Over the last several years there’s been quite a revival in the use of the concept of secession as one way to address various problems. While some people claim (with a great deal of support) that the claim for a constitutional right of secession was rejected by the Supreme Court in 1869, and others say the issue was resolved through force of arms (an argument that to me asserts that might makes right), still others endorse the concept. Moreover, the concept is not restricted to white southerners, although it does seem to attract them in disproportionate numbers, including those who would like to create a separate southern nation.
Now, I don’t particularly care for these sorts of discussions, especially when one discovers the sentiments behind many of these movements. Still, I do not see any harm in simple discussion, and, after all, it is political speech. If one put one’s mind to it, one could even devise a way through constitutional amendment to allow for secession (note that the advocates of secession seem reluctant to pursue that route). Instead, too many advocates of secession tend to brush off the dust from antebellum justifications for secession as if nothing’s changed, or they simply utter the word as a catch phrase devoid of intellectual comprehension (I’m looking at you, Governor Rick Perry of Texas).
I do have one suggestion for advocates of this position, including Michael, a blogger (who, as you can see here, has a rather extensive number of You Tube videos for your perusal) and Pat Hines, who identifies himself with this website. Both of these individuals have graced readers of this blog with their input recently. But here’s something to consider:
Set aside a defense of the Confederacy as part of your message. Whatever you do, don’t try to mix the political message you offer today with the historical perspectives you seek to promote. It doesn’t work well. For example, how do you expect to gain the support of black voters (not an insignificant voting bloc) if you continue to press the case that the war had little to do with slavery? Give Michael points for agreeing that it was deplorable. And how do you expect to gain the support of northerners who have migrated south if you castigate them as some sort of plague or label them colonizers? How exactly do you think you will secure their removal or submission?
Now, I understand that both of you are proud of Confederate heritage. However, linking your present-day calls for secession and independence (as well as a new southern nation) probably won’t gain much traction so long as you wrap the Confederate Battle Flag around your efforts. Moreover, Pat Hines agrees with me more than you might think:
This may disturb some Southern patriots who feel compelled to mount a defence of every symbol under attack, but the focus of SNC is not The War and The Flag. We have to re-orient ourselves to the future, not the past. Forget slavery and racism. We need never apologise for what we were, or what we are. When our detractors throw slavery and racism at us, we needn’t fall into the trap of responding. Instead, we must turn the argument back on them. It’s today’s wretched Regime that deserve condemnation for all the reasons stated above, not the last bastion of Christian culture and ordered liberty — the South.
So let it be understood, by ourselves as well as by our inevitable critics: we are not trying to reconstruct the Confederacy of 1861. We don’t apologise for it, and indeed we are justly proud of the courage, sacrifice, and dedication to principle our Confederate forefathers demonstrated. But the South is more than just a huge battlefield park. It existed before 1861 and after 1865. The cause of the South is not expressed solely in the tragic events of The War Between the States. We Southerners of today have legitimate interests, grievances, and solutions that have little to do with The War, and we need a forum relevant to today to express them.
Best of luck, gentlemen. I give your words publicity so that they may be part of the marketplace of ideas. Indeed, I’ve just given you some advice on the consequences of your use of Confederate heritage and your understanding of history. Look to the future and make your case there.