Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Southern Pride and Heritage…A Euphemism

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Despite some of the things I’ve written here about the religious zealotry that happens in the U.S.A. and about the state of our welfare system I’d say that this is a pretty great place to live.  In fact, it may be some of the things that led this country down that path that I love.

This really is a land of opportunity for anyone who knows how to best take advantage of them.  Even those “trapped” within the welfare system can, given the right circumstances, get out of the “trap” if they want to. The key is having enough experiences outside their cultural norm to see that they want to.  If that’s the only life a person has ever known anything else is foreign to them.  It’s for other people.  It’s not just being told you can’t do something else, something more; it’s never having been told that you can…I digress.

The very thing that allows religious zealots to exist in this country is one of the things that I love.  Freedom of religion.  That same freedom allows me not practice a religion.  It has no bearing on how friends or family or even perfect strangers react to my disbelief.  They can be shocked all day long and twice on Sunday but none of them can force me to take part in their religion.  I’m free to do as I please with regards to that decision…I digress.

There are a lot of things wrong in the good ole U. S. of A., but there are a lot of things that are right as well.  While that is true, I recognize it’s true of other countries as well.  The United States hasn’t cornered the market on these things. And, while I love my country, I also recognize other people feel the same pride in their own nationalities.  America is not better than a lot of other places, but it is home to me.  That may not be enough patriotism for some people, but it’s enough for me…I thrice digress.  I thrigress!

There are a lot of things people from different countries and regions within their respective countries take pride in.  I’m no different.  I love the South maria-stenzel-ancient-live-oak-trees-in-georgia- most of the time. I love the laid back atmosphere, I love the big Live Oaks, and the wrap-around porches.  I love sweet iced tea on a hot day and I love the friendliness of the people here.  I love the rows and rows of farmland[which is in decline], the smell of fresh tobacco and the smell of earth in a freshly turned field, I love to eat the heart right out of a warm watermelon cut open right in the patch.  I love home-canned vegetables and preserves and I love southern fired chicken.  See, these are things I’m proud to say that my homeland is noted for.  This is also not the only place these things are found.

There are also things I hang my head in shame over.  Under the guise of Free Speech the State of Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles granted permission to the Sons of the Confederacy of Georgia the right to sell a “specialty” vehicle license plate emblazoned with the Confederate Flag that looks like this:

140218090516_Georgian PlateIn listening to a CNN interview with Ray McBerry, Spokesman for the Georgia Division of the Sons of the Confederacy, and Charles Steele, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference the following exchange took place:

BERMAN: All right, ahead @ THIS HOUR next, the Confederate flag at the center of another heated debate here in the south, this time because it’s featured on a new state-approved specialty license plate in Georgia. We’ll hear from both sides in this debate over whether this flag honors Southern heritage or is a symbol of racial oppression.

BERMAN: It is a battle that’s flaring here in Georgia. This is the flash point. It’s a new state-approved specialty license plate that features the Confederate battle flag. And many Southerners believe that symbol honors their heritage.

PEREIRA: Many others see this as a racially charged symbol of oppression. We’re joined by Ray McBerry, spokesman for the Georgia division Sons of the Confederates Veterans, and Charles Steele, he’s the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Thank you both for being here to have this conversation with us.

Charles, let’s start with you, first of all, why this new battle over the latest license tag? Supporters say they have a right to honor their legacy.

CHARLES STEELE, JR., PRES., SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONF.: Well, first of all, we have serious problems with racism within this country. And that’s a part of our history in terms of the Confederacy. And that’s where it should maintain, in history. Not to bring the dark side of our history in terms of this country, because the whole world is looking.

I just got back from Berlin, Germany. They were saying, we want to be like you are in America, working harmoniously with both ethnicity and races.

So what I’m saying if it’s a part of history, it’s a dark side of history. We were lynched. We were tortured. Our family was divided under this type of mindset. We cannot afford to go back. And you’re talking about 50 years later after the 1963 march on Washington.

BERMAN: So Ray, what about that? We’ve all heard the argument that this is part of Southern heritage; it’s part of Georgia’s heritage. Is it part of Charles’ heritage? There are a lot of African-Americans that live in Georgia. That’s the Confederate battle flag right there. Is that part of their heritage that is deserving of commemoration?

RAY MCBERRY, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS: Well, it absolutely is, John. We actually as an organization have members of every ethnic group that lived in the South during the war from 1860 to 1865. We have black members; we have Jewish members; we have Hispanic members. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is not an organization that has to do with race, and we find it ironic that here in the month of February, the folks that are criticizing us for wanting to celebrate our own history and heritage, are some of the same folks that are celebrating theirs this month. And we simply as an organization believe that every people have a right –

BERMAN: I’m sorry, are you talking about Black History Month? Are you equating Black History Month with a celebration of the Confederacy?

MCBERRY: No, we’re saying every group of people has a right to celebrate their own heritage and history. And we find it ironic that the folks are that are being critical of the license plate having Confederate heritage symbols would bemoan someone else celebrating their own history and heritage while they’ve got their own celebration going this month. We think it’s a little bit hypocritical.

PEREIRA: But at the cost of celebrating one’s is the cost of celebrating somebody else. Charles, what do you — when you hear that, what is that…

STEELE: Well, the first thing that come to my mind, well, when are we going to join alliance? Should we have a tag with the Black Panther Party?

BERMAN: Would you be okay with that, Ray?

MCBERRY: We think every organization that meets the qualifications that the Department of Motor Vehicles has established here in Georgia ought to have their own specialty plate. And we don’t have a problem with any organization.

STEELE: Well next you have the Ku Klux Klan. I mean this is a negative that we can’t afford. It’s bad for business.

PEREIRA: One of the things, Charles, that you said that upsets you and the group that is definitely against, is that the state has sanctioned this.

STEELE: That’s where I have my serious problem. The state should’ve stayed out of this. If you have a home and you resided at a certain location, it’s okay. That’s your property. But this is sanction. This is supported by the State of Georgia. That is a no-no. That’s saying that they’re willing to support slavery. Take us back inch by inch. We cannot be tolerant on this particular issue.

I was greatly disappointed that Berman and Pereira did not question Ray McBerry as to his definition of Southern Heritage.  Are we celebrating sweet tea and wrap-around porches.  I doubt it.  More likely his answer would have been how the Southern States seceded and gallantly stood up to the Union over state sovereignty, state’s rights, and extremely high tariffs.  For these Confederates rewriting history is nothing new.  But you see, all these reasons for the war up to and including those tariffs had to do with but one thing:  slavery.

What sovereign rights were the Confederate states fighting for?  The right to own slaves. Not only the right to own slaves, but the right to move into the Union states with those slaves if they so chose.  They make it sound so valiant a fight that men, even men who didn’t own slaves, were willing to fight to the death to protect those rights.  If they come for our slaves what next, our guns?  Where will it stop if the states allow the Union to pass laws disregarding the sovereignty thereof?  And they wrap all of this nobility in a Confederate Flag and celebrate it.  Yet they, and the rest of us, know exactly what it is.  It’s a euphemism for racism.  The symbol is offensive and instead of seeing it for what it is, they drape themselves in it and attempt to rewrite history to accommodate their celebratory nature over something so abhorrent.

I was raised here, born and bred.  I know what Southern Pride and Heritage means. It’s high time we recognize the damage it does, the division it causes, and put it to rest in history – where it belongs.

18 thoughts on “Southern Pride and Heritage…A Euphemism

  1. I too am a born and bred southerner. When I was growing up in my old hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee we had some short-order restaurants that were called the Rebel Drive-in. Their signs proudly displayed a smiling Confederate Soldier (great hamburgers by the way!) And did you know that Chattanooga didn’t fully comply with the Supreme Court desegregation ruling until 1968?! That “dark side” of our history is not very far removed from the present. I still feel an uneasy chill run up my spine when I hear a racist chant: “the south’s gonna rise again.” I can live quite happily without the Stars and Bars and what it really stands for.

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    • That “dark side” of our history is not very far removed from the present. I still feel an uneasy chill run up my spine when I hear a racist chant: “the south’s gonna rise again.

      Especially when you know what “the south’s gonna rise again” means. It turns my stomach to hear someone justify their racism and bigotry cloaked in righteousness.

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      • Mine too. Remember the old euphemism, “our southern way of life”? It will take a while for the old-timers to die off and allow for a more forward-thinking leadership to fully take the reins. That old south will not rise again, I have to believe.

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        • I’m afraid the old-timers dieing off might not be enough. Those with this mind-set are the loud and proud. I’m both surprised and appalled by the number of ‘young bucks’ in this area who still subscribe to this way of thinking, flying the stars and bars on their vehicles and seeing it wave in the wind on the fronts of people’s homes. Civil War reenactment is kind of a big thing around here. It’s indoctrination all of it’s own. And the Sons of the Confederacy license plates; $10 of every sale goes to “Civil War Education” from the Confederate viewpoint.

          No, I don’t think there’s much chance of the south ‘rising’ again, but that this attitude lingers still after 150 years gives me reason to believe it isn’t going away any time soon.

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  2. Bravo! You give me hope that there might be more of you in the South!

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  3. Hey Ruth,

    (My apologies, it’s a long rant.)

    I know that racism is strong in the South, but I know it’s just as strong, if not worse, up North as well. I was born in Michigan, spent most of my childhood in south Georgia and north Florida. My relatives up North have stunned me with their disgusting language about Black men and women. Commercials pop up on the T V screen and my extended family makes negative remarks about fried chicken and watermelon when a Black person is in the ad. I don’t know why, I absolutely LOVE watermelon! I remember one cousin I had up there who continually said the “n-word”. He later became a cop! BTW he was a good ole’ Independent Fundamental Baptist. He even went to their big Bible College in Pensacola while I lived there. It’s with good reason I almost never go to Michigan.

    I live north of Memphis and I have to say that racism is still alive and well here, it may not be spoken of, but it’s always, always below the surface of many ways of life and language here by the great Mississippi River. There’s another issue though, Blacks in government ruining Memphis for the lower class Blacks. They were able to get into office with their “I’m just like you” appeal. For example “I went to Booker T. Washington High School (Where Obama made a commencement speech at a few years ago.) and I lived in the projects just like you.” Then when these candidates get into office they have the city buy all of these multi-million dollar projects downtown that the people living there themselves will never be able to afford to pay for admission fees, parking and shopping. All the while, the public school system is continually going down the toilet.

    We still see racism played on mainstream media. Take for example, American Idol. There was an incredible talent from Jasper, Texas. This young guy is creative, a talented singer and can play two or three instruments. His name is Savion Wright. Idol kept singing the praises of this young man every single episode. Suddenly, he comes to Hollywood week right after his older brother dies and Idol didn’t allow him in the top 30. I immediately felt that something fishy was going on. I did some research and found out that it’s a strong possibility that his brother was brutally murdered. His town’s making out like it was an accident, but a slit throat (among other things) is not an accident! He was a young professional Black man, married to a white woman, living in Jasper, TX. His family believes it was a racially motivated murder. Seems to me that American Idol has some race issues or have chosen to stay far from anyone that may have some very public racial issues going on, even when it’s a contestant’s own family who are the victims.

    Ruth, I would encourage you and your readers to Google or Youtube Jeremiah Camara (Slave Sermons). He’s an American Black man who calls out religion, Christianity in particular, the Church and the Bible for what they really are……all ways to manipulate and control people, particularly the Black community. I wanted to post one of his videos, but I realize I took up a good bit of your blog space already. His videos can be graphic and are a hard pill to swallow. He’s amazingly brilliant, He doesn’t beat around the bush and he clearly gets his points across. I wish other prevalent agnostics and atheists would feature him, he really knows what he’s talking about. Whether a person lives up North, East, West or South in the United States, he or she is still expected to be a Church going Christian if he or she is Black.

    I will shut down my novel for now. I hope you have a great week ahead.

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    • I know all too well of the type of politics you speak of. It happens here as well

      I think what disgusts me the most about the whole thing, though, with this issue is those who reject the notion that the ‘rebel flag’ has anything to do with racism and their rewriting of history to defend it. They swear up and down they don’t have a racist bone in their body and then make the same old tired fried chicken and watermelon jokes. I like both of those, btw. Do your relatives in Michigan pretend they aren’t racist, or do they acknowledge that they are?

      The same day this interview happened there were three students from Georgia expelled from the University of Mississippi for defacing a statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll in UM. At least one of them is also accused of throwing a drink on a female student for no other reason except that she is black. WTH?

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      • I absolutely agree! I lived in Georgia while the state flag was still the state seal with the Confederate flag. I remember while I was in high school a bunch of kids were flying the confederate flag from their big pick up trucks. Some of the supporters were in my vocational class. I remember them arguing with the teacher that it was no different than flying the Georgia flag. He tried to emphasize that it was different. I didn’t say anything at the time, but I remember thinking that there wasn’t a difference myself. I didn’t support the confederate flag, but I felt that it was the same as the state flag at the time.

        I have only been to Michigan to visit my relatives maybe three times since or around my high school graduation. I graduated in 1990. My visits are usually just a few days at a time. I think my relatives think that they have the right to be the way they are because they live in Pontiac. They’re not too far from Detroit and I believe that they blame the Black community for bringing down Motown, as well as the surrounding areas (where they live). Which is ridiculous because Flint fell apart in the 1980s due to some of the politics of the car manufacturing industry (plant shutdown), the same reason why Pontiac is now a ghost town itself.

        I live just north of Mississippi, I heard about the incident when it happened. That’s also the same school who, up until very recently had the “rebel” as their mascot and would yell “the south will rise again” at their football games. People are so hard pressed to hold onto tradition that they won’t let go of any of it! (I think they still call themselves the rebels.)

        Recently, there’s been much talk about how rude our society is as whole here in the States. I wonder if they think kicking Mexicans off their own land is rude. What do they think of slavery, lynching and work camps for Blacks and Japanese descendants here in the States? Do they think that we were actually more polite while we did these things or while we horribly mistreated Native Americans for many years? Maybe they think we were kinder when American mainlanders took over the nation of Hawai’i, turned it into one of its “United States” and banned chanting and hula from its inhabitants.

        Seriously, I understand wanting to hold unto loving and kind traditions, but I hate it when people want to include the oppression as well.

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        • I didn’t say anything at the time, but I remember thinking that there wasn’t a difference myself. I didn’t support the confederate flag, but I felt that it was the same as the state flag at the time.

          Oddly, the stars and bars were only adopted as the state flag of Georgia in 1956. Prior to that it had never had the “Confederate Flag” as part of it’s emblem. In 2001 it was put to a vote and the flag changed with all of the previous Georgia state flags represented across the bottom. Interestingly, 2001 was the first time in Georgia’s history that the words ‘In God We Trust’ were anywhere on the flag. The flag was changed again in 2003 and the Confederate Flag completely disappeared. ‘In God We Trust’ is still there.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Georgia_%28U.S._state%29

          The boys who fly that flag on their big honkin’ trucks still argue the same thing. I always knew it was different. I knew why they were flying it. If it wasn’t different why didn’t they just fly the state flag? Why were they so adamant about flying the ‘Rebel Flag’?

          On a side note: I graduated in 1990, too.

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  4. We had this overt and covet racism here too. Especially the flag thing.
    SA has a fabulous National Flag and for the first year or so after democracy there would still be dickheads who would show up at rugby matches ( especially) waving the old flag or the flag of the local Province ( state).

    Many of these matches were on global TV. It was disgusting. I had inquiries from friends and family overseas asking why these flags were being waved.
    What is one supposed to say?

    Those days are gone, thank goodness, and those flags, so representative of the Apartheid regime were banned and waving them or carrying them or even displaying them in public was against the law and heavy fines could…and were levied.

    I cannot understand why the US government allows it.

    Whenever I hear Sweet Home Alabama and the line about , ”a southern man don’t need him around anyhow…” .I cringe.

    And I love Skynyrd.

    How are wounds supposed to heal?

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    • I don’t know, Ark. I really don’t know how the wounds are supposed to heal.

      The reason the U.S. government allows it is due to the fact that the states are supposed to have sovereignty. People do this kind of thing and then hide behind free speech.

      I actually like Skynyrd, too. Grew up on it. I’m not sure the strike at Neil Young is a strike because of his anti-racism stance or just the fact that he “called out” Alabama on some of their backward ways. Unfortunately some of those things that Neil Young sang/sings about in Southern Man and Alabama still go on. But it’s oh so very secretive. I’m not personally aware of anyone who is a member of any of those exclusionary groups because of their secrecy, but I’m fairly certain there are pockets of them around.

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      • Oh, and I meant to add that Alabama isn’t the only southern state with backward ways. But I assume you knew that based on this post about my own home state.

        I thought I’d do a little search just to see what it turned up. I was right about the exclusionary groups:

        http:// georgiaikkkkk (dot) weebly (dot) com

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    • Unfortunately racial tension at least in the US is “good for business” . By that I mean mostly politically . Also you’ll never hear Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton say, “Can we just all get along?”. Tension puts $$$ in their coffers.

      Republicans use this as well as Democrats to rally their base during election season.

      I fault both parties for not setting examples in promoting racial equality.

      Then you have the political and religious fundamentalists (right) with their talk shows making millions stirring the pot.

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  5. Pingback: Nite Nite…. Neil Young: Southern Man – For Ruth | A Tale Unfolds

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