Tag Archives: secession

MSNBC’s Matthews Frets On U.S. Language Segregation

At the conclusion of his MSNBC Hardball show tonight, host Chris Matthews recognized the problem of America’s growing language segregation. Speaking in context of Scotland’s secession vote today, Matthews said he worries “occasionally where we are headed in the United States as we see the erosion of English as our agreed upon, common language. Nothing is easier than to break apart over language. Nothing is harder than to unite across the barriers of language.”

Well said, Mr. Matthews. If nothing else, the secession vote in Scotland alerts some among us to the dangers of growing divides by race, ethnicity, class, political party and, yes, by language. My first two books tell a story of where this may take us. For the rest of the Hardball commentary:

Scotland Secession: Warning for U.S.?

Just a few months ago, political pundits treated tomorrow’s secession vote in Scotland as no more than a passing nuisance.

After 307 years together, Scotland and England are so intertwined that most firmly believed Scots would overwhelmingly vote to remain invested in the relationship. Several months ago, polls suggested they were right.

Now, less than 24 hours before voting begins, polls suggest it is just as likely that the Scottish people feel more than a bit aggrieved by perceived and real transgressions. Even if a “no” vote succeeds tomorrow, it comes only after the three major U.K. political parties promised in recent days to step up Scottish authority if voters reject the referendum.

Regardless of the vote’s outcome, there are real lessons to be learned for the United States and other nations, particularly those countries of the increasingly segregating sort. Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, news stories are routinely recognizing the re-segregation of America’s schools. A move toward more integrated living that started in the 1960s began reversing in the 1990s. We are segregating in where we live by race, ethnicity, economic class and, increasingly, language and political party.

At some point, this re-segregation will lead to divide. I believe the point is approaching far faster than most conceive today. Nationalist efforts frequently cloak themselves under the veil of progressive ideology, the idea that target voters are being treated as a separate and unequal underclass able to obtain their fair share of economic and political power only through independence. Do you see any precursors of this movement in today’s political climate?

Peaceful voting and separation is the best secession outcome, but is no means assured as attested Continue reading

Is U.S. Segregation Leading Us to Being the 2040 Ukraine?

The United States has lessons to learn to avoid being the 2040 Ukraine.

Strong parallels exist between the stories in my first two books and the situation playing out in Ukraine today, so much so that a reader teased me yesterday that I had provided Putin’s playbook. Several parallels are particularly concerning.

Russia seeks to expand its territory to include more ethnic Russians ✔

In my books, Mexico is part of a coalition working to annex Southwest U.S. territory heavily populated by Mexican Americans and Mexicans. (The book is not an anti-immigrant or anti-Mexican rant, so you’ll need to read to understand the full context.)

Speakers of minority Russian language considered “oppressed” ✔

Schools in the Southwest and other parts of the country are increasingly teaching in all-day Spanish, including at the community college level. Not expecting immigrants to learn English is increasingly being advocated as a civil rights issue, when it is instead a path to another layer of societal segregation on top of our existing segregation issues.  Segregated societies are historically ripe for secession and annexation efforts.

Geographic concentration of Russian speakers provides clear starting point for invasion ✔

There are already several U.S. areas where speaking Spanish is critical to finding employment and fluency in English is not necessary. The scope of these territories is expanding.

Several internal political leaders in Crimea welcome invasion ✔

Too many political leaders focus on their own self-interest. For many in Crimea, the opportunities for political and economic gains may be greater under Russia than under Ukraine. It is certainly conceivable that we will have U.S. politicians who think they’ll have more power if the nation divides.

Weakened, indebted economy in Ukraine undermines border protection resolve and economic response options ✔

My distaste for our high and growing debt levels is driven, in part, by my belief that it substantially restricts our crisis response options. Ukraine’s response options are highly restricted by both Russia’s military superiority and Ukraine’s tenuous economic circumstances.

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DHS Admits U.S. Losing War on Border Tunnels

In an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released this week, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that the United States is ill-prepared to locate and deter the rapid expansion in drug cartel tunnels, a capability gap with dire consequences as explored in my first two novels. The OIG report states:

Illicit cross-border tunnels along the southwest border are primarily used by criminals to transport illegal drugs into the United States, and they are a significant and growing threat to border security. In an effort to counter this threat, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) has modified its operations through patrols, intelligence gathering, and closing of illicit cross-border tunnels, but it does not yet have the technological capability to detect the tunnels routinely and accurately. To best address this capability gap, CBP needs to develop and acquire tunnel detection technology, but it has not been able to identify existing technology that functions effectively in its operating environment.

Read the full OIG report here to read more about CBP’s plans to create a Tunnel Detection and Technology Program. Hopefully, such a program will also be able to prevent the type of tunnel-based attacks predicted in Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041.

Six Questions Syria Raises for America’s Future

Syria’s collapse into ethnic and religious civil war carries with it lessons for the United States perhaps far more important than current missile-launch debates.

Two lessons are critical:

  • Segregated societies can be divided easily, just as Syria is being torn between Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Kurds and other religious sects in their different geographic strongholds.
  • Politicians who exploit divisions, or fail to heal wounds of divisions, can quickly turn nations into bleeding grounds.

After substantial advances toward racial integration in recent generations, progress has halted in many parts of America and even moved toward re-segregation in many regions by race, ethnicity and, recently, language.

Syria reminds us that we need to answer different questions beyond those being debated today in order to create a more unified society. Following are six questions particularly worthy of introspection and debate:

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Colorado Secession Movement Nothing New

Sign in front of Fandon Christian Church
The sign in front of Fandon Christian Church was one of few pieces of evidence that I had found the planned capital of the secession state of Forgottonia.

Several counties in northeast Colorado are launching an effort to secede from the rest of that state, citing large policy gaps. This effort comes 150 years ago after West Virginia, originally admitted as the State of Kanawha, seceded from Virginia during the Civil War. While I don’t predict that this secession movement will succeed, secession movements at the national and state/provincial levels have occurred globally at a rapid pace over the last century.  Not all secession movements are built around grand human rights issues such as the slavery issue that drove West Virginia’s divorce from Virginia.

In my home state of Illinois, a 14-county region in the western part of the state carried on a largely PR-based secession movement to create a new state called Forgottonia. Ironically, most have forgotten this movement, which was initiated to draw attention to the lack of infrastructure investment in the region. I recently stopped in Fandon, Illinois, the presumed capital of Forgottonia. These photos show much of the town, and the only evidence I was actually in Fandon.

Fandon, Illinois was once planned as the capitol of Forgottonia. Today, it is largely a quiet, forgotten town.
Fandon, Illinois was once planned as the capitol of Forgottonia. Today, it is largely a quiet, forgotten town.

Whole Foods Language Policy Just the Start

In Melting Point 2040, 18-year-old Mexican immigrant Juan Gonzalez is spurred into aggressive political protest by an English fluency requirement at a massive retailer in a heavily Spanish speaking part of Arizona. War gamer/survivalist and English-only speaker Pete Roote is angered by a Spanish-only hiring requirement at a Colorado meatpacking firm established because it is easier to train in one language by hiring only Spanish-speaking applicants. In my novel, those events take place in 2040.

Last weekend, a dispute began drawing national attention to issues of language requirements. Two employees at a Whole Foods store in New Mexico claim they were suspended for complaining about what they characterized as an English-only requirement. Whole Foods disputes the characterization of their policy, saying they require English to be spoken on the clock, except when speaking to customers who prefer another language. The company says the policy is to spur “inclusion” and to improve employee safety, noting also that employees can speak any language at lunch, on breaks, or if all participants in a discussion agree to speak in another language. The company also says that the two suspended employees were suspended for “rude and disrespectful behavior,” not a language policy violation.

At a news conference outside the Albuquerque store, the director of the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) threatened to launch a nationwide boycott of Whole Foods if the company does not change its policy. MoveOn.org, often seen as a branch of the Democratic Party, has jumped into the fray nationally, starting a petition drive to force Whole Foods to allows employees to speak with each other in any language. Continue reading

Immigration, Segregation, Mothers and National Survival

In recent weeks, issues of race, language, immigration and the potential for broader conflict have elevated considerably following a national report showing that  racial segregation is expanding at a dramatic pace. That this study took place and subsequent consternation is taking place in the United Kingdom should offer no relief to those of us worried about the long term impacts of segregation in the United States.

A recent column in Express laments Britain’s move toward looking like America: “In such places as Detroit and Baltimore a white person is as rare as a truthful politician. There are entire school districts that are white, black or Hispanic. It is important to stress this is wrong for everyone involved, from black to white and every colour in between. Segregation is not the way forward; integration is, yet we are further away from that in this country than ever before.”

The Express columnist noted former Equality and Human Rights Commission Chairman Trevor Phillips saw accelerated segregation coming eight years earlier when he warned Britain was “sleepwalking into segregation” and allowing “ghettoes” of different races and faiths to flourish. “Predictably he was shouted down and bizarrely even branded a racist,” the columnist wrote.  (Segregation is Madness.)

Long-term segregation, along racial, language or religious lines, has led to violent confrontation in nearly every country through human history where it has been allowed to flourish. Those who suggest it won’t happen here believe the conditions for conflict won’t exist in their lifetime. I believe we are merely awaiting the final demographic shifts and ascension of exploitative, self-serving politicians to turn growing divisions into conflict if we don’t begin acting to create more integrated experiences.

There is no greater gift that we can give to mothers on this day than to ensure their children do not end up fighting in senseless conflicts driven by divisions we saw coming, but then allowed to happen.

 

 

Thoughtful concerns about re-segregation

In Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041, I focus on the consequences to the nation from re-segregation and politically exploited division. The attached article does a nice job of explaining the nearer-term consequences of re-segregation on America’s children.

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/19/4191812/school-inequality-hurts-all-kids.html

 

Secession, Common Language and Bilingual Brains

Sharing a common language and some elements of common culture are important to multi-century national survival, particularly in democracies where secession movements can gain political traction. Right now, secession efforts are underway with Barcelona and other Catalan speakers trying to break off from Spain, the Flemish wanting to separate from the French-speaking part of Belgium, Scottish seeking to break from the United Kingdom and many in French-speaking Quebec wanting to separate from the rest of Canada. Still, it’s not always language that drives secession movements. Continue reading