Charleston 1865

The title of this article is how the radical Muslim organization, ISIS, characterizes its callous destruction of Jewish, Christian, and other pre-Islamic religious statuary; places of worship, libraries, and other ancient cultural artifacts. There are even videos of ISIS slaughtering groups of civilians. As justification for these massacres and devastation, ISIS claims that its concept of the Muslim faith is the only true religion, so no other faith can be allowed to exist.

The phrase “No History, No Culture, No Past” brings to mind the Left’s criticisms of America’s past, especially the South’s past. This Liberal generation is so convinced that it is making things “better”, that it rarely exercises caution when trashing the past. It also seems to think that if existing technologies –engineering, electronics, medicine–can simply be replaced and updated, then sociocultural factors –group identity, family structure, religious doctrine –can also be simply replaced.

But history is strewn with examples of failed attempts to eliminate sub-cultures and homogenize various regions of a nation. Unfortunately, many of today’s journalists seem to share a naiveté about the history of failed attempts to radically alter societies.

The editorial opinions of today’s newspapers, especially opinions of the South, are fairly consistent regardless of where the newspaper is located. In an earlier time, regional newspapers were truly regional, many were locally owned ,and they often defended and even expressed pride in their region. They were also the public’s primary source of information, so Will Rogers could say, “All I know is what I read in the papers.” Most cities, even small towns, had two or possibly more newspapers, so readers were usually exposed to different viewpoints.  They could read “the other side of the story.” That is no longer the case. Today’s cities rarely have more than one newspaper, no longer locally owned, but controlled by a large conglomerate located elsewhere. You will rarely read “the other side of the story” anymore.

Since the 1950s, stereotyped viewpoints of the South have become standardized throughout the nation. Even in 2015, complaisant journalists will still caricature the South as the “Jim Crow South.” What you read in regional newspapers will be no different from what you see on TV news programs or Internet news shows. Southern folkways are under attack, because the Left feels they represent yesterday’s values; part of a past at odds with today’s permissive, non-judgmental society. Unfavorable opinions of the South are also a staple of cable comedy programs and pop culture shows.

Many today are uncomfortable with issues that have more than one variable, so mass media and pop culture are their preferred sources of information. Editorial sections of newspapers accommodate this new breed of readers with simplified and standardized opinions. As an illustration of the influence of mass media and pop culture, I quote a reader’s reaction to an article in the Birmingham News. The article concerned Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, and the reader is responding to negative opinions of Hillary expressed by other readers. What is interesting is the use of the mass media’s clichéd anti-Southern biases to explain why others oppose Hillary’s candidacy.

Wow – the hate here is thick. That’s OK – fact is…Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America – barring some unforeseen tragedy. Of course she wouldn’t win in states like Alabama…but in places where people are more educated, have a broader world view, can get over the fact that the South lost the Civil War, and aren’t suckered into voting against their own best interest for the sake of ideology and religious fundamentalism … America’s rapidly changing demographics cannot be reversed. As long as the Democrats keep their tent wide open and do not exclude people based on gender, race, sexual orientation or religious leanings, they will continue to win the national elections. The conservative mindset in the South is dying…. not fast enough…but it is dying.

So there you have it. Southerners oppose Hillary Clinton’s presidency because they are poorly educated, have “limited views”, i.e. a conservative mindset, and are under the sway of religious fundamentalism. Unfavorable opinions are now characterized as “hate.” The term “hater” has almost replaced “racist” as the preferred method of discrediting opposing views, and it is currently the invective of choice. And, of course, Southerners also oppose Hillary’s presidency because they can’t get over the fact that the South lost the Civil War.

Although these quoted remarks are not exactly coherent, they are not at all unusual for this generation. This is a time when derogatory labels have largely replaced logical rebuttals as a means of refuting opinions one doesn’t like. To disparage Southerners, the terms “lost cause” and “racism” are the most popular accusations. As there is no penalty for falsely accusing someone of having a “lost cause” mindset or of being a “racist”, the two terms are casually bandied about.

Specious racist accusations also abound in academia, although professors try to make them sound scholarly. Some professors make careers out of creating new concepts of faux racism, depicted with fancy terminology. Examples are are Derrick Bell’s “critical race theory”, Peggy McIntosh’s “white privilege”, Chester M. Pierce’s “microaggression”, and Joy DeGruy’s “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” These scholars maintain that racism has been so ingrained in our culture for so long that white America is racist without knowing it. But if you scrutinize these particular academics closely, you get the sense that their theories are overly influenced by their preconceived agendas.

According to these academics, white racism is and has been our nation’s most serious problem. Even the Founding Fathers were racists. These professors maintain that the plethora of civil rights legislation and the decades of racial preferences were insufficient to mitigate the harmful effects of white racism. In fact, they claim that racial discrimination has actually worsened. The grave situation these academics portray seems almost insoluble, but one remedy appears to be gaining favor – reparations. If government funds, in sufficient monetary amounts, were disbursed to descendants of slaves, then maladies like ‘post traumatic slave syndrome’ might be somewhat mollified. The dollar amount of reparations hasn’t been determined, but a massive redistribution of wealth is envisioned.

The Left believes it can convince Americans that the time is ripe for the creation of a radically new society. To create such a society, it is felt that we must first have an America with “No history, No culture, No past.” Cultural eradication has had success in the past, and Liberals have already spawned a country that the Founders wouldn’t recognize. The Left succeeded largely because of the docility of the public. It is only recently that the public started questioning the clever semantic attacks on American society: family structure, religious beliefs, justice system, law enforcement, and more.

But the flimflam is apparent to Southerners, because their customs have been subjected to this kind of faultfinding for decades. The reasoning of the establishment seems to be that if Southerners could be made to disdain their heritage, then Americans can be manipulated into rejecting long-held American customs. No longer restrained by national sovereignty, America would be simply be absorbed into the global community.

Luckily, socio/political viewpoints go in cycles. Although they never revert back to where they started, they generally lose their impetus. There are alternative news sites whose views of the South deviate from the stereotype, and some journalists are breaking ranks and treating the South more objectively, allowing “shades-of-grey” to creep into their opinions about Southerners. So those of us who esteem Southern heritage should take heart. The media’s denigration of the South isn’t going to disappear, but its power to proselytize is waning .

Gail Jarvis

Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. He attended the University of Alabama and has a degree from Birmingham Southern College. As a CPA/financial consultant, he helped his clients cope with the detrimental effects of misguided governmental intrusiveness. This influenced his writing as did years of witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia with his wife.

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