A recent posting and discussion over at Civil War Memory centered around "counter-factual" history - or "what may have been" if the Confederacy had won. The comments also delve into secessionist thinking and its "unpatriotic" foundations. Most of the posting and the comments are themselves quite "counter-factual" - suggesting that most of those who entertain such notions are "neo-Confederate extremists."
Nothing could be further from the truth. A good argument can be made that most modern secessionists in the United States are anything but "right-wing, extremist, neo-Confederates."
Bob Beckel who was, at the time, a Senior political analyst for Fox News and who has also worked as a Democratic Party strategist and consultant, made the following comments after the 2004 election:
“‘I think now that slavery is taken care of, I’m for letting the South form its own nation. Really, I think they ought to have their own confederacy,’ Mr. Beckel said on the ‘Fox and Friends” program.’” (The Washington Times, 9 November 2004)
And then there was the "Let's Ditch Dixie" piece that appeared in Slate Magazine after the 2000 election. That piece included these comments:
"The United States doesn't have to refight the Civil War to set matters right. Rather, North and South should simply follow the example of the Czech Republic and Slovakia: Shake hands, says it's been real, and go their separate ways. And if the South isn't inclined to leave anytime soon, then we should show them the door by seceding unilaterally."
And . . .
"Economically and socially, secession will be painless for the North. The South is a gangrenous limb that should have been lopped off decades ago." (How nice. Shows what many elites really think about Southerners, doesn't it?)
The author of the Slate piece was Mark Strauss, not someone who could be easily dismissed as some left-wing, hack-blogger. (Left-wing, yes. Hack, no.) He's a journalist and senior editor at Smithsonian Magazine and has written for a number of other left-leaning publications including The Washington Post and The New Republic.
Moreover, if you're concerned about modern secessionist thinking, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of academia, not your local SCV meeting. As Dr. Ed Kaitz has pointed out:
College campuses across America are breeding grounds for secessionists. In all my years in academia I've rarely seen Old Glory displayed proudly in an office or a hallway, but I've seen plenty of images of Che Guevara and Karl Marx. I even had to endure a life size portrait of Mao Tse Tung in a colleague's office for some years during graduate school. It comes as no surprise then that secessionists like Noam Chomsky are the favored speakers at our universities, not patriots like David Horowitz. (See source here.)
And regarding whether or not secessionist rhetoric or contemplation is patriotic, perhaps one should ask the White House:
Freehawaii.org notes that,
In 1993 the 103rd Congress unanimously signed into Public Law the Apology Bill. America publicly admitted to illegally overthrowing its ally and trading partner the Sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii and falsely imprisoning the beloved Queen Liliuokalani. Since then, America, has done everything it can to avoid the consequences of this Bill. The inevitable result will be the restoration of a sovereign Hawaii.
The official Democratic platform (which President Obama supports - who is in turn supported by a number of "neo-Confederate" critics) reads:
We support the efforts for self-determination and sovereignty of native Hawaiians, consistent with principles enumerated in the Apology Resolution and the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.
Any suggestion that secessionist thinking resides primarily with "extremists" and "neo-Confederates" on the right is simply counter-factual.