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Whose South Is It? Choose "A" or "B"

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The following exchange between Mr. Ravitch and Mr. Luker took place on Richard Jensen's Conservativenet -- a"daily electronic newsletter" for scholars and researchers.


Here in Georgia we get daily laments in the papers about how our Southern Heritage is being dragged through the mud by Northern demagogues, black and white, like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Dick Gephardt and Scallywags like Senator John Edwards who want to take away our flags, our statues, and our history. You might think that Sherman had marched through Georgia again with the same genocidal fury as before. (Incidentally I was told at a Civil War Reenactment recently that Sherman actually did more evil in South Carolina than in Georgia since he blamed South Carolina for having started the war in the first place.)

There is gloating that newly elected Governor of Georgia Sonny Purdue has been tripped up by the old Confederate flag he pretended he loved before the election and is now trying to forget about. Whether he supports it or opposes it he will be in somebody's dog house. Northern demagogues, black and white, have put all their hopes for political correctness on the Atlanta business community which will allegedly care more for big bucks than for its Southern Heritage. Liberals always think that only money motivates people, not conviction.

But what everyone forgets is that essentially the South has won. The schools and the neighborhoods are more segregared than ever. Whites continue willingly to make enormous sacrifices to send their kids to private schools which are largely white if the public schools in their areas are too black. White teachers are fleeing black schools in droves for jobs elsewhere and black kids are being taught in poorer and poorer schools by less and less qualified teachers, if they even have teachers, since the shortage of teachers is reaching alarming proportions in some places.

Churches continue as always to be the most segregated of institutions, and that is to be expected since they are more social clubs than temples of the gods and people want social contact with their own kind. Where there are many Catholics in the South -- in coastal places like Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and of couse New Orleans, where the Irish particularly and the French never trekked too far inland into Baptist Rednecks territory for fear of being scalped by the violent natives -- white and black Catholics continue to go to largely segregated churches. Despite the law segregation is stronger today than when it was legally required. You cannot force people to deny their instincts and most precious desires.

The South has really done a better job of solving the unsolvable racial problem of America than the rest of the nation. Here there is no need to hide one's racial feelings but there is also no need to shout them from the housetops. Everyone has them, honors them, and keeps them to himself because it is not necessary to prove to anyone how enlightened you are or are not. You can feel at home in your race, both whites and blacks can, as you cannot in New Jersey or Michigan or California.

Whereas the rest of the country must indulge in hypocrisy, deceit, political correctness, or self-denial, Southerners can be themselves.

"A Yankee by birth, a Rebel by choice" proclaims the button I sometimes wear. I find the South more comfortable than anywhere else in these United States. Here you can be yourself, live where you want, go to school with those you wish, and babble about God's will with those you wish -- all without Northern pharisaism. You can be a good Confederate or Copperhead and make no apologies. The blacks seem as happy as they can be and on the whole are more polite and deferential than in the North -- as they have always been. Don't let a few Martin Luther King, Jr. parades and a few civil rights movement neanderthal leaders fool you. They may get a lot of attention in New York or Chicago but here we ignore them without concern. Let them eat at the lunch counters. Here in Savannah we go to Elizabeth's on 37th Street (where the only problem is that some one might steal your car!).


Here in Georgia, I daily lament how our Southern Heritage is dragged through the muck by Southern demagogues, mostly white, of neo-Confederate stripe and Carpetbaggers like Norman Ravitch who cheer them on. They still don't recognize that the South is black and white and, increasingly, Hispanic and that our public symbols must be the public symbols of all of us.

Responsible public officials, like the Republican state senator from Ravitch's Savannah, have acknowledged that the stars and bars will never again wave as Georgia's state flag. When conviction is unworthy, money is persuasive.

The South has won because, like it or not, Norman Ravitch lives in a state which has an attorney general and a labor commissioner, who are African Americans. The South has won because, like it or not, Norman Ravtich lives in a Savannah which has an African American mayor.

The South has won because no law forces Norman Ravitch to attend a church with African Americans if he doesn't want to. The South has won because no law forces African Americans to bear with Norman Ravitch in any congregation if they don't have to.

The South has won because we know a world to be artificial if everyone around us looks just like us. Southerners can be themselves because they meet daily with others who are Southerners with a difference. We know who we are because we have a common heritage with those who don't look like us.

"A Rebel by birth, a Rebel by choice" says the button I wear and my black brothers and sisters affirm their Southern heritage by their proud rebellion against a corrupted Southern heritage. We all recognize the pharisaism of the Yankees and of the Yankees among us. When Norman Ravitch is prepared to put his life on the line, to go to jail for his newly-found "Southern convictions," as we did for ours, we'll listen to his Yankee blather.