It’s interesting how in the wake of another piece of dreck article about secession, we read in the news of an historic vote taking place in Sudan over the weekend – a vote to decide whether Sudan’s own “South”, as it were, should secede from the rest of the country. Jimmy Carter is there, not to try to talk Southerners out of it but to make sure the vote goes smoothly.
If the mainstream view of secession as it concerns the U.S. is that it was a bad thing to occur, as read in frequent articles popping up during the beginning of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States; then why wouldn’t Sudan’s southerners be admonished for trying to do the same thing? Wouldn’t Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir be seen as a present-day Abraham Lincoln trying to save the Union?
Well, actually no. Instead Bashir, according to George Clooney and other celebrities, is seen a war criminal and terrorist. But let’s put Old Bashir in Old Abe’s shoes for a minute. Southern Sudan has been trying to secede from the north since 1985. Obviously as head of one of the largest countries on earth, Bashir didn’t want see it break apart, given how destabilizing it would be, along giving up the vast oil reserves which lie in the South. Having acquiesced to this vote in a peace treaty after the north basically tired of the war and realizing the south was unconquerable, other parts of Sudan tried to break away too, like Darfur. The response from Old Bashir was the Khartoum government arming janjaweed militias to kill and terrorize women and children and using air force plains to bomb villages to cower the population into surrender. It sounds like the March to the Sea doesn’t it?
So it’s okay for south of Sudan to secede and not the South as we know it? There were votes taken too in the southern states for secession, whether by popular vote or by special assembly. It was hardly done by putsch. You can make a fair argument that we have two different circumstances here, but you cannot argue regarding the legitimacy of secession itself as a means of solving political, social or economic disputes. The south of Sudan believes it is a distinct and separate region, which is true. It is made up of Christian and animist peoples who are black and who are different than the Arabs and Islamists who rule in Khartoum. Such persons do not wish to live under Sharia Law nor the racist rule of the lighter-skinned peoples. In the same regard, the southern states of North America believe they were a distinct region; believed they were under economic, social and political threat by the northern states of the same continent; and believed they would be better off apart rather than continuing within the same Union. That’s all it was, a wish for a divorce not a takeover of the U.S. government which really would have been treason.
One cannot celebrate the birth of a new nation via secession by popular ballot then damn the South for trying to do the exact same thing back in 1860-61. We can argue the causes for secession and whether they were legitimate or not, but not whether they had a right to do so. Otherwise go help Old Bashir invade southern Sudan or help Serbia gain back Kosovo. One or the other.