""Now I want you to tell me one thing more. Why do you hate the South?"
"I don't hate it," Quentin said, quickly, at once, immediately; "I dont hate it," he said. I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark. I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!" --William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom (302-03)
Growing up in Lubbock, Texas, with Southern parents, I always loved being Southern. I remember watching The Dukes of Hazzard and taking some measure of pride in the Stars and Bars painted on the roof of an old muscle car called "the General Lee." It was with even more pride that I used to talk about how I'm distantly related to that Virginian general.
Yet, beginning with my introduction to William Faulkner in high school, and continuing through my education, I have questioned that pride. I find myself now in Quentin Compson's place, in the midst of a painful tug-of-war between wanting to take pride in the place I call "home," and feeling a profound... well, disgust... for what it stood for up until those dark days in the year of Our Lord 1861-5, and in truth, for long after as well. On top of that, in the last year or so, I've come to the startling and somewhat painful realization also that the Southern rebellion and war against their own country was an act of treason. That may seem obvious in itself, but I'd never been pushed to attach the corresponding noun to it. A person or party that commits treason is a traitor. "The War of Northern Aggression" looks a little different when you think about it in that light.
And I suspect many of you Southerners have had these feelings as well. I think both of these pulls --pride and revulsion-- are undeniable. There are exceedingly few Southerners I've met who don't feel some sense of pride in saying they're "Suthun." And I'm sure we've all bounced around the idea that maybe the Civil War wasn't really about slavery, but rather about states' rights, or economics, or differences of lifestyle, or whatever. The problem is that those arguments don't hold water; as one friend of mine astutely noted, they all eventually lead back to slavery. Or you could argue that maybe the South would've eventually developed equal rights on its own. Yet, that thesis is thoroughly discounted with 2 simple words: Jim Crow.
Thus, the question: what do you tell people about the South? What would you tell your children about the South?