Sunday, July 07, 2013


As you may know, I've been posting some of my better Real Art stuff on facebook, as was recently the case with my anti-Southern pride screed from Thursday night.  I haven't encountered much opposition, which is a bit weird, I think, but what I've gotten has motivated some further thoughts on my part, which I think are worth posting back here.  

You can probably figure out from context what I'm responding to, but the first one needs maybe a wee bit of introduction: my buddy Doug believes that paying any attention to the Paula Deen thing at all is essentially wasted effort on what he sees as celebrity scandal mongering, which is why he simply commented with some news about an abortion bill being passed in Wisconsin.  But, like I said, the rest is pretty clear from context.

Well, Doug, these legislative initiatives don't spring from the forehead of Zeus fully grown. That is, we can fight continual policy battles or we can bury the cultural cesspool from which the notion that one human being can control another springs. Actually, we can do both, and it really bugs me that activists are tunnel-vision focused on the legislative arena without ever questioning from where these psychotic concepts come in the first place, or imagining that they can be cut off at the source. That is, Democrats continue, even in the age of Obama, to fight a rear-guard action. And it will be this way until they win the war of ideas, which is, unfortunately, a war they don't seem to realize they need to be fighting.


Cole, that's not really the point I'm trying to make. Indeed, many, maybe most, of the Southern pride people aren't racist in the sense that they don't like black people. I mean, I take Paula Deen at her word when she says she likes blacks just fine. Rather, it's the view that there was something honorable about the Confederacy, which, in itself, contains countless other views about the nature of reality, about the relationship between worker and business owner, about the validity of black assertions that racism is real and continues to exist, and on and on. So there's Boston racism, which is pretty straightforward, and then there's Southern pride, which is an entire system of ideas, values, and norms. Both are bad. But Southern pride infects the entire American body politic.


Bradley and Ronnie, you guys are completely missing the point. And this is fairly typical when the Southern pride people are called on their bullshit. Indeed, saying "there are racists in other parts of the country" is nothing but the old "Look! Over there!"

White Southern culture exists, whether you want to admit it or not. It is not the same culture one finds in Detroit or Boston. It has lines of influence, passed down from generation to generation, going all the way back to the antebellum era. It has embedded in it attitudes about property, honor, right and wrong, national unity, and yes, race. Really, what's wrong with Southern pride can be summed up easily: to celebrate the Confederacy in any way at all is to say that slavery wasn't so bad, to say that Jim Crow wasn't so bad, to say that wealth-driven aristocracy wasn't so bad, and when you're able to reduce the absolute barbarity of those two eras to "not so bad," then you're well down the road to enabling the further oppression of African Americans, indeed, all Americans who aren't privileged in the first place.

Deny it all you want, but refusing to see it doesn't render it non-existent.


Wow, Ronnie, you're so steeped in this Southern pride culture I'm talking about that you can't see it, like the air all around you, or a fish in the water.

First off, Chinese immigrant labor wasn't the economic foundation for a massive region of the United States. Indeed, the usage of African slave labor was on such a huge scale in the South that it inspired the Abolitionist movement in the North, which, in turn, inspired the paranoid and resentful rise of Southern culture, complete with an entire system of ideas, norms, and values, all aimed at justifying the barbaric practice of human bondage, and so strongly embraced by Southern whites that it still exists to this very day. It exists in you, in fact. Nothing like that happened out West, with the Chinese, so it's just a lousy comparison from the get-go.

And I'm not looking at this from a modern point of view. African slavery was understood, from the very beginning, in the 1600s with the Caribbean sugar trade, to be an abomination. Everyone knew this. But there was just too much money to be made. So it was done, just as capitalists do today with various destructive forms of enterprise. And once the practice finally encountered some organized and principled opposition in the form of the Abolitionist movement, that's when what had been an informal social system in the South, where whites were more loyal to their state than to their region, became the Southern way of life, justifying slavery with white supremacy, which permeated all activities.

Dude, this isn't about which races were enslaved and where. This is about the abhorrent civilization that arose in the South to justify slavery, one that did not arise elsewhere in the US, and one that should have been eradicated during Reconstruction, but wasn't. I mean, for god's sake, listen to you, man. You're rationalizing slavery by saying that blacks were "purchased." It's almost as though you don't understand what you're telling me, you're so engulfed by Southern pride blinders.

Black Americans ARE owed something. Owed a LOT, in fact. The legal and social institution known as Jim Crow only formally came to and end a half century ago, only a few years before my birth. Everyone in the South who is older than me came of age under that institution, with all the childhood psychological programming that comes with such an institution. And, even though the legal structures have "officially" ended, the oppression continues in myriad ways, the criminal justice system, urban poverty and absolute despair, a massive wealth gap, and on and on.

You do not see this because of the Southern pride culture I'm talking about. The one you refuse to admit exists. The one that controls your very thoughts.
Hopefully, the debate will continue on facebook.