Tarnished by its association with slavery and jackasses who drive pickups with confederate flags on them, secession has gotten a bad name — particularly on the left, and especially now that a Democrat’s in power; I certainly don’t hear liberals talking about breaking off from “Jesusland” as much as I used to. But should openly discussing the fact that the United States as a geopolitical entity is not set in stone, was not created by the Good Lord on the sixth day, and may not in fact represent the final, perfected stage of human development be verboten?
David Swanson, reviewing Bill Kauffman’s new book, Bye Bye, Miss American Empire, doesn’t think so:
Those advocating secession today do not seem easily divisible into left and right, a division that appears as artificial and superimposed a distraction as that between Sunni and Shia or north and south Vietnam. The motives behind secession center around resentment of foreign empire — not just the imperial escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and the rest of the globe, but also the imperial idea of governing Alaska or Maine from Washington, D.C. In place of this distant, anti-communal, outside rule, the people of Vermont could keep their money and their self-respect, not to mention their militia (which is now called the National Guard and shipped overseas to plunder in the interests of Washington, D.C., not Vermont). If pieces of the United States grew tired of funding wars and Wall Street, BP and Massey Energy, if a group of us determined that we’d rather elect our elected officials than buy them, if we objected to the media outlets in our state being owned by outsiders, if we finally said we weren’t going to stand for another Code Orange day at the airport and were going to keep our clothes on when we traveled but cease antagonizing half the world against us, well what harm would be done exactly by pulling out?
Of course it’s not just the Civil War that makes us long for federal supremacy. It’s Jim Crow. It’s Arizona Apartheid. There are states that would move right if they detached and others that would move left. But it’s not clear to me that the people of Arizona would have a harder time undoing racist laws if, instead of appealing to a broken federal government thousands of miles away, it were forced to appeal only to itself and to establish for itself international respect and recognition.