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An Open Letter to John J. Wall, Concerning Our Divorce Settlement

Ken Watts's picture

One night I came home unexpectedly and caught him preparing hors d'oeuvres with lungfish caviar. It led to a violent quarrel. I said I wanted a divorce, and we argued over the custody of the truffle.

Woody Allen

I RECENTLY RECEIVED AN EMAIL which claims to have been written by a young law student.

I don't actually know John J. Wall, the person who signed the letter.

So it was a little surprising to receive a request from John for a divorce.

It turned out, though, that he was talking about a political divorce, and not just from me.

John would like to divorce himself from all "American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al."

When a relationship becomes so troubled that one of the parties contemplates divorce, I think it's important to address the issues, so that some healing can take place.

But John didn't leave a return address.

So I'm going to try to address his complaints about our relationship here, in hopes that he will see that I'm trying to patch things up.

If you know John, please send him a link to this site.

Dear John,

I know I'm not the only person you wrote to, but I certainly seem to fit your criteria.

I'm a liberal and a progressive. I'm certainly a "socialist" according to the right-wing definition of the word—I'm for Medicare, and for everyone having access to a doctor when they are sick or injured.

I've even confessed to a certain appreciation for Karl Marx.

Nevertheless, I support that centrist, President Obama.

And, above all, I am an American.

You begin your letter by saying:

"We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course.

"Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way."

I really do hope that isn't necessary, John.

I understand that right now you are unhappy because you suffered such a devastating setback in the last election, but there has to be give and take in any relationship.

Imagine how I felt, during the previous eight years.

But I didn't give up on you, on this country, or on the democratic process because of that.

I still considered myself a proud American, even while I hated some of the things that were being done to my country.

You go on...

"Here is a model separation agreement: Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass, each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement."

I have to say that this proposal both shocks and puzzles me, John.

I'm shocked because it reminds me of Solomon and the baby.

I may have been naive, but I always assumed that deep down you believed what you said about loving this country.

And now you propose to destroy it, hacking it into pieces, rather than figuring out how patriotic Americans can overcome their disagreements and heal it.

But, of course, I'm falling into that classic pitfall: conflation.

I'm acting as though you are equivalent to all conservatives, and I don't really know that—do I?

You talk about "our two groups" but I don't really know what "group" you represent.

Your willingness to have our homeland cut in two means that you can't possibly represent all conservatives, as I at first imagined.

I have many conservative friends, and I don't know a single one who would agree to hacking the country up into pieces.

Maybe your other issues will help me to discover which "group" you actually represent.

Next time: John's other issues...

Comments

I appreciate your ability to critique without attacking the person. Obviously this person has alot to learn about grace and humility. I am a conservative Christian and I to was concerned with the tone and ideas presented in this email. At first glance it made we want to stand and cheer, but after thinking about the implications and consequences from such statements I got a little sick. As a follower of Jesus I do believe in absolute truth (New Age, and Humanism cannot Philosophically stand up due to relativism), but this email was absolutely not an answer for any of our countries problems. Though I do believe Islam to be a false religion I respect their right to freedom of religion. No, I also do NOT believe they all want to kill us either. I do believe that we need to be more consistent in this country concerning freedom of religion and not favor minority groups. I have seen and heard to many people "intolerantly" say that Christians should not have the right to ____________. Again, there is much we would disagree on, but I appreciate your tone and agreed with much of what you stated to this student.

Living Gracefully,
Pastor Ryker

Thanks for your gracious and thoughtful comment.

There's a serious need for more of this kind of dialogue in this country.

Please comment again.

-Ken

Dear John:

You don’t get to divide the landmass by wealth. It would be divided by population. As you can see from the chart below, 80% of the nation ‘s people only have 7% of the financial wealth of the nation, so the poorest 80% get 80% of the landmass.

Financial Wealth
Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
1983 42.9% 48.4% 8.7%
1989 46.9% 46.5% 6.6%
1992 45.6% 46.7% 7.7%
1995 47.2% 45.9% 7.0%
1998 47.3% 43.6% 9.1%
2001 39.7% 51.5% 8.7%
2004 42.2% 50.3% 7.5%
2007 42.7% 50.3% 7.0%

Next, if 21% of Americans consider themselves liberal as the graph below shows and if the distribution of wealth is the same among liberals, then you lose 4.2% more of the landmass. Your group is now entitled to only 15.8% of the landmass.

Next let’s add 2% for all of the conservative people at NBC and in Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry (yes they exist) because you used a broad brush. That leaves you and the other wealthy, selfish, closed-minded folks with just 13.8% of the landmass.

So what happens next. As we have a huge population advantage over you, we have decided that you get your 13.8% or 523,584 square miles in the following states: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Now that doesn’t bring us up to your total so we are throwing in Ohio. That brings you to 537,408 square miles (you can check my total here http://www.enchantedlearning.com/usa/states/area.shtml) but we are liberal so we are nothing if not generous. We will give the extra land as a parting gift. I am sorry for you wealthy folks who will have to give up your McMansions, ranches, vacation homes and other valuable property. You can try to sell before you leave but there is so much land and homes and so little wealth among the people you have abandoned that I am afraid the market will be quite depressed. Let’s see, you can probably get about $40,000 for that 8 bedroom, 6½ bath home overlooking Lake Tahoe.

What happens next? We liberals, illegal aliens, poor and entertainment folks will have to find someone to work all of those businesses and industry. Well, we will already have a few people in place. Everyone who runs American industry is not Conservative. We also will have a nice unskilled and semi-skilled labor pool. We will be humming in no time and, guess what, most people will have a home to live in, unless you burn them down in a mean-spirited manner before you leave.

What about life on your turf? Well, ditches will still need to be dug, toilets cleaned and buses driven so, John, I hope you have some work clothes among the Versace lawyer’s suits. Maybe you won’t do it because you won’t be in the lower strata of the United States of Wealth. But someone will now be in the lowest 20% and they, with all of their money, will become the new poor in this fledgling nation. Uh-oh, menial jobs will either pay very, very well or your currency will be devalued so that the 80% can be served by the 20% as they are now. Of course you could import labor at great expense from the Caribbean and Africa but they aren’t going to want to commute so you will have to house them. No problem, there are many tenements and housing projects in the United States of Wealth. They can live there. Uh oh, you now have poor people and they are multiplying rapidly. They want the right to vote and higher wages. They strive to live in a manner that gives them dignity. You gave up 86.2% of the United States and you are back where you started except for two things. You wiretapped each other without permission and paranoia is running rampant and every time you felt snubbed or slighted by a foreign nation you invaded and tried to, how did you put it, hammer them. You are under attack by those nations singly, in groups and the soldiers you took with you, who get paid very little, are starting to see that you are getting them into rich men’s wars that are poor men’s fights. They start to emigrate, weakening your defenses. Don’t look to us. Remember we are a bunch of peaceniks for whom you have nothing but contempt.

One last thing John, you have some coal over there but virtually no oil so you will be totally dependent on foreign oil. Heck we might sell you some but it is not going to be cheap. Welcome to supply and demand. It’s OK, though you have all that money or do you. Your currency has plummeted versus the rest of the world due to you need to create a dependent class in order to get them to do menial jobs. Also you import most things as you did when you were running the good ole USA. John, I have to say, I think you have made a major blunder here.

Thomas Broido
207 Pineridge Rd.
Havertown, PA 19083
home: 610-853-1631
cell: 610-348-3297
tbroido@comcast.net

Note: The graph image did not convert. It can be seen at this address:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/conservatives-single-largest-ideological-group.aspx

Thanks Thomas.

A very interesting scenario.

-Ken

That's the poorest excuse for a reply that I ever read.  Full of assumptions, exagerations, lacking all sense of logic.  Right from the first paragraph on down; where YOU decide what states we get.Good grief, thank God you're NOT on our side.Ollie's Common Sense

As a Creek Native American in the Muskogee Nation, I think your both right.  Please take it to war so we can have our land back.  

Funny...would be my thoughts too if I were in you shoes.

meant your shoes

I'm edified to read all the responses above.  I too felt the need to respond; a rough draft is below.Thanks to all of you for expressing your views!G Dear fellow American,This situation would break President Lincoln’s heart, and the hearts of many loyal Americans.I’m disappointed that you only remember the last 60 years. Our relationship has gone on much longer than that. You seem to forget the good times and how much we have accomplished together.But I’m used to your impulsiveness and your certainty, even in grey areas. Regarding this divorce, I’d rather that we work this out and remain united. Do you think you can look at the situation again and try to see that we are all Americans?If you choose to go forward with this, please note:I agree that dividing up the land will not be easy.You can keep the land you’ve already exploited to death.Any land that "harmless" mining, over-irrigating, factory farming and oil spilling has decimated;Land where similarly harmless nuclear waste is stored;Poisoned toxic waste dumps that are awaiting cleanup at some future date when you feel like designating dollars to it;It is yours.Leave to us the pristine wilderness of Alaska, the un-over-fished rivers, streams and oceans (or even the damaged ones: we will work to restore them) and the not-yet-dead farmland.We will bring back the idea of family farms, family ranches.We will figure out our energy needs and devise a plan that balances our needs with the costs in human life and care of the earth.We get the national parks: they were established with the understanding that they would remain untouched, undeveloped, and shared by all.It would be a crime to turn them into oil and gas fields, or places for the richest to build their homes.Don’t worry about the taxes: we’ll figure out that point. As a democratic nation, not a capitalist one, we need to reset the taxes --- perhaps a flat tax. We’ll do fine.Liberal judges and ACLU: thank you. If your minorities, including young women, ever need a helping hand dealing with your version of "fairness", we’ll do our best to lend them a helping hand. That is what we’ve always done.When you take those firearms and military, please ensure that you build high enough fences and walls to keep that on your side. We don’t want any of that "trickling down" just because you expect to profit from warmongering and arming the world.I am thrilled that you want to take over the existing oil industry etc. To note, per point #1, we are not handing over the undeveloped land that we have fought to keep that way. On the other hand --- Texas is all yours!Let’s not address weight issues unless you want us to bring up Chris Christie and other portly pontificators.But we are happy to claim any intelligent, winning, pro-human-rights person no matter what their size or age.Oh, and also the comedians, artists and entertainers that you consider corrosive to your society. We appreciate their kind of feedback; it keeps us on our toes, protects us from pompous self-righteousness.Go for it. Regarding Wal-Mart:Many small businesses, which you claim to favor, don’t like the way Wal-Mart affects them. Should we take the mom-n-pops, or Wal-Mart? Please clarify.Do you really want to keep Wal-Mart if you send the entire welfare-dwelling, food-stamp-using, illegal drug taking folk (you are so quick to label people!!!) over to our side? Who will keep those stores going? We will not. We will close the border to trade so that we can sell our made-in-America goods at our own prices.Yes, we will keep the Americans that don’t fit into your world. Send us the hard-working immigrants, the unemployed, the orphans, the vets that you can’t afford to care for, the disabled folks, your parents--- those Senior Citizens, who want so many "entitlements" from you! – send us anyone you consider "misfits". The Greatest Generation – they’re misfits now too, aren’t they? We’ll even take you when you stumble.You forget that your niece, the unemployed scientist, needs food stamps to feed her kids since your Big Pharma laid her off so that they could purchase another company in India.Good deal! You keep all those folks.Will you still pay your CEOs for failure? How’s that working for ya?Are you pleased with the caliber of your politicians lately?To note: We are not your new "market". We will at a later date negotiate a fair trade relationship with you. Did unions bug you? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!We’ve already got the Bible… and the Koran, and the Jewish, Buddhist and most other sacred books available on our laptops. You won’t need the internet or very many scientists either – I understand how progress frightens you.You can continue your Big Brother activities the old-fashioned way: spies, etc. Wasn’t it more fun that way, before the internet?When you need some entertainment or intellectual engagement – talk to each other. You’ll see where my sense of humor came from.We will take the museums, the concert halls, the archives of art, history, learning that mean so little to you. We’ll take the embassies of all those pesky countries – it seems you’d prefer to isolate yourselves.Red flag here. We need to specify in this agreement how you define a "threat".In your culture, a farmer growing an organic, non-treated, plain-old soybean is "threatening" the giant multi-company that genetically alters soybeans.Please confirm that the fact that we choose to live in peace, and create, and grow wealthy, live and die, without making you any money, is NOT a threat.Those peace-niks and war protesters are our sons and daughters --- or in some cases, ourselves. We gladly take them.If your offspring upset you by thinking for themselves, don’t worry: we will take them in.We even rebuild our enemies sometimes, and we admit our own errors. We learn from our mistakes. We used to think of that as "the American way".Judeo-Christian Values: this bullet point is the most brief in your divorce proposal. I hate to use the word "shallow" but – you might want to give your Judeo-Christian God more credit, show that He is as valuable to you as your guns and CEOs.As for us: we’re pretty inclusive; we don’t own god, or morality. We’ll take whoever you need to push out.You’d better cede the Statue of Liberty over to us: you won’t have much use for her anymore.If we need to give you something of equal worth, we may cede to you a site we care for, but which you have more use for: the Twin Towers memorial. We would only use it to honor the fallen or remember our lost loved ones; you can use it to always keep the flames of hate alive.Seriously? Then good. You’ll need the auto companies and the oil and gas lines to keep those running. Seriously, though? Oh, that is right: global warming is a myth. I forgot.Please keep the cigarette companies also, since you’ve got the hospitals.We’ll take the wineries and breweries.We’ll have no problem with that. Healers tend to be drawn to us.And those who heal by more homeopathic means will not be drowned as witches.We were never big on debating the point: Health care is something we want everyone we love to have, and we’ll do our best to make sure that all are provided for. This is not a matter of law but of spirit.No: We’ll have to share the rights to the National Anthem. It’s impossible to sing but we love it.We will take the Pledge of Allegiance, and we will make "under God" optional. In fact, saying the Pledge of Allegiance will be optional. We want to know who does want to not state the pledge, and why. That way, understanding might actually happen.I know: you don’t understand; my attitude is un-American.As much as we’ll miss the Battle Hymn of the Republic, we’ve got "This Land is Your Land" and "God Bless America".Of course those songs are ours; most music and art is.Please ensure you don’t trickle down on us. It’s not working for us, never did.As already stated above, thanks, we will keep our cherished history, culture, name, our precious constitution.The flag: we’ll have all the vets. And 99 percent of all Americans. So we get the flag.To reiterate: if you can find in yourself any hope of reconciling our two philosophies and keeping our cherished union together, let me know. I will not easily accept this division of our country.Keeping hope alive for us both,A loyal American, unemployed yet optimistic, who would give her life for this country and any of her countrymen.PS. I can do the name-calling, too: a partial list of descriptors of you and your associates might sound like this: "conservative, religious right, fascist, Nazi, big brother capitalist totalitarians and your Republican puppets". But I do not want to lower this discussion to your level, so I won’t go there. I have known and loved conservatives, and people on the religious right, and many other people whose beliefs were not mine. I hesitate to call them non-Americans, even though their beliefs, like yours as expressed in your note, sound un-American to me.

On February 5, 2009, someone identified as John J. Wall, purporting to be a "law student and an American," posted his thoughts about obtaining a divorce from the liberals of America.  This rather trite bit of literature became one of those much-forwarded Internet tracts, eventually ending up in my e-mail.  He suggested that the South would take the corporations, Wal-Mart, pharmaceutical companies, Wall Street, firearms, the NRA, the Bible, Judeo-Christian values, SUVs, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars with it as part of the divorce settlement, as well as keeping its history, name, and flag.  The North, apparently, could keep everything else, such as unions, health care laws, gay rights, and the social institutions that Wall finds objectionable.  In short, he advocated revisiting the Civil War, only this time the South would prevail in a way that it couldn't a century and a half ago.              Mr. Wall's thoughts intrigued me because of their underlying assumption that the United States is really two countries that will never see eye-to-eye on anything.  In the quest for perspective regarding his assertions, I went to the history books for some guidance on how it is that America has arrived at such a place today.            My research revealed that the South has been a millstone around the neck of this great country from a time before there even was a United States of America.  Perhaps some will remember that the Nixon presidential campaigns employed what was termed a "Southern Strategy" for his election and re-election bids.  What most don't know is that the term actually originated in 1779, not 1968.  The British realized, after the military stalemate in the North between 1776 and 1778, that they simply couldn't defeat the patriots of New England.  It was the Age of Enlightenment, after all, and the Northern states had bought into the radical idea that people should govern themselves, rather than to be governed by heredity kings or a war lord with an army.  Rather than negotiate a treaty of separation, though, the British embarked on a last ditch attempt to quash the rebellion, which they labeled their "Southern Strategy."  They would seek to break the back of the Revolution by joining forces with those colonists residing in Virginia and points southward.  That, of course, was slave country.              Representatives of the Southern states had actually sent a delegation to London to suggest just such a strategy a few years before the British sought to implement their Southern Strategy.  Those Southern anti-Revolutionaries implored the British to guarantee the slave trade and to aid them in the suppression of slave rebellions.  The South, in return, would serve as a base from which the British army could launch its freedom-crushing assault on Massachusetts and those other "liberal" bastions of freedom.             So why would Southerners in 1779 see themselves as compatriots of the British?  The answer can be found in the Declaration of Independence.  Our founding fathers declared their belief that it was "self-evident" that "all men are created equal."  Such thoughts struck horror in the hearts of people who felt that they had the right to enslave other people for life, and then to enslave the children of those people as well.  Southerners just couldn't take a chance that the Declaration of Independence meant what it said.            British General Thomas Gage left New York with his army on December 26, 1779, headed for Charleston, South Carolina.  His mission was to implement Great Britain's final attempt to defeat its rebellious colonies.  It was thus the South, and its regressive culture, that resulted in the Revolution dragging on for another three years as an attempt was made to institute the Southern Strategy.  The next time you hear someone extol "Southern culture," be sure to give him a big thank you for the lives and misery that his "culture" cost our American forebears during those three years.            The British, to many Southerners of the eighteenth century, represented the best hope of maintaining their "Southern culture," i.e. the purchase and sale of people as though they were cattle.  So why then did the Southern Strategy ultimately fail?  There were actually two reasons.  The first was that the British had hired a large hoard of Hessian mercenaries to supplement its army.  These were brutes of the first order who were poorly trained, and even more poorly paid, to the point that they felt entitled to steal whatever they found among the colonists' possessions as a supplement to their meager income.  They also had a nasty tendency to ravish any woman who struck their fancy, and enjoyed absolute immunity for the murder of any of her male relatives who might take exception.  Indeed, the barbarous behavior of the Hessians in the North had been chronicled in multiple broadsides, which was the name of the pamphlets that were a major means of communication in revolutionary times.  These excesses by Britain's dupes had strengthened the spines of many a New Englander, once they realized that their choices had indeed been reduced to winning the war or being brutally subjugated.            The second, and more compelling, reason that the Southern Strategy failed was because the slavers didn't really trust the British.  John Murray, the Fourth Earl of Dunmore, who is usually referred to as Lord Dunmore, was the royal governor of Virginia in the 1770s.  On November 7, 1775, he offered freedom to any slave who would join British forces in their attempt to crush the Revolution.  He organized the escaping slaves, who were referred to as Black Loyalists, into a band of soldiers that he dubbed the Ethiopian Regiment.  Needless to say, Lord Dunmore's actions were not well-received by most Southerners.  Southerners were not overly fond of the Revolutionary ideas of the New England colonists.  They were outright terrified, though, by the 1775 attack on their property rights by a British governor who sought to grant freedom to their slaves.  Indeed, it was the Southerners' love of property, not love of country, that kept them in league with the Revolution long enough to ultimately defeat the British.            The Colonists eventually won the war, albeit with scant assistance from their Southern brethren.  They next had to grappled with how to merge thirteen fiercely independent colonies into a country capable of defending itself from the British, or any other European power that may have lusted after its vast natural resources.  The alternative was the very real danger of being picked off, one colony at a time, should they fail to form a broader union.              There was one major impediment to the adoption of a Constitution which was largely responsible for delaying an agreement until the end of the following decade.  That impediment was the South's insistence on people of one skin color being allowed to own people whose skin had a different hue.  In a blatant bit of hypocrisy, though, the Southern delegates to the Constitutional Convention insisted on those people being counted for purposes of representation in Congress, notwithstanding that those same enslaved people would never be allowed to vote for those representatives. Southerners recognized that the more people a State had, the more power it would have in the new government.  Large States were simply going to have a bigger Congressional delegation than small States.  The size of a State's Congressional delegation, in turn, was directly linked to the number of electoral votes it had when choosing a President.  The Northern representatives ultimately compromised by recognizing that certain people, and it isn't hard to guess who they were, would only be counted as three-fifths of a person for such purposes.  There were some real mental gymnastics involved in defining those people who were really only 60% of a person because the founding fathers from the North just couldn't bring themselves to use the term "slavery" in the great document they were drafting.  The end result, though, was that the South was given an increased number of representatives in Congress, and a larger percentage of the Electoral College, even though it didn't allow the people who accounted for those larger numbers to participate in the process.             As great as our founding fathers were, they made a major mistake when they failed to take on the South's peculiar ideology.  Their lack of resolve on the slavery issue made the grand pronouncements of the Declaration of Independence seem hypocritical to the rest of the world.  Their failure to address slavery merely kicked the can down the road for another seventy years.  The South's regressive social institutions would ultimately cost America another 618,000 lives in the Civil War, at least by official estimates, even though serious historians think that the number may be in excess of 700,000.            To this day, many Southerners insist that "the war of northern aggression" wasn't about slavery, but rather "State's rights."  Before any intelligent person accepts such nonsense, he or she should ask the next person who makes that assertion exactly what "States rights" they were so concerned about.  The Southern states, after all, had the same rights under the Constitution as every other state on April 12, 1861, the date on which a treasonous militia formed by South Carolina fired on a federal installation called Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.  While being accorded every right that the other States enjoyed, the South insisted on an "extra" one:  The right to enslave certain people, even if they had been fathered by the men who owned them.  The term State's rights is just a way of camouflaging the truth, and it's fun to watch one of these Civil War apologists jump through linguistic hoops when you ask them the simple question of which "State's right" they are talking about.            High school history books record that the North won the Civil War.  However, they fail to mention that the South won the peace.  The South, as exemplified by the current day Texas State Board of Education, has long had an inordinate impact on what our children learn.  The Texas SBoE insists on purchasing high school textbooks on a statewide basis, which gives it incredible buying power.  In addition, many of the other Southern states have entered into a sub rosa agreement to purchase only texts that have cleared the Texas vetting process, which dramatically increases the impact that the SBoE has on the content of our children's textbooks.  If the censors on the Texas SBoE don't like an event as it's depicted in a textbook, the entire text will be banned from use in Texas, and thereby most of the South.  Since textbook printing companies don't find it financially expedient to offer multiple versions of its books, they end up supplying pabulum to the entire country because of the influence of Southerners.              Examples of this are everywhere.  For example, most high school texts refer to Ulysses S. Grant as being a failure in the Presidency.  Grant, who was personally honest, did have a problem with some incredibly corrupt members of his cabinet, but that's not the reason that these books label him a failure.  He receives that approbation for two reasons.  First, he was the general who finally engaged the Southern armies, for which none of Lincoln's prior commanding generals had much of a stomach, and ultimately beat them into submission by brute force.  Lincoln, Grant, and even Kennedy, remain underappreciated in the South to this day among many of the long term white families who live there.  Witness the fervor with which horrified Southerners worked to change Cape Kennedy back to Cape Canaveral almost from the day that the name of the space port was changed to honor the memory of the assassinated 35th President, whose life had been extinguished in the South, by a Southerner.              Even more importantly, though, Grant became President a few years after Lincoln's second term was cut short by, of course, another Southerner with a gun.  Grant believed in bringing the newly freed slaves into the American family, thereby implementing Lincoln's policies.  He sided with the "Radical Republicans" in his desire to afford an education to the former slaves, to ensure their right to vote, and to otherwise bestow the trappings of citizenship on them.  That idea didn't sit well with Southerners then, and still doesn't for many white Southerners to this day.  The South's power to control the message when it comes to what the nation's children are taught thus goes far in keeping its regressive ideology alive.              Speaking of "Radical Republicans," that term is thrown around in textbooks without any critical analysis.  It's an historical fact that a major branch of the Republican party was branded "radical" by the South in the immediate post-war era.  Unfortunately, the Southern-approved history texts of today use that condescending epithet without any attempt to explain precisely why the post-war Republicans were given that name.  The Northern Republicans believed in admitting the former slaves to full American citizenship, with all of its rights and duties.  That was what earned them the name "Radical Republicans" by those who wanted so desperately to preserve "Southern culture."            The Republican Party of Lincoln and Grant sold out its principles in 1876, only eleven years after the end of the bloodiest war in American history, in order to maintain its hold on the Presidency.  The Democratic nominee, a reformer named Samuel Tilden from New York, received 51.5% of the popular vote, which was nearly a quarter million more votes than the Republican nominee, Rutherford B. Hayes.  Tilden had also garnered 184 electoral votes to Hayes' 165.  Nevertheless, three Southern states, with 20 electoral votes, managed to nullify the election through a series of procedural frauds by which they ultimately cast all of those votes for Hayes.              The obvious question is why would any Southern State show an interest in seeing another "Radical Republican" become President?  The answer is that Hayes didn't even come close to qualifying for that historically honorable title.  Those were the days of Reconstruction, which meant that federal troops were stationed throughout the South to make sure that the more antithetical aspects of "Southern culture" were stamped out.  In order to hold onto the Presidency, Hayes and his cohorts deserted the ideology of Lincoln and Grant by entering into a deal with the devil by which federal troops were pulled from the South in exchange for the Presidency, thereby ending Reconstruction.              The South's response to the end of Reconstruction was the immediate suppression of the right to vote by anyone whose skin color wasn't white.  The subsequent all white Southern legislatures proceeded to enact a broad range of Jim Crow laws which deprived black citizens of their rights for almost another century.  The South also reinstituted slavery, although it wasn't called that, by Southern officials whose actions were no longer subject to scrutiny by the Northern army.              Southern sheriffs and county judges instituted a system by which black people, usually men but also women if a "request" for a domestic was received, were routinely arrested on charges that would be laughable today.  These unfortunate souls were summarily convicted and sentenced to either long prison terms or hopeless fines.  The wrinkle in the system was that someone could offer to satisfy the sentence in exchange for the prisoner signing a contract by which he would agree to make repayment by working for that person for a defined period.  The sheriffs and judges enriched themselves from these payments, which was the start of a cottage industry in the trading of human lives all over again throughout the South.  A recent book by a Pulitzer Prize winning author documents how this practice literally continued in parts of the South until the outbreak of World War II.  In Birmingham, Alabama, for example, a smelting works, which was later to become part of U.S. Steel, "contracted" with these "convicts" to work in either the company's mines or its smelting plants.  At night, they were chained to their beds in the locked hellholes that became their homes.  These unfortunates continued to be enslaved even after their contract term expired, assuming they survived that long, which many didn't because the work was so dangerous.  The difference between the slavery of the ante bellum period and the de facto slavery of the post-war South was in name only.              In order to win the Presidential election of 1876, the can was once again kicked down the road until the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s next ripped the racial scab of injustice off of America's body politic.  Once again the South caused the deaths of far too many Americans who dared to challenge their regressive ways during the modern Civil Rights movement, not to mention the deaths of an unknown number of newly enslaved blacks following the betrayal of 1876.              My review of the nation's history made me think quite a bit about John Wall's plea for "a divorce."  I've come to agree with him.  It is, indeed, time to divorce the South before it causes the good and decent people of the United States any more heartache.  Unfortunately, that might require another war.  This one would be different, though, because the South of today would probably take up arms in order to prevent its expulsion from the Union, much like its forebears took up arms a century and a half ago in a treasonous attempt to destroy the Union.  That is because the South has learned how to suck the financial coffers of this great nation dry, and would be loath to surrender its bounty without a fight.            The Tax Foundation does an analysis of the funding that each State receives from the federal government in proportion to the federal taxes collected in each State.  The most recent figures that I could find, for the calendar year 2005, show that for every dollar sent to Washington, Alabama got $1.66 back, Arkansas $1.41, Georgia $1.01, Louisiana $1.78, Mississippi $2.02, North Carolina $1.08, South Carolina $1.35, Tennessee $1.27, and Virginia $1.51.  Somehow Texas, at 94 cents, and Florida, at 97 cents, are the only two formerly treasonous States that have missed out on the federal gravy train.              By comparison, California got back 78 cents, Connecticut 69 cents, Delaware 77 cents, Illinois 75 cents, Massachusetts 82 cents, Michigan 92 cents, Minnesota 72 cents, New Hampshire 71 cents, New Jersey 61 cents, New York 79 cents, and Wisconsin 86 cents.            For my money, the South is welcome to secede, taking the corporations and insurance companies with it as Mr. Wall suggested.  Let the South have the health insurers who skim exorbitant profits off of the money that is intended for the health care system.  Let the South have the corporations that send jobs to China, or Malaysia, or wherever they can get labor for a few dollars a day rather than paying an American a living wage.  Let them establish a feudal system in which the top 2% own everything, and the other 98% are their economic serfs.  I suspect that the North could get along just fine by employing American workers in its remaining businesses, while providing such necessities as access to medical care to those who remain behind.  It seems to me that most real citizens, when giving serious consideration to the social contract with the government, are willing to actually pay for the benefits that they receive, like roads and police protection, without believing the incredibly dim-witted proposition that tax cuts are the answer to everything.  In fact, the North would probably find that it is quite easy to pay for such things once it successfully rids itself of the welfare queens of the Confederacy, who have been draining the national treasury ever since it "lost" the Civil War.            Alas, it really is time for a divorce.  The South, with its "Southern culture," contributes so little to America, while consuming so much of her wealth, that both sides would probably feel as though they had "won" after the separation was completed.  The North, though, would need to take one of the South's wedge issues to heart if it was to survive.  The North will absolutely need to secure a strong border.  It shouldn't take much more than a few years for Southerners to realize just what their "culture" means to the rights and dignity of all but the richest and most powerful among them.  That will be the day when the North will indeed need very strong border enforcement in order to prevent a flood of illegal Southern aliens from sneaking back into this great nation. 

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