What’s with these so-called ‘patriots’ calling for the breakup of America?

Choosing assault weapons over country, "nationalists" are apparently anything but.

What's with these so-called "patriots" who want to break up America? CREDIT: GETTY / THE WASHINGTON POST
What's with these so-called "patriots" who want to break up America? CREDIT: GETTY / THE WASHINGTON POST

For some so-called patriots, the prospect of gun regulations, from banning AR-15s to eliminating high-capacity magazines, is too much to bear. In fact, the way they see it, the only solution isn’t to lobby Washington, but to break up the U.S. wholesale.

Couched in terms like “amicable divorce,” these far-right figures — some claiming to be “nationalists” — would apparently rather see America disintegrate before the end of the sale of high-powered weaponry, or from the expansion of any other liberal policies.

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Talk of secession has percolated in the far-right before the current gun debate, such as when conservative pundit Erick Erickson — after calling the American left an “American ISIS” — wrote that Americans “should start talking about secession.” But the past month seems to have sent the talk about disintegrating America into over-drive, at least among certain segments of the extreme right.

A Houston-based writer and failed Congressional candidate named Jesse Kelly, for instance, recently gave voice such sentiments. Pointing to discussion about gun control, Kelly wrote that Americans have “nothing in common anymore,” staking that it was time to “go our separate ways before it gets ugly.”

For good measure, Kelly even included a map of how he’d like to break up America.

Another semi-prominent voice on Twitter, a financial analyst named Jesse Colombo, said he believed that the “masses” of the U.S. will soon “start demanding communism” — and that, as such, he will demand the fracture of the U.S.

And earlier this month, in an unhinged column that detailed the tactics anti-government extremists — traitors, in effect — could use to slaughter the American military, writer Kurt Schlichter claimed that “we could easily see the country split into red and blue.” Schlichter also pointed to another bogeyman among the American far-right as a reason to break up the U.S.: California, whose “secessionist antics,” Schlichter wrote, “are approaching the point where President Trump could legitimately employ his power to crush insurrections.”

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Another so-called patriot, Wayne Allen Root, picked up Schlichter’s thread a week later. In a column titled, “California wants to secede? Let’s help them!”, Root lobbied for America to boot California form the union — lobbying, that is, to block the U.S. from a giant swath of America’s Pacific shoreline, from the naval base in San Diego, and from California’s massive economic engine. “They call it ‘Calexit.’ I say, ‘Glory Hallelujah,'” wrote Root. “Let’s help make it happen.”

The irony of such calls, of course, lies in the fact that these voices — those emphasizing their patriotic pride at every turn — are actively calling for policies that would, at best, kneecap American strength, and corrode American interests that much further. There’s a reason, after all, that Kremlin-funded figures have made a concerted effort over the past four years to build ties with American secessionists.

These right-wing talking heads also believe that their guns are the only thing preventing America’s descent into tyranny — despite the fact that the rate of civilian gun ownership has almost no relationship with democracy.

Beyond that, though, there’s also the reality that the “red” states to which Schlichter alluded are anything but uniform in their political outlook. Houston, Dallas, Nashville, Louisville, and St. Louis — all are cities that voted for Democratic candidates, but that nonetheless remain in Republican-leaning states.

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Of course, there’s also the fact that secession remains illegal in the U.S. (As former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote, “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”) As such, any insurgents, any traitors, would, like their Confederate forebears, have to resort to force of arms against American police, against American infantry, and against other American citizens. They might want to consider the fortunes of their Confederate predecessors before they do.