Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Dominion of British West Florida and Tips for Creating an American Separatist Cause
Well, separatist fantasies never seem to go away in the USA. In past posts, I have made notes about dubious separatist causes in Alaska, Hawaii, and Texas. I have not posted on those claiming the Confederate States of America still legally exists but they are out there too. All make the same claims about violations of international law in the method the USA annexed the land and incorporated it into the USA. They use (I would argue misuse) the word "occupation" which is bandied around frequently by their followers and on their web sites.
I found a new one! It is the Dominion of West Florida. It claims to represent the people of the Republic of West Florida which existed briefly for 72 days in 1810.
Here is a brief summary of their legal claim courtesy of Wikipedia:
1) The Treaty of Versailles of 1783 granted the Territory of Florida (The British colonies of East and West Florida) to the Spanish King, who was deposed by Napoleon, leaving no rightful successor to claim the territory.
2) The Treaty of Transfer of Florida to France signed by the Spanish prohibited Third party transfer of the Territory and the territory claimed by the Dominion of British West Florida was not included in the transfer.
3) The annexation of West Florida by Presidential Proclamation, without the usual and required Congressional and Territory actions, was invalid under the United States Constitution, and international law.
Part 3 there is the interesting one. This is similar to claims by Texan and Hawaiian nationalists that their "nations" were acquired illegally by a joint resolution of the US Congress and Congress does not have the power to annex territory in that manner. Hence, the annexation is invalid under American and international law. Or so they theorize...
The United States sent the army down to secure West Florida for the United States. The government of the Republic of West Florida gave up under protest. Their partisans now claim that this constituted an invasion of the Republic of West Florida and was an act of war. The American presence in West Florida to this day then constitutes an illegal military occupation! The claim is then that the American government as represented in West Florida is de facto but not de jure.
Alas for these West Florida nationalists, the international community has recognized American sovereignty over West Florida since 1810 or shortly thereafter. As international recognition is the basis for determining sovereignty, there is nothing more to debate. I guess if a valid currently recognized sovereign nation wanted to grant the West Floridians recognition this could be reopened but I kind of doubt it.
Another wacky separatist cause pertains to the Wake Islands. There are a group of people in the Marshall Islands claiming the islands as the Kingdom of EnenKio. The Open Directory Project description of the site actually reads, "Site of the Government of the Kingdom of EnenKio. Information about the Aboriginal people, and the US occupation of the atoll." Of course, there never has been an aboriginal people of the Wake Islands. But again, I really enjoy how the word occupation is thrown about. The government of the Marshall Islands has disavowed this cause.
I guess if we get creative, every part of the USA is under illegal occupation by the USA. Here is a list of tips for creating your own American separatist cause! (These tips would work for non-American parts of the world too.)
1. Look over every treaty, agreement, document, or ruling that impacts the current legal status of the area in question. Go back as many centuries as you need to find the right dirt. Can you find even a single instance where someone forgot to dot an "i" or cross a "t"? Is there any technicality (no matter how minor) that could be highlighted? If so, congratulations! You can now claim that American sovereignty is illegal under American and international law and that all subsequent legislation by the USA is not binding.
2. Has even a single American military member been in your area since the time you can "prove" American ownership of you area is bogus? If so, you can now claim an invasion happened and can throw around the word occupation. It does not matter if shots were fired. The mere presence of American soldiers constitutes an act of war.
3. Did the people of your area actually vote to join the USA? If not, claim the annexation as illegal and undemocratic. If so, did it happen after the "occupation" began? Did people (or their descendents) who were not citizens of your area prior to American "occupation" participate in the vote? If so, dismiss the election and declare it invalid as the "occupiers" rigged the election by voting too.
4. Put up a web site bolding stating your "facts." Claim to be the legitimate representative of your nation under occupation. Be sure to put up lots of pages detailing the alleged violations of international law and showing American aggression. Be sure to get your site listed in as many places as possible. Be aggressive in search engine optimization. (Create a blog or two too!)
5. Have a forum at your site. Use it to repeat your claims over and over again and link to any website or news article which in any way could be twisted to support your arguments. Ruthlessly use ad hominem attacks on anyone who posts anything you disagree with. Calling them ignorant of international law and history or even racist should do the trick.
6. Head on over to Wikipedia, learn the ropes, and start inserting your version of history in every article you find! If you are subtle, good at edit wars, and have a lot of patience, you can make a real difference.
7. If you are brave, start up your own national bank and start issuing money and loans. You can also sell passports! When you get busted, use this as evidence of continued American aggression and attempts to silence your movement. Be sure to highlight on your site the "political prisoners" the USA puts in jail. (Go ahead and sell stamps too!)
8. Distance yourself from other separatists groups. Some Hawaiians, Texans, Alaskans, etc. may be claiming occupation but in your case it is real. You may all use the same arguments but there are important differences. Also, deny you are a separatist. Since your area was never legally American, you are not separating or seceding. You are asking to be restored. Further, make clear your area never has been and is not currently legally American.
And so on. Critical thinking skills are sorely lacking amongst a large portion of the American population. They also tend to believe in conspiracies and other crazy ideas. They also do not know much about international law or history so you can surely get many of them to accept your version as fact. You should have a lot of success in getting attention and believers!
I really should start my own separatist cause. With my knowledge of history, the Web, and how to play the separatist game, I could have a lot of fun! Or maybe not...
Update 19 July 2007: The list has been expanded to eleven at Illegally Occupy This! Miland Brown's Tips for American Separatists Updated.