Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
Enough with the “Secession” Rhetoric | Righting America

Rodney Kennedy has his M.Div. from New Orleans Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Louisiana State University. He pastored the First Baptist Church of Dayton (OH) – which is an American Baptist Church – for 13 years, after which he served as interim pastor of ABC USA churches in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. He is currently interim pastor of Emmanuel Friedens Federated Church, Schenectady, NY. His seventh book, Good and Evil in the Garden of Democracy, has recently been published. And book #8, Dancing with Metaphors in the Pulpit, will appear soon. 

The face of Marjorie Taylor Greene, House of Representatives (GA) overlayed with illustrations of a Civil War battle.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: Secession. Image via Reddit.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has made plenty of headlines since being elected to the House of Representatives. As off-the-wall as she often is, with her conspiracy theories and desire to impeach President Biden, nothing is as anti-American as her repeated calls for secession. 

In February, she declared, “We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.”

On September 11, Greene went for the secession argument again. On a day of memory of the lost American lives in a terrorist attack – perhaps no orator has ever had less of a sense of the appropriate – she called for secession: 

If the Biden administration refuses to stop the invasion of cartel-led human and drug trafficking into our country, states should consider seceding from the union. From Texas to New York City to every town in America, we are drowning from Biden’s traitorous America Last border policies.

Greene should have nothing to say about secession, considering her declared adoration and support of Putin. We know that Putin has long engaged in campaigns designed to divide America, and if Greene is aiding and abetting such misinformation, she should say more that might convince us of her patriotism, and less of the rhetoric that makes her sound like a traitor. 

But Greene is not alone. There has been a cacophony of calls from various politicians for secession. Secession. What a horrific term. I certainly thought secession had been consigned to our past. 

Regrettably, I was wrong. 

Those who speak of secession and procreate division among us get no respect from me. That said, I can also say unequivocally that I would rather have the United States of America made up of the “babble” rhetoric of Marjorie Taylor Green than to lose our Union. I would rather continue to debate, argue, and dissent from Donald Trump and MAGA then not have the United States of America. 

For me the withdrawal of the Southern states from the Union remains a blot on our region. As deeply enmeshed in the consequences of that war as the South has remained, I still insist on the Union now and forever. 

And I wish that our politicians who insist on talking “secession” would bring as much wisdom and love to the debate as did those who debated the same subject prior to the outbreak of the Civil War: 

  • Robert Lee: “I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution.”
  • Stonewall Jackson: “I am much gratified to see a strong Union feeling in my portion of the state … For my own part I intend to vote for the Union candidate for the convention and I desire to see every honorable means used for peace, and I believe that Providence will bless such means with the fruits of peace.”
  • And as Texas made the fateful decision to secede in February, Governor Sam Houston ominously predicted, “To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country—the young men.”

The strong, powerful voices of the Unionists needs to be heard above the howling of the “secesh” crowd. The United States of America has survived all the disparate, dissenting voices because that is the power of democracy. The ongoing struggle for democracy is both a part of our past and our present. Josiah Ober reminds that “opportunistic politicians” exacerbate “unstable perversions of democracy” because of an “absence of adequate civic education.” 

These perversions of democracy have always been heard, and always dismissed. The primary ideology of America is a commitment to democracy, and that has always absorbed all rivals. 

This has worked well since our nation’s founding. If we can have more of the reasoned deliberations of democracy and less of the irascible, irrational rhetoric of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the nation will be better off, and it will still be the United States of America.