Is Neo-Confederacy Such a Bad Thing?

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By: Jason L. Van Dyke, Esq.

I have never considered myself a very "multicultural" person, but one of the oddest insults that has ever been directed at me has been the label “neo-Confederate.” The first time I was labeled with this term was in April of 2007 after I had been invited to introduce an anti-illegal immigration speaker to the Michigan State University Chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. The scene could best be described as similar to the Battle of Berkeley. All attendees were ushered through metal detectors and an angry mob of leftists far outnumbered the individuals who wanted to hear what the speaker had to say. As four-letter words were hurled in my direction, I decided that it would be enjoyable (although, admittedly imprudent) to remind the potty-mouthed crowd of two such words that they had clearly forgotten: Work and Soap. I was merely trying to point out that leftists (of all colors) in my experience are lazy and tend to abstain from washing. The police were required to clear the room of rabble shortly after that remark and a subsequent write-up by the Southern Poverty Law Center (or Socialist Pervert Lunatic Commune, as I like to call them) referred to me as a “neo-Confederate.”

This is not a term that I have historically taken much issue with. The SPLC defines “neo-Confederacy” as “a reactionary, revisionist predilection for symbols of the Confederate States of America (CSA), typically paired with a strong belief in the validity of the failed doctrines of nullification and secession — in the specific context of the Antebellum South — which rose to prominence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.” While I avoid displaying symbols of the CSA, I certainly do have a strong believe in the validity of doctrines such a nullification and secession. The SPLC certainly wants folks to believe that these ideals are bad – in the same way that they want their donors to believe that the sky is falling and that a fascist America run by hate groups is right around the corner. The truth is that there are strong arguments to be made in favor of “neo-Confederacy” as they define it.

To me, neo-Confederacy is a combination of two conservative principles: (a) a very small federal government, and (b) state’s rights. These are principles that the American people used to believe in, and this fact is evidenced in the oft-ignored 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution. The federal government today has become so large that most new “laws” are passed through bureaucratic rulemaking in the executive branch and are never voted on by Congress. [1] For example: I have previously stated my opposition to “bump stocks” on the basis that they are unsafe and encourage poor marksmanship, but regardless of how you feel about them, the notion that an agency of the executive branch could ban the things without a vote from Congress should be terrifying. The continued delegation of legislative authority by Congress to bureaus of the executive branch, combined with the growing tendency of courts to legislate from the bench, has corrupted our constitutional republic in a way that George Soros couldn’t conceive of in his wildest and raunchiest wet dreams. [2]

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At the heart of neo-Confederacy is liberty. It is permitting more local governments, which are more answerable to the people, the greatest possible leeway in coming up with local solutions to local problems – without interference from the growing federal leviathan. A prime example of this would be when the federal government oversteps its authority on domestic issues. Education is a great example of this because the Constitution does not give the federal government explicit authority to regulate education (and, when it was stolen from the states, the quality of an American education tanked). Gun control is another good example because, while the 2nd and 10th Amendments together ought to serve as a bar on federal gun control laws, states have traditionally been able to regulate the time, place, and way firearms must be carried, stored, used, etc. 

The examples of education and gun control are given here because they are near and dear to my heart. Entire tomes could be written, and have been, on the various areas where, since the founding of this country, the federal government has stuck its nose where it didn’t belong. When the federal government takes constitutionally unsupportable actions, aggrieved states ought to have a remedy against a sweeping federal encroachment on questions that ought to be left to the states. A procedure for nullification is one way that this could be accomplished. It’s not an overly controversial proposition, either. In his outstanding book, The Liberty Amendments, Mark Levin discusses at length how the rights of the states ought to be restored through a constitutional convention. In fact, some of the proposed amendments deal very specifically with nullification, although Levin does not go nearly as far in granting nullification rights to states as I would. [3]

Levin is not an advocate for secession. I am. Specifically, I support the creation of a legal process through which a state can sever ties and become an independent nation. Why? Because a “nation” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.” We may still share a common descent, but we can no longer agree on what our history truly is. We certainly don’t share a common culture, and in many parts of the country, we no longer share a common language. I don’t think Californians ought to be telling Texans what to do, and vice versa. We no longer expect battered women to remain in abusive relationships. Similarly, we should not require a state to retain political ties with a nation that abuses it. Indeed, this was the central premise of the Declaration of Independence.

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For my belief in the right of states and of people to be free, I have been formally labeled as a hater by the SPLC. Such a designation by the SPLC is akin to receiving a speeding ticket from an ice-cream truck driver: It’s stupid and meaningless. In 2007, I referred to them as a has-been civil rights organization. Today, they aren’t even that: They are simple frauds no different than that deposed Nigerian prince that still sends me e-mails from time to time. Perhaps that’s why I wear the neo-Confederate label with pride, because it shows just how ridiculous these carnival barkers have become.

 

[1] While the practice itself dates from the earliest days of the Republic, it was originally quite rare and only in recent years has it approached parity in volume and effect with regular legislation passed by Congress.

[2] Legislation from the bench is also a tried and true tradition of our system of government and has in fact been normative from the early Republic, the colonial era, and in England back at least to the reign of Henry II. Much as with legislation stemming from executive branch agencies, my objection stems from the overwhelming power the practice has attained in recent years, and not to the practice itself. Judicial review itself, as promulgated by Marbury v. Madison, is arguably a form of legislating from the bench because the Constitution itself does not explicitly give the U.S. Supreme Court the authority to act as the final arbiter of the constitutionality.

[3] It has been noted, rightly, that, once convened, such a convention could do whatever it wanted in terms of proposing new amendments or drafting a whole new constitution regardless of its stated purpose when called (although Mr. Levin disagrees with this assertion).  This would, after all, be in the finest tradition of the gentlemen who met at Philadelphia for the purpose of drafting amendments but went a bit rogue when they saw the need for massive structural change.  Perhaps this fact explains why many conservatives are hesitant to support calls for a convention under Article V.  

Author: J.L. Van Dyke, Esq.

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