Victoria: Chapter 27

On September 15, just after lunch, I was finishing packing up my to move back to Augusta when Gunny Matthews stuck his head in the door. This time, he was smiling. Not only had he played a central role in liberating Boston and saving his fellow black Christians from slavery, his own pastor had backed me up in telling him he had been faithful through it all.

“Come on in, Gunny,” I said. “Pardon the mess, but General Staffs live on paper. Even this short operation has generated plenty for the archives.”

“Don’t you use computers, sir?” the Gunny asked in wonder.

“Just as paperweights,” I replied. “The only electronic security in the age of computers is not having any computers. The only computers in our army are in the Nachrichtendienst, where we have a nest of nerds who hack the other side’s computers.”

“Retroculture again, sir?” the Gunny asked jokingly.

“Ayuh, that’s what it is,” I replied. “I never did trust any machine that wasn’t run by steam.”

“Well, sir, I guess it’s Retroculture I came to talk to you about, in a way,” the Gunny said. “At least Retroculture may be a solution. I came to talk to you about a problem, a big problem, facing our Northern Confederation.”

I could tell Gunny Matthews had a piece to say, so I leaned back in my chair, put my boots up on the desk and reached for a fresh cigar, a good Connecticut Valley maduro. The Gunny knew from old times that meant he had the floor.

“Sir, let me put it to you straight. The biggest problem I see facing the black community is bad blacks.”

“Now, you know we have a lot of good black people. You saw that in the Corps, and in the Battle of the Housing Project. Everybody saw it in Newark. The problem is, in most places, it isn’t the good black people who run the black community. It’s the bad blacks. It’s gang leaders and drug dealers and drug users. It’s muggers and car-jackers and burglars. It’s pimps and prostitutes, beggars and plain-ol’ bums. It’s people who just won’t work for an honest living.”

“Sir, you know and I know the Northern Confederation isn’t gonna live with this. It’s not the old United States. The Northern Confederation is for people who want to live right, by the old rules. They won’t tolerate having little pieces of Africa all over the place. And they shouldn’t. Africa’s a mess. I’m thankful for that slave ship that brought my ancestors over here, cause otherwise I’d be livin’ in Africa, and I don’t think there’s a worse place on earth.

“Sir, I’m not talkin’ to you just on my own account. I’ve been speakin’ with a lot of folks, back in Boston, in the churches. We don’t want to go on livin’ like we have been, surrounded by crime, drugs, noise, and dirt. We know that if we don’t clean up our own act, the white folk in the Confederation are gonna clean it up for us. We want to do it ourselves, to show folks what good black people can do.”

“What I’m here for, is to ask if you can help us find a way to do that,” the Gunny concluded.

“Hmm,” I said, “Do you have any ideas about solutions?”

“Yes, sir,” Gunny Matthews answered. “We’ve had a group working on some ideas. But we don’t know what to do with them.”

“OK, let me see what I can do,” I said. “Give me a few days, then call me.”

The Gunny took his leave, and I followed him down the stairs to pay a call on Herr Oberst Kraft. He’d been expanding his political network into the new states, and he’d know who to talk to.

The smoke from my cigar mingled fragrantly with that from Kraft’s pipe, and he offered me a glass of Piesporter Michelsberg Spatese ’22 to wash down both. I laid out what Gunny Matthews had said to me, and asked if he could help make the political connections. The Northern Confederation didn’t have any real central government and didn’t want one, so what we needed to do was present something to the governors of the states.

“Your black friend is perceptive,” Kraft said when I concluded. “In fact, at the political level we have already recognized the black problem as the first thing we have to face, now that we have an interval in the war – and no, the war is not over yet. But this can’t wait. No one in the Confederation has any intention of tolerating disorder in our black inner cities. It represents everything we revolted against when we left the United States.”

“We have some ideas ourselves about how to solve it, and we have no hesitation in taking whatever measures are necessary, however harsh,” Kraft continued. “The will is there. I’ll tell you, quite frankly, that some well-placed people simply want to expel every black from our territory, and I think a majority of our citizens would agree.”

“I could understand that, and I think Gunny Matthews could too, given the black crime rate,” I replied. “But I also know there are good black people, good enough that they’ll work and even fight for the same values we believe in,” I continued. “Don’t forget the black Christians from Boston who chose slavery over renouncing their Christian faith. I read Gunny Matthews’ effort as a message from the same kind of people that they’re now willing to do what it takes to get back their own communities. If they can do it, then the blacks could become an asset to the Confederation.”

“I don’t know,” Kraft replied. “Perhaps you are right. The black community was an asset as late as the 1950s. But we cannot allow it to remain what it is now: a burden the rest of us have to carry.”

“Are you at least willing to hear what Matthews and his people want to do?”

“Yes, we can listen. But remember, das Wesentlich ist die Tat. We will only be satisfied with actions and with results, not intentions.”

“Agreed,” I said. “Will you set it up so they can make their pitch to the governors?”

“Yes,” Kraft answered. “But not to the governors alone. This matter is too important for that. The meeting will be carried live on radio, so every citizen in the Confederation can participate.”

***

On the afternoon of the first Sunday in November, the governors of the states in the Northern Confederation met in Albany, New York, to hear the leaders of the “Council Of Responsible Negroes” present their proposal. Even our Governor Bowen attended, though he looked like death warmed over. The session had been scheduled for a Sunday afternoon so the Confederation’s citizens could gather around their radios without missing work or church.

Since the liberation of Boston, what to do with the Confederation’s blacks had become the number one topic of public discussion, thanks to my promise to bring Boston’s black Christians back out of slavery. The deal was not popular; for too long, “black” had meant “criminal.” Fortunately, the governors realized I had made a military decision, one that had enabled us to re-take Boston with a minimum of fighting. Our troops, who for good reason did not relish combat in cities, understood it too, and they explained it to their families and neighbors. Otherwise, I might have been in for some tar and feathers.

Anyway, it was clear that Gunny Matthews, the director of the Council Of Responsible Negroes, or CORN, had a tough row to hoe. The question was, could he and his people come up with something this late in the game that would change black behavior and white attitudes?

The meeting was chaired by the governor of New York, since it was meeting in his state. Meetings of the governors had no authority to make decisions for the Confederation; each state had to decide matters for itself. After throwing off the heavy hand of Washington, we had no desire to create much in the way of a new central government. Such sessions were held, infrequently, purely for purposes of gathering information and sharing common concerns.

Facing the row of governors were the four leaders of CORN from the four states that had significant black populations: New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Gunny Matthews represented both Massachusetts and CORN as a whole; he was the organization’s president. In fact, he had put CORN together in the few weeks since Boston was re-taken, building on work a handful of blacks had been doing since the 1980s. These pioneers had realized the black community’s problems were mostly of its own making, and while they took a lot of crap from the cultural Marxists, they had persevered and slowly grown. Now, most blacks had turned to them for help and hope.

The governor of New York opened the session with a few remarks that reflected what most people in the Northern Confederation were thinking:

“Your Honor, we are here today to discuss the most urgent matter facing our Confederation, now that the United States no longer exists and our borders are, at least at the moment, quiet. Within those borders we hold people, black people, who are a threat to the rest of us. Blacks threaten to be what they have been for many decades: an economic burden and a source of disorder, crime, violence, and even, as we saw in Boston, war. Unlike the United States, the Northern Confederation will not live with this threat. A state’s first responsibility is to maintain order, and we will. However, if blacks themselves can successfully end the threat and permit all citizens of the Confederation to live in harmony, that would be the best possible outcome. We have come together today to hear from you, as representatives of the black community, proposals to that end. You may proceed.”

Folks in the N.C. liked their leaders’ speeches to be short and to the point. The governors understood that. So did Gunny Matthews.

“Gentlemen, thank you for this opportunity to speak,” the Gunny said. “As the leader of the Council Of Responsible Negroes, I do not dispute anything the governor of New York has said, because it is true. As a whole, the black community did become a burden on and a threat to the rest of society, starting sometime in the 1960s.”

“But it was not always that. As late as the 1950s, any of you could have walked safely, alone, through the black neighborhoods in your cities. You would have found intact families, with married fathers and mothers, who supported themselves and contributed by their work to society. You would have seen small but neatly-kept houses fronting clean streets. The people there would have welcomed you. If you were hurt or in need, they would have helped you. Their skins may have been black, but their hearts were as white as yours.”

“I say this because it proves that negroes are not inherently disorderly or criminal. It is not in our genes. The catastrophe that overwhelmed the black community over the last sixty years came from following the wrong leaders and the wrong ideas. That has happened to other peoples as well. It happened in Germany and it happened in Russia. Other peoples have turned from their wicked ways and lived, and we can do the same.”

“We know we must take strong measures, painful measures, to rebuild a negro civil society. We are prepared to do that. And we will do it, for ourselves, if you will let us.”

“Here is our proposal: First, we will put an end to black crime. Any negro who commits a crime involving violence or threat of violence, or breaks into a home or business, or steals a car, will hang. Any negro accused of such a crime will be tried within 48 hours, the jurors will be picked from the residents, black or white, of the street where the crime was committed, the trial will be over in 24 hours, and the sentence will be carried out within three days. We’ll build gallows in every park. We’ll gibbet the hanged corpses on every street corner. And negroes will do the hanging.”

“Not only will we hang every drug dealer, we’ll hang every hard drug user. Anyone, black or white, on the street in black neighborhoods will be subject to random drug testing. Anyone who fails the test will be dragged to the nearest gallows and hanged. The drug test itself will count as the trial.”

“Second, we will enable all negroes to work, produce, and contribute to society instead of taking from it. For decades, regulations imposed by the U.S. government made it impossible for most blacks, and many whites, to start a small business. Anyone who tried was visited by dozens of inspectors and regulators demanding something or other “under penalty of law.” Now that government is gone, but the new members of the Confederation, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, still have many such regulations of their own. They have minimum wage laws that price negro labor out of the market. They have zoning laws that prevent a negro homeowner from running a boarding house. They have laws that allow only union shops to bid on state contracts.”

“Before welfare, negro communities had a thriving small scale economy. If you will allow us to get the regulations and regulators off our backs, we will build our own economy again.”

“Third, we will make certain no more negro children grow up in cities. Cities have always provided rich soil for vices of every kind. The other reforms we have proposed will help, but the city will never be as healthy, physically or morally, as the countryside. Therefore, any negro family that has or wants children will be resettled on a farm. Our states have vast amounts of land that used to be farmed but now lies fallow. World prices for food are rising. Life on a small farm will not make negroes rich in money, but it will give them rich lives.”

“We will buy the farmland we need for rural resettlement. We will pay for it by sharecropping. No one will be forced to sell to us, but many whites own more land than they can farm, and they will profit if they sell. The Amish and the Mennonites have volunteered to teach urban negroes how to farm. We know we can do it, because most negroes used to farm.”

“This is our proposal. If you will approve it, we are ready to put it into effect within 90 days. We ask you to give us three years to prove that it works. If it does not work within that time, we will know black people cannot live in this country, and we will leave. We will lead our people back to Africa.”

“Our question to you is, will you give us a chance to show that negroes can live good, productive lives?”

The governors’ body language told me Gunny Matthews’ proposal had struck home. It was serious. It meant no more shuckin’ and jivin’. If it didn’t work, the blacks would leave the Northern Confederation. The risk to the rest of us was the possibility of three more years of black disorder, if it didn’t work. I figured we could live with that risk, especially since the potential payoff was a lot more land under the plow in a country and a world short on food.

The governors asked a few questions, then turned the meeting over to the citizens of the Confederation. Anyone could phone in their question or comment, and the response was broadcast live so everyone could hear it. I was happy to hear that most people seemed to react as I did: they were willing to give the blacks a chance, since they promised to leave peacefully if they failed.

By about nine that evening, the callers had dwindled, and the governor of New York moved to end the session. He did so with a surprise. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I know we are accustomed to allow every state to make its own decisions. But on this matter, and undoubtedly on others in the future, we need a common policy. I therefore propose we take a lesson from the state that gave birth to our Confederation, the State of Maine. I propose we submit this proposal to the people, in a referendum held throughout the Confederation.” Each state had to make its own decision on that proposal, so the meeting adjourned.

I had quietly mobilized militia around each city that had a substantial black population, in case of trouble. There wasn’t any from the blacks, but in Lawrence, Lowell, and Methuen, Massachusetts, the Puerto Ricans rioted.

The Massachusetts militia quickly encircled the affected areas in each city, then blockaded them. They turned off the water and gas, stopped all food deliveries, and waited. It took about 48 hours for the first Puerto Rican refugees, cold, hungry and thirsty, to approach the militia’s perimeter. There, by my orders, they were turned back.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution expelling all Puerto Ricans in the three cities from the Commonwealth. Once that law was in place, the militia announced over the radio that Puerto Ricans would be allowed to leave each city by one exit. The exit was chosen to be convenient to a railroad, and after the PRs had been fed, given water, and allowed to warm up, they were packed into boxcars for a short trip to Boston harbor.

There, freighters were waiting, along with John Ross’s LPH and his Marines. The PRs were led on board the merchantmen, and on November 17, the convoy set sail on “Operation Isabella.” It anchored off the small Puerto Rican port of Aguadilla on Thanksgiving Day. The Marines came ashore in case there was resistance – there wasn’t – and the human cargo was landed. Our men were back on board their amphib and sailing for home in time for turkey with all the trimmings, and Massachusetts had a double reason to be thankful. There were no more riots.

By December 15, all the states in the Confederation had accepted the governor of New York’s idea for a nationwide referendum on the CORN proposal. It was held on January 3, 2029, and it passed by 58%. Surprisingly, the referendum got strong majorities in virtually every black ward. The lesson we taught the Puerto Ricans probably helped, but the fact was that most blacks were ready for a change. After all, most of the victims of black crime were also black.

Quickly, inner-city crime vanished. The shiny new gallows stood mostly unused after the first few weeks. The whole “black militant” act everyone had groaned under for decades simply collapsed. As Dr. Johnson said, the prospect of being hanged concentrates the mind wonderfully.

What astonished many of us, including me, was how quickly the out-migration to the countryside began. Even though most urban negroes had been born and reared in the city, they retained some ancestral memory of a happy country life. We didn’t have to force them to head for the farm; they wanted to go. Churches, white and black, worked together to find landowners who would accept negro sharecroppers, sharecroppers who, unlike those in the old South, would eventually own the land they cleared and farmed. The Amish and Mennonites proved to be excellent teachers. Within a year, over a third of the urban black population was relocated on farms. By the end of the three years given by the CORN plan, the only negroes left in the cities were old folks without kids and a few black professionals. Gunny Matthews and the other negroes who had seen through the “victims” hokum had brought their people home.

Today, in the year 2068, our negro farmers are the bedrock of our agriculture. Their products make up more than 30% of our exports. Black and white folk still mostly keep to themselves socially, as is only natural, but they work together for the good of our nation. The black visionary whose vision came true was not Martin Luther King, but Booker T. Washington.

If you visit a one-room negro country school, at recess you may hear the children jumping rope to this little song:

Hang him high
Or hang him low,
To the hangman
He will go.
Hang the fat
And hang the thin,
Bow his head
And stick it in.
Hang the young
And hang the old,
Hang the bully
And the bold.
If he steals,
He sure must know,
To the hangman
He will go.

It’s always been true that children learn their lessons best at play. favicon