Thursday, October 04, 2007

Untied States of America

Just as talk of partitioning Iraq dies down, up pops some sentiment for dismembering our own country.

Although their motives and political philosophies are worlds apart, the Middlebury Institute and the League of the South are hosting a two-day Secessionist Convention today in Chattanooga.

The Middlebury Institute of upstate New York, whose members are unhappy about the Iraq war and “federal imperialism,” shares the idea of states becoming independent republics with the Southern group, which insists it is not racist despite a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner and its opposition to amnesty for immigrants.

Middlebury director Kirpatrick Sale says the co-sponsorship is intended to show that "the folks up north regard you as legitimate colleagues."

Kirk Sale’s name conjures up memories of the 1960s when he was a student leader of S.D.S. at Cornell, protesting among other social ills, racism and the war in Vietnam. He has gone on to become a respected scholar and author, a self-described neo-Luddite who has written a sympathetic treatise about the Unabomber.

Strange bedfellows, but Yeats too comes much to mind these days: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/ The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.”

It’s an odd world in which those who want to kill each other in Iraq insist on a central government and those here who differ about everything get together to talk about breaking away from their own.

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