April 08, 2013

Southern pride... with love and justice for all


am a southerner. I am a Rebel. I am a Confederate. I was born in Maine, but moved to Virginia when I was three years old. I was raised in the south land by a Yankee father (Trent, Michigan) and a Yankee mother (Binghamton, New York). I was taught the Union retelling of the war in the public school system. But through it all, I had an odd fascination with the old south.

And then I got to college. I remember sitting in my Western Civ class, taught by Dr. Rembrandt Carter—my favorite teacher ever and one of the primary influences on my world view, and learning about the great war between the states not from the pages of history books, but from original sources written during the time. As we began to cover that portion of American history Dr. Carter asked the class where they stood on the war and the arguments that led to the war. Were they on the side of the union or on the side of the secessionists? I was the only person who sided with the south—and I’m sure the only reason I sided with the south was to be annoying to all the people from places such as New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

But after reading the assignments Dr. Carter gave us—the original sources written during the mid-1800s—almost everyone in the class sided with the south and few were even willing to call it the "Civil War." It was an amazing transformation, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with prejudice... or even slavery.

Over the intervening 30+ years since then I have heard many people argue against the south because of a perception of racism. Confederate flags are banned and those who would display them are ostracized. Being southern is not an easy identifier to where. But that doesn’t stop true southerners from proclaiming their southern pride.

Every now and then someone tries to address the issue, but most don’t necessarily get very far with the argument.

Perhaps that’s because it shouldn’t be an argument at all. Perhaps we need to just try to understand each other.

Even Yankees?... Yes, we southerners should try to understand even Yankees.

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