Skip to comments.Why Elitists Dump on the South
Posted on 04/19/2002 12:24:19 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
To preserve its illusion of national innocence, the United States projects its "dark" side onto the South, a Penn State geographer says.
For 10 years after his graduation from college, David R. Jansson worked in university towns Boston; Ithaca, N.Y.; Madison, Wis.; Berkeley, Calif. that deemed themselves "progressive" and "enlightened," i.e., left wing.
"These places had their differences," he told United Press International in a phone interview, "but one of the things I could count on was a common conception of the South, largely among people who had never been there but who had very consistent ideas about what the South meant and what it stood for. This was the standard list of negative characteristics and stereotypes."
Jansson enumerated those attributed traits in a presentation to the 98th annual meeting of Association of American Geographers in Los Angeles last month. He said that in American national discourse, "the South tends to be represented as violent, racist, poor, intolerant, xenophobic, and dim-witted, among other things."
This Bigotry Is P.C.
He told UPI that during the decade he worked before beginning graduate studies, he found that people indulged in one of the last forms of bigotry acceptable in polite society. Those who wouldn't dream of mocking other groups were comfortable making jokes about white Southerners.
Representing the South as backward endows America as a whole with the opposite qualities, he said. The vices associated by knee-jerk reaction with the South "become spatialized" and are held to be uncharacteristic of the nation.
By this means, the United States can claim to stand for the exalted principles of the Enlightenment unblemished by skeletons in its own closet. American history, Jansson told the geographers, then can be seen as "unceasing progress and selfless efforts to improve the lot of all humanity."
Southerners are often accused of being stuck in the past, but this comes in part from an external assignment from the rest of America to act as its foil, Jansson said.
Partners in Slavery
The American legend of innocence is built upon a shaky foundation, Jansson said. "Thus slavery is cast in Southern terms when it was more of a national experience than is generally acknowledged."
Citing an essay by Dan Georgakas in the 1998 book "The Meaning of Slavery in the North," Jansson told the geographers: "While most Americans have chosen to think of slavery as a regional aberration than a national phenomenon, in reality the so-called free states of the North were full partners in the viability of the slave society of the South."
Jansson said that University of Kentucky historian Joanne Pope Melish, in her 1998 book "Disowning Slavery," argues that the mythology of a free New England remains potent in academia as it does in American society as a whole. But Melish shows how even otherwise careful historians tend to date the end of slavery in the North earlier than its demise.
In his presentation, Jansson reviewed some of the salient thoughts of C. Vann Woodward (1908-1999), the eminent Yale historian of the South. Woodward's landmark work, "The Mind of the South," was published in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War.
Jansson said Woodward viewed Southern history not as the stories in dusty old library volumes, but rather as the collective experience in which the Southern people find their distinctiveness.
"This history includes Southern poverty in the face of American abundance," Jansson said. In 1969 the United States had never "lost" a war, but the Confederacy had been defeated and occupied. Dealing with tragedy had set the South apart. The myths of innocence, omniscience and "social felicity" were not operating assumptions in Dixie.
Woodward argued that America needed the sobering influence of Southern history, "a heritage that is far more closely in line with the common lot of mankind than the national legends of opulence and success and innocence."
But Jansson concluded his presentation with the observation that the United States, even with the reverses it has suffered since 1969, remained resistant to Woodward's message. "In fact, the chasm that separates the history of America from the history of the South cannot be crossed without causing a rupture in the American national identity," he said.
Sorry --- I just couldn't help myself. It was too easy.
If you want to lay blame for the welfare state, there are 3 presidents you need to go after. FDR for laying the foundation. LBJ for raising expectations. And Richard Nixon for delivering on those expectations. The Fed Budget went to 70% "non-discretionary" by the end of the 70s.
That's what gets me- I sure get tired of being tarred as a racist, homophobic, ( fill in the blank ) extremist by people who don't know a daggone thing about me except that I'm a conservative from South Georgia.
The guy across the street from me is a black guy who builds houses. He's a good neighbor...
The gal next door, ahem! preferrs women, if you get my drift. She's a good neighbor...
But those white folks across the street who like to get likkered up & hoot & holler.... well, I wouldn't mind if they'd move on down the road.
That's ok, you made up for it with this guy
My, my, my. All those famous sothron authors. How can we compete? I guess we'll just have to be content with northern authors like Herman Melville and Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. James Fennemore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Washington Irving, and Henry David Throreau. Ambrose Bierce and Stephen Crane. Julia Ward Howe, Louisa Mae Alcott, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Sandburg, and Robert Frost. And then there's Horatio Alger, Henry James, L. Frank Baum, Edith Wharton, and Upton Sinclair, and don't forget Sinclair Lewis. Jack London and O. Henry. Then there's Eugene O'Neil and Henry Miller and e.e. cummings, and, well you get the idea.
The rest of these United States blame us for alot of things, but they always leave out a few: Family values, Christianity, Respect, BBQ, NASCAR, Monster Trucks, Southern Rock, Blues, Folk Music, Honor, Fishing, Hunting, Cowboys, Farmers, tractors, flea markets, the Grand 'Ol Opry and just plain old Southern nights with twinklin' stars.
As Ernest Tubbs once said, "you can call me a hillbilly, but you better smile."
It was a good article - please post if you have it. (Yes, I did search LewRockwell's archives and I couldn't find it).
Thanks! Carry on.
Do you mean to say that these icons of progressive thought were/are PREJUDICED!!? I am SHOCKED! Shocked I tell you!
That may be true now. But I think we Southerners and Texans should always remember that the Northeast was the birthplace of the American Revolution.
Had he not died the way he did, he'd just be a footnote.
What most here forget, is that MOST New Yorkers are transplants ; not natives. The rudest people, are the newcommers. Real, born and bred new Yorkers are friendly, helpful, and won't give you wrong directions. You'll get misdirection and rudeness from those who are trying to live up to wht they assume will make them appear REAL to the tourists.
The regionalists, on FR, who complaim that peopele " make fun " of Southerners ( when NO ONE here does ! ) , are THE primier trashers / bashers of all others; especially New Yorkers ! The steritoypical slams , incorrect information, and slurs, are all delusional and patently ridiculous !
The most segragated and biggotted city I ever lived in, was Chicago; bar none !
I NEVER , the entire time I was growing up in the Northeast, heard anyone put down the South . Where you people get that, is beyond me . I played with and went to school with negros ( they weren't called " blacks " back then ) and no one, NOT A SINGLE SOUL , was predjudiced against the other.
If it weren't for N.Y.C., there would be NO musical theatre; not anywhere . There also wouldn't have been singable / dancable music, for most of the late 19th - 20th century, without " TINPAN ALLEY ", in New York !
These silly threads only serve to Balkanize ; they are of absolutely NO help at all . There are MANY nonSouthern FREEPERS, and by continually denigrating them, you do a disservice to Conservatism and FR ! You also make nonSouthern hating " others " begin to have a rational dislike for Southerners.
I left out the NOT ! New Yorkers are NOT " pushy " ! Just what is " pushy " , anyway ? That they have to suffer through tons of gawping toursts, staring up at the buildings, and halting traffic , so they walk around them grumbling ? That they don't accept shoddy products, bad service, stalled traffic, or failure without complaint ?
Hard to say. He planned to rein in the CIA and forcibly retire J. Edgar Hoover. Viet Nam would have been substanially different, and we would have reached the moon either during or right after his administration. He was trying.
Point was, Virginia has given eight U.S. Presidents, seven of them good ones. I think that's still the record.
Wilson was probably okay until he went to New Jersey...
Having been born in '63, I was too young to remember LBJ, other than remembering my parents being happy that he was out of office. I read a little more about him later. Can you tell me, if you can, why on earth JFK had him as a running mate in the first place? Was it to get the FDR fans aboard for the vote? If LBJ so hated Kennedy, why did he join the ticket?
Thanks for the little histoy lesson in advance. I wouldn't trust my high school's revisionist theory on it (that is, if I could remember it).
The same can certainly be said for Californians. Native Californians once upon a time had the reputation of being laid back, down to earth and pretty friendly. Actually the natives still do, but it's the majority of the transplants (and their offspring) that have become rude and obnoxious. California used to be conservative (remember "Reagan Country?") but the rude, arrogant and obnoxious liberals totally infested the state, and now it is a huge dump. (gee, imagine that).
Once, a long time ago, California had a reputation of having the most courteous drivers in the country. Uh uh, no more. They all drive like freaks now. And they have had freeway shootings now, that was totally unheard of when I was learning to drive in the late 70's.
So I finally escaped California about 10 years ago to a nearby (conservative) state, because I loved all the people here. They were nice, friendly, and down to earth. 10 years later, it's slowly getting rude, obnoxious, along with the rude drivers and more and more vocal arrogant liberal attitudes!
Soon, there isn't going to be any place left to go. You have my condoleneces.
Kennedy was Catholic and a Democrat. To win, he needed at least a few Southern States and Texas was the biggest of those. LBJ the protestant southern master politician (Senate Majority Leader) along with fellow Texan, Sam Rayburn the speaker of the House were the most powerful men in Washington. By picking LBJ, who was his biggest competitor for the Democrat nomination, he eased fears of a Yankee "Papist" in the White House and gained support of the Southern Democrat insiders. LBJ joined the ticket because he wanted to be President and saw the VP slot as a stepping-stone to get a following outside the south.
The great Southron and son of Alabama, FSU Coach Bobby Bowden!
I found my job first, my church second, and my home third in the process of relocating my family to Durham from Central Virginia. For me, a proud legacy of black achievement makes Durham a great place. People just seem to be friendlier, down here, across the ethnic divide. We have acquired more good friends of other ethnicities here, in two years, than we were able to collect in 20 years in Virginia.
(Of course, Roanoke VA is more of a rust-belt industrial city accidently stranded in the South.)
Carter was a well meaning, ineffectual boob.
The northeast has more mushy headed idiots who actually believe leftest ideology. Unfortunately, the south is catching up as we subsidize those who are "yearning to eat free".
You got the last part right. I'll have to disagree with the first, and his generally vindictive attitude toward this country's interests since being booted from office tells me his Christianity is more on his sleeve than in his heart. Former POTUS's don't publicly dump on the incumbent in times of war or crisis as Carter has done several times. You offer to help if you can, but other than that, you keep your mouth shut. Jimmy Carter is a petty little man with a giant chip on his shoulder.
Ah ha. Thanks Ditto! Makes a lot of sense. Kinda makes you wonder just *how bad* LBJ wanted the White House, but I guess that's for the conspirator theorists to ponder through. ;-)