Friday, December 01, 2006

Values Difference: the South and Me

I have biases against the South. I do not have bigotry against southerners, but I do have different values than what are traditionally considered Southern values.

I associate the South with a few things that I don't particularly care for.

Christian fundamentalism
A Christian myself, I do not like fundamentalist Christianity. I disagree with most of the principles of fundamentalist Christianity.

1. Theologically. I do not accept "Sola Scriptura," I do not accept a literal interpretation of Genesis, and I do not believe "This is my body" and "This is my blood" to be symbolic.
2. Socially. I like gay people. I also like non-christians, Catholics, and feminists.
3. Intellectually. I accept evolution.
4. Politically. In general, Christian fundamentalists hold political views that are not my own. Among other things, I'm a strong advocate of separation of church and state.

I associate the South with racial oppression, injustice, and inequality. The South should not be the scapegoat for the entire nation's history on race, but the South does have a pretty ugly history that includes slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and a great deal of racism and violence.

Should I consider this to be the past, history, no longer relevent? I don't think so. Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK and he filibustered Civil Rights legislation, but he continually gets re-elected in West Virginia (I realize West Virginia has a complicated history that may or may not make it part of "the South"). Strom Thurmond was a segregationist presidential candidate, but he was elected to congress in South Carolina into the 1990s. Trent Lott said that the U.S. would have been better off had it elected the segregationist Thurmond, and he still easily gets re-elected in Mississippi. This is just a guess, but if a U.S. Senate candidate in a non-Southern state had a history as a member of the KKK, a history as a supporter of segregation, or suggested the U.S. would be better off had a segregationist been elected president, his/her political career would probably be over. And many southerners continue to take pride in the Confederate flag: it is displayed at the South Carolina statehouse grounds, it is part of Mississippi's state flag, and in several southern states you can get a license plate featuring the confederate flag. I am not convinced by arguments that this is a celebration of "heritage" or "history" separate from a history that includes terrible (and official) racial oppression.

These are two central areas in which my values are at odds with southern values, or at least what I associate with southern values.


  1. The South has a nationally recognzied history of racism, but what our nation tends to not mention as much is the racism that occured against the Native Americans. One need only go around the Indian Reservations in Minnesota and South Dakota and listen to the people and then talk to the Native Americans themselves to discover a long history of racism and power relations that are just as viral as in the south. However, there was no slavery there like there was here in the south.

    I know that you know all of this. I mean I have heard some really racist things here in NC, and maybe it wouldnt bea suprise to some that they are things I heard just as much in Minnesota because they were directed at our new "quasi-rights" minority of Hispanics.

    I think the main problem with your statement that got this all started over on PV is the fact that you qualified "some racist" with "southerners". The multiple interpretations of this qualification make it problematic, such as: Is it only a few of the southerners who are all racist? Are southerners the only racists? etc.

    I know what you meant, but as you have said you probably didn't need to qualify it and could have easily just said some racists. I think the biggest issue I have had with the last few posts on PV is those people who have posted anonymously without any kind of designation of who they are.

  2. Absolutely. As I said, the South shouldn't be scapegoated for the entire nation's history of race. Treatment of Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos has been awful throughout the entire country.

    However, I will revert to my strong stance: when southern states stop using the Confederate flag for official things, I'll consider giving up my biases about the South. Not a second before.

  3. any civilization worth its salt was built through oppression and ruthless exploitation. not just white on colored. its our despicable human nature. its easy to take swipes at the 1950s or the 1850s or blog types saying random things but we're all culpable in some way.