polotics Recent Memes: Civil War and Secession

I have mentioned in past posts that I take notice when a topic comes to me from different sources. This past week, after the violence in Iraq, a new movie release, a roommate’s offering maps and calendars on 19th century USA history, a puppet who is running for California’s governor, and a conversation with a friend from South Carolina, the phrases “secession” and “civil war” became prominent in my thoughts.

The Sunni-Shiite violence that has rocked Iraq has gotten major media coverage. Civil war and sectarian violence happens daily on the planet. Yesterday, Protestants and Catholics fought in the streets of Dublin, Ireland, while the stalemate in Kashmir barely gets news unless major bombing happens. But Iraq’s potential civil war looms darkly over the U.S. military occupation, and the region in general.

The N.Y. Times published a report titled “What Civil War Could Look Like” posed a worse-case scenario, stating that “Baghdad and other cities could become caldrons of ethnic cleansing, bringing revenge violence from one region to another. Shiite populations in Lebanon, Kuwait and especially Saudi Arabia, where Shiites happen to live in the oil-rich eastern sector, could easily revolt. Such a regional conflict could take years to exhaust itself, and could force the redrawing of boundaries that themselves are less than 100 years old.”

Iran would play a major role in any case (they’re already helping Shiite militias and politicians in Iraq), and the implications of any amount of unrest in the Middle East would prove detrimental, causing high oil prices and further straining our military-based economy. The foiled attempt to bomb an oil facility in Saudi Arabia shook world markets this week. A major regional conflict would create massive oil price spikes, and the United States could fall into economic turmoil not seen since 9-11.

Spike Lee’s production CSA: the Confederate States of America just opened up at the Roxie around the corner from my flat. Set up as a fake British documentary, the film goes “Ken Burns” and tries to pose deep-seeded questions about our society with a feel-good, mainstream angle. The concept of the CSA winning the U.S.’s Civil War is both hilarious and disturbing. How our history would’ve been if the South had won that war sheds light on the realities that the real aftermath brought. It also throws racism back at America, in a time where Muslims have been hit hard by the Anglo tendency to freak-out at an “other”. I plan on seeing this movie and can only wonder if it’ll see the light of day in my home state of South Carolina (the first state to succeed from the Union, starting our Civil War).

Continuing the theme, my roommate Pip offered up a calendar and a National Geographic poster on the U.S. Civil War. The above N.Y. Times article quoted Lincoln and called our war “America’s greatest ordeal.” Looking at the death total graphs of the battles eerily reminded me of the same graphs that newspapers print of U.S. soldier deaths in Iraq. I also learned that the influx of ordnance (guns and ammo) from other countries created the early stages of our military industrial complex: there were so many guns in the country, we had to sell them.

At a time where violence rages across the world (when does it not?), imagining major modern warfare (trenches in Virginia, armored ship battles on South Carolina’s coast, concentration camps in Georgia, etc.) in our own country may be hard for some to imagine. Connecting our violent present to our violent past, just like the above mockumentary connects our racism to historical racism, is needed if we’re ever going to end the cycle.

Secession came up a few times recently, one from organic farmer, activist, and puppet Johnnie UniteUs. Declaring his run for governor in early January, UniteUs has a long list of actions and remedies for the two-party system. His platform also recommends potential secession from the United States. The thought has been around for a long time, but UniteUs’ angle has an anti-war bent added in.

Why pay billions (currently $30B and rising according to costofwar.com) into the U.S. war machine when we could use that money to improve education, the environment, health care, and end poverty? California feeds the country and has the fifth largest economy in the world, so why lose all that tax revenue to the Bush administration? Can’t you feel the power of creating our own nation the way the people of California want it? Keep an ear and eye out for the people’s puppet candidate for governor. UniteUs says it himself, “if you’re going to have a puppet in office, it might as well be real one!”

Secondly, and lastly, my friend Jay dropped by to visit briefly and told me about a small ultraconservative movement happening in my home county of Greenville, South Carolina. Called the Christian Exodus, the organization plans on “moving thousands of Christians to South Carolina to reestablish constitutionally limited government founded upon Christian principles.” The Greenville News reported on the first families that have moved into the area, and quoted the state coordinator as saying that “secession ‘is a valid option…’ but he hopes it doesn’t come to that.” The agenda of the Christian Exodus is to elect local politicians who support radical policy against abortion and homosexuality, and the right of private property.

Though they are small and on the fringe, the idea of Christian nationalism resonates in that region. Jay told me that they’re creating alliances with local religious groups, and are creating grassroots outreach in the city. Bob Jones University, as well as many other ultra-right communities, already resides in Greenville, so making it a bastion of ultra-right politics makes surreal sense.

Topics, like buds on a cherry blossom tree, bloom at the same time. That makes the picking easy.

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