With the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War coming up in five years time, I let my imagination run riot. Could it happen again _ and how different would it be from the last time? Impossible, you say! Pure whimsy! Probably, but indulge me for a moment.
Consider the last two Presidential elections. Remember those coloured maps the television networks are so fond of displaying after the results are announced. In 2000 and particularly in 2004, the map of the USA showed an almost unbroken blue on the East and West coasts: and a solid mass of red in between. To an outsider like me – and possibly many Americans too – it seemed like two separate nations.
For me, personally, this impression has been continually bolstered by the comments I receive on some of my articles. Even if the subject matter is only vaguely political, the views expressed are radically divergent. Almost everything seems to degenerate into a pro-Bush vs. anti-Bush, liberal vs. conservative diatribe. And it is not a polite discourse by any means: none of that “we agree to disagree” sophistication. The attacks and counter-attacks are often vehement, vicious and vituperative.
The USA has always been a two-party democracy, of course, but I cannot recall the country ever being so polarized; the warring factions so in-you-face. It’s not a shooting war yet, but the battle lines are being subtly drawn. And if open conflict does break out, it won’t be fought with tanks and missiles. The weapons of choice will be guile, slander and money power – and there is going to be a lot of collateral damage. Too cynical, you think? Welcome to the brave new world of the 21st Century.
The outward difference between a new civil war and the previous one would be that it is no longer North vs. South. Slavery would still be an issue, but of the economic rather than the physical kind. The red hordes of Middle Earth would be pitted the blue armies of coastal Gandor: the Conservative States of America (CSA) against the Liberal ones (LSA).
In my imaginary war, the spark that would ignite the conflict would be the election of either a woman President with a fornicating spouse (their words, not mine); or a black bomber with a sinister name. The pent up indignation of God-fearing WASPs would reach boiling point and explode. The CAS would secede from the Union.
The Conservative armies would sally forth, singing hymns and with the staff of Jesus going on before, secure in the conviction that they had God on their side. They, after all, were the righteous ones; pro-life, church-going; the cohorts of Jesus, if you will. Moreover, they alone were the true descendants of the American Founding Fathers; and defenders of the Constitution – the right to bear arms and other such goodies. They came from steadfast Anglo-Saxon stock. George Washington did not kick out the British just to make their country a haven for Hispanics, Asians and other folk with funny-sounding names – no siree.
The Red states were not bigots, of course. Hadn’t they allowed the blacks into their work places; their diners and their homes. Well, maybe not their homes. One can only go so far. And there was no Babel of strange, unintelligible tongues in God’s own country; just chaste English; the language of Jesus and Matthew and Luke and John. One could point out that the sainted ones actually spoke Aramaic, but that would be splitting hairs. Finally, the good Lord, in his bounty, had amply provided for his chosen people: corn as high as an elephant’s eye – and all that lovely oil. They could buy what they needed and starve those liberal pagans into submission.
The LSA, meanwhile, would look on with bemused superiority. Sure, the rednecks had the oil but they had many of the refineries. What would y’all do with the gooey mess: except maybe smear it on your faces while fighting one of your ludicrous Aryan nation mock battles? The true blues may not have an abundance of wheat and corn, but they had sushi and Kung Pow chicken and pork vindaloo – delicacies their untrained Middle-America palates could not appreciate. And they controlled the oceans; they could ship in whatever they needed. Finally, the blue armies possessed the ultimate weapon – Bill gates. With one peremptory command, he could disable selected Windows and have the Middles scurrying around like chickens that had just had their heads cut out – and dispatch them back to the Stone Age they had recently emerged from.
…to be continued…