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Wonkette Book Club: Should The South Just Go Ahead And Secede?

Memaw would approveWell, duh. Hell, we’ll help ‘em pack.

God knows that every time Your Wonkette runs a story about some new idiocy coming out of a former state of the Confederacy, incredulous commenters have to ask “Why did we even let them rejoin the Union?” Travel writer Chuck Thompson decided that the question was worth exploring beyond the level of snotty blog comments (not that there’s anything wrong with those*), and the result is Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession. Thompson argues that despite getting back together after that big tiff a while back, the North and South just aren’t that into each other, so maybe it’s time to talk about divorce. He also insists he’s quite serious about all this, even if he’s grinning. But yes, he says, let’s take the Rick Perrys at their word:

One way or another, the social, political, and economic gridlock that’s paralyzing this country has got to be broken… [No political candidate] is bold enough to acknowledge the Rebel elephant in the room. None is willing to consider the possibility that breaking up the country through peaceful secession might be the most sane and effective way of saving it.

I am.

Thompson fleshes out his proposal with a detailed (albeit selective) examination of topics at the root of our national family fights: Religion, politics, race, education, and economics (and also, in a strange chapter smack dab in the middle of the book, college football — Thompson invites readers who don’t care about f’ball to treat it as a halftime break, so we mostly skipped it). He combines two years of travel and interviews throughout the South with a variety of data mined from history, journalism, and academic papers, plus some unapologetic stereotypes that he acknowledges are unfair and comically outdated, but justified “since few things are as hilarious to the northerner as a well-placed Snuffy Smith zinger.”

What it mostly comes down to, of course, is good old culture-war politics: It’s not so much that Southerners want “to refight the Civil War,” Thompson suggests, as that “far more of them want to refight the 1960s” — not merely the end of Jim Crow, but also the rise of feminism and the gay-rights movement, the loss of respect for authority and the military, and of course those damn kids with their drugs and their long hair and their rock-n-roll music. Perhaps it would be best, Thompson suggests, if we just stopped pretending to be a single nation:

a union based on such diametrically opposed approaches to societal organization — uncompromising Bible literalism versus protean secular law — is like a bad marriage that needs to end in order to save the children from turning into the same dysfunctional assholes as the parents.

Beyond bizarre manifestations of Biblical literalism like Kentucky’s tax-subsidized Creation Museum, Thompson sees fundamentalist certainty about the primacy of faith over evidence, combined with dogged romantic love of “The Lost Cause,” as the root of political obstructionism on everything from funding women’s health services through fights over raising the nation’s debt ceiling. It’s not merely that Southern politicians cite the Bible “as if it were the official law of the land;” it’s also that

Those who hold that God’s law is immutable arrive in the nation’s capital armed not with the diplomat’s skills of persuasion and compromise, but with the fanatic’s conviction that negotiation with infidels equals sin.

In addition to the obvious God Fights over abortion and gay marriage, this absolutism “makes a moral imperative of opposing the heathen’s political interests…be they tax relief for the poor or calls to fight childhood obesity.”

And so, since there’s “no more reason now to expect the South will start cooperating with the rest of the country than there was in 1860 or 1960,” maybe it’s time to split up and pursue separate destinies. The North, free of Southern obstructionism, could have high-speed trains, Keynesian economics, and single-payer national healthcare, and the South, free of Washington interference, could finally prove that prosperity flows from eliminating such impediments as unions, burdensome regulations and taxes, and the culture of dependency fostered by entitlement programs. After a while, “Americans would start thinking of the South as another Mexico, only with an even more corrupt government.”

Would it be easy? Of course not — and Thompson outlines some of the daunting practical dfficulties that would have to be addressed, such as economic and military treaties (he proposes that the South-less USA would maintain “Gitmo-like treaties on military facilities” in the CSA), allowing people to transfer citizenship for X number of decades, and so on. And as one of the southern academics he speaks to points out, Thompson simply assumes that a split would go forward following the North-centric blueprint his book proposes. For instance, Thompson would keep Texas in the USA, politically “Southern” though much of the sate is, mostly because it’s too economically important to let go. But why would Texans or the CSA go along with that? And what happens when a non-contiguous redneck state like Idaho wants to join the CSA?

Ultimately, these details are sort of like arguing about whether Darth Vader could beat up Gandalf, because we’re now into the realm of fiction — this just isn’t likely to happen, and we are pretty much stuck with each other. Even so, Better Off Without ‘Em makes for a fun, engaging read — let’s call it speculative nonfiction — and would make for a fine night of beer-fueled argument. Also, where can we join a book club that has beer?

Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, by Chuck Thompson, Simon & Schuster, 336 pages, $14.47 (Hardback). Kindle edition $11.99. (Use these linkies — or in fact buy anything at all via the Amazon box on the right side of the page — and Your Wonkette gets a cut of Jeff Bezos’s filthy Amazon Ameros.)

* (hat-tip to longtime Wonketteer Dean Booth for calling our attention to this book in exactly such a comment thread!)

About the author

Doktor Zoom Is the pseudonym of Marty Kelley, who lives in Boise, Idaho. He acquired his nym from a fan of Silver-Age comics after being differently punctual to too many meetings. He is not a medical doctor, although he has a real PhD (in Rhetoric and Composition).

View all articles by Doktor Zoom
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        1. AlterNewt

          I believe the display cards that they come mounted on at the truck-stop shop refer to them as 'Sitting Ladies'.

    1. cromiller

      You can get all that and more (okay, its not officially nascar, but close enough) at the prestigious Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. Come by and visit anytime!

    2. oenspiek

      I don't know what we'd do without NASCAR, mullets, beer guts and Honey Boo Boo, but I'd sure like to find out!

  1. actor212

    Thompson argues that despite getting back together after that big tiff a while back, the North and South just aren’t that into each other, so maybe it’s time to talk about divorce.

    We get the House, the car, and the silverware. The South can have the parcel of property just north of our garbage dump and maybe we'll throw in New Jersey into the pot.

  2. actor212

    the South, free of Washington interference, could finally prove that prosperity flows from eliminating such impediments as unions, burdensome regulations and taxes, and the culture of dependency fostered by entitlement programs.

    So basically, a White Africa?

  3. Callyson

    OK, but we've got to set up a new Underground Railroad for the decent Southerners who will have to GTFO when there is no controlling what the wingnuts do…

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Yeah, my main practical concern is that if we cut 'em loose, it would be like the UN pulling out of Srebrenica for the South's minorities, gays, and libruls.

      1. carolinaswamp

        Thank you for your compassion, Doc. As a librul, I would be in fear for my life, and those of my cats, whose sexual orientation is at best ambiguous.

    2. MacRaith

      I made it out in time, but I still have lots of progressive friends in North Carolina. I'd hate to see them get stuck on the wrong side of the wall.

      And yes, there would be a wall on the border. The South would build it. And like the Berlin wall, the stated intention would be to keep people out, but the actual intention would be to keep people in.

    3. OldWhiteLies

      If this were ever to truly happen, I have a strong sense that the aftermath would present a new measure of humanity.

      I know once the wall went up I'd make a point of doing a stint performing welcoming duties to those long-suffering southerners needing to escape. A hug, a hot meal, a drink, and off to the make-shift Northern Relocation Assistance Bureau. "Worry not, friend, you have a place among us."

      I'd wave a merry fucking adieu to those that felt the need to "escape" south.

    4. wolvenwood13

      As a librul living in Tennessee, I heartily thank you for thinking of us libruls. All two of us. OK, I'm including my cat on that last one.

    1. docterry6973

      Alaska and Hawaii wouldn't have it any other way. Or being such young states, will the judge work out custody arrangements?

    2. vtxmcrider

      If the North gets Hawaii, the South will start claiming that they were right all along, way back to 2008, when they insisted Obama was a foreigner.

          1. Grief_Lessons

            Nah, they've been to the brink a couple of times and then they lose their nerve. It's going to take a bit of a push.

          2. OldWhiteLies

            Noted the absence of the CAN flag when they opened for biz on Monday. Big yawn I bet though, "Oh look, Party Q had a party and forgot to put up the leaf decorations – must be [insert random day of week]"

          3. Lascauxcaveman

            Funny, I use to think the threatened departure of Quebec was a great source of hand-wringing among Anglophone Canadians, doing everything they can to prevent it, eh?

            But every Anglophone Canadian I've asked aboot it has said "Fuck 'em anyway. Let 'em leave."*

            (*only in more polite Canadian phrasing.)

          4. Grief_Lessons

            The first time I read your comment I didn't notice the eh or the aboot. It's like the hum of the street lights to me.

          1. vtxmcrider

            The North insists on keeping New England. It is one of the most progressive areas of the country and played a major role in the founding of this country, unlike the red states.

    1. lumpenprole

      It's uninhabitable. Just turn off the water and, when everyone leaves, turn it over to an astronomer junta.

  4. Oblios_Cap

    I was thinking just the other day that given the fact that Southerners have to be the world's worst losers, it's a damn good thing they didn't win the war. Gawd knows they would have been worse winners.

    States' Rights = the right to own other people. What a bunch of assholes. And I are one, but not a "True Believer".

      1. Beowoof

        I have seen that and it is a good watch. The stuff these bastards would be up to if they won the war is probably not too far off from the movie. Wait, the stuff they are up to now is not too far off from the movie.

    1. kittensdontlie

      Or start a civil war again, and we will have to kick their sorry @sses again, and go through Reconstruction and make an attempt to civilize those savages, again.

    2. Dudleydidwrong

      Since I'm one of the oldz around here I remember that, before that Civil War unpleasantness the Old South thought that "cotton was king!" and the cotton-based economy would bring the world to their door and the North would financially collapse. Well, that didn't work too well. They are probably thinking that now they could base the economy of this New CSA on the sale of boiled peanuts to Northerners who had passports to travel there.

  5. Goonemeritus

    I have advocated this as the only logical conclusion for decades. I also know there are plenty of great people in the south. To them I say you have suffered enough come north we will keep a spare bedroom made up and some beer in the fridge.

    1. bibliotequetress

      As a one-time Southerner who was happy to expatriate from VA and re-repatriate to the Union, the biggest fault with your thinking is that we can offer neither mild winters nor coleslaw on barbecue. As we welcome our lost kin we should point out that more than make up for this with our lack of the following: floral prints, kudzu, public and aggressive displays of religion, preternaturally blond hair, people who lynch furniture and find it amusing. And floral prints again. Point out that they will lose Sam's Club but gain S&M clubs.

  6. Callyson

    where can we join a book club that has beer?

    Wonkette, we should totally *create* a book club with beer! I know Los Angeles would be in the house for that, and I'm sure several other cities would be on it as well…

    1. emmelemm

      I'm in a wine club with books too. Other members *sometimes* read the book; I almost never do.

      I drink the wine, though.

  7. PsycWench

    Here's the thing: I don't think that many politicians arrive in Washington hell-bound on following the Bible. They sure don't always act like it. Rather, they've found that giving the appearance of being super-religious is a sure way of getting their less intelligent constituents to vote for them. And if this causes gridlock, even better: they can protray themselves as heros fighting against the awful other.
    So yeah, seceed all you want to.

      1. vtxmcrider

        We can nail him to a life-sized Jesus cross in Virginia, and he will be very happy there. He can give his blood for the sins of mankind, just like Jesus.

    1. HELisforHEL

      Cow Hampshire isn't so bad. Skiing and some cool ski bum communities. It's Pennsylvania that can be worrisome, well, all the parts that aren't Pittsburgh or Philly.

  8. Weenus299

    OK Look. I was born and raised in the South, and I think it's pretty. I would hate to think of leaving it and having to get a passport, and then getting shot for fucking not thinking like all the other goons down here. At least now there's the hint of a rule of law, albeit historically flawed along racial and class lines. But the same is true all over the country, and I don't know what to do about all that.

    Except to send myself away to the Bahamas and pick up drinking as a second language.

    1. bibliotequetress

      You know, weenus, I agree that the south is pretty and has some fabulous beaches, but I feel like if left to it's own devices for a while, most of the Southerners I Like will GTF out, and the rest will kill each other off if given a little time. Then we can all start snowbirding!

    1. Baconzgood

      We get Northern VA. I go there all the time and most of the people that live there are not white enough for the rest of the south.

  9. SayItWithWookies

    Wait — we have to keep the Grand Canyon — if the south takes it when they secede, they'll just fill that fucker up with diapers, plastic water bottles and burned spoons in about a year.

  10. Respitetini

    Give us all 10 years to pick one or the other, and I think this will work. We'll keep LL Bean, they can have Wal*Mart.

  11. Doktor Zoom

    Also, too, a line from both the book and the linked AlterNet interview that I really liked, but just couldn't fit into the review:

    "The best line I heard about Texas during the research was from a student at the University of Georgia who said the Texas state flag is a perfect representation of Texas, in that it looks just like the American flag without all the other states."

    1. Pithaughn

      If said split did take place, maybe we could reform the Senate at the same time so that a "person" cannot buy a senator from state, say Wyoming for instance or better yet Oklahoma. This situation we have now where it takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster that is not really even a filibuster is insane. If we could get back to a majority of 51 , the gridlock would just about disappear.

    2. Designer_Rants

      I live in Iowa. The wingnuts are furious about the gay marriage IA SC judges… still. We got Frothy and Jindahl coming up to do a bus tour about the homos and activist judges (there's one on the ballot, they got 3 of them voted out 2 years ago). When all 7 judges unanimously rule a "sanctity of marriage" constitutional amendment invalid, they're all "activists".

    3. Negropolis

      Iowa is a very Northern state, IMO. It's not until you get down to Missourah that it starts getting twangy and Southern-fried.

  12. CrunchyKnee

    Fuck that place and all its humidity. Fucking endless rains, constant heat, racists, insects the size of pomegranates and Florida. Go. May your invisible sky daddy be with you.

    1. emmelemm

      Washington (state) only has 1.5 wingnuts (on that list). (One of them is just the chair of the WA State Repubs, thus not holding actual national office.)

      I consider us quite lucky. And our winters are quite mild.

    2. Dudleydidwrong

      Of Maryland's two listed Tea Party ijits, one, Roscoe Bartlett, is on his way out, by age and gerrymander. That leaves only one, Andy Harris. If Andy were picked up by helicopter and dropped into the middle of Alabama he would not know he had changed locations. He is dangerous but somewhat isolated.

    3. bobbert

      (1) Without even looking at the linkie, I can tell you that there are plenty of wingnuts in California.

      (2) We outnumber them by a lot.

      (3) They are free to leave.

  13. Monsieur_Grumpe

    I was going along with what he was saying until he said to keep Texas then I realized it was all just a joke.

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      Keeping Texas is out of the question. Either they go with the CSA, become their own independent country, or apply to Mexico for reinstatement. If Texas staying USA is part of the deal, it's no deal…mutter…mutter…mutter

    1. HogeyeGrex

      Nah. Let 'em devolve into savagery and kill each other off. Then we can swoop in and take the land back, free of Confederate pollution.

    2. CindynEncinitas

      Don't fuckin look at us. We are supporting most of the country as it is. And yeah, we get In n Out.

  14. fartknocker

    For all the xenophobic, misogynistic, gun-loving people of Texas, we here in the Austin area still respect all of you.

    PS: We want a drinky thing, damn it!

  15. ChrisM2011

    If it happens, one of you incredibly generous (and might I say, sweet smelling) yankees will have to put this Arkansan up for the night. Calling the top bunk!

  16. Nothingisamiss

    Southern Wonkadaros…we meet at evening tide at Manuel's. (Is someone going to buy me tequila shots again so I have sustenance to make my way to the free peoples of the north?)

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      One of the legends of the Underground Railroad was "follow the drinking gourd," meaning the Big Dipper constellation with the North or Pole star of the handle as the guide for escape from the South.

      Isn't there a constellation shaped like a Sam Adams bottle?

  17. JohnnyQuick

    Isn't it just that the white people in the South are the problem? (Not all of them, obviously.)

    You know what I'm proposing. If it makes it easier, we let Joe Biden deliver the "news." /kidding!

  18. cousinitt

    Unless the South bothers to lazy ass their way to obtaining a photo ID, I say, they don't get to stay in the Union.

    1. GlowneyHouse

      Well, the quarterbacks will come from Western Pennsylvania (home of Marino, Namath and Unitas.) As for porn stars, the Midwest is more than amply stocked with sorority pledges that can "fill the bill." Especially Wisconsin.

    2. Negropolis

      We could get the porn stars from the Dakotas or Minnesota, and the quarterbacks fro Nebraska, Iowa or wherever else they grow a lot of corn.

    3. bobbert

      Well, perhaps some of the QBs could come from Chico or San Mateo. And the porn stars? Have you never heard of the San Fernando Valley?

  19. MonkeyMotion

    I can already see the hordes of rational refugees pouring out from the CSA northward.

    Now, if we could just get all the Santorums, Gingriches, Trumps, Romneys, Bachmanns et al to move south, this might work…

  20. KeepFnThatChicken

    Not to be a nattering nabob here, but we don't have a lot in common with Hawaii or Colorado, either… and there are the relative few of us who keep hoping to turn that whole Jesus thing around, so don't shit us just yet.

    Also, yeehaw, too.

  21. C_R_Eature

    Oh fuck no. The last thing the world needs is another dysfunctional country with no working government, filled with heavily armed warlords and oppressed by a fanatic fundamentalist cult.
    We've got enough on our hands with Afghanistan, we don't need to have to invade Dumbfuckistan too.

    1. Negropolis

      So, we just let this already dysfunctional country operating within the confines of the Union continue to sabotage us?

  22. MacRaith

    It would be interesting drawing the border. Northern Virginia would want to be in the North, and the South might be willing to let it go. But a large chunk of the middle of North Carolina would want to be in the North too. Florida from Miami south? Northern. Middle of Pennsylvania? Southern. Austin, Texas? Northern. Fresno, California? Southern. Utah? Culturally closer to the South, but the South won't take 'em. The list goes on.

    1. doloras

      We would have to partition both Texas and California; and let Utah become the Republic of Deseret again, as they dearly want to be.

    2. Guppy

      Unless we have another West Virginia situation, what happens within the borders of a state is their own damned problem. Just remember to federalize the National Guard and then let the two sides shoot it out themselves.

  23. C_R_Eature

    Dok, a Word with you about that picture.

    That image is very disturbing. I wish you’d have chosen something else. I realize that it’s a shameful part of American history that we should never forget, but it’s too much.

    This post brought to you by All Internet Traditions, LLC.

  24. Peckerwood_Pete

    I'm from South Carolina…. I have no issue living here. Nice weather. Nice beaches. Yeah, we got some numbnuts and idiots here… but why go stereotyping the whole fucking region? There are plenty of decent, kind, open minded people here.

      1. Peckerwood_Pete

        Funny…. how we don't spend time stereotyping the 47% of folks on public aid… yet its fine to spend all the time in the world calling us a bunch of cousin fucking, tobacco chewing, racist, homophobic, rubes.

        1. vtxmcrider

          The impressions we have up north are based on the crazies that your state sends to Washington. And your governor. But I do have to respect that you are not like them because you are here on Wonkette.

      1. Peckerwood_Pete

        Ever actually been here for any amount of time, or just read about us online, or seen movies about us on Netflix?

          1. Peckerwood_Pete

            Well.. last time I checked, John Boehner, Mitt Romney, Rudy Guiliani, Scott Brown, Rick Santorum, Joe Lieberman, and Paul Ryan were all from North of the Mason Dixon Line….

          2. bobbert

            And Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint are from SC. Your point?

            Seriously, and trying not to stereotype every inhabitant of the South, the thing is that some "Southern" states have got very substantial majorities of people who have opinions that conflict with the opinions of substantial majorities in "Northern" states. Sometimes, those of us in the "northern" states may fail to make the distinction between the majority opinion and the dissenters in the "southern" states. It's hard to do politically correct snark.

            But, still seriously, while I can understand that you find SC to be physically beautiful, are you happy with the political environment? Because, I'll tell you, many years ago I spent a year in Ft Walton Beach, FL. The most beautiful beach in the world, IMO. I was in the USAF, and got transferred out after a year. But if I had been there on my own, I would have been gone even sooner, because the people were awful.

    1. deanbooth

      I don't think anyone would disagree that there are great people in every state. States are different shades of purple, yada, yada. But the reddish states are pulling the bluish states down the crapper, and it's hard to imagine any solution besides secession or banning Fox news.

      1. GunToting[Redacted]

        Arizona checking in… Although the last time I looked, Jeff Flake was losing his lead over the challenging Dem. Funny how all those immigrants change things when they actually VOTE.

    2. Negropolis

      You haven't been able to play nice with anyone yet, have you? Bless your heart, 'cause you're trying so hard.

  25. Blunderthing

    Well, I'm from the south (not now, I'm a socialist pinko from California now) and I'll tell you this about the whole "secession" thing. Southerners loooooooooove to talk about secession, but you press the matter and they'll get all "Shucks we uz just funning" cause they had their asses kicked once and they really don't forget it, they just like to huff and puff and strut they stuff. Give 'em some sweet tea and barbecue and they love everyone. Well, except black people, Mexicans and you.

  26. savethispatient

    Hey, I only became a citizen of the United States today (note the updated avatar!), don't go splitting up and making me choose already.

    Who am I kidding, lets just move to Canada!

      1. savethispatient

        Thanks, I'm just pleased this post allowed me to tick off "threaten to move to Canada" off of my list of things to do as an American.

        1. fuflans

          well as we're still fairly rooted in ravenswood, i'm afraid it would take a president romney or sec of state bachman to get us off the couch and into a moving van bound for toronto.

          but mom's a canadian and it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of a citizenship offer from a country not rapidly succumbing to bipolar disorder laced with fundamentalist lunacy.

          1. savethispatient

            It's okay, technically I'm a job creator. I'm assuming the letter describing the secret handshake and special low-tax application form is in the mail?

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      Congratulations! Welcome to the asylum–insane asylum, that is. You'll have to make your own deals with the women-folk, as they are able to make their own choices.

      We do need the jobs, however, so be very careful with those. With Romney and Bain shipping them overseas we don't need any more boneheads following his lead.

  27. HistoriCat

    I assume we will get refugee status and resettlement assistance? This could be just the stimulus the Rust Belt needs – throngs of displaced liberals, in need of a brighter future.

  28. Toomush_Infer

    Nah, ten years and it'd be Afghanistan all over again….those snaky tirebiters are determined to be dysfunctional….

  29. HogeyeGrex

    Could we make them pay us back for the TVA and all the rest of the infrastructure the North has paid for down there? Hell, just pulling our military bases out would cripple their economy.

    Fucking moochers.

  30. randcoolcatdaddy

    Well, to give us Southerners credit, times are changing. Now we just lynch chairs instead of actual people.

  31. Gorillionaire

    I have lived in The South my entire life. While I have certainly met some dumbasses here, the biggest dumbasses I have ever met were red state midwesterners. The most racist, evangelist, UFO abduction fearing paranoid weirdos of them all. Plus not all Southerners are dumbasses. Some are actually quite wonderful.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Thank you for mentioning this silly thing! Got Rebecca to buy me a book!

      Now if I can just make a compelling case for why Wonkette really needs to review The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

  32. BartStarrland

    For every Wonk, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that September afternoon in 2012, the snark is piling up, the double entendres are laid and ready, and the fapping already loosened to break out.


  33. samedwards_net

    They cannot be allowed to go their own way. They would bring back slavery and murder their gay children.

  34. Boojum

    I have an idea. Let's let the South secede; we can do a property swap between people who want to leave and those who don't. Maybe the North can keep some enclaves in the South, in urban areas, that will be assigned a Northern State and can operate under their law.

    After a decent period, when this is all worked out, the Northern States will say, fuck you you dirt eating ignant bastiches, we kept all the good stuff, just like last time. This time, we are going to treat you like the hostile country you say you are and take you the fuck over. Then you can find out what all of that complaining over in the Middle East was all about.


    We have the guns, the oil, the natural gas, the beers, the shrimps, the blondes and Kinky Friedman, so go ahead.

    1. mmeetoilenoir

      Brooklyn Brewery. Breckenridge. Two Brothers. Kona (we're keeping Hawaii). Metropolitan. Three Floyds. Countless others. Plus, I'm sure we'd get to keep all those commie imports from Chimay, Unibroue, etc.

      Nope. We win. HA!

    1. vtxmcrider

      You just come right over to New England. Liberals and progressives are welcome here. And you can freely marry a person of either sex (mostly).

  36. Slim_Pickins

    But if the Czechoslovakians and the Yugoslavians can hang together, not to mention the Soviets, why can't we?

  37. Guppy

    Compromise: hold a new constitutional convention. Perhaps a document that lets Yankee states avoid having to fund the South's "states' rights."

  38. babyeinstein

    But who's the "'em" in the title? Without having read the book, I'm guessing that it's white southerners, particularly white southern men. What happens after the split, when the CSA starts bringing back Jim Crow and repeals the Civl Rights Act? The USA just lets it ride, because it's no longer our problem anymore?

    Also, who REALLY has a right to the land in the CSA? It ain't white middle class folks, that's for sure. I think a more just solution would be to allow people of color to secede from the USA, and then all us white librul folks can try to convince them that we're not THOSE kinds of white folks, hoping that they reject our example and recognize our humanity, and let us live in their awesome new country.

    1. Chet Kincaid_

      We're thinking along the same lines. Every other week when this topic comes up in the comments, I insist that the Black Belt be recognized as a separate country. This would absorb many of the Godless Southern college towns, and any Southern Liberals would be welcome to move there, as long as their redneck cousins are not allowed in without a visa, immunizations and surrender of firearms.

        1. Chet Kincaid_

          It would be the only way to guarantee that black people do not become second class citizens, or worse, again in the South. Are not African-American citizens worth as much effort as West Germans/Berliners? (Now that I think more about it, the situation today is more like Germany post-WWII than the South at Reconstruction.) Oh, if only my limited ethnic perspective didn't keep raising these questions!

          1. Doktor Zoom

            There's a thriving market for alternate-history SF, you know. There's probably a hell of a novel to be written with this scenario…

  39. Chet Kincaid_

    So Dok, what does this guy have to say about African-Americans and Hispanics in the book? I noticed in the interview, when he is asked directly about the 57% of African-Americans who live in the South, he basically punts on the question behind the question. He acknowledges that its dumb to talk about the South as only white racist rednecks, but then doesn't address the oblivious paternalism behind the question of what Yankee white Northerners are going to do about the people they went to war over 150 years ago. "Let them secede" would be a moral failing as much as a convenience. Just because the North wants to be rid of the South, or vice versa, doesn't mean that Southern Blacks and Hispanics want to live in the Confederacy. And fuck that noise about "letting" them move North — African-Americans built the South as much as white people did, maybe more, so why isn't it their country, too?

    1. glasspusher

      Excellent point. I'd like to see how the white exploiters do without someone to exploit. Move the rednecks to some crummy reservation and see how they like it. Let the good people who did the work in the south stay.

    2. Negropolis

      If they want to stay in the South, they can have it. If you're proud of where you live, so be it. It's not as if they wouldn't be able to vote for or against the split. 57% of blacks are Southerners, eh? And?

      The whole premise of the book is a fantasy, but this idea of people being "left behind" is pretty silly. Nobody is stopping anyone from moving.

    3. Doktor Zoom

      Sadly, he largely punts on the question in the book, too. He does quote Rims Barber, a white veteran of the Civil Rights movement who still lives in Mississippi, who says secession would be a disaster, and that "Black people would either have to leave or become serfs," to which Thompson replies "That sounds a little extreme." Barber then goes on to say that it would be like the end of Reconstruction all over again, and would mean a return to disenfranchisement for blacks. Unfortunately, that's about it–Thompson doesn't even address what Barber said. I was also very annoyed that, in a brew-pub round table he held with 4 academics and 3 college students at U Georgia, all his volunteer panelists were white males. For a book that claims, credibly, that racism is not merely alive and well but still pervasive in the modern South, it's a remarkably Bubbacentric discussion.

    4. bobbert

      Chet, it's a stupid book. You know that. We're all stuck with trying to pull the assholes (including ourselves) into the 21st Century. This is just another alt-universe fiction.

      1. Chet Kincaid_

        This post is a semi-serious review of a semi-serious book, so I will point out the logical and ethical problems that annoy me. Feel free to go read something else that interests you.

      2. Doktor Zoom

        I'm with Chet on this one–especially on nerd terms. The "realism" of the alternate reality matters.

        I mean, for god's sake, if you're going to talk about the Enterprise-E going up against the Death Star, you can't just gloss over important questions like whether TIE fighters could get past Federation shields (they most definitely could not) or whether the Enterprise would be maneuverable enough to avoid the Death Star's Big Planet-Killer Laser Thing.

        And when the fictional stakes involve the fates of real people, even in a fictional scenario, you can't just sweep that under the rug, especially when the issues involved are at the roots of the imagined 2-nation solution.

  40. Negropolis

    Build the damned wall along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and let's called it a day. We can work out enclaves and exclaves, later. For instance, we could keep St. Louis and they could have Cincinnati.

    BTW, we could always split Texas up five ways as it is a constitutional option, there.

  41. Pat_Pending

    Considering that I can find 'stoo-pid' practically anywhere, may I submit that any sort of succession solves nothing and the only thing that will save us all is to legalize the invisible anti-cootie spray of my childhood.

  42. Isyaignert

    I remember the story of this nutty woman! It made me start singing "Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie 'em in a knot can you tie 'em in a bow? Can you throw 'em over your shoulder like a Continental soldier, do your boobs hang low?"

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Footnote: Thompson imagines Bob McDonnell of Virginia as the first CSA prez, and constructs a 2017 "inaugural address" for him from the text of the keynote address McDonnell actually gave in a 2010 "Future of the South" symposium.

  43. DalePues

    Great topic! But honestly, what I don't understand is all the yanks who move to the South and take up Southern ways. There may have been a time when up to about 1900 the South was still exclusively populated with Southerners, but after the turn of the century before last, and especially after WWII, there has occurred a mass migration of Northerners for the South's warmer clime. Amazingly, most fit right in and now wear the mental dress of their hosts too.

  44. azeyote

    the less we send those bastards down south our federal tax dollars the more beer we can have up here in oregon – we already have plenty of herb.

  45. ChapterUndVerse

    If we put up the Louisiana Purchase for resale to present inhabitants, perhaps that would help. The redistricting problems alone would engross rightwing crazy for years.

  46. Halloween Jack

    (he proposes that the South-less USA would maintain “Gitmo-like treaties on military facilities” in the CSA)

    Right–just like they left alone Fort Sumter. Gitmo exists only because Cuba doesn't have the strength to kick out the U.S. (Fun fact: the U.S. pays rent to Cuba for Guantanamo Bay under the 1903 treaty that gives them the lease in perpetuity; Castro says that that treaty no longer applies and stuffs the checks in a desk drawer in his office (or his brother does, these days, I guess), but he deposited the first one after he took over and the U.S. says that that makes their occupation legit.) I don't think that a newly-seceded South–which, of course, would already be taking a big economic hit–would put up with that.

    That does beg the question, though, of what the withdrawing Union would leave behind. They'd probably take all the nukes and all the drones, of course, but would they remove every single plane and ship? A South without heavy arms and military craft would be vulnerable, and strategically the Union wouldn't benefit from foreign incursions on Southern soil, so they'd probably want to leave something, probably the stuff that they were going to decommission or that costs a lot to maintain. The Confederacy, of course, would try to hold onto as much stuff as they could.

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