Years ago secession guru, anti-Semite and a co-founder of the Second Vermont Republic, Kirkpatrick Sale, made the surprising admission that a good many of the secessionist organizations listed at his Middlebury Institute (much to Middlebury VT's chagrin) were little more than websites comprised of only a few or one member. While he described his own group as an "umbrella" organization, it too was little more than a website maintained by another anti-Semite like Sale called Carol Moore.
Sure, the now dead baas of SVR, the Dixie singin' Thomas Naylor was also a member of MI but that was pretty much it. The MI organized and sponsored a couple or three poorly attended (primarily by racists from the League of the South, the Alaska Independence Party and the Hawaiian independence movement) conferences, mostly in the Deep South, that were little more than gatherings of the same small group of committed racists and anti-Semitic secesher assholes - Michael Hill, Donald Livingston, Rob Williams, Naylor, Sale, the Dexters, ad nauseum. Stunts, really, designed to get some AP and FOX News coverage and accomplished little more. Except for the overtly racist LoS, they've stopped even doing that. All the "big plans" - Town Meeting articles, constitutional conventions, candidates standing for elective office - have come to naught, as well as to an end.
Recently the San Francisco Chronicle ran a piece titled "Cascadia Secession Apparently Not As Easy As It Sounds" on the Left Coast secesher group Cascadia Now! After a word salad interview of seemingly one of its few members, Brandon Letsinger, the Chronicle lays bare the phoniness of the group. (Note: The group claims thousands of members but offers no proof, much as Naylor once claimed that more than 60,000 Vermont voters supported secession but when the time came to vote far less than 1% of Vermont's registered voters supported the secesher gubernatorial candidate, a number comparable to the average of spoilt ballots in an election.)
Then the Chronicle's Caille Millner got down to it:
"When it came to the question of how this republic might come about, however, Letsinger was more circumspect. He thinks politics are “irrelevant, negative, and toxic.” Cascadia, he emphasized, is about “an identity” to connect the region’s 15 million people."Oddly enough, early SVR member and longtime syncophant, Peter Buknatski a.k.a. "Petey Sweety," was a registered at the Vermont Secretary of State's website as an owner of Second Vermont Republic Beer, Ale and Brewing or some such nonsense which has likewise come to naught. Little wonder then that Williams got some serious wood over the alcoholic aspect to the article in his own post at his hate blog (Note: I do not link to Williams' hate site; it's easily found if you have to.)
"To this end, Cascadia Now! has a soccer team (they want to play Quebec), a poetry festival, and a Scouting Association. They have their own beer, “Cascadian dark ale,” made with hops from the region."
"The crowd seemed pleased. Cascadia sounded like great fun until the next speaker, Joshua Clover, took the podium."
"Clover is a 52-year-old UC Davis literature professor who specializes in political economy. He came prepared with his own PowerPoint slides; he wanted to tell the crowd about the history of secession movements in the 20th century. (I told you Kadist was sly.)"
"Cheerfully, Clover talked about how previous breakaway movements around the world had led to battles, purges, invasions and sieges."
"As the bodies stacked up, I could feel the energy in the room shift into discomfort."
"What had happened to the hops? Where had the positive identity gone?"
"As for freedom from the shackles of the empire, well, Clover didn’t think Cascadia would have that, either — not in today’s global market. 'It’s unclear what regionalism could mean unless a place is prepared to, say, make its own refrigerators.'"
"Right now, Clover said in a buoyant voice, all of the world’s refrigerators are made in China."
"Clover wasn’t done yet. He layered a demographic map of the United States over that of Cascadia. Look at the dots, he urged us. Cascadia is 'a peculiarly non-diverse region with the exception of some native peoples for whom previous secessions have proven deadly.'"
"Cascadia, he said, represented 'demographic anti-blackness.'"
"It took the audience a few moments to come up with questions after Clover sat down."
"But his gimlet-eyed view of Cascadia’s Happy Valley had an unexpected benefit: Some audience members discovered that they had a few doubts about this whole secession thing."
"An audience member asked Letsinger about the steps that Cascadia had taken to reach out to the region’s indigenous people. Letsinger said that they had engaged in outreach, and that some of the tribes had “similar values” about environmentalism and activism. Cascadia’s values, he added, were attractive enough that others would come to them."
"But the question persisted, and Letsinger got annoyed: 'I’ve heard this, the idea that this movement is not diverse enough so you need to reach out to these people. We see that as a colonization of our values.'"
"The idea that a suggestion to reach out to historically oppressed people would cause the Cascadia movement such suffering! It was so dazzling, so bizarre, that I almost missed the next question."
"'Cascadia seems more like a brand, like a shared narrative fantasy,' said an audience member. She wanted to know, essentially, what the plan was to make the idea more concrete."
"Unfortunately, making Cascadia concrete would require, well, politics. Letsinger wanted to keep talking about bioregionalism, about creating a brand that was “open source,” about how Cascadia Now! makes all of its own merchandise."
"I felt the evening’s vision of freedom and positivity ebbing quickly away, and I felt so bad for Letsinger that I didn’t even ask him to explain his statement about colonization. Instead I asked him about how Cascadia could avoid the violence that had plagued so many other breakaway movements throughout time."
"'It’s a good question,' he said, and admitted that violence would be a breaking point for him personally."
"He wanted a model more like Scotland, where the voters had had a choice. But the voters in Scotland voted not to secede, and that election had a degree of seriousness that I hadn’t gotten from this discussion. I walked out of Kadist with new questions, like:"
"Does Cascadia really want to secede? Or do they just want a good beer?"
Caille Millner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @caillemillner
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