Free (if politically incorrect) speech

It’s billed as a non-political event, but something tells me that they’re not going to sit around sipping on Coca-Cola.

I got the invitation from Robert Broadus, who will be a speaker at the Take Back Maryland Rally on Saturday in Federalsburg. It’s organized by a group I was heretofore unfamiliar with called the League of the South, and I’ll get to them in a little bit.

First of all, the topics seem quite interesting: during the three-hour Saturday afternoon event, Broadus will speak on “Defending Marriage in the Old Line State,” State Senator Rich Colburn talks about “A 51st State: Partitioning ‘Red’ Maryland from ‘Blue’ Maryland,” and David Whitney of the Institute of the Constitution pondering “Is the 14th Amendment Legal?” All seem like intriguing topics worth listening to, particularly since they don’t seem to come from an orthodox point of view in Maryland.

The sponsoring organization bills itself as maintaining the spirit of the Confederacy, noting “We seek to advance the cultural, social, economic, and political well-being and independence of the Southern people by all honourable means.” Obviously this brings up the familiar images of the rebel flag, white-hooded Ku Klux Klan members, and separate but equal facilities. And of course we’ve already fought one War Between the States that their side lost.

Still, if you ignore the racial portion of the equation (as Broadus is apparently doing, since he is a black man) there are some aspects of Southern life which could stand a revival. A couple in particular are the restoration of state’s rights and the Southern emphasis on family and community – the definition of which comes from achieving the greater good through local, privately-based efforts rather than a government program. Taken in that context, the selection of speakers makes a lot of sense.

Without question, this will be the kind of event that liberals fall over themselves condemning because they see almost everything through a lens of perceived racism. But the League of the South contends (and I think to a significant extent rightfully so) that southern Maryland, the Eastern Shore, and lower Delaware are bastions of the old South trapped inside northern states; on the other hand portions of Confederate states like Florida and Texas are no longer “southern” as they define it because of Yankee and Latino influences.

And while there isn’t a shooting war going on between the blue and the gray, there’s no denying we have a cultural and social war going on between the principles being stood for by the League of the South and ideologically similar, socially conservative and even libertarian groups versus those promulgated by their perception of government policy and the influence of Hollywood and the mainstream media.

Just witness the GOP Presidential primary schedule – Mitt Romney didn’t win any states in the Deep South except Florida, and Florida was won only because Romney carried the urban areas. The northern tier of the state and panhandle was Gingrich country, as was Newt’s adopted home state of Georgia and South Carolina. Rick Santorum carried Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee during his Presidential bid.

They didn’t call the South the Bible Belt for nothing, and over the last many decades it’s been Hollywood’s task to sell the idea of Southerners as white trash while government enforces policies which many evangelicals in the South disagree with. Yet Southerners are proportionally more likely to fight and die for their country.

But I guarantee that some of those who read this article are going to shake their head and think to themselves that these speakers are making a mistake appearing before such a group, one which believes the South should rise again and eventually secede from the rest of the Union. I have news for them: we already live in a polarized and divided nation, made so because it benefits certain people and groups at the expense of the rest of us. We don’t have to agree with everything the League of the South says, but we should give it the respect due any other group of citizens who have a political or social view to express. A country which allows both the hatred of Fred Phelps and the perversion of the Folsom Street Fair (just Google both, I’m not linking) definitely should make room for a group advocating a return to the better points of tradition.