by Ron Kenner
Baldwin Hills, Calif.
November 30, 2012
Part II: THE UNMENTIONABLE CONUNDRUM
BLOOMSBURG, Pa., Nov. 27, 2012 -- A white Ford F-250 pick-up rumbled through town, a Confederate rebel flag flapping on a pole behind the cab; on the rear bumper were a pro-life and three anti-Obama stickers, the thrust of which two of which are not for a family newspaper.
It wasn't a lone-wolf protest; several cars, trucks, and homes in the area sport the same flags and messages. During the summer, when a 4-wheel Jamboree and a Monster Truck rally are held at the local fairgrounds, attracting thousands from a multi-state area, many trucks fly Confederate flags, insignia, and political statements. During the annual eight-day fair at the end of September, vendors sell all kinds of items with the Confederate battle flag, most of them made overseas.
The rebels say they are fierce independents. But being a "rebel" doesn't mean you can complain about paying taxes, while also denying climate change and evolution. Nevertheless, those flying rebel flags, although they may be disenchanted and alienated from the mainstream, are still part of traditional mainstream America.
They may claim they oppose "government" (also known as "gummint") intruding upon their lives, but think it's perfectly acceptable for government to make rules about sexual practices and to invade women's bodies.
They also believe government has the duty to create laws to require national identification for every citizen and establish restrictive measures that weaken the rights of all people to vote, especially those who aren't white Establishment Republicans.
When the American forces invaded Iraq for reasons that were questionable at best, chest-thumping jingoistic "rebels" were the strongest supporters of military action. But they remained largely silent when liberals and social activists spoke out about soldiers and their transportation not being given adequate body armor, and military hospitals not giving the wounded adequate treatment - and about the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction that for some justified the war in the first place. They have also remained largely silent about the combat veterans who make up one-fourth of America's homeless.
These pretend-rebels gave standing ovations to the PATRIOT Act that established numerous ways the government could violate rights granted by the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments. When the federal courts ruled parts of the Act to be unconstitutional, the "patriotic rebels" complained about "activist" judges.
They listen to conservative talk radio and Fox News, all of which bash the government, the President and mainstream media, but don't recognize that the very sources they turn to for information are also mainstream media, owned by Establishment multi-millionaires.
They willingly agree with Mitt Romney, even in defeat, that 47 percent of Americans are takers who "want stuff," but don't recognize that one of the biggest takers who wanted more stuff was Romney himself, who ran a venture capital company that only existed to take over other companies and suck their assets dry.
Even his fellow Republicans, during the primary debates, called Romney not a venture capitalist but a "vulture" capitalist.
In a local newspaper, which daily opens a full page and sometimes two full pages to dozens of one- or two-paragraph, grammatically-challenged rants from local citizens, most on a variation of President Obama being a Kenyan-born Muslim who is leading America into Communism and self-destruction, their thoughts mimicking the screed of conservative talk-show hosts, pundits, and associated bloviators.
But the rebel who drove the white F-250 doesn't live in the Deep South; this is in the rural "Red" center of Blue-state Pennsylvania, home of the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War.
The Civil War - known as the War Between the States among Confederate sympathizers - is still being fought. Almost 25,000 Pennsylvanians have now signed petitions to have the Keystone State secede from the Union.
More than a million citizens upset about the re-election of President Obama have, in the past two weeks, signed petitions calling for their states to secede. The states with most of the signatures are Red states, paralleling the former Confederacy, which receive far more than their citizens pay in federal dollars. They are also the states where numerous polls reveal at least one-fourth of all citizens don't believe in the separation of church and state. Maybe the U.S. can convince Iran and Saudi Arabia, theocratic dictatorships, to annex them?
However, Texas, with more than 120,000 signatures, leads all lists of secession petitioners. It would be tempting to send the Lone Star State back to Mexico. They get Texas, and the U.S. gets Acapulco, Cancun, and Mazatlan.
In 2009, running for re-election, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, trying to burnish his ultra-conservative credentials, had even suggested that not only did he align himself with right-wing extremists but that Texas could become so mad at the federal government they might consider seceding. But now, he says he disagrees with the citizens who ignorantly claim the 10th Amendment uniquely gives them right to secede.
Perhaps it's because Gov. Perry realizes that the only way a state can secede from the union, according to the Constitution, is by an armed insurrection - not by having a majority of citizens petition the White House or even holding a referendum - something that didn't work in 1861 and won't work today.
Nevertheless, there is one possibility for those who so willingly signed secession petitions, mouthing off before they understood the penalties for treason.
For more than four decades, these conservative pretend-rebels told everyone who disagreed with them and protested American policy that they were un-American and un-Christian. Ignorant of even the basics of the Constitution or political philosophy, the conservative "rebels" called protestors for social justice pinkos, Commies, and traitors. They drilled into the public mind the mantra of "America - love it or leave it." By their own actions the past two weeks, it may now be time for a few hundred thousand to pack their bags and take their own advice.
Walter Brasch proudly calls himself a social activist who, although he often disagrees with government actions, believes in the right of the state to exist and to protect its citizens from all forms of terrorism and stupidity, both foreign and domestic. His current book, which looks at the American Revolution and the Revolution of the 1960s, is Before the First Snow, available at amazon.com and www.greeleyandstone.com