The old saying: “American by birth, Southern by the grace of God” certainly applies to me.
I’m an ethnic Southerner who was raised in the north – but who, for the past 25 years (with the exception of my three year educational exile to the permafrost of Fort Wayne, Indiana) has lived in the Deep South. In fact, for the past 17 years, I have lived so far in the Deep South that it is really barely Southern at all – being south of the South. But we were graciously permitted membership in the Confederacy, given the tolerance and ethnic diversity of that particular manifestation of American federalism. Moreover, only two other states suffered as long as we did in the so-called Reconstruction as did Louisiana. So we – my state and my person – have earned the bona fides to consider what it means to be Southern, though perhaps by means of a circuitous route.
So permit me to ponder – while pondering is still permitted in our Reunited States.
The South is an embarrassment to many in the various other regions of America as it is constituted today. We are especially anathema to our Betters on the coasts.
Indeed, we talk funny. We’re slow and dumb and backwards and conservative. We cling to our Bibles and guns. We got Donald Trump elected. That alone should make our separated brethren in the Disunted States to want to retroactively secede us. Typically, our kids say “sir” and “ma’am” and, shockingly, we treat men and women differently, and hold comically to the long-since discredited fantasy that only women bear children. We still put flags and flowers on our ancestral graves – especially those of our our veterans – which is apparently why some folks come South for the winter in their black socks and sandals, wagging their heads, and honking nasally and incredulously: “Look Martha, these people are still fighting the civil war.”
Apparently, we are not Enlightened and Educated like our brethren from the Better Regions. We don’t read the New Yorker. We don’t listen to NPR and watch CNN. We don’t care what Whoopi and Joy have to say on the View. We don’t realize that we hate our black next door neighbor (whom we are so deluded as to believe that we actually like) on account of our persistent and systemic ‘white privilege.’ It is so systemic and persistent that we don’t notice it. And we don’t know this because we are ignorant, for our children don’t go to Columbia and Stanford. In fact, most of us dropped out of school in the third grade, when the booklarnin’ began to exceed our cerebral potentiality.
It seems that we go about in bare feet and overalls. We spit tobacco all over the place and drop our R’s and final G’s. We marry our cousins – but only after asking our uncles for their hand in marriage. Moreover, we eat roadkill and still have outhouses. In Louisiana, we speak gutter French and eat bugs. In that sense, we are apparently better than the people of South Carolina who apparently eat dirt. There are experts in the field of judging groups of people and rating them according to their human worth. This is apparently called “Intersectionality” and is taught at Columbia and Stanford. Eating bugs, per se, is good for the environment. And so it’s good when we do it – not our Betters, of course. The exception is when they come to Bourbon Street to debauch themselves, vomit on the streets, and disrobe publicly, thus providing us locals with a free spectacle. Regardless, many of our fellow Americans mock us and treat us like the drunken uncle sleeping on the couch.
Of course, they don’t mind when Billy Bob pulls off to the side of the road to help them change a tire, or when thousands of Billy Bobs join the military and fight America’s wars.
Just so long as we and our filthy kids with mullets don’t move next door to them with our truck on blocks and our dog on a chain blaring our country music and slaughtering our chickens in our back yards, right?
But you dummies had a golden opportunity to be rid of us in 1861 without firing a single shot or spending a dime. You people hate us, but wouldn’t let us leave! And you’re supposed to be the smart ones!
Now you’re stuck with us. You created an ‘indivisible union,’ and hence you are joined at the hip with the very people that make you roll your eyes in disgust, the ones that cost Hillary Clinton her destiny, the impediments to Progress, the ones who make you cry and shriek at the sky and dye your hair various and sundry shades of magenta. Yep. We did that. And worst of all, nous ne regrette rien.
And now, in spite of the largely successful program to vilify our region, our culture, and our ancestors, to destroy our monuments, rewrite our history, amnesiate even the memory of our memories – Deo vindice, people even in the belly of the beast of the People’s Republic of California are once again speaking the forbidden word, thinking the unthinkable thought, dreaming the impossible dream, and considering the unconsiderable consideration: secession. And so, you might just yet get rid of the people you loathe. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But in spite of all y’all’s vitriol and opprobrium, we’re still always and ever hospitable to all who come to visit. We will gladly share some possum stew with y’all, but only after we all gather around the old table, rise for prayers, and sing Dixie.
I have shocking and scandalous news to deliver to my perhaps soon-to-be ex countrymen, so I do hope you like the smell of irony in the morning: We’re all Southerners now.