Natural Born Anti-Federalists

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Having
lived thirty-six years in New York City I was sure that I was a
city boy. When we moved to upstate NY I found that rural, small
town living was more to my liking. By then all of my forty-five
years had been lived north of the Williamsburg Bridge and I thought
I was a Yankee through and through. Four years back we pulled up
stakes and moved to the Shenandoah Valley. Here I discovered that
all along there had been a Southron inside trying to get free.

Maybe
it's the rebel in me. Maybe it's just my natural contrariness. Or
maybe my patience is thinning with age and my ability to suffer
foolishness is not what it once was. Whatever it is, the north and
the city are in my rearview mirror. I'll take the country. Give
me the south. Keep the rest. Don't get me wrong. I still root for
THE Yankees. Some loyalties go too deep to question. I just don't
root for Yankees anymore.

When
my colleague Jack moved from Philadelphia to the Valley as a boy
over thirty years ago he was given some good advice that is still
a valid insight about people hereabouts. He was told that in the
Valley you do what you want to do and if people don't like it they
will let you know. Few places in America are what they were thirty
years ago and fewer still are better. But the Shenandoah Valley
comes as close as anywhere I have been. People still do what they
want to do. And they still let you know when they don't like what
you are doing.

Last
week the lady from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
came to bring good news about what the government was going to do.
It seems that the EPA was concerned. They were concerned because
the Commonwealth of Virginia has too few waterways with the designation
of "exceptional water." Shocking, I know. They just want
to give us neat stuff and here we are not taking it. Currently,
only North Creek in Botatourt County is so labeled and the EPA,
in its green bureaucratic wisdom, had decided that Passage Creek
in Fort Valley was just the thing to round out this federal quota.
When given the news, the response from the people who live near
the creek was a heartfelt and nearly unanimous, "not hardly."

The
turnout for the lady from the DEQ was unusually large. The only
comparable crowd in memory was for one of the ham and oyster suppers.
The local paper, The Free Press, reported that the mood at the two
hour meeting was tense, with tempers flaring. There was no ham and
there were no oysters this time. Just a message for the DEQ, the
EPA and anyone else who thought they were going to tell the Valley
people what was going to happen to Passage Creek. Thanks, but no
thanks. Now go home.

Ages
ago, Passage Creek cut the Fort Valley out of the northern end of
the Massanutten Range creating a valley within the Valley. The creek
is bordered all through the Fort by family farms, many still owned
by the descendants of the people who carved them out of the forest
a few hundred years ago when this was the wilderness. These farmers
take care of their forty miles of Passage Creek because it takes
care of them. Because it is their own. They are of the same rural
Virginia stock that spawned Patrick Henry and George Mason and that
independent streak is alive and well. These people might put up
with the local government because it is small and they can see it
but they know better than to trust any distant, centralized authority.
Especially one bearing gifts. They are natural born anti-federalists.

They
know that a federal gift like an "exceptional water" designation
carries other benefits, like wider roads and public restrooms. These
are inevitably followed by busloads of tourists. People who will
not respect Passage Creek the same way because they have not known
it all their lives. People who will see it merely as something to
look at during the bathroom break on the way to Luray Caverns. People
who will leave their beer cans and other trash along the bank. One
or two of these farmers have been known to pop a top now and again
but there are no beer cans around the creek today.

The
Valley folk were underwhelmed when presented with the honor of enabling
EPA and DEQ bureaucrats to put little check marks in little boxes
to fulfill their quota. Charles Lichliter summed it up nicely when
he said, "You've heard of taxation without representation.
Well, this is regulation without representation." Giving her
the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the DEQ lady meant it to be reassuring
when she replied, "Not yet," but it still sounds chilling
to me. Tim Stephens cut right to the heart of the matter when he
told her, "We don't need you . this is just another level of
government we don't need." You have to love these people.

Despite
their northern location, the people of two small towns called La
Virkin and Virgin, both in Utah, are equally unimpressed by the
largesse of distant authority and all the more loveable for it.
Must be that rural, Red Zone mindset again. They are planning to
adopt ordinances that would make the towns into UN-Free Zones. Now
that sounds like a consummation devoutly to be wished.

You
might already have heard of Virgin. About a year back they passed
another ordinance. That one required every household in town to
have a gun. My kind of town, Virgin. Give these Utah people credit.
When they pass an ordinance it is worthy of the passage. This new
one would ban the display of UN symbols on town property, forbid
the use of town funds to aid the organization and, and this is the
kicker, prevent any resident from being pressed into "involuntary
servitude" as part of UN missions. More natural born anti-federalists.

The
UN-Free Zone idea was inspired by the court martial of Army medic
Michael New. He is the man who refused to replace his US Army markings
with United Nations insignia and don one of those swishy looking
powder blue berets. Michael New was, of course, absolutely correct.
If the Constitution was still anything more than an exhibit at the
Smithsonian it would have been recognized that he was acting within
the rights of an American citizen. The officers who told him to
serve a foreign power would have been court martialed instead. In
real life he was railroaded by the one-worlders. Surprise.

The
funny part of the whole UN-Free Zone idea, and it was pretty funny,
was the UN's response. They had none, they said, because they do
not interfere in the internal affairs of member states. Good one.
The Prime Directive. I'm guessing they probably had to say this
in a press release because I can't imagine anyone getting all the
way through it with a straight face. Tell the people who have armed
UN troops patrolling their streets. Tell Slobodan Milosevic. Tell
Michael New. They'd like to know.

As
a gesture of solidarity with the good people of Virgin, La Virkin
and Fort Valley I am today declaring myself a UN-Free Zone. No peacekeeping,
nation building or gun grabbing for me. No powder blue berets. Not
my color, anyway. I won't be directing my high commissioner to kidnap
any Eastern European or South American strongmen so that we can
stage show trials, no matter how much fun they are. Don't look for
me to issue any phony baloney reports telling the American people
to go back to the Stone Age because there is too much CO2 in the
air. When I went to school they taught me that plants liked CO2.
So do I. No unpaid parking tickets for me, either. And while I'm
at it, I won't be making or accepting any "exceptional water"
designations either. Turns out I'm a natural born anti-federalist
too.

    July
    10, 2001

    Ed
    Cobb [send him mail] is
    a printer in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. He is a northerner by
    birth, a southerner by choice, and a Catholic by the grace of God.

    Ed
    Cobb Archives

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