I read an article* today which stated that there is a "white backlash" because of Mr. Obama's election, that the election "has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents" so far, and that this watershed event will be a "potent recruiting tool" for white hate groups.
That is seriously depressing. But I can't say it is entirely unexpected. People in this country -- heck, in many, perhaps even most countries -- have serious issues with race and ethnicity. Witness the genocide (to name just a few examples) in Darfur, in Bosnia, in Cambodia, in Nazi Germany ... the list goes on and on, back to the dawn of time.
Most of us have difficulty understanding how anyone in this country that is made up of immigrants from all over the world and with our Statue of Liberty proclaiming that we welcome the "teeming masses" -- refugees from foreign lands -- can hate a person based merely on their race or ethnicity. But there is, and long has been, in this country a substantial minority of persons who believe that folks who are "other" (i.e., "other than white and male") are somehow "lesser" and should therefore be hated (or at least "kept down").
I have Republican friends who feel angry, sad, scared, and a host of other negative emotions because of Mr. Obama's win, because they believe that with the Democrats in power they will lose money, the economy will get worse, and the country will veer toward socialism. Think what you want about whether these fears are rational and whether having Democrats in political power will be good or bad for the country, but whatever your beliefs about that, at least these reactions are based on someone's theory of economics and/or politics (things the election was supposed to be about), not based on the fact that Mr. Obama has dark skin and a mixed heritage.
The fact that some people feel angry, sad, scared, and a host of other negative emotions solely because our newly elected President is not a white male (and apparently without regard to whether they agree with his economic or political views) makes me feel angry, sad, scared, and a host of other negative emotions.
But here is the show-stopper: Apparently, according to the article, there is "talk of secession" in "some parts of the South."
I will concede that the fact that there is a "backlash" and that the election is serving as a "recruiting tool for hate groups" makes some sort of twisted sense. After all, people are often moved to act when something happens that they don't like. For example, the re-election of Bush 4 years ago was a "potent recruiting tool" for the Democratic party and many of Bush's policies may have unintentionally provoked a "Democratic backlash."
So if you are a close-minded bigot who believes in white supremacy but haven't been active in a supremacy group, then the election of a multiracial individual might spur you to join one. It's sad, but at least is logically consistent with the bigoted viewpoint.
But secession? Really?!? Didn't the South learn anything last time? Well, in case you've forgotten, or never studied it in your American History class, it was a complete disaster. Huge death toll. Houses, farms, towns, even whole cities (e.g., Atlanta) ruined. People left destitute. Brothers fighting brothers, sons fighting fathers, sisters being raped and killed.... And in the end the North won, and despite (some say because of) the "reconstruction" efforts, the South was in economic ruin for years. Why would anyone think it is a good idea to try that again?
I recognize that the number of persons proposing secession likely is not large, and I am guessing no State will actually try to secede from the Union because most people in the South (I know this because I was born and raised there) are not actually close-minded radical bigots. And I also concede that the article says they aren't talking about "1860's style secession," more of a political autonomy concept. But still...
Even to talk about secession merely based on who is President seems to me to demonstrate monumental stupidity. After all, our system is set up to encourage change and experimentation. Presidents serve only a 4 year term, and if they do a bad job they can be voted out at that time. If they are horribly corrupt, they can be impeached and tossed out even before then (e.g., Nixon). If they refrain from obvious corruption and either do a good job or smear their opponent enough during the subsequent election, they can be elected for another 4 year term, but then, no matter what -- good, bad, honest, crooked, worthy, unworthy -- they are gone. Why would anyone want to risk political upheaval, and the potential for civil war and economic disaster, over a mere 4 to 8 years of a President they don't like?
Truly, from a logical viewpoint, the slavery question and the Emancipation Proclamation provided a much better justification for secession. After all, whether you approved of the institution of slavery or not, the fact is that it was a way of life in the South and was even enshrined in our Constitution, and many landowners had lots of money invested in slaves and in the plantations on which they worked. Freeing the slaves was certain to cause economic upheaval and to change an entire way of life, and the change was going to last far longer than the 4 to 8 years that any given president would serve. While I think slavery was morally repugnant, I can understand how someone might feel compelled to fight for their way of life and their economic well-being when threatened with permanent change.
But I don't understand how someone would feel moved to secede from the Union and potentially trigger a civil war merely because someone they don't like has been elected President.
He'll be gone in 8 years, tops. Live with it, people!
Tomorrow, I'll share a stupid and humorous story right out of Arizona political history, which may make some of you even happier that Mr. McCain (an Arizona politician) was not elected.
(I must say, however, that I do not mean to imply, nor do I think, that Mr. McCain even begins to approach the level of stupidity, irrationality, and ignorance to be illustrated tomorrow. In fact, I think he is reasonably bright and is a decent and honorable person and a good family man (to paraphrase his description of Mr. Obama), with whom I happen to disagree on some issues.)
* (The article is here, at azcentral.com, but I don't know whether it will be there for long so if you are reading this months later, the link may no longer work.)