MY BROTHER in pontification, Edward Grimsley, the editorial-page editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, has come up with the outrageous theory that because West Germany has annexed East Germany there is no reason why East Virginia should not annex West Virginia.
This is the kind of statement one might expect from the spokesman for a rogue state bent on expansion. But Ed's analogy is all wrong. In the post-Cold War era, as the Gulf crisis proves so well, the world has to be on guard against regional powers trying to gobble up poor defenseless neighbors.
Mr. Grimsley would have us believe that West Virginia's breakaway to freedom during the Civil War was "a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution." (As though East Virginia's secession wasn't!) He might as well make the argument that the creation of Kuwait was a gross violation of boundary lines that existed during the Ottoman Empire and that Saddam Hussein is justified in claiming dubious rights of access to the Persian Gulf.
This Marylander is not about to suggest that Brother Grimsley is in intellectual cahoots with old Saddam. But his prattle about the parallelism of German and Virginian reunification justifies one basic inquiry: Is the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch willing to call his state East Virginia? Of course he isn't, because that would implicitly concede there is a West Virginia.
In Maryland, we know all too well about the depredations of Virginia. Long ago its marauders made war on our fisherfolk, sinking bugeyes and skipjacks, raking and raping our oyster beds, as though the Chesapeake were Virginia's to the Susquehanna. And in latter days, we know, too, how the port of Norfolk has used every devious stratagem to steal the birthright of the port of Baltimore.
It is time to tell Mr. Grimsley and all other East Virginians that if they continue to menace neighboring states, appropriate counter-measures will be taken. West Virginia shall not hang out there all alone. Even to contemplate Doug Wilder choppering over to Charleston to lay claim to the governor's digs as "Virginia Executive Mansion West" is intolerable. It's a provocation.
Let East Virginians be advised that if they persist in aggression, a Three-State Treaty Organization will be formed in which Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina will pledge that an attack on any one of them will be considered an attack upon all three.
If this does not suffice to put the East Virginians in their place, then TSTO will prepare a pre-emptive action to eliminate East Virginia all together. The Old Dominion will be carved into three parts and distributed to the occupying powers. East Virginia will disappear from the map, much as Poland disappeared for more than a century when it was carved up by Prussia, Russia and Austria.
Is this what Ed Grimsley wants? Well, he should know that this is one Marylander who has always believed that the totality of Chesapeake Bay and the southern bank of the Potomac all the way to the James River is the rightful possession of the Free State.
Mr. Sterne is the editorial-page editor of The Sun.