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Op-Ed: The (Coming) War Between the States?

By Mr Garibaldi     Feb 20, 2008 in Politics
With the declaration of independence by Kosovo from Serbia this past weekend, other separatist regions are looking to them as an example. Given that there is U.S. support for this, how well did it go over when the south tried to go independent in 1860?
This past week Kosovo declared it's independence as a free and sovereign nation. Personally, having followed the breaking down of life in general into day to day survival in the former Yugoslavia during the 90's, I'm very happy for them. The United States and several NATO member nations are on board with this move, which is naturally being seen as a bad thing by Russia and several other former Soviet Bloc nations.
"Serbia will ... do everything in its power to revoke the unilateral and illegal declaration of independence," President Boris Tadic said in the capital moments after Kosovo's parliament voted in Pristina to break off from Serbia.
But he said Serbia would not use force to reclaim the breakaway province, and urged Serbia's political parties and the 130,000 Serbs living in Kosovo "to remain calm."
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica lashed out at U.S. President George W. Bush for supporting Kosovo's independence bid, saying the U.S. leader's name would go down in "black letters" in Serbian history.
The situation with Kosovo has given me cause for pause, to reflect, and to ponder a bit our own situation here at home. All one has to do is to turn on the nightly news and follow our current Presidential campaigns, read what people are saying, listen to their thoughts and their words, and see that we, ourselves, are a nation that is once again in danger of dividing. Berkeley, California, comes readily to mind as what could be a foreshadowing of what could lie down the road for our own nation.
Some of you may have seen some of this before, as I have written on this topic before, but to others of you, this line of thinking, from me, will be brand new to you.
I want to make this disclaimer before you, the reader, continues into this particular posting. I want it to be known that I am in no way advocating nor promoting the taking of arms by the citizenry of the United States against our government. My record will show, if you have been following what I write for any length of time whatsoever, that I am behind our troops and the President in regards to the war in the Middle East. I may take issue with the administration on other things, on issues such as abortion, illegal immigration, and any host of other things involving our government. That being said, I want it perfectly clear that I am NOT advocating uprisings of any sort.
That being said, I'm going to venture into an area that I hear daily discussed on talk radio shows across the southeastern U.S. that don't make it into the headlines nor into the topics of national talk radio shows. Southerners, by and large, are an irritated group of people. And they're starting to vent their frustrations verbally in public forums.
Anyone who has ever been to the South has seen a certain red, white, and blue flag flying in front yards throughout the countryside or on bumper stickers of cars and pickup trucks driving down the highways. The American flag flies high, shown with great pride in the South. So does the other flag to which I refer; the Confederate battle flag, known widely across the country and the world as the Rebel flag. I know what I'm about to say is going to annoy some. So be it. What I'm about to say isn't going to feed propoganda of groups like the NAACP, the Klan, or any other groups that are out there rallying around the Rebel flag or trying to get rid of it for their own causes. What I'm about to say about this is the heartfelt sentiment of many Southerners, men and women who don't fly the flag out of hatred or for racial reasons, but for other reasons that we're going to explore today.
So if you can follow along for a bit to learn a bit and to stop and think, without letting left wing or right wing bias cloud your thinking, please continue. If you're already planning to go on the attack for what I'm about to say? You might as well stop right now and close this, don't even bother to continue. For one, I'm not going to be baited by leading comments or suggestions, and for two, those of you who do that are not worth my time in responding to. Discussion, yes, but responding to attacks? Better things to do.
What I'm about to say comes from years and years of having the same conversation over and over and over again with people who love the South, live in the South, and love our country as a whole as well as the South, but also love a deep heritage that is unique to the Southerner. For those of you who choose to read on from this point, let us continue.
There are any number of bumper stickers in the South bearing a little cartoon figure in Confederate gray waving a Confederate flag with the words "Surrender, Hell!", "Lee surrendered, I didn't," or the bumper sticker featuring the American AND Confederate flags stating "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God" on them.
Northerners who come to the South and see them have various reactions to these effigies, varying from "quaint," "cute," "charming," to "racist," "hateful," and "gotta be a redneck." From Maryland and Virginia southward to Miami, across Tennessee, Arkansas, and down into Texas, even in Kentucky and Missouri, the Confederate flag is everywhere. One hundred and forty-two years after Appomattox, why is there still such a display of the Confederate flag?
One answer is Reconstruction. A period of time that should have been a time of healing after the war only served to further deepen the resentments of Southerners against the North. Contrary to popular beliefs written by historians after the war, ingrained in the mindset of the public in regards to the Civil War, the war itself was all about slavery. It wasn't. Slavery was only one issue among a great, great many. Slavery, in fact, was becoming an economic hardship on slaveholders and was, by economic necessity, on it's way out. Historians are on both sides of this argument, but by looking at things from a fiscal and financial point of view, the introduction of the cotton gin and other advances in farm machinery opened the door for the end of slavery. Call slavery what you will, evil or necessary, there are a few facts that should be kept in mind in regards to the practice: Christ did not condemn slavery (nor is it condemned anywhere in the Bible), a great number of African tribes sold prisoners from other tribes to white slavers through the centuries that Africa was being used to provide slaves to the Americas and Europe, and slavery is a practice that even today is alive and well in the Muslim world under Islamic law.
At this point I want anyone who is reading this to get up, stretch your legs, go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee or whatever beverage of choice you prefer, and let your mind chew on that last one. Slavery is a practice that EVEN TODAY is alive and well under Islamic law.
Take five, people. Digest that information.
No, seriously, take five minutes to wrap your Western mind around the fact that slavery is alive and well in the Muslim world.
Okay, I'm going to assume that you've done as I've asked and taken five minutes to get this concept of slavery being alive and well in Islam into your thick American heads (I say that AS a thick headed American, chill out) and we can move on from here.
To get back on topic, the Civil War didn't end with Lee's surrender at Appomattox, in the minds of many Southerners. It went on hold. Especially after Reconstruction.
Nearly one hundred and fifty years later, issues such as abortion, illegal immigration, burdensome taxation (an issue eternal, it seems), states rights versus a large federal government (another holdover from the original war between the states), and a host of issues both new and old have grass roots Southern America in a state of outrage. At least once or twice a day in my travels with work, either in face to face conversations with people or hearing it on the airwaves, civil war is mentioned.
That should scare people.
For some reason, it doesn't.
Congress seems to be ignoring this. The Senate seems to be ignoring this. The White House? No idea what the White House position on it is. I will tell you, though, that the mindset of a number of Southerners out there is to take up arms again.
If that happens, and historically, it has already happened once, if that happens, A great many moderate thinking Southerners will resign themselves to the fact that "it's back on."
In the back of almost every Southerner's mind, Lee at Appomattox was nothing more than an extended cease fire that's been waiting for it's end. "Lee Surrendered, I Didn't." Day by day, week by week, month by month, left wing leadership is taking more and more Southerners into the mindset of "we don't need this."
Most of us have already disowned Al Gore.
Just a case in point.
I'm not saying these things in advocacy. I want that remembered. I want that clearly understood and comprehended. I'm saying it as a hope that there are people reading this who will wake up and listen. Not to prosecute. You don't prosecute over thoughts. When the thought police start taking to the streets, the people DO rise up and strike back. I'm saying what I'm saying because I have the hopes of an America described in the Charlie Daniels song "In America" that says "and you never did think that we'd ever get together again."
Extreme ideas cause extreme problems.
Now if you'll excuse me, someone has a Confederate battle flag that needs to be refolded from where someone has been looking at it and thinking...
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