The values of the Old South linger on

The Civil War ended nearly 150 years ago, but the underlying attitudes that caused it still exist.

confederate_flagThe planter aristocracy of the Old South were great horsemen and marksmen, had a strong sense of honor and were always ready to fight a duel or a war, while using the gun and the whip to keep a subject population in line.

Their values are echoed in people today who talk of secession and armed rebellion, while abridging voting rights and refusing to accept the outcome of elections as final.  They also are reflected in the automatic defense of any white person, police officer or otherwise, who shoots and kills an unarmed black person.

And in the denial of the obvious historical fact that the South seceded in order to protect the institution of slavery.

I don’t want to stereotype or scapegoat Southern white people or imply that, as a group, they are uniquely bad.  They are not all alike and not all of one mind.  The South has changed profoundly in my lifetime, more than I would have thought possible, and I think credit is due for this.

But having said all that, I think there is a lot of truth in the articles to which I link below.  I recommend them.


Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The peculiar institution of American violence by Doctor Science for Obsidian Wings.

The War Nerd: Why Sherman was right to burn Atlanta by Gary Brecher for Pando Daily.

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3 Responses to “The values of the Old South linger on”

  1. Atticus Says:

    Having lived in the South my entire life I think that the stereotype propagated by non-southerners about Racist attitudes are totally off base.

    Of course there are obscure pockets of people that carry on racist and confederate ideas, but I don’t think that is in any way isolated to the South. I have no evidence, but I would bet that the number of people harboring racist feeling in the South would be statistically equal to that of other regions of the country.

    The South also harbors some of the proudest black communities in the Nation (Atlanta, Montgomery, others). This diversity naturally produces conflict because different communities often have different interests – both financially and culturally – but that isn’t bread by racism or feelings of superiority. Rather it is natural competition. And this line of conflict usually isn’t drawn by race, but rather culture and socio-economic position.

    The cultural and economic history of the South is very complex and has little to do with old confederate ideas and much more to do with current cultural and socio-economic conditions.

    Also, to understand Southern pride in the civil war is difficult. We are not at all proud of slavery. However, you have to understand that we live with evidence of invasion – similar to how great cities in the North have evidence or British invasion. We still find old bullets and rusted civil war relics on hikes. So it stays fresh in our mind.

    It isn’t a hostility toward anyone, but rather a facisnation in remembering that many of our relatives, our hometowns, and the very grounds we walk were the scenes of battle. It is just interesting – not some sort of Southern Confederate ideological pride.

    It is one of those things, that unless you live it, it is probably difficult to understand from the outside.


    • philebersole Says:

      Throughout a fairly long life, I’ve had white Southerners tell me that no outsider can understand the Southern way of life. Many of these same people tell me that they have a deep understanding of black people that no Northern white person can have.

      I agree that when you belong to a group, there are things you understand that no outsider can ever know. But there also are things that outsiders see that insiders miss.

      However, these observations don’t really apply to my post, because I was not making general statements about the South, but tracing certain tendencies in American life—talk of secession, armed rebellion and nullification of federal law, assertiveness about gun rights combined with justifications for shooting unarmed black people—to the planter aristocracy of the Old South.


  2. amspirnational Says:

    So we should support continued Police State enforced multiculturalism so that we might continue being imperialistically “indispensable” to the world? If it’s not working, let the power devolve even unto secession and retrenchment…on every ethnic group’s part.

    The world, particularly the Mideast, save Israel, will be grateful.


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