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Article posted Nov 14 2012, 6:28 AM Category: Commentary Source: Ryan W. McMaken Print

3 Myths About Secession

by Ryan W. McMaken

I have no illusions about this latest secession petition phenomenon. Nothing will directly come of this, and the people who are behind it are mostly people who would be singing "God Bless America" at the tops of their lungs had Mitt Romney been elected. On the other hand, it sure has a lot of people talking about secession, which shows that the idea of it remains an important part of the American political consciousness.

But, in response, most of the comments coming from political hacks display a deep, deep ignorance of the history of secession and the Constitutional realities behind it.

In response, I thought I'd list some retorts to the basic myths which most of the anti-secession screeds are intent on perpetuating.

1. The Constitution does not prohibit secession. The legal argument boils down to this: 1. The Constitution does not mention secession. In any way. 2. The Tenth Amendment says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Now, I don't have a Ph.D. in logic, but even I can figure out that if something is not mentioned, then, according to the 10th Amendment, it isn't prohibited to the states. In fact is is the opposite of prohibited. Now, I know that the Supreme Court says no secession allowed, which means the federal government has declared that you can't escape the federal government. Gee, that's no shocker. So sure, if you believe that the federal government should be the last word on what the federal government can and cannot do, then that's fine. Just don't pretend that we have constitutional government. If the federal government gets to decide what the Constitution says, then the Constitution is nothing more than a suggestion box for the feds.

2. The Civil War did not "settle" the issue. Well, it settled the issue in the way that I settled the matter of ownership of that Steve Garvey baseball card when I beat up that other kid and took it. (OK, that never happened, but you get my point.) Secession was never settled beyond the federal government's assertion that it has the right to kill people who try to exercise their rights protected by the Tenth Amendment.

3. Secession is treason/unAmerican/craaaazy/for slavers only. Prior to the confederacy, there were some slaveowners who got together and seceded from their government. They were called Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. If you're opposed to the secession of 1776, then that's fine, you might be consistent on this issue, but if you're one of these right-wing pundits who thinks the Declaration of Independence should be read aloud every July 4, and then says that secession is nutso, you might try actually reading that document you profess to love.

The Declaration makes a simple argument:

1. Humans have rights from the Creator

2. Governments exist to secure those rights (a debatable assertion but we'll roll with it.)

3. When the government fails to secure those rights, we can ditch it and start our own government.

That's pretty much all it says. If you thought that was true in 1776, when tax rates were 1% and there was not such thing as a the EPA or the FBI or the IRS, why is it not true now? Because we're so much more free now? And no, the Declaration did not say that the government is free to violate rights as long as people get to vote on it.

The Declaration establishes that there's no such thing as treason, and a free government requires the assumption of just secession. Lysander Spooner explains (in No Treason #1):
Thus the whole Revolution [of 1775-1783] turned upon, asserted, and, in theory, established, the right of each and every man, at his discretion, to release himself from the support of the government under which he had lived. And this principle was asserted, not as a right peculiar to themselves, or to that time, or as applicable only to the government then existing; but as a universal right of all men, at all times, and under all circumstances.





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Comments 1 - 3 of 3 Add Comment Page 1 of 1
keudo

Posted: Nov 14 2012, 10:36 AM

Link
I'm not against this movement, but I do think it's a stupid movement simpy because of the reasons behind it, these people are just mad that Obama won and not Romney. Still there is this:

The Presidential Proclamation declaring peace between the United States and Texas after the Civil War, dated August 20, 1866, states very clearly in the following passage that no state had the right to leave the Union (emphasis added in all capitals):

And whereas,

the President of the United States, by further proclamation issued on the second day of April, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-s
ix, did promulgate and declare, that there no longer existed any armed resistance of misguided citizens, or others, to the authority of the United States in any, or in all the States before mentioned, excepting only the State of Texas, and did further promulgate and declare that the laws could be sustained and enforced in the several States before mentioned, except Texas, by the proper civil authorities, State, or Federal, and that the people of the said States, except Texas, are well and loyally disposed, and have conformed or will conform in their legislation to the condition of affairs growing out of the amendment to the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting slavery within the limits and jurisdiction of the United States;

And did further declare in the same proclamation THAT IT IS THE MANIFEST DETERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT NO STATE, OF ITS OWN WILL, HAS A RIGHT OR POWER TO GO OUT OF OR SEPARATE ITSELF FROM, OR BE SEPARATED FROM THE AMERICAN UNION; and that, therefore, each State ought to remain and constitute an integral part of the United States;
Anonymous

Posted: Nov 14 2012, 3:48 PM

Link
24209 remember the differences between what was written in the Declaration and our Constitution ... "all men" was replaced by "persons" and "Creator" (the idea of a supernatural being) was omitted all together.
Anonymous

Posted: Nov 14 2012, 7:00 PM

Link
6464 "...to the States respectively, or to the people". Notice how that's worded. States come first, the people are secondary. I wonder how many constitution-worshippers have ever thought about that.


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