I am not southern. Let’s just put that out there. But then again, why not? I have as much claim to Southern Heritage as just about anyone outside of Birmingham Alabama. I was raised in Southern Missouri, which is closer to Arkansas than Nebraska in culture. My father’s side of the family is from Virginia and Mississippi and played a prominent role in my upbringing.
So, why am I not southern? Well, I guess…because I choose not to be. The funny thing about how parts of the country are very liberal or conservatives is that it’s self fulfilling. I like San Francisco. And though I FEEL like a republican here sometimes, it’s more my political home than Missouri (even if Missouri will always be my home home).
So when southerners stand up and say what they stand for, I sometimes don’t feel like I get a say in that. But when southerners stand up and say that they need Confederate flags and statues to honor their southern heritage, well that’s every bit as much mine as theirs. And I reject that outright.
Donald Trump’s central argument in his ridiculous defense of the alt-right in Charlottesville seems to be that not all of the protesters were white supremacists and neo-nazis. Some were just people who love their southern heritage and don’t want to see these historical statues torn down. As if that somehow makes this innocent or innocuous.
Well, that’s poppycock. Maybe some of them DID march for that reason, but that’s not southern heritage. Those statues were erected during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era to intimidate blacks. They are racist plain and simple. And even if I ignore that, the message is that the entire heritage of the south boils down to losing a war in which they were on the wrong side of history anyway. Surely there’s more to Southern Heritage than that.
As a quick aside, I’ve always found it funny how some of the most outwardly patriotic people will fly a confederate flag right alongside the stars and stripes that they fought a war to secede from. Even removing the racism, at worst it’s flying a flag of treason to the USA and at best it’s flying the flag of an enemy country. So which is it? Are you patriotic to the USA or the other country?
Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to maybe give a quick primer on what is and isn’t southern heritage.
Yes: Biscuits and Gravy (remind me to make you Yankees some cause I guarantee you never had good ones in New York or California)
No: Celebrating traitors to our country
Yes: Southern Hospitality. At least when I lived there, most would take their worst enemy into their home and make them the finest meal of fried chicken and grits you ever had. And if you broke down on the side of the road? You’d have no problem finding help.
No: The Confederate Battle Flag.
Yes: Sweet Tea with Ice on a hot day. There’s nothing like sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening with a glass of iced sweet tea. If you think a lot of this heritage has to do with food, that might be my Grandma’s fault. But they do make a contribution to the American food culture.
No: Carrying torches and white sheets. Ok, the truth is, racism is a part of the history (and the present) of the South. But that’s not something to be celebrated. Right thinking people want to move past that, even those that don’t aspire to the multi-racial utopia of the Bay Area.
This is not Southern culture, and it’s time for the South to let the rest of the nation know that they have a lot of things to be proud about that they can actually be proud of.