More on the “Rising Craziness in America.”
This piece was brought to my attention by my son, Nathaniel Schmookler.
It is followed by a question I would like to pose to y’awl, as one possible focus for the discussion on this thread.
Bonkers in Georgia
by Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker, May 7, 2009
My most recent Comment was a series of small jokes riffing on a big joke, namely a moronic suggestion by the governor of Texas that his state might secede from the Union on account of the tyranny of slightly higher marginal tax rates for the rich. It was a thin reed to build a whole piece on, but it was all I had.
I should have looked harder. I’m usually a careful reader of Talking Points Memo, but I had somehow missed Brian Beutler’s April 16th post, in which he brings the startling intelligence that the Georgia state senate, by a 43-1 vote, has passed a resolution that mixes three parts inanity and one part prospective treason into a Kompletely Krazy Kocktail of militia-minded moonshine and wacko white lightning—a resolution that not only endorses defiance of federal law but also threatens anarchy and revolution.
Really, you can’t make this stuff up. You have to read it in full to believe it. Even then you can’t believe it. You thought that “nullification” had been rendered inoperative by the Civil War? Well, think again. You considered secession a pre-Appomattox kind of thing? Well, reconsider. You assumed that John C. Calhoun was a dead parrot? Well, turns out he was only resting.
The resolution is written in a mock eighteenth-century style, ornate and pompous. Just two of its twenty sentences account for more than 1,200 of its 2,200 words. But the substance is even nuttier than the style.
It begins by saying that what it sneeringly calls “a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States” limits the “General Government” only to specifically named powers, such as punishing piracy and counterfeiting, and that “each party” to the “compact,” i.e., each state, is the final judge of whether the “General Government” has overstepped its very tight bounds. Among other rights, the states “retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom.” (There’s a lovely phrase: “the licentiousness of speech and of the press.”) If I’m reading the resolution’s convoluted language correctly, it also asserts that the states have a right to suppress “libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion” without interference from “federal tribunals.”
There’s more. If a state doesn’t like some federal law, then “nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.” And if a state decides that “any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America” exceeds what the state considers the proper bounds of federal authority, then said act or executive order or court order “shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America.” What kind of act? “Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition,” for example.
That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government.
Italics mine. If Congress were to reinstate the assault rifle ban (admittedly an unlikely prospect), there would be no more United States of America.
To repeat: this was passed by the stalwart patriots of the Georgia state senate by a vote of forty-three to one. According to Beutler, the South Dakota house passed a similar resolution, 51-18, and an Oklahoma version passed that state’s house, 83-13, and its state senate, 25-17. Oklahoma’s Democratic governor, Brad Henry, vetoed it, noting dryly in his veto message that it “does not serve the state or its citizens in any positive manner.”
I don’t have the dates of the South Dakota and Oklahoma resolutions, but the Georgia one passed on April 1st. So I suppose it’s possible that the whole thing is an April Fool’s joke.
Ed Kilgore has more to say on all this at the Democratic Strategist.
The question I would like to pose is: Where do you think all this is heading? Does this constitute any signficant threat to the peace and tranquility of the American Republic?
A couple of related sites one might look at, related to this kind of secessionist/anti-federal energy that’s boiling up among some segments of the right, and to which my attention was also directed by my son, are these: