Bully Nation

Any time talk of secession comes up, many Americans are inclined to think back to that nasty period in our history: The War of Between the States (more commonly referred to by the uninitiated as The Civil War…which it was not—and I don’t just mean in a “ha-ha nothing civil about it” way, but BY DEFITION a “civil war” is when two powers fight over the control of one government. The American “Civil War” was nothing remotely like that. Calling it “civil war” was a calculated political move by Lincoln—a smart one, but a political move nonetheless) and automatically assume any talks of secession means war between north and south.

Even many Southerners today are quick to lambast the idea. I don’t know if this comes as a result of being whipped into submission once already, a fear of being perceived a racist, a fear of the federal government, a lack of knowledge or some combination thereof.

You want to know my theory?

Why thank you for asking…

I think it comes because of many American’s inherited ideals of the White Man’s Burden…or, if we modernize that: the need to control everyone else. Having taught ESL for several years and being friends with many of my former students, I see them post on various social media, and (when I can read them) they have no great love for the US—regardless of who is in the White House (I’m sorry all you Obamaites—the “world” doesn’t really like him that much better than the last guy despite what you’ve been told). And so that makes you wonder, what exactly is it that so many of them don’t like? To the poor of the world, the US is still the land of opportunity—well, it still represents that, even if it isn’t true. The truth is, they don’t like that we “police” the world.

And I don’t blame them. As much as I don’t want Iran to have nukes, why is it up to the United States to tell them they can’t? If Russia told us we couldn’t have something, we’d flip them the middle finger pretty quick because…well, we’re the US and that’s what we do. So why do we get to tell Iran what they can and can’t have?

Because we’re the bully nation.

Even with the current depressed state of the military, we have the world’s foremost military—hands down. He who holds the big stick makes the rules. So, we dictate to so many nations what they can and can’t do…not just because we can, but because we think we’re right.

And that brings us back to secession. As a nation we supported the breakup and secession of countries from Mother Russia; we supported the breakup of Yugoslavia; I imagine there are others of which I’m not aware. Why then, as a nation, do we refuse to allow “secession” to be part of the national discussion? It should be a very real part of the discussion. Secession doesn’t mean war. Russia still gets along fine with Ukraine and BeloRussia and Latvia. The US gets along just fine with Canada. There’s no reason to automatically assume that secession must be war, not at all.

Not long ago on Facebook, someone I don’t even know got violently mad about a secession comment I made. When I tried to get to the root of it, he basically said “because you can’t.” An old friend of mine, here on this blog some months ago could never answer the question “why do you care?” The truth is, they both think they know better than the people who talk secession…and therefore their will should be imposed on those with whom they disagree.

Just like a bully.


Filed under General

12 responses to “Bully Nation

  1. Very interesting post! I don’t know if we would wind up on the same page if we broke out the topic and really got into it, but I appreciate your call for level-headed discussion rather than dismissing a topic out of hand.

    • Thanks, Chris…and thanks for reading. I guess because the American Civil War is still such a huge part of the culture is the reason so many quickly equate secession with war…and with slavery. Which, of course, is just crazy. Would be interesting to see some legit discussions about the pros and cons of a Fractured States of America…

  2. Bruce Costa

    You had me with, “You want to know my theory?

    “Why thank you for asking…”

    Well done, as always!

    Could you speak more on the difference between Civil War and States War? I’m unclear as to why the presence of the Confederate States of America didn’t render this a fight by two powers for control of one government.

    • Bruce…I’m encouraged by your comment (and Zola’s) to dedicate an entire post to the reasons…I learned it in grad school and have never looked at the war the same! As always, my good pal, thanks for reading!

  3. Chris Henderson

    Roland, I never really considered all this until my sociology class, when my instructor would post stuff that really got my dander up, so I started doing research. I SO agree with you about us being bullies. We are truly Ugly Americans. As you say, what gives us the right to tell other nations how they should behave? To go a little deeper, shouldn’t we be cleaning up our own act before we point fingers at others? I really believe that we need to focus for a while on domestic issues and let other governments worry about their own well being for a while.

    Some would argue that because of Commerce, we are no longer individual nations, but that is baloney, too. We CAN do business with other countries and still not be their ‘police’. You don’t tell Krogers how to stock their stores or schedule their employees do you?

  4. Chris Henderson

    One more thing – re your comment on Civil War. Never thought about that, either, but we were trying to do just the opposite, weren’t we? Not fighting over control of ONE government, but wanting to pull away, creating two? Will have to research more – I don’t know enough to discuss this with any intelligence. Thanks for tweaking my brain.

  5. Zola

    Your posts on this subject always tweak my brain, too. I was raised in the North with all that goes with being taught the glories of Abraham Lincoln and all that, but my ancestors were Southerners and all of them who fought in the war were Confederates, so I’ve often pondered their point of view. I belong to an organization of descendants of prisoners of Point Lookout where my great-grandfather was imprisoned by Yankees, and their newsletters can get a bit radical sounding in their resentment of the North. I’m learning much from you, and I particularly appreciate the open and informed way you address the issues and make me think.

    • I’m sure you’ve often heard that the winner get to write the history books…there is a lot of truth in that. History would tell you that most southerners were nasty slaveholders who beat their slaves mercilessly every day. That simply isn’t true as around 90% of the soldiers who fought for the south owned no slaves. It was much then as today: the wealth is controlled by the top few. IF they were fighting to “ONLY” preserve slavery…well, the southern armies would have been much much smaller. While slavery was certainly a PART of the issue, it was much more than that. And Lincoln, while at the bottom of my list of presidents, was an excellent politician in that he did what had to be done to get what he wanted done.

  6. Quinton

    I agree with your assessment fully. Whenever someone speaks of sucession some “I know better than you just because” steps in and attempts to ridicule and marginalize the person. Folks… The constitution was written to PROTECT US FROM THE GOVERNMENT. In actuality, our government suceded from it years ago…. That’s why we’re where we’re at and why we are talking about this. And Lincoln… He should have a memorial …. For being the best politician in history.

    • I’ve always thought it funny that we hold Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the bunch in such high esteem for seceding but hold Davis, Lee and that bunch as traitors (well, “I” don’t, but many do).

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