The Widdershins

Remain Calm! All Is Well!!!: So, This Is It???

Posted on: August 16, 2012

I have been more or less on the couch nursing my sinuses for the past few weeks.  While the infection seems to be under control, the pressure and generalized ickiness remain.  I have had a lot of time to read, since I’m accomplishing little else, and one of the books I’ve just finished is a real humdinger. Better Off Without ‘Em:  A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession  was written by Chuck Thompson, who usually is a travel writer, and is based upon his travels throughout the South.

Now I have heard everything.  I have basically spent my entire life in the South, except for visits to my father’s family in New England, a two-year period of time during which my father was assigned to a military base in Pennsylvania, three years in California after my first marriage to a naval officer during Vietnam, and a chillingly memorable year spent in Ann Arbor while my first husband got his Master’s degree, and two years in Saudi Arabia.   Therefore, I have spent approximately 56 years in the South, which should qualify me as something of an expert.  During those 56 years, I have heard many, many Southerners speak of wishing to leave the Union, but this is the first time that I ever heard a Yankee come straight out and say that he agrees with them.

Salon has published an AlterNet interview with the author. in which he explains his rationale.   Clearly, the nation fought a brutal war that killed over half a million men, and left much of the South in ruins for generations.  When I was a young child, my great-grandmother, who was a small child during the War, was still alive.  She had some pretty vivid memories of both the War years and those of Reconstruction and had no difficulty in sharing them with her great-grandchildren.  Many towns in Georgia (including Atlanta) still have the firemarks from Sherman’s march, and have no intentions of ever removing them.   Many other towns have monuments to the Confederate dead, and in some instances the name of every young man who marched out and never came back.  Suffice to say that some of these towns, particularly in Georgia and the Carolinas, are in no rush to forgive and forget, and I’m quite certain that the North isn’t in any bigger rush to foster understanding.   Also remember that there was no Marshall plan for the South – it took almost a century for us to recover.  Mr. Thompson would remind us that Southern (de jure) segregation ended with the assistance of federal troops, while he appears to have forgotten that Governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts had their hands full while ending Northern (de facto) segregation.  This is unsurprising, as a review of my granddaughter’s American history book devotes a chapter to the former and fails to mention the latter.  Omissions like this can annoy even the most liberal of Southerners, such as myself.

The Salon piece lays part of the blame for this chilly relationship squarely at the feet of the Northern media:

Chuck Thompson: I am being serious. I understand that the meta arguments here that call for secession can be received as somewhat absurd in some corners. I acknowledge that it is probably a remote possibility. Within the framework of that argument I think there is a lot of room to highlight a lot of these problems and a lot of these frustrations that you refer to. One of the goals of this book really was to more or less articulate — to put some facts, figures and research behind — a lot of this frustration of Northern and Southern liberals, of which there are many. I encountered many Southern liberals while conducting my research.

There’s this seething frustration people have. There’s this kneejerk reaction to blame the South. The sort of Northern media strafing of the South for a lot of the nation’s ills is a longstanding tradition. What I wanted to do was to get away from the traditional stereotypes of the dim-witted, mouth-breathing, Southern racist redneck and really look at what’s going on today. Find out why people are still having these issues with the South, and put some hard research and some facts and figures behind this general unease with the influence that the South has on the rest of the country.

I agree, that is pretty annoying.  Bill Clinton once said that the presence of a Southern accent automatically deducts 100 points from your IQ.  A redneck is a native Southerner, and that’s a term of endearment where I am from.  I don;’t personally know anyone who lives in a trailer, yet they appear to be the only people ever interviewed on national television by the Yankee media.  Apparently the rest of us are just not particularly interesting.  I honestly don’t think that I am a racist, and I grow bored with having to explain that as well.

The South is über-religious.  There are many Evangelicals, many Pentecostals, and also many mainstream Protestants, Catholics, and Jews as well.  The town where I grew up had some snake-handling churches, but those are for the most part  isolated to mountainous areas.  The rest of us have pretty much managed to find the Lord sans serpents, and our religious services are likely the same as anywhere else in the nation.  In fact, I would bet that we now have more in common politically and religiously with the Midwest and some of those square states out west than the Northern states do, and here is where I beg to differ with Mr. Thompson.

The book views the South as the states  that seceded,  but feels that Texas should stay with the Northern states for the sake of the economy.  Seriously?  After Governor Perry suggested secession during his political campaign to wild cheers and applause, does Mr. Thompson really believe that Texas would wave bye-bye to ol’ Dixie and join the North for the sake of the Yankee economy?  Therein, sir, lies the rub.  The South lost the War  because the North was the manufacturing center of the nation.  I would gently suggest that this is no longer the case, and what pitifully little manufacturing occurs here is more likely to be found in the South these days.  I also dispute that the food-growing states of the Midwest would lash up with the new Northern states, as they are more philosophically attuned to the South these days.  Also, most military bases are located in the South, and I would be willing to bet than a large number of active duty military personnel  come from the South.  Should Mr. Thompson’s theory actually move forward, there could be some unanticipated blowback.  Not to mention that this time around, there is actually something in the Constitution that prohibits secession.

Both Mr. Thompson and the AlterNet moderator were gracious toward the people of the South, and I do thank them for that.  We do enjoy music, barbecue, and good company.  We are passionate about families, friends, and football.  We do tend to be polite.  And, they are correct in their assumption that many Southerners speak of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with the same loathing that Northerners employ when discussing Jeff Sessions and Haley Barbour.  I honestly don’t know what the solution might be, and I’m not certain that a divorce is the answer when you consider how screamingly ugly division of assets might become.  Perhaps some extended couples counseling in order to attain mutual respect might just be in order.

When I was in school, high school and college bands unapologetically played “Dixie”. It was played right after the National Anthem, and we remained standing. We did not attend school on General Lee’s birthday.  We recited the Pledge to the Confederate Flag right after the Pledge of Allegiance.  It was the old South, and I guess if we secede, I’ll at least know the drill when it starts up again.  Now, I may have to philosophically become a citizen of the North, but I promise that I will promptly expatriate right back home.  It’s just  too damned cold up there, you can’t find a decent Red Velvet cake,football just isn’t the same. and y’all talk kind of  funny.  No offense intended, of course –   oh, and bless your hearts.

If at first you don’t secede………

This is an open thread.


23 Responses to "Remain Calm! All Is Well!!!: So, This Is It???"

Quick remark only at this time: “Twas my grandmother, not great-gran, who recalled the Civil War. And I was in grammar school when MY war started. That war made us Americans, not just southerners. End of remark….

We are always Americans and patriotic Americans at that. We are Southerners as New Englanders are New Englanders, and New Yorkers are New Yorkers, with our own folkways, norms, and mores. You need only listen to the post 09/11 country music to check out our patriotism.

did not intend to question your patriotism–but WWII made it impossible for me to think about seceding. Of course, my family is from the part of the south that was occupied by the rebels!

Believe me, I am not suggesting secession, My father was a Sergeant Major in the Army, so I grew up on military bases basically in Georgia and the Carolinas. The post was stimulated by a book suggesting that secession would be a great thing as per the Yankees, which strilkes me as somewhat shortsighted, considering that the South has many things that the nation might just need.

I can only speak for myself but I think we do think differently when it comes to living in different regions of the nation.

Up here in New England there is less emphasis on religion than in the south. MA was the first state to pass the same sex marriage law and it did so without much pushback as has been seen in the southern states.

We have also elected black governors and thrown in a few Republican governors as well from a state that considered “liberal” by many. We are also a home to thriving gay communities as evidenced by the city of Northampton and Provincetown. It’s no big deal up here.

The Underground Railroad was a large part of the Boston community for years and a haven to freed slaves.

With the exception of a few large cities, New England is really made up of small towns where its citizens take an active role in governing and though I am not suggesting that race is not a factor, it seems to be less visible in the public arena.

I think this may be why some of us are often puzzled at the tactics and language that has been forthcoming from those states that seem to go out of their way to maintain the need to be armed as a way of life, or who use the bible to support their beliefs.

It doesn’t have the same resonance up here as it does down South.

No, it doesn’t, and my father (who was from Andover, Mass) was frequently puzzled. That said, I found that my New England grandparents were no less prejudiced than my Southern grandparents, and actually included their lack of tolerence to other ethnic groups. They never really got over my father marrying an Irish Catholic from the South, although they were wonderful to me.
During the dark years of Reconstruction and its aftermath, many Southerners needed to shoot in order to eat. In many parts of the South, that is still true today. My son-in-law, who grew up in Benoit, Mississippi will tell you that some years were great, and others they ate because they hun ted and fished.
The South is actually small towns and willages that are self-governed as well, so that is a point of similarity.
As far as slavery goes, Massachusetts was early to the abolitionist cause, but records show that most did not free their slaves, but rather sold them South – go figure.

I am not suggesting that we are any more “pure” up here than anybody else. That is not the case

I am suggesting that our focus is different.

You don’t see a push to include “Creationism” into the student curriculum. You don’t hear pols angling for “concealed weapon” laws. You won’t hear political wannabes up here claiming that the bible trumps the Constitution.

These positions would not be welcomed within the Commonwealth.

Until recently, Creationism had not been a factor down here since the Scopes trial. And thanks for explaining.


Pat said: We are also a home to thriving gay communities as evidenced by the city of Northampton and Provincetown. It’s no big deal up here.

You haven’t seen South Beach or Ft. Lauderdale. Hell I was at South Beach before it *was* South Beach a a gay mecca.

And of course in nola, there’s the 1/4.

And fwiw, I think the thing is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. From the article: You’re known as a comedic travel writer

And bottom line: we’re not going anywhere. But if we do, I don’t think Texas would take too kindly to being aligned with our Northern cousins. 😆

These positions would not be welcomed within the Commonwealth.

However did Mittens survive as governor? 😉

Awww…this is sweet: Lil Bobby is going to get to speak to the convention.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal has been given a speaking slot at Republicans’ national convention later this month.

The Republican National Committee announced Jindal, once considered a possible vice presidential contender, on a list of six speakers unveiled Thursday. The list included others passed over for the running mate job, like Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

The convention will be held Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.

Earlier announced for the choice keynote speech was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the convention.

Add him to your list Pat of the nuts and oddballs at the convention.

@11: ‘Twas in a different incarnation.
@12: So the convention speakers are the also rans?

chat: consolation prize for them

Apparently so.

That tends to be problematic with Repyblican campaigns. Remember how ticked Bruce Springstein was with Reagan over “Born in the USA”? Then there was McCain and “Barracuda”.

@17: Oh that’s right!! I wonder if they ever bother to get copyright or other permissions before they just start piping the stuff over the speakers at their rallies?

totally off topic…I love Julia sorry this is a day lat and a truffle short!

fuzzy@21: from the article:

Her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, is on her birth certificate, and she didn’t have her marriage license

I think Chat had something like this come up. Not sure if it was with voting or getting her drivers license or what. Still it’s totally ridiculous. Of course the woman had her maiden name on her b.c.! DOH!

@22: Oh, exactly. I had to legally change my name to First name-maiden name-married name in order to renew my license because Florida insists that my legal name waas first-middle-married, unlike any other state in which I had ever lived.

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