Free Speech – 01/12/11

Goodbye to the South

My friends are sure I am crazy, but of course I don’t think so when I say the North should secede from the South.

The South has never forgiven us for abolishing slavery and winning the “War Between the States,” as Southerners call it. South Carolina, which started the whole secession thing in 1860, celebrates secession this month complete with rebel uniforms and Confederate flags. Slavery is not mentioned.

The North has a detached way of not noticing that Southerners make the most noise in national politics. Southerners have led the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate since the Civil War. Several made it to the Presidency. Mason-Dixon border politicians lead Senate Republicans today. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour can’t open his mouth without betraying his old Southern racism and admiration for Good Ol’ Boys City Councils, which led the anti-civil rights fights.

I thought better of presidents Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson than most, but both were crucified by Southern haters. Carter exuded distrust of the Eastern press and Johnson retired partly because of southern militarist opposition to quitting Vietnam. Clinton had problems with his Southern “friends” who thought him too liberated and Gore failed to carry his home state of Tennessee in 2000 because he was not “Southern” enough. It seems clear than if the South cannot send a president who is pure enough, states rights enough, racist enough, or conservative enough, they just don’t want him leading the nation.

It’s true that Northerners are cocky because, after all, they did win the Civil War, and cockiness breeds resentment which may explain, partly, why Southerners retreat to their romantic myths of a comfortable Old South. Young scholars today are publishing books recalling Southern determination to create a literature defining the virtues of the Southern way of life. Not mentioning slavery, of course.

Today, 146 years after the war to preserve the nation, the progressive and cocky North tends to be over-confident that the South will eventually come around, becoming more like us. Southern states will develop individual personalities like Northern states and stop marching in rebellious lockstep on issues important to all of us. It will never happen.

Of course, referring to the lasting divisions between our Northern and Southern cultures, I have no idea what made George W. Bush and friends imagine that they could reconcile such divergent cultures as Texas America and Baghdad Islam.

It will never happen.

Paul R. Cooper

Yellow Springs, Ohio

3 Responses to “Free Speech – 01/12/11” Subscribe