In History, Politics on July 10, 2012 at 8:15 am

Treason seems to be in the air whenever Republicans–or their allies–gather.

Two recent examples should suffice to illustrate.

Treason example #1:

Like many members of the far Right, rocker Ted Nugent feels totally sideswiped by the June 28 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold “Obamacare.”  And he’s especially angry at Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who cast the deciding vote.

On July 5, he decided to say publicly what many other fascistic Americans no doubt believe.  He chose as his forum the right-wing Washington Times, which is owned by the Unification Church’s leader, Sun Myung Moon.

Without mincing words, Nugent accused Roberts of treason–and then said that perhaps treason wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

First, the accusation:

“The bottom line is that Chief Justice Roberts’ traitor vote will ensure more monumental spending and wasted taxes and put almost 15% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) under one of the world’s most bureaucratic, ineffective, incompetent and grossly expensive systems ever devised by man: our out-of-control federal government.”

Now, the suggestion:

“Because our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government hold the 10th Amendment in contempt, I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War. Our Founding Fathers’ concept of limited government is dead.”

This is not a case of idle rhetoric–and should not be seen as such.

The American Civil War raged from 1861 to 1865   The resulting carnage destroyed as many as 620,000 lives.  More Americans died in that war than have been killed in all the major wars fought by the United States since.

Casualties at Gettysburg

When it ended, America was reinvented as a new, unified nation–and one where slavery was now banned by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Equally important, the Federal Government had now set a precedent for using overwhelming military power to force states to remain in the Union.  The doctrine of secession seemed forever dead.

And Americans overwhelmingly agreed, from 1865 on, that the Union was sacred and unbreakable.  But that changed in 2009, with the  inauguration of Barack Obama–the country’s first black President.

Then, suddenly, secession–treason–became fashionable again, not only among many Southerners but even among so-called “mainstream” Republicans.

Confederate flag

During 2009, “state sovereignty resolutions” or “10th Amendment Resolutions” were introduced in the legislatures of 37 states; in seven states the resolutions passed–Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee.

During 2010, resolutions were introduced or reintroduced into the legislatures of 21 states–passing in seven: Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Utah and Wyoming.

“Sovereignty” means supreme, independent authority over a territory–authority heretofore accepted as residing with the federal government.

Despite this, the Supreme Court has explicitly stated that the states cannot nullify federal law. In Cooper v. Aaron (1958), the Court ruled that federal law prevails over state law through the operation of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Federal law, warned the Justices, “can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes….”

But fanatical right-wingers like Ted Nugent believe otherwise.  For them, “it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

Of course, a Confederate victory would have meant the preservation–and extension–of slavery.  Millions of Americans–men, women and children–would have been held in chains into perpetuity.

The arrogant planter class of the South–which comprised at most 10% of the overall population–would have continued to dominate black slaves and poor whites.

Such men would have felt only contempt for those outside their rarified class.  A Confederate administration would have never proposed universal medical care to all Americans.

Which would suit people like Ted Nugent just fine.

When contemplating such truths, it’s well to remember another:

Nugent is supporting Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee.  And Romney–who has been silent on so muany other issues–stands equally silent on Nugent’s support for treason.

Treason example #2:

The right-wing Tea Party movement has repeatedly and vigorously denied that it is racist.  But the Las Cruces Tea Party in New Mexico celebrated July 4 by flying a Confederate flag on a float that took first place at the Independence Day parade.

The “Stars and Bars” is not only a symbol of the South’s support for slavery.  It is a symbol of treason–of four years when tens of thousands of Southerners waged war against their own legally-elected government.

Of course, the Las Cruces Tea Party saw it differently:

“The theme of the parade was the history of the State of New Mexico,” the group said. “There was a lot of history that defined our state prior to 1912. We showed how we fought for our statehood and the sacrifices we made along the way, along with our triumphs.”

The United States may yet see another “Sherman’s March” to silence its modern-day “treason chorus.”

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