Pictured: ShieldWall Network Coordinator Billy Roper negotiates with Memphis city defenders prior to the balkanization.
Just hours after ShieldWall Network Coordinator Billy Roper commented that after the United States balkanizes into ethnostates the two White regions of Ozarkia and Franklin would reduce the black environs of Memphis in between them by siege and meet in the middle to shake hands in front of Graceland as the Soviets and Americans did at the Elbe in 1945, a black nationalist state legislator from Memphis is publicly quoted echoing corresponding sentiments from the opposing end of the political spectrum. Read why Rep. Antonio “Two Tone” Parkinson wants Memphis to be a black ethnostate seceded from East Tennessee.
From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
When an angry state Rep. Antonio Parkinson suggested secession after Tennessee legislators punished Memphis financially for removing Confederate statues, he was just being trendy.
Following the crowd may not have been the intention of Parkinson, who says he is dead serious about at least having a conversation on the topic. In fact, Parkinson took to Facebook as recently as Tuesday to clarify his position and continue the dialogue.
Intentions aside, though, Parkinson’s talk of a highly unlikely secession is part of a long American tradition of breaking away, or at least floating the idea, over contentious differences or amicable cultural divides. As social media makes sharing discontent easier than ever, the secessionist option seems more popular than ever.
Consider: A secessionist movement in California received the go-ahead Monday to begin collecting signatures for a proposed 2020 ballot item asking voters if they want to discuss declaring independence from the U.S. Those pushing the initiative have until October to collect about 365,000 signatures to get the item on the 2020 ballot. If the item makes it on to the ballot and a majority votes yes, the vote on independence would take place in May 2021.
How this “Calexit” effort, as supporters are calling it, would square with the U.S. Constitution on the subject of leaving the Union remains to be seen. The Constitution, in Article IV, Section 3, does allow new states to form within states or for groups of states to combine, provided they have the permission of both state legislatures and Congress. There is no provision, however, for states to leave entirely.
And the bid for statewide independence from the U.S. is only one of the secessionist movements afoot in California. Other efforts use secession as the answer for internal differences.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Draper is behind a move that would split the state’s wealthy coastal counties from the rest of California, creating the state of “New California” from those mostly rural inland counties. New California even has its own website.
Draper also was behind a failed 2016 ballot initiative that would have split California into not two, but six, states.
It isn’t only California — always known for doing things differently — that has the secessionist bug. The website cheatsheet.com lists seven secession movements currently afoot that seem to have varying chances of succeeding.
They range from Cascadia (a region of the Pacific Northwest that would incorporate several states or parts of states as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia and part of Albert), to a separate country made up of New England states, to continuing independence longings in both Alaska and Hawaii, to (we’ve tried this one before) The Confederate States of America.
The website notes that the CSA push is driven by The League of the South, a registered hate group.
Back to Parkinson and his secession suggestion in Tennessee.
Parkinson tweeted April 17: “Because they hate Memphis and Davidson County so much, maybe we should consider secession … from East Nashville/Davidson County to the Mississippi river.”
April 17 was the day House members stripped $250,000 from the budget allocated to Memphis for its bicentennial celebration next year. The move was in retaliation for the city’s removal of two Confederate statues in December.
Parkinson continued promoting the idea in a Facebook video posted Tuesday. In the video, Parkinson says his original comment was misconstrued in subsequent reports to say he wanted Memphis alone to consider secession.
He said his suggestion all along, as noted in the original tweet, was that everything from Nashville/Davidson County west to the Mississippi River break away, leaving East Tennessee to stand alone.
He said the Nashville metro area, as well as Memphis, has been punished by legislators, citing education policies and a failed effort by both metro areas to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We’re in a dysfunctional, if not abusive, relationship with the state of Tennessee,” said Parkinson, a Democrat whose House District 98 includes portions of Memphis and Bartlett.
He also tempered the secessionist talk a bit in Tuesday’s Facebook video, saying he wants not so much actual secession as a conversation about it so that leaders will think about the value of Memphis and Nashville/Davidson County.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, said in a March opinion column for USA Today that most secessionist complaints have to do a with rural-urban divide, as Parkinson suggests in his comments that Memphis and Nashville are treated differently by legislators.
Reynolds said the issue is “urban areas applying the heavy hand of government regulation to rural people with different needs. Overstrict environmental laws, labor laws, firearms laws and the like.”
Reynolds argues that the federal government might be able to deal with many such complaints by preventing states from adopting rules stricter than federal rules.”
Some might argue that such a move infringes on states’ rights,” Reynolds says, “but the federal government has traditionally stepped in to protect local minorities from being oppressed by local majorities. That’s what the Civil Rights Act did, for example. Using federal power to promote greater freedom seems in keeping with our traditions and values.”
If not, Reynolds suggests, “perhaps the state of ‘New California’ will one day be a reality.”
Parkinson, too, hopes a dialogue will lead to fresh thinking short of a secession that would never gain the needed legislative and congressional approval, anyway.
“Obviously,” Parkinson noted, “I was very effective in getting people to talk about secession.”