Southern Culture Under Siege
by Ivy J. Sellers
In his new book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the South (and Why It
Will Rise Again)," Florida native Clint Johnson exposes the Left’s aggressive
attempts to destroy the culture and heritage that make up the southern states.
What liberals don’t realize is that the South is the essence of what makes America
unique and original — everything from rock and roll to barbeque to NASCAR —
can trace its origins back to the South.
In an interview with HUMAN EVENTS News Producer Ivy Sellers last week Johnson
explained the South’s impact on Americans everywhere and the reason why he believes
it must — and will — rise again.
First off, how did you become an expert on the South and why are you so passionate
about preserving its culture?
I don’t hold myself out to be an “expert”. I’m just
a southerner who was motivated to love history. I can remember when my 4th grade
teacher told an exciting story about a battle where a militia of old men and
young boys repelled a Yankee invasion. I identified with those young boys who
were defending their homes. My family has lived in the same area for more than
300 years, and I still feel compelled to defend a cultural history that predates
the nation itself.
In what ways is the South under attack? And why do you think that is?
The South is under attack because it is the last region of the nation to resist
being homogenized into an amorphous mass of people who think alike, sound alike,
vote alike, buy alike. Nothing angers politicians, marketers, pollsters, and
the politically correct crowd more than a group of people who absolutely refuse
to get into line.
While the South has always been rebellious, these days it’s become a cultural
battlefield where the whole concept of southern history is under attack. Displaying
the Confederate battle flag, preserving Confederate statues on public and private
property, even singing the song Dixie are under fire as "divisive,"
"racist," "hate-filled," "bigoted," and every
other PC description imaginable. The University of the South at Sewanee, founded
by former Confederates, is even de-emphasizing the word "South" in
the university’s name because marketing "experts" told the administration
that the word "South" has racist connotations.
Can you give us a sample of the "politically correct myths" your
book claims to dispel?
The number one myth that the book exposes is that the South is not steeped
in racism. The South has many multi-cultural firsts, including the first two
Jewish U.S. senators (who both served in the Confederacy.) Virginia elected
a black governor 20 years before any northern state did. Today we have more
black elected officials than any other region. Despite what Hollywood and the
East Coast’s liberal elite want you to think, Southerners are the first
to say that slavery was a moral evil.
Slavery is perceived to be exclusive of the South, but slavery was spread through
all 13 colonies and beyond. Most slaves came to America on northern slave ships
and even decades after importing slaves had been made illegal by Congress, one
of the largest and most profitable industries in New York City was outfitting
slave ships. Even the impending war between the North and the South did little
to slow the slavers operating out of New York City.
What makes the southern culture a unique part of American culture today? Why
should it be preserved?
Southerners have generally been here much longer than residents of any other
region, so they have a deeper sense of place than most northerners whose families
came through Ellis Island from 1890-1920 and fanned out across the country.
Southern culture is one where you know and help your neighbors and take care
of your family without asking the government to do it for you. It’s still
a place where people believe in friendliness and good manners. Southerners still
believe in God and his role in their lives.
In your opinion, what is it that unites Southerners other than their accents?
Southerners have more in common with each other than we have with natives of
other regions. What unites us is a common sense of place — an understanding
that the soil under our feet was cultivated by our ancestors and kept strong
by our heritage. Southerners will still do anything to help a friend. Southerners
have no pretenses about themselves, we don’t "put on airs." And there
is no more broad dividing line than grits, sweet tea and barbecue.
In your book you mention that the South provides more military recruits than
any other region. Has it always been that way? And why do you think that is?
Even today, the South supplies more soldiers than any other region. Patriotism
in the South coupled with family pride has always translated into a willingness
to protect your home.
That truth still aggravates those who say The War for Southern Independence
was all about slavery. Only a tiny fraction of Confederate soldiers owned slaves.
They had no reason to fight for the large slave-holding land owners who did,
but they had every reason to fight to keep the North from invading the South.
During the War of 1898, Southerners believed Spain was attacking American interests
and put aside their differences with the North which they believed had sentenced
them to Reconstruction. Southerners joined the army in huge numbers. They fought
again in large numbers during World War I and World War II. In fact, the book
shows how every major officer in both theaters of World War II was either a
southerner or had deep ties to the South. The world could not have overcome
World War II without the descendents of Confederates who made just about every
major strategic and tactical decision during the entire conflict.
What is it that concerned Americans can do to ensure that the South “rise
If you are “not from around here,” come on down South and see for
yourself. The South is not the dark, dangerous, uneducated, backwards place
that the Northern press and blockbuster movies make it out to be. Not only is
the South the nation’s cultural center, but it is the friendliest place
to live too. That’s one of the main reasons its population is growing
and its economy is booming.
If you are from the South, fight the myths and fight the politically correct
crowd who wants to destroy the memory of the Old South and make your region
into something that it is not and never has been. Southern history and Confederate
history is something that should be studied not erased. People in the South
are fiercely proud of where they come from. Obliterating southern history means
we lose the lessons we learned from its triumphs, and failures.
Copyright © 2007 HUMAN EVENTS
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