Political violence and secession talk is heating up again and no, it’s not emanating out of South Carolina. Pat Buchanan recently posed the likelihood regarding an impending civil conflict in a June column, given what he believes is a nonviolent media and governmental coup against President Donald Trump. Stanford’s Hoover Institution scholar, Victor Davis Hanson, recently discussed the topic of “A Cold Civil War” on his brilliant “The Classicist” podcast last month as well. Of course, there are others broaching the topic given rapid national fragmentation, political violence, and old fashioned hotheadedness.A few are nearing Preston Brooks territory, and some are cheering on the Brooks-like antics. If you don’t remember, Brooks was the South Carolina congressman who delivered a violent caning to a Massachusetts lawmaker for calling the state of South Carolina and Brooks’ cousin “a harlot,” among other put-downs, during a debate over slavery in 1856.The soon to be bludgeoned senator stepped over the line in chastising then-South Carolina Sen. Andrew Butler, which included ugly swipes at his speaking ability after a stroke. Brooks, of course, was cheered in many Southern editorials and presented with a plethora of canes, some of which were inscribed “hit him again.”The story is still relevant today because it’s often seen as a prelude to more violent sectional divisions that would cost over half a million Americans their lives. At the time of Brooks, save for some radicals on both sides, few were envisioning or even clamoring for the kind of conflict that emerged.In the wake of the politically motivated shooting of congressman and majority whip Steve Scalise, which included three others injured by gunfire, debates raged on social media. Some even wondered if Scalise deserved to die given his political leanings, and particularly so because he favored repeal of Obamacare.This troubling trend, where every tragedy or event in the news cycle is immediately politicized, is only growing worse. Ideological tribes use tragedy and even death to reinforce their worldview, while many ignore the baser and seemingly more natural response of sympathy and compassion. This notion elevates the belief that political partisanship and objectives are above everything else in creation and eventually morphs into the justification of violence to secure those goals.While South Carolina and a few other states sometimes get the bad rap on nullification and leading the secession charge, some wonder if we are seeing it again, particularly in liberal states like California.The Golden State, once known for true diversity, is increasingly authoritarian in trying to compel other states to bow to its demands. “To Golden State progressives, California should be California, and Tennessee should be California, too,” wrote David French in National Review. California now bans travel by government officials to eight states, including North Carolina, for what they deem to be discriminatory legislation towards the LGBTQ community. Most of the laws they cite as “discriminatory” are religious liberty protections. Of course, California includes special exemptions within their ban, and no doubt public universities in the state will ignore the ban, particularly when it comes to sporting events. So, it’s more about virtue signaling than a truly principled boycott for now.At any rate, federalism does not work for California, as they increasingly make it a point to ignore a host of federal laws they disagree with. Gov. Jerry Brown even recently referred to his state as a “separate nation.”Tennessee took the announcement that they were to be included in the travel ban in stride and even passed a rebellion poking fun at California’s “exorbitant taxes, spiraling budget deficits” and a host of other ills that plague the state. They too called on the other “forty-eight states to refrain from imposing their unfounded moral judgement on their sister states as California has done in order to prevent escalating foolishness.”We are a long way from resembling anything close to the battlefields of over 150 years ago, but if one pays attention, it’s not hard to see all the escalating foolishness.Ray Nothstine is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.
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