CNN has a lengthy article out about Southern stereotypes which begins by focusing on Masters champion Bubba Watson and his Southern roots. It then delves into a deeper look at the South. Rarely do we get such a frank assessment from the media of Southerners as a distinct people with a unique culture that is in opposition to the ‘American’ mainstream.
As a literature and Southern studies professor at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia stated in the article:
“We have one [group] that is imagining the South as an alternative space within the United States — less modernized, less educated, more racist. It’s America’s Jekyll to its own Hyde,” he says. On the other side, he says, there are Southerners who take pride in everything they consider disparaged, from the Confederate flag to country music.
Davis, a native of Butler, Georgia (population 2,000), observes the word “Southern” has come to be associated with opposition to the American norm. He teaches Southern studies, so students often ask him, “What is Northern studies?”
“‘Northern studies’ is American studies. ‘Southern’ is the opposition to that,” he says.
Or, as the North Carolina author Clyde Edgerton put it, “Because I was born in the South, I’m a Southerner. If I had been born in the North, the West or the Central Plains, I would be just a human being.”
The above comment is telling. What is an ‘American’? Nothing. Just a human being. This is because ‘America’ is an idea, a belief in equality, democracy, gay pride, universal suffrage and things of this sort – as defined by the US media and government. These ideas change and who is to say one idea is more valid than another? It’s just whatever is in vogue at the moment. ‘America’ is certainly no real nation then. However, we Southerners are.
Later on in the article we have this revelation:
Sure, other regions of the country have their own labels — New England is full of flinty Yankees, Southern California is sunny and vapid, the West has rugged, outdoorsy types — but the South, above them all, remains another country.
Yes, we Southerners are a distinct people. The South is another country. And indeed we are in opposition to the failed experiment known as the American ‘propositional nation.’