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Wednesday
Sep222010

Time to Let South Carolina Go

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s latest assault on the sovereign state of Delaware and its Republican party is proof enough that it’s time to do something his home state has threatened since our nation’s founding – secede.  Except in this case, it needs to be the mother ship that throws out this brain-battered state from the Union.  Doing so will cure at least 80 percent of what ails our nation, leaving us at last to debate issues that are seriously relevant.

Think I’m kidding?  Let’s take a brief survey of South Carolina’s contributions to the United States of America.

We begin in the pre-Revolutionary War era, when the black slave population of the then-colony of South Carolina already accounted for 70 percent of the total population by 1720 – and at the time of independence was still in excess of 60 percent.  Economic historians of the period have long argued that South Carolina would not have been economically viable without the institution of slavery, based on the number of free-whites available for – horrors – working the plantations they had built.

Of course, one can argue that such attitudes towards slaves and slavery were common then, except for the fact that significant numbers of colonists – along with British craftsman – were condemning the practice of slavery by the late 1700s.

This brings us to the Constitutional Convention of 1789, when South Carolina was one of three states which threatened to leave the Convention if provisions to ban the slave trade were enacted.  The stain of slavery that has been our nation’s mark of Cain since its inception owes its origins in no small part to South Carolinian blackmail.

That should have been a wake-up call that from the beginning this ‘peculiar’ state only reluctantly and tentatively affiliated itself with the federal union of the United States.

But this was just their opening shot.  Having purchased for itself twenty years to perpetuate the importation of slaves, South Carolina was, by the 1830s, fearful of the eventual loss of its economic basis, and so began extolling a doctrine of “nullification,” which argued its right to leave the United States at will.  No less a southerner than President Andrew Jackson, himself a Carolinian, threatened to send some three thousand militia to South Carolina to put down any planned rebellion.

Of course, that only served to increase the general paranoia of a state whose very existence was predicated on the basis of a duality of those who were owners of human property and those who were human property.

It should not have been unexpected then, that the opening shots of the Civil War were fired upon Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 by southern forces in Charleston harbor, just 5 years after its ‘distinguished’ Representative Preston Brooks had nearly caned to death a senator on the floor of Congress for deriding the institution of slavery.

For nearly three-quarters of a century, and indeed, the entire span of the existence of a United States of American, South Carolina had been a reluctant participant, and now distinguished itself, if one can describe it in those terms, by initiating the most bloody, costly war in our nation’s history.

But even with the South’s loss and eventual decision that our nation would remain a united republic of states, South Carolina was not finished its mischief.  No.  Not even a century after the conclusion of the Civil War, South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond led the longest filibuster in history in the U.S. Senate against passage of the Civil Rights Act, an action stunningly hypocritical in light of recent history’s revelation that he fathered a child of a black maid in the employ of his family.  Stunning?  Well….

More recently we have the spectacle of a sitting governor of that great state attempting to connect the Appalachian Trail to Argentina via a mistress.

But now comes the latest version of South Carolinian squirreliness  in the form of Senator Jim DeMint, who has warned that “The greatest enemies to the Constitution today are domestic. And most of them are in the United States Congress or the White House now.”  Hello? Is this the ghost of  Joseph McCarthy?

Enough!  Perhaps the secessionists had it right – but backwards.  We don’t need South Carolina as a part of our union – indeed; it would have perhaps been a more perfect and certainly less bloody one had we the forethought to have kicked them out at our nation’s founding.

The downside: we’ll need passports to visit Charleston.  The upside: Jim DeMint and his band of South Carolinian madmen can rule their own republic as they see fit.  My advice: Congress should pass comprehensive immigration legislation before we give South Carolina the boot for our own sake and security.

P.S. Have no vacation plans there.

UPDATE: 12-22-2010:

"Secession Ball" held in Charleston, SC to celebrate the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's secession from the Union.  Quoting a major donor: "They created a society far and above anything else on Earth."

Q.E.D.