Dear Price Wallace:
There was a time I would have reasoned with you. There was a time I might even have pleaded.
Back then, I’d have been shocked and appalled to see a Mississippi state lawmaker advocate secession from the Union as you did in a Twitter exchange with former state representative Robert Foster a few hours after the presidential election was called for Joe Biden.
As reported by Ashton Pittman of the Mississippi Free Press, Foster was going on about how Republicans will eventually accept the results of the 2020 election, but Democrats would “riot and burn their own cities to the ground” rather than accept a GOP victory.
That’s when you chimed in. “We need to succeed (sic) from the union and form our own country,” you said.
You’ve since apologized, saying you would “never support” what you had just supported. You’ll forgive me if I’m not persuaded. Besides, in one sense, it doesn’t matter much if you secede by force of arms as your forebears tried, with such spectacular unsuccess, almost 160 years ago. A case can be made that, in withdrawing from the unspoken covenants that make America America — for instance, refusing to promptly accept unfavorable election results — you and your ideological kin have already split from this country.
To which I can only respond: Bye-bye. Agitate the gravel. See ya in the funny papers. As we used to say in my neighborhood, don’t let the doorknob hit’cha where the good Lord split’cha.
There was a time I would never have said that. But your party’s coarseness, its avoidance of reality, its intellectual incontinence, have hardened me. Navigating its nonstop nonsense, its situational morality and constant appeals to our lowest selves, has required me to be colder toward folks like you than ever before. I don’t mind telling you, I miss who I used to be.
That guy would have noted, as he did in this space in 2009 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry used the “s” word, that country should be “that which pulls us back together after everything else — politics, race, religion — has conspired to pull us apart.” But where he said that, I say this:
Some of us are not terrorized by the specter of demographic change. If you are, there’s the door.
Some of us are trying to build an inclusive democracy where everyone has a voice and every voice is respected. If you aren’t, get to stepping.
Some of us are eager to address income inequality, climate change and systemic economic, cultural and police violence against marginalized peoples. If you aren’t, take a hike.
The Rockefeller Institute of Government reports that your state contributes just $18.6 billion a year to the federal treasury, yet receives from federal coffers some $37.5 billion. If you can find a better deal, by all means take it.
And, not for nothing, but some of us want to improve our schools so that every graduate can “succeed” at spelling “secede.” If you don’t, well ... adios, arrivederci, au revoir.
Your friend Mr. Foster worries about Democrats burning cities. But here’s the thing: When you burn stone and glass, the damage is readily repaired. Remember the Minneapolis Target store that was wrecked in last summer’s uprising? Well, it’s already back up and running.
People like you and Foster, though, are burning more than stone and glass. You’re burning the country, your rhetoric, your rejection of covenant razing to the ground the principles and ideals that make America worth loving.
The damage that mob did to Target is just a memory now. The damage you’re doing to America will be with us for a while.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. firstname.lastname@example.org