16 June 2008

Hating Dixie

Over 10 years ago, Florence King wrote the following in a National Review piece. These words are more relevant today than ever:

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"Analysts are scared to death of Southerners," wrote Mississippi novelist Willie Morris. It's hard to have a fruitful session with someone who feels no need to explain himself. Why do you feel that way? "I just do." Why is it so important to you? "It just is." Why are you so angry? "I just am."

Often mistaken for stupidity, these responses reflect a granite sense of self powered by a value-control center of pre-set codes guaranteed to threaten the kind of people who attend alienation conferences.

"The Gothic Mall: Conflict and Duality in the New South" is the kind of topic Southern writers are invited to tackle in panel discussions. A whiff of attraction - repulsion always hangs over these gatherings, emerging full-force in the question period when a Yankee graduate student asks, "Are you presently tormented by anything, and if so, what?"

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I'm sure King's words irritate the Che Guevara wing of academia.

4 comments:

Stephen Boyd said...

Very interesting! Especially that part about Mrs. Davis's funeral procession being the first woman's to be escorted by the "yanks".

Btw, are you a descendant of King Robert the Bruce? I recently read, and enjoyed, your article on Robert Bruce and Robert Lee, from an old issue of Quite Ye Like Men.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Stephen. Yes, I am, but I'm not sure of the exact lineage. My great aunt who is in her 90's has all of that side of my family's genealogy and I saw the reference in her notes some time ago.

Dan Morrow said...

Personally, I've never met a Southerner who "feels no need to explain himself."

If William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Katherine Anne Porter, Allen Tate, Thomas Wolfe, and Robert Penn Warren represent the best of those driven to "explain" us . . . Florence King's whining diatribe is a classic example of the worst.

Particularly offensive . . . and there's much that's offensive here . . . is the "adaptation" of Martin Niemöller's poem about the silence of Germany's intellectuals in the face of the rising tide of the Holocaust.

Do we REALLY think the admission of women to the Citadel and VMI is comparable to . . . shall we say the imposition of the Nuremberg Laws? The banning of political parties? Slave labor. Mass murder?

Mr. Lee would hang his head in shame.

Do we so doubt the manhood and honor of our ancestors that we're driven to defend the morally and intellectually indefensible?

As a Southerner, whose relatives fought beside Lee, on every battlefield of the Army of Northern Virginia, I, for one, will do my best to reject and condemn all such mindless "lost cause" posturing.

This is neither heritage nor history. It's mindless. And unnecessary. And destructive. And a disgrace to all that was best about the old South . . . and all that's good about the new.

We're supposed to be better than this. No? More sensitive because more seasoned. More able to to appreciate the best in men, because we've known both the best and the worst.

Good Lord.

Dan Morrow
Middleburg

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Dan! Thanks for writing. Oh I've met plenty. Not that Southerners don't sometimes explain themselves, its just that many of us don't feel the NEED to because some self-righteous elitist doesn't like (fill in the blank) about our culture and thinks we're all inbred hillbillies full of hate and moonshine. Of course, that kind of stereotyping is ok in the politically correct world in which we live.

While I believe King could have expressed her views with less drama, I think you miss her broader point of the trend she was seeing 10 years ago and what she had seen over her lifetime. That trend has only accelerated.

And regarding her reference to Niemöller's poem, the reference to Nazi Germany is being made almost daily by those who oppose any celebration of Southern heritage. Even Virginia's Democratic Senator James Webb has written about it. The following is a quote from his book, "Born Fighting"

"The greatest disservice on this count has been the attempt by these revisionist politicians and academics to defame the entire Confederate Army in a move that can only be termed the Nazification of the Confederacy."

That is happening far more frequently than King's one reference and it is far more offensive than King's reference. I believe its quite a stretch to say she was comparing the attack on Southern heritage to the Holocaust. She was speaking metaphorically. It is NOT a stretch, however, to say that is exactly what many on the left are doing when comparing the Confederacy to Nazi Germany. That comparison demonizes our ancestors and trivializes the horror of the Holocaust. It is intellectual dishonesty at its worst.

That all being said, there are some passages in the piece that I don't care for either; but she wrote this piece for the National Review, hardly a "lost cause" journal.

Thank you for the lively comment, nonetheless. By the way, how goes the research on Blackburn?