Hola amigos! Angry New Mexican here to talk a bit about the Land of Enchantment, and our neighbors. You see, New Mexico, the land of chile (red or green) and piñon, is a unique place. Granted, we have our problems, like crappy schools, the proliferation of pueblo casinos, and the influx of hippies in Taos and Santa Fe who drive up prices for the honest Joses like me, but overall New Mexico is a great place… except for the neighbors. Que? Let me explain.

First we have Arizona, which is like the dirty old man next door who spends his time staring sketchily out the window and muttering to himself. Like any good little kids, we just avoid him. Arizona is populated almost exclusively by retired Anglos who somehow thought that Phoenix would be paradise. And they’ve diverted enough water from the Colorado River to make their very own garden of Eden in the desert. What about Nuevo Mexico, you might say? Isn’t it a desert too? Si, compadres, but the high desert of New Mexico can actually grow things, like green chile (the non-Anglos in the audience are nodding their heads in agreement, I can tell), while plants would naturally waste away in the fiery hell-hole which is Phoenix. Besides having poor taste in places to settle, the geriatric Arizonans have a tendency to elect politicians who compulsively avoid Latinos who aren’t busy landscaping their freakishly lush yards. Barring the honorable Senior McCain, who (oddly among Arizona politicians) sees Latinos as human beings, many politicians in Arizona are fighting Don Quixote-esque battles against the illegal immigrant boogyman (he’ll deal drugs to your children and seduce your wife; the horror!). Folks like Russell Pearce and JD Hayworth seem to think that nothing screams “America” like oppressing Latinos (evidently it now surpasses both mom and apple pie). With my muchachos y muchachas in mind, I won’t say exactly what I think of these individuals, but rest assured, when they’re hitting up the geritol we’ll still be alive and voting, thank you very much.

Now we have Colorado, who I’d liken to the nice family next door who has a penchant for lavish ski vacations. Lucky for us we’re almost always invited along. Skiing in New Mexico is alright, but it’s worth the drive to Copper, Vail or Snowbird to get the real deal. I only wish that the Coloradans would stop diverting so much water from the Rio Grande (you see, the neighbor is a heavy drinker), which is decidedly not grande, if you know what I mean. Gazing at that sickly little stream which runs through the Land of Enchantment, I wonder, what did it once look like which earned it the name Rio Grande? Perhaps one day we might again know, but Colorado needs to lay off the water for us to find out.

And now we have Texas. Texas is like the neighbor who’s always sitting on his porch, cleaning his gun, minding everyone else’s business. By virtue of having the biggest house on the block, he’s cocky, obnoxious and self-righteous. If there’s a neighbor we’d want our neighborhood association to kick out, it’d be Texas. But thankfully, no matter how much he’s always talking about his gun, he’s not really good at using it. Perhaps he needs more gun control…

Exhibit #1 is the Battle of the Alamo, where the bravest Texans (and their heroic allies) needlessly wasted their lives to accomplish absolutely nothing. I’m sure that Santa Anna was laughing his head off when he found out just who his troops killed there. Heck, the swollen rivers slowed Santa Anna down more than the fools at the Alamo.

Exhibit #2: In addition to being a state full of traitors, they had the cajones to attempt to invade New Mexico. After marching through Los Cruces and bypassing Fort Craig (leaving an American army blocking the traitors’ supply lines), confederate forces took the (almost abandoned) Duke City and pushed up the Santa Fe Trail towards Fort Union. Confronted by American forces under the command of Col. Slough (1st Colorado Volunteers) the confederates fought a pitched battle in Glorietta Pass. Meanwhile, Maj. Chivington (1st Colorado) and New Mexico’s own Lt. Chaves ambushed and captured the entire confederate supply train. Without supplies and cut off from Texas by Maj. Canby (Commander, Dept. of New Mexico) at Fort Craig, the Texans beat a hasty retreat back to their home stomping grounds. The Texans would never again threaten New Mexico.

Well, that’s the neighborhood here in the Southwest… a dirty old man, the nice family next door with a bit of a drinking problem and the gun nut who can’t shoot straight. It’s a wacky place to live, but where else can I get Sopaipillas like this, hombre? It’s home and nobody’s going to take the Land of Enchantment from me. Except maybe the aliens if they show up at Roswell again…

Battle Flag of the Confederacy

Hear the Northern thunders mutter!
Northern flags in South winds flutter!
To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!
Send them back your fierce defiance!
Stamp upon the accursed alliance!
To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Advance the flag of Dixie
Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Dixie’s land we take our stand,
And live or die for Dixie!
To Arms! To Arms!
And conquer peace for Dixie
To Arms! To Arms
And conquer peace for Dixie

The Battle Flag of the Confederacy, quite possibly one of the most controversial symbols of our times. Often maligned, often praised, often misnamed (it is not, in fact, the flag of the Confederate States of America, that honor lies with the Stars and Bars), it has once again reached the national foreground thanks to the recent debates in South Carolina. During the debates Senator Obama was asked where was an appropriate place for the flag (which currently graces the front lawn of the Capitol in Columbia). He replied, “In a museum.”

I have to applaud Obama’s stance on the issue, especially since he was very clear about where he stood, but I am left wondering why my presidential favorite wants to retire the Battle Flag. His statements have generated a lot of support and controversy, and already many bloggers are using this as a chance to reexamine the old issue of what exactly the Battle Flag stands for. Unfortunately some are repeating the same baseless accusations of racism.

I’ve known many people who have flown the Battle Flag, and none of them are racist. The entire State of Mississippi has been flying it over all of their government buildings since 1894. Texas flies the Stars and Bars at every governmental building as well (along with the other five flags to have flown over Texas). The reason behind the desire to honor symbols of the Confederacy is not racism. It instead stems from a regional identity and the noble notions of state sovereignty. These feelings of regional unity are only strengthened by the poor economic situation in many Southern states, and the sense they have that they suffer in poverty while the Northern states enjoy prosperity. It is understandable as well, only one Southern state makes the top ten ranks for average personal income, and then only comes in at 9th. Meanwhile, half of the states in the lowest ten ranks of personal income are in the South. Add to this economic stagnation and decay and you have a recipe for regional resentment.

The false notion that the Battle Flag must be a racist symbol is born of the mistaken belief that the Civil War was about slavery. This bit of propaganda has been repeated ever since President Lincoln and his political allies decided to “free the slaves” (in actuality Lincoln only freed those slaves in the Confederacy, slaves in Union states such as Maryland and West Virginia remained slaves). The truth, however, is plain to anyone who wishes to delve into the history, and the proof lies in the proposed Corwin Amendment of 1861. This amendment was proposed by Congressman Thomas Corwin (R) from Ohio and stated,

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

Prior to his election, Lincoln had voiced his support of the amendment. Like many politicians of his time, Lincoln believed in the preservation of the Union beyond all else. When the Bill was brought before the House seven states had already formally left the Union (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina) never the less the bill passed 133-65 and was forwarded to the Senate. In March of 1861 the Senate approved the bill 24-12. Both of these votes were from a Northern majority, seeing as most of the South had already left. Both the outgoing President, James Buchanan, and the newly elected Abraham Lincoln publicly endorsed the amendment. In fact, during Lincoln’s inaugural address he had this to say of the Corwin Amendment,

I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution–which amendment, however, I have not seen–has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied Constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.1

The amendment went on to be ratified by Ohio, Maryland, and then Illinois before the outbreak of the Civil War halted the process of adopting the new amendment. Now ask yourself, if the Civil War was really about slavery why didn’t the Corwin Amendment, already passed by the Federal Legislature and well on its way to ratification (given the three free states which had ratified it, and the 15 slave states which would as well, only four more states would have needed to ratify it), end the conflict? The Northern states had already compromised on slavery. The truth is that the Civil War was not about slavery, it just became popular to create propaganda to make it seem so because it gave the Union an image of moral superiority.

Despite these facts, I still oppose the use of the Confederate Flag and applaud Obama’s statement. Not because the flag is racist, but because flying it, especially on government property, is treason. The Confederate flag represents a nation which declared open war on the United States and attempted to do her harm. No matter what the basis of the original grievances, flying that flag now suggests a willingness to rebel against the United States of America, and suggests a certain disloyalty towards our nation. As such it is a treasonous act and one to be held in contempt. The symbols of the defeated CSA should be relegated to museums for future generations to learn about, and they should be retired from active use. Private use is a matter of free speech and should be protected, but public use by a government should be considered a high crime against our Union.

-Angry Midwesterner

1Full text of Lincoln’s Inaugural Address, from the University of Virginia.