Howard Dean made some rather simple-minded remarks about the South that typify the New England sense of their neighbors down under. Dean misses the greater import of his observation. The South and the Confederacy are no longer a region but a state of mind. The great dichotomy in America is not north or south but rural and urban. We know that the collectivist elites equate rural with Confederate — it is an article of (secular) faith for those who know better than the benighted ruralite. The great Eastwood movie, "Outlaw Josey Wales, " was based on an obscure little tome called Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter. The author describes the Confederate Diaspora from the South to all points west and south (as in south of the border). After Lincoln had succeeded in putting all Americans on the plantation with the surrender at Appomattox in 1865, many disgruntled Americans who wanted nothing of this headed either to the territories or to points in the southern hemisphere such as Brazil. After all, the whole idea of the Second American Revolution (18611865) was to throw off the yoke of yet another statist entity that had started to politicize every human transaction. The debate over motives and causation is beyond the scope of this essay but the King Lincoln archives on LRC will provide ample food for thought.
During my travels around the globe, I've seen the Stars and Bars displayed from Kosovo to Thailand. They aren't flying it to establish solidarity with hate groups or a return to chattel slavery; they are waving it because it is a universal symbol of opposition to government tyranny. The War Between the States (how can you have a Civil War where only one side wants supremacy over the other in a martial contest?) resonates throughout the world as a fight over sovereignty and centralization of government power. Lincoln was a nasty cross-germination of Alexander Hamilton, Ralph Nader and Joseph Stalin all rolled into a long, tall drink of a dictator. The Lincoln revisionism of the last decade that has broken the hagiographic cult of personality that has permeated the court histories in America for over a hundred years seems to be the tip of the iceberg with entire ice fields filled with the likes of Wilson, FDR and LBJ ahead. Lincoln scholarship has fueled a hatred of the south and the Confederacy in a way unprecedented in American historiography. I don't think there is any need to plead that the South acted in an angelic fashion during its time. After all, isn't every reader or contributor on LRC at heart a dystopian? We always expect the worst when it comes to government conduct whether under Lincoln or Davis because it is the nature of the beast.
The Confederacy was, in some ways, the last gasp of the Jeffersonian agrarians who were snuffed out permanently in the 1930's by the emerging Moscow-on-the-Potomac farm programs (recent congressional appropriations of nearly $20,000,000,000 for agribusiness). Dean surmises that if he can co-opt ruralites with tax dollars and expanded entitlements, he can purchase large blocs of voters to be sheared once he assumes office. He has no idea of the depth and breadth of distrust of rural and country folks for central government chicanery. Whether the rural cleansing taking place in Oregon or the urban expropriation of rural tax dollars in states like Washington, country folk are under siege from every quarter and they know it. That's why you see Confederate regalia on cars, trucks and people from coast to coast. As a Southern expat in the Inland Northwest, I do my part to keep the heritage and memory alive. In their hearts and minds, they know Howard Dean embraces "smart growth" and wants to move all the rural residents of America into high density enclaves with mass transit and zero tolerance for guns and automobiles. Then all the rich white elites can allow nature to return to its pristine state. God help us. The bottom line is that whenever you hear a politician from either wing of the War Party attack the South or the Confederacy, these are simply code words for the disdain our rulers and potentates have for folks who live in the country away from the more congested urban nests of dependent collectivists that consistently vote for more and not less government. Message to Howard Dean: If you want the rural votes, buy the biggest pickup you can afford, place two rifles in the gun racks, always carry a handgun, go to church and be as self-sufficient and neighborly as possible. Ahem, Howard, get your hand out of your neighbor's wallet. . . not that kind of neighborly. We don't do that around here.
November 18, 2003