Monday, February 12, 2007

Rob Williams, SVR Co-Chair, Breaks Silence

Nearly three and a half days after I first revealed that Second Vermont Republic and its companion publication, "Vermont Commons", had direct and documentable ties to racist ideologues and their organizations that have been identified as hate groups by several reputable monitoring groups, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the website, Anti-Neo-Confederate, by way of SVR's advisory board and in its published articles, Rob Williams, SVR Co-chair has finally begun to address some of the issues that Vermonters have a right to raise questions about, particularly since secession from the United States would radically alter every Vermonter's life.

In its tone and substance, Williams' high-sounding message is at times sarcastic, insistent, condescending, seemingly angry at points, bombastic and incorrect.  Many of the concerns and factual observations expressed here and elsewhere remain unanswered.
Dear Mr. Odum (or, "Please stop blogging from the hip")
- One Response to GMD's attacks on SVR and VC

Submitted by Rob Williams on Sun, 02/11/2007 - 9:02pm.

Dear Mr. Odum,

I'd love to address this note to you personally, but as you appear to be posting your attacks on our group anonymously on your Green Mountain Daily blog, and without bothering to talk with anyone involved with the Second Vermont Republic or Vermont Commons before making your allegations, I guess I must simply call you "Mr. Odum."

Implying that SVR is "racist" is absurd on its face. Rather than taking the time to read our publications carefully, you are simply engaging, as so many bloggers like to do, in a smear campaign by dragging up dribs and drabs and factoids of information without any context etc. This sort of thing happens all the time in the media/political world - disappointing, though, to see it happen here in our own Green Mountains.

Just a few points in response to your allegations, Mr. Odum (and again, it would be much more pleasant to dialogue about this face to face):

1. Secession is an AMERICAN impulse, NOT a southern impulse exclusively, and the US was founded on the principle of secession. This is a historical fact. Read the 1776 Declaration of Independence (written by a slave-holding Southerner, remember?), the 1787 U.S. Constitution, and the 1791 Bill of Rights.

2. Secession BEGAN as a SERIOUS conversation in New England, NOT in the south. This, also, is a historical fact.

3. Southerners, who are, after all, Americans under the current regime, make an IMPORTANT ARGUMENT when they make the case for sovereignty and secession, and joining them in a conversation about considering the case for secession does NOT make me, or you, or anyone else a "fundamentalist" or a "racist," any more than supporting the protection of the KKK's free speech right to preach hatred and bigotry makes one a hater and a bigot. And the SVR leadership is well aware of the tensions here - and has chosen to engage them, rather than to shy away from them - to our credit, I believe.

4. We Americans have been conditioned FROM DAY 1 to associate secession with slavery and racism - and I notice, Mr. Odum, that you appear to have little understanding of Mr. Lincoln's truly radical impulses - here was an ambitious corporate railroad lawyer, the co-founder of the modern GOP, who unmade the original Union as a loose confederation of sovereign states and remade it as a modern unitary nation-state/empire - on the backs of 620,000 dead and the US Constitution. We're not interested in "Lincoln bashing," but we ARE interested in a deeper understanding of the fundamental importance of the so-called "Civil War" as THE pivotal turning point in this nation's history - though not for reasons most believe. Again, we've written extensively on this topic - I urge you to visit our online archives at this web site.

5. While we've consulted with a wide variety of legal, historical and scholarly minds on secession questions - Minnesota's Jack Graham, for example - some of our secession scholars - Don Livingston, for example - happen to be southerners. Anyone who has met and talked with Don knows the man is thoughtful and well-studied. Is he a racist? I don't know. And frankly, it is none of my damn business, at a personal level. But I DO know that I've learned more about secession globally and historically from reading his work and talking with him than I have from anyone else I've ever met - and we will continue to publish his work as long as I am editor of Vermont Commons.

6. We at SVR are for secession, and do not, in the spirit of tolerance that has long shaped the character of Vermonters, judge the attitudes, philosophies, or beliefs of others who are, also. We believe that it is up to others to decide how they want to live, just as it is up to ourselves here in Vermont to determing how WE wish to live. While all of us do not, by any stretch, agree with some of the goals, ideologies or conclusions of some of our secession-minded colleagues, either in the southern part of the United States or around the world, all of us share a common interest in the principle of secession as a viable historical and constitutional response to the problems plaguing the 21st United States as a an Empire.

So next time, Mr. Odum, you decide to write about us, I urge you to spend some time in dialogue with us, and get your facts straight, before blogging from the hip.


Rob Williams
Editor, Vermont Commons [1]
More to come?


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