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Escape to Civil War Land

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Jesse Sublett       (Page 1 of 5 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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During the 2012 presidential campaign the Republicans talked an awful lot about democracy and American principles, but after the November 6 election, when their ideas were rejected by a large majority, it turns out they're not all that fond of those things. Mitt Romney's   dream of a nation of yeomen corporations was downsized and shuttered--despite the countless roadblocks to voting in Democratic-leaning and minority-heavy districts, erected by people who talk loudly about democracy and the constitution, but their actions send a very different message.

Now they're mad as hell and they just want to get away from it all.

Over at the  White House "We the People" online petition forum, tens of thousands of these dead-enders are signing secession petitions, asking that their state (actually, not just their own state, as you don't have to be a citizen of the state whose petition you're signing) be allowed to go its own way, perhaps to become an indie republic, perhaps to team up with other unhappy-feeling states to form a sort of post-modern Confederacy.

Antietam, Confederate Dead on Hagerstown Road 1862
(Image by Library of Congress public domain)
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Antietam, Confederate Dead on Hagerstown Road 1862 by Library of Congress public domain

It's a weird thing. After his defeat, Mitt picked up his sad face and went to Disneyland, but the sorest of losers seem to be heading off to Civil War Land.

Raging against the iron boot heel of affordable health care on their necks, not to mention clean air and water, a path to energy independence, foreign wars ending, terrorists hunted down and expanded guarantees of fairness and equality in marriage, the workplace and the military, these sore losers want to take their toys and go home. Actually, the place they yearn for isn't home, exactly, but some fantasyland version of the USA, one that exists somewhere in the silver mists of their misguided adolescent fantasies. In a time when so many conservatives believe in a literal interpretation of the biblical story of creation, as well as absurd new definitions of rape and personhood, it's no surprise that their ideas about the founding fathers' vision of the Republic seem about as thin as a pop-up book on the US constitution.

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Silly as this secession talk sounds, in some a ways it's a big deal. As of noon Friday, December 7, secession petitions from 40 states had been filed through the wonderful new White House widget. Not surprisingly, Texas leads the pack,  with 118,949 signatures. The person who created this petition, identified as "Micah H., Arlington, TX," filed it on November 9, 2012. That's three days after November 6, when Barack Obama was reelected, and three days plus 152 years after the election of Abraham Lincoln. The prelude to the US Civil War began on December 20, six weeks later, when South Carolina voted to secede. Ten additional states left the Union over the next several months. (Texas was number seven.)

As of December 7, 2012, only 24,809 had signed the South Carolina petition to secede (again). Since it's known as the "Cradle of Secession" you'd think there would be more interest. Maybe it's a case of been-there-done-that.

The 2012 petitioners complain that the federal government has egregiously abused their constitutional rights. Interestingly, the 11 treasonous states who withdrew from the Union in 1860-1861 also complained about their rights being steamrolled by both the fed and the northern states. The primary rights at issue concerned slavery--the right of Southerners to buy, sell, keep, rape and otherwise utilize slaves as their personal property, to have such property returned to them when runaway slaves escaped to states where slavery had been outlawed, and other such deeply cherished rights.

Ironic and ugly, isn't it? Why would anyone want to be associated with a verb like "secession" these days?

As we have seen in so many other examples of tragic-comic bad behavior, Texas is only too proud to be leading the way. None of the other secession petitions comes close to Texas. The second most popular, Louisiana, had 37,289. Five other states have 30,000-plus signatures, six others have 20,000-plus signatures, and then the numbers fall off rather quickly. In case you want to see where your state ranks in this online wall of shame, go to the   "We the People"  home page

To qualify for posting on this online platform, a petition must collect 150 signatures within 30 days. The petition must amass 25,000 signatures in the next 30 days to merit an official response from the White House. This could be interesting to watch. I'm anxious to hear what the President says about the petition to: "Deport everyone that signed a petition to withdraw their state from the United States of America."  That one already has 26,405 signatures.

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As a Texan, I feel some responsibility for this, sort of like inheriting an original sin. When I was a boy growing up in Johnson City, Texas, I remember how proud it made me that Texas was so big and storied, a state that was once an independent nation. We used to take our toy guns to the dumping ground by the creek near my house and reenact famous battles like Custer's Last Stand, the Shoot-out at the OK Corral and the previous week's episode of Combat. Every adolescent boy had a coonskin cap in those days, and so we idolized Davy Crockett, and we fought the hell out of the Battle of the Alamo, over and over again. In that one, we all died, just like the 200 or so doomed defenders in San Antonio on March 6, 1836. Then we'd spring back to life and reenact the Battle of San Jacinto, where on April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston  led a larger Texan Army into a deadly ambush of Santa Anna's forces, who happened to be sleeping at the time. The Texans howled "Remember the Alamo" as they drove the Mexican Army into a humiliating defeat. Thus, liberty and revenge were achieved in one fell swoop.

Houston's military leadership, combined with his service in public office, his skills as a multi-cultural ambassador, and the fact that he was just a damned interesting dude, combined to make him Texas' greatest hero--even more beloved than Rick Perry, even though Perry has served longer in office than Houston.

Options for Remembering the Alamo are infinite by Jesse Sublett

When you're a kid, fighting with make-believe weapons and invisible bullets, it's awesome fun to go down in a blaze of glory, fighting for a seemingly brilliant cause--even though you don't yet have the fuzziest idea of the facts behind it (even though we were obliged to take a full two years of Texas history in public school).

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Jesse Sublett is a regular contributor to An author, ghost writer and musician in Austin, Texas, he has published crime novels, eBooks, true crime, memoir, essays and journalism. His work has appeared in New York Times, Texas Monthly, (more...)

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