In a recent column for the Charleston City Paper I explained how my moniker, the “Southern Avenger” came from my advocating for states’ rights and even secession in my early 20’s, a brand of politics I still subscribe to today. Long comfortable with such concepts, it’s easy to forget that plenty of folks are not, and was reminded promptly by a number of readers that the very notion of Americans no longer living under the same government is still considered “crazy” by many. Here are a few of those comments:
“Just great! What we need is to divide our country into a Balkanized mish-mash of impotent little ‘countries.’ This is crazy talk, meant only to incite as far as I can see.” Another wrote: "So, are we asking for the idea of 50 individual countries? Talk about a screwed up idea.” A kind critic wrote: “Jack – I'm a big fan… but the secession idea these days is on par with colonizing the moon. It just doesn't make sense.” And a less kind critic wrote: “You need to broaden your exposure to world ideas. This column shows how narrow your focus is. You haven't grown much from your early years. You thought you knew it all then and still do.”
While I’m always more fascinated by the amount of stuff I don’t know, than I am the narrow worldview that exists between my two ears, I am quite certain of two things: big government doesn’t work – and yet it is always considered sound, sane and respectable to advocate for it. And the opposite is also true – to advocate for smaller government is acceptable so long as you’re talking about voting Republican or lowering taxes, but the moment you try to actually seek limiting Washington, DC’s jurisdiction, it’s time for a straightjacket.
Upon his death in 2005, George Kennan was remembered for lots of things, but being crazy wasn’t among them. As a U.S. ambassador, adviser, political scientist and historian, Kennan was known as the “father of containment” and was one of the most influential architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. Kennan’s New York Times obituary described him as “the American diplomat who did more than any other envoy of his generation to shape United States policy during the cold war,” Gen. Colin Powell described him as “our best tutor” and Foreign Policy Magazine declared Kennan “the most influential diplomat of the 20th century.”
But in his later years, Kennan had also become a full-blown secessionist, advocating independence for the state of Vermont and imagining a United States that would break up into “a dozen constituent republics.”
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