Sunday, May 10, 2009

Of Secession and Snobs

Along with numerous denouncements of America’s descent into socialism, one of the more peculiar and fascinating stories to emerge from the April 15 Tax Day Tea Parties was Texas Governor Rick Perry’s affirmation of secession.

Bringing up the idea of secession in the 21st century certainly seems out of place and the Texas governor has received much coverage for it.

In the Sunday, May 3, 2009 issue of the St Louis Post-Dispatch, columnist and native Texan Kevin Horrigan displayed his snobbery of secession and all things Texas for all to see.

Answering whether Texas and its governor have a right to secede, Horrigan determines that it’s just another goofy idea from Texas :

“Mr. Perry should have known better, but he attended college at Texas A&M, a place where myths never die. Aggies stand throughout football games in case the team runs out of players and one of them is needed. . . . Whenever one of the Aggies’ collie mascots dies, she . . . is buried at the north end of Kyle Field, facing the scoreboard. People who believe that dead dogs are interested in the score of college football games would have no trouble believing Texas could secede from the Union. Also, the dog attends classes with his handlers. Should the dog bark during a class, the class is cancelled. My theory is the dog was in Texas History class with Perry the day the teacher was going to explain that Texas’ right of secession was a crock. The dog barked, and, thus, Perry never got the word. People who believe in these sorts of things would have no trouble believing they can be reelected governor next year. . .”

The constant strain throughout this quote is Kevin Horrigan’s elitism. In it, he assumes that since many Texans engage in some silly, but perfectly harmless rituals that he doesn’t seem to care for, that makes them all stupid. Therefore, since Kevin Horrigan thinks that these little rituals are goofy or stupid, it means that their ideas, like secession, are also stupid.

The closest that Mr. Horrigan comes to refuting secession on facts is that Texas, having once been an independent nation, believed it had the option to leave the Union, i.e. secede, if “things didn’t work out.” He says that was not the case because they tried it in 1861 and it “didn’t work out.”

Horrigan thinks that answers the secession question for Texas. However, his assessment operates on the assumption that since secession didn’t work, it is a “crock,” to use his own word. But does he believe that about everything?

I wonder if the liberal Horrigan believes torture is a “crock.” We all know that torture was used but we also know that the United States classifies torture as illegal. But since torture took place, and according to Mr. Horrigan’s logic, that seems to indicate that torture is not a crock. So does that mean torture is actually legal?

Following Mr. Horrigan’s op-ed, I penned a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to take up cause not against the writer’s elitist snobbery, which was the main point of his essay, but his beef with the idea of secession.

So, is secession legal? Is it crazy?

Well, it might be crazy, but it is technically legal.

The legality of it should be evident to all Americans. All American citizens know that the United States was formed by declaring its independence from the British Empire and fighting to ensure that they would be separated from the Mother Country. What is this if it is not secession?

No less of an authority on the meaning of the American War for Independence than Thomas Jefferson believed so when he said in 1816, “any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation ... to a continuance in the union .... I have no hesitation in saying, 'Let us separate.’”

Earlier, in 1798, Jefferson and James Madison penned the famous Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, announcing that the states had the right to not enforce any federal law they did not believe was constitutional, keeping the national government in check. In those days, the states had more authority over the national government, due in part to the fact that the states preceded the Union.

However, this belief in secession was rebuked as a result of the War Between the States, which many, Kevin Horrigan being only one example, believe was because the seceding states were dragged back into a Union they felt they no longer belonged in.

Now we come to the reason why an indivisible union is necessary for the strong national government of today as opposed to the decentralized and deferential government bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers.

As the system works right now, the states are merely appendages to the national government, more like provinces or satrapies than entities truly in charge of their own affairs. With the Civil War rendering the 10th amendment, the states’ rights amendment, moot, the states are nothing other than corollaries to Washington D.C. No one can get away with saying today that state governments can overrule or nullify laws coming from Washington D.C. Since the state governments are ultimately subordinate to the national government, the people of the states are subordinate as well. If the country was more of the loose compact of states that it was before the Civil War, the national government would have a much harder time justifying the need to have military bases in 130 countries if the real sovereign were the states.

Perhaps the chief reason why secession and states’ rights are shunned by so many today is because they have been tied to racist causes. But believing that secession can only be used for racist causes horribly abuses the proper understanding of secession.

Rather than being used for ignoble purposes, secession is one of the strongest safeguards against tyranny coming from Washington. The farther away the national capital is from its constituents, the more draconian it has to be in enforcing its laws. The closer a capital is to its people, the less so. That was one of the reasons for the American Revolution: the right of local self-government.

All that said, secession is merely a legal right, not an outright necessity. But with seemingly every big industry getting “too big to fail,” meaning that its failure would be catastrophic, there is something to be admired about small things.

Let’s say these industries that are “too big to fail” do fail and havoc is wrecked. Now let’s say the same thing happens to the U.S. national government. What would we be left with? Just the smaller portions, like when the Soviet Union became so big that it had to fail.

So is secession crazy? Is the socialist road our country is on crazy? Seems less crazy to me and maybe even a few others.


Steel Phoenix said...

Government does not grant us our rights, it merely hasn't tried to take all of them away yet.

If Texas were to decide to secede, the federal government could complain all it wanted, but their only tools to get them back would be carrot and stick, not lawyers.

I'm curious as to you opinion on the superstitions of those people who call themselves good Christians (the ones not in their book). Are things like burying the dogs facing the scoreboard, astrology, believing in haunted houses, doing things 'for good luck' etc, against Christian principle?

Carl Wicklander said...

A far smaller national government waged a war over secession, although circumstances are such today that another war over secession would not be probable. However, I believe the carrot and stick approach will be the best way for them to prevent anyone from seceding.

As far as the superstitions mentioned, I don't put stock in them and I called them harmless. The main message of the Bible is that God sent Christ to die for the sins of humanity and that's the road to salvation. Believing in things like astrology are silly but do no damage to one's salvation as long as they don't put their ultimate trust in them. I know this is an area where we part company, but that's my take on it.

Steel Phoenix said...

Interesting take. I don't really know any religious people, except for some old Portuguese Catholic ladies and some people who refer to themselves as JewISH, so such distinctions often escape me. It has been my observation that most superstitions have enough self preservation to ostracize anything seen as an intrusion into their domain, but most Americans don't tend to follow the parts they don't like.

jw said...

Capitalism keeps us far too apathetic to engage in such a large scale "revolution."

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