“Oddly, the same people who disparage us also have love affairs with our culture. They ridicule us and then profess their love for Nina Simone, Austin, Johnny Cash or Louisiana’s crawfish etouffee dish when it’s trendy. This brings me to my favourite specimens: cocktail party progressives. You know the type – can’t converse without referencing the New Yorker. Pretentious, self-congratulatory liberals who applaud their own humanity while mocking the south. Curiously, they feign knowledge of Hank Williams when fashionable, but their intellectual elitism forgets that Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were southern geniuses. ” – Seema Jilani in “Deep prejudice about the deep south”
“Liberal prejudices are against three related groups: evangelicals, whom we do not give the respect of other religious groups; Southerners, whom we hold guilty of uniquely wicked views and behavior, as well as stupidity, evangelicalism and talking funny; Texans, we say, combine the wickedness and corn pone dialect of Southerners with diabolical evils all their own. Since evangelicals in our own back yard tend to be invisible to us, let’s sum all of this up as a single bigotry, the prejudice of regionalism.” – Gary Bennett in “The Last Acceptable Prejudices”
As Gary Bennett suggests, hating the South is one of this country’s last acceptable prejudices.
Even those who go to great extremes these days to support love and acceptance for other nations and peoples, have little problem denouncing the South as an outer circle of hell where the majority of the doomed is purportedly racist, backward, stupid, has white supremacist views, are members of a “unsophisticated” churches, and talk so strangely their accents are mocked on variety shows and talk shows to great applause.
The South is mocked with the same overarching superiority and derision that Blacks were once mocked in minstrel shows. Those who see no humor in films or commentaries about old minstrel shows, believe that slandering the South is not only funny, but allegedly demonstrates high levels of liberal and progressive thought, a politically correct philosophy about all that’s wrong in the world, and a piety higher than Heaven.
Ironically, those who mock the South are bigots even though that mockery includes saying that Southerners are bigots.
Those who slander the South with the claim that racism is an inherent Southern trait become silent when they are asked why the nation’s largest race riots occurred outside the South. While forgetting Watts in 1965, Detroit in 1967, Ferguson in 2014, and Baltimore in 2015, they presume sufficient purity to cast the first stone.
Those riots did not cause the rest of the country to create an across-the-board slander campaign against California, Michigan, Missouri or Maryland. Yet, in the wake of the senseless killings by one man in Charleston, the national and social media have been filled with a return of self-righteous individuals’ across-the-board mockery of everything Southern.
Those who disparage everything and everyone within the South don’t address the fact that Charleston handled a racist event with more love and community concern than officials in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Bigots aren’t simply those who condemn other races and religions. Bigots also condemn countries and regions. Those of us who live in the South are bone weary of this attitude and wonder if those who exhibit it long for a return to the unfair and unjust horrors of Reconstruction as a coverup for their own sins.
While I have no tolerance for the infinitesimal minority that says, “Save your Confederate money, boys, the South is going to rise again,” I am saddened by the fact that a much larger group of holier-than-though people openly states without apology that the South is unworthy of love, respect or common courtesy.
When discrimination against the South by other regions of the country rises again during times of racial crisis, it further divides people, calms no storms, solves no problems, rights no wrongs and addresses no injustices.
In fact, such slander serves as a catalyst for more of the unrest the slanderers claim to oppose.