Posts Tagged ‘Old South’

The South as a culture of honor

September 29, 2017

I’ve been reading and thinking about the differences among American regional cultures, and especially the difference between the culture or cultures of the South and the culture of the New England Yankees.

I believe that one reason for the clash is that the South is predominantly a culture of honor and the Yankee culture is predominantly a culture of virtue.

David Blight

The other day my e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey sent me a link to the text of a lecture by David Blight, a history professor at Yale, that is an excellent discussion of this.   I link to it today.

A culture of honor teaches you to behave in a way that people are forced to respect you.   A culture of virtue teaches you to follow moral rules no matter what people think.

These are not polar opposites.  An honorable person and a virtuous person will do the same things most of the time.   But a person of honor will not tolerate an insult or a slight that a person of virtue might shrug off.   A person of honor will usually put loyalty to kindred over loyalty to principle.

When I write of the culture of the South, I mean specifically the white people of the South.  But I think the African-American culture is, in its own way, also a culture of honor.

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The values of the Old South linger on

November 25, 2014

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.

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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.