||[Nov. 9th, 2004|09:40 pm]
My brother Ian, who writes the XTCIan blog, has, for better or worse, been an early adopter of the idea of a blue state secession, including a map showing the western, north-eastern, and upper midwest states as a new country he calls 'American Coastopia.'|
Now I know Ian from back in the day, when I changed his poopy drawers, and pushed him around the block in a stroller. I interpreted the whole thing as him letting off steam. Certainly, he was no more mean-spirited in depicting the red-staters who re-elected Bush than, say, Ann Coulter is in her shrill railing against liberals. I don't think secession is something he is suggesting as a practicality. It is more like a happy fantasy, like, say, "The West Wing."
These things have a life of their own, though, and apparently the Washington Times can't distinguish between loose talk in liberal circles and a real threat to the union. In this article they claimed to have tried to ask the White House for a comment on this phenomenon, which to be fair, didn't originate solely with Ian. I imagine the White House's reaction is was amazement that the Times took a bunch of pottymouthed nerds from the Internets so seriously.
I don't subscribe to even talking about secession, even in jest, but I certainly understand the despair and anger that spawn the idea. I've never had the luxury of living in a place where my own political views were universally reinforced. My mom's family are all Mormons, and I live in a state with a lot of conservative Christians. In practice, if you don't pick useless fights with people you don't agree with, there's a lot of positive interaction and cooperation. In Iowa there is a traditional division between the Church Folk and Free Thinkers, and we mostly tolerate each other and focus on topics like the weather, and crops, and such. We don't have a litmus test before choosing which neighbors to help, or to accept help from.
You have to judge people as they come, and not feel like you have a lock on the truth. The more important distinction in my opinion is between those whom you trust and can work with, and those you can't trust or work with. There are a lot of real rock-ribbed Church folk who have treated me with tolerance and trust. If you treat people with respect, it is usually returned.
I think is my real reservation with this talk, serious or not, about secession, is that it implies a certain amount of contempt and rancor towards people who, most of them, are sincere, law-abiding, hard-working folk. It's mean-spirited in exactly the way conservatives accuse liberals of being. Why not be a liberal who, though you are clear about what you believe in, just treat your neighbors as neighbors? Why satisfy their prejudices about you?