Secession Is for Morons
Ben Stein
by

I love California. I have lived here since the summer of 1976 and while I travel like a madman, Sunny Cal has always been my base for the last forty years. What’s not to like? It almost never rains. The weather is balmy year-round here in L.A. The people are ambitious and lively and know how to keep their cars clean.

What they don’t know is history. I have noticed this for decades, ever since I taught here and routinely ran into college students who had barely heard of the Second World War and had no clear idea that Germany was a different country from Russia.

As a middle-aged friend, who is a real estate agent, said to me recently, “I hate history. It’s depressing. It’s all about people killing each other.”

Good point, Madame Realtor. But even that did not prepare me for the ultimate in idiocy which is now floating around the Golden State: the notion that California should and could secede from the rest of the union and become a separate country.

This is a real thing here in California. Petitions are being circulated. Proponents are all over the tube and the internet. It’s almost unbelievable, and yet it’s also fascinating, in a macabre way.

This idea that a state could secede was what led South Carolina to proclaim secession as soon as Lincoln was elected in 1860. In short order, South Carolina was joined in this strange idea by Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

If it had not been for Lincoln’s arresting state officials, Kentucky and Maryland would have seceded, too, and that would have been the end of the USA as we know it.

The amazing thing is that there is nothing in the Constitution forbidding secession. Plus, there has never been a Supreme Court case saying secession is illegal. Look for it. Go ahead. You won’t find it.

But the will of the people is that we stay together as a union. And it was that will, greatly compounded by the wish of many to end slavery, that led to the bloodiest war in U.S. history: the war between the states or, as it’s better known, The Civil War. More than 600,000 men died to keep the union together and to free the slaves.

Do the morons who are proposing secession here in Sunny Cal have any idea of just how serious a matter this is? Obviously, there is no issue on the table remotely as morally compelling as ending slavery. Slavery was a hideous institution, but the southerners, or some of them, were willing to fight for it. Northerners — or some of them — were willing to fight to free the slaves. Virtually an entire generation of young men were wiped out as the consequence.

What is even remotely worth even the possibility of fighting another civil war? We already have legalized pot. We have transgender bathrooms. We have solar power. So, is Donald Trump the issue worth even a chance of fighting over? That has to be a joke. He’s just another politician, though a brash one. Is there any mother in the nation who wants her son to go off to fight and come home in a body bag over a man with his initials in gold thread on his airplane napkins?

California is doing just great in the Union. The Union is doing just great with California. History. It tells us that things that start as almost comical can become very serious very fast. Look at Antietam. Look at Donald Trump. The country is nutty enough as it is. Let’s just go eat some hot dogs down at Carbon Beach and forget silly ideas like secession. And maybe, just maybe, the schools could start teaching history. Nahh. No way. Lessgobeach.

Ben Stein
Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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