My vacation took me across six states last week, through the heart of the old Confederacy. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Everywhere we went, there were reminders of Civil War. Or the War Between the States. Or the War of Northern Aggression. Or the Recent Unpleasantness.
Many terms for what continues to be a tremendously divisive event, even 160 years on. Of course, we’re mere pikers when it comes to never forgetting. The bloodshed in Northern Ireland throughout most of the 20th century can be traced to the English Civil Wars of nearly 400 years ago. Islam and Christianity have been at it for more than 1200 years, and the two main branches of the Muslim faith for almost that same length of time.
The reminders I saw of our own strife came in many forms. Many, many bronze historical markers, indicating battle sites and other important (at the time) buildings and places. Yes, an occasional faded Stars and Bars flapping raggedly in a yard, but far fewer than in the past.
Many houses built in the prewar architectural style we now call “antebellum”: literally “before the war”. Some of those buildings actually did date from the 1850’s or earlier; we were even lucky enough to pass some places from Colonial times.
But the biggest indicators of where we were weren’t in things we could see or touch. There’s a certain identity to southerners that goes far beyond how much sugar they put in their iced tea. The hospitality we found everywhere we went is one example. No matter the race, class, or position of the people we encountered, we were greeted warmly and treated well.
Another indication was how well people took care of their property. We saw the whole range, from multi-million dollar lakefront mansions to humble shacks…and nowhere was trash to be seen. To be sure, I’ve seen all of this elsewhere in the West and North, but there’s something unique about where we live.
Recent news would have us believe we’re all just a bunch of ignorant racist hicks, or poor downtrodden sharecroppers. The truth is much more complicated, but most so-called journalists or social media “influencers” are too lazy or too self-righteous to look beyond their preconceived notions.
Sure, we have our share of idiots here. Of all colors and classes. But I’d be willing to bet we (the old CSA) as a whole treat each other better than folks who live in Seattle. Or Detroit. Or New York.
Anyone from up there willing to come down to discuss it is welcome. I’ll pour the sweet tea.