Hey, rebels: Love America or take your own advice
A white Ford F-250 pick-up rumbled through town, a Confederate rebel flag behind the cab; on the rear bumper were a pro-life and three anti-Obama stickers, two of which could not be revealed in a family newspaper.
It wasn't a lone-wolf protest; several cars, trucks and homes in the area sport similar flags and messages. During the summer, when a 4-wheel Jamboree and a Monster Truck rally are held at the local fairgrounds, attracting thousands from a multi-state area, many trucks fly rebel flags, insignia and political statements. During the annual eight-day fair at the end of September, vendors sell all kinds of items with the Confederate battle flag, most of them made overseas.
The rebels say they are fierce independents. But, being a "rebel" doesn't mean you can complain about paying taxes, while also denying climate change and evolution. Nevertheless, those flying rebel flags, although they may be disenchanted and alienated from the mainstream, are still part of traditional mainstream America.
They may claim they oppose "government" (also known as "gummint") intruding upon their lives, but think it's perfectly acceptable for government to make rules about the people's sexual practices and to invade women's bodies.
They also believe government has the duty to create laws to require national identification for every citizen and establish restrictive measures that weaken the rights of all people to vote, especially those who aren't white-establishment Republicans. When the U.S. invaded Iraq for reasons that were questionable at best, chest-thumping jingoistic "rebels" were the strongest supporters of military action. But, they remained largely silent when liberals and social activists spoke out about soldiers not being given adequate body armor, and military hospitals not giving the wounded adequate treatment. They have also remained largely silent about the one-fourth of America's homeless who are combat veterans.
These pretend-rebels gave standing ovations to the PATRIOT Act that shredded the Constitution and established numerous ways the government could violate citizen rights granted by the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments. When the federal courts overturned parts of the act, the "patriotic rebels" complained about activist judges.
When not flying a Confederate flag, these "rebels" wrap themselves in the American flag and scorn those who speak out for social justice, calling them pinkos, socialists and commies, never understanding even the basics of political philosophy.
They listen to conservative talk radio and Fox News, all of which bash the mainstream media, but don't recognize that the very sources they turn to for information are also mainstream media, owned by establishment multi-millionaires.
They willingly agree with Mitt Romney, even in defeat, that 47 percent of Americans are takers who "want stuff," but don't recognize that one of the biggest takers who wanted more "stuff" was Romney himself, who ran a venture capital company that existed to take over other companies. Even fellow Republicans during the primaries called Romney not a venture capitalist but a vulture capitalist.
In a local newspaper - which daily opens a full page, sometimes two full pages, to dozens of one or two paragraphs of grammatically-scurrilous rants from local citizens - are variations of President Obama being a Kenyan-born Muslim who is leading America into communism and self-destruction, their thoughts mimicking the screed of conservative talk show hosts, pundits and bloviators.
But the rebel who drove the white F-250 doesn't live in the Deep South; this is in the rural red center of blue-state Pennsylvania, home of the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War.
The Civil War - known as the War Between the States among Confederate sympathizers - is still being fought. Almost 25,000 Pennsylvanians have now signed petitions to have the Keystone State secede from the union.
More than 700,000 citizens upset about the re-election of President Obama in the past two weeks have signed petitions calling for their states to secede. The states with most of the signatures are Red States, paralleling the former Confederacy, which receive far more in federal dollars than their citizens pay. They are also the states where numerous polls reveal at least one-fourth of all citizens don't believe in the separation of church and state. Maybe the U.S. can convince Iran and Saudi Arabia, theocratic dictatorships, to annex those states.
However, Texas, with more than 120,000 signatures, leads all lists of petitions. It would be tempting to allow Texas to secede, perhaps even facilitating a trade with Mexico. They get Texas, and the U.S. gets Acapulco, Cancun and Mazatlan. In 2009, running for re-election, Gov. Rick Perry, trying to burnish his ultra-conservative credentials, had even suggested that not only did he align himself with right-wing extremists but that Texas could become so mad at the federal government they might consider seceding. But now, he says he disagrees with the citizens who sign petitions to secede, and ignorantly claim the 10th Amendment gives them that right.
Perhaps it's because Gov. Perry realizes that the only way a state can secede from the union, according to the Constitution, is not by having a majority of citizens petition the White House or even having an election, but only by an armed insurrection, something that didn't work in 1861 - and won't work today.
Nevertheless, there is one possibility for those who so willingly signed secession petitions, mouthing off before they understood the penalties for treason.
For more than four decades, these conservative pretend-rebels told everyone who disagreed with them and protested American policy that they were un-American and unChristian; they called them traitors and drilled into the public discourse the mantra of "America - love it or leave it." By their own actions the past two weeks, it may be time for a few hundred thousand to pack their bags and take their own advice.