Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tea Partiers Prefer Secession

Rather Than Health Care For The Poor

Tea Party oriented Republicans who will control the US House of Representatives want to repeal “Obama Care”. Southern Republicans like Governor Rick Perry of Texas and US Representative Zack Wamp of Tennessee have threatened Secession from the Union because of federal mandates in “Obama Care”.

In South Carolina, Republican State Senator Glenn McConnell is President Pro-Tem of the South Carolina Senate and one of our most powerful politicians. He also opposes Medicaid mandates. Recently, officials of South Carolina Health and Human Services asked McConnell to help continue funding health care for poor people. He replied, “ When the money provided by the state for Medicaid is gone, the insurance program for the poor must simply stop providing services.” “Your obligation under the constitution … is to the taxpayer of this state and not to bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.” South Carolinians pay both state and federal taxes that fund Medicaid, but by refusing to allocate $1 billion of our state tax revenue for this program over the next decade, South Carolina will lose $ 4 billion from the federal government for health care for 656,000 poor people, who are disproportionately black and children.

Tea Party states’ rights activists say their struggle against health care continues the struggle of Jefferson Davis and the secessionists in 1860. Rev. Cecil Fayard, chaplain in chief for the national Sons of Confederate Veterans, said “The War Between the States was fought for the same reasons that the tea party movement today is voicing their opinion.”

Senator McConnell opposed removing the Confederate flag from atop the South Carolina State House in 2000 and finally brokered a compromise that placed the rebel flag in front of the state capitol at the Confederate soldier’s memorial monument. McConnell is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Secession Camp #4, and a Civil War re-enactor who owned a Confederate memorabilia store in Charleston.

He founded and Chairs the Hunley Commission that raised a Confederate submarine from Charleston harbor. The Commission is restoring the sub for the Hunley Museum in Charleston with $22 million that is coming from state and federal funds according to their fund-raising organization.

McConnell was recently photographed in Civil War military regalia with two African- Americans dressed as slaves at a

meeting of the National Federation of Republican Women in Charleston. The Sons of Confederate Veterans work closely with the Confederate Heritage Trust.

The Confederate Heritage Trust is putting on a play and grand ball in Charleston on December 20th, celebrating the Secession of South Carolina from the United States in 1860. Neo-Confederates claim that secession was an issue of states’ rights rather than slavery but William Preston, a secessionist leader in South Carolina, said, “Slavery is our King; slavery is our Truth; slavery is our Divine Right.” South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession refers to Northern States; “Those States…have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery…They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.” Several thousands of those slaves from South Carolina served in the Union army in the Civil War that was started in Charleston by South Carolinians when they bombarded Fort Sumter in April, 1861. At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War.

I was also a champion of the lost cause of Dixie. In 1964-65, I became the first Executive Director of the South Carolina Independent Schools Association. Now emphasizing academic and athletic excellence, originally the private schools were created to allow white children to avoid racial desegregation in public schools in counties with large populations of blacks. Several were named for Confederate figures like Stonewall Jackson,

Robert E. . Lee,

Jefferson Davis,

and Wade Hampton.

I was an aide to George Wallace and then his National Campaign Director (1967-1971).

Confederate flags were waved and racial slurs shouted at Wallace rallies throughout the country. My great-grandfather was a Confederate soldier and my grandfather was a Klan member. I named my only son Jefferson Davis Turnipseed. I was a racist who used my Confederate heritage to deny my racism.

I returned to South Carolina in 1972 and helped organize a coalition to reform electrical utility regulation that included African Americans. Electric rates for low volume residential users were 5 ½ times higher than for industrial users and a disproportionate number of the mostly poor low volume users were black. The rate hike hearings offered an opportunity to bridge the divide between poor blacks and whites. Our successful coalition helped me realize how prejudiced I had been against black people. I became an anti-racist activist and was elected to the SC Senate by an interracial coalition of everyday people. I am a life member of the NAACP, and was a leader in the effort to remove the rebel flag from our State House.

Our law firm was co-counsel in a successful suit against the Klan for burning a black Baptist Church in South Carolina in 1998. These terrorist Klansmen waved the Confederate flag as they destroyed the church.

If a prejudiced devotee of Dixie like me could change, maybe there is hope for Secessionist Tea Partiers to change and allow poor black and white folks to have adequate health care.


  1. Hola Tom, I truly enjoyed your truth and honesty, as a brown Latino from the South Bronx you have touched my soul and yes we are no different. The world is on fire with hate towards others...We are just brothers in the struggles for real Freedom. May the gods help us...Gilberto

  2. Thanks for your comment, Gilberto.

    I write about my earlier life as a racist-in-denial in hopes of persuading others who are still racists-in-denial to reflect on who they really are. If I could change, anyone can change.

    Greed, envy and retribution have been motivating forces that create the hatred and dehumanization of people of other races, religions, and nations.

    One of our associates in our law firm who happens to be African-American used to live in South Bronx.

  3. I wish more of our deep-rooted white Southern brothers and sisters could recognize, admit to and repent of their racism. So many are in denial.

  4. Gilberto,

    The most convenient denial euphemism for inter-generational racism is "honoring our Southern Heritage".

    Southerners who renounce racism are traitors to their race and their Southern Heritage.

  5. I have read this post at least three different times and I have to admit that I find myself curious about the "Eureka" moment in 1972 when you realized the truth....

    I was only 14 in 1972 but I remember my father was a big supporter of George Wallace. Here my father, a guy who always championed the little guy, who always preached treating everyone equal and who used to rant about nationalizing our utilities, transportation, and natural resources...

    I remember asking him once about the time I was too young to grasp what he was talking about....and considering that his family were Germans and very northern so the southern heritage thing doesn't work.

    Here he sat, his eldest son who's first girlfriend was black, a guy who had been discplined twice by his employer, the Army, for defending blacks who he felt had been treated unfairly and my family's two dearest friends were black families trying to explain to me why Wallace was the one....

    He didn't vote for Wallace but I have always found that period very interesting.

  6. Thanks for your comment.

    My reversal on racism did not happen like a Road to Damascus, "Eureka" moment. Working with blacks on utility reform was a turning point but friends who were racists like me and changed before I did influenced me also.

    Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Center is a relative of mine who was a segregationist and changed a few years before me. Richmond Flowers was the Alabama Attorney General who went from being a segregationist to become an opponent of George Wallace's use of racism for political purposes. Both Morris and Richmond challenged me about my work with Wallace and they also helped me move toward the "Eureka" moment.

  7. I'm late coming to this most interesting post. What a journey you've had. The main difference between you and most people within the Tea Party has to do with brain power and human decency. You have both; they have neither.

    I really don't have a lot of hope that many on the far right will ever change their mind-sets and I'm not sure that their seceeding wouldn't be the best thing for our country. As it is, they're hell bent on destroying it.

    Morris Dees is my hero.

  8. Thanks for you comment.

    The sad thing about most of the Tea Partiers is that they sincerely think they are doing the right thing.

    I talked with Morris last week and he is doing well. I enjoy having a conversation with him because he is such a great story teller.

    His home and property borders on my deceased uncle's land. My uncle was Morris's good friend. I once asked Morris if my uncle was a member of the Klan and Morris answered in the affirmative.

  9. Hm. Must dust off this family document I have of the birth of the Klan. We think it was written by one of our Confederate relatives.

    It's amazing to me that my grandmother, who was born and raised in Athens, AL, was ever so tolerant. Would say it was probably because her father was president of Athens College but her sister was the total opposite. My grandmother didn't bat an eye when I went with an African-American for several years; her sister thought I was condemned to hell.

    I always thought Dees was a very courageous and remarkable soul. Not too hard on the eyes either.

  10. I had some progressive kinfolks, too. My second cousin, Rev. Andrew Turnipseed was minister of large Methodist Church in Mobile who took the Brown v. Board of Education decision seriously and advocated racial integration of churches and schools. Andrew was forced to leave the Alabama Methodist Conference and relocated in New York where he was a pastor for many years before coming back to Alabama a few years before he passed a way. He also authored a family biography, "Sowing the Seeds".

    Morris is a very enterprising fellow. He and Millard Fuller, who later founded Habitat for Humanity became friends and business associates at the University of Alabama. I was told that they somehow were able to access the birthday dates and names and addresses of the parents of sorority girls. They would send the parents a letter offering to deliver flowers or a cake to their daughter on her birthday. They made some pretty good money in school.

    After they graduated they established a publishing company in Montgomery and got rich on mail order cook books. They would make deals with women's organizations such as the Eastern Star and Home Economics teachers who would furnish the names and addresses of their members for a percentage of the profits. The members would furnish recipes for the cookbooks and of course the members would buy the book with their recipes and names in it.

    I reckon women have chased Dees a bit but I don't know if I would call him that good looking.

  11. I was astounded by Sen. McConnell's childishness and arrogance in his op-ed about cutting off funding for health and human services. My reaction to it is over at my blog.

  12. Hey Tom,John Holmes. Thank you for your honesty on your past. In defense of you. I have only known 1 Tom Turnipseed,who has alwayus been kind & generous in the 5 plus years I have had the pleasure of knowing you. Your advocacy work for the poor & homeless is without parallelin my book.I believe it is long past due that you forgive yourself andf continue to move forward in the good works that you do. I would love to see 1 day when the Confederate Re-enactors would allow Black Confederate soldiers who fought for the South march in the Parades too. Even thought Black Confederate where in the minority. The Great Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, stated he wished he had more negro troops fighting with him... By the way as most of you probably know hewasd also the first Grand Wizard of the Klu-Klux-Klan!!! John Holmes HHH

  13. Thanks for you comment, Michael.

    I checked out your blog, and you better watch out --or the Neo-Confederate secessionists will get you. Glenn McConnell and others who are cutting off Medicaid/Health care for poor folks by refusing to ante up state revenues when SC will get a 3 to 1 match in federal revenues and we all pay federal taxes don't appear to be overly endowed with fiscal astuteness.

  14. Thank for your comment, John.

    I know you are from Pennsylvania, but did you know that your the Quaker state has a sizable number of the KKK crowd?

    I enjoy telling my story of going 180 on the matter of racism in hopes of getting other racists to change as I did. I feel good about my changing and don't have a guilty conscience because I was a product of my upbringing and really thought I wasn't a racist when I ran Wallace's campaign. Now I know that I was one. I do wish I had changed sooner, but you can't undo the past.

  15. Yeah your right Tom Pennsylvania has KKK too! I remember when they staged a rally at the State Catitol. I also remember when we couldn't go into certain neighborhoods after a certain time of day. Changed does come sometime slowly...Lots of olve brother. John Holmes HHH

  16. Tom---I reffed your blog and this post on my own blog, in a piece about all this crazy talk about secession. I'm hoping it's just a bad dream.
    Keep up the good work!
    See "Talk About Biting The Hand That Feeds You" on

  17. Thanks for referencing our post on birdsona wire, Paula.

    I really like your piece on BirdsonaWire. As you point out so graphically, all this state's rights stuff about being screwed by the federal government etc. on getting our share of federal revenues by folks like Glenn McConnell is a myth and a big bunch of BS. We pay federal taxes too, but not really a fair share compared to the federal revenues we get in return.

  18. There is no rage like shame-based rage, no evil like the sort that festers and boils over from the cauldrons of resentment. As a fellow-S. Carolinian aware of our status as a welfare state, I salute your personal change and this post.

  19. Thanks for your comment, Nance.

    Most of us have problems with the way our governments in Washington and Columbia operate.

    Democracy is intrinsically messy, but it is too much influenced by corporate money and their smooth lobbyists. Their influence is too prevalent at every governmental level. But, to turn down a better than 3 dollars in federal revenues for each 1 dollar we contribute in state revenues is pretty stupid when so many poor people's health care is at stake.

  20. I say let them secede. They then can pay taxes every time they wish to enter the remainder of the USA, and perhaps can join that great and industrious economy of the nation to the south of Texas. What they lose in federal money they can perhaps make up by engaging in unlawful drug trafficking and/or go back to moonshine!

  21. I have heard several people express the same "let them secede" sentiment, Anonymous.

    On another important issue, I am pissed at how a warmongering plutocracy appears to be in control of the US and is using our tax dollars to kill and maim innocent people while the fat cats get fatter. Rather than secede we should use every non-violent means to "drive the money-changers out of the temple" as FDR so famously declared.

  22. On another important issue, I am pissed at how a warmongering plutocracy appears to be in control of the US and is using our tax dollars to kill and maim innocent people while the fat cats get fatter. Rather than secede we should use every non-violent means to "drive the money-changers out of the temple" as FDR so famously freeBaker Street

  23. Senator Turnipseed,
    Now that Glenn McConnell, is Lt. Governor, he has lost a lot of of the leverage and power he had as Senator Pro Tem (and as a member or chair of important senate committees including Rules, Judiciary, Ethics, Hunley, etc.). I hope people will use this as an opportunity to band together and see that the Hunley Commission is forced to comply with South Carolina's constitution. But, we need to be careful that in doing so we don't put the Hunley Commission back under McConnell's control.
    Dr. E. Lee Spence, underwater archaeologist
    (Note: I was the discoverer of the Hunley, and donated my rights to it to the State at the official request of McConnell, but I don't approve of the way he has handled our tax dollars and other matters relating to the Hunley.)

    To read how the Commission is in violation of the SC Constitution, please go to:


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