Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who aptly calls himself "The Bloviator," has said many wild things in his successful career. Most of them have been easy to ignore. But recently he said, in the punishing tone of a strict father whose daughter has had too much fun, fun, fun and he now has to take the T-Bird away: "Vermont must know that they're in the United States of America." [emphasis added]
He was talking about Vermont Judge Cashman's recent attempt to get a particular sex offender some therapy - an effort which paid off, by the way - but which, when misinterpreted by the far right, caused a national scandal.
It's pretty obvious that Vermont grates on O'Reilly and his ilk. We send a socialist to the House of Representatives and liberals like Jim Jeffords and Pat Leahy to the Senate. We put our former governor into national play as chief truth-speaker and fund-raiser for the Democratic party - if only they'd listen to him! We instituted the first civil unions laws in the country and the devil did not appear. We're interested in wind power, and some of us even drive cars powered by French-fry oil. We've flooded - yes, absolutely flooded - the country with super-rich ice cream, good beer, fine coffee, hand-crafted cheeses, healthy bread, natural salad dressings, luxury textiles, organic cosmetics and designer furniture and lighting fixtures. We even allow lesbians to make maple syrup!
So I have a plea for you, Mr. O'Reilly, and your right wing Republican friends. Because we're irritating now and plan to get even more irritating as time goes on, please, please, please throw us out of America. Please. Pretty please?
I'm not a terrorist when I say this, nor do I want to aid any terrorists. But this country, which I have lived in and loved for all of my life, has taken everything I hold dear and debased it in the name of greed and power. It has debased the concept of democracy around the world. It has debased the very word.
I'm ashamed to be represented by a government that feels free to intimidate and torture - as in the recent trial of Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, who put a severely beaten Iraqi prisoner in a sleeping bag, wrapped him with wire, sat on him, poured water on him, and held his hand over his mouth until he died, and only received a letter of reprimand, two months restriction to base, and a $6,000 fine.
I'm ashamed that my country uses military force in the name of empire and oil. That it tries, with Medicare Plan D, to dupe the elderly out of medicine. That it knows the world is running out of oil and smells its own flopsweat. That it pollutes the air and water with abandon. That it spies on its own citizens. That it embarks on a war against the first and fourth amendments of the Constitution. That it subverts the electoral process with rigged voting machines. That it tries to corrupt science and democracy in the name of religion. That it is bowing under the weight of its own corruption.
The tone of the nation is set at the top. Is anyone surprised that the newest fad for teenage boys in Florida is hunting and beating to death homeless people?
And they don't like us up here in Vermont?
There's already a movement to have Vermont secede from the union. The Second Vermont Republic, Professor Thomas Naylor's group, is collecting signatures on a petition that says: "Be it resolved that the state of Vermont peacefully and democratically free itself from the United States of America and return to its natural status as an independent republic as it was between January 15, 1777 and March 4, 1791."
The group already has something like 1,014 signatures but wants 100,000. In a posting on his Web site (vermontrepublic.org) Naylor calls America "The Living Dead."
"The United States government has lost its moral authority," he says. "It has no soul. It is too big, too centralized, too powerful, too materialistic, too intrusive, too militarist and too unresponsive to the needs of Vermont citizens and communities."
And that was before the Bellows Falls police came up with the idea to lard the downtown area with surveillance cameras!
My concern with Naylor's plan involves the difficulty of seceding from the union. Remember what happened when the south tried?
What if Vermont tried to leave the union and the Bush Administration sent a militia? I don't mind fighting and dying for a good cause, but I can't really see hiding in the bushes by the new Welcome Center and lobbing grenades at American soldiers while trying to miss the bewildered tourists who only stopped in to use the bathrooms.
O'Reilly stopped short of placing a ban on Vermont - maybe the idea of a life without maple syrup is too dreary for him. But he won't be one of those reckless weekend drivers on the Interstate, either. "They say the skiing is great this winter in Vermont," he said. "But I'm not going. There's something in the air there that I cannot abide."
Well, there's something going on in the rest of the country that I cannot abide. So please, Mr. O'Reilly, if anyone in power listens to you - and maybe not, since I'm told you have only 2 million viewers - start a movement now to throw Vermont out of your corrupt little union.
It would save us all a lot of trouble. No guns, no ammo belts, no hiding out in the woods among the deer. Just a quick kick in our butts and out we go, maybe to seek union with Maine, maybe to join with Quebec, maybe to remain independent and strike out on our own.
We can certainly do a lot better than O'Reilly and the Bush Administration. That much is clear.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who lives in Vermont and writes about culture, politics, economics and travel. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.