When the Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) disrupted the President’s healthcare address before a joint session of Congress, it was not the first time that a president from Illinois had trouble from a South Carolina lawmaker.
The first time, of course, was when the Palmetto State became the first to secede from the Union. South Carolina politicians such as John C. Calhoun and Preston Brooks stirred the pot and inflamed passions with talk of states’ rights, limited government, nullification, and slavery. The other Southern states followed suit, forming the Confederate States of America and resulting in a Civil War that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
During the Civil War, which I will call Secesh 1.0, the issue was whether White Southerners had a right to kidnap Black people and keep them chained in their backyard. (Secesh means Secessionists, as in, “Colonel, we’re gonna whup the Secesh!”) The South lost, but was a sore loser. And President Lincoln was assassinated by a disgruntled fan of the losing team. Since that time, the losing side has continued its quest to shape the nation in its ignorant, regressive and repressively racist image.
Secesh 2.0 was Jim Crow segregation and the days of the civil rights movement. That was the era of conservative White resistance to equality and Black aspirations, under threat of violence and death. At issue was whether states had a right to treat “their” Black folk as they pleased. The federal government was the enemy, as were outside agitators and carpetbaggers, civil rights workers, sympathetic Whites and uppity Blacks, Jews from up North, anyone from up North, Communists and other troublemakers.
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