September 11, 2009
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation ... can long endure." President Abraham Lincoln uttered those words on Nov. 19, 1863, after one of the bloodiest battles in our history and during a war that ripped this country apart. The states of the Confederacy had sundered the union and rejected Lincoln as their leader.
Now we are engaged in another civil war — again, over race. From the moment that Barack Obama won the White House, a segment of the population has refused to accept him as the president of all Americans. They use a variety of labels — like socialist — as shorthand for his "otherness," but they all boil down to his skin color.
Some Texans, even the state's governor, talk the madness of secession. TV demagogue Glenn Beck has called Obama a racist; apparently delighting viewers, he's still on the air. Our president's detractors have labeled as socialism his efforts to save the nation — and the global economy — from total collapse. He appointed the first Latina to the U.S. Supreme Court, but his pre-eminently qualified nominee was branded a racist. His effort to reform our health system has been dubbed an experiment in Marxist government control.
Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer accused the president of using his televised address to school kids to spread his "socialist ideology." Parents and schools nationwide wanted kids to secede from hearing him. Florida's hate groups, third highest in the nation according to The Southern Poverty Law Center, have become energized since Obama was elected.
Knowing the conflict it will spark, The Sons of Confederate Veterans apparently still plan to march in the November Veterans' Day parade in Homestead — with their Confederate flag. Armed men have appeared at public events where the president is speaking. Once the president signs a health reform bill, disaffected groups will march on Washington, as will their adversaries.
Individually, such incidents may appear innocuous. Taken together, they're turning up the heat on a domestic pressure cooker. It's in the political calculus of Republicans and the financial interests of cable TV demagogues to keep the pot boiling. But they must be stopped. Floridians and all Americans need to tell advertisers of right-wing radio and TV programs that you will not buy their products or listen to their hate speech. Peaceful boycotts are the civil way to end our civil war—and endure.