TBT: The Invasion and Alienation of the South

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With the election still in the balance—it may be decided by the time you read this post—and two formerly conservative Southern States up for grabs, I thought it would be timely to revisit this piece, “The Invasion and Alienation of the South,” which looks at Leslie Alexander’s post “Stranger in a Strange Land.”  In that piece, Alexander writes about the hollow, joyless cosmopolitanism of living in Dallas—a stark contrast to the tight-knit cordiality and tradition of her native Louisiana.

While watching the election returns, it occurred to me that Georgia and North Carolina should not be risky toss-ups, and Virginia never should have been lost to hordes of Swamp People.  It’s an irony of history that Washington, D.C., was placed next to Virginia so the ornery planters, suspicious of federal power, could keep a closer eye on the national government.  Now, that bloated national government dominates politics in Virginia through its largess.

Meanwhile, transplants from up North have infested previously conservative States.  Charlotte, North Carolina has become a wretched hive of globalist scum and villainy.  During my online dating days, I would routinely get matched with babes from Charlotte; invariably, they were always from Ohio, or New York, or California—never actually true North Carolinians.

It’s one thing when local blacks vote Democratic.  Fine—we’re at least part of the same(-ish) Southern culture, and we’ll help each other out.  But then gentry white liberals start coming down here, ruining our politics and our cities.

Now, we live in a world in which Joe Biden might win Georgia, and North Carolina—NORTH CAROLINA—has become a nail-biter every four years.

Such is the price of our addiction to economic growth and convenience.  What we’ve gained in luxuries we have lost in heart.  We have paid for them with our souls.

Here is November 2019’s “The Invasion and Alienation of the South“:

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The Land and Heritage

A major theme of this blog has been the restoration of rural America, and the promotion of the idea that the future of the United States rests in its rural areas and small towns.  I have often touted the affordability and the decency of the country as major selling points to those looking for a change of scenery.

So this piece at The Abbeville Insitute—Travis Holt’s “Thirty Pieces of Silver“—grabbed my attention.  Holt is a native son of the Ozarks in Arkansas, and he writes movingly about how his ancestors carved a livelihood out of the rough mountains of a challenging wilderness.  He details the sweat and toil that went into improving the land, and of gradually expanding small family plots.

Holt also describes a process all-too-familiar in the New South:  the commercialization of those hard-won family plots.  Holt does not denounce the sale of family lands in general, as he recognizes the economic hardships and the lure of better lives, but he does lament the sacrifice of heritage, history, and family to the whims of the market.  His essay grapples with the complexity of that loss, and his own determination to keep his familial lands.

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TBT: The Joy of Autumn

It is—to use a Southern expression—hotter than blue blazes here in South Carolina, as it always is in early September.  Lately, the extreme heat and humidity have made any outdoor activities unbearable, at least for yours portly.  The air is thick and muggy.

But there is some relief in sight.  We’ve had some rainy days here and there that have given brief—fleetingly brief!—tastes of autumn.

Autumn is, by far, my favorite season.  After the brutal oppression of summer, autumn is a welcome relief.  Autumn in South Carolina is brief, but lovely—the days are warm, the nights crisp.  The season makes it stately arrival fashionably late, usually late in October or early in November (though Halloween always manages to be hot; just once I want an Indiana Halloween!).

The cooler weather brings with it better smells:  pumpkins and spices replace the persistent smell of cut grass and sweat.  Food tastes better in autumn, too.  There’s a reason candy apples are an autumnal fair food:  that thick, sugary, caramel coating wouldn’t last in the humidity of summer.  There’s also the pies:  pecan and pumpkin, of course, but also sweet potato.

Oh, and there’s college football.  The SEC hasn’t (yet) betrayed fans like the West Coast conferences.

So, here’s hoping autumn returns sooner rather than later to South Carolina this year.  With that hope—and prayer—in mind, whip out the pumpkin spice and enjoy November 2019’s “The Joy of Autumn“:

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If the South Woulda Won

Amid all the upheaval of the past few weeks, conservatives are wondering, “What next?” and “Where did we go wrong?”  There are multiple answers to both questions.  To the latter, there are the familiar suspects:  the 1960s, the Progressive Era of the early twentieth century, the influence of the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxism, etc.

One possible answer—one that’s been pushed aside in our historically incompetent and racially hypersensitive era—is the victory of the Union in the American Civil War.  I wrote extensively about “The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War” a few weeks ago; in that essay, I wrote that

…[T]he biggest legacy of the American Civil War was that it marked the victory of a certain Yankee political philosophy and political economy over the rest of the country. The North and the South took fundamentally different views of the world….

…[T]he larger point was that the South existed in a far more traditional version of the world than the Yankee.

The Yankee, instead, came from a Puritanical/Calvinist perspective. Weaver argued that the Southerner recognized and named evil, but rather than try to stamp it out—thereby breeding a multitude of smaller, more insidious evils—he sought to fence it off, to mark it. The Northern Puritan sought to eradicate evil–thus the radical abolitionist impulse (in the context of the Civil War), on down to the modern-day “Puritanism” of the SJWs, for whom nothing is ever good enough.

Immediately after the Civil War, the South, being out of national politics in the Reconstruction Era, could not stop the political-economic alliance of the North and West, which put into place high protective tariffs and expanded federal authority….

And so on.  Essentially, the victory of the Union, which brought many material blessings, and the moral good of abolishing slavery, also brought with it the totalizing influence of Yankee imperialism and the erosion of legitimate States’ rights at the expense of expanding federal power.

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Lazy Sunday LXII: The South

Poet Archibald MacLeish wrote that the American “West is a country in the mind, and so eternal.”  The American South may be the same, but it’s more—it’s a country in the soul.  It’s the culture, the faith, the land, the people—these elements truly make the South “the South.”

The South has been changing for a long time, but those old virtues are still present here, even if they are fading.  The wickedness of modernity probes its tentacles into every crevice of every society, and the South is no different.  We’ve managed to capitalize on the material benefits of modernity without sacrificing our souls entirely—yet—but the unrealized dream of the Reconstruction Era Radical Republicans to remake Southern society into the image of the North is rapidly becoming reality.

That said, the South and its more adventurous cousin, the West, have managed to hold onto the important things in life, namely faith, family, and work.  In the United States, the vast belt from my native South Carolina in the east, driving westward to Texas, and up through at least Nebraska (that’s for you, NEO), still maintain sanity in a nation that is increasingly unhinged with an addiction to postmodern progressivism.

Not to say that Northerners don’t love their families or God, but the governing ethos of Yankeedom is materialist efficiency über alles.  Even the terse attitudes and abrupt styles of conversation suggest little room for even the most cursory pleasantries.  The propensity with which Northerners sling around f-bombs is one of the more dramatic reminders of what cultural differences exist between America’s two great regions even to this day (although, alas, I hear more and more Southerners engaging in sloppy manners and foul language).

But I digress.  I’ve made enough sweeping generalizations for one Lazy Sunday.  You can read more of my sweeping generalizations about vast swaths of the country in these essays, all about fair Dixie:

  • Southern Conservatism: John Randolph of Roanoke” – I somehow had never learned about John Randolph of Roanoke (outside of a reference in Richard Weaver’s Southern Essays) until teaching History of Conservative Thought during Summer 2019.  This post was all about the feisty—some might say ornery—Virginia statesmen who constantly strove to keep Virginia strong and the federal government weak.
  • Reblog: Conan the Southern?” – This post looked at better post from The Abbeville Institute about Texan Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian.  Howard’s tough Texas upbringing and Jacksonian derring-do inspired the ferocious barbarian hero, a self-made man in a world of evil wizards and sinister forces.
  • The Hispanicization of Rural America” – After driving through some parts of western South Carolina and noticing there were only Hispanics, I wrote this post, lamenting the replacement of white and black Southerners.  Here’s the key paragraph:

    I don’t like seeing my people—the people of South Carolina—being displaced in their communities by foreign invaders who speak a different language, who don’t care about our Constitution, and who don’t want to adopt our hard-won culture of liberty.  It took from 1215 to 1776 to get from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence; do we really want to throw away 561 years of Anglo-Saxon common law and careful cultural-political development in the name of multiculturalism?

  • The Invasion and Alienation of the South” – The Abbeville Institute is the gift that keeps on giving.  This post discussed an essay called “A Stranger in a Strange Land,” about a young Louisiana woman’s sense of total alienation in an ostensibly Southern city, Dallas.  She also details the leftward shift, politically, of Southern cities, which I have observed in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina—increasingly a colony of Ohio.
  • The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War” – An instant-classic in the TPP archives, this post originated as a LONG comment on “What Do You Think?,” a post on NEO’s Anglophilic blog Nebraska Energy Observer.  I make some bold claims about the good that was lost following the Civil War—like liberty.

Bless your heart,

TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding

My high school American history classes are getting into the American Civil War—or the War of Northern Aggression, or the War for Southern Independence, or whatever you’d like to call it—this week, so we’ve been talking about beginnings a good bit.  The Civil War had deep roots that go back not just to the 1840s or 1850s, and not even to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Indeed, the fundamental division dates back to the English Civil War in the 1648, when the Puritan Roundheads under Oliver Cromwell ousted and beheaded Charles I, and established the English Republic (which—the English having little taste for radicalism or dictatorships, fortunately collapses in 1660 with the restoration of the Stuart monarchs).  Loyalists to the king and the monarchical order were the aristocratic Cavaliers.  Those same Puritans of East Anglia settled heavily in Massachusetts following the Pilgrims’ famous landing at Plymouth Rock, and the Cavaliers—in body and spirit—dominated the tidewater plantations of the South.

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The Invasion and Alienation of the South

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changing, dying rural communities I observed on a trip through western South Carolina.  You’re not supposed to say as much, but I don’t like that the culture and the world I grew up in are changing.  I’m not sure when it became taboo to say, “This is my home and these are my kin,” but apparently that’s no longer acceptable if you’re a conservative Christian in the American South, especially if you’re a white man.

Around the time I wrote that post, I stumbled upon two excellent posts from the Abbeville Institute that express that sentiment beautifully.  One, “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Leslie Alexander, is a poetic, heartbreaking glimpse at a personal sense of alienation:  the writer, a Louisiana native with deep roots, finds herself adrift in Dallas, a land that lacks not only has “no regional culture here—one of common language, mores and manners–there is not even an American one.”

The other, from Nicole Williams, is a more technical and historical dive into the emergence of the “New South,” the story of how an economically devastated postbellum region, in a search for economic opportunity, ultimately sold its culture and identity for a mess of pottage.  The title says it all:  “What Price Prosperity?

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One-Way Cosmopolitanism

A major theme—perhaps clumsily conveyed—of yesterday’s post was that Americans should be able to keep their culture and local identity without shame.  As I noted, struggling rural communities are particularly susceptible to being swept away by large-scale immigration, legal or otherwise.  Thus, we see small South Carolina towns gradually hispanicize, turning into little replicas of various Latin American cultures, rather than the old Southern culture that predominated.

One often hears that Americans should be tolerant and open-minded to other cultures, and to extend maximum understanding and patience.  That is a generous and worthy view:  I don’t expect the Chinese foreign exchange students at our school to speak accent-less English and understand liberty their first day off the plane.  In that instance, we go out of our way to attempt to understand the cultural background from which those students came.

It’s another matter, though, when it involves the permanent or long-term relocation of foreign aliens to our land.  Remember the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do?”  That rule always seems to apply to Americans—who are routinely criticized for being uncouth abroad—but never to any other ethnic group, and especially not to cultures outside of the West.

It’s an enduring frustration of mine:  one-way cosmopolitanism.

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The Future of Barbecue

The good folks at the Abbeville Institute have a great piece (originally published at The American Conservative) about the most beloved and controversial of Southern foodstuffs:  barbecue.

Barbecue, as author John Shelton Reed points out, is highly localized.  For me—and any true South Carolinian—the One True ‘Cue is mustard-based pulled pork barbecue from South Carolina.  It’s definitely not beef brisket or anything with ketchup.  It should come from a place that’s only open three or four days a week, and is served with hash and rice.

Unfortunately, much like the “old, weird America” whose passing John Derbyshire regularly mourns, traditional barbecue—regardless of the regional variety—is being shoved out by “mass barbecue,” the kind served up in chains that look like the inside of Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag.

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