It’s Time to Let the South Secede

So, I’d like to describe a place for you. It’s a part of the world where women and minorities have a disproportionately tiny amount of socioeconomic influence, the age of consent is 15 (de facto), treatable, preventable diseases are unchecked, there are very few restrictions on firearm ownership, extremist militias roam the land with the ultimate goal of installing a theocratic, hereditary monarchy, and the landscape varies from “inhospitable wasteland deserts,” to, “inhospitably cold mountainous regions,” to “horrific swamps.” Oh, and the United States was an occupying force for over a decade. I’ve described both Afghanistan, and Texas. However, Elon Musk is in Texas, so Afghanistan might be the better long-term bet.

In my year of chemotherapy; there are a few key lessons I learned that are applicable to absolutely everyone. The first is that people who depend upon your kindness and decency, but offer you nothing in return, are beneath you, always and forever. Offering them more kindness and decency is not going to improve them; it’s going to drain you of resources, and, in these cases, it really is best for everyone if you ghost that motherfucker and move on with your life. The second lesson is, in a crisis, there are only two people: Those who are helping the situation, and those who are actively working to worsen it. Before anyone cries out about neutrality or innocent bystanders, I can speak from personal experience, neutral parties in a crisis are actually far worse than hostile parties. With awful people, you know where you stand, and you can ghost them and move on with your life. With neutral parties that insist upon your time and attention; they’re distracting you from the crisis and letting the crisis gain ground. Trust me; I dicked around for six months waiting to get into a clinical trial that was always a month or two away, and, in that time, a very-treatable Grade 2 astrocytoma became full-blown brain cancer. Thank God that limbo situation didn’t last another month.

It is with these two concepts firmly in mind that we should approach the South, or, as we will call it in 20 years if they don’t decide to become team players and get their act together, “The Atlantic Ocean.” Because of this, I will, whenever possible, refer to the South in the past tense (this is going to make the grammar of this piece inconsistent, so, apologies). But fuck your pronouns, right?

At this moment, the US is entering yet another wave of COVID, largely due to assholes refusing to get the vaccine, lead by, wait for it… The South. And, yes, at this point, if you haven’t received the vaccine, you are a raging, unrepentant asshole. Full stop. The vaccines have been out for a year, and I don’t know what you’re waiting for, but you are actively endangering everyone else, including me, all my friends on Planet Cancer, and even my neighbor’s kids who are too young to be vaccinated. I know that probably surprises a lot of the readers, but, IRL, I’m actually fond of kids and a very quiet, kind person. I just use the Internet as a form of Primal Scream Therapy. And, today, America’s existence is threatened by the conspiracy of the illiterati.

I got into a debate this morning with a Pennsylvanian (this is the power of the Internet) about Southern States that have utterly rejected basic decency and civics in favor of some meth-fueled belief that they are impervious to the consequences of their own actions. Because Americans only learn about a heavily white-washed version of our own history that completely leap-frogs over certain periods in our country (everything prior to 1492, for example), most of us are unaware of the Reconstruction Era, which was a period between the Civil War and the election of Rutherford B. Hayes, during which federal troops occupied the South and actually forced those feeble-minded, cousin fuckers to let black people vote, own businesses, and exercise their basic rights. Hayes was ushered into office in a wave of deeply undemocratic deal-making, one of which included, wait for it… removing Union troops from shithole states. Sorry, the South. This ushered in the era known as Jim Crowe, in which de facto slavery was quite legal until… 1940. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s because you can be legally enslaved if you’re convicted of a crime (this is actually in the wording of the 13th Amendment), and you’d be amazed at white people can make it illegal to be black or a woman without ever using those words. The end of Reconstruction also marked the very last time Louisiana made any real infrastructure investments.

My argument to my new friend in Pennsylvania was, given that the South is now insisting on a pro-covid, pro-global warming agenda, we should absolutely let them. And then let them suffer the consequences. Texas can freeze to death at the next cold snap. Louisiana and Florida can handle the next hurricane or tidal wave on their own. Georgia takes in more federal aid than it pays in collective taxes. Kentucky seemed nice, until we remember they elected Mitch McConnell. And then there are… The other ones? Does anyone really know or care about Arkansas? The Pennsylvanian’s argument against letting our terrible tumor states go their own way is that it would result in massive loss of human life, disenfranchisement, and a breeding ground for extremism. My response was that those things are already happening, and, thanks to their presence in the Senate, they’re happening under legal cover, and, thanks to Missouri having senators, they’re fucking up the country for those of us who want a real domestic agenda, and an end to America’s addiction to warfare, poverty, madness, and violence. Except we’re paying for it, as a country, and those states are now putting not only a 21st century government agenda at risk, they’re putting the economy and countless lives at risk by refusing to follow basic precautions. My feeling is, the Northern States have been engaged in a desperate bid to save the South from itself. Which is condescending, patronizing, far too expensive, and dangerous. We’re fleeing Afghanistan, which, after 20 years, is long overdue. I’m sorry for the villagers and our local allies about the threat posed by the Taliban, but we’ve been there for 20 years. The only difference another 20 will make is more dead Americans and Afghani civilians, more money tossed into the country, and no real progress. Similarly, the South has had over a century to get their act together, and they still insist upon resisting democracy, common sense, and basic decency. They aren’t going to play nice, and, when the carrot fails, it’s time for the stick. Half a million Americans are dead, the death toll is rising, and the Satanic Cult that has become the far right (I’m an atheist; I don’t do things I know will put other people at risk; nor do most of my fairly-devout religious neighbors; I think it’s fair to classify Tucker Carlson’s constituency as a cult that worships power and death) is still spouting this whole “personal liberty, personal choice” horseshit that allows Honey Boo Boo’s Klan to avoid collective shame for putting off civic responsibility in favor of mixing meth with Pop Rocks. So, the stick is; no federal representation, no federal intervention or interference, and no federal aid or support. The South can elect Donald Trump to be God King for all I care, he did a fantastic job with COVID, I’m sure he’ll negotiate you guys a sweet foreign trade deal with the US. Yeah, it’ll be just like an even dumber version of Brexit; an Alabama Brexit (which sounds like some horrifying, illegal sexual act involving small lifestock and cousins)(now that I think about it, I’m sure that’s a real thing in Alabama).

Let’s take a brief detour and discuss the Central African Republic. Despite the name, it’s not really a Republic, it’s an unstable conflict zone with a flag. Even though I have no doubt that any number of special forces groups, mercenaries, and spies operate there with impunity, we don’t have a large-scale, visible, permanent presence like we do in Saudi Arabia. There are any number of reasons for this, but one we really need to focus on is that there wouldn’t be any viable, achievable long-term goals or stability. And Africa, as a continent, has been destroyed by the same, “We must save these savages from themselves” mentality that keeps the US from kicking Georgia off of the federal aid roll. And, similarly, our continued presence in Georgia isn’t helping anyone out in the long-term.

So, yeah, at the end of the day, I think it’s time to either kick the South out of the house, or hold an intervention. If the South wants to keep those sweet, sweet interstate trade deals, DoT roads, and all the benefits one enjoys living in a functioning society, they need to start making some real, tangible contributions to society that are proportional to the centuries of pain and anguish they have inflicted upon the rest of this country. If I were made Senate Minority Leader, here are the demands I would make of that shithole country, or we turn off the power and let them figure it out; to be implemented within two years.

  1. Permanent removal and disbarment of all current politicians at every single level. This from the top down. I don’t want Rick Scott or DeSantis, or that idiot in the Seminole County Tax Office who was caught embezzling money and making fake IDs (this actually happened) to ever be allowed to a position greater than sous-chef. They are directly responsible for the current wave of COVID, they won’t help us out of it, they need to be banned from public life.
  2. Automatic and universal voter registration. This is basic civics; more people voting — however they vote — and every vote being counted are the cornerstone of modern democracy. Any statehouse that tries to get clever and work around it will be forever banned from the union. The alternative here is that certain groups (who rhyme with “white people” residing in the South will be permanently disenfranchised, but that’s what Boss Hogg and Raphael Edward Cruz want, so I’m not going with that (well, I am, but we’ll get there).
  3. Removal from the next census. Not permanently, but these good ol’ boy sheep shaggers have already done their best to overturn the last election by shitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk (I’m not sure how that turns into “Rupert Dorpf won bigly,” but I’m also mostly-sane and passed my high school civics courses). They can spend an electoral cycle being that silent majority they never shut up about. Imagine what this means for humans in this country: no one will use women or brown people as political props. Those idiots in Deliverance won’t have any say in policy, because they will have no representation for a full electoral cycle. The actual US can decide what we want to do about problems that we collectively face, without Joe Exotic screaming about his tigers, or the Falwell Klan chiming in about their extra-creepy televangelistic Christianity should dictate what women wear.
  4. No unsupervised gatherings of white men. I’ve long advocated this, because, whenever white man gather in groups of more than six, truly terrible things happen. The South is built upon evil white men being able to secretly meet; that’s how they ended up with a pseudo country that lasted maybe five years. Stop that from happening, and a lot of the potential for damage is removed. I know, this one will be bad for labor day barbecues, but imagine the number of horrors planned over an innocent game of cards. Yes, this is a direct violation of the right to assembly, but no one was up in arms about giving up our rights to privacy post-9/11; if you can give up your fourth amendment rights in the name of security, you can give up some others in the name of not getting everyone else killed. Also, The South pretty much lost those forever by fucking up COVID quarantines so badly that we now have to extend them for everyone else.
  5. The permanent erection of a 40-foot statue of General Sherman in every town square in every town with a population of over 5000. I’ve seen a ton of statues and plaques throughout the West. Guess what they commemorate? Fuck-all, that’s what. Because anything worth being in history books is already in the history books. If people need to be constantly reminded of their past, they have anterograde amnesia, and that’s a medical condition. In case they’ve forgotten their own history of cowardice, betrayal in the name of brutality and profit, the last true leader the South knew will be there, to remind them.

The TLDR version of this thing is; everyone in the country is being collectively ransomed and punished because of a minority of the population. I’d say that a little brutality in return is warranted.

And, for everyone who’s going to defend people who provided political capital for this truly asinine mass anti-vaxxer movement; go volunteer at a hospital, first. Get back to me when you witness what disease can really do to you. And, to everyone else, there is no vaccine-hesitancy. There’s just toxic American Exceptionalism taken to the extreme — “This tragedy that’s killed more of my countrymen than all previous wars combined won’t affect me.” If you own a business, you can require all of your employees to wear a mask and practice all COVID precautions, and encourage them to get the vaccine. You can also refuse to do any sort of business with the unvaccinated. Personally; I’d advocate also refusing to keep any sort of company with people who have failed Year 9 Health Class. And do not let them dictate policy, they can not be reasoned with, but we can, collectively, make the costs of selfishness outweigh the benefits (there is no benefit to not getting a vaccine).

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Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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Patrick Koske-McBride

Patrick Koske-McBride

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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