Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Some Floridians Still Fighting the Civil War

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE – Nothing says let’s celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. like some dunderhead flying a crop duster over the capitol, dragging a giant Confederate battle flag.

At least it didn’t happen on Monday — MLK Day. The rebel banner went airborne 24 hours later, on Tuesday — birthday of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Which is still an official holiday in the state of Florida.

Florida seceded from the United States on Jan. 10, 1861. The reason? Slavery.

According to the Ordinances of Secession: the election of Abraham Lincoln meant “that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.” The rebels were prepared to fight a hopeless and bloody campaign to defend their “states’ right” to own other human beings.

The Civil War wasn’t the beginning of Florida’s detachment from sanity, but it certainly sped up the process. Look at us now, with a wannabe Texan for a governor, ignorant of Florida’s history, clueless about civil rights, tone-deaf on racism, and legislators keen on selling themselves to lobbyists and hostile to the concerns of the poor.

No wonder a substantial percentage of the white population wants the mushroom Donald Trump to be president.

He’ll “make America great again” and “take our country back.”

Back to what? From whom? Oh yeah: there’s a black man in the White House.

In a nation where cops are rarely prosecuted for shooting black boys, where the white majority shrugs at the insane rate of black incarceration (hey, those guys must have done SOMETHING), at the same time right-wing media loons insist that welfare recipients get “free stuff” and affirmative action jobs, Mexicans are pouring over the border to rape us, and Islamic terrorists are slipping in as refugees, it’s no wonder Trump’s on top.

Like any demagogue worth his salt, he knows how to exploit fear and hatred.

But why aren’t our sorta-kinda homeboys Jeb and Marco, Florida’s onetime governor and current junior senator, beating Trump?

Jeb Bush took the Confederate national flag down from in front of the capitol in 2001. Seemed like a good idea at the time, what with all those African-American voters disenfranchised in the stolen election of 2000, but maybe, given Florida’s Old South underground, it wasn’t.

And then there’s all that speaking of Spanish. Remember how the ultra-right freaked out when John Kerry spoke French?

As for Marcocito, he’s been trying to turn himself into Chuck Norris. Or maybe Stonewall Jackson. Talking tough. Walking tall — or as tall as he can, considering.

He tripped over those Cuban-heeled boots (referred to as “high-heeled booties” by Ted Cruz) his wife gave him for Christmas. Florsheim, a Wisconsin company, sold out of them, and Marcocito crowed:  “I did more for American business in one week than Barack Obama did in seven years!”

Except the boots were made in India.

Now Marcocito’s hissing and snarling like a startled kitten. He doesn’t “recognize my country anymore.” He brings up God. He praises weapons. He bought himself a shooting iron on Christmas Eve, in case “ISIS were to visit us.”

You were expecting Baby Jesus?

Which brings me to Sarah Palin, Donald Trump’s latest celebrity endorser. In a speech that sounded like it was fired by an impressive hit of meth and delivered in authentic Frontier Gibberish, she thundered: “You quit footin’ the bill for these nations who are oil-rich, we’re paying for some of their squirmishes (sic) that have been going on for centuries. Where they’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ “Allah Akbar” (sic) calling Jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.”

While she was carrying on in this fashion, Palin’s eldest son Track was home in Alaska, getting arrested for domestic violence and threatening to shoot himself with an AR-15.

Family Values.

Here’s what we have to look forward to, Florida: Palin and Trump and Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame, campaigning in Florida against chief rival Ted Cruz and Willie’s homophobic daddy, Phil Robertson, who chose Cruz.

Phil’s candidate requirements were as follows: “Is he or she godly? Does he or she love us? Can he or she do the job? And finally would they kill a duck and put him in a pot and make him a good duck gumbo?”

No word yet on whom Forrest Gump and Jethro Bodine plan to endorse.

Meanwhile, back in this old Confederate capitol, the League of the South, a bunch of  neo-secessionists who want to establish an “Anglo-Celtic” Christian nation in the old slave states, are lobbying and demonstrating against a bill (SB 154) banning Confederate flags and emblems from public property.

Another bill (HB 141) would remove the obscure Florida rebel Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith from Statuary Hall in Washington, and replace him with somebody who actually did something for the state.

Maybe Zora Neale Hurston. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Or Tom Petty.

The Defenders of Southern (white) Heritage don’t like that a bit. But then, they don’t like America much, not the new browner, less Christian, America. The head honcho of the League of the South warns:  “So here at the beginning of 2016, another presidential election year but one that is shaping up to be anything but normal, we stand on the verge of open conflict.”

Trump, Palin, Cruz, a passel of duck call millionaires and slavery nostalgists versus inclusiveness, tolerance and racial justice.

In Dixieland they’ll take their stand, to live and die in Dixie. Or something.

Diane Roberts teaches at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Her new book is “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America."  Column courtesy of Context Florida.

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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