Losing the Right to Be Southern

 

lonestar_lgUp until last Wednesday night at about 8 o’clock, I could — that with the right degree or irony and humor — introduce myself as “a white, Christian, Southern bigot,” though sometimes the order of the words change. Most people would laugh, understanding the heavy irony I was employing.

You have to have a well-developed sense of irony and humor to live in the South. Our history and its contradictions are simply too great. That’s what Dylann Roof took away from white southerners last week; it doesn’t compare to the lives he snuffed out in Charleston, but it hurts nonetheless. Dylann Roof took away our right to be ironic about being a southerner and the right to be humorous about it. He may as well have taken away our identity.

Southern identity is a strange thing. The Agrarian philosopher Richard Weaver once said it is almost spiritual, akin to being a Catholic or a Jew. I am not quite sure I would go that far, but I do understand where Weaver was coming from. There are many of us who consider ourselves southern before we consider ourselves American; a “country within a country,” as the historians have put it. I suppose, according to many bloggers this week, that makes us traitors.

The question we should be asking ourselves this week is whether that makes us Dylann Roof. The answer is, maybe. Among the things I have in my home is a brass cast of the Confederate belt buckle my great, great uncle wore at the Battle of Franklin (my brother has the original), probably the bloodiest four hours of the Civil War. I have — in the hot summer, when I can leave my shirt untucked where it cannot be easily seen — worn it. My family on both sides were slaveowners, 28 on my father’s side, slightly more than 30 on my mother’s. That would have put them in the technical definition of the planter class, though there were no columned mansions and mint juleps. It doesn’t matter.

I have never flown the Confederate battle flag in my home, but I have displayed the 1861 sovereignty flag of Florida, my state (see above). I have never been a re-enactor, but I have visited re-enactments. There, I learned just how valuable a sense of irony and humor can be. Most re-enactors are not true believers, but it does get tiresome hearing them argue the Civil War was not about slavery. Yes, yes, I know the stats: most southerners did not own slaves. But the ones who did ran the show. It is ironic, I suppose, that most re-enactors, north or south, want to be Confederates. It is also ironic that the Confederate battle flag, since the 1950s at least, the symbol of racism was also, apparently, one of the favored symbols of Eastern Europeans as the Iron Curtain was wrent in the 1980s and early 1990s. Irony, indeed.

I don’t like notherners trying to tell us what to do. The self-righteous, triumphalist rhetoric of historians like Jim McPherson, David Blight, or Ed Baptist, can get as tiring as listening to the re-enactors. So can accusations of “traitor” against southerners (How’d those 1866 treason trials against Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee go, again?) It is well to remember that racism and racial violence is and was a national and not just a southern issue, and that Martin Luther King met his greatest frustration once he went to Chicago. I don’t want Yankees and people running for President to tell folks in Columbia, SC, they have to take the flag down from state property. I am pretty angry at the cheap theatrics of Wal-Mart and eBay in announcing that they will not be selling any Confederate flag merchandise, an announcement that neglected to say (on Wal-Mart’s part) they have not restocked such items for months, and which was designed to make both companies feel good about themselves. As one of my friends noted, you can buy porn on E-Bay, but not the Confederate flag (as of Tuesday afternoon, the flag was still available, but the company, will presumably act). The legacy of the Civil War is certainly mixed: we got rid of slavery, but we got the corporate, industrial nation state, in which the most prominent thing for sale seems to be integrity, and everything is exploitable. Irony, indeed.

On the other hand, I very much want South Carolina to take the flag down. The terrorism last Wednesday night was the worst racial hate crime in the South since the assassination of Dr. King. Assuming that the authorities confirm the ownership of Dylann Roof’s website, there is no question that the appropriation of the flag for nearly a century by racists, Kluxers, and terrorists inspired him — indeed, gave him permission — to murder. There was a time when the Confederate battle flag meant heritage. It has not for a long time, and Dylann Roof underlines that fact. One of the most heartening things about Nikki Haley’s comments at her press conference announcing her support for removing the flag, was that it will be a South Carolina decision, made by South Carolinians. We, are unfortunately, already seeing the signs of overreaction from people who exploit such horror, and who demand more. It’s not just Wal-Mart. There is pressure now to change state flags that have a cross on them, whether they resemble the Confederate battle flag or not, and to mess with private property. We will see how that plays out, but I find it difficult to believe that a court which will allow the burning of an individual’s American flag will not allow the display on private property of the Confederate flag, even if you can see it from an interstate. It will be very interesting to see what happens the first time a hotel refuses to rent rooms for the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ convention. Public accomodations. Irony, indeed.

When I first heard what had happened last Wednesday, I said two short prayers. “Please, God, “ I said, “ don’t let him be a white man.” The second prayer was, “please, let him be strung out on drugs, or certifiably insane, or unaware, somehow, of what he did.” God, answered my prayers, of course, but not in the way I wanted. Dylann Roof was white (unless he tells us otherwise), young (a millennial), and was almost certainly not strung out on drugs, and almost certainly not insane. From what he has said, and what he apparently posted on his web site, it is clear that he knew exactly what he doing, and why he was doing it: hatred of black people. If there was any doubt as to what symbols of the Confederacy mean in the 21st century, he swept those doubts away, and every southerner who has ever discounted the meaning of the Confederate flag for black people, or entertained thoughts that, hmm, maybe the Civil War really wasn’t about slavery, is corrupted by what he did. That would be most of us, I suspect. Deep in every human soul, deep in every white southern soul, lies the possibility of a Dylann Roof.

The conservative writer Rod Dreher has written about the gay marriage issue, that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has forced us to make a choice: We can either be good Americans, or we can be good Christians. Dylann Roof has forced us in the South to make a choice, too. We can accept the responsibility for our shame, or we can deny it. The survivors of his victims, who faced him and forgave him on Friday, have shown us the power of grace. May God forgive us, as a people, for creating Dylann Roofs.

Published in Culture, History
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 64 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Bob W: 

    The Civil War was fought largely because of the friction that resulted from the South trying to tell the North what to do, specifically how to deal with escaped slaves and with laws governing the expansion of slavery.

    The Tariffs of 1789, 1816, and 1828 had nothing to do with the North dictating to the South, natch.

    • #31
  2. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Does everybody actually believe that if there were no confederate flag that Roof would not have killed those people? Because that seems to be what all are saying and I have my doubts. So once there are no Confederate flags, no Confederate memorials, no Confederate movies, all Confederates statues are torn down, all Confederate dead are dug up and ground into fertilizer there will never be another white on black crime? Because I think anybody that buys that is a little naive. I think that Roof would have killed no matter what flags were flying or what history is destroyed and altered.

    • #32
  3. user_138833 Inactive
    user_138833
    @starnescl

    Barkha Herman:If your identity requires state recognition, then you had lost your identity long before last Wednesday.

    Wrong concept of state, I think.  I agree with you if the concept of the state is one prior to the people.  However, not if the state gets its legitimacy from the people.

    The second meaning is better.  Unfortunately, it was sullied …

    • #33
  4. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Denmark Vesey Jr.: There are many of us who consider ourselves southern before we consider ourselves American; a “country within a country,” as the historians have put it.

    Being a distinct nation within a country is one thing, but being a country within a country really isn’t something to be encouraged.

    This is the principle which has guided Canuckistani conservatives in their relations with Québec, epitomized when Prime Minister Harper gave a speech in Parliament acknowledging les Québecois as a distinct nation within Canada, without acknowledging Québec as a sovereign country. It’s the people, their traditions and their culture, not the geography and the politics, that really count.

    (This concept is anathema to Canuckistani Liberals, who think everything good and pure is created out of whole cloth by Ottawa bureaucrats, and therefore any sort of regional pride should be stamped out.)

    The American South has, especially since the end of Jim Crow, done a very good job of making this distinction. The fact that much (most?) of America’s military recruits come from the South is a pretty decent indicator that love of country and distinct national identity are not mutually exclusive.

    (Ditto for Quebec’s French-speaking military regiments. Even the late René Levesque, founder of the separatist Parti Québecois, fought for King and Country in World War II, while the nominally “loyal” Pierre Trudeau (allegedly) spent those years wearing a German WWI helmet while riding his motorcycle around Montreal.)

    • #34
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The Men of the South are some of the most patriotic men I have ever met.

    I have never heard anyone want the Confederacy to return. When they complain, it is as Americans.

    • #35
  6. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    Wrong concept of state, I think. I agree with you if the concept of the state is one prior to the people. However, not if the state gets its legitimacy from the people.

    The second meaning is better. Unfortunately, it was sullied …….

    How?

    • #36
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I became interested in the American Civil War nearly 30 years ago. I have read hundreds of books about it from all sides of the issues. There is no question that there was an element in the South that wanted war for the preservation of that peculiar institution, but certainly not all. I think it was in Shelby Foote’s Civil War narrative that I read about the discouse between a Yankee soldier and Confederate soldier. The Yank asked the Reb why he was fighting. The Reb replied, “It is because you are down here.”

    I think for many in the south there was a simple issue of how they perceived themselves, residents of their particular state or residents of the United States.  Most felt that their allegiance was first to their native state.  Robert E. Lee resigned his commission from the US Army because he did not want to fight against his home, not in defense of slavery or any of the other issues.

    As I watch this country more and more fall in thrall of the federal government, a government largely populated by people whose views I am opposed to, it isn’t hard to sympathize with many of the young southern boys who fought in the Confederate States army. They were far more patriotic than the vast majority of present day Americans, particularly those who would burn the Confederate battle flag.

    • #37
  8. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If you want to see what happens to a people not allowed to move beyond a shameful history, read the chapters on Germany in Claire’s Menace In Europe.

    Misthiocracy nails it. Modern Southerners are both fiercely Southern and fiercely American. As I said in my own thread:
    Even if everything the Confederacy stood for was evil, equating the South with the Confederacy is like equating Germany with Nazis. Germany too was an amalgum of distinct communities unified by political interests. But German culture is more than that abysmal episode. If the EU entirely abrogated Germany’s sovereignty, it would still be callous and insulting to tell a Bavarian to stop calling himself German.

    I don’t object to Confederate symbols being removed from government buildings. But don’t denigrate Southern pride.

    Unlike many here, I have no record of my ancestors before the 20th century. I am proud because of what the South is today, rather than in defense of distant ancestry.

    Honesty does indeed demand, however, that to accept pride in our ancestors we must also accept their shame.

    • #38
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    By an amazing coincidence, this 2003 speech by Preston Manning (the godfather of modern Canuckistani conservatism), an attempt to humourously explain the Great White North to our cousins in the Great Green South, just showed up in my Facebook feed.

    Here’s a little wit and wisdom about national unity and political division:

    It is quintessentially Canadian to use negative terms to express positive feelings and aspirations. In fact, we even do this in our original Constitution, the British North America Act of 1967.

    The first substantive section is labelled “Union.” But having proclaimed the positive desire to unite, our Constitution immediately declares that “Canada shall be divided into provinces.” In particular the United Province of Canada shall be divided into two separate provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

    Here we have the genius of Canadian federalism – pursuing unity through division – the positive through the negative. We deliberately divide ourselves so as to make unity a priority concern and preoccupation.

    You may think that separatist sentiment is confined to Quebec. But polling data shows that Vancouver Island wishes to separate from British Columbia; that Northern Alberta wishes to separate from Southern Alberta; that rural Manitoba wishes to separate from Winnipeg; that Newfoundland would like to separate from Atlantic Canada; and that the rest of Canada would all like to separate from Toronto.

    Quebec of course is indifferent to separatism, now that most of the country has embraced it.

    But obviously, if all these separatists would get together, they could unite this country!

    • #39
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Cont…

    The relevance of that speech, and the Canuckistani experience in general, to the discussion at hand about the American South, is that the shared experience of enduring the perennial divide-and-conquer tactics of Washington D.C. (not to mention California) should be what unites all Americans, regardless of the side of the Mason-Dixon line on which they plant their boots.

    In Canuckistan it’s not merely culturally acceptable, but culturally encouraged, to be suspicious, cynical, and critical of the federal government. Distrust of Ottawa is what binds us together. Even political partisans who work in Ottawa get a little antsy if one is too loyal to The Party.

    In the US, a similar level of suspicion about Washington D.C. and partisan politics is too often denounced as being akin to treason. The line between “nation” and “country” is far more blurry in the American popular consciousness.

    • #40
  11. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    I made a frivolous remark on another post to play the devil’s advocate. Am I missing something by noticing that I can’t remember this Southern pride being expressed by persons of color? I’m not trying to shut down discussion on this topic. I want to understand more about what justifies pride in having an identity as a Southerner. To be sure, based on my own life experience and interactions with Ricochetti who hail originally from the South, I can add my own points that have not been made here. But I think that it is possible this could be taken negatively.

    • #41
  12. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    The Confederates were evil. Their children are evil and tainted. Why? Well because they lost the war, and victors write, interpret history. If it was not the issue of slavery that makes them evil it would be something else. The South was beaten, it’s sin is that some of its people do not know their place so every few years something like this must be manufactured so the North can shove the South’s face in it till they feel shame and to take away a little more of what cultural pride they have left. it is sad to watch the Souths own people take up the North’s liberal narrative out of some odd guilt of being the children of the defeated. I guess that some day the cultural cleansing will cease after everything that made the south a great, distinct, unique people is finally wiped from the culture, but then I guess they will not be great anymore and will not know they were.

    • #42
  13. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    It is such an idiotic fight. Why does everyone care so much about some symbol. The fact people are spending more time fighting and talking about a symbol I could care less about either way than 9 dead people who did not deserve to die is so juvenile. It is Faux outrage  when public discordance gets more bent out of shape over some inanimate object than over the mass murder of fellow human beings.

    • #43
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Real Jane Galt: The Confederates were evil. Their children are evil and tainted. Why? Well because they lost the war, and victors write, interpret history.

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    The victors can still write the history without demonizing the descendants of the vanquished.

    It’s not like England demonizes the Britons for being conquered by the Romans, or the Romans for being supplanted by the Saxons, or the Saxons for being supplanted by the Normans, etc, etc, etc.*

    Instead, in modern Britain it is the supposed victors (i.e. the English) who are arguably the most demonized.

    I don’t believe those who demonize the South think of its inhabitants as a conquered people. It’s more likely they demonize the South because (sorta like Germany after WWI or Iraq after 1991) they think it wasn’t conquered enough.

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    (*This may be one of the benefits of monarchy. Conquerors might tend to understand that their quarrel is with the Crown, not the people. Islamist terrorists often state that democracy justifies the targeting of civilians.)

    • #44
  15. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    I have observed that many people from the old Southern states take more pride in their letters.

    • #45
  16. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Ray Kujawa:I made a frivolous remark on another post to play the devil’s advocate. Am I missing something by noticing that I can’t remember this Southern pride being expressed by persons of color? I’m not trying to shut down discussion on this topic. I want to understand more about what justifies pride in having an identity as a Southerner. To be sure, based on my own life experience and interactions with Ricochetti who hail originally from the South, I can add my own points that have not been made here. But I think that it is possible this could be taken negatively.

    I too have never had the opportunity to visit the South in person, but from my (very inadequate) education by American television, it seems to me that African-American culture in the South, particularly in the rural South, tends to be very different, and more robust, than African-American culture in other parts of the country. Though they may not label it such, could that not be be akin to a “Southern Pride of Color”.

    (In my tv-addled mind I’m thinking of the barbecue-loving, small-business-and-farm-owning black community from Justified.)

    • #46
  17. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Misthiocracy:

    Ray Kujawa:I too have never had the opportunity to visit the South in person, but from my (very inadequate) education by American television, it seems to me that African-American culture in the South, particularly in the rural South, tends to be very different, and more robust, than African-American culture in other parts of the country. Though they may not label it such, could that not be be akin to a “Southern Pride of Color”.

    (In my tv-addled mind I’m thinking of the barbecue-loving, small-business-and-farm-owning black community from Justified.)

    One of the major demographic trends in the U.S. is the migration of blacks from the North to the South reversing the Great Migration of the first half of the 20th century.

    • #47
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Southern humor may be the most important aspect of the culture. It is often quiet, gentle, and self-deprecating. As an example, from Ferrol Sams’ Run with the Horsemen, the protagonist of the book has just done something crazy and destructive, and his father is heard to say, “He’s a good boy. He minds well. I just can’t think of enough things to tell him not to do.” If we have to discard our sense of humor about being Southerners and, perhaps, our Southern conception of honor, the world will not be a better place.

    • #48
  19. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Arahant:Southern humor may be the most important aspect of the culture. It is often quiet, gentle, and self-deprecating. As an example, from Ferrol Sams’ Run with the Horsemen, the protagonist of the book has just done something crazy and destructive, and his father is heard to say, “He’s a good boy. He minds well. I just can’t think of enough things to tell him not to do.” If we have to discard our sense of humor about being Southerners and, perhaps, our Southern conception of honor, the world will not be a better place.

    I’m a Northeast guy by birth and have lived here most of my life.  Hadn’t spent much time in the South before I was 30 but then began frequently traveling there on business and now on pleasure since my retirement.  I noticed pretty quickly that Southerners poked fun at themselves a lot more than Northerners and thought that was a pretty good trait.

    • #49
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mark:

    Arahant:Southern humor may be the most important aspect of the culture. It is often quiet, gentle, and self-deprecating. As an example, from Ferrol Sams’ Run with the Horsemen, the protagonist of the book has just done something crazy and destructive, and his father is heard to say, “He’s a good boy. He minds well. I just can’t think of enough things to tell him not to do.” If we have to discard our sense of humor about being Southerners and, perhaps, our Southern conception of honor, the world will not be a better place.

    I’m a Northeast guy by birth and have lived here most of my life. Hadn’t spent much time in the South before I was 30 but then began frequently traveling there on business and now on pleasure since my retirement. I noticed pretty quickly that Southerners poked fun at themselves a lot more than Northerners and thought that was a pretty good trait.

    It was said by someone of Shakespeare that he was the first (or at least one of the first), who laughed with people rather than just at them. Maybe it comes in both cases of being in humbled and sometimes dangerous circumstances. Some say Shakespeare was a closet Roman Catholic in a country where that could limit one’s prospects and lifespan. With Southerners, there was the war and then there were Southern women to keep us in line, bless their hearts.

    • #50
  21. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Denmark Vesey Jr.: The conservative writer Rod Dreher has written about the gay marriage issue, that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has forced us to make a choice: We can either be good Americans, or we can be good Christians. Dylann Roof has forced us in the South to make a choice, too. We can accept the responsibility for our shame, or we can deny it. The survivors of his victims, who faced him and forgave him on Friday, have shown us the power of grace. May God forgive us, as a people, for creating Dylann Roofs.

    I accept no responsibility for the crimes of either Dylann Roof or of centuries old dead men whose only connection to me is skin color.

    • #51
  22. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Aaron Miller:

    Unlike many here, I have no record of my ancestors before the 20th century.

    Believe me I know the feeling.

    • #52
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Umbra Fractus:I accept no responsibility for the crimes of either Dylann Roof or of centuries old dead men whose only connection to me is skin color.

    I’m not even accepting the blame or responsibility for them where they are my direct ancestors. My father is a good man, but imperfect. He taught many many good lessons, some through his own misbehavior. But, don’t point at me for his misbehavior. I misbehave enough on my own in other ways. Feel free to call me on those. But what my father does or my grandfathers did or my great-great-grandfathers did is none of my business. There is a heritage passed down, but when we pass down the heritage, we don’t highlight the misbehavior. We hold up the good and acknowledge the imperfections of man. Yes, there is often hypocrisy in the world. We say we value certain things and do the opposite. This isn’t because we’re lying, but because we’re only human. That is not exclusive to Southrons.

    • #53
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Oh, and I should say that like Amy, all of my ancestors were here before the War of Northern Aggression. I don’t often admit it, but two of my great-great-grandfathers were immigrants to central Illinois who didn’t know any better than to fight for the tyrant. One was from Germany and the other from Ireland. But all the rest of my ancestral lines were Southerners of families that had been here before and fought in the Revolution. My patriline was in Virginia before the Lees.

    • #54
  25. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    What galls me is that whatever racist history is contained in the Confederate flag, that same exact racist history is contained in the Democratic Party.  They’re not just analogous.  They are the same.  It would be like shunning the Nazi swastika but embracing the Nazi party.

    I have pet theory that pretty much everything that was bad about the South was caused by Democrats.  The South used to be more racist and much poorer than it is today.  The decline in racism and poverty coincided with Democrats losing their hold on power in the South.  Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but I don’t think that is a coincidence.

    • #55
  26. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    Ray Kujawa:I made a frivolous remark on another post to play the devil’s advocate. Am I missing something by noticing that I can’t remember this Southern pride being expressed by persons of color? I’m not trying to shut down discussion on this topic. I want to understand more about what justifies pride in having an identity as a Southerner. To be sure, based on my own life experience and interactions with Ricochetti who hail originally from the South, I can add my own points that have not been made here. But I think that it is possible this could be taken negatively.

    I actually have a friend from Church who is black.  She posted on Facebook a joke meme about Southern women (which I believe she is identifying herself as).  So, I think she is proud of being Southern.

    My wife and I have a black friend who bought us a painting of a black woman in a field holding a watermelon.  The painting was painted by a black artist, and titled “A Southern Tradition.”  I knew lots of “casual bigots” growing up in Cincinnati, so I was aware of the watermelon stereotype.  I was quietly nervous about owning and displaying the painting, but our friend who bought the painting for us and the artist that painted it obviously were fine with it.

    I have no idea how watermelon became a racial stereotype.  What person of any race doesn’t like watermelon?

    • #56
  27. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    Having grown up in the North, and now living in the South, it sure seems like whites and blacks get along together better here than in the North.  Whites and blacks are more likely to be friends in the South, it seems to me.

    If I didn’t know any history, and I was told that in the 19th century that one side of the Mason Dixon line broke from the other side so that they could keep blacks as slaves, I would have thought the slave holding side would be the North.

    I’ve heard some people say that prejudice takes different forms in the North and the South.  I wonder if somehow the Southern form of racism was an easier form to break.  Perhaps because Southern racism was enforced by law, when those laws were changed, the racism receded naturally.  Northern racism consists mostly of white people personally not liking black people, so there’s no legislative solution to it.  This is just wild speculation.  The South is a mystery to me.

    • #57
  28. user_966256 Member
    user_966256
    @BobThompson

    Michael Sanregret: I have pet theory that pretty much everything that was bad about the South was caused by Democrats.  The South used to be more racist and much poorer than it is today.  The decline in racism and poverty coincided with Democrats losing their hold on power in the South.  Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but I don’t think that is a coincidence.

    I think this is correct. Also, I think the fact that the remembrance by southern descendants of ancestors who fought to defend shameful ideals and ultimately lost an armed conflict exists and is honored without any sense of being victims themselves is so antithetical to the precepts of the Left and the Democrat Party and, in some sense, is intolerable.

    My gg grandfather joined with the Madison County Greys (Georgia) in July, 1861 and died at Yorktown during the Peninsular Campaign in early 1862. Also losing their lives in the campaign was one brother of his, two first cousins, and two second cousins. I have nothing to inform me of the specific beliefs of any of these ancestral relatives and no reason I know of to dishonor them.

    • #58
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    It’s easier to hate something you don’t know. Many Yankees didn’t grow up around blacks at all. They were segregated out in their own neighborhoods if there were any in town at all. In the South, white people dealt with blacks all the time. Who was taking care of the babies? Who was cooking meals? Who was cleaning the house? Who was painting and repairing the house when it was needed? In the case of upper-class whites, the answer was black people. My mother’s father was an executive for the railroad in Georgia. He could afford domestic help for his wife. My mother grew up with a black person in the home. But, they were dealing with the lower echelons of working poor. They weren’t the ones dealing with the rich black businessmen who served the black community.

    Now, they say familiarity breeds contempt, but I would submit that is much better than unfamiliarity, which breeds fear of the unknown. To a Northerner, who never saw a black except on TV or at the movies, the thought on seeing a black man is, that black person is here to kill me and rape my daughters. To a Southerner, it may be, “Does LaRon look like he’s been drinkin’ again? Can he manage to wield his paintbrush today?” So, yeah, it is two different flavors of prejudice. One born of facing the unknown. The other is born of experience.

    • #59
  30. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Michael Sanregret: I have no idea how watermelon became a racial stereotype.

    Watermelon was associated with poor and/or enslaved people long before American slavery.  The Book of Numbers mentions that the Israelites ate melon (probably muskmelon and watermelon) while in bondage in Egypt.

    According to an article in The Atlantic:

    In the early modern European imagination, the typical watermelon-eater was an Italian or Arab peasant. The watermelon, noted a British officer stationed in Egypt in 1801, was “a poor Arab’s feast,” a meager substitute for a proper meal. In the port city of Rosetta he saw the locals eating watermelons “ravenously … as if afraid the passer-by was going to snatch them away,” and watermelon rinds littered the streets. There, the fruit symbolized many of the same qualities as it would in post-emancipation America: uncleanliness, because eating watermelon is so messy. Laziness, because growing watermelons is so easy, and it’s hard to eat watermelon and keep working—it’s a fruit you have to sit down and eat. Childishness, because watermelons are sweet, colorful, and devoid of much nutritional value. And unwanted public presence, because it’s hard to eat a watermelon by yourself.  These tropes made their way to America, but the watermelon did not yet have a racial meaning. Americans were just as likely to associate the watermelon with white Kentucky hillbillies or New Hampshire yokels as with black South Carolina slaves.

    • #60
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.