oiled for portraits to complement the shiny spurs of his riding boots; limestone mansions surrounded by oak trees dripping in Spanish moss, their marble and mahogany interiors bounding in old brandy and fresh-cut blossoms—and day rooms for The Master: a rococo library, and the contemplative silence of the mansion’s chapel, there to engage in the lordly business of advancing his kind.
Soothing lies are the building blocks of a blind civilization; the essential balm of hagiography as first defined by the Old Testament. According to the second chapter of Thessalonians: “Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.”
In truth, cotillions were the pleasant formalization of a cultural prison for highborn women of the South; hardly gallant, the typical Confederate soldier was ill-clothed, diseased, constipated, impoverished, and half starved most of the time—before, during, and after the war; plantation houses were kept by “house niggers,” culled from Africans put to work as farm beasts by whip-cracking overseers; The Master kept evenings free for nipping off to slave quarters to rape the wives and daughters of emasculated, cotton picking “field niggers.”
Lest the sympathies of good-hearted German leftists, justifiably suspicious of factories and banks, be confused by romantic depictions of Southern joy all the live-long days of the Confederacy, it is useful to review the Declaration of Secession issued by Texas in February 1861. It reads, in part:
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the [Southern] states…were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that [Africans are] rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That…the servitude of the African race is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations.
Now in 2013, the secessionist motive is stronger than ever. Today’s preferred euphemisms for a C.S.A. history of false comfort are “Southern heritage” and “proud Southern tradition,” updated with the absent articulation of a violent word screaming in the skulls of those offended by the presence of a black man in the White House—that nigger.
The fantasy created by pale-complexioned Southerners may well have begun as an understandable mechanism for maintaining dignity in defeat, but it darkened over the decades, now to the point of dangerous. Rightly alarmed is my dear friend William Semans of Minneapolis—filmmaker, playwright, littérateur, and American Civil War maven. In a letter this week, he writes of Confederate flag omnipresence—most recently, the racist banner appeared at the White House gate—and worse:
From the halls of Congress, to political rallies, to college football games, to articles of clothing, and to pulpits, the South is attempting to [rise] again—buttressed every day by the words and actions of the terminally ill-informed.
…There is no need to document again the vile horrors perpetuated behind the evil scrim of Southern plantation life…[T]he cries of the benighted have risen once more with the word ‘secession’ casually spouted by elected officials. Where is this leading us?
By way of answer, and with apologies to the late Mr. Lincoln (1809-1865), I offer a modest proposal to our modern-day secessionists, whose dishonorable names shall appear in due course herein. In the New York vernacular with which I am familiar, it is simply this: So leave, already!
My reasoning is not entirely based on disgust with names soon to be named. I have a number of white friends in the South, after all. They are fully evolved men and women who share my sentiments regarding the opprobrious simians it is their curse to have as elected officials. Rather, my proposal is based on economics with a dash of sociological objection.
Consider the states of the old Confederacy—North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and Texas (with historical asterisks for Missouri and Kentucky, admitted to the rebel cause minus written declarations of secession). With the single exception of Florida, all reap much more today in federal tax dollars than they contribute to the national exchequer.
All these states, Florida included, are run by white politicians from what should properly be re-christened the Republican Tea Party, an extreme right-wing amalgamation of corporatists, bigots, know-nothings, plate-heads, and hemorrhoid sufferers. As such, they steadfastly refuse to coöperate with politicians of the multi-racial Democratic Party. In general, Teapublicans believe that laissez-faire capitalism was invented by God in Heaven (who, by the way, hates homosexuals), global warming is a hoax, Jesus Christ is the lone light of the world, and Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is a “lie straight from the pit of Hell,” as Republican Tea Party Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia famously put it.
Throughout last year, hundreds of thousands of Southerners, presumed to be white Teapublicans, voiced individual desire to withdraw from the United States of America—where, at present, a black Democrat holds presidential office. In his column for the Washington Post newspaper, Dana Milbank reported the following in November 2012:
The White House, in [an effort to] make people feel warm about democracy, launched a ‘We the People’ program on its website last year, allowing Americans to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures…is promised a response.
President Obama’s opponents…want to secede from the union. If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them.
Should secession actually occur, we Yankee vulgarians would be relieved of expenses related to social-medical-military-police-transportation-infrastructure support for states administered by nincompoops who drain federal coffers. Mr. Milbank suggests this would amount to a financial boon, very welcome in a time of economic distress. He cited examples of Southern drainage, based on figures provided by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. These include:
• Louisiana, where 28,000-plus residents signed on to the website to advocate for secession, receives $1.45 in federal largess for every one of the millions of dollars paid in taxes;
• Missouri, where some 22,000 people demanded secession, gets a return of $1.29 on each of its tax dollars;
• Alabama, with more than 20,000 rebel signatures, takes in $1.71 for each tax dollar paid.
By comparison, the states of New York and Colorado get back 79¢ for each of their respectively outgoing tax dollars, with Michigan getting 85¢.
Bottom line: last January, more than 675,000 cyberspace secessionists received their promised response. It was short and negative. Jon Carson, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, cited the little matter of Texas v. White, a U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1869 which found that individual states had no constitutional right to secede.
He added, “Our founding fathers established the Constitution ‘in order to form a more perfect union’ through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot—a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it.”
But behold below—an insistent quartet representative of the menagerie longing to form a Neo-Confederate States of America:
TOP LEFT: Former Governor Rick Perry of Texas, bumbling Republican Tea Party presidential candidate in 2012 (perhaps as well in 2016), and father of the contemporary Southern secessionist movement. In May 2009, he told a cheering throng of Confederate flag wavers in Austin, “If Washington continues to thumb their nose (sic) at the American people,” he and his fellow Texans might avail themselves of an 1845 agreement that the state could secede at will—an agreement that seems not to exist, according to researchers at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
TOP RIGHT: Unidentified moron, unfamiliar with conventional spelling, at a secession rally in suburban St. Louis, Missouri.
BOTTOM LEFT (center): South Carolina clown and state legislator Glenn McConnell, togged out in an old-time Confederate army general’s uniform and flanked by foolish black actors in old-time slave regalia. The trio was a hit at the “Southern Experience” costume ball of September 2010, sponsored by the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women.
BOTTOM RIGHT: God-fearing lawyer and radio ranter Chris McDaniel of Mississippi, who aims to become a Republican Tea Party U.S. senator on the considerable strength of his state’s white racist vote. This summer, he addressed a Jackson assembly of secessionists. Fellow speakers included a man who claimed that President Abraham Lincoln was a secret admirer of Karl Marx (1818-1883), the German philosopher and economist who authored “The Communist Manifesto.”
In fairness to my Southern friends, and their friends, a Neo-Confederate manifesto should include a municipal opt-out clause. In the same way that Hong Kong was able to become a city-state, apart from the Peoples Republic of China, certain islands of reason and erudition in the American South should be allowed to secede from neo-rebel states. The city of Austin would surely wish to part company with Rick Perry’s Texas, for instance; likewise Asheville from North Carolina, Oxford from Mississippi, Charleston from South Carolina, New Orleans from Louisiana; perhaps even sadder-but-wiser Montgomery from Alabama. Additionally, a Neo-Confederate manifesto should defer to Washington in the establishment of a new U.S. agency—call it the “Bureau of Three R’s.” This would serve to rescue, repatriate, and relocate all clear-thinking Southerners who would just as soon not live under the likes of Republican Tea Party yahoos and kluxers certain to consolidate power.
My friend in Minneapolis, meanwhile, has another thought in the fairness category. Rather than inviting anyone with fingers and a laptop to click “secession” on the White House website, he asks that a scientific poll seek the consensus of Americans on two fundamental questions, says Mr. Semans:
• Would you support a second secession from the U.S.?
• If yes, would you support the return of slavery?
“The sheer fact that these two basic queries need to be asked dictates that we get an answer,” Mr. Semans wrote. “Gallup or Pew or any of the other reputable polling organizations could take on this issue tomorrow, but they won’t. Why? Is it because they are fearful of what they would find?”
Quite recently, Mr. Semans received an answer, of a singular though fearfully significant kind. On October 28, a video recording came to light in the western state of Nevada, wherein Republican Tea Party Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told a meeting of Storey County residents that he would cast a pro-slavery vote in the Legislature if so desired by his constituents.
“If that’s what they wanted,” said Mr. Wheeler, “I’d have to hold my nose, and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head—but yeah.”
Thomas Adcock is American correspondent for CulturMag.