Monday, April 04, 2005

That "Southern Thing"

This explains it best:
Why are so many white people so irrationally invested in their regional mythology? However inept the [Confederate] flag's defenders are at articulating it, the reason does in fact transcend race. The South's ferocious sectional pride is the flip side of an inferiority complex, a chip-on-the-shoulder legacy of its savage defeat by a civilization it rejected long before the Civil War....The North's scorched-earth war strategy was indeed designed to annihilate not just the South's army but its entire civilization. As the Union general Philip Henry Sheridan declared, ''The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.''...

The perversely empowering allure of victimhood calls out even to the South's most critical daughters. Some years ago, I was looking into a potential elementary school for my younger child. It was a highly recommended prospect, located on the politically correct Upper West Side of Manhattan and named after one of General Sheridan's colleagues. Halfway through the school's guided tour, I decided ''no way,'' explaining to a fellow Southern mom who was there, ''Do you really think you could tell the folks back home that you're sending your child to the William Tecumseh Sherman School?'' [From a review in The New York Times by Diane McWhorter of John M. Coski's history, The Confederate Battle Flag.]

I am not a native son of the South, but my sympathies are very much with those Southerners -- and their intellectual allies in all regions -- who invoke States' rights in the name of liberty, not out of racial hatred.