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    « Washington Post's Tracee Hamilton wrong on Michael Vick | Main | No apology needed: Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery »

    October 06, 2010


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    I really appreciate this post about the Westboro crackpots. Not because you wrote about Westboro (I'll spare you my thoughts on them), but for your comments about generalizations regarding the South. I never appreciated the South when I lived there as much as I do now since I've moved away. I've come to love and understand the complexities of Charleston, my hometown and one of the most beautiful and elegant cities in the U.S. Your thoughts about the South are dead on and remind me of a conversation I had a couple of years ago with co-worker who is from a big city on the West Coast and had never experienced the South until she visited in 2008. My coworker told me what she saw in the South horrified her. I mean, people were carrying around Confederate Flags! And there's an old slave market and there are reminders that unjust things happened in the South! Disgusting! She couldn't believe anyone would have the gall to plaster a Confederate Flag sticker to their truck. She'll never visit again, she said, and all she wanted to do while she was there was to leave and to tell her friends in the West that there's nothing but a foul ugliness hanging over the South. Are you kidding? I told her. Nope, she said. She couldn't believe I was, born, raised and schooled in such a racist place.

    I'm not exaggerating here. That was really her reaction. Even otherwise intelligent people can't always grasp what they see in the South when they visit, and they generalize the place as being full of ignorant racist rednecks. Okay, well, the South is full of ignorant racist rednecks (I have a few of them in my family), but so are Wyoming and parts of Colorado (we have a SPLC-designated hate group right here in Larimer County) and every other state in the country. And there are many, many of us Southerners who aren't racist. It infuriates me when people distill their understanding of the South and its history down to a few stereotypes and are so offended by its history that merely learning about it is anathema. That's really the problem: People's sense of political correctness gets offended so easily that ignorance is preferable to knowledge. Craziness. Fortunately, that doesn't describe most people (I hope).

    The South is a very complex place, with a history that deserves to be understood by all so they understand that America isn't the shining blemish-free city atop a hill, but a country borne atop the shoulders of injustice, manifest destiny, countless atrocities, endless courage, vision, tenacity and virtue. In short, America, like the South, is a complex place with a complicated history and it should be recognized as such.

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