One thing I’ve learned in my studies of history is that different people can have a different take on what precipitated the War Between the States in the 1860s. It’s kind of ironic that the first shots in what may prove to be the next War Between the States were fired so closely to the 155th anniversary of the shot that began the first war.
On April 12, 1861, the first shot in the War Between the States came from a cannon fired by Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard’s troops on Union troops that had retreated to Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor. While slavery was the ultimate moral issue in the war, the context raised another issue—how such issues should be resolved in a nation of sovereign states that had united together under our Constitution.
I can’t help but see parallels to what we’ve witnessed this week in the response to or the “shot fired,” if you will, at North Carolina by New York Gov. Cuomo over the bathroom and sexual orientation law recently passed in North Carolina. The governor of Connecticut has now fired his own shot. Both governors have banned all non-essential state travel to North Carolina.
As in 1861, at the heart of this “incident” is a moral issue, namely, the truth about human sexuality, or perhaps more fundamentally, what it means to be human. The question is, “Are we just advanced goo that we can mold to suit ourselves based on how we feel from one day to the next, or are we created beings, designed a certain way by a Designer to function a certain way, a Designer whom Christians call the Triune God?”
Even as some states thought slavery was a moral wrong of such gravity that fellow states should be prohibited from having policies that protected or institutionalized that moral wrong, it appears that at least New York and Connecticut think belief in certain biological and sexual realities is so wrong that no state should be allowed to have policies that reflect those realities.
So, in a sense, one might say that New York and Connecticut have declared “war” on their sister state, North Carolina. I find this interesting for at least three reasons.
First, the moral wrong at issue in 1861 was based on the belief that the opponents of the North Carolina law now reject—that man is made in the image of God.
Second, in 1861, opponents of slavery could at least point to some standard that transcended all states (and human governments) by which to judge the policies of the South—the Bible. But the liberal governors in New York and Connecticut can’t do that. They would reject the use of any transcendent laws or principles that may be found in the Bible by which to judge human laws, because it would violate their view of the separation of church and state.
As a result, they have absolutely no theological or philosophical foundation upon which to ground their moral condemnation of North Carolina; only their own opinions. And lacking any such foundation, they have exposed themselves to be the self-righteous1 bullies they are.
Third, if these two pontificating governors want to play that game, then surely they will not complain if other states begin to return the favor by examining their state’s public policies and boycotting them.
I don’t know how this new “war” will be resolved, but I don’t think it will have to be resolved in the same was as the earlier one. I could be wrong, but I sense there are a lot of people down South who would not mind if the liberals from up North and out West took the advice of their governors and Hollywood moguls, respectively, and decided to stay where they are. The ones among them who want to live in a place that has enough common sense to keep men out of women’s restrooms will just keep migrating to the South.
Maybe that’s how the South will win this new “War Between the States.”
1. I don’t use the term self-righteous in a pejorative sense but rather in a descriptive one—they have nothing to base their righteousness on other than their own opinions.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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