On Monday, the City Council of Burlington, the bucolic brain trust of our most utopian state, voted 10-4 for the boycott of Arizona and Arizona businesses. Boycotting is a way of forced secession; that is, it is a way of demanding that another state or country not participate in its commonwealth and moral progress. And on its other face, Vermont, like L.A., Chicago and the other boycotters, are virtually seceding from Arizona, but by degree, not all at once. Of course, others in Vermont advance seceding altogether from all the other states. But I can’t recall another time when American regions have joined foreign countries in opposition to an American state with the approval of an American president.

This has been the problem with Arizona’s approach: They are not thinking of themselves as Arizonans; they are thinking of “others” as non-Arizonans and seeing themselves as the put-upon victims (negative space/negative karma) in the picture. They are acting out of weakness instead of out of strength. Instead of acting in reaction to external forces — illegal aliens in consort with boycotting states and cities — they should take their own initiatives as Arizonans. In other words, they should begin to think of who they are instead of who they are not. As per Jefferson, they are Arizonans first. They have no control over who they are not and can be endlessly bullied by yahoos in dilettante city councils worldwide who have no stake in their destiny.

If Vermont, Chicago and L.A. expect to cripple Arizona by economic boycott — an unlikely scenario — it would make sense that Arizona likewise has the right to exclude Vermonters, Chicago and L.A. residents from benefits they might find there, like vacation, travel or retirement. I mean, if I supported extensive boycotting of Iran, which I do, I would certainly not hope to build my steel and glass retirement house in their transcendent deserts, nor would I attempt to even drive through it without harassment.

At the beginning of the war in Iraq I proposed that Vermont and New Hampshire, where I live, need not participate and had the right not to, citing Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions. Our point in opposition to Bush and Cheney here in the Northeast hills was that we are not defenseless in opposition to federal overreach, immorality or incompetence. Our state is our defense against it, and that is how Madison and Jefferson envisioned our republic. Arizonans are not defenseless and they are not alone. More than 30 states by now have caught on to the vital importance of state sovereignty in retaining or restoring personal and regional integrity, many of them close by Arizona and facing the same issues, including her big near neighbor, Texas.

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