The new secessionist movement is bad for America. It represents a refusal to recognize the re-election of President Obama. And just below the surface of it lie some ugly and disturbing attitudes.

More than 700,000 people in all 50 states have signed petitions asking the White House for peaceful secession from the United States. Texas has by far the most signatures -- more than 100,000. (Gov. Rick Perry raised the specter of secession a few years ago, though he has distanced himself from the current campaign.)

The White House still hasn't responded to these petitions. I can't imagine any other reply than a diplomatically worded but firm no.

This latest effort to secede from the Union is an eerie reminder of the slavery, the Confederacy and the Civil War. And the current one stems, in large part, from similar sentiments. Many Americans simply cannot accept that we have a black man in the White House. Nor can they accept the demographic shift in this country away from a white majority.

As the numerical majority of Americans, European-Americans have been the face of the United States for more than 200 years. Their values were the country's values. Their politics and economic policies were the nation's policies. Every president was a white male.

Obama did not win the majority of the votes cast by white people in either of his victories. His victories represent the seismic flexing of the power of a new coalition.

This coalition favors policies that no longer entrench the status quo. Its voters understand that social programs matter, that health care is a paramount concern, that women's issues such as equal pay for equal work are valid, that the economy needs to serve the 99 percent and not the 1 percent.

This new majority of voters scares the willies out of many conservatives. They should be scared. This new coalition is not only taking power away from them, it's threatening their sense of white superiority and white entitlement.

You get a sense of that in the mountains of disrespect that they heap upon Obama.

You get a sense of that in Mitt Romney's post-election comments that Obama bought the votes of blacks, Latinos and young people.

You get a sense of that in Bill O'Reilly's lament that the "white establishment" is the minority now. "It's a changing country, the demographics are changing," O'Reilly said, by way of explaining Romney's defeat.

The irony is that Obama, while he has enjoyed the support of black people and others around the world and has represented a new maturity in American race relations, has hardly pandered to African-Americans. In his speeches and in his policies, he has always stressed things that would benefit everyone. He has based his presidency, and his entire career, on the belief that, despite our differences, we are all Americans.

And that core belief is just too hard to swallow for the secessionists. Shame on them.

Starita Smith, Ph.D., has been an award-winning journalist at the Gary Post-Tribune, the Columbus Dispatch and the Austin American-Statesman. She can be reached at

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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