The South Shall Rise Again Author: BobRDate:12/14/2017 14:20:42
As most of you daily readers know, I was born in upstate NY, then moved to GA a couple months before my 19th birthday. I spent the next 30 years of my life becoming intimately familiar with all things "southern". It's a mindset I found instantly alien to my upbringing, based in traditions that involved a plantation lifestyle none of them have lived, and romanticizing a terrible war that divided the nation and brought misery, death, and destruction to our country not yet 100 years old.
Not all of these traditions are bad - the food and polite manners are exemplary. The dedication to preserving the memory and details of our Civil War would be respectable, were it not colored by the deliberate ignorance of its root cause. The "war of northern aggression" was started by the South to preserve slavery and all the brutality that it entailed, but the "true suhthuner" would never admit that.
In my time living there, I saw confederate flags on a daily basis, along with bumper stickers with messages like "I didn't surrender", and "ferget, hell!". Then of course, is the ever-present notion of "The South's Gonna Rise Again".
Atlanta - nearly completely destroyed by Sherman - did indeed rise again. From the ashes, a new city rose with the motto "The city too busy to hate". It's emblem is a phoenix, the bird rising from the smoldering embers. The "too busy to hate" motto, though, was a bit too self-congratulatory, and - in my experience - rarely practiced.
The wounds from the war left the South with a persecution complex, and wary of outsiders - particularly northerners. Anyone from north of VA is labeled a "yankee" (which I imagine doesn't sit well with Bostonians). Anyone from the north who moves to the south is a "damn yankee". There is an intense tribalism where people of different races can get along, so long as they "know their place" and don't intermingle. In my early years there in the 80s, there were "sunset towns" (look it up) in areas outside of Atlanta which are now thriving suburbs. This mindset informs their foreign policy views, especially as it relates to non-whites and non-Christians (also known as refugees from war-torn areas).
All of this came to a head in the election in Alabama on Tuesday. The special election to permanently fill Jefferson Beauregard Session's Senate seat was between an Old South Old Testament man who wanted to rollback the constitutional amendments protecting minorities and ensuring the right to vote for women and minorities, versus the New South New Testament man who prosecuted the KKK.
The demographics of the votes have been widely reported. Black voters overwhelmingly voted for the Democrat, and white voters overwhelmingly (but not as much so) voted for the Republican.
In deep red Alabama, the black vote won out.
Perhaps it's a backlash against tRump, perhaps it's because Roy Moore was such a despicable candidate... Nonetheless, in a former slave-holding state that is the epitome of Old South, the black voters stood up and showed the world their power. The blood and pain that they, their parents, and their grandparents experienced marching to Selma to ensure their right to vote was rewarded.
The South shall rise again - but it will not be the Old South of Gone With the Wind, with plantations and slaves singing songs in the fields. It will be a new South, where the descendants of those slaves have realized their ancestors' dreams and achieved not just freedom, but the power to control their state's destiny.