Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Second American Civil War

I'm a native Texan as the name of this blog implies. As a Southern girl, and we won't argue here whether or not Texas is truly a Southern state, the Civil War's influence was intense. It shaped and still shapes much thinking and much of our shared history. It was a shameful moment in that shared history yet one that is still not fully understood to this day.

Was it fought to free the slaves or was it about state's rights? Perhaps it was the Southern plantation owners last ditch effort control the future of US government. What role did religion play in breaking apart the Union?

I look at all these things and then look around me at the American landscape as it stands today and I weep.

I weep when I read about Oklahoma attempting to create legislation that says they don't have to abide by federal law on hate crimes.

I weep when I read about the Virginia governor trying to tell state agencies and colleges to strip protection for sexual orientation and gender identity from their anti-discrimination codes.  Or when a Mississippi high school cancels its prom rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend.

I weep when I read about the Ugandan "kill the gays" bill or Fred Phelp's "church" or any of the other Christianist leaders talking about how downtrodden and discriminated against and endangered they are.

I weep when I hear one more tale of Governor Big Hair and his anti-federal government screed.

They all remind me of my history. They remind me of the decade leading up to the American Civil War. A decade filled with divisiveness, religious intolerance and schism, turmoil and hate speech. It seems more and more like the decade we are living in, one where the people have lost faith in their political system and one where religion is used to justify hatred and intolerance, is more and more like the 1850s.

We seem unable to compromise. A huge segment of our population seems filled with fear: fear of losing their way of life, fear of change, fear of loss of power. A large portion of our economic engine (read corporations) are desperately trying to maintain and formalize their hold on our government. Much like the Southern plantation owner tried to maintain their grip on their federal government in the 1850s.

All the while we are egged on in ever increasing fervor by talking heads whose only true responsibility is to their pocketbooks. The Becks and Limbaughs and Coulters and Malkins of this world don't really care about the people desperate for an answer. They only care about themselves and their money. Yet their "free speech" serves only to divide us.

Those who will not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.


Dr. Jay SW said...

Nobody argues for "states rights" unless they have a particular right (like the right to own slaves, segregate, etc.) in mind--and this point is driven home by the "states rights" conservatives who want a "right to life" amendment, support the "defense of marriage act," want to nullify state laws allowing euthenasia and marijuana, etc.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Poignant and point on post Texan. I cannever wrap my mind around people who use religion to be judgmental and hateful.

I have been watching Food Inc with my students and they are so naive of Big Business corporations' tactics.

Redroach said...

As an American History Teacher in Texas, I am glad to see that my fear is not just me being paranoid.

States' Rights is just another reason for states to fight the feds because it makes some small minded shit happy.

The idiots are speaking loudly and everyone is trying to ignore them.

True Blue Texan said...

No, Red, it's not just you. I listen to these idiots spouting their state's rights and tenth amendment nonsense and I wonder if they've completely forgotten their history. More likely, they're of the ilk that think history isn't important.

Every time a new one hits the news, I shudder. When will it end? This time around we have no convenient Mason-Dixon line. This time around a civil war would fragment the US and destroy the country.

Don't these idiots realize that the nonsense they're preaching under the guise of patriotism is really treason?

Monica Roberts said...

As an African descended Texan, the term 'states rights' makes my skin crawl.

His 'I believe in States Rights' speech to open his 1980 presidential campaign is one of the reasons I and other African-Americans can't stand Ronald Reagan to this day.

As a proud third generation Texan I get pissed when I hear a sitting governor talk about secession.

And yes, if you peruse the Causes of Secession for the Confederate States, including Texas, it was all about slavery.

So yes, I'm concerned about the level of vitriol and ignorance being bandied about.