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Down Dixie Way
Notes of a Fed-Up Southerner
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Coming up as I did a Southern boy, usually barefoot, lots of times with a cane pole and a string of bream I caught in Machodoc Creek, and other signs of higher civilization, I believe I could get tired of Northerners huffing and puffing about how moral they are. Ain’t nothing like a damn Yankee for smarmy hypocrisy. They can spit it out in chunks like saw logs. A Yankee can’t open his mouth without preaching about how everybody else ought to do something he won’t do himself.

It’s always the same thing, about how the South keeps blacks in poverty and has lynch mobs. (Actually, it’s been at least three weeks since I was in a lynch mob.) To listen to these pious frauds, you’d think Northerners just loved black people and spent most of their time with them at the country club, talking the stock market. Why, how else could it be?

I couldn’t lie so much if you gave me a bird dog and a buzz saw. It ain’t in me. The worst schools in the country are in Mississippi, which doesn’t have any money, and the second worst in Washington, DC, which has all our money. Yes, Washington, so virtuous it makes your teeth curl. How many white kids are in those schools? Uh-huh. It’s you and him integrate, not us.

You’ve heard about white flight. In nearly about every city in the North white people streak for the suburbs so’s not to be near black people, and then they talk about how bad Southerners are for doing the same thing. I guess talking moral is more fun than being it.

Fact is, you can see more social, comfortable integration in a catfish house in Louisiana than you can in probably all of Washington.

Now, sometimes I have to yield to the truth. I don’t like to, but it’s forced on me. Blacks do live miserable in Southern cities.It can’t be denied. There’s a shameful list of awful cities and it hurts me to write it: Newark, Trenton, Camden, Detroit, Flint, Chicago, and Gary. Pretty much the entire South.

Facts is, the South itself was always poor, dirt poor, pea-turkey poor, especially after 1861, and a lot of what it was and how it felt came out of that. Songs like Ode to Billy Joe to Yankees are funny, the kind of thing you’d expect from those hicks down there. But they tell how it was for a lot of folk. Red dirt hills where nothing much wanted to grow, and there was nothing much to do and sometimes nothing much to eat. It was ugly, Tobacco Road, and the North laughs it. Even in the mid-Fifties you saw—I saw—kids from the countryside of Alabama with their teeth black from decay, and in some regions school vacations came at cotton-picking and cotton-chopping time. You could easy find people living in fall-down shacks, white people too. Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

Piety quiz: Everybody take out a sheet of paper. Who said the following: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people….” (1) Mahatma Ghandi (2) Mother Theresa (3) Tinker Belle or (4) Abraham Lincoln. Hint: It wasn’t any of the first three.

Let me remind us that the South has generally had to bring to the North the benefits of culture. It figures. Industrial society is so full of stench and soot and misery and crowding that people can’t even do a good job of being unhappy. That’s why the great blues men like Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins came out of Dixie. So did jazz, and country music, and Dixieland jazz, which is different, and bluegrass, and rock’n’roll thanks to Big Boy Crudup and Elvis. Yankees can play long-hair music pretty good, but they stole it from Europe.

The South, though. It was a different place, mostly kind of sad I guess if you looked close, but it could grow on you. Those hot, quiet cotton fields in the Delta, where time passed sweet and slow like sorghum syrup dripping on busted china, and it was so peaceful and the air so soft you figured maybe there was a God after all. There wasn’t, though. At the time you could stand there and think that it would go on forever, that there was something comfortable and familiar that wouldn’t turn into something else you didn’t want. But it did. Nothing lovely can last when next door you have an infernal industrial smoke pit.

There was a wildness to the South, a sense that anything could happen. It didn’t feel controlled. Maybe it wasn’t obvious. People talked soft and slow like the Good Lord intended, instead of honking through their noses the way they do in Brooklyn, and they were polite and friendly. You didn’t want to lean on them, though. That wasn’t a good idea.

ORDER IT NOW

If you knew the place, it wasn’t surprising the moonshine runners came from there, and later turned into NASCAR. Hopped-up flathead mill, tank of bust-head corn in the trunk, flying through the Tennesse night with the dam federals after them. Back then, like now, Washington didn’t want people to drink what they wanted or smoke what they wanted. They was always sticking their long possum noses where they didn’t belong. And not just in the South. They’d invade anybody they’d ever heard of. Mexico in 1846 and 1916, Spain in 1898, Europe in 1917, on through Iraq and Yemen, wherever that is, and Afghanistan and I don’t know where all. Anything but mind their own business.

And now we got another Yankee president from Chicago messing with the whole country, turning America into Russia. That sort of thing never did set too well below Mason and Dixon’s Line.

Piety quiz: Which of the following in the decades surrounding the Civil War said over and over that he wanted to send all the black folks to Africa? (1) Susan Anthony (2) Pallas Athena (3) Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst (4) Abraham Lincoln. Hint….

But enough about Washington, the world’s central deposit of oleaginous purity. Let’s talk about cars. Dixie was a car culture from when it first got the chance. It still is. I remember when, come summer, at umpty-dozen tracks the night howled and yowled and roared as muscle cars raced, taching high and sometimes blowing rods but things don’t always turn out perfect. In the stands they drank beer out of paper cups and hollered for Jimmy Jack or Joe Bob to take the lead. It was their place in the world and they were doing what they liked with people they liked and there were no dam feds telling them they had to put catalytic converters on the race cars. Yet.

That was something the South always liked. Being left the hell alone.

On the weekends of races at Road Atlanta, from all over the South, from little towns like Farmville, Virginia, trailers and motor homes towing race cars streamed in. They’d set up and bring out the tool boxes and start prepping for the races the next day. Wives and girlfriends would help and everyone hollered greetings at new arrivals.

The wives and girlfriends were real women, and seemed to think being a woman was a good thing. Men thought it was a good thing, that’s for sure. It was like there were two kinds of people, men and women, instead of just one. It’s a novel concept, I reckon. But we liked it. And they were just nice. You could easy tell a Southern gal from a menopausing crocodile. Up North, you’d need a DNA test.

Anyway, half the crowd already knew each other and the others didn’t have to because it was a coomon culture and if you had a race car, you were in.

Greasy-purity quiz: “I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” (1) George Wallace (2) David Duke (3) Nathan Bedford Forrest (4) Abraham Lincoln

Uh-huh. The Great Emancipator. Himself. How I do love goodness.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. mighty fine writtin style you got there boy

  2. NB says: • Website

    Glad to see Ron Unz showing his true colors with the authors he’s been publishing.

    Rather than random Lincoln quotes (surely one could find far worse from, say, Jefferson Davis), it is possible to quantify the incidence of racism by state, and as a proud Yankee (well, actually I’m a member of the Red Sox nation, to be clear), I’m happy to present the results:
    http://www.princeton.edu/~amas/papers/Mas_Moretti_AEA.pdf
    “The GSS asks whether the respondent supports laws against anti-interracial-marriage. We build an index of racial bias that equals the proportion of white respondents in each state who answers affirmatively to this question.3 When we aggregate states depending on the value of the index to show how states differ based on this index4, we find that while Southern states are overrepresented in the group with high values of the index, there seem to be some variation even within the South.”
    see p. 10 for the graph with the racism prevalence data for each state.

  3. Mark Green says: • Website

    Thank you, Fred. Always enjoyable. This Yankee thanks you and feels your pain. Truly.

  4. Don Nash says: • Website

    “Yankee, yankee”… isn’t that a baseball team from New Yawk City? I’m pretty certain that the Bean Town folk are certified whipped into submission police state/martial law aficionados.
    Well said Mr. Reed and thank you. I don’t understand ‘yankee’ anything. I’m Arizonan and we don’t get much respect from the intellectually credentialed.

  5. JDG says:

    Born and raised in the south myself -Alabama- You, my man Fred have hit the nail on the head. I see no difference today than 40 years ago. –Except a shitload of Yankees have crossed the border in to Florida. Dreaming of Costa Rica myself.

  6. This is in direct response to NB and every other equality idealist that is out there. I regret to inform you that in the complex world that we actually happen to live in there happens to be a large separation between being an out and out racist and grasping the reality that there is large differences between (gasp!) groups of people be they separated by sex or (double gasp!) race. A racist is a far less forgivable fool than an equality idealist but they are both fools. I was raised an equality idealist and that is how I raised my kids. You see I was once a true blue believer in the hope that we were all created equal. I now see we humans are not exempt from the laws of evolution and that we humans are still evolving. This is heresy to a equality idealist and no matter how I phrase it I shall be cast into their hell world where all racists must reside. Population genetics, and IQ testing are the evil concoctions of demons from this hell world for they have clearly proven over and over and over that races (yes I used that dirty dirty word) are comprised of highly bell shaped curves of inherited intelligence. Now I am resigned to live in a world full of stupid ignorant people whom have a more likely response to a graph showing two highly over lapping bell shaped curves of thinking ‘nice tits’ rather than any conception of the ramifications of what in the hell it means in the real world. But what it really means is this. It is mean, stupid and racist to look at a black man and think he is stupid. If you automatically think this than it is likely you are yourself stupid. If you are lucky enough to be highly intelligent it isn’t because of sheer luck of a genetic roll of the dice although is approximately a 30% variable. What happened to your direct ancestors is the following, they lived through the cruelty and suffering of malthusian times where they barely made it and their children barely made it while their lower IQ brothers and sisters and their children did not. This completely explains the pecking order of IQ rankings putting Ashkanazi Jews first, northern Asians second and northern Europeans third. If you have bothered to read the complex history of these various groups of people you will discover that they all went through many centuries where just surviving was highly dependent on higher intelligence. If this obvious information upsets you then too bad. You can accept the logic of this and at the same time never ever make a quick stereotype of what kind of individual a person is because of race, sex, age, or class. Yep I said it. There is a large space between being a racist and being an equality idealist and more and more informed reasonable compassionate people are finding this place each and every year. Science works, belief systems don’t, and if that is not digestible than too bad.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Aww, Dave, don’t be too hard on them equality idealists because they celebrate diversity, well as long as everyone thinks alike, anyway.

    I live in the former seat of the Confederacy, Richmond. Back when there was court ordered busing to achieve racial equality in the public schools, there were a few white folks that moved out of town. But most all the ignorant racist crackers here went along with it without riots or beatings.

    A few years later, there was court ordered busing in the progressive and enlightened City of Boston. Well, those inclusive and open-minded Bostonians threw a fit and they were rioting in the streets. Now maybe there is a lot of interracial marrying going on up in Boston, but I’ll bet they have some hellified domestic relations problems.

    Down here in Richmond, I see a lot of interracial couples and know a few – some married and some not. From what I’ve heard, the older generation, black and white, isn’t always happy when their kids hook up with someone of a different race. But at least they don’t riot about it.

  8. “This is in direct response to NB and every other equality idealist that is out there.”

    Actually I think this article was meant to be humorous, though the Lincoln quote is accurate. I didn’t take it so much as a genuine defense, but as an expose of the obvious hypocrisy of northerners. The Civil War was no more help to equality of either opportunity or law for African-Americans, until nonviolent resistance a hundred years later by Martin Luther King and others, accomplished through reconciliation what violence never can do.

    “NB” isn’t exactly equality idealist – for instance, she not an equality idealist when it comes to Israel and Palestinians. Moreover, her post is a carryover of her earlier verbal battles with Ron Unz on specific issues. Her posts, through the lens of what seems her monomania, mostly seem to be looking for antisemitism, tarring those she disagrees with of having that secret agenda and twisting any subject to see what offense can be taken. In satirical essays, a certain amount of elasticity is permitted for purposes of caricature that highlights hypocrisy – so I would say. lighten up, NB.

    One wonders if NB really is one of those social media agent manipulators that the Snowden NSA documents recently proved the existence of.

    For myself, I do not believe that these various racial superiority theories can predict anything about me or anyone else. Hence, they are practically useless for accomplishing anything positive. And amazingly, no one in academia who stands to be labeled as inferior supports them either, exposing a gaping bias, just one more in the long history of social science as seeking to prove what someone already wanted to believe. How big’s your cranium volume, and how many bumps on your head?

  9. Dave37 says:

    I generally like Fred’s columns but then I’m about the same age and backround, though he’s better educated. I was in mostly south Alabama. The inferority of intelligence of African-Americans was a common theme in the south but all the ones I met were really poor (more than even me) so they didn’t have much to work with. I must admit though I feel like a lot of A-A’s I meet these days have a hostile attitude right off the bat, it’s like they are coming from a hostile counter-culture that wants nothing to do with the rest of us. But it seems to me all Americans should be given a good education (how about some discipline in the schools) and then hire whoever is the best qualified.

  10. NB says: • Website

    Fran MacAdam, where I have said or implied anything about Israelis and Palestinians not being equal?

  11. Dave says:

    Normally i am a big fan of Fred Reed but he struck out with this one. As a Yankee I am damn tired of the South living off our Northern money. For 50 years the idiots in Washington DC have taken money from Northern states and redistributed it to Southern states in the form of contracts with Southern companies, military bases in Southern states, road work, etc. Where I live in Illinois we get 75 cents back on every dollar we send to DC and the states of the Confederacy get an average of $1.87 from the feds for every dollar they send in taxes. So if we could just split the country up – say we made a mistake, the rebels won back in 1865, damn paperwork mixup – and us Northerners could keep our money up here and the South could do whatever they wanted, just without all our money. Also we wouldn’t have to hear all the whining about morality from the states with the highest divorce rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate, the highest drug use rate, etc.

  12. Dave37 says:

    I don’t want to restart the Civil War here but it seems to me that northern politics has started and profitted from some wars fought by large numbers of southerners. Also the big cities of the north have numbers of poor and drug dependant that are usually not asked their opinion of how well things are going there. Rather than inflaming people with regional hostility maybe we should work together for the country. Ok I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  13. Je' Czaja says: • Website

    Enjoyed this. As a Polish country girl from a cold state, I thought Yankees were those Anglophiles who came over on the Mayflower. Yankee was a proud title up north, and as an offspring of an immigrant, I was not allowed into that exclusive club.

    Imagine my dismay, when I moved south, that I now WAS a Yankee, only it wasn’t a good thing. Sometimes you just can’t win. Except my southern friends reassured me, “You’re a Yankee, alright, but at least you’re not a damned Yankee.”

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