What happens when reenacting the Civil War is not enough? It looks like some folks have found a solution—twenty-first century secession!
Neo-confederates from around the country are rejoicing today because they have actually found an ally in their secessionist movement. New England has entered the fray. Fed-up with foreign wars and right-wing judges, the Middlebury Institute has called on liberal New England states like Vermont to secede from the Union.
New England will be sending representatives to the League of the South’s 14th annual national conference which kicks-off tomorrow in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I swear I’m not making this up—read the AP story HERE.
Though the secessionist movements in New England and the South are fueled by different elements—New England secessionists occupy the far left, while Neo-confederates inhabit the extreme right—they have several things in common.
First, they are dissatisfied with modern America. Though they highlight different issues—foreign policy, abortion, immigration, or taxation—they share a common sense of disgust with the federal government. These extremists have come to the solution that secession is their only alternative. They believe they can handle these issues better than their elected representatives in Washington.
Second, they reject the United States Constitution. They will tell you otherwise, but be skeptical. The constitution provides the mechanism for real change. It is a flexible document. The framers understood that Americans would grow weary of their government. They foresaw the rise of factions along sectional and ideological lines. However, the constitution provides a platform for these factions to air their grievances. The United States Congress is the forum to talk about American foreign policy, abortion, immigration, and taxation. If you don’t like what the Congress says about those issues, then elect other representatives. Storming out of the country is a rejection of the most fundamental promise of the constitution.
Third, these secessionist movements can each trace their lineage back to failed movements. New England Federalists discussed secession during the War of 1812—a foreign war against England they wanted no part of. The American public was outraged by the infamous Hartford Convention and the Federalist Party never recovered. Southern secessionists have a much more prominent example of failure. The Confederate government not only lost a war for their independence, but they also failed to create a viable government.
So what do they have planned for the national conference? Neo-confederates will be pleased with the program. Thomas Fleming is slated to give the keynote address. Fleming edits the Rockford Institute’s Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. In 1990 he argued that “government-imposed civil rights” was “an unmitigated disaster for everyone.”
The conference will feature additional speakers, all well-known to members of the League of the South. Franklin Sanders will no doubt talk about unjust government taxation. His views did not land him in jail, but his failure to pay his state and federal taxes certainly did.
Michael Hill is scheduled to speak as well. Not only is he a founding member of the League of the South, but his resume is very attractive to members of the organization. He studied under Grady McWhiney and Forest McDonald. In addition, he taught at Stillman College, a historically black college, for eighteen years.
Walter D. “Donnie” Kennedy is perhaps the most well-known speaker. You may have come across his books at Barnes and Noble. The South Was Right! features a confederate flag on the cover. Was Jefferson Davis Right? is a misleading title. There is no doubt in Kennedy’s mind—Davis was a good guy. Myths of American Slavery is simply mind-boggling. Give it a look.
So brace yourself New Englanders. You’re in for a real treat. You’ll hear plenty of talk about the tyrannical federal government and unjust taxation. You’ll hear dozens reasons why secession is preferable to the current state of affairs.
But take my advice New England. If you want to have a good time in Chattanooga, there are several things you must avoid. Don’t talk about the American Civil War or Reconstruction; the same goes for religion and the war in Iraq. Steer clear of anything to do with immigration policy, the courts, and abortion. When you hear things you don’t agree with, just bite your tongue. Just remember: you’re all in Chattanooga for the same reason!